Home > Oz Politics > Is Howard defensible ?

Is Howard defensible ?

March 19th, 2006

The few commentators who were suggesting that the Howard government did not (at the least) know the general facts about Australia’s collusion with Saddam Hussein in stealing $300 million from the Oil-For-Food fund, and encourage the AWB quango to do ‘whatever it takes’ to push the deal through, have gone quiet after the latest revelation that our intelligence agencies knew all about the racket.

Is there a coherent defence of the Howard government’s actions in helping Saddam fund his regime, including its military, while calling for, and eventually participating in, war against him? I think there is, though not one we’re likely to see avowed openly.

The defence is based on what’s commonly called ‘international realism’, the view that every country should look out for its own interests and the devil take the hindmost. As long as Saddam was in, Australia had an interest in trading with him. The sanctions and the Oil-for-Food scheme only enhanced the incentive: a country willing to subvert the sanctions could charge Iraq above-market prices and split the proceeds with Saddam. The Canadians refused to do this, and US firms had to be careful, so Australia got the lions share of the benefits.

On the other hand, the central tenet of realism in Australian policy is keeping sweet with the US. The Howard government was the most enthusiastic backer of war against Iraq, bar none. Apart from Britain, where the government was deeply divided, Australia was the first to commit troops to the “Coalition of the Willing”. The payoff was a relatively low-risk assignment in the Western Desert.

The obvious difficulty with this kind of two-faced policy is that of keeping both partners satisfied. Until the Volcker report came out, it looked as if the Howard government had managed the job, and it may still do so. The US Administration is in too desperate a plight to do anything, even if US wheat farmers are unhappy. We might even get back some of the Iraqi wheat market.

As I mentioned, no-one much has openly avowed this policy, and it’s part of the realist approach, particularly in its Straussian variants not to do so. While the true policy is formulated by the elite, the masses must be distracted with stories about WMDs, hypocritical denunciations of Saddam and so on. The obvious question, reading the various pro-war commentators is which of them were in on the joke and which were, in Lenin’s pungent phrase ‘useful fools’.

As the AWB story unfolds, we’ll get our answer. Anyone who sincerely believed the stuff they wrote about Saddam must surely condemn his allies and accomplices in the Australian government. Surprisingly enough, The Australian has done exactly that. A lot of others are keeping quiet, perhaps still trying to get up the nerve to make the jump. But I suspect the majority will swallow and regurgitate the government’s line on this, as on so much else.

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  1. Vee
    March 19th, 2006 at 18:14 | #1

    Exactly, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  2. Bring Back EP at LP
    March 19th, 2006 at 18:47 | #2

    Naa,
    It is just plain incompetence

  3. March 19th, 2006 at 19:57 | #3

    The Land has a decent go at it:

    An international lawyer says the furore over AWB’s payment of bribes to Iraqi officials is an over-reaction, given it is a widespread Middle Eastern practice.

    I await lawyers for the next corrupt cop arguing in court that receiving bribes is a ‘widespread criminal practice’.

  4. March 19th, 2006 at 20:34 | #4

    It seems that the intelligence services know many things, and the government knows few things, whereas the board of the AWB forgets most things. And none of this should be the business of the Cole Commission as constrained by its terms of reference.

  5. Katz
    March 19th, 2006 at 21:21 | #5

    The Oil-for-Food kickback money, it is alleged, was knowingly embezzled by AWB from UN-administered funds and passed on to Saddam Hussein.

    The Bush administration may well object to an Australian corporation funding the killing of US soldiers. This was the accusation levelled at George Galloway, incorrectly as it turned out.

    In the Galloway case, Bush administration supporters in the US Senate did not blame the British Government for allowing Galloway’s alleged kickbacks. Why should they? There was no evidence of British government connivance with George Galloway.

    On the other hand, Australian government connivance with AWB does look a distinct possibility.

    Is it possible that the US Senate might invite Ministers Vaile and Downer, and perhaps even PM Howard, to face cross examination like George Galloway MP did? The US Senate may get a more satisfactory result from quizzing the three Australian Hon Gentlemen than they got from Galloway MP.

