assignment: the invasion of Indonesia
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
Dont imagine for a second that the election of a Democrat to the
US presidency would signal a less bellicose America advisers
to presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say the
difference would just be a matter of style and theyre
spinning the need for more Australian engagement in American
In a bizarre
take on Australias role under Bush, Obama advisor Dr Susan Rice
told the Sydney Morning Herald: Howard and Blair were enablers
of the Iraq war but they were pursuing an alliance with the US, It would
not be in the US interest to tar and feather allies over what has to
be considered water under the bridge.
see if Ive got that right: Australia was wrong to encourage Americas
Iraq adventure but a future Democrat administration wouldnt hold
it against us. Well thats mighty big of Dr Susan, and just to
show there are no hard feelings shed like us to send more troops.
Funny, I seem to remember the Democrats being almost as gung-ho about
the war as Bush himself, but I must be mistaken.
much engagement do we have, right now? Well, to be fair
to John Howard one of the most successful fakers in Western politics
about as little as we can get away with and still strike a ridiculous
pose as a staunch American ally. Now, the advisors to the Democratic
hopefuls are foreshadowing pressure for an Australian commitment in
Iraq and Afghanistan that goes way beyond our current token effort.
real commitment to Iraq is risibly tiny hasnt escaped the notice
of Barack Obama. In February this year, John Howard criticised him for
being a defeatist: If I were running al Qaeda in Iraq, I would
put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible,
for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats,
Howard told Channel Nines Sunday program.
shot back: ... we have close to 140,000 troops in Iraq, and my
understanding is Mr. Howard has deployed 1400, so if he is ginned up
to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another
20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq ... Otherwise its just
a bunch of empty rhetoric.
was right of course, although his maths were a bit out. Actually, the
Australian ground troop commitment to Iraq is way less than 1,000 (hidden
away in the safest places Howard could find) and a per-capita Australian
commitment equivalent to the US effort would be 10,000 troops not 20,000,
but Obamas basic point is correct.
thought that the presidential hopefuls response indicated a firm
anti-war position (Howards reference to March 8, 2008 was to bring-the-troops-home
legislation Obama introduced into the US Senate) but they were being
hopelessly naïve. Like all politicians, Obama has found it easy
and profitable to posture while in opposition. To see where he or Clinton
would really stand if they were elected, and what it means for Australia,
we should look to the spin their advisors are putting on the war and
future adventures elsewhere.
scary Michele Flournoy, Clinton advisor and president of a Washington
think-tank called the Centre for a New American Security the
name sounds, to this possum, a lot like the neoconservatives Project
for a New American Century indicates that a Democratic
administration would expect to be in Iraq for two or three years, while
supposedly decreasing US troop levels to 40, 000 to 60,000 ground troops
and theyd want a braver commitment from Australia. Where have
we heard that line about drawing down US troop levels in
a few months time? From Bush of course. Hes been spinning that
yarn for four years and troop numbers have increased. If they gain office,
we can confidently expect that either Clinton or Obama would rapidly
adopt pretty much the Bush stance since the alternative promises a catastrophic
collapse of imperial prestige and influence.
the most alarming proposal relates to a future Australian role closer
says that under a Democratic presidency we wont just be expected
to pull our weight in Iraq. According to the Sydney Morning Herald
she sees Indonesia as a vital bulwalk against Islamic extremism.
And she raises the prospect that increased American engagement in Indonesia
could be conducted through Australia: It may be much more effective
for the US to support Australia to take the lead in capacity-building
there, whether its sending aid workers or troops.
you have it. Influential pro-Democrat foreign affairs think-tank advocates
despatching Australian troops to Indonesia to fight Islamic extremists.
what the Indonesian Government might think about that prospect, considering
that Islamic extremists dont actually run the shop there, have
little chance of doing so, and the place is actually a bourgeois democracy
of sorts, but I suppose that matters little to Washington think-tankers,
because Indonesia has oil.
remarks wont have gone unnoticed in Jakarta and theyll be
remembering the late Saddam Hussein. He headed up a secular authoritarian
government that was actually making a pretty good fist of holding together
and running a very difficult country, and he had no links with Islamic
extremists and no weapons of mass destruction. Hes dead now, and
in pursuit of oil the Yanks killed him and a million of his citizens,
drove three million into exile, smashed his infrastructure and reduced
his country to a smoking radioactive ruin.
slides further into the Iraq quagmire
The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
24 February 2005
Howards decision to double Australias ground troop commitment
in Iraq was inevitable. The prime minister put off the inevitable for
as long as he could, but Australias slavish adherence to the American
alliance left him no option but to dispatch more troops to George Bush's
mad neo-colonial adventure. His justification of the decision as necessary
to stop the Coalition crumbling put a desperate spin on the situation
thats at odds with Washingtons upbeat line on post-election
signaled that the 450 extra Australian troops will not be the last.