More on war fever

Readers recommendations:


Laurie Cousins recommends an article on the nuclear threat in Pakistan, in,,2001320010-2001324777,00.html



Brigadier (Retired) Adrian D’Hage in Kangaloon has sent in a further missive. For his first, see my opinion piece in Bush’s rhetoric gets more disturbing every day.


� America has declared War, and ‘it is my melancholy duty to inform you, that as a result, Australia is also at War.’ With scarcely any Parliamentary Debate, we have pledged not ‘in-principle’ support but support ‘up to the limit of our capability’.

�Normally such a declaration of war would result in an address to the Nation with an explanation of what this means – and it means we now support US policy in the Middle East. As part of that policy the New York casualty list occu rs every month in Iraq alone, except there it is mainly women and children.


Australians need to understand this because we are now at war and a much bigger target. It is behind the ‘why’ of this and any future bombings and other criminal acts. We might still have given an overwhelming yes – whatever you’ve planned – we’re in! But I’m not sure we all u nderstand US policy, let alone support it.


In a democracy, it is sometimes useful to have that debate first. 48;


Rick Pass has raised a fascinating question about whether we’re seeing a fundamental shift in Australia’s political alignments. He writes:


�One of the most interesting aspects of the last couple of weeks has b een the development of some really interesting fault lines in Australian public culture. Under normal circumstances you can predict which side of an argument most public figures are going to come down on. There are of course exceptions to the rule; Keating’s stance on Native Title and Robert Manne on the Stolen Generation Report spring to mind. But on the whole you know where you stand.


�Now I’m beginning to wonder whether something more profound may be happening in this country. I s uspect that the paradigm by which we understand who we are as a nation may be dissolving. Take Greg Sheridan. As a rule I can scarcely stand to read one of his opinion pieces without becoming physically nauseous yet in the last two weeks he has written several thoughtful and compassionate articles about the Tampa asylum seekers. Are we to assume that he has suddenly found his humanity?


�Take Alan Jones. The other morning on Today he was actually quoting from some of the same s tuff that I have read on Webdiary about the pointlessness of bombing a country like Afghanistan when all you will be doing is stirring the rubble. It sounded awfully like he was calling for restraint. Again, last night I saw Richard Butler saying much the same thing. The same man who helped orchestrate sanctions against Iraq now says that his greatest fear is that the US response will not be just but will be pure revenge. He is cautioning that we must differentiate between the people and the regime. It’s like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe where everything is the same, but not quite.


�Then we have the s pectacle of the ‘honourable’ Phillip Ruddock casually linking asylum seekers with the terrorists, followed by Reith stating it bluntly, followed by Ruddock reaffirming it, rounded off by that buffoon Peter Slipper, and all the while the small ‘l’ liberals and those with any sense of compassion within the party are deserting in droves. Labor is no better, probably worse for betraying their greater legacy. At the end of the day the only political figures left with any credibility are Bob Brown and Mal Fraser. An amazing time when the man who triggered the dismissal should be one of the two most decent political figures in the country. All is forgiven, Malcolm.


�The thing that stands out about the contributors to Webdiary is the overwhelm ing contempt/sadness that they feel about the major parties; parties which many have given a life of support to. I’m just wondering after this is all over what symbolic structures are going to be left standing in this country. Who needs terrorists when you’ve got John and Kim.


Contributors on the war are: Michael Lewy, Bill Kable, Andrew Cave, Tony Dickson, Jack Robertson, David Palmer, Nardya Colvin, Genevieve Rea, Andy Gough, Tim Dunlop


Contributors on Australia’s new refugee policy and our new politics are: Chris Munson, Jim McKenna, Ashley, Ken McAlpine, Sarah Moles, Geoff Ellis


Michael Lewy



There’s a reason we’ve been put on Earth


forget religious this and that


the very least to test ourselves


and just perhaps, give something back


So when our timeclock runs us down


we can accept it won the fight


While knowing deep within our hearts


we at least – did some things right…


There’s a reason that it’s called mankind


No matt er where your countrys’ at


As this really is just one big house


we soon need to all get that!


