|Martin Davies image. www.daviesart.com
I haven’t heard a speech like George Brandis’s since the one Tony Abbott made just after the 1998 Queensland election when Howard decided to switch from appeasement of One Nation to its destruction by whatever means available (Unmasked Howard gets amnesia on Hanson).
Now it’s the turn of the Greens. After the Greens interrupted George Bush, Rehame reported that 33 percent of talkback callers supported their actions. That’s way too high for such a radical action in normal times. And the Bush show choreographed for Howard’s aggrandisement is gradually being exposed – see today’s Canberra Times for proof that the blanket security was a sham: AFP put clerks on Bush duty: Claim sparks internal inquiry. Something’s gone wrong for the Government, very wrong.
This week the Government began talking up the Democrats. They’re tagging them reasonable people ready to work constructively to get compromises on controversial bills.
The reason? The government knows that moderate Liberal voters have lost faith, having realised that the Liberal Party no longer represents their beliefs. The recent formation and growing membership of the Reid Group in Sydney illustrates the trend. It’s co-founder, former Beazley chief of staff Syd Hickman nailed the disenfranchisement of true liberals in Can Liberalism fight back?
The Brandis attack is designed to persuade disaffected Liberals not to vote Green and to vote Democrats if they can’t bear to stay with the Liberals. It’s a scare campaign, pure and simple. Don’t be surprised at its viciousness – just remember what New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warned about the American government in George John’s exploitation of S11 to get uglier:
Yet it’s almost certainly wrong to think that the political exploitation of Sept. 11 and, more broadly, the Bush administration’s campaign to label critics as unpatriotic, are past their peak. It may be harder for the administration to wrap itself in the flag, but it has more incentive to do so now than ever before. Where once the administration was motivated by greed, now it’s driven by fear.
In the first months after Sept. 11, the administration’s ruthless exploitation of the atrocity was a choice, not a necessity. The natural instinct of Americans to rally around their leader in times of crisis had pushed Bush into the polling stratosphere, and his re-election seemed secure. He could have governed as the uniter he claimed to be, and would probably still be wildly popular.
But Bush’s advisers were greedy; they saw Sept. 11 as an opportunity to get everything they wanted, from another round of tax cuts, to a major weakening of the Clean Air Act, to an invasion of Iraq. And so they wrapped as much as they could in the flag.
Now it has all gone wrong. The deficit is about to go above half a trillion dollars, the economy is still losing jobs, the triumph in Iraq has turned to dust and ashes, and Bush’s poll numbers are at or below their pre-Sept. 11 levels.
Nor can the members of this administration simply lose like gentlemen. For one thing, that’s not how they operate. Furthermore, everything suggests that there are major scandals – involving energy policy, environmental policy, Iraq contracts and cooked intelligence – that would burst into the light of day if the current management lost its grip on power. So these people must win, at any cost.
The result, clearly, will be an ugly, bitter campaign – probably the nastiest of modern American history. Four months ago it seemed that the 2004 campaign would be all slow-mo films of Bush in his flight suit. But at this point, it’s likely to be pictures of Howard Dean or Wesley Clark that morph into Saddam Hussein. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already rolled out the stab-in-the-back argument: If you criticize the administration, you’re lending aid and comfort to the enemy.
This political ugliness will take its toll on policy, too. The administration’s infallibility complex – its inability to admit ever making a mistake – will get even worse. And I disagree with those who think the administration can claim infallibility even while practicing policy flexibility: On major issues, like taxes or Iraq, any sensible policy would too obviously be an implicit admission that previous policies had failed.
In other words, if you thought the last two years were bad, just wait: It’s about to get worse. A lot worse.
