Leading article Australia

Malcolm in the Middle (East)

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

‘The destruction of Isil requires a military solution – it requires boots on the ground. But they must be the right boots on the right ground,’ is the new catch-cry. It’s a nifty formulation that allows the prime minister, without appearing pacifist, to justify Australia turning down – for the first time in forty years – a request from our major ally the United States for more Australian troops to help defeat Islamic State. Mr Turnbull has rightly seized on the huge propaganda (as well as military) success that Iraqi troops can now boast of, having recently liberated Ramadi from the terrorists. Clearly, it’s a far better ‘look’ if it’s Iraqi (ie Muslim) soldiers killing Muslim terrorists rather than having Aussie diggers and US marines pulling the triggers. Or, to borrow from Mr Turnbull’s slightly nerdy power point-style jargon, it’s a ‘powerful marketing tool’ in the fight against Isis when Sunni Muslims are involved in winning the battle.

But there is a striking flaw in the logic of this new realisation about how to best defeat the Islamist death cult.

There are two well-recognised fronts in the war on terror – the physical battlegrounds of the Middle East and North Africa and the propaganda battlefields that stretch from the theatres and cafés of Paris to the prayer halls of Parramatta.

If it is only right and proper that Muslims – and only Muslims – fight to win on the killing fields of Iraq or Syria, then it is only right and proper that Muslims – and specifically Muslims – are seen to fight and win on the ideological battlefields of the West.

Under the new Turnbull Doctrine – ‘the right boots on the right ground’ – Australians should expect, and demand, to see overtly Muslim ‘foot soldiers’ defeating the pernicious and poisonous ideology that threatens our security.


If it is so important – ‘an absolute adrenalin shot’ in the battle against Isis, according to the PM – that the destruction of Muslim terrorists be visibly the work of Muslims themselves, then equally the slaying of Islamist ideology requires that Islam’s spiritual leaders, not Western authorities, do the heavy fighting. The Turnbull Doctrine demands nothing less.

Yet such a strategy flies in the face of the recent declaration by the head of Asio, the hapless Duncan Lewis, who before Christmas proclaimed: ‘I don’t buy the notion that the issue of Islamic extremism is in some way fostered or sponsored or supported by the Muslim religion. I don’t buy that at all. I think it’s blasphemous to the extent that I can comment on someone else’s religion’.

Mr Turnbull now, clearly, disagrees: ‘We should not be so delicate as to say Isil and its ilk have got nothing to do with Islam’ he said in Washington, putting him directly at odds with his out-of-touch, politically correct Director-General of counter-terrorism. Both can’t be right.

Upon his return, Mr Turnbull should not only re-educate Mr Lewis to his new realistic thinking, but should spell out clearly to the Muslim community what actions they need to undertake to be seen to be winning this war.

The myriad mullahs, muftis, imams and sheiks that clutter the mosques and prayer rooms of our cities and towns, often at taxpayers’ expense, must be placed on the very frontline of destroying radical Islamist ideology, and held accountable to do so.

Perhaps Islam’s spiritual and other leaders could start by urging their followers to desist from the all-embracing, pernicious anti-Semitism so popular among many of their flock; to recognise that militant Islamic ideology has perverted the entire Israel-Palestine peace process; to eschew the overt separatism and sense of perpetual victimhood so common among many Muslims and their apologist media acolytes; to treat all women and homosexuals with respect and dignity; and to enthusiastically embrace full integration into the Aussie way of life.

The 2015 Thawley Essay prize

It is with great delight that we announce the winner of the second Spectator Australia Thawley Essay prize. We received even more entries than last year, and the three judges were, naturally, over the moon to be able to devote most of their respective summer breaks to reading them all.

There were many intriguing, entertaining and thought-provoking arguments about the shaping of Australia, ranging from the lifelong effects of surviving the Burma horrors, to the misery of life in the trenches, to the battle of railway gauges.

(SFX: sound of tearing envelope): The winning prize of $5,000, publication soon in the Speccie, and dinner with the judges, John Howard, Michael Thawley and Rowan Dean, goes to Tony Letford for his provocative essay ‘Warri and Yatungka’. Congrats!

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Show comments
  • Did Tony write this piece? Ray Hadley or any of the other clowns that squawk in unison? Here’s a revelation for you. Anti_semitism means to be opposed to semitic people. Ie people of the middle east and Asia minor.
    Judaism is an Asian religion but most of the jews in Israel are Ashkenazi jews from Europe.
    I know this won’t make any difference to your diatribe. Do people actually pay money for this?

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