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

its the ministerial staff « Previous | |Next »
July 14, 2003

The unravelling of 'the selling the Iraqi war' continues to unfold in Washington and London It is becoming increasingly clear that the Coalition of the Willing invaded Iraq on the false pretences of overplaying the nuclear card.

Who cares is the response in Australia. It is history. We have moved on. The intelligence agencies have taken the rap for their mistakes. They slipped up. The politicians built their case on the intelligence reports they received and they continue to have full trust in the politicized intelligence agencies.

And what a case was built. The sublimal message was that Saddam was going to nuke or poison us. It tapped directly into our fears. We had to go to war. No ifs or buts here.

Of course, Saddam never was going to attack Australia. Nor were the spinners simply sexing up the facts. They were creating a fiction about the threat to national security. The fiction enabled Bush, Blair and Howard to control the national security agenda by boxing those opposing the war into a corner. and charging them with appeasement.

But what is rarely mentioned in this is the role of the ministerial advisor vis-a-vis democracy. The advisors would have known the nuclear hand was a poor one---as they would have been briefed. The advisors are political appointees and they sift the information to shape public opinion to control the domestic politics for the Minister. It is the Minister's office that would have reworked the intelligence information into a case to persuade public opinion.

But the advisors are not accountable to Parliament for the deceptions they spin. There are currently treated as if they are an extension of the minister. Another fiction. Hence the advisors are an unacountable instrument through which the executive uses to increase its dominance over Parliament.

What is shocking is the conduct of the ALP in this affair. As the federal opposition the ALP lacks the political courage to take a stand on the fire wall between the bureaucracy and the Minister. The ALP is not willing to fight to make the ministerial staff accountable to Parliament. It backed off in the Tampa affair, when it refused to force the issue to make the ministerial advisors appear before the Senate inquiry. It is backing off over Iraq now.

It too wants executive dominance when it returns to the Treasury benches. So it acts like a government in waiting not as an opposition. No challenges will be made to defend democracy.

And so Howard continues to play the nuclear card to drum up anxiety and fear. He is now playing with the spectre of nuclear war with North Korea to the delight of the warmongers who hunger for another war. And the ALP continues to look weak and feeble on national security.

Which is what Howard's domestic tactics and strategies are designed to do: use national security to kneecap the ALP and starve it of oxygen.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:32 PM | | Comments (1)


The federal ALP seem at the moment to be licking their wounds after the Beazly debacle and putting their energies into shoring up their domestic agenda on Education Medicare etc.

They seem to have simply ceeded the foreign policy ground to the government, hoping that the security debate will die down and the media will focus back in on Labour strengths.

The problem with this strategy is that Howard is pushing us further and further into agressive posturing mode all the while. The media love all this war stuff and the ALP's domestic agenda will never get any oxygen because Howard will not let up on is agressive agenda.

I agree Gary, The ALP need to be fighting Howard tooth and nail, not sitting back and crossing their fingers.