COMMON DESTINY October 13, 2008Posted by wmmbb in The Neighbours.
Yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the Bali Bombing, which caused the death of many Australians among others. It may be reasonable to those who commit crimes to be brought to justice, but we should not, as former Chief Justice Brennan has argued, be seen to supporting the death penalty for Indonesian citizens and not for Australians.
Many popular ideas are fashioned in the United States, but those that afflict some uninformed Americans is not sensible or politic to introduce here. We have to remember our geographic position, and who are our neighbours. The 220 million Indonesians are “many yet one” if their experiment in nation building works, which from the beginning has been supported by Australians, and continues to be our hope and consensus. Their have been a few hiccups along the way such as Confrontation, the post Sukarno massacres, Timor Leste, and perhaps others. Most of the time, Indonesia does not loom large, at least down in the south east of this continent.
We would do well, in my opinion, to respect the majority religion in Indonesia, even if we do not know much about it. The Islamic world is diverse, as is the Arab World. Arabic is the Latin of the Islamic World. It is useful to keep in mind that Islam like Christianity was successful because had appeal at the base of society.
As Juan Cole points out the Arabic speaking world is a significant part of the wider and more diverse Islamic World.
An Arab is a native speaker of the Arabic language, which is akin to Hebrew. The Arab civilization is one of the more glorious in world history, having bestowed on the world great scientific and cultural achievements. Arabic is spoken in North Africa and West Asia by approximately 250 million people, a group only somewhat smaller than the population of the United States.
Juan Cole includes this map:
Seen in the frame of this map, the invasion and occupation of Iraq looks like a de facto attack on the Arab world, fitting into the well entrenched pattern of imperialism that drew the current borders, as they did in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So historically we can observe that the contact with the Arabic Islamic civilization was the critical factor in the formulation of Western European civilization, from the transmission of innovation and ideas such as algebra, Aristotle and the Greeks, to notions (I suggest) of just war, and habits, such as bathing. The criticism is sometimes made that Australia has a derived culture, but is the nature of these things. It was true of the Greeks as well. Thales observed, proudly I believe, that he had spent five years with the Geometers of Egypt.
Unlike Americans, whom we indiscriminately adopt fashions and habits of thought, we actually live next to the largest Islamic country on earth. History is in this case our friend, as we intend to be friends with our neighbours. Furthermore, given that Indonesia and Australia are neighbouring countries they share a common destiny, which can and must be based on mutual respect and peace.
( I will endeavour over the next days get this post beyond the draft stage. Time now for bed.)