    Of course, any information extracted from the three Australian Hon Gentlemen may prove to be too “political” to be of use to discover how Saddam came to have truckloads of US dollars to fuel the ongoing insurgency. The US, after all, is running very short of reliable coalition partners.

    Realistically, therefore:

    1. Through embezzlement the Iraqi people got more to eat than they might have.

    2. Willing coalition partners have increasing rarity value. They are therefore a protected species in Washington.

    3. Killed US troops don’t vote at all, and injured US troops don’t vote in Australia.

    4. Wheat farmers are relatively numerous and habitually vote for the Lib-Nat Coalition in a number of important electorates.

    5. From the point of view of many Australians, the people who suffered from this transaction live or lived in far-off countries of which we know little.

    Until someone important gets hurt by such deals, the Fed Govt can brazen it out.

    Interestingly as a parallel, “The Australian” opposed the war in Vietnam. Menzies and Holt didn’t give a damn, and neither did the vast majority of Australians until a few troops started dying for no apparent practical purpose in Vietnam.

  6. burrah
    March 20th, 2006 at 01:42 | #6

    Irrelevant and racist comment deleted. Burrah, if you want to write this sort of stuff, please take it to Little Green Footballs or similar. JQ

  7. still working it out
    March 20th, 2006 at 07:07 | #7

    I don’t know much about intelligence work, but I would think an obvious step in analysing Iraq’s WMD capacity is to make an assessment of its international financial resources.

    The major financial resource available to Saddam was the oil for food program. I find it hard to believe that the intelligence community would miss the biggest supplier of funds to Iraq through the biggest and most obvious source. The US must have known. They did a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq before the Iraq war. I don’t know if they told Australia, but even we should not have missed this. The obvious thing for an Australian intelligence officer looking at Iraq to do is walk a few streets down the road and have a chat with one of Iraq’s biggest trading partners.

    Perhaps Howard is confident no-one will find a smoking gun because he knows it is in classified intelligence documents.

  8. SimonJm
    March 20th, 2006 at 13:22 | #8

    Howard looks like he has perfected the system leaving no paper trails, plausible deniability and coached the public service into a culture of do what they want without being asked so even if the shit hits the fan you will still be looked after.

    Immigration, Foreign affairs, Intelligence, I wonder who else is playing the game?

  9. March 20th, 2006 at 18:09 | #9

    no-one much has openly avowed this policy, and it’s part of the realist approach, particularly in its Straussian variants not to do so. While the true policy is formulated by the elite, the masses must be distracted with stories about WMDs, hypocritical denunciations of Saddam and so on. The obvious question, reading the various pro-war commentators is which of them were in on the joke and which were, in Lenin’s pungent phrase ‘useful fools’.

    Hey, watch who you’re calling “useful” there buddy! When I have been a fool on foreign policy I have tried to be as useless as possible to spin doctors, apologists et al. Honesty is the best policy, especially when one is telling bald-face lies.

    FWIW, I openly avow Machiavellian realism for Australian foreign policy, both in security and trade issues. Straussian realists are just weird.

    I was never fooled by the Coalition spin put on these deeds and have said so many times. And I think that most Australians knew, at some level of their consciousness, knew exactly what Howard was doing.

    (I was fooled by the neo-cons into thinking that nation building Iraq would be a cakewalk. More fool me for ignoring basic conservative wisdom: one cannot make a democratic nation out of a seriously multicultural society.)

    Most of Howard’s lies – children overboard, WMDs under the bed, Wheat bribes for Saddam – have been told for politiclly popular purposes. That is, to deter people smugglers, reinforce the US alliance and to flog grain.

    These actions were tactically unethical but strategically moral. That is, the were using bad means to further good ends – the Australian national interest in maximising our security and prosperity.

    Pundits may be fools, useful or useless, but voters have more sense. In fact voters want Howard to lie about what it takes to get good policy to work in a bad world. That way the punters get to politically have their cake and morally it.

