Saturday, March 22, 2003

Kudos to Nick Penniman and Richard Just:

Millions of people will soon be freed from a yoke of cruelty and dictatorship. One might have expected liberals to use this moment to cheer the prospect that the war's aftermath could lead to a better life for Iraqis, as well as for those Arabs, Israelis, Turks and Kurds who have for more than two decades lived under the threat of attack by Saddam Hussein. One might have expected liberals to begin making the case for a lengthy and serious rebuilding of Iraq -- a process that is hugely complicated and that no one knows whether the Bush administration will commit to wholeheartedly. But neither of these things has happened. Instead, on the brink of the ouster of a dictator who is the very embodiment of illiberal values, too many liberals are on the sidelines throwing beer cans at the proceedings.
I would strongly recommend everyone read Slate during the current Iraqi crisis. Top-rate journalism all-round. William Saletan's war-blog is especially good.

Friday, March 21, 2003

I was really keen to see the new Ned Kelly movie .. that is, until i saw this:

Australian film star Heath Ledger has added his voice to the anti-war movement, calling on Prime Minister John Howard to "grow up" and assert the nation's independence.

In Melbourne to launch the new Ned Kelly movie, in which he stars in the title role, Ledger said yesterday Australia's involvement in the war on Iraq was ridiculous.

A bit of pre-emption of my own ... this is a BOYCOTT, not a blacklist ... no 'McCarthyite' accusations please ...
Just a preliminary head-count: after the current action in Iraq, how many people would be willing to buy a T-shirt with the following written on it:

So, you were anti-war, huh?

Do you feel kinda stupid for


From the Sydney Morning Herald’s Letters Page:

Moments ago I heard that war had begun. I cry now for the children of Iraq. I cry for our own children: how can I explain this unjust war to them?

How can we explain that we have created a world in which our only answer to injustice being committed by one dictator is to engage in more terrifying injustice, killing innocent children. It's a sad day when you wait for your children to come home from school to report this news.

Barbara Livesey doing her best Helen Lovejoy impersonation: Won’t somebody please think of the children!

The blood of those who will die as the new US doctrines of unilateralism and pre-emptive strike are applied by the US and by other countries.

David Cameron has trouble with the concept of unilateralism. (A hint: ‘uni’ = ‘one’; ’35 countries who have so far signed onto the coalition of the willing’ does not equal ‘unilateralism’)

Miranda, we do remember Vietnam. And the protesters were right ...

Trevor Finch, I remember Afghanistan. And the protesters were wrong ….

Thursday, March 20, 2003

... it was clear the United States would operate with dozens of allies, some large like Australia and Italy, some small such as Latvia and El Salvador.

I think Fred Barnes is trying to sweet-talk us Aussies by playing to our egos ...
Psych-out, continued ....

Mass desertions from the Iraqi army, and the defection of very senior figures from within Saddam Hussein's ruling family circle, are under way as the countdown to a British and US invasion of Iraq reaches its final hours.

In the northern region on the border with Kurdistan, up to three-quarters of some Iraqi regiments have already fled.

In the mainly Shia Muslim south, Kuwaiti border guards are having to turn Iraqi soldiers back, telling them that they must wait until the attack begins before they can surrender.

And in a highly significant development in the capital, Baghdad, a half-brother of Saddam, who is regarded as the dictator's closest adviser, has fled to Syria in the past week. Sab'awi Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, who is regarded as a possible war criminal in the US, has sought refuge in Damascus.

Some might say it is no worse for Iraq or North Korea to have nuclear weapons than it is for Britain, France, the United States and several others to have them. It is. It may go against egalitarian principles to say so, but not all countries are as nice as each other. Sweden is nicer than Saudi Arabia, for example. And while I am certainly no fan of the Bush Administration, it is plain silly to say the US is just as bad as the regime in Iraq.

Pamela Bone confirms that the left is not yet totally devoid of intelligence.
Now, imagine if a bunch of protesters tried to blockade the White House. Some Clint Eastwood wannabe with a magnum under his coat and a wire in his ear would probably have killed someone. Certainly, people would have been brutalised and clapped in irons. In Iraq, there would have been a massacre.

Mike just couldn't help himself. Don't you see? America = Iraq and Iraq = America. Also note the crude American stereotype: Gung-ho nutters just itching to kill someone. Sheesh. I bet Americans all look the same to you as well don't they Mike?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Michelle Grattan writing in The Age:

Now Australia has made its participation official, it finds itself a minor player in an extraordinarily small club of nations launching a pre-emptive military strike that could send unforeseen reverberations through the international system.

Fareed Zakaria writing in Newsweek:

But in its campaign against Iraq, America is virtually alone.

Simon Crean, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald:

But the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, said Australia had joined an "immoral minority" of just three countries waging war with Iraq.

Hmmm, time for a reality check:

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said today that 45 nations backed the United States in the coalition that may soon go to war with Iraq. Thirty of those countries - who have offered troops, overflight rights, logistical support and assistance and Iraqi reconstruction projects - were willing to be named publicly while 15 preferred to remain anonymous at the present.

Plus, in addition to Oz, the UK and the US, Denmark, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are providing military units ... why is the left wrong all the time?
Ms Kingston displaying a remarkable knowledge about the 1999 Timor crisis:

Remember East Timor? Howard asked the US for troops - it replied that this was a regional matter, and we should handle it ourselves. The UN managed the crisis - through it we organised our own coalition of the willing, including several neighbours in the region. They could not help us after this - antagonistic public opinion in their countries would make that impossible.

