Tony Abbott has repeatedly decried the “apocalyptic death cult” ISIS as a threat to our national security but is that true?
Do they present a military threat to, or engage in political coercion in, Australia?
Do they threaten our economic security, energy security, or environmental security?
Perhaps, to a very small degree, yes, but is the risk worth the investment?
Authorities believe that around 150 Australians are currently fighting alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria, making the country the highest foreign per capita contributor to the violence according to Time.
Speaking to the ABC, Julie Bishop said “This is one of the most disturbing developments in our domestic security in quite some time. There’s a real danger that these extremists also come back home as trained terrorists and pose a threat to our security.”
I guess so. But none of them have returned and carried out a successful attack here. Apparently some threatened/planned to and got locked up, which tells me that our security forces have adequate resources to protect us from organised domestic threats.
What they cannot, and will never be able to, protect us from is random attacks carried out by people with mental illnesses. The man who carried out the Lindt café siege was well known to authorities and deemed not a threat but he snapped, just like the woman in Cairns who, the next day, stabbed to death 8 children. Where is the report on our mental health industry which has been sitting on someone’s desk since last November?
As has been pointed out countless times, domestic violence is a far greater threat to Australian society, taking a far greater toll, yet compare the money devoted to addressing it with the billions spent on a foreign war and increased surveillance in Australia.
As far as threats to our economic. energy, or environmental security are concerned, our government, in cahoots with big business, pose a far greater threat on that front.
As Jocelyn Chey of the Australian Institute of International Affairs points out,
- There is no UN agreement on this campaign
- Our Defence policy is to concentrate on regional issues
- No clear goals or outcomes have been defined so that the campaign, as the PM has admitted, may well drag on for years
- Civilian casualties are likely to be high
- Australia’s security threat will be increased
- The drain on our budget is hard to justify when the public is told that there is a national emergency and social services are being cut.
Robert O’Neill, from the same organisation argues that
“The size and nature of the conflict which is building there and in Syria suggests that we should be employing political, social and economic means to help local governments and religious groups to settle their differences. The local people have to do it – we cannot force a solution on the region with military means. Military intervention on the scale proposed is likely to undercut other efforts without achieving a lasting result. So it would be better not to send forces now; let us not forget that the lives of the men and women that we send are on the line in such a deployment. We should be very careful about balancing the risks they have to run in the line of duty with the worth of the goals that a forced deployment might achieve.”
Tony Abbott has repeatedly said they we were invited to take part in military action by the Iraqi government. This is not true. In his obscene haste to deflect attention from domestic problems by confecting a threat to “national security”, Abbott even caught Obama off guard. Our defence force was sent over with no diplomatic agreement and then spent months cooling their heels in the United Arab Emirates while our government tried to nut out a deal to allow them to carry out military operations in countries that had no desire to see foreign troops invade yet again.
Many people have argued that our previous involvement in Iraq, combined with draconian sanctions, has led to the rise of ISIS. Whilst I agree it has been a contributing factor, so have many other issues like ethnic and sectarian violence and discrimination, political disenfranchisement, the subjugation of women, government corruption, poverty and lack of education.
One thing I find very hard to reconcile is Abbott’s rhetoric about an apocalyptic death cult with his desire to return asylum seekers to face it. Far from supporting those who reject the violence and ideology of extremist cults like ISIS, we revile them, lock them up, and then try to send them back to the horror they risked their lives to flee.
To risk the lives of people who have fled this torment, and now the lives of our armed forces for a battle we cannot win, all for political gain, is unconscionable. What do we hope to achieve?
As Tony simplistically pointed out, this fight is often baddies vs baddies. Many of those involved have legitimate grievances against their oppressive, non-representative governments. We have no business being there other than to offer humanitarian aid.
This has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with our subservience to the US coupled with a desire to deflect attention from our government’s inability to do their job.