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London bombings+ war on terror « Previous | |Next »
July 9, 2005

We should mourn the loss of civilian life and express deep sympathy with the injured and the bereaved who have lost family and friends:

BellS7.jpg
Steve Bell

The security analyist account is that Iraqi resistance forces have taken their insurgent military operations to enemy territory, Britain. The "chickens were coming home to roost" for US and UK politicians who continue to obscure the nature of the al-Qaeda struggle by maintaining that the organization attacks the West because "they hate our values" and not because of specific western policies, such as US/UK military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq or US/Uk support for Israel against the Palestinians.

Should we not try to avert or avoid greater civilian tragedy by starting the serious and difficult process of rethinking the conduct of this "war on terror"? Is that not a better response to the bombings than flexing the muscles, or saying we won't be intimidated, we need to show solidarity with the Bush administration in order to strengthen the US-[fill country in as required] security alliance, etc, etc.

Let's look at this editorial from Murdoch's Australian, entitled 'Standing firm in the face of Terror'.

It says:

What deserves universal horror is the way they presumed the right to take life, and all its promise, from people who were going about their business in London on Thursday morning. This was more than an attack on London, it was an assault on the billions of people around the world who share Londoners' values, and today sympathise with their suffering....These attacks are the work of misanthropes who have no faith in humanity, no hope for the future, outcasts who compensate for their own inadequacies by killing innocent individuals who have done them no harm. The attacks are all the more monstrous for the utter absence of any achievable objective...This was a senseless slaughter, another attack in the terror war perpetrated by people whose only objective is to kill, and to keep on killing - because it is the only way they can assuage their odious anger with all who will not bow to their will.

Something has been forgotten here. Fallujah.

The sustained assault employing extraordinary firepower that left a city with a good deal more than 1,000 people killed or injured, half the dwellings wrecked, almost every school, mosque or public building destroyed or damaged, and most of the population fleeing the city as refugees.

The Australian refuses make the connection between the two realities. It says that "any argument that Iraq and Afghanistan are the catalyst for this, or any other attack, is a nonsense." It's pathway is one of endless war that will involve thousands more civilian deaths and tens of thousands of ciivlians maimed. The Australian, as the voice of the war party, recommends that we stand firm and strong on our democratic faith amidst a bitter cycle of ever increasing violence.

We citizens should make the connection between London, Madrid and Bali on the one hand, and Iraq and Afghanistan on the other.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:56 AM | | Comments (11)
Comments

Comments

Both sides of this supposed war are playing power politics, and doing so with violence as their main weapon. I thought Afghanistan was justified, as the US asked for Bin Laden so they could bring him to justice. But Iraq was a dumb decision, and given the Bush Administration's lack of adherence to the rule of law, I doubt they would have been able to deal with Bin Laden correctly.

Indonesia and Spain have treated terrorism as a civil disturbance and gone after terrorists with the law. They have been successful. Australia, the USA and UK have treated terrorism as a military issue, and have managed to turn the pursuit of terrorism into a snake that is eating its own tail.

Indonesia has been making strides in democracy and as a market economy, by removing their military from their system; from parliament, from policy, from their budgets, from civil law enforcement and social stability. It is making remarkable advances.

Yet me in our anglo-dumbass-wisdom, have invaded Iraq and replaced a military backed regime with .... a miitary that is keeping civil order, that is making civil policy, that is controlling civil budgets, that is the martial government and is attempting to maintain social stability.

Everything Indonesia is shedding on their path to democracy, we are ensuring remain present in Iraq. When the US tanks rattled through the Baghdad, that is when the LAPD and NYPD should have been flown in - not the National Guard.

Terror is a civil issue, and will only be defeated through civil measures, not military ones. A policemen is more than sufficiently armed to deal with a terrorist. Our courts are more than enough to deal with a terrorist's criminal behaviour.

Unfortunately this war on terror has been used an excuse to collpase power to the Executive and expand the state.

Cameron,
whether one thought that Iraq or Afganistan was justified,there is a need to accept that the long-term Western military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq is simply not going to be acceptable to many in the Muslim world.

