Search Results: Syria

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Questions for sub happy Australia

    • Justin Glyn
    • 09 May 2016
    15 Comments

    If Australia knows who its enemies are, presumably these putative enemies have a fairly good idea who they are as well. How are they likely to respond to a purchase of submarines? By initiating military countermeasures? By exacting trade sanctions? By diplomatic reprisals? These questions are vital, not just for military planners but also for anyone who is likely to be affected by Australian foreign policy as well as those who want to know more generally how their tax dollars are to be spent.

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  • RELIGION

    Anzac Day and just war scepticism go together

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 25 April 2016
    26 Comments

    The classical arguments originated at a time when casualties were suffered mostly by soldiers. In modern warfare, civilians overwhelmingly suffer. Just war theory is used as spin to give specious justification to military campaigns in whose devising ethical considerations played no part. Wars that governments wage are just; those waged by their enemies are unjust. By joining in such debate churches are co-opted into playing an intellectual game designed to make legitimate killing and destruction.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Francis in Lesbos confronts the unforgivable sin

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 19 April 2016
    10 Comments

    Pope Francis recently visited the island of Lesbos, another scene of immigrants' dire suffering, and surprised the world by taking 12 refugees back to Rome with him. Bernie Sanders asserted that the Pope, in his gesture of hope, is surely the greatest demonstration against a surrender to despair. I am still partly persuaded by Graham Greene's view of despair as being the unforgivable sin, but I'm also giving some thought to the distressing matter of indifference.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Good and bad news about the Syria ceasefire

    • Justin Glyn
    • 25 February 2016
    4 Comments

    There is cause for both optimism and scepticism in the news that the US and Russia have agreed a ceasefire in Syria. On the face of it, one of the world's bloodiest civil wars is about to come to an end; an end to be guaranteed by the two biggest, best armed militaries on the planet. This should be excellent news for everybody, not least the long suffering civilian population of one of the most bombed countries on earth. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Fleeing Syria's pious knights

    • Geoff Page
    • 09 February 2016
    2 Comments

    There were some cheers in Munich station but not all Eden proves to be so free with food and toys. There's something deeper in the blood. They have that sense of deja vu: horsemen, pikes and princes ... The pious knights of 1640, those fine sectarians, who charged for thirty years across the northern sweeps of Europe, are born again in Syria with new nomenclatures; so once again the hapless foresee it's time to move.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Offers of sanctuary brighten Australia's refugee dark age

    • Justin Glyn
    • 08 February 2016
    16 Comments

    Churches across Australia have made headlines by offering sanctuary to those who stand to be returned to Nauru following the High Court ruling, including 37 babies and a raped five-year-old whose attacker still resides there. In doing so, they have been rediscovering an old concept and reminding the government what refugee law was for in the first place. As in the Dark Ages, where the organs of the state are unable or unwilling to protect the vulnerable, it is the churches who are speaking out.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Ordinary heroes shine on suffering

    • Gillian Bouras
    • 29 January 2016
    9 Comments

    Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer often made his characters ask the eternal questions, chiefly Why do we suffer? I can't profess to have any answers to this, except that it is obvious that 'time and chance happeneth to all'. Two examples of such happenings are the huge numbers of ill-fated refugees fleeing Syria and other trouble spots, and the needless death of young Sarah Paino of Hobart, wife and mother, who was killed when a speeding stolen car crashed into hers.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Refugee crisis demands and defies sustained reflection

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 21 January 2016
    7 Comments

    In our response to the forced movement of peoples we must recognise that our national identity is not built primarily on uniformity of religion and race but on adherence to the values that are enshrined in our social institutions. We must also recognise the way in which our own prejudices and fears affect the judgments and proposals we make, and exercise a proper scepticism about making quick judgments and drawing universal conclusions from particular events such as those in Cologne.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Australia's bridge-building role in Saudi-Iran dispute

    • Justin Glyn
    • 18 January 2016
    2 Comments

    The US, while backing Saudi Arabia, seems to be increasingly exasperated with how far it has to stick its neck out for its ally. Relationships with Iran, by contrast, have improved recently. The difficulty is that sections within both Iran and Saudi Arabia's governments seem to see a certain short-term interest in tearing the region apart. Australia, which has full diplomatic ties with Iran, a strong trade partnership with Saudi Arabia, and the ear of the US, can play an important diplomatic role.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    2015 in review: Contemplating war in France

    • Bronwyn Lay
    • 14 January 2016
    3 Comments

    As I marched for Remembrance Day in our small village in France, I wondered, 'How long will these villages keep these ceremonies? When will someone decide these wars are too long ago or too far away?' Two days later, Paris was attacked. The news came like war does: sudden and violent. Then came declarations of a state of emergency and the closing of borders. My eldest daughter was over the border in Switzerland without a passport. War starts in increments, in the small ordinary worries of families.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    2015 in review: A political death

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 14 January 2016
    9 Comments

    It is hard to comment on Tony Abbott's demise without being splattered by the schoolyard mud. But we should begin by sparing a thought for the man himself in this time of humiliation. He has given his life to the Liberal Party, and to be disowned as leader by it is surely devastating. 

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  • AUSTRALIA

    2015 in review: Using schools to address extremism

    • Andrew Zammit
    • 11 January 2016
    2 Comments

    In September Sydney's Daily Telegraph ran the headline 'Schoolyard Terror Blitz', reporting that 'schoolteachers will be given access to radicalisation information awareness kits explaining how to identify students at risk and what they should do to intervene as concerns grow about the rise of teen terrorists'. As the government prepares to address the involvement of schoolchildren in violent extremism, a controversial program in the UK shows a dangerous path that Australia must avoid.

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