    Australian voters extend trust to politicians on the basis of a Machiavellian contract: do what has to be done we dont want to know the details so long as it works. This assumption explains why Australian voters now trust the duplicitous Howard more than the ingenuous Keating. Hartcher resolves the paradox:

    in 1984, the second year of the Hawke government, 43 per cent of Australians expressed trust in the government. That had fallen to 35 per cent by 1995, the last full year of Keating’s prime ministership.

    By 2003, after eight years of Howard, trust in the Federal Government had recovered to 40 per cent. “There’s a general assumption that trust in government is lower than it used to be,” Bean says. “This evidence suggests that it’s not all that high, but it’s not lower than it’s been in the past.” Indeed, it seems Howard had restored some trust in government.

    How can it be that a prime minister who has been accused of gross misrepresentation over everything from the GST to “children overboard” to the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could command reasonable levels of trust and popularity? ….

    A Morgan poll found that 60 per cent of Australians believed Howard had lied about children overboard.

    Many voters may believe Howard is a liar, but still trust him nonetheless. Most Australians, then, do not gauge trustworthiness as truthfulness. Evidently, trust means something else.

    Francis Fukuyama, best known for his End of History, wrote a later book called Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. He pointed out: “The two big sources of trust in government are serious national crises, especially foreign-policy crises or wars, because it tends to bind people together, and when policies are successful, that also binds people together.”

    Howard has the benefit of both; a counter-terrorism campaign and troops overseas in the field, and an economic boom in its 14th year. Last year’s election result proved the potency of this combination as the measure of his trustworthiness. Both of these factors still work in his favour.

    But the voters trust Howard’s lies only in so far as they are done for the political benefit of the state. If lies are told to benefit personal interests or professional careers then the politician will be punished.

  10. March 20th, 2006 at 20:57 | #10

    strategically moral

    Jesus H. Christ on a Segway.

  11. March 20th, 2006 at 22:50 | #11

    Jack:
    “basic conservative wisdom: one cannot make a democratic nation out of a seriously multicultural society”

    Rubbish. Switzerland has sectarian divisions to make the Irish blanche, combined with a cross-cutting French-German cleavage. This blood-soaked patch of a blood-soaked continent is the most democratic country in the world (by far).
    Switzerland has the political institutions to cope. A couple of years ago RWDB Jonah Goldberg actually suggested it as a model for Iraq.

  12. James Farrell
    March 21st, 2006 at 06:03 | #12

    Jack, isn’t there a difference between not wanting to know the details and hearing rationalisations you know are lies? The former works if people want to be spared moral responsibility, but I can’t see how the latter works in the same way.

    And why does the Government’s cheer squad – Bolt, Akerman, Devine et. -perform such contortions to justify everything he says. Why don’t they just come out and say what you said? Are they more prone to delusion than you are?

  13. still working it out
    March 21st, 2006 at 07:20 | #13

    I don’t agree about “tactically unethical but strategically moral”.

    Reading through the likes of thoughtful real conservatives like William Lind (definitely not a multi-culturalist) you start to understand morality as a practical tool, especially in war. Morality is not just some abstract concept but a method of winning war on the moral level, which is the level at which the outcome is usually decided.

    How do you avoid a mistake in declaring war when you don’t care if you are lied to? How can soldiers put their life on the line if they are not sure which reasons for it are true? How can you ask a nation to make sacrifices big enough to win a war when you are not honest about its cost? These are all tactical lies that weaken the ability to wage war.

    You might say that in the case of Iraq these problems arise because the war is strategically immoral, but that’s the point. A strategically immoral war can only be supported by tactically immoral political means. A strategically moral war does not need to be supported by lies. Its how you tell the difference.

    But completely agree with the below.

    “Pundits may be fools, useful or useless, but voters have more sense. In fact voters want Howard to lie about what it takes to get good policy to work in a bad world. That way the punters get to politically have their cake and morally it.”

  14. Terje
    March 21st, 2006 at 11:01 | #14

    A Question. What stopped Saddam Hussein putting a 10% tax on Wheat imports instead of seeking bribes?

  15. March 21st, 2006 at 13:34 | #15

    Liam (Ministry of Lying Communist Puppetmastery) Says: March 20th, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    [Jack says] “strategically moral”
    Jesus H. Christ on a Segway.

