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Scoop Feedback: Cresswell, Klein And NZ’s Defence

In This Edition: Two readers take exception to Peter Cresswell’s first column, a reader from Spain opines on Naomi Klein and a battle royale is brewing between two readers over NZ’s defence arrangements in general, and the F16s we didn't buy in particular.


PC's opinion: Heart of the West

12 October... PC's Opinion: The Heart of the West

Dear Editor

I was appalled that this article was given space on the internet to be published. I find his remarks to be racist, ignorant generalisations of the Muslim faith.

"A culture where men crash planes into buildings, call for jihads..." The men who crashed the planes were terrorists and it is a representative of these terrorists, Osama bin Laden, who calls for a jihad, not a representative of Islam.

"Arab heroes as a result are... suicide bombers, and a spoilt rich kid called Osama fixated on death and destruction and martyrdom." Again, these suicide bombers were terrorists, and although I totally oppose the attacks on America, I believe it is essential to take into consideration what could possible bring these individuals to commit such a crime. It is not Islam that produces people who are fixated on death and destruction and martydom.

I don't agree that life expectancy is any factor contributing to the measurement of a superior civilisation. When you are considering other cultures, things aren't better or worse, just different.

I am surprised that someone with such a narrow and racist view of the world and its diversity is given the time of day to publish his work.

Elizabeth Stoneman


Peter Cresswell should be slapped around a bit, ed.

When enlisting new columnists, particularly ones who choose to write about current affairs, make sure that they pay attention to the current affairs that they choose to opine about.

Peter Cresswell should be slapped around a bit, ed. Once you've done that, let him know that "we" are not at war with a culture.

Rather, that the USA are choosing an infectious rhetoric to describe their war with the rulership of Afghanistan. Even in spite of that rhetoric, Bush has patiently and repetitively pointed out that the enemy is not Islam. Read that again, Peter. "We" are not at war, and the enemy of the USA is a governing body heavily involved in international terrorism. Not a culture.

I won't go into the fact that the USA's chosen allies, the Northern Alliance, are also Muslims, and Muslims accused of horrific war crimes at that.

Once you've slapped Peter around, give him a history lesson. The Western Enlightenment would never have happened without the contribution of Islamic culture.

The classical scientific and philosophical writings of ancient Greece, the writings that inspired, educated and informed the Enlightenment disappeared in Europe.

Their absence lasted many hundreds of years. While Europe had lost the writings of its philosophical fathers, they were kept safe in the Islamic world by Muslim philosophers, who subsequently developed them to create their own contributions to science.

Eventually, the writings were translated back from Arabic into European languages.

If a scientific term is not Greek or Latin, it will nearly always be Arabic. It has been observed that the current state of Islamic civilization is much like the state of Western civilization in the the so-called "Dark Ages".

Even so, your new columnist chooses to collapse the distinction between the most vile Islamist extremism, the more liberal modernist parts of Muslim civilization, and everything in between. This is after he dismisses thought itself, by failing to distinguish between the militaristic, apocalyptic "Clash of Civilizations" rhetoric, and the reality abstracted from by that rhetoric.

In failing to make that particular discernment, in his own petty little way he shames the analytic tradition of the Enlightenment

Peters mum is as indebted to the torch-holders of classical Islamic culture as she is to the thinkers of the Western Enlightenment.



Naomi Klein doesn't like logos

Dear Sir,

Naomi Klein doesn't like logos. But without them, how would she know which shoes to boycott when she disagrees with the way Nike treats its workers in Asia?

Naomi Klein doesn't like globalisation. What does she dislike- the extra jobs in poor countries that would not exist without free trade? Or the opportunity globalisation provides for individuals or companies to trade their labour, products or services, for the best price they can obtain on a free market? It is wonderful that Naomi Klein is free to express her opinion. Unfortunately though, if allowed to be implemented, her ideas will deny future generations of rich and poor countries alike the freedom to express theirs.

David Bertelsen Valencia, Spain


I take exception (Scoop Feedback 12 Oct)

12 October... Scoop Feedback: NZ Picking Over The Bones Of Fear
10 October... Scoop Feedback: Brickbats, Bouquets & Views

Dear Editor,

Noting the response to my comments (Scoop Feedback: Brickbats,Bouquets & Views) by M Campbell, I wish to make the following further comment:

As for the F-16A's we had the opportunity to purchase, I agree that the airframes are older than those being purchased by Oman but significantly younger than the A-4's. That does not necessarily mean they are any the less capable.