The Greens now matter and Howard is out to destroy the latest people’s movement. In this context, it’s worth re-reading Tim Dunlop’s great piece Pauline Hanson’s gift to democracy. The Greens have a long established party structure, so the One Nation technique won’t work with this enemy. Webdiarist Simon Moffitt has tracked the roots of the government’s political assassination technique for the Greens:
Have you wondered where Liberal Senator George Brandis got his Greens/Nazism idea? I’ve been looking into the Psychology of Conservatives vs Liberals and came across Australian academic Jon Ray promoting the line, connecting the ideals of the Left to individuals like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. This is the far right conservatism of the Neo-Cons, Bush and Rush Limbaugh. I thought Howard’s behaviour was just desperate opportunism of the worst kind, but now I’m not so sure, and that scares me. For an idea of what the other side is saying from an Australian perspective go to brookesnews.
Brandis is a moderate who fought hard against the excesses of Howard’s anti-terrorism and ASIO legislation. He threatened to die in a ditch to stop the executive government getting the power to ban political organisations it didn’t like without reference to Parliament, yet now tags the Greens an enemy of the State.
This is the pathetic position liberal moderates are now in. Howard and co tell them to play attack dog to prove their loyalty, with the promise that upon sufficient proof they’ll get promotion. Chris Pyne’s been at it for years, and so was Helen Coonan until she walked away from the moderates to secure a ministry. Brandis last played attack dog big time in the unthrown children inquiry.
I spoke to an unrepentant George Brandis today. He said he was preparing a major speech further developing his theories. Later today, Howard did his standard trick. Set the hares running then appear to distance himself – he understands George’s attack but wouldn’t have used those words. He stays clean, the hate takes off. Will it work?
Webdiarist Jozef Imrich found this Los Angeles Times piece, In White House Actions, A Troubling Echo of Life in Communist China by Liu Baifang, an American citizen who emigrated from China in 1977. He writes:
Lately, I find myself worrying about my adopted country, the United States. I’m alarmed that dissent is increasingly less tolerated, and that those in power seem unable to resist trying to intimidate those who speak their minds. I grew up in the People’s Republic of China, so I know how it is to live in a place where voicing opinions that differ from official orthodoxy can be dangerous, and I fear that model… I am getting a whiff of the Leninism with which I grew up in the air of today’s America, and it makes me feel increasingly uneasy.
…I could not help but think about China recently during the flap over former State Department envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, who angered the White House with his finding that documents suggesting Iraq had tried to acquire nuclear material from Niger were in all likelihood forged. The administration went ahead anyway in citing the documents as part of its justification for invading Iraq. After Wilson wrote an article for the New York Times calling attention to the deception, someone in the administration allegedly leaked information to the press that Wilson’s wife was an undercover CIA agent. In China, it was not just one official like Wilson who was targeted for retribution but countless individuals, many of whom spoke unwelcome truths about their country, only to be rewarded with public shaming or prison sentences.
…I also worry about what I see happening to our media and freedom of the press. The Bush administration has repeatedly made clear that it does not welcome skeptical, penetrating questions. White House spokesmen have made it clear that they view the Washington press corps as a corrupting “filter” on the news. Reporters and publications seen as unsympathetic to the administration’s goals find it harder to get access to officials. Recently, Bush made an end run around the entire White House press corps by going directly to regional television outlets in the hopes of being better able to spin the news at the local level.
Indeed, Bush press conferences, which I enjoy watching, seem to me to have become more and more like those held by the Chinese Communist Party: Nothing but the official line is given, and probing questions from reporters, which are crucial to advancing the public’s understanding of the government’s actions, are often evaded or ignored… Open inquiry, freedom of expression and debate are essential parts of a well-functioning democracy. When leaders disdain debate, ignore expert advice, deride the news media as unpatriotic and try to suppress opposing opinions, they are likely to lead their country into dangerous waters.
Jozef also recommends an interview with the Union Theological Seminary’s Joseph C. Hough on the intersection of politics and religion, why it is the duty of Christians, Jews and Muslims to fight growing economic inequality together and why he suspects that the time for a non-destructive, civil disobedience may be near.
At this time, us journos need to remember and apply Paul Krugman’s guidelines for reporting a revolutionary regime outlined in Howard cancels democracy for Bush and beyond: Can we stop him?