For no longer can we all pretend


that past our last step , this ends


It is in fact upon our intent


that the future does depend…


This world has actually always been


a pretty fragile place


Over time made that much weaker


by our apparent lack of grace


And it’s one thing when it’s forced upon


the land on which we live


But quite another when we do the same


to people with much to give…


So if we could all just take some time


and perhaps think of how we act


then maybe everyone could benefit


by working on the very bits it seems we all do lack.


Bill Kable


I am writing this in my personal capacity.


What should be done if we are not going to bomb the hell out of the middle east and maybe a few other muslim countries for good measure? What I would suggest is that for the world to move from sympathy to actually liking America, indeed for Americans to start liking themselves, we need to think laterally.


I went to a meeting of Medecins Sans Frontieres on Monday night and I was horrified to hear about the approach of the American drug companies and their legislators regarding further oppression of the desperately poor countries in Africa and elsewhere.There is an overwhelming shortage of medical drugs for treatment in those countries because under the TRIPS

agreement the US forces everyone to use “designer drugs” meaning paying full freight or no drugs.


As an example the AIDS drug treatment costs in excess of $US10,000 pa over the counter for the recognised drugs and this is charged in the wealthy Western countries to recover the cost of development. The production cost is more like $US295 per annum and if the drugs were available in the third world countries at that price it would become a life saving proposition.


However because of the US position, mainly old drugs, 30 years or more old, are used by MSF volunteers in the third world countries because they are outside the patent regime, which in recent times was extended from 7 years to 20 years. Some of these drugs are not only unsuitable but positively dangerous. The US will not permit the use of generic drugs or sale at cost price of their drugs.


Some of the generic drugs which had been used by MSF were produced in Thailand and this is the only reason I can think of as to why Thailand joins some 60 other countries around the world currently subject to US trade sanctions.


If only America could think of making these lifesaving drugs available to third world countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Muslim countries and maybe giving some aid and personnel support. This would be so much cheaper than gearing up the military. It might help stop people wanting to kill themselves to attack the US.


The world really would be a better place and let’s face it, previous bombing raids and wars in the region have achieved zero. They have simply sowed the seeds for recent events.


Andrew Cave in Kuraby, Queensland


In last weekend’s Australian, there was a montage of iconic Aussie images and while flicking through it, I came upon the photo of one Charlie Mance. Charlie was a WW 1 vet who started fighting in France in April 1917, was wounded four times in a year and each time was returned to battle. Before he died two weeks back, he was among the very last people alive who had fought in that horrible conflict.


Just 10 years before Charlie started standing on dead people, the great nations were only sparring. In the first decade of the 20th century there was a great self-confidence among unrestrained capitalism’s winners. The chest shoving and cock-str utting was a matter of national pride. Each knew they had the best soldiers in the world and any battle would result in easy victory.


Looking back now we can justifiably ask “How could they be so blind?”. The destructive potential of Nobel’s high-explosives was well understood. The leaders knew the industrial manufacturing capacity of their nations was pretty well matched and that each side had wealth enough to fight.


But they believed their own publicity. War was both glorious and inevitable. The people demanded the right to defend their country’s honour. Politicians and newspapers accused the other country’s entire populace of extravagant crimes. The public’s eagerness to believe and to hate was their complicity.


They went to war proudly. The people were in favour of it. 85 years later French farmers are still digging them up.


Charlie Mance didn’t like war. He said it was all futile and a terrible, terrible waste. What the hell would he know.


Tony Dickson


I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the degree of responsibility shown by the media in its coverage of the events in the US. However at the risk of being pedantic, I am getting a little irritated at the rather facile and unimaginative hyperbole used to comment on the terrorist attacks.


