Ideas@TheCentre – The Centre for Independent Studies


Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table.  3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.

Pyongyang: the truths

01 September 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

TS kim jong-un missile 1North Korea’s decision to launch an intermediate ballistic missile over Japan was dangerous and destabilising. But although there are no easy answers when it comes to dealing with Pyongyang, it is worth bearing in mind the following banal truths:

First, although it is self-evidently not in our interest, it makes sense to North Korea for them to have nuclear weapons. Why? Because Kim Jong-un wants to ensure the survival of his wicked regime; and nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterrent. The despot is not cautious, but neither is he suicidal.

Second, China has very little leverage to coerce North Korea into giving up its nuclear program. Why? Because Beijing needs Pyongyang for geopolitical reasons: the collapse of the regime would create a refugee crisis and probably lead to the reunification of the Korean peninsula under the U.S. security umbrella.

True, the Chinese don’t like how Kim sabre-rattles. After all, that antagonises Washington and its allies, might cause Japan to go nuclear and has led the U.S. to put a missile defence system in South Korea — which Beijing does not like at all. Still, the Chinese are committed to keeping North Korea intact. And if we try to impose severe economic pressure on the Hermit Kingdom, Beijing will just counter our sanctions and make sure the regime survives.

Third, a U.S.-led pre-emptive strike may provoke the very action it is designed to prevent. Why expect Kim to go gently when he has nothing to lose? The North Koreans have nuclear weapons, which they can respond with. They have thousands of artillery pieces, which they can use to hit Seoul. China would come to their rescue, and who knows where that would lead?

Finally, the U.S. and its allies should — and will — keep in place a strong, clear deterrent threat against North Korea. It was not President Donald Trump, but President Bill Clinton who warned on the Demilitarised Zone in 1993, if the North Koreans ever used nuclear weapons, “it would be the end of their country.”

Indeed, although containment can’t work against terrorists, who can run and hide, rogue states are different: they have a mailing address. And if Kim used nuclear weapons against the U.S. homeland — or U.S. allies and interests — it would guarantee massive retaliation, probably obliteration. Not ideal, but a better strategy than the alternatives.

Indigenous people used as sacrificial lambs

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

01 September 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

JP cashless welfare debit card 1There was a lot of media focus on the video of street violence that Indigenous elders from Wyndham, Roebourne and Ceduna took to Canberra in a graphic appeal for our nation’s leaders to support the implementation of the cashless debit card.

The elders believe the card — designed to minimise spending on alcohol and gambling products by quarantining 80% of welfare income — is key to stemming the kind of vicious acts in the footage, which are seen in their home communities daily.

I would describe the video as even more abhorrent than the footage revealed in the ABC Four Corners program exposing mistreatment of youth inmates at Don Dale. Yet while we saw public outcry and action in response to the Don Dale revelations, there has been no action on the street violence and the cashless debit card.

How is a toddler being picked up by their scalp, or a woman being kicked and stomped on, any less worthy of action than the Don Dale inmates? Is it because the street violence is between Aboriginal people — something the left shies away from addressing — rather than the perception of the Don Dale acts as being white people inflicting racism on Aboriginal people?

But while the Greens have followed their usual stance: to sit back and do nothing except condemn the desperate pleas of the community leaders (presumably because they don’t fit the Greens’ narrative) we have to also ask what the major parties are doing to address it.

Perhaps it is fear of another backlash like the one the former Howard Government received over the intervention. Why is it that our MP’s are comfortable being held to ransom by activists who ignore the plight of the thousands of battered Australian women and sexually abused children in the name of political correctness?

How do our leaders and politically-correct activists sleep at night after viewing the footage and sitting on their hands?

Why are these abused and assaulted women and children — all of whom are Australian citizens — being used as sacrificial lambs for the enforcement of ideological thinking?

Food security key to stability

01 September 2017 | Ideas@TheCentre

AS food security crop IT mobile phone 1The recent drought and consequential shortage of food and deterioration of arable lands in Syria undoubtedly encouraged the country’s descent into violence and civil unrest.

The food insecurity in Syria led to poverty and unemployment, making the country more easily vulnerable to exploitation by extremist groups and terrorism.

There is no doubt that internal food insecurity helps trigger the collapse of a nation’s economy, and often the collapse of a nation itself.

With closely comparable circumstances in countless other regions across the globe, it is a concerning prospect that the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion by the year 2050. More concerning however, is the expectation that nearly all of this population increase will occur in developing countries. 75% of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas and their incomes are largely linked to agriculture.

For over a decade now, conflict has concentrated among these developing countries, and the inefficient and potentially threatened production of food in these regions is becoming increasingly problematic. With the rate of population growth exceeding that of food production, hunger will persist and conflict will thrive.

Providing expertise in areas such as farm and supply chain management, crop production, agronomy and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) will undoubtedly improve food production capabilities in these developing regions.

As an example, with the increasing affordability of technology, personal devices such as mobile phones and tablets have proven immensely beneficial for farmers in developing countries. Such an accessible tool — which can provide real-time agricultural information and also enable the sharing of experience and knowledge between farmers on a global platform — has already begun to improve food productivity in some of these regions.

Through further research and practical assistance, the agricultural sector of these developing countries will prosper, therefore promoting innovation and driving economic growth. In turn, this will alleviate to some extent the hardships created by poverty and unemployment as a result of diminishing food production, gradually building food security, a stable economy and a bulwark against radicalisation and terrorist exploitation.

Aalya Sukkarieh is a Year 10 student at St George Girls High School, undertaking work experience at the Centre for Independent Studies.