Saturday, February 22, 2003
MUSLIMS IN AUSTRALIA AFTER BALI
Moslems in Australia have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are part of mainstream Australia, by delivering to the authorities each and every individual who has expressed terrorist aspirations. Such people do not exist in a vacuum, just as rapists do not exist in a vacuum. Sydney’s Moslem community failed the test in respect of rapists. Let us hope that the test will not be failed in respect of terrorists.
We can expect “anti-discrimination”¯ bureaucrat C G Puplick to remind us yet again that he is keen to launch prosecutions against anyone who says anything unpleasant about Moslems. He is likely to be supported by the raft of “Christian”¯ ministers of religion who have failed to make any meaningful protest about persecution of Christians in Ambon, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria and elsewhere, but who enjoy getting their voices heard on any pretext in a chorus of opposition to Prime Minister Howard and Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock.
On 28 April 1996 at Point Arthur in Tasmania, a psychopath named Martin Bryant murdered 35 adults and children and wounded eighteen more. The official response was the implementation of new gun laws, described by many as draconian. Gun owners (this writer does not own a gun) are now entitled to wonder why Simon Crean did not then say: “We should not make scapegoats of others. . . . We should not be subjecting innocent people to unnecessary scrutiny”.
The Moslem community must be aware that sooner or later Australians will demand a level of protection for Australia which involves a measure of inconvenience for Moslem residents of Australia. Of course this would not be on the scale of the official impediments to normal living routinely imposed upon Christians by Islamists, for example the restrictions and discrimination suffered by Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Measures designed to protect Australia could include publication of English translations of all publications and broadcasts in languages commonly used by Moslems, which among other things would reveal to the public the level of vilification directed by Islamists against Australian political leaders, and not only those in Government.
History of the Jemaah Islamiya Group
The "Jemaah Islamiyah" (JI or Islamic Group) cells were first noticed in 1997 surveillance operations by Singapore authorities, but evidence suggests the terrorists may have been operating in 1993, when cell leader Maidin Maidin traveled to terrorist camps in Afghanistan for military training.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Friday, February 21, 2003
MORE MYTHS ABOUT BUSINESS
By Ninos Malek
Ludwig von Mises wrote in The Anti-Capitalist Mentality:
The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality.
Many excellent free-market economists have written about the unintended consequences of price controls and government regulation. However, what is absent in many textbooks and economics articles is the moral dimension. The main criticism I have with all the arguments about prices being too high or that businesses "rip people off" after natural disasters or exploit sick people is that people talk as if it is their right to get an apartment, get paid a certain wage, get the drugs, or go to a professional sports game. That is extremely arrogant and immoral in itself because it implies that people have rights over the property of other people (the business, apartment complex, movie theater, etc.).
I have gone to dinner with friends where they have complained about the dinner being overpriced. They got a bit uneasy when I responded by saying, "No, it's just priced. Nobody forced you to come here and eat the dinner. Obviously, you feel that it is worth it to eat here or you would not have come in. So, shut up and eat or leave."
It is amazing how much hypocrisy there is when it comes to "getting too much." In standard economics textbooks, the concept of consumer surplus is explained. In short, consumer surplus is the difference between the maximum price one would pay to purchase a good or service and what they actually paid. So, if I were willing to pay $5 to get the cup of coffee at Starbuck's but they only charged me $3.25, my consumer surplus would be $1.75. If I go to Kenneth Cole and purchase a shirt for $50 but I would have paid the original price of $75, oh and yes, I receive another $10 off because of some promotion, I just extracted an additional $10 of consumer surplus to the already $25 I received.
I don't know about you, but I have never said to the Starbuck's employee or to the retail store cashier, "You know, thank you for the sale but here is some more money because I would have paid more and I don't want to rip you guys off." Have you ever said that? Well, then aren't you "greedy" and aren't you ripping businesses off?
