16 August 2007

The world is a foreign place



Yep, the world is pretty complex all right.

At the start of his article, Greg Sheridan wants to go the biology-is-destiny thing but he knows that nobody writing after Auschwitz can get away with that tosh, not even if you're a theatre reviewer from Montreal. Does anybody believe projections 40+ years into the future? Where is the seer from the 1960s who predicted this world we live in now?
Our age, I suspect, is going to be characterised by three great strategic issues: the war on terror or, if you like, the fate of Islam; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and the rise of India and China.

Each of these issues is immensely complex and each is more complicated because of the dynamic of globalisation. Moreover, it is the way these three issues interact with each other that is most difficult to understand and respond to.

Leaving aside the utter redundancy of the second clause in the first sentence quoted above, this is the essence of Sheridan's article. Maybe some day into the future we will see a combination of events and interpretation of which this forms a root. Today, though, it seems like the mutterings of a discombobulated old man who has woken after a slumber.

"Consider this potential chain of interaction", he says, setting up a crenellated tower of enteric substance worthy of Frederick Forsyth, which falls on top of him because there isn't enough reportage to support it, and nor is there the cracking novel the sketch would suggest.

His apology for underestimating the geostrategic importance of the Middle East (!) is important, but I hope this article wasn't a show-cause for why the Foreign Editor ought not be sacked.
Saudi Arabia continues to pump tens of millions of dollars into its longstanding attempt to Arabise, standardise and in a sense radicalise Asian Islam.

See Greg, this is the job of a foreign editor: when you say "Saudi Arabia" here, what do you mean? Do you mean some members of the extended royal family, or funds from the government treasury and the full deal? Wouldn't it be lazy to say that "America" provides both evangelical Christianity and porn in overwhelming quantities? Isn't that kind of learned and granular complexity the very job of a foreign editor?
In all of this we are hugely fortunate as a nation to have so intimate a connection with the most powerful nation in the world, the US, which for all its imperfections is by a vast distance the greatest source for good in the world today.

This is not reportage or analysis. It is the bleating of a man pathetically grateful for an invite.
Tonight the Australian American Leadership Dialogue, a unique and priceless initiative in private diplomacy and astoundingly frank strategic exchange, begins its annual meeting and will try to come to grips with many of these issues. It has a lot of work ahead of it.

What do you expect it to achieve, Greg? What comes of this "work", this coming to grips? When you understand that, and look for it in vain in your writings, you'll see why your writings are so disappointing, why it is necessary to go elsewhere to build your understanding.

Sheridan's work on the Bush-Howard relationship was dead as soon as it was released. If he has nothing to say, as is clear from this article, then he'd be better off saying nothing.

2 comments:

  1. zebbidies spring19/8/07 10:19 pm

    he he he..

    Even after 30 years of reading Geg Sheridan, I still love a good take down of the pompous twat.

    I still haven't forgiven him for accusing anti-war/anti_bushniks of a psychosis. For an avowed anti-communist of his ilk to be blind to the irony of defining your political opponents as mentally ill is enough to set my mouth in a grim line and my eyes to anywhere else on the page except where he's written.

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  2. Pomposity like that comes from too many cosy off-the-record chats with too much good grog. He's too shrill to be a comfortable insider, too complacent to be investigative and insightful. The end of the Soviet Union really did for Sheridan: he'll be redundant once Howard and Bush go.

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