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Commentary :: Politics
The "war" on terrorism must be abandoned and a realistic solution considered.
04 Dec 2005
Describing the fight against terrorism as a "war" is a misnomer and as a consequence, an erroneous stratedgy
DECLARING A “WAR” ON TERRORISM ENSURES IT WILL REMAIN A PERPETUAL PHENOMENON.

William Hardiker 5/11/05

Applying the adjective “war” to describe the Bush administrations fight against terrorism is an absolute misnomer. The policy of declaring war on perceived enemy or rogue states simply means creating more and more areas of anarchy and breeding grounds for terrorism. The fact that Howard government senators in Australia have accepted that the so called anti-terrorist laws relating to sedition may be unnecessary, does nothing to alter the fact that this entire package of draconian legislation will be ineffectual and is therefore unjustified, detrimental and absolutely unnecessary. We are witnessing cynical opportunism with a view to securing public agreement by appearing to heed the general consensus. There is no question in my mind or that of many others, including experts in the fields of national security and defence that existing laws are more than adequate to address the level of threat from terrorism that Australia plausibly faces and that form the basis of the governments argument for new draconian legislation. This legislation, like the inappropriately coined “work choice reforms”, will benefit none but the elites who are above the law and do nothing but degrade the quality of life of ordinary Australians. The fair and decent society that was Australia has now been relegated to history by a government that cares nothing for the public sector, and bestows enormous benefits to the wealthy. Any society which lacks a healthy public sector is an unjust, failed society and most certainly undemocratic. All sense of community, compassion and concern for the common good, especially in terms of looking after one another and in particular the disadvantaged, is vanquished. These people can be cared for with respect and dignity or they can be treated as a burden on the wealthy elites. Such is the ideology of fascism. A “dog eat do” mentality results and the underdog is the biggest loser. Democratic societies, such as Australia claims to be have a duty to provide for those who for whatever reason cannot adequately look after themselves. Such people have always existed and always will. In neglecting their needs there is a risk of creating an underclass of malcontents with costly and devastating repercussions for the society as a whole. Crime will increase. Dissent and anarchy will rise, the prison system will be swamped and a gang culture will be borne, as the case in the United States.

This article is an attempt to inject some truth, rationality, and a degree of proportion into the debate that surrounds the implementation of the new "anti-terrorist" legislation. It is also an attempt to present an argument to those who have understandably become victims of this deceit and distortion and as a consequence condoned the legislation. Before agreeing to the implementation of laws which will transform Australian society from one of a just democratic state, into one which will have more in common with a totalitarian or police state, we must ask ourselves if these new laws are necessary in relation to the level of threat Australia plausibly faces from international terrorism. If we fail to do so we are in grave danger of signing away many democratic rights and freedoms, thus handing to government security agencies unprecedented powers such as incarceration without charge or trial for extensive periods, the right to silence or to seek legal representation and the very real possibility of being shot, on suspicion as occurred on London’s public transport recently. The sedition clause now cynically being reviewed is largely irrelevant and was never practical. To outlaw dissent and non-violent support of assumed enemies of the state would result in a very large proportion of people in Australia behind bars. Never the less the existing legislation will place those most vulnerable, a great many within the community such as those with psychiatric illness and intellectual disabilities at greatest risk. If these laws are passed, and since the Howard government has control of the Senate so they shall be, freedom of speech, freedom to dissent, freedom to hold government accountable and every Australian's right to justice from the legal system and the courts, amongst other civil rights will be jeopardized.

The public hysteria that has been "whipped up" by the government and media, and characterized in the reaction to the recent arrests of sixteen alleged Muslim terrorists in Sydney and Melbourne, is beginning to resemble the heinous activity that ensued during the McCarthy era and "Reds under the beds" anti-Communist hysteria. One is forced to question the legitimacy of these arrests and allegations in view of their timing, at a point when the government was attempting to bring State Premier's "on side" to the legislation and the fact that °The Herald Sun” newspaper in Melbourne reported on 6/11/05, that "this activity on behalf of the alleged terrorists came as a complete surprise to national security agencies". If national security agencies were unaware of such activity, who was? Today it is Islamist °terrorism that has replaced Communism as the means by which governments are attempting to control and manipulate public opinion. A similar climate of paranoia, persecution and fear that existed fifty years ago, is sweeping the West.

If we reflect briefly on that which has transpired since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, an event now considered to mark a "before" and "after" period in human history. The general consensus seems to be that something radically new has transpired. What justification is there in forming such a conclusion? Why do these attacks constitute new and unprecedented phenomena? They are certainly not unprecedented acts of barbarity against civilizations, or evil against good. Extremism and fanaticism have existed throughout human history. The killing of so-called "innocent civilians" is again nothing new and has long been a feature of conventional warfare. Indeed over the past fifty years the US, the principle instigator and player in The war on terrorism has committed many such acts of terrorism. Take for example Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Phnom Penh, Baghdad and Belgrade. All of these actions resulted in huge innocent civilian casualties. Terrorism is only deemed such by those being terrorized. Osama Bin Laden and his network do not consider themselves terrorists any more than the Bush Administration does. Rather they see themselves as freedom fighters, at war with the “great imperial aggressor”. The only aspect of September 11 which can be considered new is that the attacks occurred within the US for the first time. European and other cities have long and extensive experience of terrorism. The US has simply joined the rest of the world in being vulnerable to an attack which could occur at any time.