Just as it is not immoral to pay as little as possible, it is also not immoral when businesses want to charge as much as possible. Again, a transaction will not take place unless both parties think will they benefit. Of course, I would like to pay nothing to get my gasoline and the gasoline company would love to charge me not $1.87 per gallon but $1,000,087.00 a gallon. Obviously, we both have to compromise. Price is determined by supply and demand.
Another question we have to answer is what is too high or too low? How does government know what the correct price should be? Or how do we determine what is a fair price? If the answer is a "modest" profit above the cost to supply the good or service, again, what does "modest mean" and, even if we could determine that, why should that be the highest price? Why is it wrong for the company to charge as much as possible?
In the John Stossel special on 20/20 "Give Me a Break" dealing with drug prices, Barbara Walters said she was "offended" because she had to pay $90 to get prescription eye drugs. My first point is that she didn't have to do anything. The drug company could not force her to pay the $90 and she obviously paid the $90 because it was worth it to her. And second, why was she offended? It was not the drug company's obligation to create eye drops for her in the first place.
Sometimes businesses does gain at our expense: for example, when a sports team convinces the mayor and city council to use taxpayer money to build a stadium. That is ripping off taxpayers who might hate sports or never attend a function at the stadium. But, again, in a true free-market that would not take place. Government would create the rules and act as referee not as a player in the game.
People who get angry at high prices believe it is their right to a good or service, yet they act differently when they are the seller. The entitlement attitude that many people have is appalling. Maybe one way to get others to think twice about their attitude is the next time they get angry at high food prices, or say that entertainment "costs too much" or get mad at gasoline stations for price "gouging," tell them to grow their own food, raise and slaughter their own cow (or vegetables if you live in California) or drill for their own oil and make their own gasoline (if you don't live in "green" California) or get their Ph.D. in biochemistry, pour millions of their own dollars into research, and make their own drugs.
If they don't respond to you, tell them to stop wasting their breath and your time while they continue to voluntarily get "ripped off" by the evil businesses that provide their meals, the movies they enjoy, and the greater quality of life they have.
The Anti-Capitalist Mentality, p. 1, Ludwig von Mises
(Ninos P. Malek teaches economics at San Jose State University, De Anza College (Cupertino, CA), and Valley Christian High School (San Jose, CA))
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Thursday, February 20, 2003
Myths about Business
by Ninos Malek
Capitalism (the free economy) is constantly being criticized, and it usually begins with opposition to the merchant class. However, the arguments and examples that people use against business under capitalism are not only illogical but also inaccurate.
People say that big business gets special favors from the government. This is held out as proof that capitalism is only for the rich and powerful. Corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom supposedly demonstrate the evil of seeking profit and the destruction that greed causes. However, it is clear that these examples prove how the free-market actually works. In a free-market, businesses are punished for lying and corruption. Just look at what happened to these companies.
When John Stossel, in his television special Stossel Goes to Washington, reported on how government agencies like the Department of Interior and Department of Defense lost billions of taxpayer dollars, what happened to them? Absolutely nothing. In fact, they indirectly have taken even more of our money with help from the Congress (the government doesn't ask us for our money, they are the only entity that can take it by force).
I am the first one to join with those who condemn corporate welfare. In a real free-market (which we do not have), business would not enjoy favorable legislation from the government. They would not receive subsidies. They would not receive trade protection. In a real free-market, the government would not give to others because that would mean taking from others.
Of course, people by nature are "greedy." We want not only more money and more possessions, but also more time to spend with our family, more time to read and learn, and more time to relax. Would you go to work everyday if you didn't get paid? Have you ever turned down a pay raise or Christmas bonus? I think I know the answer. So, why aren't we portrayed as evil or greedy for trying to get as much as we can, but businesses are evil if they want to get as much as they can?
