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January 27, 2004

truth in politics

I've just rolled into Adelaide after 3 days at the beach. The endless summer may continue, but it's the end of the holidays for many. Opening the newspapers this morning I noticed this in response to this.

It's a big black hole we have here. (link courtesy of Juan Cole). A hole opened up by the way our politicians used intelligence as an ideological weapon, rather than to inform a full debate on vital public issues. Their trick is to filter the available intelligence to build a worst-case scenario. The result? A corrupted intelligence process is in place.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, calls the black hole an "open question" and immediately starts talking about intentions. First it was weapons, then it's programs (plans and offices) now it is intentions.

It's called back pedalling under pressure, as it becomes evident that Powell did his bit to help the Bush administration by building a bogus case before the U.N. However, in Britain Tony Blair still appears to be saying that 'this lad is not for turning.'

In Australia Alexander Downer, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, repeats the Powell line about intention, then drops in "truth" and time will tell. Honestly, it's a comedy routine:

Bill Leak

Why not admit the justification for the Iraq war was a matter of false pretences and mass deception. A noble lie if you want to put a Platonic spin on it.

What Howard does not do is confront the central issue: can international inspections provide for security against a regime intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction. John Howard's core argument, repeated that of US hawks such as Dick Cheney: preventive war was justified because UN inspections not only had failed, but could never be relied upon to succeed.

The hawks were plain wrong on Iraq. As David Kay,, who led the American effort to find banned weapons in Iraq, said after stepping down from his post: Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons at the start of the war last year. So the hawks duck and weave.

Howard continues to evade the core issue whilst laying all the responsibility on the [US, UK & Australian] intelligence services so as to protect his government.

It's called doing the Tampa.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at January 27, 2004 10:27 AM

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No such thing as a noble lie - with our without Plato. Just lies (funny how the Bush camp nevertheless loves pointing out to 'lies' told by Dean etc).
Alan at http://southerlybuster.blogspot.com/2004_01_25_southerlybuster_archive.html#107515513261626015
also points to HRW report which indicates how thin the humanitarian argument is as well. Much as it's good to be rid of Hussein, I can think of a few despots I would have targetted well before him.

Posted by: saint at January 27, 2004 07:14 PM

Such as Saint and who would you get to help you? There are always plenty of knockers out there just waiting for you to make a call.

Posted by: observa at January 28, 2004 08:13 AM

you seem to accept Australia's role in international affairs as deputy sheriff to the US or regional cop keeping law and order in an anarchic world.

Posted by: Anonymous at January 28, 2004 09:50 AM

I have always believed that the Bush and Blair Govts strongly believed in the 'beacon of light' theory for the ME. This is because they foresaw a major future threat to world peace from this region, post Sept11. All their pre-war talk, particularly Blairs, led me to this conclusion and nothing has changed my opinion on this since. The West have our best hand on the table in Iraq now. If we don't win against the fundies there, we will be at total war with Islam within the decade. That was inevitable with no forseeable democracy in the ME anyway. Keep your fingers crossed, that more countries like Japan see the imperative of a beacon of light in Iraq as well.

Posted by: observa at January 28, 2004 04:51 PM

It's either going to be observa's "beacon of light" or a few really, really bright flashes of light and some really, really loud kabooms.

Posted by: S Whiplash at January 28, 2004 06:35 PM

War is inevitable? That's what they said about the Soviet Union.

Didn't happen. I have seen no evidence that any Muslim country has any intention of fighting the West. The fundies can jump all they like but the bulk of the Islamic people are not only aware they are on the wrong end of 30000 nuclear warheads (including the Russians) but are much more concerned with getting on.

What we face is another 10 to 20 years of irritating terrorist attacks. Thosands will be killed but thousands of millions won't

These are not the direst threats we have ever faced by any stretch of the imagination.

Nazi Germany was a real threat. the USSR was a real threat. China was and possibly will be again.

But not fundamentalist Islam. It is neither an ideology or a nation or a political movement. It has no core, no agreement, no nothing. It cannot organise a war. And the Islamic people of the world won't organise it for them.

Posted by: Andrew at January 28, 2004 09:17 PM

observa -
many parts of Africa are a mess, take your pick there - 3 million lives already lost as a consequence of the world's most forgotten war in Congo, accompanied by unprecedented level of brutality and crime(rape) against women. The current uneasy 'peace' amongst the 'crocodile men' does give me enough hope.
And if we were going to pick axis of evil and Iraq style intervention - North Korea. You may be right in the sense that it would have been more difficult to garner world support for intervention there(especially from neighbours such as China, Japan and South Korea) even though I think the case against 'Our Beloved Leader' is stronger on both WMD and humanitarian grounds. I have my own theories about why they were not 'first' or even considered a potential 'beacon of light'.

I'd really really like to believe in the beacon of light theory. Really I would. But I am afraid that I remain too cynical about human nature. (including my own).

Posted by: saint at January 30, 2004 12:27 AM

I'm not going to pretend that the Anglos selection of Iraq as the BOL is entirely altruistic. The West certainly has an interest in trade friendly sources of energy, which trade sanctions are anathema to.

However Islam perched on the borders of Europe(particularly new Europe) and the ability of Islamists to strike at 'our'(bearing in mind the nationalities of victims) office blocks in NY in the way they did, certainly concentrated Western minds on where threats lay. It's all very well to whack terrorists and dry up their funds where you can, but the longer term answer to the threat is zero tolerance across all countries for the mind gamers who propel it. Experience shows this is best handled by secular democracy. To want the whole of the ME to experience this is still a noble end game, even if it does suit our interests. You're right though- choosing which alligator in the swamp to deal with, might depend on the threat/proximity to our boat, although the big swamp picture shows equally nasty ones about.

Posted by: observa at January 30, 2004 10:44 AM

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