Brown Study

Brown study

9 November 2013

9:00 AM

9 November 2013

9:00 AM

When the Sri Lankans launched a determined effort to rid their country of Tamil Tiger terrorism they made a big mistake. They succeeded. The secessionist rebels were beaten back into their northern enclave, their leaders killed and peace was restored to the whole country. But the government won the fight against terrorism. You would think that this would have been greeted with enthusiasm in the media and the so-called international community. After all, the defeat of the Tamil Tigers would have to be, like 1066, a Good Thing. They were a particularly nasty breed of terrorists; your stock model of terrorists just go around killing the other side and murdering anyone who disagrees with their religion. But the Sri Lankan terrorists gave you the deluxe model with their speciality of letting off bombs at bus stations to collect as many innocent people as possible, preferably children. The government had to use some pretty rough methods to defend their innocent citizens and eradicate the scourge of terrorism, but they achieved it when they got the Tamil machine cornered and gave it the Apocalypse Now treatment, termination ‘with extreme prejudice’.

But because they won, the government automatically became the target. It seems that our western society is now so scared of success, so besotted by the human rights mantra, so repulsed by the prospect of doing what has to be done to defeat terrorism that we just cannot handle it. Instead, western progressives abuse those who fight and defeat terrorism; they make up scenarios about excessive force; they allege that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by governments who have really done nothing worse than defend themselves and their people against violent murderers; and they suddenly find sympathy for the instigators of this violence and turn the defender, as in the case of Sri Lanka, into the aggressor.


On the way through, they seem to be touched by a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome where they develop an overwhelming affection for the terrorists, who are then presented as doe-eyed innocents massacred by their ruthless rulers. With terrorism, we just cannot handle success. I was thinking of this conundrum the other day when reading about the criticism of US phone tapping and the use of drones. There was the same theme again. The trouble with phone tapping is that it works. I could not think of anything worse than having to listen to thousands of tedious conversations of the sort I imagine American eavesdropping picks up. But among the dross is the gold: evidence of contact between terrorist groups, chatter about the next outrage, information about ships carrying weapons, the location of some terrorist big wig, or indeed, anything that is vital to know about if there is another 9/11 just around the corner. I support the US in this and I hope it does not give in to pressure and confected outrage and stop its surveillance. There is only one test of whether US eavesdropping is justified. I ask myself: am I safer because the US is listening in to our potential enemies? Yes, I am. I know that some bureaucrats have been too zealous in deciding who to listen to. But then I ask myself another question: are you satisfied, even with these gliches, that the Americans will always support and protect their friends? Yes, I am.

This leads to the second punching bag the progressives have been using to denigrate the US: their drones. It is the same with drones as it is with eavesdropping: they work; they actually kill our enemies and those who want to turn the world into their own twisted mass of hatred. Drones are unique: silent, accurate and not involving danger for those who operate them. But their unanswerable power seem to be their own worst enemy for, like Sri Lanka’s defeat of terrorism, like the United States’ surveillance work, like the proven power of drones — it seems we cannot handle success.

Speaking of success, you have to admire the climate lobby when it comes to shifting its ground to defend its crumbling position. So severe was the coming drought we were told that our reservoirs would never be full again and we’d probably all die from lack of water like Burke and Wills. But after we spent millions, in Victoria, on a desalination plant that has never been needed or used, we find we have so much rain water that the dams are full. Then we were told that the seas would rise, St Kilda Pier would be washed away, our beachside suburbs would be uninhabitable and we would all drown. I sold up in St Kilda and moved to higher ground in South Yarra only to find that from my vantage point I look out, not on droughts or flooding plains, but on a lush paradise that is a cross between Zanadu and Shangri-la. Meanwhile, the polar ice caps have expanded and the planet is not overheating after all. But as their case became weaker, so the ingenuity of the climate lobby has become more desperate and brazen, to the point where the NSW bushfires are now said to be caused by Tony Abbott’s opposition to the carbon tax. Yet give them marks for success through persistence: if you repeat mythology often enough, some people will come to believe it.

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  • jvcguest

    Your points about handringers of the left are well taken Neil but the Rajapaksa brothers can be compared with the disastrous Bandaranaike family (admittedly afflicted by the socialist doctrine learned by too many sub-continentals from the English in the 30s) by noting that they add thuggery and corruption. That they defeated the fascistic Tamil Tigers will turn out to be a v. good thing for Sri Lankans, including even Tamils and Musliims but let’s not pretend that Sinhalese populist nationalism is just some variety of nice, peacheful Buddhism.

    It is indeed hard to see how the US can defend its citizens interests (mostly legitimate) against non-state practitioners of “asymmetric” warfare without doing distasteful things which are also arguably illegal (whatever that means in an international context without a police force). But the problem with drones, that you do not touch on is that they will be readily available to every Tom, Dick and Harry of a country, and indeed every Tom, Dick and Harry. I see not sign of thinking and planning for the mitigation of the adverse aspects of this. Obviously a complete ban such as there is on the use of poison gas isn’t going to be negotiated or even sought by the US so it is worth discussing where America’s use of drones is leading. Too late for bans obviously.

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