I admit that businesses are not necessarily compassionate entities that care about us. So what! I wouldn't feel better about myself if I drank my Caf‚ Mocha knowing that Starbuck's "cared" about me. I don't need a spiritual boost from Starbuck's. All I want is a good cup of coffee. So, businesses want to make money. Well, no kidding! However, the only way they can succeed is if they create something we want and something that we will willingly pay for.
Voluntary trade is a positive sum game. This is not something that needs to be scientifically proven. It is an a priori truth. For example, when I decide to go to Starbuck's, I don't think to myself, "Hmm, what can I do to ruin my day? I know, go to Starbuck's." No! I voluntarily drive to Starbuck's, get out of my car, order, take the money out, and say "thank you" when I get my coffee.
Yes, Starbuck's wins by receiving (notice I didn't write taking) my money, but I also win because I valued that brown liquid more than the green pieces of paper or anything else I could have purchased with that paper.
In John Stossel's video Greed, CEO T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductors said, "The world is better off when I make a dollar, not worse off." He is right. Obviously the only way he can make himself richer (absent government subsidies) is by creating value for others who will voluntarily part with their money. Unfortunately, critics of markets do not understand this basic idea. I also have a question for them: if Starbuck's exploited me by taking my money, did I not exploit them for taking their coffee?
The sentiment that seems to permeate our world is that businesses and corporations are bad, and the individual "little guy" is good. Let's take a look at a few examples. Rent control supposedly protects people from paying prices that are too high; in other words, the evil landlord should be limited in how much money he can take from people. You can see the anti-capitalist mentality at work here. In essence, what supporters of rent control are really saying is that is perfectly just for the tenant to pay as little as possible but it is immoral for the landlord to charge as much as possible.
Minimum wage is another favorite policy of many "fair-minded" people. Supporters of minimum wage believe it protects a person from the tyrannical restaurant or retail store that wants to exploit their workers. Again, it seems that it is just for someone to get paid as much as possible (take as much from the business as possible) but it is wrong for the business to pay as little as possible.
Probably one of the most emotional arguments for "fair" prices comes up when discussing pharmaceutical drugs. Drug companies are portrayed as benefiting from the misery and misfortune of people. Therefore, the government should protect sick people from these robber baron drug companies. Again, what is clear is that those who advocate price ceilings basically believe it is our right to get the drugs.
I can think of many other examples of supposed unfair prices. How about sports games tickets? Movie tickets? Don't forget the price of roses during Valentine's Day. The bottom line is that those who complain about high prices or want government intervention to protect us do not understand reality.
(To be continued)
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003
NORTH KOREA: A layman’s approach
I CLAIM NO SPECIAL EXPERTISE in respect of the dangerous situation prevailing in North Korea. North and South Korea are among the few countries in East Asia which I have not visited, and I neither speak nor read the Korean language. I can unhesitatingly recommend Dee Why’s Korean butcher, Mr. Jiang, and I am aware that Australia has the benefit of talented, hardworking Koreans in a host of trades and professions.
That said, any observer with a modest knowledge of history must be alarmed at the apparently growing belligerence of Stalinist North Korea, a dictatorship which fails to feed its own people yet invests huge sums in augmenting its military might.
At great cost to the USA taxpayer, 30,000+ United States service personnel contribute to the preservation of a narrow corridor of separation in defence of South Korea (ROK), one of the world’s great economic success stories. Under American protection, ordinary South Koreans enjoy a high and rising standard of living, beyond the wildest dreams of all but senior members of the ruling elite across the border. South Korea is a world leader in a wide range of fields including ship building and construction engineering.
Yet anti-Americanism is rife in South Korea, partly as a result of a very successful long-term left-wing strategy of infiltrating anti-American, anti-capitalism lecturers into universities and schools. Another factor is that many South Koreans see re-unification as a goal which transcends all other considerations. Such individuals would risk the likelihood of enslavement rather than enjoy continuing prosperity under American protection.