1. Don’t assume any policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals
2. Do some homework to discover the real goals
3. Don’t assume the normal rules of politics apply
4. Expect a revolutionary power to respond to criticism by attacking
5. Don’t think there’s a limit to a revolutionary powers objectives
Webdiarist Philip Gomes has some calming advice:
Pity the Greens, threatened with being bagged, tagged, and shagged by our Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and labelled Fascists and Nazis by Liberal senator George Brandis. Clearly the ghosts at the beginning of the last century still stalk us at the beginning of this one. Is this an age old struggle destined to be repeated forever, or are we seeing the death knell for Fascist Corporatism? Do the consequences of the adventurism in Iraq spell the last gasp of tired old men still wedded to these ghosts of the 1930s?
It may be time for some to re-read Umberto Eco’s Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt. And for a view from the last century, see The Danger of American Fascism, a piece written in 1944 by Henry Wallace in the New York Times.
Maybe Senator Brandis should have a good hard look at himself in the mirror in view of this quote by the father of modern Fascism, Benito Mussolini “Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.” Sounds like Liberal Party and neo-liberal policy to me.
If it walks like a duck……….maybe it’s time for Steve Irwin to tackle ducks not Greens.
It’s been a big two weeks in Australian political life, I think we’re all a bit tired and emotional.
Did you read Alan Ramsey’s call today for courage in journalism, Crying out for some stirrers of the old school: Where are you, Tom Fitzgerald, when we need you? He wrote: “All this is apropos of a piece of journalism by the celebrated American columnist Russell Baker in a review of a book, The Awful Truth: Losing Our Way in the New Century, by Paul Krugman.” Phil Kendall found the link: nybooks. Phil writes: “The theme is revolutionaries. Ramsey cries out. But it’s all in his hands, and those of a few other “opinion leaders.” THEY could save OUR democracy, just by stopping the bullshit. If they wanted to. Easy”
No it isn’t Phil. Believe me.
Before your reaction to George Brandis, a piece on our democracy by Sean O’Donohue, who writes: “Whilst I don’t always agree with you or the other participants, I invariably feel the need to defend you whenever you are attacked. Such attacks, some so unnecessarily personal, are the price you pay for your independence, I guess. Which is how I found myself devoting an hour or two writing a piece advocating greater democracy. In a way web-diary embodies that spirit of participation. Keep well.”
Can anyone answer a question from Roy Wilke? “Up here in Brisbane last February, if I remember correctly, The Courier-Mail’s front page was dominated with a story over how Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” had been loaded onto four cargo ships which were to remain at sea until it was safe for them to return their cargoes to Iraq. Not a word has been said or written since about this. It would be interesting to track this particular yarn down, considering the odyssey of the MV Cormo Express during these past weeks.”
Reinventing our democracy
by Sean O’Donohue
Senator Brown’s somewhat muted remarks from the back of the People’s House should be seen as a cri de coeur for participation, even democracy itself. If you and other Webdiary participants will indulge me a little, I would like step back from the immediacy of the fracas surrounding the visits of Presidents Bush and Hu to reflect on the state of that democracy.
I was heartened to see in Debating our democracy, by Webdiarists of all colours that there is an emerging debate on the values that we citizens are seeking in this somewhat overburdened ship of state, Australia Felix.
Communities, even the Leviathan-like communities of modern states like Australia, reinvent themselves with a regularity that is as breathtaking as it is challenging. By and large the modern mechanism of that reinvention is the ballot box. Who would have thought that the extension of universal male franchise to the New South colonials in 1862 would lead to ‘radical social democratic’ experiments that marked the Australian colonies as some of the most progressive administrations in the world of the late 19th century?
Compulsory state-funded education, the beginnings of a state-funded social welfare, the extension of the franchise to women, the minimum wage, the list of achievements is long and impressive. Today, most of us regard them as birthrights – so much part of the social furniture as to be oblivious to their origins.
Without them, democracy is meaningless. Yet each was long-fought-for and hard-won. And each can be considered as an example of democracy reinventing itself. I believe that we are ready for another such reinvention.
