Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 3, 2011

Monday, 2nd May 2011 – Osama Bin Laden is killed.

Well, apart from a couple of  police shootings [of assumed criminals] in Melbourne over the past 18 hours, the reports from America through the afternoon, relating to President Barak Obama’s announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden, following an attack on one of his strongholds outside Islamabad [in Pakistan] a few days ago, has dominated the media attention.  The ‘celebrations’ in the early hours of the American morning, particularly in New York and Washington, while being easy enough to understand, were also a little disturbing for there to be joy over the death of the world’s most wanted man!! Perhaps the world is better off to be rid of  him, although I think you would have to be a super optimist to think that his departure is going to do much to lessen the threat of terrorism.  Speaking in a televised address to the world, late on Sun day night, American time,  President Obama announced that Bin Laden was killed in a fire fight with US special forces, apparently early Sunday [although I thought I read a report it was a few days ago].  The attack, which had been planned for some months, was carried out on a mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan, about 65km from the capital city Islamabad, where Bin Laden had been in hiding.  “After a fire fight, they killed Bin Laden and took custody of his body,” the President confirmed. “On nights like this one we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al-Qaeda terror, justice has been done.”

However, as the following reports suggest, it does seem that those celebrating in the States are not alone.   Commenting today, former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, believes that the US celebrations over the death of Osama bin Laden are the natural reaction of a country that felt violated by the al-Qaeda leader’s acts of terrorism,. Mr Howard, who was in the US at the time of the September 11 attacks in 2001, said he understood how the American people felt. “They are the natural spontaneous reactions of ordinary people who saw the 11th of September as an even deeper violation of American sovereignty than Pearl Harbour,” he told journalists in Sydney on Monday. “To lose 3000 people in your political capital and your commercial and cultural capital, without provocation, without justification, without reason, without any explanation, without any moral justification, it leaves an impression.  “I understood how the Americans felt, and I’ve always understood the reactions and the impulses of the Americans as a result.”

But Kuranda Seyit of FAIR, which describes itself as “an independent public relations group”, said the images of Americans rejoicing in the streets of Washington and New York were not appropriate. “I’m just totally disgusted about it,” he told AAP. The director of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR), has labelled the US celebrations as “disgusting”. “(The celebrations) are just like the so-called reports by American television of Muslims celebrating after September 11. This is just as bad. “We need to show a little bit more respect towards humanity, even if they’re the bad guys. Mr Seyit said the al-Qaeda leader had galvanised the Muslim community in the past. “The way he is viewed now, I would say 50 in terms of pro and 50 in terms of against. “A lot of people see him as a negative representative of the Muslim community. “But then, other people see him as someone who is at least having a go at some of those colonial powers interfering in Muslim affairs”.

A couple of sharply contrasting attitudes, and probably, coming from where they do in each case, to be expected. Generally however, around the world tonight, world leaders are not holding back on their ‘suppressed pleasure’ that Bin Laden has been got rid of. Former US presidents have reacted to the news of Bin Laden’s death, with George W Bush describing the operation as a “momentous achievement” that “marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11”. Bill Clinton has also congratulated President Obama, the National Security team and US armed forces for “bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks”.  World leaders applauded the news. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Obama in a written statement, while New Zealand Prime Minister John Key told reporters the World was a safer place without Bin Laden. Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has  warned Australians travelling overseas to take extra care. “We are advising Australians in areas likely to be affected by gatherings outside hotels, gatherings and demonstrations, to exercise enhanced vigilance regarding their personal security.”  Ms Gillard said Bin Laden’s death was a small justice to those grieving, but the threat of al-Qaeda was far from over.  “I trust that today’s news comes as some small measure of justice for those who still grieve the loss of their loved ones,” she said.  “Every Australian has been touched and affected by acts of terrorism by al-Qaeda …. consequently, every Australia will be touched by this news today.”

Taking all of that it, and the potential for some reaction in parts of the Muslim world, one has to wonder, perhaps with some degree of concern just what level of ‘payback’ will occur for this payback by the Americans, which they have worked 10 years towards? And no doubt over the next few days, the media saturation of the Royal  Wedding, and the accompanying reports over the past coupler of days, of the deaths of some of Colonel Gaddafi’s family in Libya following a NATO forces strike, we are now going to be similarly saturated with stories of the life and death of Osama Bin Laden, and a reminder, rightfully so, of the horrors he masterminded on behalf of Al-Qaedi against the west, including 911 in the USA, the Bali bombings and other terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, closer to home, it was a typical day in the life of an accountant for your writer, head down, calculator operating, and annual estimates of income and expenditure for the next 12 months of my employing organisation’s ongoing business, being worked upon!! Even closer to home, I was disappointed that Susie had not returned to the university work in Bendigo, and seemed little interested in talking to her Dad [or anyone in the family at present] about the reasons therefore and/or her plans. She had presumably been home most of the day. It would be untruthful to say that the situation on that score was not worrying me considerably. She has been given a lot of help and advice, but must come to a few decisions of her own, and very soon. Later tonight, after I had retired, she went out for a couple of hours after 11 pm, in fact someone picked her up. Back sometime after 1am., no idea what that was all about, except it meant another disturbed sleep for yours truly!!