Seoul is the world’s most undefendable capital, with the whole of the city within range of the vast artillery resources of the northern enemy. North Korea is capable of launching an artillery barrage of such ferocity that in the event of an attack from the North, the best outcome for the American troops would be neutralisation, high casualties and a hazardous retreat. At the same time, the North Korean submarine fleet, through sheer weight of numbers, is capable of overwhelming the technically superior vessels of the US Navy. To that scenario add the knowledge that North Korea has a growing medium range missile capacity, plus frightening prospect that North Korea has a nuclear weapons program and may already possess a small number of nuclear weapons.
What is the best thing for the United States to do?
The Americans should think about offering this deal to the North Koreans and the South Koreans:
§ The United States agrees that South Korea shall within one year conduct a referendum on whether the people of the South want the American presence to continue.
§ South Korea agrees that the referendum will be conducted under international supervision with North Korea afforded every opportunity to observe in order to guarantee fairness and accuracy.
§ In return, North Korea abandons immediately its missile and nuclear weapons development programs and ceases to operate reactors which can be used to develop weapons-grade nuclear material, and agrees not to resume such programs irrespective of the result of the referendum.
§ The referendum will take place within six months after international observers verify that North Korea has abandoned its missile and nuclear weapons development programs (Verification Day), and the United States agrees not to fund any campaigning in the referendum, nor to influence the result in any other way.
§ Verification Day will signal the beginning of negotiations for the removal of barriers to travel, trade and communications between the two Koreas.
§ If the referendum is carried, all US troops will leave South Korea within one year, and both Koreas will guarantee their safe passage.
§ If the referendum is not carried, North Korea will take no offensive action and will not resume its missile and nuclear weapons development programs. A subsequent referendum will be held after a further five years, and after each five year period thereafter until the South Korean people are sufficiently confident of North Korea’s peaceful intentions that they request the departure of the Americans.
§ As a sweetener, the United States and its allies could make the people of North Korea the beneficiaries of substantial food aid to alleviate immediate food shortages.
§ Communist China and Japan should each be enlisted to endorse the agreement and to support compliance.
North Korea might agree, on the grounds that the North Koreans must believe that a clear majority of their southern brethren must want the Americans to depart.
If it is the fact that a majority of South Koreans so wish, then there is no reason why American lives should be put at risk.
There is no guarantee of success with this proposal. If the only alternatives are (1) war and (2) encouraging Japan to possess nuclear weapons as suggested by some, then this proposal should be considered seriously.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
The State of the Debate about the “EVIL” U.S.A.
By Michael Warby
The US supports Saddam against a state (Iran) which violated basic international law and humiliated it – the US is evil and wicked.
The US acts with others to liberate Kuwait from Saddam – the US is evil and wicked.
The US wishes to overthrow Saddam – the US is evil and wicked.
The US acts unilaterally – the US is evil and wicked.
North Korea acts unilaterally—the US is evil and wicked.
The US offers to act under UN auspices – the US is evil and wicked.
The US implements global governance through the IMF – the US is evil and wicked.
The US resists global governance through the International Criminal Court et al – the US is evil and wicked.
The US creates mass prosperity in the same landscape that Mexico has mass poverty – the US is evil and wicked.
Latin America has a century more of European settlement, is independent almost as long as the US and has mass poverty while the US achieves prosperity – the US is evil and wicked.
Most societies remain stuck in the mass poverty which is the normal human condition – the US is evil and wicked.
US is the largest provider of foreign aid in the world – the US is evil and wicked.
The US is the largest donor of food in the world – the US is evil and wicked.
Some of the food is GM food – utter proof of how evil and wicked the US is.
The US spends blood and treasure helping to destroy Nazism – the US is Nazi-like in its evil and wickedness.
The US is the main ally of the Jewish state – the US and Israel are both Nazi-like in their evil and wickedness.
The US opposes the Soviet Union, a state which slaughters its own citizens by the millions and whose official ideology is that the world should be transformed into its own institutional image, an ideology which it attempts to put into place anywhere its forces can reach – the US is evil and wicked.