Such phrases as: the world will never be the same, new kind of war, unimaginable horror, worst terrorist attack in history, New York devastated, No one is safe from attack, are repeated endlessly. To hear this sort of nonsense from the “shock jocks” is, unfortunately, predictable and probably inevitable. However, to hear it from veteran journalists is unforgivable. Let us have a little reality check.


Terrorism is not a new form of warfare. Nor is anti-terrorism. The only thing that is new is that Americ ans have been confronted with a reality that much of the rest of the world takes for granted. They have been so insulated from the consequences of their foreign policies that it is not surprising that the shock is profound. They have been given an insight into the source of the hatred that millions of people unfortunately feel towards their country.


This horror is not unimaginable. Scenarios much worse than these attacks have been mooted for years. A nuclear device detonated in the same place would have killed millions and may have been easier to plan and execute. New York would then have really been “devastated”. If journalists really can’t imagine such horror perhaps they should devote more time to the events in Sudan, for example.


This was not the worst terrorist attack in history by a long shot. The rape of Nanking, the German bombing of London, the British fire bombing of Dresden, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, the US bombing of Hanoi are items on a list that goes on and on and on. ” But that was �warfare” I hear some protest. Yes, but the targets were neither tactical nor strategic in a military sense. Their purpose was to terrorise the civilian populations for political ends. Also, I suspect that the perpetrators of Tuesdays horror consider themselves at war. And to forestall another objection, the USA never did declare war against North Vietnam.


When was anyone safe from attack? I spent my childhood waiting for the air raid sirens to herald the ultimate terrorist attack. We will never know how close we came and how often.


The events of last week were appalling, but appalling things happen in other places every week. Floods, earthquakes, famines, genocides, wars, industrial accidents, usually involving many times more suffering than that experienced in these attacks.


Perhaps we should examine the source of this astounding manifestation of global grief. Why do we so dramatically mourn the loss of 5000 people in the USA and barely notice 2 million dead in the Sudan? Is it because Americans are more like us? Is it because we are concerned about how subsequent events may affect us? Or is it because of the saturation media coverage creates its own emotional momentum?


What ever the reason, I doubt that a moral justification can be convincingly argued for such disproportionate valuation of human life and suffering.


Jack Robertson in Sydney


Out-think your enemy to a more permanent defeat


Sean Richardson in Bush’s rhetoric gets more disturbing every day is forgetting the first rule of any defensive stance – know your enemy’s strategic aim, the better to render his tactical moves futile.


Someone needs to do a decent psychological appreciation of what it is that the terrorist ilk are really trying to achieve. KNOW YOUR ENEMY. KNOW HIS AIM. Know his mind, and know that (he thinks) he knows yours. Then do the opposite of what HIS appreciation of YOU has deduced you will.


Bin Laden is neither a coward nor a fool. He is equipped with a long&# 45;term resolve and a brutal ruthlessness that only someone who has passed the psychological point-of-no- ;return can possess, and which no civilised person should ever aspire to matching. He has the tactical initiative, too, and will maintain it unless we plumb even lower tactical depths ourselves. This – and here is the crux of it – we must n ever do if we are serious about defending ‘civilisation’.


Legally authorised assassinations? Bin Laden wins. Employing known terrorists as our spies? Bin Laden wins. When are we going to learn that the end never justifies the means – t he means ARE the end. Civilisation = the civilised way we do things. Jettison the Rule of Law et al, and Bin Laden wins his ‘Holy War’.


He knows all this. He is not a Holy War fanatic, he is a Holy War strategist. As the fundamental bedrock of his bloody strategy, he must polarise human nature into a fairytale simplicity if – as he would have it – we a re to fight him on the only terms that give him a shot at ‘winning’.