    Opportunistic protection and promotion of the Australian national interest is “strategically moral” in so far as our state operates in the politico-legal vacum of international anarchy. Machiavelli argued that the statesman is allowed to lie and breach civil norms in foreign affairs so long as own citizens are helped and other citizens are not much harmed*.

    There was not much in the way of a “controlling legal authority” regulating Howard’s actions in this case. Apart from the Australan parliament, but then I think Howard has judged the peoples attitude towards the ingenuity of that august institution correctly. And to the extent there is (the UN and international treaties) they have not been especially harmed by Howard’s lies.

    So I think Howard’s lies just scrape in under the “strategically moral” ordinance. But I grant that this sort of thing falls a long way short of the kind of behaviour urged by the Sermoniser on the Mount.

    *The Iraqis would have been slaughtered in their tens of thousands whether the ADF presented to this war or not. The ADF may even have mitigated the carnage by improving security. And most off the legitimate assylum seekers are free now.

  16. March 21st, 2006 at 13:51 | #16

    Mike Pepperday Says: March 20th, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    Rubbish. Switzerland has sectarian divisions to make the Irish blanche, combined with a cross-cutting French-German cleavage. This blood-soaked patch of a blood-soaked continent is the most democratic country in the world (by far). Switzerland has the political institutions to cope.

    Multiculturalism refers to the post-seventies policy of encouraging massive and unselective immigration of Southern hemispheric peoples into Northern hemispheric states. In the case of hybridised Iraq the people are split along sectarian rather than racial lines. And the movement is intra-state rather than inter-state. But the principle is the same and the conflict potential is just as great, if not worse.

    On this meaning, Switzerland is not multicultural in any serious sense. Its people are mostly Caucasian in race and Christian in religion, with a long-established “Civilian” polity. Switzerlands real religion is money. They have buried their ethnic differences in the pursuit of that Grail. How likely is it that the Iraqis will do that?

    A couple of years ago RWDB Jonah Goldberg actually suggested it as a model for Iraq.

    I would not be putting to much faith in the geo-political wisdom of RWDB journalisms equivalent to Bart Simpson. I would suggest that J.S. Mill is a better exponent of “basic conservative wisdom” than Jonah Goldberg.

    Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities.

  17. Razor
    March 21st, 2006 at 13:55 | #17

    Jack, I basically agree with most of what you have written above. It is laughable the way the Federal ALP is carrying on about this issue – if they were in power I have no doubt they would have acted in the same way. One need only look at the performance of the State ALP Governments to see that they operate in exactly the smae manner as the Federal Government in terms of controlling information, spin etc etc.

    I find it rather strange that the ALP is so wrapped around the axles about what DFAT did or did not do etc etc when it was a UN program, operated and supervised by the UN – weren’t they responsible for what went on??? Or don’t they count??

  18. Razor
    March 21st, 2006 at 14:04 | #18

    Still Working It Out,

    It is very nice for you to hold such high and mighty views as “Morality is not just some abstract concept but a method of winning war on the moral level, which is the level at which the outcome is usually decided.”

    The fact is that the conduct of war is rarely a moral issue. The sinking of the Belgrano in the Falklands War, the bombing of Dresden, the use of Atomic weapons on Japanese civilian targets – all acts which peaceniks go off their rockers about. All acts which looking back makes me uncomfortable but all part of winning wars which one can hardly argue weren’t for the right reasons.

    What is moral in war? – breaking the enemy codes so you know exactly what is going to happen and then allowing your own troops and civilians to become casualties because to not do so allows the enemy to know you have broken their codes.

  19. March 21st, 2006 at 14:11 | #19

    James Farrell Says: March 21st, 2006 at 6:03 am

    Jack, isn’t there a difference between not wanting to know the details and hearing rationalisations you know are lies? The former works if people want to be spared moral responsibility, but I can’t see how the latter works in the same way.

    Yes, I suppose there is a difference between not being told and being told a lie, for those with delicately tuned moral sensibilities. Sins of ommission v commission sort of thing.