Post-Soviet Russia reveals the social, moral and institutional devastation resulting from seventy years of Leninism – the US is evil and wicked.
The US spends billions trying to rebuild Russia – the US is evil and wicked.
The US fights against communism in Indochina on the grounds that murderous tyrannies will result if communism wins – the US is evil and wicked.
Pol Pot’s tyranny slaughter millions, the Vietnamese regime drives its Chinese minority into the sea, adopts market economics after socialism fails – the US is evil and wicked.
Militant Islamists revolted by the “corrupting” example of legal homosexuality, artistic expression, religious freedom and female liberation slaughter thousands in New York – the US is provocative in its evil and wickedness.
The US spends blood and treasure defending Muslims against other Muslims in Kuwait and Somalia and against Christians in Bosnia and Kossovo – the US is provocative in its evil and wickedness.
Militant Islamists kill hundreds in a nightclub – Australia is provocative in its closeness to the US’s evil and wickedness.
Arab tyrannies oppress their peoples whether or not they are US allies – the US is evil and wicked.
The US offers to overthrow an Arab tyranny – the US is evil and wicked.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Anti-Americanism is what so many contemporary ‘progressives’ have instead of any serious vision of the future. Alas for them, what they touch turns to crap – all the attempts to replicate Western mass prosperity by doing exactly as the West did not, from the Soviet Union to Nicagarua to Cuba to indigenous policy. But if you define yourself as virtuous by defining yourself against humanity’s most successful civilisation—that is, you define virtue against success—what can you expect but perennial failure? And defining virtue against success in this way requires defining oneself against the most powerful and successful Western polity. As well as making ‘conservative’ a term of abuse.
Anti-Americanism is indeed the socialism, and the anti-imperialism, of fools. This is what mainstream Western progressivism is reduced to – its main international project is to frustrate attempts to overthrow a murderous dictator. And this even though the global hegemon is also offering to do so in a way which increases the authority of the UN, one of progressivists’ main icons. Even worse, the humiliation of the US they obviously seek to have the UN inflict will have, as a predictable consequence, the alienation of the world’s most powerful state from the UN – what US President will ever again make the judgment call to go down the UN path? – with the consequent, potentially fatal, undermining of the UN. So decayed is contemporary progressivism, much of it prefers to risk the UN going the way of the League of Nations than to be seen to so betray the demands of the public display of virtue as to support the US. It will sacrifice the future health of the UN to keep Saddam Hussein in power merely for the transient pleasure of spiting the US.
Indeed, it is so bad, that the Hashemite monarchy of Jordan, with its constitutional-monarchy-by-stages, has a more hopeful vision of an achievable Middle East future than mainstream Western progressivists. When an Arab monarchy is more serious about achieving a better future than Western ‘progressives’, it really is time to turn out the lights.
Michael Warby is a Melbourne writer: email@example.com
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Monday, February 17, 2003
IRAQ: Doom, Doom, and More Doom
(Extracts from an article by V.D. Hanson)
What can we expect from the possible invasion of Iraq? We should be careful in once more believing the pessimistic commentators in newspaper ads and on television who are now warning of several "hundred thousands" of dead, of chaos, of mass starvation, and of internecine killing. "Hundreds" of dead go to "thousands" and onto "millions" in the blink of an eye — not unlike Robert McNamara's fiery warnings to Congress a dozen years ago that "thousands and thousands and thousands" of Americans would surely die in the 1991 Gulf War.
So what does the past tell us? First, we should not listen to hysteria. Noam Chomsky spent an autumn warning of "millions" of dead to come in Afghanistan. Wrong. More respected and often reasonable commentators such as William Pfaff ("The utility of the bombing is hard to defend. It was believed able to bring down the Taliban government, but that is not happening.") and R. W. Apple ("Afghanistan as Vietnam" / "Signs of progress are sparse") assured us that after a few days of fighting in Afghanistan we were in a quagmire. Wrong again.
