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Merchants of Hypocrisy: Open for the Business of War

As the situation between Russia and Ukraine deteriorates to the brink of war, is our government entertaining the thought of joining in on this war, asks Loz Lawrey.

“Nothing is free. Someone always pays”, says Joe Hockey, “we must live within our means”.

Much has been made of the two simultaneous messages appearing on one newspaper’s front page: severe cuts to pensioner entitlements and the extravagant outlay of some $12.4 billion on weapons of war.

Accusations of hubris and hypocrisy are mere water off a duck’s back to this Coalition government, who are convinced they can do whatever they wish whenever they wish, regardless of public opinion.

Tony Abbott still claims an irrefutable mandate to make choices and decisions with little consideration, consultation or advice. As with John Howard, ‘instinct’ and ‘belief’ are enough. In other words, unfettered open slather prevails: “You elected us, so we’ve won and we’ll do as we please. About anything. And everything. Because we can”.

The joint strike fighter jets will, according to Abbott, “ensure our edge as a regional power . . . you just don’t know what’s around the corner . . . the world remains a difficult . . . and often a dangerous place”. Confrontational, assertive language. Some might call it the language of a warmonger.

Weasel-speak, flung about like a certain proverbial substance, is used to distract us and disrupt our analytical thinking before we reach any conclusions, a sort of bait-and-switch operation which leaves us ignoring important issues and giggling at trivia.

A slogan is uttered, a camera flashes, a ‘gotcha’ moment happens, and in the confusion important questions go unasked and unanswered. The media pack moves on.

Meanwhile the warm fireside tone of the delivery belies the harsh message aimed at preparing us psychologically for the kicking and beating this brutal government intends to consciously, deliberately, inflict upon Australian society.

Hockey’s psychobabble continues: “It is about the we, not the me” (sounds a bit like socialism) . . . “more use of co-payments must be made” (definitely conservatism).

But is it babble? Or well-crafted spin to prepare us for war? Australia’s apparently irreversible engagement with the U.S. and subservience to its foreign policy seems really stupid and ill-advised whenever the sabre-rattling between the U.S. and China or Russia begins.

Isn’t this how it works? Step one: encourage recession by talking down the economy and defunding everything. Step two: follow through with austerity measures to ensure across-the board misery. Step three: encourage minority-blaming, thuggery, social dislocation. Step four: mission accomplished: the people are crushed and ready for war.

I was born several years after the conclusion of World War Two. During my whole life war and conflict have been constants on the world stage, and Australian soldiers have died overseas in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

One thing you can count on with the human race; we’ve always got a war going on. And Australia has always been prepared to send its young men out as cannon-fodder at the whim of the U.K. or the U.S. on the flimsiest pretext.

Remember the Weapons of Mass Destruction which never were? There are many who wonder why John Howard hasn’t been tried as a war criminal for committing our country to the U.S.’s unjustified invasion of Iraq in which so many Iraqis, Americans and Australians died.

What is war other than schoolyard bullying writ large? A line is crossed, battle is engaged, and the reason for it all is forgotten in the heat of the action. Bait and switch, again. And again.

The invasion of Iraq was not sanctioned by the United Nations. At the time, Howard justified the action by saying it had “a sound legal basis” in previous decisions of the security council. As usual, clever language was used to deflect questions and criticism about the lack of U.N. support.

Today both Howard and George W. Bush are happily retired while a country lies in ruins, her people struggling to subsist within a legacy of destruction and conflict.

Is this what we can expect from Abbott? Another neoconservative bequest of misery, poverty and unrest? Blind unthinking subservience to the megalomania of a foreign power which believes it owns the world? Young Australians scattered about the globe to die for nothing? Young lives to be chewed up and spat out by a global military-industrial complex that prevails to this day, the same one Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world about in 1961?

How does the lie prevail, the lie that tells us something good is accomplished by slaughter and destruction?

As far as the Iraq war went, here’s how Howard justified it: “The government strongly believes that the decision it has taken is right, it is legal, it is directed towards the protection of the Australian national interest and I ask the Australian community to support it”. And support it we did.

Well, perhaps not all of us, but if we didn’t speak out then we too supported the invasion. I’ll declare myself here: I felt the outrage, but I didn’t express it. To my shame, I didn’t speak out.

Divided and conquered, we bury our misgivings and swallow the bitter pill of nationalism. We allow ourselves to accept the necessity for a conflict we don’t even comprehend. Then we participate in that conflict, convinced of the righteousness of our purpose. And history repeats.

That’s how they get away with it. By our silence we give consent. John Howard will never be brought to trial, because we would also be judging ourselves.

The huge government spend on fighter jets can only be seen as a “toys for the boys” indulgence by Abbott and Co. It’s hard to imagine our little airforce taking on Russia, the U.S. or China. And if we’re to ride on the coat-tails of the Yanks, don’t they have enough jets already? And what’s the real context of this? Defence? We’re hardly a match for a superpower, with or without jets.

Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning to Russia over the situation in Ukraine, saying “Whatever path Russia chooses, the United States and our allies will stand together in our defense of Ukraine”. More sabre-rattling. And what did Abbott say again? ” . . . you just don’t know what’s around the corner . . . the world remains a difficult . . . and often a dangerous place”.

Is it simply that there’s a mood in the world for war?



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  1. Jeremy Graham (@JezzG63)

    Great article. I’ve been pondering this for quite some time and it’s chilling to read it. The writing is on wall and with Japan/China bickering on the fringes it looks like it’s just a matter of time. I wondered how the human race was going to get by without a major conflict it is probably to be overdue.