U.S. actions at Abu Ghraib and Fallujah created powerful new symbols of Muslim humiliation that the jihadis who sympathize with al-Qaida can use to recruit a new generation of terrorists.

What we should not be doing is what the Howard Government proposes to do: send more troops to Afghanistan. That really does say long term occupation by foreigners to the fundamentalist jihadists.

What should be done is what the British proposed to do before the tube bombings: draw down their troops from 9,000 to 2,000 in the next nine months. The bombings should not be allowed to change British policy.

My favourite one paragraph summation of the Iraq/Afghanistan and Australia's participation in it is by Richard Woolcott.


The reality is that Australia's presence, however capable and efficient our forces, can make no meaningful contribution to the two major objectives: the reconstruction of that country and the establishment of a viable democratic government there.

I thought I had published that article on SSR, but it appears not. Seems I only published it on dailykos. Odd.

Cameron,
I basically concur with Woolcott.

My position is that Howard is doing what the US wants it as an insurance policy. That means goodbye independent Australia hello deputy sheriff. The US will call on Austrlaia more and more. Tis the price of being a satrap in an empire.

Is Dailykos similar is SSR?---does it use scoop as its software? Is it a group of big name bloggers running a group blog?

Gary, The failure of the great and powerful friends doctrine is; as insurance against what? Our great and powerful friends have their own interests. ANZUS was set up so Australia would send troops to the Middle East and not recall them home if there was an emergency in the Pacific. ANZUS is not Australia centric, but US/UK centric.

There is no Soviet Union anymore, and China does not have the projection to take Taiwan let alone Australia. The ADF is dominant regionally. Who is it insurance against?

As to trade concessions, the US plays power politics brutally, and we got it handed to us in the US-Au FTA. But us going to Iraq did not get a FTA. Singapore and Chile got one too, and they didnt go to Iraq.

The Great and Power Friends doctrine is irrelevant, as is ANZUS. It is sad that the Howard government has chosen the laziness, and failure of it, over forging a truly independant foreign policy. It is vacant policy from a reflexive cabinet, unable to see beyond the Anglosphere. It is the cultural cringe translated to politics.

Yes, dailykos (and redstate.org, tacitus.org) all use scoop. dailykos and redstate is a bit different though, they have a semi-closed system, where the front page is dominated by a select group of contributors. Their concession to the wider community is the "recommended diaries" and the possibility of promotion to the front page for a good diary.

SSR, k5 and hulver etc, have a moderation queue, so articles can be voted to the front page. SSR has a small enough through-rate of articles/diaries that diaries (from anyone with an account) go to the front page as well. dlatimer's recent posts on SSR about the honorary president went through the voting queue as articles - users with accounts on SSR voting his story to the front page.

It is my opinion some of the more trafficked Auian blog sites should make the transition from blog to community site; such as LP, Catallaxy, troppo, surfdom etc. Blogging software has its own limitations, and scoop is the next step from blog to community.

Cameron,
I've shifted the blogger/internet meme to a post on intellectual property rights and the commons in relation to the Adelaide Festival of Ideas. It is important in its own right and John Quiggin is discussing some of his ideas at the Festival. I want to start up a separate conversation on this.

I pretty much agree with your criticisms on the insurance policy justification for Australia aligning itself with the USA and its foreign policy.

This justification surfaces evey now and again in odd comments. It is never stated in the PM's speeches other than to say that Australia's alliance with the US is a big consideration. What that alliance is is rarely made clear. It is a sacred touchstone.

The big fear in Australia is Indonesia and the need to tackle the fundamentalist Islamic groups with a pre emptive strike. It is the big unspoken fear and part of the political unconscious.

The reason for Australia's alignment under the 'great and powerful friends doctrine' is empire. Australia does face the world of nations from within the US borders of empire. But we've barely begun to think the meaning of 'pax americana' in a post cold war world through; other than saying its 'US hegemony' or supremacy based on unilateralism; or denying that the US is an empire because it was not like 19th century European colonialism.

Gary, On the issue of Indonesia, Keating was ahead of his time there too. It is a shame he got stuck with the puerile Suharto to work with, rather than the Indonesia of today. We have the wrong PM at the wrong time at the moment. Keating and Evans would be ideal for the current environment in Indonesia.

