Chapter 7:       CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER?


Every government since the 1st WW has failed to properly consult or to accede to the wishes of the people on any mooted war. Our political leaders have always insisted that Australia must support its Allies regardless of the merits of each mooted war. But a war can never be justified by political hubris and ulterior motives of leaders seeking to ensure that their stature in history could be enhanced by a commitment to decent war. What is the political argument for denying the people a vote on a policy as profound as going to war? Howard always declared that he trusted the judgement of the people, but denied their judgement in the lead up to the Iraq War 2003. If the arguments for a war are sufficiently cogent, sufficiently believable and sufficiently compelling to justify going to war, then the public should be apprised of the arguments and then given a binding “Yes or No?” vote, if as claimed, “We are a democracy”. Otherwise, tyranny prevails. However, Mr Howard as the now deposed architect of Australia’s commitment to the current Iraq War continues to declare his stubborn adherence to his decision.

During March 2008 while on a spruiking tour in the USA, Mr Howard was reported variously in the Australian media. Consider a Herald Sun article which may be found as follows:

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23331465-662,00.html

Mr Howard’s views were distinctly those of a minority of Australians when GWB’s Iraq War was first mooted, remained so and he now has less support than ever. Likewise for GWB! Howard backed the wrong horse, did his dough, but refuses to admit to ever having made a mistake. Never the less, Howard’s continued emulation of the GWB mantra probably pays a big dividend on the US lecture circuit, spruiking to the converted to reinforce far right brainwashed states of the union.

Mr Howard has made plenty of disparaging remarks about the Rudd Government endeavouring to implement some electoral promises. Apparently, Mr Howard also said it was, "profoundly naive and dangerous" to view the Afghanistan conflict as the good war and Iraq as a distraction from winning the war on terror.”

Mr Howard informed his audience of GWB supporters that he believed that the new Federal Labor Government of Australia was fulfilling its election commitment to the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq, but that it was a “naive and dangerous” policy. What of interpretations? The people, whom Howard once trusted, must have got it all wrong at the 2007 Election. Unfortunately for Mr Howard’s memoirs, it has been the majority Australian public’s view that he got the story on Iraq wrong from day one. Clearly, the “naive and dangerous” label would be more appropriately attributed if it were carved on the political tombstones of both John W Howard and George W Bush.

Similarly, the following article published in The Australian newspaper on 6th March 2008 provides a flavour of Howard’s unswerving minority views.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23328940-601,00.html

 

In particular, the article reported that, Announcing the award, the AEI (American Enterprise Institute) described Mr Howard as “one of the world's most successful democratic politicians” and a "steadfast friend of the United States".

The logic is very strange indeed for any supposedly democratic leader. Being friends with the US Administration is not the same as being friends with the US people at large. The US populace, the Australian populace and the British populace have never provided majority support for the current Iraq War. Political hubris has determined that their respective leaders all knew better than the voting public.

Quote: “In foreign policy, Howard was a steadfast friend of the United States. When asked by an interviewer about the Iraq war, he said, "I am not going to be part of a policy which leaves the job unfinished and leaves behind (to) one or two other countries the responsibility of completing the job; that is not the Australian way of doing things." Unquote.

Really? Most Australians did not want the dubious job started because they knew that it would be worse than a waste of time.

The entire article covers multiple contentious Howard post election loss opinions delivered with the certainty of a winner.

Quote: "In the protracted struggle against Islamic extremism there will be no stronger weapon than the maintenance by Western liberal democracies of a steadfast belief in the continuing worth of our own national value systems. And where necessary a soaring optimism about the future of freedom and democracy,'' he said. Unquote.

Does it mean, Invade Iraq and get Saddam because he kept Al Qaeda out?” Does it mean, “Invade Iraq, destroy the infrasructure and kill hundreds of thousands of civilians because Hussein also killed hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shi-ites and we need their oil?”

Quote: "We should not think that by trading away some of the values which have made us who we are will buy us either immunity from terrorists or respect from noisy minorities. If the butter of common national values is spread too thinly it will disappear altogether. Unquote.

How can the Constitutional right to commit Australia to an unnecessary war without the voting public having any say in the matter, be democratic? It isn’t. It is a form of tyranny that allows governments to be undemocratic and to be unaccountable. Not even “an election - which at best provides retrospective accountability” cannot undo a war by any means. The existing constitutional right to start a war without a specific “Yes or No?” vote of the people is a profound corruption of democracy and needs to be fixed to avoid the endless squandering of planetary resources as though they are infinite. The Constitution needs to be changed to prevent any present or future Australian Government acquiescing to an effectively loony US Administration acting out its megalomania to make the World a much more dangerous place.

OZ government commitment to any and every war mooted by an undemocratic US Administration, on the grounds that the security of the OZUS Alliance depends upon it, is a complete furphy and an undemocratic lie. Conversely however, New Zealand for example, has demonstrated conclusively that it ain’t necessarily so. In Australia, persistent arch-conservative brainwashing has sustained the irrationality of that state of affairs.  New Zealand has put the lie to Howard’s contentions. The subject needs to be openly debated in Australia.

Curious is Howard’s insistence that Australian troops should not be withdrawn until the job is done. How would that be defined? Wouldn’t Howard & Co now be a “noisy minority” in their own right? Or does Howard mean that the job “Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”?  Within the ambit of Christianity, does Howard mean that when Allied troops escape from Iraq in tatters, with the majority Shi’ites in political control of all of Iraq, that the job will be done? Does he mean that it will be done when the last drop of oil has been sucked out of the Iraqi deserts and the Iraqis can be abandoned to their destroyed nation with impunity?

Similarly curious is the biased report of Howard having presided over the longest economic boom since the early gold rushes, without reference to China’s boom, without which Howard & Costello would not have had a boom. Mineral resource exports to fuel China’s economic boom easily accounts for Australia’s good fortune and economic “Lucky Country” status. Either major party in power could have presided over the boom and to have taken credit for it. Similarly either party could have flogged off public assets and stuffed the proceeds into the Future Fund for Old Super Pollies’ largesse. Similarly, either party could have run a razor gang in conjunction with the boom and either could have pork barrelled like crazy to maintain a stranglehold on power until the undemocratic turkeys finally came home to roost at the 2007 Election.  In the absence of the boom in mineral exports to China, Howard and Costello would not have had much to crow about. They would not have had heaps of spare cash to pork barrel as they did and would not have had much to spare for tax cuts or for the Future Fund for Old Super Pollie superannuation largesse either. According to the Australian newspaper article cited above:

Quote: Australia's economy soared, even during the Asian financial crisis that devastated so many of its neighbours, growing every year for the past 16 years. As the editorial page editor of The Australian and former AEI staff member Tom Switzer has written, "(Howard) presided over the longest economic boom since the gold rushes of the nineteenth century." Unquote.

A more realistic and more accurate reworking of Switzer’s comments would be that, China presided over the longest boom in OZ since the gold rushes of 19C”.

Mr Rudd may well believe that he would display a different kind of hubris. That remains to be seen. However, Mr Rudd ought to be aware that sooner or later, his government will be replaced by an alternative government, for better or for worse in the long run as per usual, and the next Prime Minister’s hubris and egomania is likely to result in an executive commitment to another war, unnecessary and unwanted by the public, bereft of democratic input.

 

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