The bin Ladens don’t want territory, or spoils, or even anything as pifflingly secular as a Fundamentalist Global Theocracy. Nor do they give a shit if we kill them, capture them, torture them, try them, imprison them or execute them. Their necessary aim is to impose on Humanity a black-and&a mp;#45;white confrontation between Good and Evil, and then provoke us into losing the strategic war by fighting the tactical battles even more ‘evilly’ than they do, as I suspect we would have to, to ‘win’ militarily.


A Holy War is PRECISELY what this one is, though not in the religious or military sense of a Jihad or Crusade. It’s a war between the secular holiness of Human reason and compassion and civilised restraint, and the nihilistic oblivion of rank animalistic excess. If you absolutely insist on theological terms, then you might call those New York terrorist assaults the Devil’s sucker punch feint.


Bin Laden personally chose terror a long time ago, and so if (as he must necessarily see it) existence IS a polarised fight between ‘Absolute Good’ and ‘Absolute Evil’, then as things currently stand, his soul is already damned. His only chance at ‘spiritual redemption’ is to provoke the West into unleashing even greater terror, thus retrospectively ‘vindicating’ his own bloody choices. Pure ends and means malarkey once again, but then he’s already committed to believing in precisely that riff, isn’t he? KNOW your enemy..


Osama bin Laden is positively GAGGING for the world to become engaged in a fully-b lown, vicious and protracted military confrontation, one that merrily propels us all headlong into a violent race to the bottom between the West and his own sick, personally opportunistic vision of Islam, to explore just who can be more bestially sub&# 45;human in pious defence of their ‘God’.


If we fail to oblige him by resolutely refusing to turn into bloody butchers greater than he, then by his own theological parameters, he is the loser. If we are psychologically and spiritually powerful enough to show measured human restraint in response to his futile best shot – the diabolical excess of jets plunging into buildings – then we’ve already beaten the sad fucker. If we refuse to jettison all the civilising checks and balanc es which CONSTITUTE our civilisation, then he becomes just another violent, self-deluded rich jerk who lost his own hist orically irrelevant and shabby little personal Holy War.


On the other hand, if we unleash our capacity for violence fully, then there’s every chance he’ll become a Mighty Prophet who both launched and even won that war. Let’s face it – ; we have the technology and numbers to wreak far more Satanic terror than he ever could. Apocalyptic Martyrdom is exactly what Osama bin Laden is praying for. It’s all he’s got left to salvage his sick little life.


‘Harden up’ indeed, Sean Richardson. But there is militarily ‘hard’, mate, and then there is psychologically ‘hard’. The only strategy that will win a Holy War is one that is genuinely holier than the other guy’s.


KNOW your enemy. KNOW his aims. REFUSE POINT BLANK to help him achieve them. Kill him if you think we must – personally, I think it’s the very last thing we should deliberate ly set out to do – but let’s at least not make a great fuss about it, OK? Much less send whole armies in after the basta rd. Until we absolutely insist on turning him into a Holy War Hero, he’s just another pathetic criminal.


David Palmer in Adelaide


I’m sending the SMH Webdiary URL to as many friends and family in the US that I can, urging discussion, critical thought, tolerance, and advocacy of action based on looking at information and perspectives, not just patriotism and rage. The situation there, from what people tell me, is very worrying – almost hysterical in some ways & #45; but I guess that’s to be expected.


It’s very encouraging to see readers calling for reaching out to the concerns of the moderate Muslim majority globally and calling for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis as part of the solution. It is impossible not to connect that crisis with the terrible US events. The Islamist extremists would like to get new recruits from this – if we can only defeat this effort by reaching out to the majority they won’t get many. And cer tainly we can reach out to the Afghan refugees – Howard and Beazley MUST be pushed to change their totally irrational an d tactically stupid position on this issue.


I also am encouraged by many readers’ concern that the US take a multilateral, internationalist response – including any military response – not a unilateral and heavy-handed one. If the US does not move forward with a multilateral approach, I don’t believe we should support military participation by Australia. Howard – and Beazley – have far more influence in this situation than they realise, and should not just behave like they are appointees of the US government.


