Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Morning Musings – refugees, diplomatic trolls, the Middle East war

I am sorry that I haven’t posted since Tuesday.

The problem of the stranded migrant boats may have been resolved for the moment, but Mr Abbott’s dismissive “nope,  nope, nope” has become another strain point with Indonesia. This is Neil Whifield’s view on the matter: Random Friday (Thursday) Prime Minister. Neil provides a link to a piece by the Melbourne Age’s political editor Michael Gordon that is worth a browse for its different perspective. The Jakarta Globe has a short piece (the comments go both ways). Somirahatun and her baby

This piece from the Jakarta Post provides a broader picture of the human tragedy, giving a human face to some of Michael Gordon’s points. The picture of Somirahatun and her baby comes from the Post.

Regardless of what can or should be done, I thought that Mr Abbott’s comments were crass, unwise and inhumane.

Two interesting pieces on the Lowy Institute blog. Richard Gooding’s Diplomats, trolls and memes looks at the influence of twitter on diplomacy. I hadn’t come across the concept of diplomatic trolls before! I guess that it’s another small sign of what I have come to think of as the instantizing of life. It’s actually very frustrating, for it leaves people with the attention span of  a gnat.

When the kids were young, I commented on the way that their groups always had to be in touch with each other. I thought that it was very tribal. You know, messaging: where are you, I’m on my way, nearly there etc.  Then they grew out of it, well more or less. I wish the same were for true for their elders.

I really don’t know some managers or executives I have observed get any real work done at all. They are just so busy keeping in touch, responding, demanding, rushing, meeting; life is a busy whirl of constant interaction in which instant response however shallow is the requirement, Still, perhaps that’s a matter for another post.Palmyra

The second Lowy post I wanted to refer to was Vanessa Newby’s Summer in Lebanon: Holidays, beaches, clubs...and war?. This followed an earlier post by Bob Bowker, Assad's regime is brittle, and it may fall fast, written before the fall of Palmyra.

I have always wanted to visit Palmyra. It looks as though I many not get the chance now.  I find the destruction by IS of so many ancient monuments personally confronting. However, more worrying is the spread of conflict. I think that we should stop using the term terrorist, for the so-called war on terror has now evolved into a full scale if ill-defined sectarian war being fought on multiple fronts with multiple ripple effects.

Not a pretty prospect. 


The Melbourne Age had a powerful editorial this morning on the stranded migrant boat issue: Nope is not good enough, Mr Abbott.The words I used in this piece to describe Mr Abbott's comments were crass, unwise and inhumane. As an Australian, I felt a deep sense of personal shame at Mr Abbott's comments because he is my nation's leader.


Anonymous said...

Read Lindsey Davis' "Last Act in Palmyra", one of her excellently researched and highly enjoyable
Falco novels. Not quite as good as being there, but nonetheless a source of vicarious pleasure.

Winton Bates said...

Regarding Iraq, Ivan Eland had the right idea in 2004: partition Iraq.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi JCW and thanks. I have put the book on my must read list. Read the Eland piece, Winton. It created very mixed views in my mind, in part because it would have been another solution imposed from outside.

Winton Bates said...

As I recall, Jim, the suggestion he was making was that partition would have occurred through negotiation between the religious groups as the U.S. left.
The concept is still relevant. The Sunni's may imagine that they will suffer less under IS than under a Shia invasion.

Anonymous said...

Iraq was always an artificial state, cobbled together under the Sykes-Picot agreement, into which Gertrude Bell and the prominent Jewish Baghadian, Sassoon Eskell, breathed life and leadership. Pity none of their stature and foresight is around to-day.


Unknown said...

FYI link to the Age editorial is missing the first w in www.theage.... and therefore generates a DNS error.

Anonymous said...

Next stop Petra?


Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, anon. Link corrected. Hopefully a next stop for me, DG, not IS.