Abstract musing on the state of democracy may seem a little ‘off-message’ for comment on the impact of just-concluded visits of the two Presidents. Or do they not provide an opportunity to reflect on the quality of democracy, on what it means to those who so regularly call on it to justify their actions?
For, at its root, isn’t it the absence of democratic legitimacy that so galls opponents of Mr Bush’s sequestration of Iraq? Would not many consciences be salved if the world’s hyper-power had sought to act only with the blessing of the legitimately constituted international body? Undoubtedly.
More than anything, then, Mr Bush represents a basic affront to the democratic principles that putatively justify his own position as President. Those same principles are also the foundation of the Australian parliament’s legitimacy. By analogy, his appearance in our People’s House is an affront those values and those who hold and represent them also, an even greater affront than President Hu’s, whose hypocrisy in insisting on the exclusion of certain members and their guests, at least had the virtue of being rendered transparent by its crudity.
That of President Bush reeks all the more for its appeal to the rule of law and democratic principle. Granted, by all reports, Hussein was a ruthless and bloody dictator whose swift demise is not to be mourned. It is just that it’s very hard to make the case for a change to a more ‘democratic’ regime when those making the case clearly have so little respect for the principles that they are espousing. Which in bypassing the UN is precisely what the Bush Administration did.
As it is at the macro level of international affairs, so it is on the battlefield of Australian democracy. I fear that the shameless invocation of democratic imagery to shroud fundamentally anti-democratic action is gradually seeping in and taking hold of Australia Felix.
After all, what more embodies the egalitarian and democratic ethos of Australia than the barbecue? The familiarity and relaxed bonhomie that the barbie evokes in most Australians was pressed into service not, we now learn, for the Australian State, but rather, the Australian government.
And here I was thinking that Mr Howard and his Liberals were governing ‘for all of us’! Alas no, as the only Australian citizens who were awarded the privilege of tossing shrimps at the proverbial hot plate were not our elected representatives but a hand-picked coterie of largely sporting and business types. (Not a rabble-rousing, chardonnay-sipper amongst them, I hope!)
No doubt the president, with his recently declared love of free speech, relished the opportunity to mix it with the cross-section of ordinary Australians assembled in his honour. And isn’t that what rankles, that the overwhelming majority of our representatives, most notably the leaders of the various opposition parties, were denied the opportunity to present themselves and their (or is that our?) points of view. Not just at the barbecue but in our very own House of Representatives!
Which brings me back to where I started: Bob Brown and his cri de coeur. Much was made of the inappropriateness of his behaviour, of the disrespect shown to both the People’s House and a visiting Head of State. However, if has as been asserted, President Bush’s visit was not to the Australian State but only its government (a distinction that becomes more sinisterly Orwellian with its every repetition) then Senators Brown and Nettle should perhaps be understood as the distant but inexorable voice of those who are not the government.
Or perhaps the barely-audible whisper of democracy itself calling those who would corrupt it to account. After all, Senator Brown was doing no more than reminding democracy’s most strident defender to return to its essential truths: respect for the law and respect for individual rights with respect to two Australian citizens, let alone the countless others unable to avail themselves of the much-vaunted and fundamental rights that form the basis of legitimate US government. He exposed an Australian government (but not a State) either too infatuated or too supine to call them to account. Surely protests like Senators Brown and Nettle represent the best hope for a truly democratic and participatory future.
For isn’t that really what Senator Brown is saying? “Let us participate, let us shape our world by respecting its laws and its institutions?” And isn’t it precisely participation and agency – and by that I mean the capacity to make our world – that is at risk when leaders exclude or ignore alternative voices?
Is that not what also underpins Senator Nettle’s comments on trade? Isn’t that what motivates those who protest globalisation and its excesses?
In a sense, doesn’t it also underpin the rise of right-wing parties around the world, including our own One Nation – the need to participate? And isn’t it the denial of democratic participation, the opportunity to sit down at the table, that spawns hideous bastard offspring like terrorism?
