There is a lot to write about this week, more than I can do justice to. I must, however, comment on the remarks of the previous conservative prime minister of this country, John Howard, about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Howard signed up for the war in spite of very considerable opposition at home and made Australia part of the Coalition of the Willing. Howard said this week that he was convinced that Saddam Hussein had, or was about to get, weapons of mass destruction – one assumes nuclear weapons – and was embarrassed when none were found. He had nothing more to say on the subject, nothing to say about the 150,000 or so innocent civilians that have died since 2003, nothing say about the fact that Australia is now a prime terrorist target, nothing to say about the intractable and seemingly never-ending problems that beset the region in the wake of the invasion. Neither Bush, nor Cheney nor Rumsfeld not any other members of the neo-conservative war party in the US have, of course, expressed any remorse. One might recall that President Truman remarked that he “did not lose a single night’s sleep” over his decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan in 1945. I mention this because the death toll in Japan was very nearly the same as in Iraq and because those responsible for killing such large numbers of civilians seemingly have no regret or self-doubt.
Howard, like Blair one suspects, was duped into believing what the neo-cons wanted him to believe. Clearly, there was no good evidence for thinking that Iraq had nuclear weapons: there could not have been because they didn’t have any. There have been documentaries on local television recently of the Cuban Missile Crisis: the CIA and other intelligence agencies correctly identified bases prepared for nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962. They got that right. So one wonders how is it that forty years later they got it wrong, when, one assumes, intelligence-gathering technology is much more advanced? Of course, the evidence was doctored, and objective observers like Hans Blix were ignored. Howard was clearly flattered by the attention paid to him by Bush and others: he was the Man of Steel. He went along with their schemes, those neo-cons who believe that America has a right to do whatever it likes and that people like Iraqis and Afghans simply don’t count. What do we make of people like Howard, men who get into power and make decisions that are wrong, immoral and wicked, and are totally untroubled by their conscience? How have we managed to elect these people to positions of power, in which they have a license kill and destroy, and do it in our name, do it for Australia? And we’ve done in again. Our new conservative prime minister struts and pimp-rolls in New York playing the tough guy, getting us into more wars and more troubles. I am appalled, truly appalled.