[ by Charles Cameron — these caught my eye recently on the Aussie Lowy Interpreter site — an upcoming movie, Nasrallah on IS / Daesh, and Rugby diplomacy, NZ-style ]
This looks to be a film that may be of interest to ZP readers:
Perhaps Zen and others can comment on the historical vs fictional issues involved..
Also of potential interest from Lowy recently –
In what was a fairly frank speech,* Nasrallah outlined Hizbullah’s position on the Daesh (ISIS in Arabic) and spoke about Islamic extremism more broadly.
He asked that all moderate Muslims and members of other religions make their voices louder than that of the extremists. He spoke in terms that appeared to support the successful Tunisian elections and came close to mocking extremist positions on the elections and other Islamic traditions these groups have labelled as apostasy. He stated that crying out Alluhu Akbar (‘God is great’) to justify every action does not render such actions legitimate. His concern is that committing acts such as beheadings and other forms of violence in conjunction with the phrase exerts not only a negative impression of Islam in non-Muslim countries but also has the potential to motivate Muslims to distance themselves from Islam.
The second main topic of his speech was Hizbullah’s views on the main cause of the rise of Islamic militancy today.
The points Nasrallah made dovetailed with comments in an article in Foreign Policy released recently which reported on the use of children by ISIS and the existence of training camps and schools for children as young as six. In the article, Kate Brannen argued that a generation of children are now being educated in extremist ideology in Syria and Iraq, confirming the view expressed by the US and its allies that taking out ISIS is a long-term project. Nasrallah argued that the roots of this phenomenon come from the propagation of a narrow interpretation of Islam which has been going on for 200 years – which he expressly stated was largely funded by Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. He used the analogy of an event that occurred during the time of Ali, when a group of Muslims deserted from traditional Islam. He said the group was offered the choice of discussion and reconciliation. Those who chose to return to the fold were accepted and forgiven. Those who did not were fought.
Soft power diplomacy through the Rugby World Cup, starting tonight in Auckland, is not just symbolic. Money and people from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been diverted to support the RWC and you won’t have to go far to hear the term ‘rugby diplomacy’ used as a new form of New Zealand’s soft power. [ .. ]
When I was in Singapore earlier in the year and mentioned ‘rugby diplomacy’, my interlocutors laughed. Did that mean that New Zealand will tackle to the ground those with whom we don’t agree? Well, perhaps not. I haven’t seen an actual definition of what ‘rugby diplomacy’ is, but in the arsenal of soft power, it doesn’t really matter how it’s defined, but how it’s used.
In a region where military expenditure is increasing, New Zealand could do worse than use the RWC for its diplomatic efforts. And over the next six weeks and 42 matches there will be those in the region looking not at the rugby fields but rather at the symbolism: did New Zealand divert its foreign affairs resources for logistical support only, or because it realises there’s a bigger game in town, longer than just a few weeks, with much higher stakes, and that even if soft power is all New Zealand has got, it knows how to use it.