April 05, 2003
Howard's tactics fail
As the days of the Iraqi regime draw to a close the support for the war has stabilised at around 51%. The war had become more acceptable to the electorate once the shock and awe show started, even if some of that support is soft.
But Howard has failed in his wedge tactics. His conservative constituency that is fearful of immigration, opposes asylum seekers, is worried if not hostile to Islam remains locked in. But Howard hasn't been able to get enough support for the war to use it as a domestic wedge. They tried. Though there is growing support for the Australian troops, it is not for the war or for Australian subservience to the Bush Administration.
Since the broad even split in the electorate blocks wedge the old tactics of bullying, bluff and aggression don't bite. Nor did the old tactic of using Australian personnel fighting a war to hit Howard's so hard that they're afraid to hit back. Neo-cons like Chistopher Pearson can go lyrical about the totalitarian left and cheap anti-war populism in the Weekend Australian (April 5-6, p. 30) but it fails to scare anyone out of uttering any criticism.
The wedge has been such a failure that the Howard Govt is now talking up the the very UN it was trashing a few weeks ago. We need the UN to give legitimacy to the new Iraqi regime. Of course the Bush Administration is having none of this pro-UN stuff. The US will dictate and control the remaking of Iraq and thats that. So how far will Australia go in its dissent and criticism of the US? How far willl it go in asserting a more independent voice?
At this stage Alexander Downer is not doing very much, if we judge him from this quote.Downer made it when he was in Washington:
"....to put the case that in the post-conflict environment we would like to see some UN involvement in Iraq. We've been pleasantly surprised by the very positive reception to that message that we've received from the President downwards. I think the Administration knows only too well that there needs to be some UN involvement."
'Some' UN involvement? Even the Bush administration agrees with some. Only they say 'the some' is very minor. What is the Howard Government's response? Agreement? And what is Downer saying about the US desire to go after Syria and Iran? Is there a big dissent there from Australia? Or is the Howard Government's position not that different to the Bush administrations?
The much loved Miranda Devine has no doubts. She says:
"Better to bring it on now, at a time of our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home, our economies shrinking, our civilians picked off, our enemies growing stronger, until we finally wake up to the fact that fighting is necessary, and find it's too late and we are too weak."
Lets have the showdown now, says Miranda.
Has Miranda been watching too many late night cowboy movies from Hollywood? Gianna sorts Miranda out.
Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at April 5, 2003 10:27 PM