Ed: 35: September/2010
The next prime minister of Australia should be whoever can more convincingly promise a stable coalition able to undertake the responsibilities of government more effectively. Overseas and Australian state government experience demonstrates that stable, effective minority government is possible given the proper attitude of seriousness, sobriety and responsibility on the part of all the relevant political actors.
Israelis have been much focused in recent weeks on the testimony of various top officials to the Turkel inquiry - looking into the flotilla clash off Gaza on May 31 that left nine Turkish activists dead. On top of this, the Israeli government has made an unprecedented decision to cooperate with an inquiry under former New Zealand PM Geoffrey Palmer set up by the UN Secretary-General.
When Israel reopened an embassy in Wellington in April this year, it seemed obvious that the new Ambassador, Shemi Tzur, and his staff had a big job in front of them. Almost a decade without on-the-ground representation, as well as some years of troubled diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand, meant that Kiwi perceptions of Israel had, in many ways, been quite badly damaged.
On Aug. 9, 2010, members of Indonesia's elite counter-terrorist police force arrested the militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir as part of their ongoing investigations into a terrorist training camp discovered in February 2010 in Aceh, plots to kill President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and scheme to launch Mumbai-style attacks in Jakarta. While the government had previously alleged that Bashir was a financier of the cell and training camp, the arrest and his role in terrorist operations took many by surprise. The ongoing counter-terrorist operations, including Bashir's arrest, says much about the state and metastasisation of Jemaah Islamiah.
There are few journalists specialising in strategic and security affairs more experienced than Ron Ben Yishai. After fighting as a paratrooper in the Six Day War, Ben Yishai turned to journalism full time. Since then he has covered, from the battlefield, the Yom Kippur War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the first and second Lebanon wars, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the NATO operation in Kosovo, the Russian-Chechen violence in 2000 and more. He has been wounded three times while covering various battlefields from the front line.
News stories about bodies found at sea are occasionally published by Gaza newspapers. The number of such bodies isn't huge, yet not all those drowning victims chose to go swimming voluntarily. The Gazans who found their death at sea include mid-level officials at sensitive government ministries, the Interior Ministry for example, alongside police and security officers. Some of them were shot in the head before being sent on their swim. There is a common denominator to these deaths: All of the victims were designated as traitors by the secret service of Hamas' military wing in charge of counter-espionage and executed as collaborators.
Since coming to power in 1979, the Islamic Revolution in Iran has had two main aims. First, it wished to remain in power and if this was the aim of the Islamic Revolution, 31 years later, it has been successful. But revolutions don't come about simply to replace one regime with another. They come with a promise that their ideology can better the lives of people and advance the country, can make a difference. And in this, the second aim of the revolution â€“ to make the life of the Iranian people better than it was under the Shah â€“ 31 years later, there has not been any meaningful success.
It's been a decade since Israeli and Palestinian leaders met as peacemakers only to part at loggerheads. Now, with most of the Camp David summit's protagonists long gone from the scene, that ill-fated conclave's military, diplomatic and political repercussions are seen on both sides of the conflict as seminal. Led at the time by celebrated warrior and reputed risk-taker Ehud Barak, most Israelis expected the summit to produce a final-status deal between Israel and the Palestinians creating a Palestinian state, whose establishment was assumed to be just a matter of time.
What struck me then, and continues to strike me, was their complete lack of concern, sometimes even contempt, for the human beings they claimed to champion and the hatred for the human beings on the other side of the political divide. There was no regard for Palestinians who sought co-existence with Israelis, just uncritical support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The idea of institution building, self-determination of individuals or developing any paradigm which could lead to a win-win outcome were simply not on the agenda.