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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

No prizes for logic here « Previous | |Next »
March 15, 2003

There is a paragraph in an article by Tony Baker and Laura Tingle, 'Howard's risky step into history', in the Financial Review, (subscription required, 15 March, 2003, p. 22) that concurs with the view of this weblog about the way John Howard has handled the war issue. The relevant paragraph states that Howard:

"... has to date successfully stifled internal debate [within government and the coalition parties] ---and ignored much public debate--- on the issue [of war with Iraq] by keeping himself to an exceptionally narrow rhetorical argument, with all the various scenarios, including warm dismissed as "hypothetical" and therefore not requiring a detailed answer for the electorate."

The only exception to this strategy was when John Howard engaged in debate at the Press Club, rather than crudely attack his critics using lines from a script downloaded from the Whitehouse. Still that was primarily a platform to sell his message of war now without the UN.

Baker and Tingle say that the danger of Howard's strategy is that it has given rise to a perception of a politician out of his depth in international affairs. That may be. It has also given rise to a political perception John Howard as George Bush's lap dog: justifying the unrestrained use of American power whenever it sees fit and criticising those who desire to constrain US power. Right on cue Howard attacks France calling them spoilers and that France is using the issue to resist American power and reposition itself to prevent its decline.

Howard's reasoning on international relations amounts to this. It is okay for the US to use its power to further its national interests. It is okay for France to do so. Why not? Because in doing so France and Germany are constraining the use of US power and that is bad. Unilateralism is good. Howard is an apologist for the unrestrained use of US power.

And how about this as an example of faulty war reasoning. The Bali bombing was an act of terrorism. The Iraqi regime supports terrorism. Therefore, war against Iraq is justified.

It is so crude and illogical that Howard is not really arguing or engaging in public debate. He is hunting around for images to sell his message and shift public opinion that is against war with Iraq without UN support. So the Howard government simply ignores intelligence reports that do not fit the US game plan or public arguments that are critical of its position. Anything that does not fit its preconceived picture of war now is displaced.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:12 PM | | Comments (0)