    But I think that James Farrell is granting the Australian people a little too much nuance in that way. We are a philistine people who just want politicians to do the job properly, in the national interest, and be done with it. So long as the politician or party is not profiting to much by way of the deal we are not too fussed.

    Should the contract come unstuck, say if ADF soldiers are massacred in battle or the housing bubble busts, the fact that Howard lied to get his policies in place will tell heavily against him. Think Nixon in 1974.

    And why does the Government’s cheer squad – Bolt, Akerman, Devine et. -perform such contortions to justify everything he says. Why don’t they just come out and say what you said? Are they more prone to delusion than you are?

    I really cannot speculate what runs through the minds of B.A.D. et al as they present a dead bat, or a neat deflection to fine leg, when a Howard-hater hurls the accusation of “lying apologist” at them.

    There is no reason to believe that they are more prone to delusion than me. They seem to be acutely aware of fallacies, disingenuities and iniquities when the “other side” serves them up. So it is not for the want of bs detectors.

    My guess is that they have followed Nelson’s mon-opic example and had specially constructed mental baffles constructed to dampen down the ideological sources of cognitive dissonance. Or perhaps they are just paid hacks who are there to sell a story, not tell the truth. (In fairness I think Bolt has conceded the “children overboard” lies.)

    As against the “harlotry” theory of apologetic journalism, there was the sage who talked about “what they will do for free” which was likely to dismay the easily shocked. (Can anyone remember the source and verbatim of that quote?)

  20. still working it out
    March 22nd, 2006 at 07:01 | #20

    Razor,

    If you don’t understand the moral dimension to war then I suggest you read John Boyd and Martin Crevald. I understand you have a military background. They should be very interesting reads.

    Dresden would have been a diplomatic nightmare for the Allies if the Germans had not started area bombing first. The bombing of Hiroshima would not have been acceptable if the same objective (surrender of Japan) could have been acheived at a reasonable cost. Morality is not absolute, but has to be weighed against the benefits and costs. The actions you describe all had a moral dimension to them.

    The people who figured out these views are no peaceniks either. In the aftermath of Vietnam they were trying to answer practical military questions such as, why would US soldiers frag their commanders when Vietnamese soldiers could endure hell and maintain discipline? Why didn’t the techonology make that much difference?

  21. March 22nd, 2006 at 11:32 | #21

    Jack,
    If your definition of multiculturalism was irrelevant, why introduce it?
    The point is the comparison between Switzerland and Iraq is just about as perfect as it could be. Internal sectarian division and different nationalities. That Sw is not, today, Ireland on steroids, is due to the development of democratic institutions in the nineteenth century and perhaps to some luck with a wise leader or two. The Proddies defeated the Micks in a war in 1848. The disagreement between the Germans and French during this time needs no elaboration yet the seventy percent Germans did not embrace Hitler like their close cousins in Austria. The Sw worship money no more than any other country, now or in 19C. Why not explain everything by positing a special property of the mountain air?
    Incidentally, Canada is another multicultural democracy that manages to be peaceful.
    Contrary to your assertion, democracy is the only reliable system for peaceful multiculturalism – unless you think that gassing the minorities is peaceful.

  22. March 22nd, 2006 at 11:55 | #22

    Switzerland has been around for a long time, with many long standing customs and traditions, but it has only been a working whole for about a century and a half since the last religious wars there.

  23. Ian Gould
    March 22nd, 2006 at 18:37 | #23

    “Multiculturalism refers to the post-seventies policy of encouraging massive and unselective immigration of Southern hemispheric peoples into Northern hemispheric states. ”

    Or the immigration of northern hemisphere people into southern hemisphere countries but only when the northern hemisphere countries have a noncausasian majority and the southern hemisphere country is Australia or New Zealand.

    Or when it involves muslims from northern hemisphere nations migrating to Europe (but oddly not to slavic people from Russia doing likewise).

  24. Leinad
    March 22nd, 2006 at 21:59 | #24

    Orwellian nightmare phrases like ‘strategically moral’ aside, Jack’s spot on about why most people really don’t mind when Howard lies. They don’t trust him because he tells the truth, they trust him because he looks after them and keeps the scary stuff/people/interest rates away.

