David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

16 September 2014

Right Drum + Right Frame = Right War

The drums of war are sounding, again     
It now appears highly likely that Australia once again is headed for war in Iraq, perhaps not with masses of ground combat forces as occurred last decade, but with military force nonetheless. It is imperative that the militant brigades of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) be halted. They have waged terror across Syria, Iraq and into Lebanon, and conducted unspeakably brutal crimes. Whole cities are now in its grip. But The Age urges the government to consider Australia's position with caution before plunging headlong into this venture. The momentum is building, but the strategy for eradicating ISIL remains elusive..

Editorial : THE AGE
13 September 2014

War Frames

As Prime Minister Tony Abbott oversees Australia's deployment of troops to Iraq from his temporary office in the Garma Knowledge Centre on the Gulkula plateau, politicians and observers are looking for the right frame to describe the military operation. The Labor Party has fallen into line behind the government, accepting Abbott's assertions that the mission against the Islamic State is unlike others in the Middle East and that while this mission is essentially humanitarian, there's also a national security component: if allowed to expand, the Islamic State would inevitably pose a threat to Australia. Mark Kenny reports in the Fairfax press that "sources close to" Abbott insist that he's acting on a clear moral sense of duty, which flows from the simple characterisation of the Islamic State as "evil". This perhaps explains his eagerness to involve Australia, which has been much quicker off the mark than Britain.

The Greens and others, on the other hand, worry that Australia's eagerness looks too much like its traditional deference to its "great and powerful friends". Christine Milne yesterday pointed to the lack of a time-frame or even clearly-defined objectives to Australia's mission, and raised the concern that Australia's involvement will only encourage the radicalisation of disaffected and alienated young Muslims. Although Abbott and ASIO's outgoing Director-General of Security David Irvine have denied any such correlation, ASIO's own report to parliament in 2012-13 acknowledged that Australia's military operations in the Middle East do raise the risk of domestic terrorism.

In Washington, journalist Paul McGeough points out that the US-led mission lacks clarity. Those urging military action in the US, Britain and Australia are particularly animated by the potential dangers posed by "returning Jihadists", but those governments are rarely asked to quantify that threat in any way. Meanwhile there appears disagreement on either side of the Pacific as to whether the mission should even be described as a "war".

Russell Marks
Editor : The Monthly

16 September 2014

FIAPCE  -1983- 
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something ...