Australia is at war again in the Middle East. This time in Iraq and Syria, two leading Arab nations with a century-long history of struggle for national independence.
Both were ruled for almost half a century by rival branches of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, a bourgeois nationalist party which talked “socialism” but sponsored native comprador capitalism.
Its strongmen – Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and the late Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar al-Assad (Syria) – conducted a balancing act between populism and anti-Israel rhetoric on one hand and the iron fist of the military and the secret police on the other.
They were careful to keep the various religious groups separate but content. Their regimes were secular but also quasi-religious: that suited the majority.
This carefully constructed social, political and religious order was destroyed in Iraq by the invasion and occupation by US imperialism and its servants in London and Canberra. The effect of the war on Iraq has spilled over into Syria.
Having turned Iraq into a failed state, and backed the terrorist militias in Syria, imperialism is now returning to the scene of their crimes under the flag of humanitarianism.
But the old order – or a new order – cannot be built by a further US-led military invasion. It will lead to more catastrophes, more deaths, more maimings and more refugees, millions of them.
Abbott blunders to war
Nothing is better guaranteed to unite the Arab masses and the Islamic faithful across the world than American soldiers and Australian SAS Special Forces on Arab soil and their warplanes overhead.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim to have rounded up Arab regimes to support Washington’s military offensive is hollow. Arab leaders will nod their agreement but do nothing except, perhaps, pay a few of Washington’s bills from the trillions they hoard in petro-dollars.
None of the Arab dictators will risk launching war in Syria or Iraq. That would inflame the nationalist mood of their own masses and may easily lead to more “Arab springs”.
The fate of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Libyan president Muammar Gaddafy and Tunisian president Bin Ali isn’t lost on the other Arab potentates.
Going to war helped the electoral fortunes of former Liberal prime ministers Bob Menzies, Harold Holt, John Gorton and John Howard. Now Tony Abbott is going to war to save his ghastly government’s skin.
He has seized onto the coat tails of Washington as eagerly as Holt – “We’re all the way with LBJ” – and Gorton – “Sir, (President Richard Nixon) we will go ‘Waltzing Matilda With You’.”
Abbott has the unswerving support of Labor Leader Bill Shorten. Abbott couldn’t get away with this ill-conceived intrigue if Shorten wasn’t on side. The great irony is that Shorten’s popularity will slump while Abbott’s soars; no wonder the dim-witted Labor leader is called Short’n’sweet.
Only the Greens have the courage and the moral fibre to oppose the war. They should benefit when the body bags start arriving home and the war strategy begins to fall apart.
Maniacs in charge
While Abbott repeats over and over again that he is on a “humanitarian” mission, the simple fact is that he is re-invading the Middle East, ignoring all the dreadful lessons of the past 12 years.
A nation that goes to war has to address the following issues:
1) What is the mission? Confused.
2) What army, navy, air force personnel and equipment is required? Unstated.
3) What is the minimum and maximum length of the commitment? Open ended.
4) How much will the commitment cost? Blank cheque.
5) What is the exit strategy? None.
6) What Australian casualties are considered “acceptable”? Unstated.
7) Does the Government have the support of a majority of Australians? Untested.
8) Does the Government have the support of the media to prosecute the Middle East war? So far, yes.
In other words, Abbott has given no serious thought to the war strategy; his only interest is winning the support of the Murdoch media and lifting his popularity in the polls.
The most dangerous aspect of the military commitment is the instability of Abbott and others members of his inner-Cabinet, including Scott Morrison, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis and Julie Bishop. They are behaving with such reckless abandon there is a strong case to recommend clinical intervention. Put simply, they are unfit to be in charge of a nation at war.
They don’t appear to understand the fundamental proposition: by re-invading Iraq and threatening to invade Syria (Lebanon next?), they are making Australia and its citizens a target for the global terrorist gangs.
Already the terror threat in Australia has been raised – as a direct result of Abbott’s ill-conceived war plans.
The question needs to be asked: why don’t China, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, the Scandinavian nations, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and dozens of other countries commit troops and warplanes to the Iraq-Syria war zone?
Are they less “humanitarian” than Australians are? Or they are just smarter and maintain a more independent diplomatic policy?
Abbott has given a vivid demonstration of what belonging to Team Australia means. It involves clinging to the coat tails of US imperialism and placing Australia’s security at risk for years to come.
Australia has no strategic, economic or political interest in the Iraq-Syria minefield. The “humanitarian” motive is a hypocritical: why didn’t Abbott rush troops to Gaza when Israeli state terror was killing civilians by the dozen and destroying thousands of homes with bombs?
Only a week ago Abbott was offering troops to fight in Ukraine. But when Washington and the EU deserted NATO on military invention, he opted for the Middle East instead.
Abbott and his mad accomplices have hijacked democratic decision-making and put Australia in a place shrouded with fear, uncertainty and menace. One shaft of light in this darkness is that the top brass of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is freaking out. They have been handed Mission Impossible and they don’t like it one bit. But their job is to follow orders and not question them.
This is an issue to be decided by the Australian people. They have already rejected Abbott’s Budget as well as his antediluvian attitude to science, climate change and education. Next on the agenda is popular rejection of his war insanity.