    Though,

    “Multiculturalism refers to the post-seventies policy of encouraging massive and unselective immigration of Southern hemispheric peoples into Northern hemispheric states. �

    What this has to do with Iraq I can’t quite work out, Strocchistoricus. Ethnic and religious divisions Iraq predate your evil multicultural startoff by a few millennia. Saddam didn’t bus the Kurds in in the seventies…

  25. March 22nd, 2006 at 23:27 | #25

    Jack’s post-seventies immigration nightmare – as opposed to the warm and cuddly immigraton of the 1950s must always be posited as a possible explanation for any current disaster – (excluding, to be fair, cyclones).

    It’s a classic but florid example of the new arrivals (cuddly Strocchist 1950′s immigrants) being the strongest competitors of more recent arrivals.

    It’s all to do with low self-esteem and pecking orders.

    Jack’s Fukyama quote is spot on, but. Howard can bind the electorate with his eyes shut. See him squawking today about how we have to help the cyclone victims. As tho that would be anything other than SO. He was shadow boxing so effectively, that the viewer in TV land could actually see the evil cohort that wants to deny state aid. (Presumably, inner city types and probably homosexuals.)

  26. Simonjm
    March 23rd, 2006 at 09:44 | #26

    Why is though that Blair and Bush have had their credibility smashed, they are thought of as liars by many who aren’t diehard supporters while here Little Johnny has had Children overboard, WMD’s, and now the wheat scandal which at best shows incompetence and not a scratch???

    Not to mention abandoning citizens to torture, legal limbo and a unjust legal system, refugee boats sinking and people drowning, kids in detention often abused or seeing abuse, citizens deported or detained, sat on militia intelligence in East Timor, ministers not declaring shares in AWB etc etc.

    The it will be all right mate has turned into I’m alright –money in my pocket- I don’t give a toss about anything else. That is unless she is a beautiful woman having to spend time in a foreign goal then we are suitably outraged.

    I no longer think our moral compass is out of whack it has gone missing in action.

    Hey but we won heaps of gold lets give the PM another hearty cheer.

    No wonder Devine et al. sprout what they do it is now the moral middle ground of this country.

    Well at least that felt good back to work.

  27. March 24th, 2006 at 14:13 | #27

    Simonjm,
    When the ‘left’ of politics in Australia works that out then they will have a good way to get back federally. Until then…

  28. March 25th, 2006 at 00:55 | #28

    Andrew,

    That’s a cop-out.

    If you wish to defend the Howard Government why not say so outright instead of hiding behind the alleged shortcomings of the opposition?

    No people in the world deserve a government as bad as this one.

    One month, by design or neglect, they are funnelling money to the same regime, that the next month they tell the Australian people is such a threat to world peace that we are left with no choice but to launch, without delay, the bloody and destructive invasion which started the current inferno we are sadly witnessing.

    What could possibly be more monumentally incompetent, if we choose to believe the Government’s ‘explanation’, or heinous if we do not?

  29. Bill O’Slatter
    March 25th, 2006 at 12:02 | #29

    Mike Steketee’s column in today’s Australian summarises the issues.
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,18590986%255E7583,00.html
    Especially intereresting are
    “Four, as confirmed by a legal opinion sought by the Cole inquiry, the sanctions were given the force of Australian law through a series of regulations covering trade, aircraft flights and banking. Five, Australia has passed a law outlawing foreign bribery.”
    Howard also shares Downer’s contempt for the U.N.

  30. March 26th, 2006 at 11:57 | #30

    James Sinnamon says: “No people in the world deserve a government as bad as this one”, whilst Jack Strocchi explains that (according to the Machiavellian contract) – “Most of Howard’s lies – children overboard, WMDs under the bed, Wheat bribes for Saddam – have been told for politiclly popular purposes. That is, to deter people smugglers, reinforce the US alliance and to flog grain”.

    and:

    “These actions were tactically unethical but strategically moral. [Emphasis added] That is, the were using bad means to further good ends – the Australian national interest in maximising our security and prosperity”.

