28 January 2007

Pig headed Alex

Foreign Minister Downer has, as News.com.au and The Age report, once again resorted to attacking the ALP for what he perceives to be its longstanding foreign policy shortcomings. This is from The Age :

"Australian Labor wants to retreat to fortress Australia," he told the the Young Liberals' federal convention in Melbourne. "Its natural instinct has always been isolationism, and its cut-and-run policy in Iraq is the latest incarnation of that tendency. It is madness to think we can retreat from this crucial battle for civilisation and hope the terrorists will leave us alone."

Arguing Australia could not leave the fight against terrorism to others, Mr Downer warned of dire consequences if the United States retreated to its own borders. "Terrorists in every part of the world, including in our own region, would be emboldened," Mr Downer said. "We would be inviting the violence ever closer to our own homes."

He said that coalition failure in Iraq would be catastrophic, leaving the country to terrorists and insurgents who would try to install a Taliban-style regime, with terrible consequences for Iraq, the region and the world.

In defending the Government's commitment to the war in Iraq, Mr Downer launched a broad attack on the "self-loathing" of the left, which he said argued the West had brought terrorism on itself and which always sought the "seemingly easy option of avoiding conflict, negotiating concessions with the enemy and hoping the threat will disappear".

"Historically the left has always looked for soft options - from appeasement of Hitler, accommodation of Communist expansionism and unilateral disarmament in the Cold War," he said.

This is at best disingenuous, at worst arrant balderdash. Most Australians with any historical knowledge will recall that the best known Australian appeaser was R G "Pig Iron Bob" Menzies, who in the 1930s insisted on selling scrap iron to the expansionist Japanese empire. And who were his most vocal opponents? The waterside workers. And their position on the political spectrum?

Mr Downer is merely President Bush's mouthpiece, except for some limited freedom of action in the South Pacific -Melanesia region: and how stable is that at the moment? All his huffing and puffing about the ALP is simply laying down a smokescreen. Unfortunately for him the winds of change are blowing his smoke away as quickly as he can produce it.

In contrast to Mr Downer's rant, Attorney General Ruddock has, as News.com.au , The Age and the ABC, report refused to ban a radical Islamic group which is, as these sources claim, advocating the establishment of a strict Islamic state with sharia law. It's hard to tell from the reports whether this is intended to be a call to jihad in Australia, or a more general statement of a medium-long term goal. On this occasion I'll follow Mr Ruddock's lead and be alert, but not alarmed.

I wonder what Mr Downer thinks of it all. His department must have provided some advice to the A-G, but has Mr D for his own political purposes (or whatever) disregarded this and blamed the ALP?

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