I have no doubt that in a year or two what is now the “minority” on all of this in Australia will become the “majority” – but this will only happen when numerous short- ;sighted policies fail miserably and people are looking for something that will work and truly destroy terrorist networks and their bases.


Nardya Colvin


I click on to CNN online to check on the latest and there in banner headlines under a graphic of a jet fighter are the words ‘Operation Infinite Justice’. I can’t stand this. I want to mourn the people killed in New York, but I’m too filled with anger due to the rhetoric pumped through the airwaves by Bush and Howard.


What were the words of Bush straight after the disaster? Something about America being a bright beacon of light in the world. How can political leaders hold their head up high and make such statements when the blood on their hands over a myriad events is as real as the blood on the hands of the terrorists.


I watched the coverage of the terrorist attacks on CNN waiting for someone to ask the question ‘why’ and all I got was some trite statement about evil v good.


Certainly bring the terrorists to justice if you can. Try them in a world court but blowing to pieces innocent Afghans??? I can’t stand it – a new millenium – the same total reluctance to really look and try to understand and try to do som ething constructive.


Genevieve Rea


I do not understand how John Howard and many others do not see that people fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan and other similar refugees are the people we should be protecting, not turning back, especially at a time like this when America’s response to the attack on WTC and Pentagon will cause many more people to flee.


I do not understand why the Americans are so keen on war with other nations following. There must be some kind of response but war, in this day and age? People have no concept of the reality of war and also no real knowledge because it will be unlike any war to date. By this I refer to the developments we hear about chemical and biological warfare, nuclear war armaments, suicide bombers/ terrorists. All of these fill me with dread.


I do not wish the innocent people of Afghanistan to be attacked. Is this really what the Americans want? Have they thought about the innocent victims?


Also even though we are along way from it all in Australia – I cannot help but think that we will be in the thick of it one way or another soon enough.


Andy Gough


I switched off completely to the mainstream media’s reportage after that first day. I hardly watch television but I work for a local newspaper so read the odd newspaper at work. Most of the comment I’ve received has been via email and the web. This has allowed me to disseminate more that just five-seco nd grabs from idiots like Bush, and whatever Kerry Packer deems that I need to know.


Comments from John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and other notable figures brought home the reality of the US involvement in the Middle East over the years. Pilger writes: “An estimated 200,000 Iraqis, according to the Health Education Trust in London, died during and in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter known as the Gulf War. This was never news that touched public consciousness in the west. At least a million civilians, half of them children, have since died in Iraq as a result of a medieval embargo imposed by the United States and Britain.”


One email from an Afghan expat, Tamim Ansary (published on Webdiary in Labor falls into line) outlining the state of destruction and terrorism in present day Afghanistan brought me almost to tears and I could draw parallels with the aftermath of the post-referendum destruction in East Timor I personally witnessed not so long ago. < /p>


I have not read one message supporting Bush’s proposed retaliation. A Nine MSN online poll I glanced at today even had 55% opposed to retaliatory military action. I am outraged that my government has committed its unqualified support behind President G. W. Bush at this time. We should be the voice of reason and calm instead. But that’s not how free trade agreements are won, I suppose.


How can it be possible for the USA to unleash its military might upon any nation when no perpetrator of the September 11 attacks has been substantively identified? How can the United Nations allow this? George W Bush has the western world rallying around him in sympathy and comradeship. Yet nobody can be sure it was Osama bin Laden at all and even if it was him, do thousands more innocents have to die so a nation and its leader can feel vindicated for this despicable act of terrorism? It was the USA that created bin Laden, after all. It all seems just too convenient.


Richard Falk, professor of international relations at Princeton, sees it this way: “Western foreign policy is presented almost exclusively through a self-righteous, one-way legal/moral screen (with) positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed a s threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence.” How right he is!


