Monday, June 30, 2008


Great Satan's fans have always been a lucky charm. Especially Australia. Recent former PM Howard from Down Under Yonder shared some.

"Incumbency is a very powerful weapon in politics, and provides the
government of the day with a significant advantage. I fought five elections, won four and lost one. You can say the last election was a bit like the Oval Test. You have to lose one eventually, but after four consecutive victories you can't complain. "

"I continue to be infuriated by the suggestion we went to war on a lie. The intelligence may have been flawed, but it was not made up. Following those meetings, I was satisfied that there was strong evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
And after the war, although we did not find any stockpiles of
weapons, we certainly found that the Iraqis had active WMD programmes. But it was the failure to find stockpiles that turned the public against us."

"There was a lot of support in Australia for supporting America. Don't forget, Australia is the only country whose troops have fought alongside the United States in every major military confrontation since the First World War – including Vietnam.
"911 was an unprovoked and unjustified attack. It made me wonder
how Australians would feel if terrorists had flown a couple of planes into the Sydney Opera House.'


Ben Sutherland said...

I can't say I'm terribly enamoured with Kevin Rudd's grandstanding on the war in Iraq or on climate issues (Has he looked at the emissions results on Kyoto? 3 countries making reductions and everyone else increasing emissions is not terribly impressive, as even Bill Clinton will acknowledge, today).

But I have to say that Howard does demonstrate well, in these quotations, why he lost power. You just cannot be in a high stakes political office and go on forever denying the failures that are so clear and present to everyone else.

I don't give 2 shits how the Administration tries to spin this one. They rushed into a war without thinking about how they were going to wage it, nearly enough, nevertheless taking seriously the concerns by people about this bullshit rationale of weapons of mass destruction (we obviously knew that Saddam had biological capabilities, but how the hell was he going to inflict those on Americans? First thing, if he was going to use terrorists, because scuds weren't going to do the trick, would be to make amends with the terrorist groups who might actually in a position to pull something like that off, namely Al Queda - his relationships with Palestinian terrorist groups were more solid, but for all of their hatred of America, there is much evidence that in all the decades they've been around they've ever seriously considered trying anything even close to what would be suggested. Saddam and Al Queda were mortal enemies, with Saddam's secular cult of personality being exactly the kind of government in Muslim lands that the theocratic Al Queda was trying to overthrow. At best, the enemy of my enemy, yada, yada, yada. But there was no evidence of that.

I am beginning to learn that an awful lot of Americans could really give 2 shits about whether evidence is available to justify their fears or concerns, anymore, which is exactly what found us headlong into this mess and a war that there was an honest and strong case to be made for it, had the President done that. I didn't believe that bullshit WMD/nuclear capabilities story, when we went in, and there was no evidence of that fact, and I still knew there was a solid case for war to remove Saddam Hussein, as did everyone who had their eyes on that situation for more than 5 minutes. But the President didn't make the straightforward case: Saddam is a tyrant who cannot be removed by peaceful means. There is a population who might be willing to remove him, but do not have overwhelming force to do so. We can provide overwhelming force. But we need to figure out a way to avoid another Vietnam-style quagmire (another war that might have been won had we planned, better, how to undercut popular support for an indigenous resistance and been more on the up and up about our motivations and our genuine case for war, there, but like knuckleheads we just said, "Hey, fuck it. Let's war.") and to convince Iraqis, up front, that we are not there to take over the country, the long-running suspicion among Iraqis from their long history with the Americans, the British (and the French and Russians, post WWI).

John Howard can bullshit his way through that discussion all he wants. But nobody without a stake in defending the Administration or John Howard's administration is buying it.

And I'm solidly with the President on sticking out this war, and have been long before it was popular to be so. Most people have/had grown war weary, in Australia and America (though, hopefully, support is growing for sticking it out).

Howard and the Bush Administration need to come clean on the rush to war, on the way they dismissed critics and those who warned of exactly the kinds of scenarios we are facing today - I was one of them - on the ways they twisted intelligence to fit their earlier bias that this was a good time to war with Iraq, on the ways they disregarded suggestions to the contrary and arguments that did not already support their predetermined conclusions, on the serious mistakes that were made, as a consequence, in this war, and on the tragic and needless loss of life that has occurred for American troops doing their duty and obeying a command they should have had more reason to believe was better thought through than it turned out to be and of many, many Iraqis who might otherwise be alive with a more honest case and debate, a better plan, up front - working with Iraqi opposition groups and militias and letting them lead an indigenous revolution that we backed up with overwhelming force could have gone a long way to undercutting popular support and the political oxygen for this insurgency that continues to kill American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis - or any other ideas that could have been offered by people who had legitimate concerns about this war but which the President and his apologists like John Howard think they can explain away by arrogantly ignoring them.

