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$1bn plan to win over region's muslims


  1. $1bn a year "to win the hearts and minds of Muslims in southeast Asia"? - You have got to be kidding Professor Babbage - If not, then it is back to uni for you old son.




    The Australian
    Edition 1 - All-round CountryTHU 12 DEC 2002, Page 006

    $1bn Plan To Win Over Region's Muslims.
    By John Kerin


    AUSTRALIA should spend up to $1billion a year on a political and cultural campaign to win the hearts and minds of Muslims in southeast Asia and attack the roots of terrorism, one of the country's leading experts on the region said yesterday.
    Adjunct professor in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University, Ross Babbage, told a Menzies Research Centre security seminar in Canberra the non-military strategy to combat radical Islamic terrorism would need serious funds (between $500 million and $1 billion a year) and require Australia to change aspects of foreign policy to succeed.

    "I'm not saying this is going to be easy ... or that it will achieve results in the short term,'' Professor Babbage said yesterday.
    "But there are good friends of Australia and people of goodwill who are in very strategic positions in these societies ... who would be very receptive,'' Professor Babbage said.

    He said the political offensive would involve enlisting Australian government and non-government organisations, the region's governments and community and Muslim leaders at the local level to deny terrorists support.
    The campaign would have to be run at the highest level with the National Security Committee of cabinet assuming responsibility.
    He said it would involve taking a "carrot and stick approach''.

    Australia would have to run a more independent foreign policy, pressing the US to seek a lasting peace in Palestine and to withdraw its permanent armed forces presence from Saudi Arabia, he said.
    Both issues were a cause of continuing affront to even moderate Muslims.
    He said Australia would also need to run a domestic campaign to encourage respect for Islam and in southeast Asia encourage foreign investment, boost aid to education and provide tourism assistance.

    The "sticks'' would include funding programs to portray terrorists as pariahs and mass murderers within local communities, enlisting moderate community leaders to make them figures of dishonour and stressing the devastating economic impact on local communities and families of harbouring terrorists.

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