Michael Moore of ‘The Awful Truth’ put it this way: “Maybe it’s because the A-rabs are much better foils. A key ingredient in getting A mericans whipped into a frenzy against a new enemy is the all-important race card. It’s much easier to get us to hate wh en the object of our hatred doesn’t look like us.”


I got introduced to this concept while I was living in the Northern Territory, where the Country Liberal Party would predictably bring out the race card at election time and vilify the Aboriginal people as drunks, criminals, land thieves and a threat to ‘development’. It is a tactic that offends me to the core. I was ecstatic to hear that the CLP lost power in

last months election, for the first time in 26 years! No more mandatory sentencing. There’s a lesson there somewhere for Mr. Howard.


This is the 21st Century, yet our leaders are behaving like its still the Middle Ages. For all our technological advancement some of us are still prejudiced by skin pigmentation and cultural differences.


Moore went on to say: “Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn’t living in poverty (just) so we can have nice running shoes? In just 8 months, Bush gets the whole world back to hating us again. He withdraws from the Kyoto agreement, walks us out of the Durban conference on racism, insists on restarting the arms race – you name it, and Baby Bush has blown it all.”


Yes, all of this and what does the Australian government do? Pat him on the back, give him our guns to play with and say that we are right behind him, all the way! Disgraceful!


Now for a scary thought on the home front. Howard has now announced that he is riding high on the polls and the only thing between him and calling an election is CHOGM.


I know lots of people are planning to protest at CHOGM against globalisation and GATT and lots of other issues they see the Commonwealth as responsible for or at least contributing to. These people wish to be heard, and under our constitution, have the right to do so. I was at the S11 protests in Melbourne last year and witnessed atrocious violent behaviour on the behalf of the Victoria Police.


Imagine what CHOGM will be like. Howard can. He’s already pushed through sweeping new laws allowing for zones to be designated for ‘special events’ where police powers are broadened to the point where any bag can be searched and civil liberties are totally violated. Even the military can now be called in to disperse crowds and instigate martial law. Now after the US incident, will fear inspire even more radical legislation attacking civil liberties?


None of these protestors is a terrorist, or even a potential one. They are all committed to peaceful protest. Unfortunately, the Police are committed to following orders. And the orders are: Keep the rabble off our lawn, with extreme prejudice.


And that seems to be the general direction we are going in. If we follow this road it’s not long until we are all micro-chipped and scanned at every corner. Big Br other indeed. American forces currently operate with impunity from bases in 50 countries. I vote that Australia no longer be one of them.


Tim Dunlop in Canberra


I’m sorry to say this, but your description of John Wojdylo in Terror unlike movies as a “brilliant thinker and writer” is way off base. His visceral and irrational hate of Australia, which he has expressed unchallenged through a number of posts now, is evidence enough of his inability to see past his own prejudices – hardly a good look in someone who is attempting to claim the moral and intellectual high ground. Plea se John, don’t tell us again how second rate you think Australia is: we understand that you think this.


Beyond that, his assessment of the WTC tragedy is both shallow and trite, odd for a person who makes a specific point of attacking what he sees as the shallowness of other, again, mainly Australian views. For instance, how anyone could offer the assessment he does of bin Laden and fail to mention his involvement with, and sponsorship by, the US in the Afghani war against the Soviet Union beggars belief. Perhaps German television hasn’t mentioned that link?


Given that his account lacks even this basic consideration, and that he lauds the work of second-rate apologists for US exceptionalism such as Thomas Friedman, it is hardly surprising that he is unable, or unwilling, to put the attacks in any broader historical context, specifically in regard to American foreign policy. Again, a strange fault for someone who is so free in his criticism of the lack of depth in other coverage.


John, I’m sure you’re a pretty intelligent person but you really need to get over this childish fixation on what you see as Australian inadequacy, and perhaps even recognise that what you, in a rather self-obsessed European manner, persist in seeing as shallowness in others, is merely a lightness of touch lacking in traditional pretensions. If you look for shallowness, then I suspect that’s what you’ll find. You just have to be careful not to reproduce it.


