Monday, September 06, 2004

Manne: Howard's lies: "During the 8 years of the Howard Government, the most morally serious accusation of lying concerned the arguments used to justify Australia's participation in the invasion of Iraq. Although I share the view that Australia was involved in the invasion on the basis of a lie, in my opinion opponents of the war have misunderstood the nature of the mendacity that was involved.

"In justifying the invasion, the fundamental lie was the claim about the supposed deadly danger that the economically ruined and militarily crippled tinpot dictatorship of Saddam Hussein presented to its neighbours and to the West through its possession of weapons of mass destruction and links with Islamic terrorists such as al-Qaeda. This lie was conjured from the void by neo-conservative intellectuals in the United States. As we now know every aspect of their case was false.

"In the US and Britain the political leaders, George Bush and Tony Blair, were enthusiastic believers in the nonsensical arguments supplied by the neo-con intellectuals and the intelligence disinformation supplied by the exiles linked to the Iraqi National Congress. In Australia the self-deception proceeded along a somewhat different route.

"On September 11, 2001 Howard pledged an oath of fealty to the US. From that moment, in the prosecution of the war on terrorism, he was willing to believe whatever it was the Americans happened to believe. He had willingly suspended his capacity for disbelief."

The 'case' for the Iraq war was adequately exposed as a lie and a fraud even before the war started, although the torrent of leaks and revelations since the war has demolished the case as comprehensively as could posssibly be done. All the more remarkable and alarming therefore that Bush, Blair and Howard could still win their respective elections.

However, I believe Manne is correct in his assessment of Howard's motives. Howard is an empty headed politician who has never demonstrated any understanding of history or geopolitics. For example, Howard maintains the Vietnam war was right. A vast and senseless slaughter of 2-3 million Asians for no gain or benefit whatever. Howard's core foreign policy beliefs appear to be Imperialism, Colonialism, and (white supremacist) Racism. The role he envisions for Australia is blind loyalty to the (UKUSA) Empire. So when Bush tapped him on the shoulder after 911 he immediately and blindly fell in to the neocon agenda - as easy a tool to manipulate as Bush himself.

"This week the Howard Government - through the work of Senator George Brandis, who represents the Government on the relevant Senate Committee - sought to discredit Scrafton's evidence. In my opinion the Government's efforts almost entirely failed. The nation is now confronted by the near-complete certainty that on the eve of the last election, in order to ensure his Government's return, Howard told the people of Australia what can only be considered an outright lie.

"The response to this knowledge has been extremely interesting. Since the Scrafton claims, the Howard Government's popularity, as measured by Newspoll, has marginally improved. Even more significantly, in his column in The Weekend Australian, Paul Kelly - the most authoritative political journalist in this country - argued that even if Howard did tell a blatant lie in order to secure his re-election, there was no reason for the moral absolutists among us to kick up such a fuss. Who really believes, Kelly asked, that Howard on November 8 should have come clean?"

The problem with Howard's lies over 'children overboard' is that the price is paid by innocent people who have been thereby slandered and dehumanised for purely political purposes. Hundreds have been drowned in suspicious circumstances and thousands (including children) have been dumped in desert and desert island concentration camps amid complete callousness on the part of the government and a frightening level of indifference among the wider public.

The ugliness and evil of racism did not die with the suicide of Hitler or the release of Mandela. It always exists and there is always the opportunity to exploit racist sentiment for political advantage. This is why every person in a leadership position has a solemn responsibility to condemn racism and expose the government's lies and policies and thereby force a change. Otherwise every ambitious politician (from whatever party) will learn that political success can be gained through racism, and there is no end to this slippery slope, except the discipline imposed by people of principle and integrity. Such people include Andrew Wilkie and Mike Scrafton - but not Paul Kelly. Kelly is no 'authoritative journalist' - rather more like a shill for the US corporate media and the neoconservatives.

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