ERDOGAN’S CRACKDOWN IS DEEPLY DISTURBING

By | Geopolitics, Human Rights, Opinion pieces for the press, Turkey | No Comments

There is something deeply disturbing about the direction in which Recip Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party are taking Turkey. Writing in this newspaper last week, John Lyons compared the sweeping purges to McCarthyism in the United States, in the 1950s. That was altogether the wrong analogy. The scale and arbitrariness of what is happening are, rather, akin to Hitler’s state of emergency after the Reichstag fire in 1933, or Stalin’s reaction to the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934, than to the United States in the 1950s. There is also an analogy with the Islamist revolution in…

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GENOCIDE BY ANY OTHER NAME

By | History, Human Rights, Opinion pieces for the press, Religion, Turkey | No Comments

  One of the strangest holdovers from the disasters of the 20th century is the refusal of the Turkish government to acknowledge the genocides of Armenians and Assyrians that were perpetrated under the Young Turks a century ago this year. Many governments, including our own, hesitate to call a spade a spade for fear of offending the Turkish government, but the Pope has recently called Turkey on the matter. At the very least, as Eugene Rogan observes in his newly published study The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East 1914-1920 (Allen Lane 2015), massive killing…

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GIVE US GOOD CHOICES, NOT FEARFUL BANS

By | Human Rights, Opinion pieces for the press, Religion, Science | No Comments

In May this year, in these pages, Peter Short wrote a forthright opinion piece declaring that he was dying of oesophageal cancer, had a supply of Nembutal and would end his own life at a time of his choosing. In January this year, his doctors gave him six months to live. He is still very much alive and is campaigning vigorously for the passage of legislation that would make it easier for people to do what he declares he will do: choose the manner and timing of their own deaths over medically protracted indignity and suffering. I am writing to…

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POLITICS, REASON AND GAY MARRIAGE

By | AusPolitics, Human Rights, Opinion pieces for the press | No Comments

  The reaction by conservative religious leaders and political commentators to the decision by the ALP on gay marriage has been that this tilt will imperil the party at the next Federal election. It may well do. But the reasons supplied are shocking arguments against a call for legitimising gay marriage. I am not a member of the Left-wing intelligentsia, I am not gay and I am not standing for political office. I am, however, a believer in clear reasoning; and what has been written on the subject cries out – if not to Heaven, then to the intellect –…

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CAPONE OR MALONE? Terrorism and the Uses of Coercive Interrogation

By | Critical Essays, Human Rights | No Comments

  “Muslims everywhere [should] dismember [the Americans’] nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, provoke their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships…shoot down their planes [and] kill them on land, at sea and in the air. Kill them wherever you find them.” – Omar Abdel Rahman, New York based Islamic cleric (1996)[i]   “By its terms, Geneva applies to conflicts involving ‘High Contracting Parties’, which can only be States. However, the war against terrorism ushers in a new paradigm, one in which groups with broad international reach commit horrific acts against innocent civilians, sometimes with the…

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