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Iraq: Regional blowback « Previous | |Next »
February 10, 2003

If liberal capitalist modernity is indeed the powerful freight train of history, as Francis Fukyama maintains, then there are a lot of people want to derail the US verison.

That freight train is an amoured one. Those driving it are very angry indeed. They feel vulnerable and fearful as the armed train of modernity travels the road to Baghdad. But they are determined that justice has to be done for the terrorists attacks of 9/11. They have been deeply wounded and they have wrapped themselves in their flag.

A state of emergency exists on the train and the passengers have given little time for figuring how to support a new regional architecture for regional cooperation and dialogue in Iraq or the Middle East. They seem hostile to the United Nations playing a major role in managing the transition to a new set of political strutures in Iraq; and they appear to have cast aside the Palestine/Israel issue as not being part of the main game. Justice has to be done for the terrorists attacks of 9/11.

So the war against terrorism is basically a military operation. How is that supposed to work in the South East region where Australia belongs? Is the military solution the right way to address the regional issues close to our home, and to the threats to our security to those who want to derail our version of liberal modernity?

There is no response from those Australians helping to drive the train. Not even a 'no comment'. The messages being sent from the train are tighly focused. Saddam must be taken out to save us from international terrorism.


To his credit Kim Beazley, the former leader of the ALP, raised the regional issue in his speech on the War with Iraq in federal Parliament on February 4th. He said that the Prime Minister was "under an awesome obligation to ensure that he so commended Australian diplomacy to the South-East Asian region that there would be no blow-back from the policy that was being pursued in relation to Iraq."

Beazley adds that one way to do this would be to talk to other regional leaders, reassure them about our objectives and to understand their views & concerns.

"We could have expected a routine and regular visit by the Prime Minister to the nations in the South-East Asian region.

What did we get from the Prime Minister? Fatuous rubbish about pre-emption. It was fatuous rubbish because he knows darn well that, if we decide to intervene in any South-East Asian nation, we have to do it with the permission of the power itself...

...We have interests in this region. Australian lives have already been lost in it; Australian lives and interests continue to be threatened. We have to be able to have people in the region as allies to deal with a terrorist threat. We have to be able to balance what we do in Iraq, what we do to support the United Nations in Iraq and what we do to support the United States in Iraq with what we do to commend ourself to the region around us.

I do not think this has penetrated anywhere in the prime ministerial mind. I just do not think it has. I cannot believe that the Prime Minister has become so complacent that he cannot see this and, if he saw it, would not act on it. It is too late to turn up to Megawati now, I am afraid."

Beazley has not fled from history that points in the direction of regional collaboration.

So we can ask where is the train going? What is the purpose of the journey? Simply to 'polish off' Saddam Hussein and his cronies as quickly as possible?

And where does the freight train go next?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:18 AM | | Comments (0)
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