I was shocked to wake this morning to the news of the terrorist attack in Jakarta. No doubt, all Australians have been rocked by this blast, an attack on Australians and an attack on our neighbours.
It is appropriate to take the time in this forum to remember the victims of those slain and pray for their families. We hope that they are eventually able to find peace and comfort. Australia must do all we can to help them through their distress.
Without a doubt we must vigorously pursue these terrorists, who act to destabilize our future, our neighbourâ€™s future and our democracies. Whether at home or in our backyard, terrorism and its attendant causes must be addressed. This will mean pursuing intelligence and military options, but it will also mean doing what Australia does best, and that is engaging with our regional community to share and solve our problems. We go to some length to outline proposals to rejunvenate South East Asian regionalism in Chapter 6, including creating an Asia-Pacific Security Organization.
‘Terrorism’ is not an enemy in and of itself, but rather a tool for the politically discontent. We believe Australia can be doing more to get at the root causes of terrorism by focusing our aid program on communities in Asia, rather than large state-led aid programs. Recipient communities would be able to prioritize their own developmental needs, be they community health facilities, education for children, access to communication or assistance in improving crop productivity. A strategy that involves communities in their own development, may well go a long way to providing the incentives to reduce poverty and the lack of information that breeds discontent.
Spreading Australia’s ideas and values are just as important as dollars for development. Along with it’s military and intelligence power, Australia has much ‘soft power’ in the attractiveness of our ideas and values. To spread these widely to communities in Asia should be our another layer in our strategy to combat poverty, ignorance and the reactionary forces they can breed. Again in Chapter 6 we outline a way to expand the global contest for ideas by amalgamating Australia’s best broadcasting into the region through ABC Asia-Pacific with the BBC World Service and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A combined World Broadcasting Service would beam high-quality (and less-biased) news and information into the villages, towns and communities of those who need it most. Spreading our fundamental attitudes towards democracy, openness, freedom, is surely more attractive than other kinds of fundamentalism.
As the discussion of Australia’s response to terrorism heats up during the election, let’s make sure we address all the systemic factors and are not led into the false belief that a military response alone will eradicate terrorism from our world.
[Posted by Peter Tynan]