As to your assessments of the WTC tragedy, you just need to read a bit more widely. Friedman, as any thinking person who is familiar with his work will tell you, is not a good source of objective analysis on anything to do with the US. Try some of the declassified material on the Pentagon website and do your own analysis. Or try this link to Jane’s for a bit of background on bin Laden and the boys in the Taliban


People l ike John, and David Davis for that matter, who can’t hold two separate thoughts in their head – that this was an unforgivable tragedy, a vile act of the worst sort AND that the US needs to take stock of why it is a target for such an outrage – can’t really be taken seriously. Let all analysis start at the stillpoint between those two considerations rather th an in cheap shots at Australia, inadequate contextualisation, dubious attribution, and cliche dressed up as gravitas.





Chris Munson


I’m 52 Margo, have 4 sons, the oldest 29, the youngest 19. The middle two are disabled, and I spend much of my spare time working on management committees and on Boards of directors for people with disabilities. I don’t want a cash cheque for this, I simply do it just like the Life Savers do it, and the SES people do it. Volunteering is Aussie, and I’m an Aussie. But I’ve spent 25 years doing it, and on 3, 4 or 5 Boards and committees at a time. Up to nearly 1000 free volunteer hours per year. Sheesh, what a goody-goody two shoes!!.


No Margo, just an average dad with a healthy conscience, and now I find myself in the minority in Australia. It seems nearly 70% don’t share my views on offering a helping hand to people fleeing oppression, of Australia being the “Good Samaritan” and offering hospitality while we compassionately look at the validity of the boat people’s claims.


Perhaps I’ve been helping people for far too long, am just a compassionate zealot, and fail to see the real issues. Perhaps the 70% should explain some of their “True Blue Aussie” deeds before they say we should send our Navy and crack Special Operations military personnel to “warn them off our coveted soil”.


Bugger it Margo, what’s happening is just not Aussie, and the US (although not at all deserving of what has happened) is not blameless.

Two thoughts enter my head:

1/ The world will be a better place if say half the US$40Billion “bin Laden money’ was spent on the millions in refugee camps around the world, and

2/ Perhaps now all the broken promises and treaties, the level playing fields which were al tilted in the US’s favour, perhaps we should look at them for a change … literally!


Jim McKenna


Labor was a cert there for a while. My fellow mature-age law students (bankers, accountants, etc) were feeling the pinch at our residential scho ol last Easter. The Libs were sunk and they were scared of the prospects of a Labor government.


Unfortunately, Bankstown rapes, boat people and New York along with Bomber’s almost pathetic efforts have ensured they will be a lot more relaxed at our residential school next week.


The reason for this turnaround is the fact the Labor Party is somewhat out of touch with the thinking of their traditional supporters. I work with a staff that detest the Liberals but they feel strongly about all the issues that Howard has so successfully tapped into. They feel the upper levels of the Democrats and Labor Party are not going to have to live next to the results of illegal migrations, so they are prepared to support Howard.


It may be racist but that’s the way it is!


Ashley in Larrakeyah, northern territory (surname withheld on request)


The whole immigration issue ranging from the arrival of boat people and the level of support we supply refugees needs to be handled entirely differently. I support a lottery-type scenario similar to the way the US disperses Green Car ds. Part of my logic for this is that the people who generally arrive on the boats have paid someone quite large amounts of money to do so.


Let’s say that we decided to offer 5000 places. Through the various camps around the world, people could register for the ‘lottery’. From there the names are randomly selected and then the individuals are processed through normal channels including background checks, but are prioritised as a result of the lottery. Those 5000 could be broken down into a number of different categories including political refugees, or professionals or normal everyday immigrants. With this type of process those who would otherwise spend the money on buying a passage on a leaky boat will be able to better spend those resources establishing themselves in Australia.


