Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Digging up the past

The Howard government has quietly stifled debate about the war in Iraq, and the opposition seems content to let the matter lie. The mainstream media is similarly disinclined to revisit the ugly episode that led to the invasion of Iraq. The whole topic is now officially taboo.

It’s old news, the warmongers murmur, there’s nothing to be gained by digging up the past, let’s move on, after all, we’re at war now, not a time for disunity or self-criticism.

Yet every day, the violence and chaos that Bush, Howard and Blair unleashed, takes its toll on human life and the environment in Iraq, and each day heralds anew this crime against humanity, while our politicians and media commentators gloss over the polity’s hypocrisy and culpability.

There has been no expression of regret or contrition on the part of those who actively championed aggression against Iraq and who did so in defiance of international law, with reckless indifference to the consequences and little more than contempt for the life and rights of Iraq’s innocent civilians.

Indeed, despite conceding that Iraq had no WMD or links to al Qa`ida, and in the face of a disastrous security situation, the proponents and instigators of the Iraq war continue to insist they did the “Right Thing”. From their point of view, the facts on the ground are irrelevant.

It is tempting to view the current crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Levant as the intended consequence of the Bush administration’s “Global War on Terror”, a shadow-war that has reinvigorated the Pentagon, nourished the US armaments industry and pushed up the price of oil, to the benefit of US oil majors now reaping record profits.

Is it merely a coincidence that Bush, Rice and Cheney are all closely associated with the US oil industry, or is there a conflict of interest in the White House? Are the best interests of the citizenry completely compatible with the corporate interests of big oil and the weapons industry?

Is Australia sending armed forces abroad to kill foreigners so that US capitalist heavyweights can maintain their unfair advantage on the world market? Do we benefit from the wanton slaughter of innocent civilians in far flung places, and if so, by how much?

Howard and his ministers have never even attempted to explain exactly what we're doing with the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been no intelligent debate or discussion in Parliament or the media ... it’s just been shut up, keep quiet, don’t say anything ... and from both sides of the political divide.

If this keeps up, I fear we’re cruising for a bruising.

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