Instead of listening to this dejection, we should examine the 30-year record of the Iraqi army in a series of wars against the Kurds in the 1960s and '70s, the Yom Kippur fighting against Israel, the surprise attacks on Iran and Kuwait, and the first Gulf War, as well as several barbaric actions against the Shiites.
True, the Iraqi army has shown flashes of dash and organization — it seemed energetic during the first few weeks of its 1988 counterattack into Iran and the 1990 assault on Kuwait. Military analysts, perhaps too charitably, have asserted that the Republican Guard, which was nearly annihilated on February 26-7, 1991, at least held firm, even as many of its tanks were incinerated — reminiscent of the earlier armored brigades that kept charging even as they were obliterated by the outnumbered Israelis on the Golan Heights.
But despite displays of personal courage, the Iraqis as a rule have not fought well when confronted by opponents who were not weak or in disarray, as were the shocked Iranians and Kuwaitis. In earlier Kurdish wars, sporadic attacks against Israel, and the first Gulf War, Iraqi performance was generally dismal. And even the sudden infusion of French planes and the training in France of Iraqi aircrews did not mean air superiority over weak Iranian pilots.
That the whole Arab world translates fewer books each year from English than does Greece really does affect how well its armies use their purchased advanced weapons. Military parasitism works well enough with small rifles, terrorist bombs, and rockets; but with large assets such as planes, tanks, and ships their proper deployment, maintenance, and optimum tactical use all require a preexisting infrastructure that is not so easily bought or copied.
The geopolitical situation does not favor the Iraqi military either. There will be no Soviet or Chinese advisers fighting for Saddam Hussein; nor are nuclear-armed patrons threatening us with Armageddon should his armies collapse. For all the talk of jihad, even zealots have no desire to die for the Iraqi gulag. Privately, those in the "Arab Street" are mostly angry at us, the infidel, for preempting what they themselves would like to have done.
In contrast, the United States during the last two decades — in the first Gulf War, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan — has shown itself adept in almost every aspect of difficult and challenging operations: excellent morale, flexibility in command, and superb use and maintenance of sophisticated, and always evolving, weapons. And when it has had problems — tactical confusion in Grenada and placing unarmored troops into urban ambushes like Mogadishu — American troops nevertheless fought superbly.
Add to the equation the recent history of American-Iraqi fighting in 1991, when hundreds of thousands of Iraqi conscripts surrendered without firing a shot. American soldiers without much battle experience did more damage to the Iraqi military in 100 hours than Iran did in eight years.
In 1990 Saddam believed that he could fight a conventional war, wrongly surmising that the terror and attrition that worked once in Iran would frighten a U.S. wary after Vietnam. This time he knows that a "mother of all battles" is impossible.
In sum, in a strict military sense, if the Iraqi army — there is no real navy or air force — fights, it will do so as poorly as it has in the past against any good force that it cannot surprise. But we should also remember that in fighting a series of wars, Saddam Hussein has shown a preference for the unconventional and even nightmarish: taking human hostages during the prelude to the 1991 war; putting women and children into the bunkers of the military elite; launching scuds into Israel, Teheran, and Saudi Arabia; torching the Kuwaiti oilfields; sending gas shells and high-voltage electrical currents against the Iranians; and suddenly slaughtering Shiites and Kurds once American officials allowed Iraqis to fly armed aircraft immediately following the armistice.
And Saddam Hussein may well resort to torching or sabotaging his own oil fields, mining the streets of Baghdad, and even executing many of his own people, as in 1991.
Saddam Hussein, environmentalists now forget, created the worst oil slick in history — a 200,000-barrel-a-day, 240-square-mile mess — to foul the coast of Saudi Arabia. And he may try again. These are all frightening scenarios, but they will still not alter the military realities that will ensure Saddam Hussein's quick demise without great loss of life.
