They are two very different situations, in 2003 there was a campaign in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi government. What’s happening now is a humanitarian involvement, it is at the request of the Americans with the support of the Iraqi government,” the Prime Minister said this morning.
A year out from his great electoral victory, the Abbott government is struggling. Lagging in the polls. Very few runs on the board. Still grappling to translate its fabulous mandate into real support. True, it’s had a few wins but generally at high cost. It’s been forced to water down its plans and promises. Abandon or break them. Even resort to threats of raising revenue by other means.
Abbott’s platoon is looking less than stellar now it has seen a bit of action. Joe Hockey has self-destructed, taking most of the ‘budget savings’ with him. Morrison has just gone overboard. Up river, He’s Kurz in Apocalypse Now. Underperformers have been underwhelming except in leaking to the media. Key Ministers are missing in action. Beset by bullies, boofheads and blowhards in Cabinet ranks and overwhelmed by the opportunities of his office, the PM needs help. His own popularity is lower than a snake’s belly. He’s on the nose and he knows it.
Suddenly Abbott gets an idea. He’ll turn his back on the fickle electorate. Spurn the unwashed and the unworthy. Ignore pressing realities in favour of a romantic fling. A bit on the side. A little war that it is. A fetching little military adventure beckons.
Abbott needs the political mileage he sniffs in this. What a gift!. It’s a heaven sent distraction from the heavy collateral damage he and his troops have suffered on the domestic battlefield. And it has an attractive scent. A whiff of macho aftershave. Along with elevating his testosterone, war will make him more appealing to voters. Or make him less on the nose.
Finally, an overseas war can lift a PM’s popularity at home. At the onset, anyway.
Abbott knows he needs that boost. He’s mad keen. He is reaching out with both fists. Over-reaching. He’ll do anything to get it. It doesn’t matter that he has no plan. No objective. No strategy.
He can talk it up. He’s all over the media with a flurry of reassurances. No boots on the ground. No one is going to get hurt. He’s always been quick to make promises. Gifted in this area. Promises he has no hope of keeping. No intention. Here he goes again.
His gift keeps on giving. No. He won’t rule out a future military commitment. A possible military involvement. When the US has had time to give him the word.
No Aussie Blundstones on the tarmac? No risk? Mission Impossible beckons. Australians will fly into the middle of a raging civil war. A shit storm. An environment so hostile that no one has ever really wanted to live there. Be there. Unless they had to. Or wanted the oil. But we have a mission. A sacred duty. Our mission is to get the bad guys killed. Because we are humanitarian. We do this by giving our guns and ammo to the good guys.
Of course we will be able to spot the good guys. They wear white hats, ride big horses and talk real slow. Of course we will be able to get to them safely. Our boys will be issued with the best Chinese made GPS. And each one will be equipped with a transponder, whistle and flare to help us locate them should they go, ahem, missing.
So here’s our brief. Boots firmly in the sky we drop guns, bombs, signed photographs of Bronwyn Bishop, Christopher Pyne’s address book, an audio of Eric Abetz speaking and other lethal weapons with precision. With fiendish accuracy. We become gunrunners for fighters we don’t know, for causes we don’t understand. For reasons unexplained. For as long as it takes. For God only knows how much cost.
Operation Skywalker allows us to morph into missionary gunrunners. We arm Kurdish Peshmerga. PKK terrorists become our brothers and sisters in arms. Our mission will be a runaway success in winning local hearts and minds. It will soothe those Sunnis who cluster round the IS recruiting tables. Those millions we alienated and radicalised in our last inspired intervention when we joined up with the US WMD crusade. The time when we toppled Saddam’s Evil Empire and installed chaos. A chaos which fostered the rise of IS. But it will be different this time.
Different? The situation is even more complex and volatile. The PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party has about 20,000 fighters in Syria. As many as 40,000 are believed to be fighting the IS in Iraq and Turkey. The Iraqi army has collapsed and the Peshmerga have beat a strategic retreat. Far from seeing them as liberators, Iraq has formally complained to the United Nations that the movement of PKK fighters into its territory is a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty and said it would complain to the UN Security Council. Washington which at Turkey’s behest long ago declared the PKK a terror organisation will not officially work with them. Yet Australians are told that we have been invited by the Iraqi Government, the Kurds, read PKK and Peshmerga. How can this be true? We are being sold a fictive version of the battle which has barbarians on one side and the forces of humanity on other. Add to this the fiction that the IS supporters are somehow recent blow-ins who can be stopped by military means. IS is embedded across Iraq, Turkey and Syria. We helped make that possible in our last intervention. True they have attracted some considerable support amongst western psychopaths who have flocked to sign up to commit atrocities but IS is a far wider and deeper movement than recent media coverage suggests.
Abbott reiterates that this is not troops on the ground involvement. Yet. Our parallel import Chinese made imitation Rossi boots will remain firmly planted in the rose-coloured desert sky. At this stage. It is a sky raining death every day on the unwary. Yet we are somehow going to guarantee delivery. We guarantee that our munitions will not end up in the hands of the IS. Or any other local psychopaths. Or shoppers at local Sunday market stalls.
Let’s clarify our intervention. We are not just following the US, Joe Hockey snarled at Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National. We are doing the right thing. Hmm … OK there’s always a first time, Hockey but how will you know? How will any of us know?
We are not going to be allowed to say. No need to involve parliament, of course, Abbott has been quick to cite tradition. Christine Milne and Andrew Wilkie and others have challenged this. Not so, sadly, the ALP.
An intelligent move would have been to have broken with precedent, Mr Abbott. A smart move would have been a democratic approach. Canvass widely all viewpoints. Built you a little political credibility. A little much needed political capital. Listen to others who might know a bit. Listen and learn. Exercise some due diligence. Otherwise we will have learned nothing from the past. Worse, we will have shown that we are incapable of learning from the past.
In the past we were able to stipulate our boys’ location. They were located so far behind the lines in Iraq they were practically in Saudi Arabia. Yes it was a token commitment. But it was a safe placement. Today, there is no safety zone. Yet we dash headlong into the fray. We are rushing to side with the devil we don’t know. Why? Because they seem better than the devil we think we know. Brought to us by FOX and SkyNews and US intelligence. We are rushing into a dangerous liaison in a notorious hellhole. We may never get out of it. unscathed. Never extricate ourselves. But if it takes the heat off you and your government, then it’s got to be all OK. Who are we to stand in your way?