Daily Archives: November 13, 2008

A New Foreign Policy "Realpolitik" for America in dealing with Islamic Politics? Sounds like the position Rome has already adopted!

I have just read an excellent and, I think, important essay in the latest edition of First Things by Thomas Farr entitled “Islam’s Way to Freedom”. The author is described at the end of the article as a

visiting associate professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown University. This article is adapted from an essay in Foreign Affairs, which also appears in his new book, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press).

So his credentials seem sound.

In case you don’t subscribe to First Things (and you should, I think, even if only to the online edition which is quite cheap) you won’t have access to the article until a couple of months time (when they put all their material up free).

His central point is that the American government should adopt a “First Principle” as follows:

First, by adopting an overarching principle: Religion is normative, not epiphenomenal, in human affairs. Policymakers should approach it much as they do economics and politics—as something that drives the behavior of people and governments in important ways. Like political and economic motives, religion can act as a multiplier of both destructive and constructive behaviors, often with more-intense results. When faith is associated with social identity, ethnicity, or nationality, it is all the more important as an object of foreign policy.

The approach he describes and recommends is not dissimilar to that which the Vatican and Pope Benedict have adopted.

At one point, he writes:

To assume that the religion of 1.3 billion people can be separated from politics, or that American diplomacy can afford not to engage political Islam, is the opposite of realism. The interests of the United States, especially its national security, demand that policymakers and diplomats put political Islam on the policy table and learn how to discern the qualities of its agents. Who are the dissimulators, and who are the earnest? Which Islamists see religious freedom and human dignity embedded in the Qur’an and hadith, and which ones are searching in that direction?

The answer to that question should undoubtedly be the “A Common Word” initiative, as has been shown in the recent outcome of the talks in Rome. The almost universal and comprehensive subscription to this alliance means it is well placed to bring through the necessary changes with regard to democracy and religious freedom in Islam – precisely on the basis of a re-examination of their own sacred texts.



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An update on the Assisted Reproductive Treatments bill

As noted below, the Brumby government was getting very anxious that it might not be able to get its Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008 through the upper house.

As Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini writes below, it seems that the effects of the Government’s determined, reckless, who-gives-a-damn attitude to social re-engineering is starting to show at the opinion polls level too…

Dear Colleagues,

Faced with the prospect of a defect in the Legislative Council, Mr Brian Tee MP, the parliamentary secretary to the Attorney General, has moved that the ART bill be refered to the legislation ctee. The motion was seconded by leader of the opp in the Council. The motion was passed 23-14.

This decision may reflect concern that the government is losing public support in the polls and is concerned about the legislation. If that is so it may mean that the legislation is simply allowed to lapse. Alternatively it may mean that the government will bring forward a raft of amendments to the Bill and then take it back to the Assembly.

It is not clear what process will be followed by the Legislative Committee and whether it will follow a consultative process and seek public comment.

The news is therefore good in that the progress of the Bill has stalled but it may mean problems ahead if it is brought back to the Assembly.



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Fist fight in the OK Corral? Or the Holy Sepulchre?

Its not a pretty picture, but (courtesy of Reuters) it shows that ecumenism has some way to go yet – and that unity among our Orthodox sisters and brothers is not all that it could be…

See this report by Tom Heneghan on his Reuters FaithWorld Blog.


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