The hallmark of each reinvention of democracy has been a drive toward greater participation, to facilitating the inclusion of as many of a community’s citizens as possible. Isn’t that the reinvention that democracy is now edging towards? And as that reinvention beckons, is it not being resisted by many who supposedly represent its would-be beneficiaries?
Thus, from the dizzy height of his Chesterfield can Mr Howard goad the elites, Mr Bush override international law supposedly to defend it and President Hu doff Mao’s cap to his people, all in the name of democracy.
No, the cri de coeur of Senators Brown and Nettle is a welcome antidote to the spin and downright hypocrisy of the incumbents. More importantly, Senator Brown’s words remind us to return the rule of law to its pride of place. His actions remind us that this is only possible with the active participation of each and every one of us.
THE GREENS ARE NAZIS
We learn nothing from history. A colleague of mine pointed out that the recent visit by Bush had all the hallmarks of Hitler’s visit to Paris the day after its Fall on June 23, 1942.
While I’m no historian, when I started looking for references to this visit the timing seemed eerie. After the capitulation by France, Hitler flew in from Belgium for a whirlwind tour. While not as regulated as the Australian model, the streets were all but deserted for Hitler’s three hour visit. Hitler, like most sightseers, had his photo taken with friends, architect Albert Speer and sculptor Arno Breker in front of a number of famous Paris landmarks. Very few parisians saw the brutal dictator, as his visit was controlled by aides and security.
From the web: “From the Opera, the motorcade went on to the Madeleine, one of the city’s numerous memorials to the Napoleonic era, then drove around the Arc de Triomphe and stopped near the Eiffel Tower, where Hitler paused for a travel album snapshot with his artist companions. At Napoleon’s Tomb, in the Invalides, the Fuhrer stared at the red porphyry sarcophagus of Europe’s last great conqueror, and murmured, “This is the finest moment of my life.”
The compliance of Australia is no less than capitulation. John Howard’s egotistical attempt to grab the world stage and appease his US taskmasters while placing the country under greater risk of attack frightens the hell out of me. Yet, I find it amusing that the most fearsome, murderous repressive regime is so easily replicated by our so called democracy because of Howard’s vanity. Hitler’s visit was nothing more than sightseeing of a country under his control. Remove Hitler’s name from that last sentence, replace it with Bush and you’ll find a striking parallel to today.
The length at which the media was controlled, the people subdued and the leader’s protected from all criticism is essentially fascism by any other name. If the liberals are calling the Greens Nazis while they systematically undermine all our rights in the name of economics and the terrorism bogeyman we’re in trouble.
The Greens were the only voice of dissent heard during this time. For that I thank them, for representing my views and showing extreme courage where others are too cowardly to speak up or gagged by a opportunistic lying fascist with bushy eyebrows (pun intended).
Look out John Howard, because when my kids read the history books in fifty years, I’m sure that’s how you’ll be remembered.
Mike Lyvers in Queensland
Margo, I heard Brandis’s hilarious diatribe while driving somewhere yesterday. Aside from amusement my reaction was: totally ludicrous, but turnabout is fair play given how many ridiculous cries of “Nazi!” I’ve heard from Greenies and lefties directed at Howard and Ruddock in recent years.
Marilyn Shepherd in Kensington, South Australia
I listened yesterday with a sort of horrified fascination as George Brandis gave a speech that Senator Faulkner rightly called pompous, overblown and grandiose rhetoric which meant nothing.
Senator Brandis needs to ask himself a couple of serious questions about his deranged rantings:
1. Did Bob Brown or Kerry Nettle lie to the world to blow up an entire country and slaughter thousands of innocent people?
2. Did Bob Brown or Kerry Nettle vote to incarcerate small children in concentration camps in the desert?
3. Did Bob Brown or Kerry Nettle defend the human rights of two Australian citizens who don’t seem to be guilty of one damn thing?
4. Just how many votes did Brandis get – he merely filled a casual vacancy in 2000?
5. How many Liberal senators and members did the scrum contain which held back big, mean Kerry Nettle from giving Bush a letter?
