August 13, 2014
Here's the picture of the child clutching the severed head of the Syrian soldier. According to the mainstream media the young boy (seven years old?) pictured with the severed head is the son of convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, who escaped Australia on his brother’s passport late last year, three months into the Coalition's watch. It's all Labor's fault says the Coalition.
The politician's banging the drums of war are saying its iconic of the horror of the home grown terrorist threat and are the reason for the new anti-terrorism laws and mass surveillance of the Australian citizens, both of which require a lessening of citizens civil liberties.
This brings the threat of the civil war in Syria and Iraq home: our children are threatened by barbaric people who train their children to be terrorists. But the LNP stands resolute and firm to defend Australia's national security against the barbarism and brutal violence of the jihad terrorists. The terrorist attack could be any day now. That's the conservative rhetoric of the picture.
This is not to downplay ASIO's warnings about the domestic threat posed by Australians participating in sectarian conflicts overseas or the need to deal with any returning Australian jihadists on their return from the Middle East. It is to highlight the rhetoric of the severed head in conservative discourse's politics of fear.
This discourse refuses to acknowledge that the US, UK Australia and others who invaded Iraq are responsible for the breakdown and disintegration of the Iraqi state, at least 300,000-500,000 deaths, 1-4 million refugees, mass torture, ethnic cleansing in Iraq over the past decade that then triggered the Sunni revolt and rise of the deeply anti-Shi’a Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq. Now the western powers are using humanitarian concerns--protection of the Yazidis or the Christians from the Islamic State --for another armed intervention, even though Australia's national interest does not require a major intervention in either Iraq or Syria. It's a regional conflict.
The conservative media and political drumbeat is growing louder to move from humanitarian aid drops and begin the military campaign to prevent ISIS from establishing a caliphate through Syria and Iraq. Won't that increase the risk of terror attacks at home?
Along with the external humanitarian airdrops to the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar, and a lifting of the siege, there have been US Navy air-strikes on IS artillery close to Irbil, the capital of the secure Kurdish region; special Forces operating in the Kurdish region, providing intelligence and aiding target acquisition; and a supply or arms going to the Kurds. How long before a US base is established?
It won't be long before the limits of air power is reached---air strikes on their own cannot do any more than momentarily disrupt the advance of IS fighters, and even then only where they are out in the open. As the IS fighters occupy towns, villages and cities, immersing themselves among the local populations, the advantages of air strikes – precision, reach, overwhelming force – almost disappear because of the risk of collateral damage to innocent civilians.