Sunday, October 19, 2014


The MEAO - Middle East Area of Operations. 

RAAF Super Hornets in the MEAO courtesy News Ltd

Sorry I didn't get this posted up earlier. I'd temporarily 'lost connectivity'. 

This is my Saturday Canberra Times column, dealing with Iraq . . .  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ethical Investing

The ANU started it.

The university issued a simple statement stating that it would, in future, be investing its money ethically. The uni named some mining and resources companies, including Santos, from which it would divest.

Australian Ethical Super

Unfortunately it appears someone didn't do their homework. The Fin carries a story today suggesting that the named companies - and particularly Santos - are, in fact, very ethical investments.

Another story coincidently noted that the big four accountancy firms have issued a statement of support for the Beijing government. They called for students to stop protests calling for more democracy in Hong Kong.

I wonder how they would justify, ethically, why they felt so compelled to tell the students what to do? What moral code is at work here?

Or are they just more worried about the financial viability of their mainland operations?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Daesh, ISIL, ISIS, and now, bizarrely, "Daish"

"What's in a name," pondered Juillet.

Of course the moral of her story is that alliegance or belonging - want to or not - to a particular cause or group is everything.

ISIL, ISIS, or Daesh?

Media outlets around the world are attempting, incoherently, to come to some view on what the group fighting in the state formerly known as Iraq should be called.

News that it's now begun fighting Iran suggests that it's not a genuine "Islamic State".

That's why I made the decision, some weeks ago, to call it Daesh. So have most reputable media outlets.

Oh, and by the way, the ABC might note it's been the only organisation stupid and incompetant enough to spell the word "Daish". I remember when it used to be an authoritative news outlet.

Monday, September 29, 2014


Normally no one cares less about a book. Publish and be dammed. 

But sometimes books are weapons . . . political weapons. 

Even if they appear to be driven by personal motives, they can have a very political effect. 

That's probably the case with these two, recently published books (one of which Rudd described as a "work of fiction"), as I wrote in the Canberra Times . . . 

Friday, September 26, 2014


Bombing is not a strategy. It is simply one way of achieving your objectives. 

This is something the West appears to have lost sight of. 

Arming planes on the USS George Washington

At the Chief of Army's conference this week it was the military men who appeared to understand war far better than the politicians, as this column for the Canberra Times explained . . . 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Triumph & Demise

I've finally got a moment to begin reading Paul Kelly's Triumph & Demise.

It's brilliant.

But there's still hope for the likes of more pedestrian authors like myself. I opened it at p102, his (Kelly's) account of the Gillard/Rudd pact to destroy Beazley. Surprisingly, I feel, although he details Rudd's visit to Melbourne to address the Left at Lygon Street (an important step in gaining support from this quarter) he doesn't even mention the meeting between the two leadership aspirants on the NSW North Coast where they sealed their pact. This was the point at which the two actually reached their agreement that Rudd would be the boss.

Also, on p105 he says Chris Evans became the "future treasurer and Senate leader". Well, it's not often that we've had a Treasurer in the upper house and I don't actually think Evans did become treasurer. And there are a few other infelicitous sentences.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not being picky and nor am I suggesting there are gaps or sloppiness in the work. It's excellent. The point is that everything is the product of a person.

Witnessing the fact that Kelly remains a mortal offers hope to those of us who are more pedestrian writers and analysts. We should be thrilled that each of us can aim to achieve Kelly's heights.

A Borderless World?

In 1984 I was part of Exercise Lionheart, the (until then) biggest UK Armoured deployment anywhere since the Second World War.

Then, in 1989, the wall began to fall.

It almost looked as if war and borders were a thing of the past. 

In Singapore in the mid 90's I remember the enthusiasm that greeted the great, uniting, "European Project".

Today things are different. Everywhere - from East Timor to Scotland - we see increasing demand for self determination.

But that's why it's so important to take the long view, as this great column from the Financial Times does.