Anyway, with those thoughts in mind, I decided I needed another episode of Q & A to watch, and to brighten, hopefully, my own spirits. Tonight’s program was presented from the inland regional city of Albury, which sits on the banks of the Murray River, on the New South Wales side of the Victoria/NSW border, and not surprisingly, tonight’s panel had a regional ‘touch’ about them, in name [or at least title] anyway! Actually, looking at those titles, one might immediately assume that tonight was destined to be a very dry and boring program – I hope, in advance, that I’m proved wrong. Our panellists, under host Tony Jones are Simon Crean [Federal Minister for Regional Australia], Sophie Mirabella [Shadow Opposition Minister for Industry], Tony Windsor [Independent Federal Member for New England, and one of those politicians holding a bit of a balance of power in the House of Representatives at the present time], Eliza Brown [a local wine grower, and Director of the successful ‘Brown Brothers Wines], Nick Klomp [Dean of Science, at Charles Sturt University], and Alana Johnson [Victorian Rural Woman of the Year 2010.  Mmmmmmm, well looking at that line up, I not convinced that my night is likely to be brightened up very much.  I shall remain optimist! In fact, despite the nature of the panel, I’m sure because of the news of the day, that it will be impossible to avoid questions, and discussion/debate on Osama Bin Laden!  Such as this potential question –   ‘According to initial reports concerning the death of Osama Bin Laden, American ground forces entered Pakistan without any permission to conduct the operation that has supposedly been in the works for several months according to President Obama. Does the panel have the view that the ends justify the means and what are the implications for future Pakistan-US Relations?”  That will be interesting –  personally, I think with the Americans, the end always justifies the means [look at the infiltration into neighbouring countries during the Vietnam War], and certainly from various reports, this would not be the first operation, eg, against the Taliban, that has involved  American forces entering Pakistan.  Somehow, irrespective of how right or wrong they were, I can imagine the Americans coming out of it all with ‘clean noses’, don’t they always?  Or another question  –  “Hours ago we saw President Obama announce the death of Osama Bin Laden. Since then we have seen footage of over the top celebration by many young Americans. Panel do you really think this is time for celebration  or rather a time for reverence  and contemplation of the continual job at hand?”   Well, I’ve touched on that above, I wonder how the panel will handle it?

Well, there were just the two questions allowed on the subject, at the beginning of the program, and rightfully so, with the largest Q & A audience, packed into a large auditorium in Albury, they were there to talk about regional and rural issues.  On the Bin Laden situation, I think the most telling comment from one of the panel members was simply ‘it’s disturbing that we celebrate death, in the way we have seen today – it’s a sad comment on us as humanity’!!   Meanwhile, on the regional issues, I think the principal point being made by the audience [and of course denied in various guises by the politicians present] was the question as to why governments continually fail to acknowledge the contributions of regional people, as compared with their attitude to the city populations?  I notice some bright spark on the website commented ‘because that’s where the votes are, in the cities’. But if you listen to the government minister, Simon Crean,  you would think the opposite is happening, and Labor is taking a lot of notice of rural needs this time around, with the proposed National Broadband Network [NBN] implementation been sited as a prime example of that policy. In fact Mr Crean came along to the meeting with a prize in his back pocket – a pre-Budget announcement of the establishment of a $65 million Cancer Clinic in Albury, apparently something that area has been seeking for a long time.  During the program, there were various questions which tended to revolve around the subject of rural disadvantages, compared to capital cities, involving issues such as health services, education, communications, transport etc. Interestingly, on a number of points, the challenge was thrown back to the local communities to make their voices heard more, and push for a higher profile of those issues that matter. Much is being made for eg, of suggestions that the NBN will connect rural communities to the major centres, when perhaps it would be more useful to place emphasise on using the NBN to provide meaningful opportunities for decentralisation, or to establish training facilities in regional areas aimed at encouraging those trainees to use their qualifications in those areas, rather than having to go to the cities to train, and generally staying there for employment.  Of course, the regional must have employment and jobs available to compensate the local training – the lack of such jobs is aiding in the drift to the big centres!

Overall, a good discussion, with as usual, time the restricting factor in allowing most potential questions to be put to the panel. I was a bit disappointed, once again, that the politicians on the panel are given the majority of opportunities to respond and contribute to the program – and I blame the host presenter for that situation arising time and again.



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