John Howard should have already begun to learn his lesson by now. He was booted from office. Me, I might take a sec to wonder why, when I wasn't engaging in all kinds of self-pity and self-glorification. And the Administration should also have learned by now - their poll numbers have been in the cellar for a long time, now, in addition to very strong and credible criticisms by folks who would know better than Ma and Pa America - but they will learn soon enough that history does not work by fiat or by arrogantly avoiding your own failures.

History, contrary to all the cynicism about victors and spoils, vindicates better ideas and gives a nod to good intentions. The President should thank his lucky stars for the second of those, because noone gives a rats ass for his excuses on the first. Nor should they. The stakes are too high and pretending like things are hunky dory when they are not is not admirable, it is dumb. And the President and John Howard can go on pretending that they wear clothes that it is perfectly clear to their fellow citizens are imaginary threads all they wish. It doesn't make their failures go away. I should know, as someone who has made plenty of them myself and has, also, had to learn this lesson the hard way. I don't mean to be harsh, but the stakes are too high and there are too many peoples' lives how hang in the balance to go about soothing the ego of a sad little ex-prime minister who doesn't even have the decency to ask himself, "Given that people's lives were on the line, are there options or concerns that I didn't consider that might have kept some of them alive? Particularly after my country just booted me from office."

John Howard and George W. Bush will have plenty of time over the course of their lives to spend some time with that question, first and foremost to make sure that we don't do a damned fool thing like this again without being more thoughtful rather than bullshitting ourselves that it really doesn't matter anyway. That self-pity and pride gets old, in a hurry. And we should expect better from Presidents and Prime Ministers.

John Howard, to paraphrase Peggy Noonan, needs to sit down and put on his thinking cap for a little while and give the self-pity a rest. It's unbecoming. It also does very little good. And there are too many peoples' lives on the line to do different.

And until he does, Kevid Rudd gets to grandstand, like some little smarmy global warming imp, about how the war in Iraq was wrong to wage and therefore those Iraqis are just going to have to die on the alter of his superior political wisdom. Nothing I hate more than listening to some self-righteous politician talk about how he had all the right answers all along and now that he's in power, there's nothing you can do to change that.

Conservatives in Australis do not need John Howard's self-pity. They need an honest debate. And they need leadership that will shore up support for this war. And they need a credible challenge to many very bad Labor policies in Australia.

And that, and not nursing his wounds, is what John Howard should be spending his time thinking about, right now.

Findalis said...

The everyday Australian would be furious with Muslims if someone did a 9/11 on their soil.

The elitists would scream that we all have to assimilate then do nothing.

And the media would have a field day deciding that Muslims were at fault but are a protected Minority.

Karen said...

John Howard is a wise man, strong and loyal to the U.S.

We could go over and over on the war. It accomplishes nothing. My husband was there in Iraq just before the war began. I'll take his observations over armchair critics. Rush to war? 17 useless U.N. Resolutions, shooting at pilots in the no=fly zone, $25,000 payments to suicide bombers families into Israel and the genocide of the Iraqis themselves. The whole world agreed. Only France, Germany and Russia didn't support it - we found out why with the Oil For Food scandal. Bush's polling is still higher than the pitiful Congress. Mistakes were made, as they always are. History will tell the true tale, not the re-writing going on now.

Ben Sutherland said...

I'll just say, Karen, that I don't take pity, then, when people who rush and don't consider better plans to avoid innocent deaths deal with them in their own families, if they can't be more concerned about thos in other families.

You want fewer people to die, Karen, you put on your thinking cap and you start listening to those who have legitimate concerns about how to avoid unnecessary deaths.

If not, you deal with the deaths.

acherus said...

Hi! For energy related warfare, the cost can reach as high as more than USD3 trillion, but former richest nation on the planet, Iraq didn't invade Iran with American commandos and spy s'tellites, but Iraq can be considered keep getting the punishment for failure to invade Iran, or just another formula to be bankrupted with more than 7 years or 9 years wartime just like Soviet Union, put the money/fund int0 the frontline can be some kind of self punishment for sinners inside the old New England empire/glory, but Canada, a Newfoundland empire can replace New England Empire if money/funds are sucked into war/frontline, or enter the trap of stock markets, or be a German 1920's bubble/bust 'stock market' for 2020's USA pro-Zionist policies. It's hown in history, any empire from the west which enter ME can count the days of ending any' empire' such as elements of Zionist (Iberian Jews) inside Young Turks, and the B. Disraelis and Balfour actions for the collapse of British empire. Be prepare for the downfall of self made destruction. Beware of the curse from Holyland people than "Hollywood Tinsletown dreams" of sinful way of life.