Fair dinkum, anyone listening to Brandis would have been forced to believe that Bob had invaded Poland at the very least. These two democratically elected Senators, unlike Brandis nominated by the Liberal Party, merely spoke for tens of thousands of Australians in our Parliament.
Having read most of the piece on George Brandis’s diatribe in the Senate one can only conclude that this unelected Senator from Queensland must be an intellectual midget.
How does he expect anyone to take him seriously when he accuses of being a Nazi someone who is prepared to stand against the tide of Coalition ideologues in drawing to everyone’s attention the plight of two Australians locked up in a 21st century concentration camp. His logic escapes me.
The Senator seems to be trying to raise to the status of high art the substitution of animal chatter noises in place of reasoned argument in political debate.
Margo, I thank goodness for your column, where the truth is written about things that are going on in our ‘democracy’. Who is George Brandis to talk about democracy – ha! We don’t have one anymore, and it started slipping when the current government forced the peaceful Falun Gong protestors to remove their signs and music when there was a visiting Chinese politician a couple of years ago. This insult to our ‘democracy’ was the beginning of my passionate political views, and it is all just being compounded in the last twelve months, culminating in the events of last week. As for the Greens being Nazis, look in the mirror, George Brandis.
At the next election, many of the disaffected members of our (former) democracy will be voting for the Greens, in support of their courage not to destroy our democracy and put forward the view of ordinary Australians (or, have you forgotten them?)
PS. I find it highly amusing that the devout supporters of our government can only criticise Margo and Webdiary by resorting to crass insults. Thank you Bob Brown and Margo Kingston, for allowing us a voice.
Peter Funnell in Canberra
What rock did this Brandis fellow crawl out from under? I was amazed at his outburst against Brown – Howard has certainly collected quite a team of attack dogs. Truth and decency are no obstacle at all. There is a real menace about these people.
On another matter – I really think the Iraq situation has reached a critical phase. The bombings are the visible sign, but it’s the nature of the targets that reveals the breadth of the problem. The US is keen to get out quickly. The UN might have passed the last resolution on Iraq, but noone is obliging the US by rushing to assist.
Can you blame them? It reminds me of Vietnam (remember Vietnamisation) and the only thing missing now are suggestions of an “honorable peace”. The reality is that the war is not yet over. It has just gone into a new phase.
To counter this phase – close to what used to referred to as counter revolutionary warfare – a lot more troops are needed. That is not what the US want to do, and we are nowhere to be seen and simply don’t have the capability available.
I am still amazed at the paucity of planning by the US authorities. Just amazed. It’s much more than intelligence failure, to fail to predict likely outcomes.
Iraq could easily be delivered up to an even greater mess than under Saddam. The sadness is that things won’t get much better until the war is won. There is no way around this one. If possible, it would be good to get some informed observations on this matter.
Thanks again for the amazing job you’re doing of keeping us (those who choose to be!) as informed as possible about the scary, scary times we live in. You’re really brave – yours is almost the only journalistic voice game enough to even start a commentary on this stuff, let alone such an open-minded one – and that must be frightening for you at times!
Who is Andrew Bolt? I have never heard of him. Can you tell me something about his background? (Margo: He’s a rabid right wing commentator who gives speeches at Liberal Party functions and was the person chosen to leak the top secret Wilkie report to in order to smear and discredit Wilkie’s testimony to the British WMD inquiry.)
My head fell off reading his articles – such cunning pieces of propaganda, a small handful of concrete facts twisted to suggest that the Nazi regime was a direct result of loving care of and attachment to the earth. Goebbles would be proud – this Bolt person manages to get away with stopping the story there – aside from the briefest mention of the state of Germany after Versailles. He makes Greens sound like members of a satanic cult.
I don’t believe that his articles are an outpouring of heartfelt conviction. They leave out information I was familiar with by the age of ten. They’re well-constructed propaganda. And as a jew, his link between the Green party and the Holocaust is unforgivable.