Australia sucks in the export market. Other than the wine industry we are largely exporters of non-value-added commodities. If it wasnt for China sucking up our commodities we would be in recession now. If Australia wants to continue the prosperity, we have to look to the next China, and it appears at this stage as if it will be Indonesia.

We should be doing everything possible to help them on the path to economic prosperity, if for no other reason than Indonesia becomes the West's factories and compete with China, Japan and South Korea for our commodities.

Terrorism for Australia is a foreign policy issue. Indonesia has been taking our hits for us; with Bali and Jakarta. Not only have the Indonesians handled it admirably, they have put us to shame. Indonesia is pursuing this as a civil issue that is to be dealt with as a criminal process through the rule of law.

We have treated terrorism as a military issue and sought militry solutions. We are the retards here. Iraq and Afghanistan are proof of that. Spain and Indonesia dealt with their terrorists quickly and efficiently. We have just helped create a new wasp's nest.

Howard and Downer are exceptionally clumsy in dealing with Indonesia. Which only confirms my opinion that the Liberal doctrine of foreign policy is incapable of reacting to the events of the modern world and the demands of a modern Australia. It didnt work for Menzies, and it failing even worse for Howard.

Howard's weakest points are his understanding of defence and foreign policy. Downer doesn't improve his lack of competence in those areas either. I personally thought Latham lost a great oppurtunity to pound Howard in that arena.

Cameron,
you write that the "great and powerful friends" doctrine lies at core of the Liberal foreign policy. This doctrine, you say:

"...is where a medium sized nation places its foreign policy in submission to the dominant superpower of the day. This is done with the hope that by furthering the superpower's interests, the medium sized nation will be able to further its own interests via influence on the superpower's policies. By its very definition, this doctrine trades Australian foreign policy independence in return for being under the defence and economic umbrella of the superpower."

That is dead right. It accurately describes the foreign/defence policy strategy of Howard, Downer and Hill, and the way that Australia is becoming increasingly integrated with the US economy and the military of the US.

The rhetoric is an attack on the United Nations and liberal internationalism in the name of realism and the national self-interest of Australia. There is very little criticism of this in Australia, even by defence stategists, such as Huge White or the Lowy Institute. We have a poor foreign policy debate.

You also write:

The Liberal foreign policy, the "great and powerful friends" doctrine, is a very conservative policy. Other than the Hawke and Keating governments, all Australian governments in the 20th century have based their foreign policy decisions on this doctrine.

This is misleading. The ALP since WW11 has been internationalist, worked with the UN and argued that the national interests of regional powers are best protected, not by unilateral action, but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules.

Hawke and Keating were working within the Doc. Evatt heritage in the Australian Labor Party, with Hawke being criticised by the ALP because he strayed too far from that heritage in supporting the US.

Gary, I dont think it is misleading. Which ALP government, or opposition has repudiated ANZUS as the central component of Australian security? When has the ALP exposed the fallacies of ANZUS and the "great and powerful friends" (GAPF)?

After reading Hayden's biography I am also willing to put Hawke into the GAPF column, which leaves Keating/Evans as the only practitioners of Asian Engagement.

btw wsacaucus published a similar article of mine on the same issue.

Cameron,
maybe we are arguing at cross purposes here.

You are referring to Asian engagement and rightly point out that Keating/Evans were the main architects.I'm not disputing that.

What I am arguing is that there are two distinct foreign policy positions in the Australian debates: sometimes called realists and idealists, but better called national self-interest versus internationalism.

Whitlam, for instance, was an internationalist: it lead him to break with the US over Vietnam and China--but not to repudiate ANZUS.

It is internationalism that informs the Keating/Evans engagement with the Asia side of the Pacific Rim.

Gary, Yes. I have covered realists vs optimists previously as well as regionalists vs expeditionists.

I am arguing that the Keating/Evans version of foreign policy is a permutation of power politics where Australia advances its interested regionally through its political, economic and military power. A big fish in a small pond version of foreign policy.

The Keating/Evans style advances regional issues over global ones in order to secure and stabilise the region economically and politically.