Sure, I remember East Timor Margo. I remember how it was only after a US General rang an Indonesian General (and essentially told him that the game was up) that Indonesia relented and allowed an Australian-led force to land in East Timor. I remember how it was only due to the logistic muscle of the US Defence Forces that Australian troops - let alone Thai and other regional troops - were able to get to Timor in the first place. I also remember how a US Marine combat group (approx 4000 troops) remained stationed off Dili while Indonesia forces remained in East Timor. The message from this was action was clear: "While we may not be there on the ground, f*ck with our friends and we will f*ck with you." God bless our seppo mates.

Face it Margo, without the US, East Timor would never have happened. So don't give us this sanctimonious bullshit about America never 'being there' for us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Psych ... Psych, Psych Psych!!

But if you doubt the power of psychological warfare, look at what's happening right now in Baghdad and Ankara. Turkish leaders who dragged their heels on U.S. troop deployments are rushing to open their gates. Why? According to the New York Times, Turkish officials believe an "invasion of Iraq now seems inevitable," so the only question left is whether Turkey gets a "say in its aftermath." Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Baghdad residents have "besieged currency exchange dealers … lugging in satchels of worn Iraqi dinars and leaving with small wads of $100 bills."

A dinar is a promise from the Iraqi government. A dollar bill is a promise from the American government. Saddam's people are betting against him. The psych-out has begun.

Monday, March 17, 2003

… the United States will spend as much next year on defense as the rest of the world put together (yes, all 191 countries). And it will do so devoting 4 percent of its GDP, a low level by postwar standards. - Fareed Zakaria

I think it is pretty safe to say that I am not reflexively anti-American. Nor am I someone who ascribes to the mindless belief that America is an oil-hungry imperial power, bent on world domination. However, I would be lying to say that the above statement doesn’t scare me just a little …

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Two interesting and competing versions of the future between Europe and America:

Harold Meyerson from The American Prospect and Mark Steyn from The Spectator

Tracking down terrorists is a job for intelligence services and police forces, not armies. - Hugh Mackay

True - terrorism is a crime that is most effectively dealt with by police forces, HOWEVER, Mr Mackay needs to appreciate that international terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, pose serious problems to the 'law and order' approach to counter-terrorism. In the absence of an international police force, the 'law and order' approach breaks down when confronted with national governments unwilling to cooperate with targeted countries. Is anyone seriously suggesting that the Taleban (or the Iraqi, Irani, Syrian or North Korea governments for that matter) would have fully cooperated with the FBI and other US law enforcement agencies to track down the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks?

The fact remains that, in some cases, military force is required to deal with regimes that are actively supporting terrorist groups. To suggest otherwise is to ascribe to an overly optimistic (and simplistic) view of the international system.
Hugh Mackay advocating a breakdown in Australia's democratic civil-military relationship:

It's a pity our military leaders don't have the freedom to disobey your orders when those orders contravene both international law and common sense. What a sweet moment it would be if the top brass could simply say, "Sorry, we won't act unjustly. If you want to invade Iraq, get someone else to do the job. We're coming home."

Democratic accountability can be so annoying, can't it? And there's more:

If I've got it straight, your logic runs like this: because Iraq has failed to respect its obligations to the UN, Australia should do the same.

Close. The PM's logic runs like this: because Iraq has failed to respect its obligations to the UN, and because certain members are actively preventing the UN from disarming Iraq, 'whatever the circumstances', Australia and other concerned countries should reluctantly address the security threat posed by Iraq by launching military action. UN support would be good, but Australia should not sacrifice its decision-making capacity to France, Angola and Chile.

Ahhh, Alan Ramsey...

There was a strong sense, to this ear, in our Prime Minister's pleading that he, too, now realises his folly in having been so thoroughly seduced by the most disliked and distrusted US President we have so come to fear.

According to Mr Ramsey, the prime minister (and one would assume the prowar movement in general) has simply been conned by George W. Bush's tantalizing salesmanship. Not a bad effort for someone who is routinely derided as a moron …

Or that the frightening zealots who lurk behind this cowboy-booted caricature would allow him to do so?

I'll give Mr Ramsey the benefit of the doubt and assume he is not ascribing to the 'neo-conservative Jews run America' theory - can't let facts get in the way of some good, old-fashioned anti-semitism ...

Just as offensive as Howard's threadbare "justification" on Thursday for making war on Iraq was his behaviour beforehand.

I am curious to discover what element of the Prime Minister's justification Mr Ramsey found 'threadbare'. Saddam's possession of WMD? - something that not even the French deny. Saddam's link with terrorist groups? Perhaps Mr Ramsey was questioning the assertion that Iraq has violated numerous UN Security Council resolutions? (On a side note, I am always amused when people try to deflect this charge by highlighting how other countries - namely Israel [notice how they always mention Israel - nothing like good old Jew bashing] have also violated UN resolutions. As if pointing out the transgressions of other countries somehow absolves Iraq of any guilt).

Yet Australians dislike and fear Bush.

I won't be so petty to comment about a mindless generalisation.

The ANOP's Rod Cameron: Any sort of war will not be a winner, politically.

Like to put a wager on that Mr Cameron?

For more Ramsey de-bunking (there is simply too much for one man), visit Tim Blair