WMD doubts are ludicrous. Headline, The Australian, July 10, 2003.
"Obviously, the immensely difficult situation in Iraq is not resolved. Despite the election for the national assembly and provincial legislators, full democracy is still some time off ... But, now, at least Iraq has a chance of establishing a system of representative government ... There is a real possibility now that Iraq might become one of the few representative governments in the Middle East. – Gerard Henderson, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 1, 2005.
"The Iraq war was the right war against the right enemy at the right time, and waged for broadly the right reasons. There is no need to apologise about it. Notwithstanding many mistakes in execution in the peace-keeping phase, provided the coalition of the willing retains its nerve there is every chance of achieving a reasonable outcome still ... the decision to go to war was the right one. George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard deserve praise for their courage." – Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor, The Australian, March 22, 2006.
"The battle is actually over. Iraq has been won. I know this will seem to many of you an insane claim. Ridiculous! After all, haven't you read countless stories that Iraq is a "disaster", turned by a "civil war" into a "killing field"? You have. And you have been misled ... Violence is falling fast. Al Qaeda has been crippled. There is no civil war. The Kurds have not broken away. Iran has not turned Iraq into its puppet. And the country's institutions are getting stronger. The Iraqi army is now at full strength, at least in numbers. Iraq not only remains a democracy, but shows no sign of collapse. I repeat: the battle for a free Iraq has been won." – Andrew Bolt, the Herald Sun, November 2, 2007.
Sorry to inflict this drivel upon you, but there are some points to be made. George W. Bush and the neo-cons of Washington who fomented the war in Iraq bear a heavy responsibility for the catastrophe engulfing the country today. So, too, the principal leaders of that now risible coalition of the willing, including Britain's Tony Blair and our own John Howard (Dubya's Man of Steel.)
In prosecuting that war they were cheered all the way by the unquestioning Tory toadies of the Australian media, principally –although not solely – in the Murdoch press. The hubris, the evasions, the lies, the errors, the lethal incompetence – the whole ghastly march of folly – was trumpeted to the skies by these people even as the ground shifted and chasms of fact and logic opened beneath them.
They seized upon any piece of official idiocy to make their case. And not just Saddam Hussein's non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Vice-President Dick Cheney's boast that US soldiers would be garlanded with flowers in Baghdad and welcomed as liberators ... George Bush's "mission accomplished" ... Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns, John Howard's claim that Saddam Hussein operated a "people-shredder" ... nothing was too bizarre to be pressed into service by the media propagandists.
If you dared to question the war, in concept or execution, they branded you anti-American. Ideological claptrap, of course, but the worst of Tory insults. You were disloyal, even treasonous. Anti-war marches were organised by communists, Bolt claimed, and the protesters were full of "self loathing hatred of our civilisation and its freedoms".
Now we reap the whirlwind. Democracy in Iraq evaporated with the oppression of Sunni Muslims by the corrupt and ineffectual Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. When push came to shove, Baghdad's army, upon which the Americans spent so much blood and treasure, simply melted away. The wretched Iraqi people find new and unspeakable horrors visited upon them by Islamist fanatics reputedly too extreme even for al-Qaeda to countenance.
It was all so predictable, so inevitable. We saw in Vietnam that democracy cannot be imposed at gunpoint. Wilfully blind to the errors of history, the fools repeat them.
It's early days, admittedly, but Dyson Heydon's royal commission into trade unions has raised more questions than it has answered. For one, I find it impossible to work out who (if anyone) is telling the truth in the vexed matter of Julia Gillard's home renovations and her former boyfriend, Bruce Wilson. I guess there is a smoking gun in there somewhere but so far it doesn't seem to have her fingerprints on it. As she has always claimed. Perhaps there is more to come.
The rorts in the Health Services Union are in plainer sight. The likes of Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson evidently ran the joint as a criminal conspiracy to provide those little luxuries – beach houses, Mercedes-Benzes, banquets, hookers – that life would otherwise have denied them. I expect we will also hear more about exciting high jinks in the CFMEU.
If only we could have a similar penetrating inquiry into the finance industry. The scandal of the Commonwealth Bank's financial planners sinking their fangs into thousands of small investors should provide enough material for a royal commission, let alone the collapse of other rapacious outfits such as Storm Financial.
But you won't get it from this Abbott government. Just the opposite. The Coalition’s plans to make life even easier and more profitable for the big banks have been on hold since the downfall of the wretched Senator Arthur Sinodinos, but they are about to be revved up again.
Well said, Barry O'Farrell. In State Parliament on Tuesday he went for the Catholic Church, boots and all, over its disgraceful protection of priestly child abusers in the Hunter Valley.
He took particular aim at a former bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Michael Malone, and the secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Brian Lucas, accusing them of "criminal inaction". This, he said, was "inexcusable and unacceptable in anyone, but ... unbelievable, abominable and, frankly, un-Christian when it is found amongst so-called men of the cloth''.
Amen to that. Worth noting, I think, that O'Farrell himself is a Catholic. But these abominations are not confined to the churches. They are a sickness that emerges from the darkest depths of our society. Details of the sexual abuse of teenage trainees at HMAS Leeuwin, the navy base in Western Australia, are almost too revolting to contemplate.