Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lost opportunity: Stephen Crittenden lets a slippery fish of the hook...

Stephen Crittenden is quite critical in this interview on the Religion Report with Associate Professor Anthony Burke of the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, but at one point he lets him off the hook entirely:Stephen Crittenden:
Stephen Crittenden: One of the big themes of Critical Terrorism Studies is counter-terrorism. You say counter-terrorism, border protection, deterrence, homeland security, you describe them as 'perverse, violent, exclusivist, ontologising technologies'. And you say, 'counter terrorist strategies actually provoke the very thing they claim to be protecting us from.' Is there any evidence that tough security measures are counter-productive in that way, that they actually provoke terrorism?

Anthony Burke: We don't have evidence yet, but there's a legitimate concern that - oh, you're just trying to push me into a corner and not happy about it.

Stephen Crittenden: Look, let's change the subject and take a look a bit more broadly.
"Let's change the subject"!? Why??? You've got him by the short and curlies just where you want him, and you let him off the hook? He's admitted that "we don't have evidence" (the "yet" is rather hopeful) - and you let him get away with it! What sort of critical interviewing is this?

5 Comments:

At Wednesday, October 15, 2008 6:48:00 pm , Anonymous matthias said...

I have just flipped over from the ANC news website and there is news that the Religion report will be axed for 2009. Steven crittenden says that it is the end of religious programs for the ABC. Wonder what Geraldine Doogue thinks of that

 
At Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:43:00 pm , Blogger The Welsh Jacobite said...

Speaking as a CT expert I'd say the problem is that there's little evidence either way. Our understanding of CT is at a primitive stage. We have no evidence that "tough" measures are counter-productive, or that they are effective. Ditto for "soft" measures.

In that sense Crittenden's question was an unfair one. Burke was an idiot to miss this point. (Suggests that whether his hypothesis is correct or not he's not particularly clever.)

 
At Wednesday, October 15, 2008 8:59:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Wow! A CT expert visiting my blog... Ought I be paranoid about that? Your point is well made, WJ. I just think that if you assert something, you ought to say "I have evidence for this" or "that's just my opinion, although I am confident that it will be proved right". You are right though, it would have been clever for Burke to respond "Well, there certainly isn't any evidence to the contrary"!

 
At Wednesday, October 15, 2008 9:29:00 pm , Blogger The Welsh Jacobite said...

'Ought I be paranoid about that?'

Worry not. I'm a CT expert with a taste for Catholic theology.

'if you assert something, you ought to say "I have evidence for this" or "that's just my opinion, although I am confident that it will be proved right".'

You're quite right, but considering that the proponents of "tough" CT don’t say this either, Burke might feel excused the necessity.

Unfortunately CT is an area bedevilled by what one might call "belief-based" policy-making (not religious belief!). This is not merely a problem with the design/implementation of effective CT measures, but it actively hinders the gathering of the evidence that is so badly needed.

The waters are so muddied by people like Burke and by his equally vociferous opponents, that even to advance a Burke-type position as an hypothesis in order that it be tested gets a lot of abuse.

There is, sadly, far more heat than light.

It's both ironic and instructive that in Iraq Petraeus managed to achieve a shift to a much softer counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism strategy (and the continuing plaudits of the "Right") by asking for more soldiers and using the aggressive-sounding label "Surge". A very clever man. (Clever enough too to move on before it becomes apparent that the success of any strategy - no matter how effective and appropriate at a particular time - has a limited shelf-life when the enemy is highly adaptive.)

 
At Monday, October 27, 2008 10:13:00 pm , Anonymous Dr. Anthony Burke said...

Did it ever occur to you to write and ask me what actually happened?

The interview you heard on radio national was edited. That exchange you refer to came after about 5 minutes of unbroadcasted shemozzle where Crittenden tried to skewer me into admitting that a counter-terrorist policy had provoked terrorism. I answered that one of the bombers of Australia's Jakarta embassy had admitted to police that he attacked us because in his mind Australia was a lackey of the US oppressing Muslims in Iraq.

Crittenden wanted then to argue the point about why we entered the Iraq war. (Not good radio I can tell you). Then he tried to get me to defend the proposition that tough domestic CT measures had provoked an attack. Having never said or written such a thing myself I tried to get him to clarify or explain his question.

At that point the exchange which was broadcast ensued...I was tired of his pointless line of questioning, having never made such an assertion myself. It was quite unprofessional of him to censor part of the exchange but broadcast another. It is - as they say - misleading.

A little like your blog post.

 

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