    So, are the Australian electorate “useful fools” or are they agents, possessing will, and instrumental in choosing the Howard government over any alternatives on offer? I think we should remember how they voted in the 2004 Senate election, and with some reluctance, admit that they seem to have endorsed the perpetual war, torture, loss of civil liberties, tormenting of refugees and unmitigated lies.

    Anything was preferable to admitting that what scared them most was higher interest rates on their overdrawn Visa cards and mortgages – and this included the tacit agreement with the government that they could carry on murdering people and lying about it.

    This leaves the rest of us, including Greens and Democrats, who would like to believe that our fellow Australians act rationally in their own best interests, whist seeking to avoid causing harm to others – as you would say “still working it out”. You will note that I made no mention of the ALP, as most of us have concluded that they are part of the Howard paradigm.

  31. March 28th, 2006 at 11:14 | #31

    Willy Bach wrote :

    I think we should remember how they voted in the 2004 Senate election, and with some reluctance, admit that they seem to have endorsed the perpetual war, torture, loss of civil liberties, tormenting of refugees and unmitigated lies.

    I think you need to go back to the months and weeks prior to 2004 to understand just how completely dishonest and manipulative was the election campaign. The vast majority of the Australian public were clearly and obviously manipulated by an astonishingly deceitful and biassed newsmedia and the incumbent Government into voting against their own best interests.

    In the first place they were able to dishonestly convince the Australian public that their was little significant difference between the two major parties on social issues such as Medicare (have you already forgotten the $20 million taxpayer funded “Strengthening Medicare” lie?), industrial relations and welfare (by completely concealing their despicable IR ‘work choice’ and welfare ‘reforms’ from the voting public during the course of the election campaign). Also, they almost completely avoided debate on Telstra Privatisation.

    On the other hand, the Coalition Parties together with the newsmedia were able to sell the idea that the ‘inexperienced’ Labor opposition would completely upset the apple cart in regard to interest rates, whilst, of course, completely ignoring which Government it was that had done so much to deliberately fuel the housing hyper-inflation of recent years, without which the threat of increased interest rates would not have been anywhere near as great a concern.

    In short they had succeeded in preventing the Australian public for seeing this Government for what it actually was, that is a gang economically incompetent lying hypocrites against which many past fabled corrupt third world dictatorships would have compared quite favourably, and conjured up an almost completely non-existent threat to the economy from changing horses mid-stream.

    Also, don’t forget that for roughly a year prior to the actual election, we were subjected to the ‘phoney election campaign’ during which John Howard calculated almost hourly the right moment in which he thought his chances of duping the Australian public into giving him another three year term. Eventually, after incalculable cost to the Australian economy Howard, most unfortunately for all of us, did pick the right moment.

    If it had not been these and quite a few other factors I have not covered here, the Howard Government would have been deservedly consigned to the dustbins of history, and a number of its Ministers would most likely facing criminal charges for their parts in the AWB scandal.

  32. March 28th, 2006 at 11:24 | #32

    My apologies, the sentence above, which read :

    Also, don’t forget that for roughly a year prior to the actual election, we were subjected to the ‘phoney election campaign’ during which John Howard calculated almost hourly the right moment in which he thought his chances of duping the Australian public into giving him another three year term.

    … should have read :

    Also, don’t forget that for roughly a year prior to the actual election, we were subjected to the ‘phoney election campaign’ during which John Howard calculated almost hourly the right moment in which he thought his chances of duping the Australian public into giving him another three year term were greatest.

  33. March 28th, 2006 at 11:57 | #33

    Welcome back, James. Where have you been? I had missed your rants. A good “Howard is the Devil on Earth” a day keeps the boredom away.

  34. March 28th, 2006 at 13:23 | #34

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks.

    I have been busy. Hopefully, I will be able tell you about it soon.

    In regards to ‘rants’, I believe that that more aptly applies to either those who defend the Howard Government or else those who make lame excuses for not working strenuously for its removal.

  35. March 28th, 2006 at 13:55 | #35

    Touché.
    I will look forward to it.

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