Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Now It's Howard's Turn
The past year has seen the Western media begin to stand up and say what's long needed saying about our far right leaders. They all seem to be afflicted with the same disorder - a profound detachment from reality.
The Aussie newspaper, The Australian, is no bastion of leftie sentiment so I found columnist Philip Adams' screed against John Howard pretty bold.
"One can only wonder what form of the ailment our poor Prime Minister has developed. Or is it something else? Not dementia, but a different dimension. Is he living in one of those parallel universes? Are we glimpsing him through wormholes? Whereas every sane person in the US - including members of the administrations damaged or destroyed by the war - acknowledge that the Vietnam conflict was both a folly and a calamity, Howard still says it was the right thing. And he said it in Vietnam, as a guest of the Government, sitting beside the well-known draft dodger George W. Bush. That millions died as a consequence of Western stupidity doesn't seem to concern him. If not barking madness, Howard's utterances were very bad manners.
Howard and his friend were there to discuss even greater fiasco, another US-Australia joint misadventure. The US has now been bogged down in Iraq for longer than they were in World War II. The casualties and costs soar, yet in George and John's parallel universe, things are going well.
"But the real world - particularly the American electorate - disagrees. The fiasco began in shared dementia about weapons of mass destruction, Baghdad links to 9/11, a fantasy about blossoming democracy. Reagan's blurring of realities was never so destructive. The Iraq war will have consequences immeasurably more damaging to its region and the world than three Vietnams. Even Tony Blair knows that. But not the US President and certainly not the Australian Prime Minister.
"In Howard's dimension or dementia, the strangest things happen. Refugees try to drown their babies and asylum-seekers are terrorists. Again and again, one tries to connect the PM's beliefs or actions with any objective reality.
"Consider other madnesses appearing from the wormholes or as symptoms of dementia. While the war on terror has been stoking up terrorism, the infinitely more terrifying prospect of climate change was ignored. Worse still, both Howard and Bush ridiculed it. While choosing or pretending to believe the tawdriest intelligence on Iraq from debased agencies, they chose to neglect the collective intelligence of the entire scientific community.
"Yes, the Hawke government deserves a decade's blame, but in Howard's decade the facts were incontrovertible. Now we've a dangerously belated and deranged response. Nuclear power might, just might be a factor in 20 years. That's a grand total of four decades of denial and delay. This is not policy. It is further procrastination. Even more shamefully, like Tampa, it's wedge politics.
"No matter how sorry the state of affairs, Howard is never sorry. Not about the stolen generation, not about the Vietnam War. Not about WMDs and the other excuses for Iraq. Not about his secret collusions with Bush that had Australia committed to invasion months before we were told - and not about the squalid backroom dealings of the AWB with Baghdad of which, of course, he claims to have known nothing. Howardism means never having to say you're sorry.
"In Howard, Australia has had its most reckless leader. In Howardism we've had an insane approach to local politics and international affairs that has shamed the nation and continues to put it in harm's way. The electorate increasingly understands this yet shrugs it off. That's Howardism too."
Is it any wonder that Stephen Harper has embraced John Howard so warmly?