Terrorism has to be seen as the price the west is now paying for creating an unjust, divided world. One where wealthy first world countries exploit those in the undeveloped world. The majority of which are Muslim states. The violent response by those who feel oppressed and controlled is directly related to the rapid advance of technological progress in the west in the latter half of the twentieth century. The increasing prosperity and standard of living enjoyed by the minority coincides with prolonged, ongoing poverty, deprivation and famine suffered by the minority. Acts of terrorism are a direct consequence of the corporate and military occupation of states against their will. Those western capitalist countries, principally the United States, who have used their power to control the resources of undeveloped, but resource rich countries, are the prime targets. The violent backlash occurring in the west in the form of acts of terrorism is a direct and inevitable consequence of a refusal on the part of vulnerable nations to permit further interference and exploitation. In this respect, the refusal of America and its allies to allow the Arab world self-determination and political and religious autonomy, and to impose an Americanized style of freedom and democracy on an Islamic world that has never lived under any form of democracy, must be viewed as justifiable. Because these states do not possess the military might to engage the powerful western armed forces, terrorism is deemed to be the only means of fighting to protect rights under threat or self-defence. Should one examine the record of American political and military interference into the affairs of sovereign states over the past hundred years, one can understand that such International relations policy is unsustainable and with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, this message was driven home for all to comprehend. Unfortunately the response chosen shows a complete lack of comprehension. Thus America and its allies are paying a heavy price and will continue to do so as long as it pursues its current misguided strategy. There can be no victor in the war on terrorism. The conflict between Palestinians and Israel exemplifies this all too clearly. No military might will be able to stop one individual from killing thousands, or wreaking destruction on a massive scale. No legislation will protect citizens from being at risk.

The only strategy to successfully address the threat currently faced is by way of sensible International relations policy. There must be acknowledgement that Islamic States and undeveloped countries will no longer accept occupation, exploitation and abuse. Nor will they accept being left behind the rest of the world as a result of being forced to hand over control of their wealth in the form of natural resources. It is no longer possible to impose upon sovereign states the type of society they live in, insisting on democracy yet disallowing religious leadership and permitting only secular, is the height of hypocrisy. Unless an alternate statedy is pursued, the price of western affluence and technology will not only present the potential for nuclear war, global warming, climate change, genetic mutation and the extinction of species, but also acts of random terrorism. The freedoms enjoyed such as the ability to travel freely, keep open borders, freedom of speech, freedom to dissent and free access to information, make western nations all the more vulnerable to those who feel oppressed. The trappings of modernity and progress are those staples which the west has become highly dependent upon. Medicines and health care, comfortable housing, increased life expectancy, fast reliable transportation, etc also serve to make it all the more vulnerable. The dependence upon energy; electricity, oil, water and food are only appreciated when under threat. Yet it is extremely likely that terrorism will deprive powerful and wealthy countries of them all.

In relation to the Howard governments assessment and reaction to this so-called new or novel post September 11 world, one cannot feel other than bewildered and mystified by the public apathy and complacency that has allowed new draconian anti-terrorist legislation to pass. The majority of Australians have condoned all of that which they have been informed by a government with a proven track record of lies and deceit. One which has a vested interest in perpetuating public fear of terrorist attacks in order to control and manipulate public opinion. In doing so, they are able to distract attention away from important issues such as the current implementation of undemocratic and fundamentally disastrous work place relations "reforms". Reforms which Prime Minister John Howard has the gall to call work choices, when in reality they take away many if not all employees rights handing them over to employees to choose. Such issues are not irrelevant to the ploy which is the war on Terrorism. The terrorist threat is the mechanism by which governments are granting themselves the power to implement and justify totalitarian or police state legislation. The passing of these ultra conservative, extreme policies are re-shaping Australian society from a model which was the envy of many and considered amongst the best in the world, to one which will lower the overall standard of living and wellbeing for all but the minority elites. The Howard government has taken Australia back fifty years to the era of "White Australia" and "reds under the beds" McCarthyism.
Despite Australia being a close ally of the US, it is unlikely that it will be on the agenda of any international terrorist organization. It is a very minor western power in global terms, and consequently any terrorist action against it will be unlikely. A more realistic threat is that of a domestic nature against a government perceived to be acting against the interests of the country. This country has a Prime Minister and government acting against the interests of national security, though fortunately those who commit acts of terrorism against the US and its allies will not be likely to consider it by any means a priority target. For this we should of course be grateful. However, “man of steel” John Howard’s ego and delusions of grandeur, translated into subsequent words and deeds which have been encouraged by George Bush and his Administration (who have no difficulty recognizing a potentially important geo-strategic military base in South East Asia) are doing nothing to decrease any such threat. Rather, he and his government are by their abuse of power and destructive ideology leading this nation down a road towards possible disaster by transforming this country into a potential terrorist target.

Rather than protecting and securing the safety of Australian's, the Howard government is jeopardizing and placing this nation in unnecessary danger. Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. Labelling it a war is a misnomer. The fact that the enemies of the west are practising it - is.

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Re: The "war" on terrorism must be abandoned and a realistic solution considered.
06 Dec 2005
You hear that Dubya? Hard Dicker says you MUST change your policy. So do it.
Re: The "war" on terrorism must be abandoned and a realistic solution considered.
07 Dec 2005
What is this?
Re: The "war" on terrorism must be abandoned and a realistic solution considered.
07 Dec 2005
I second that! What is this?