It is a raw idea but nevertheless with policy makers input we might just be able to come up with a better solution than is currently in the market place.


John Howard has taken a stand that is damned if you do damned if you don’t. Don’t send them back and you will have an influx. Send them back and you are seen as heartless.


At least this way we are asking them to try a different type of luck that is less dangerous for them and more acceptable to us (ie: we can properly screen people without holding them in detention.) And that’s something that should be considered in the debate currently filling your pages.


Ken McAlpine in Melbourne


It’s been a while, but I think that Gary Morgan deserves a big Stuart Littlemore “Oh, really?” award for his latest poll.


I checked the previous Morgan Poll results over the last month. I also recall the record-breaking lead that Labor held in the (surprise, surprise) Morgan poll earlier this year. Can the government really have gained a 20% increase in its primary vote in the space of a month? Are Australian voters really that fickle? Has John Howard suddenly gone from the most hated PM to the most feted PM in coalition history?


I doubt it very much. I think that anyone who gives the Morgan poll any credence has been sucked in by a good story. Sure, everyone is very excited over the way refugee policy is now being put together on the run, but when the election arrives I have a certain amount of confidence that people will vote according to the things that really matter to them: jobs, health, education, law and order and maybe even tax reform.


It was Paul Keating who once said you should always back self-interest – it’s the only horse with an honest jockey. A lot of people get fired up by the refugee issue but in the end it only affects a few people. Eventually everyone will go back to dealing with the problems in their own lives once again.


I love the Webdiary, but you do get an alarming number of political junkies only too happy to scream blue murder whenever a politician even so much as sneezes. The rest of the population does not pay that much attention to politics until election time.


When Labor was on top in the polls, Bob McMullan said that he expected it to be a close election. He is still correct. In the meantime, Gary Morgan would do better to spend some money and increase his sample size for future polls.


And those Webdiarists who are screaming blue murder at Kim Beazley this week should take some advice from his predecessor: have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.


Sarah Moles in Allora, Queensland


Tony Blair should do GWB a big favour by pointing out that the UK found out, at great expense, that a war on terrorism can’t be won. The solution lies in negotiations.


I attended a conference on refugees in Brisbane last weekend. I’m sure I was not the only one who learnt alot by putting myself and my children into some horrifying stories. These discussions would benefit if we all had a better understanding of the history of Afghanistan. It is another nation caught up in the conflict created by European colonialists divvying up the middle east’s oil resources for their own purposes.


Geoff Ellis in Bega, NSW


I find your forum excellent reading, and obviously a place where those with differing views can sometimes be aired. I would like to add a little item to the boat people debate, and what we should and should not do. I am an Australian-Australian and a widower. Over the last year or so I have entered into a relatio nship with a “foreign” person, in fact we are engaged. She has visited me in this country, is a qualified doctor, reads, writes and speaks perfect English and is financially secure. All we wish is to spend our rather reduced number of years together without being a drain on the public purse.


To do this, we need to complete at least 4 Federal Government forms, one of which has 88 items to be completed. The rest require information that approaches the Spanish Inquisition technique. This requires a certified migration lawyer, the ability for both of us to complete the forms whilst we are 14,000 km apart, and payment to the Government to submit the forms. This does not include required medical checks, the need to prove who we and our relatives are/were to the nth degree and the ability to support ourselves for 2 years. If all goes well, there will be no change out of $10,000.


I do not object to the questions for one minute – Australian authorities should make these checks &a mp;#45; but I DO object to the fact that some people just want to let the so called “boat people’, with no recollection of their past, or at least proof thereof, enter the country, get fed, medical treatment, English lessons, and above all legal aid, all with a welcoming band.


There is a queue, there are Australian Government offices on their way to Indonesia which they bypass of course. I feel for these people. I also feel for me and my fiance who will be apart for some considerable time whilst we plough through this stuff.

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