Thursday, September 06, 2007

When will we get a PM we deserve?

When will Australia get a Prime Minister who will put Australia first? Our PM, "Honest John" Howard, has promised to stand by the US in Iraq regardless of the danger to Australia and the complete lack of any tactical or strategic benefit to our nation.

Mr Howard said Australia should stand by its ally in difficult times.


"One of the things that influenced my thinking is the belief that in the difficult time for your major ally, you should deliver as much international support and display as much international solidarity with your most important ally as is most appropriate."

This is the second time in recent months that Howard has nailed his flag to Bush's discredited, unpopular Iraq War. Six months ago, he tried a cheap-shot at Democrat presidential-candidate Barack Obama, and ended up embarrassing himself and his country when Obama challenged Little Johnny to put his money where his mouth is by sending more than a handful of troops to Iraq.

Somebody should take Howard aside and mention quietly to him that a true friend of the US would help them reduce their addiction on oil and violence, not encourage it. A true friend says "Come on mate, you've had too many, time to go home" and not "Fark ya all, me mate and me 'll take on any barstid in the house!". Especially when your contribution to the war effort is a few hundred troops deployed in the least violent part of Iraq.

In World Wars I and II, it was "for King and Country", and nary a word about whose king and country our boys were dying for. At least in WW-II there was an actual sense that our security was at risk from Japan, even if it turned out after the war that Japan had little or no interest in or capability of invading Australia. In Vietnam, it was "All the way with LBJ" -- our then-Prime Minister, Harold Holt, picked up the Democrat's slogan and made it his own, and we know how the Vietnam War turned out.

And now Iraq, where Howard has been one of Bush's most enthusiastic supporters (despite the lack of actual practical assistance in this ill-planned war), assuring the people of Australia that he had personally seen all the reams and reams and reams of conclusive evidence that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, no matter what the UN weapons inspectors said.

(That evidence turned out to be either non-existent or wrong. There was the plagiarized student's essay, the poor-quality forged papers claiming Saddam was buying uranium ore from Niger, and the lies told by the drunken Iraqi defector "Curveball". Curveball is an especially interesting example, because the West Germans who were handling him warned the US that his reports weren't trustworthy, but he became the centrepiece of the Bush administration's case for war because he told them what they wanted to hear.)

Australia's politicians have a long and inglorious history of putting our interests a distant second to those of the UK or the USA. It says something about our search for a national identity that many Australians don't even see anything wrong with that. For all our supposed patriotism, when it comes to international politics Australia is much abused and put upon by the US and UK, and we always come back for more.

Actually, I can think of one Prime Minister who did attempt to put Australia's national interest ahead of that of the US's -- Gough Whitlam, who was preparing to stand up to the US over their secret military base at Pine Gap. Coincidently, Whitlam was sacked by our Governor-General, Sir John Kerr. Despite the CIA referring to him as "our man Kerr", and despite the fact that he was an executive board member of a CIA front organisation, there's no reason to think Kerr acted at the instigation of the USA. (The coincidences sure stack up, don't they?)

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