As for the avionics, it is my understanding that an upgrade to near current technology was part of the original purchase price of the F-16A's.

As for the figures relating to the cost of the LAVIII's. Sorry, but I do have it correct. The US is paying US$2M a piece, that is some NZ$4 (at least it was when I first did the calculation some months ago). The figure for our LAV's was orginally some US$4 each which again worked out at NZ$7 at the time.

As for the cost for "coastal defence and transport vessels" my source was the defence review paper which advised on the likely type and cost of vessels the government was looking at. I know no more than the Government what these costs and type would be other than what they have indicated were likely.

What I have suggested in my feedback is, whatever this cost , it is more than likely, based on the history of recent Government purchases of almost any type, to be far greater and the actual suitability will be questionable at best.

I have never suggested the infantry should be short-changed. In fact (if M. Campbell cares to read the papers a little more often) I have supported the Army upgrade to the full, except perhaps for the wisdom of opting for the LAVIII for the role the Government expects it to undertake. I have yet to see any other reputable source supporting the purchase of these vehicles. In fact I have read a number of articles in the papers and transcripts of parliamentary discussion which basically say they are no better, if not worse, than the existing APC's.

As for the costs of purchase being probably lower through the ANZUS alliance, there is a degree of supposition here. However, I will take this on board and seek information from the Government on what purchasing assistance they received through the Alliance in the period 1 September 1951 and 6 August 1985.

I do not denigrate the use of HMNZ Manawanui in the Solomon's, I castigate a government that can see no further than the end of its nearest welfare and politically correct dollar. A government that has seen this nation's Navy being forced to "show the flag" with a dive-support ship rather than another Frigate. Which, by the way, it has sent there before.

What communications and logistics support does a dive-support boat provide. Take a look on the Navy's web-site and get an idea of what the jolly thing is.

Of course we are doing more peace-keeping than ever before. I am amongst the first to applaud both that fact and the personnel doing such a fine job.

But make no mistake (and, being the aviation person that M Campbell advises us he is, I am sure he is aware of this) peace-keeping is only effective as long as there is sufficient cover to ensure the backs of ground troops undertaking the task are well covered. That requires a variety of resource.

Costly yes, lacking in importance, no.

I am astonished that he can come out with the belief that the strike aircraft we had or could have had were of little use to us in real life.

Again, it seems he either does not read, or is so immersed in his own blinkered thinking that he can not accept there is a big distinction between being seen to be effective through action (seeing aircraft shooting things up) or being effective through acting in a multi-purpose training and peace-keeping role along with other arms of the services with the where-with-all to throw a punch should it become necessary.

As a parting shot, it is obvious M Campbell is an aviation person because, if he were a foot soldier being transported in an APC, LAVIII or even a modern tank he would know that he would rather see a friendly A-4 or F-16 flying overhead than a hostile with even a small array of modern air-to-ground weaponary.

If he does not see the relevance, then try blowing up a large water melon inside a 44 gallon drum with the lid on. Then take a look inside. It is not pretty.

Mirek Marcanik

P.S. It might be usefull to draw M Campbell's attention to the following web-sites for a bit of interesting information on the canned F-16A/B purchase:

In the meantime, as promised in my reply on 12 October, I have a request for information in with the Ministry of Defence for more specific information on the potential savings that could have been made through the purchase of equipment in association with the ANZUS Alliance

Mirek Marcanik


Mike Campbell Replies…

In reply to Mr Marcanik I'd say that I do read papers, and I have been an infantry man. My figures were taken from official US documents, and the dive support ship carries HF radio capable of communicating with New Zealand and appropriate cypher equipment and personnel.

Lastly I wish he had read my point about air cover properly - New Zealand is NEVER likely to go to war in a situation where we do not have allies capable of providing air cover, and so the main danger to APC's of all types remains foot soldiers and their supporting arms. The only way to deal with these is with the man on the ground and HIS supporting arms. Air power and a huge naval presence notwithstanding even in the Gulf War ultimately men and machines had to take the ground.

Thank you.

Mike Campbell.


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