Feb 132007

"Only when we get through the next six, 12 months or whatever period of time it takes will we be in a position to make any reasonable and responsible judgement about whether the United States, Britain or anyone else is in a position to withdraw,"
PM standing up for Australia

This Howard -v- Obama debacle has become seriously embarrassing. Liberal Party backbencher Mal Washer has now come out stating that Howard’s attack on Obama wasn’t particularly astute. Equally embarrassing was Brendan Nelson’s performance on Lateline last evening. Refusing point-blank to respond to the query from interviewer Tony Jones that Howard’s gaff directly translates as the U.S. Democratic Party being the preferred terrorist supporters party.

BRENDAN NELSON: Well certainly those people, whether they be in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia or in any other part of the world, people who are arguing that we withdraw from Iraq, to abandon the Iraqi people, to ignore the requests of the democratically elected Iraqi Government – those who argue that we should do that before the Iraqi security forces are in a position to essentially look after their own security, we will by definition hand victory to those al Qaeda and other terrorist networks who see it as important. Do not forget, Tony, that Osama bin Laden himself, late in 2004, described Iraq as World War III.

The terrorists themselves, al Qaeda in particular, see Iraq as being absolutely essential to their global war against humanity and civilisation, and it’s – if the terrorists themselves think that Iraq is so important to their struggle, so too should we. If we abandon that cause before, the Iraqis – as I say – are in a position to look after themselves, then we of course do hand victory to those terrorists.

TONY JONES: We’re not talking about ‘we’ in this case. You’re talking specifically about antiwar US Democrats. You think and you’ve confirmed there’s a coincidence between their interests and that of al Qaeda. Is that correct?

BRENDAN NELSON: Well whatever the motives of those who are demanding that the coalition withdraw from Iraq, that is precisely what al Qaeda and the terrorists want us to do as well, Tony. And the reason why Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, formerly al-Zarqawi, and a whole variety of terrorists are so determined to see that we leave Iraq and leave so prematurely before democracy can take hold, before an Iraqi security force is trained and Iraqis have the same democratic rights and freedoms enjoyed by Americans and Australians, is because they are determined to see defeat for of United States.

If the United States is defeated in Iraq Tony, along with the United Kingdom, Australia and other thinking countries throughout the world, my children will face challenges that they will never overcome. And it’s absolutely essential that we be governed and led by a Prime Minister that recognises that as a threat to Australia as much as it is to other people throughout the world, and that’s why our Prime Minister has stood up on our behalf.

The interview became sillier from there on. Bannerman finds the drawing of a relationship between any probable U.S. ’defeat’ in Iraq and Australia’s national security to be completely absurd. This is the defence of the desperate. Claiming that everything and anything which the United States of America does or becomes involved in directly affects Australia’s national security alludes to the fact that Australia’s government does not make a move in international policy without first consulting the U.S. and then taking instruction on just what it’s required to do. While the reality may not be all that far from that allusion, Australia’s national interests are most definitely not tied in lockstep with those of the United States of America. Neither they should be.

This entire episode is a stark example of the megaphone diplomacy employed by the Howardians with regard to Iraq. Any criticism is to be howled down as anti-American/pro-terrorist, the ANZUS treaty and it’s import – which is extremely restricted – is to be shouted from the rooftops at every opportunity. Nelson’s references to the world his children will inherit bring into sharp relief the desperation in this argument.

Yes indeed, Bannerman is embarrassed. Embarrassed that we have an aging, ultra-conservative yes-man at the helm of our government, ready and willing to do and say anything which surrenders Australia’s independence of thought and action to the United States. Embarrassed that his minions are so tightly reined in to the same train of thought that nonsensical debate is all that results over any issue of consequence. Embarrassed that Australia is to be seen in the global community as truly the subsidiary of the US of A rather than the close ally and friend which is prepared to take the hard decisions and make the hard choices in it’s own right, giving advice where and when it’s required regardless of whether it meets with acceptance or not.

Under the Howardian regime, Australia has become what many Australians have feared for decades. The 51st state of the Union. Bannerman’s progenitor was almost right when he stated that it’s a free world….as long as you do as you’re told. The world is free when America makes the rules. So sayeth John Howard.

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