  2. Anomander

    We have already seen the first forays into a ‘war of the machines’, where unmanned drones will be used to conduct all manner of warfare. Right now, the US, Israelis and others are working on autonomous aircraft and weapons that will include an independent artificial intelligence that enables the machine to perform faster, with greater manoeuvrability, more powerfully and far more efficiently than human beings are capable.

    According to Abbott we are in the middle of a “budget crisis”. If that is the case, spending $12 billion on outdated, outmoded machines that will be redundant in a very short space of time is pure idiocy.

    $12 billion, plus the additional $12 billion to house and maintain them is a vast sum of money that could be far better used to provide jobs, services and infrastructure for all Australians, rather than our cash feeding the American military-industrial-corporate complex.

    That said, we only need these machines because Abbott the fool has a propensity to start fights with our neighbours, instead of dealing with them as adults. An intelligent leader would negotiate to avoid conflict. Alas, our leader is not intelligent and is incapable of changing his pugilist spots.

  3. Patlee

    I think you give the liberals to much credit for preparing us for war, they don’t have the intelligence for tricky manoeuvres, just bull headed incompetence, but it is a disturbing scenario none the less.

  4. Srtephen Tardrew

    Be prepared Australia. This time when it comes, and it will come given the crazed demands of Republicans, we must be ready for action. One only has to listen to McCain to realize when the GOP gets back so does war. Not that Obama is immune from intervention at least he is determined to negotiate first. We will need to get into the streets immediately and challenge any attempt to send us into wars that benefit the US military industrial complex while forcing us to purchase their products. Planned obsolescence is the game and as soon as more sophisticated weapons systems arrive the old ones are sold off to friends and enemies alike. Sort of like boats to despots to stop refugees. International arms trade is an open highway to weapons profligacy. Made in USA is no guarantee that these weapons will not be sold to despots. Heard of Saddam Husein, or Egypt’s wonderful democracy of continual dictators and on and on it goes. War is a solution to nothing and must be stopped by any means possible. You can feel these characters sitting on the edge of their seats just waiting for another God inspired conflict.

    The remnants of Iraq are appalling while the US has lost another war in Afghanistan and here we are tails wagging; maws dribbling; tongues lolling while sniffing the extremities of US imperialism. When the hell are we going to learn no one wins war. If we are threatened and attacked then so be it but every intervention since World War II has been an abject failure for the citizens involved. The Arab spring? Well that has been a great success. Borders, borders, borders that resulted from British, Dutch, Spanish, French imperialism including the collapse of the USSR dividing ethnic groups in a lottery of chance driven by the whims of their overlords. .

    It is just insane to try and keep populations in control of one country while the majority have alliances elsewhere. Negotiate and have democratic elections then redraw the damn borders. A bunch of hide bound egocentric power crazed fools that see themselves as the only purveyors of truth cannot be trusted.

    We need to be ready to actively resist any more forays into another sovereign nations without a system of vetting and approval by the United Nations. Even then we still have the right to refuse any act of violence against any other nation.

  5. donwreford

    The constant arming of the Western Allies, and this culture is spreading, like to China, and so on, the world has become unsafe as a result of expansion of colonist trespass and violent invasion, throughout our world, in the main this is for the benefit of the few that are in the main hidden from the public that are behind making money and are intent to continue military expenditure for profit at the expense of the public taxpayer.
    We need the British dictators who run military, to change their psychological stance and come clean and end this insanity of destruction of people and the destruction of buildings and our environment.

  6. diannaart

    Imagine $12 billion put into mitigating climate change and the clean sustainable industry that would evolve from such an investment.

  7. Maree Elizabeth

    Also check out Australian Federal Government.. registered company to the District of Columbia, USA

  8. Maree Elizabeth

    BTW…. this well crafted spin is the very same spin Hitler used.. nothing new …
    The centre piece of the EU is Germany/and the Vatican.

  9. mars08

    Bring back conscription for all young Australians. Seriously.

  10. donwreford

    Karma perhaps? it is not that in the Wests history we the imperialists, did favors to China? if Australia, got attacked all well and good as we have not been on the receiving end, having said that, the Chinese are buying Australia, which is a form of conquest, why get involved with war its a messy affair for those on the battlefield and civilians.

  11. donwreford

    And the Mafia, also the IMF.

  12. donwreford

    Marso, could you become enrolled as a soldier, as a example to us all to do our duty, come to think of it I was conscripted, my Father said it would make a man of me, although he was exempt from being called up in WW2, he was exempt as a manager of a London store, what do you think he did for favors when limited supplies of butter came in? did he himself find his manhood? whilst the mice were away?

  13. mars08

    “Wars are seldom caused by spontaneous hatreds between people, for peoples in general are too ignorant of one another to have grievances and too indifferent to what goes on beyond their borders to plan conquests. They must be urged to the slaughter by politicians who know how to alarm them.”
    ~H.L. Mencken

  14. Terry2

    Meanwhile on the foreign affairs front:

    1.Tony Abbott has declined the invitation to attend a meeting with the Indonesian President in Bali, reportedly due to current “on water” shenanigans which could see a big orange lifeboat come ashore – perhaps at Kuta – while the discussions about bringing our relationship back online are taking place.

    2.Negotiations with the Cambodian government of Hun Sen about shipping asylum seekers from Nauru to Cambodian are at a stand still over the level of bribery we are prepared to pay; also it seems that repressed minorities in Cambodia are seeking reciprocal rights : they want to come here.

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