I’ve been away for a week or so – had to read all the webdiary stuff since 21/10 in a row. Like Steve Wallace I was certain that Iraq had no WMD, if for no other reason that the country itself was in an increasingly wretched state post Gulf War 1. And I’ve never seen much to convince me that Saddam put any resources or funds into anything but preserving his own and his associate’s personal lifestyle and interests.
I argued and argued and argued with friends and family – yes, I’m the loony leftie in the family – but the only way I could make them believe that I was serious was to have a bet with all of them that 6 months after war was declared the Coalition would not have found WMD. I won.
You know, when this whole thing started with 9/11, I was convinced that I had seen this stage of the history cycle before. (I did archaeology and ancient history at uni.) I was convinced we were seeing the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire – that the white west was growing sterile and complacent and would therefore begin to crumble under fresh pressure. All the art being made seemed to confirm this too – nowdays everything is either decadence or propaganda.
After Iraq, and the amazing lack of response from the majority of Australians (HOW can John Howard not have suffered like Blair over this? Would it take Andrew Wilkie committing suicide, God forbid??)
I reckon that we’re in the last days of the Roman Republic about to usher in the era of dynastic empire. The lineage may be one of political affiliation rather that of blood, but empire nonetheless. I hold out some hope for Old Europe though – I reckon they’re Greece/Byzantium – head down, internally building up power, fostering scholarship.
Senator Brandis’s ravings should be too contemptible to need a response. He was just doing a hatchet job for his party, the same as he did during the Certain Maritime Incident inquiry.
But his and his party’s astonishing hypocrisy demand some sort of reply. In the attack he quotes from that acknowledged crusader for human rights, Andrew Bolt. So fiercely independent is this hack that he was entrusted with the leak of classified material in a futile attempt to discredit Andrew Wilkie. Senator Brown was the first to demand the AFP investigate this crime. Perhaps this attack was payback time, the same as happened in America to the spouse of the person blowing the gaff on the Uranium from Niger fraud.
Nazism? Fascism? And they’re accusing the Greens??? Let us remember:
1. This party’s leader avoided parliamentary debate about the commitment to invading Iraq by pretending that he hadn’t yet made up his mind (even though troops had been despatched) and therefore would not discuss hypothetical.
2. This reluctance did not prevent him at every opportunity heating up the warnings about Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and the threat they posed to the rest of the world, especially if given to terrorist groups. We now know there was no buildup of WMD and that the propaganda about this was essentially lies and distortions.
3. When no WMD were found, the invasion was rationalised as ‘liberating the Iraqi people from an inhumane despot’. On this, they were on firmer ground. Despite the chaos and panic shootings there at present, Robert Fisk confirms the Americans are not in the same league as Saddam Hussein’s thugs.
However, a concern for the Iraqi people is less convincing when no count is kept of the Iraqi killed and wounded, when innocent unarmed civilians and children are killed in dumb onslaughts attempting to assassinate Saddam Hussein, when depleted uranium weapons are used, when cluster bombs are used on civilians – not to mention Shock and Awe. You don’t use weapons of terror on people you are intending to liberate.
4. The Guantanamo Bay prison fiasco makes the Bush and Howard and their followers the most obscene hypocrites when throwing around allegations about their opponents hating freedom. People are held without trial and even without charge. Leaving aside totalitarian dictatorships, the last country notorious for this abuse was Apartheid South Africa. It was rightly condemned in the free world, leading to sanctions and boycotts. Interestingly, Mr Howard opposed such sanctions at the time. And the current US Vice president, Dick Cheney, won notoriety by opposing calls for Nelson Mandela to be released from prison. Funny how the same players keep cropping up.
I hesitate to compare any regime with Nazi Germany, and I do regret Senator Brandis sinking this low. I will say this about the Bush, Howard and Blair administrations. There are disturbing resemblances between their behaviour, especially when their spin doctors are involved, and Orwell’s 1984.
I hope there are enough democratic forces among the lower political ranks and among some of the media to pull them back from the ugly extremes of the past few years.