If we ponder the recent past, I would think that all of Iraq outside Baghdad will be overrun in a matter of days — to the cheers of most of his citizenry. We will be safer — and Iraq immediately a better place — for our efforts. And we can at least say that we did not leave a madman with frightening weapons in an age of mass murder for our children to deal with.
Yet no one would believe these lessons of the past if they watched the current television commercials or listened to Nelson Mandela or the doomsday warnings of our actors, novelists, professors, and political activists — all of whom assure us that we are immoral or promise that we will fail miserably should we invade Iraq.
So let us trust in reason and history, rather in hysteria and self-righteous bluster.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Sunday, February 16, 2003
AUSTRALIA AND IRAQ
Speech in the Australian Federal parliament by SOPHIE PANOPOULOS MP
Since September 11 and the barbarous attacks in Bali our world has changed. Terrorism has thrived on our doorstep. Iraq has a track record of funding, training and financially rewarding terrorists around the world. To my knowledge, no one so far in this debate has claimed that such support is being withdrawn.
When Labor argues that more time needs to be given to UN inspectors what they are really doing is burying their heads in the sand and avoiding the real issues and the hard decisions that need to be made. This is perfectly consistent with their recent track record – weak on terrorism and weak on border protection. They have mastered the inability to act in the interests of their fellow citizens.
As Colin Powell has so concisely said: The issue “is not how much time we are willing to give the inspectors to be frustrated by Iraqi obstruction” but “how much longer are we willing to put up with Iraq’s non-compliance” before the UN resolutions are enforced.
Saddam Hussein has been playing with the Western world for 12 years now. At the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf conflict Hussein signed an agreement that Iraq would “vacate ownership of the weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.” Twelve years later, there can be no doubt that in spite of numerous demands by the United Nations that Iraq disclose and destroy such weapon, he has failed to do so. As recently as 1999, the UN concluded that Hussein had 250,000 litres of anthrax – enough to kill several million people, that he had 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin – enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure – and the list goes on.
If we back away from enforcing existing UN declarations on Iraq, of some things we can be certain: that he will not reward us with compliance and he will be free to generously furnish terrorist cells around the world with these deadly biological weapons.
I have commented on other occasions about the inability of the Opposition leader to rise to the task of leading his party in the interests of Australia. The hallmark of his term as Opposition leader will be marked by a discredited divided and dispirited Labor Party in which the word mainstream is deemed politically incorrect and may not be uttered.
He claims that there can be no action against Iraq without yet another UN resolution, yet even if we do get another UN resolution, Mr Crean has left open the door to oppose that action. He is so frozen with fear about his leadership that he can’t even take on disgraced former Ministers like Carmen Lawrence and get a firm resolution through his own caucus.
Mr Crean has allowed the Labor Party to slip back into the bad old days of the seventies when the unions and the ALP were obsessed with hatred of the United States. Just the other day, the union movement in WA promised industrial turmoil in that state in the event of an Australian military commitment to a conflict in Iraq.
Back in the seventies, the ALP couldn’t accept that they had presided over the worst Government since Federation with the inevitable consequence that they were voted out of office in a landslide. At their conspiratorial best, some in the Labor Party blamed the CIA for bringing down the Whitlam Government. Such statements came as no surprise. After all, back then the Labor Party actively sought campaign funds from Saddam Hussein’s murderous Ba’ath Socialist Party.
Mr Crean’s contribution thus far on the war against terrorism and the issue of disarming Iraq of its deadly weapons of mass destruction and its potency for exporting terrorism, have been at best been embarrassing and at worst a clumsy attempt at political point scoring. He has put his political ambitions above the interests of the citizens of this nation.
Last December, when he refused to see the US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on his visit to Australia, Simon Crean lost the last vestige of credibility on the struggle against terrorism. This was an ideal opportunity for him to be briefed first hand of the US perspective and to put his point of view to one of the most senior decision makers in the US Administration.
Because of fear of provoking criticism from his left wing faction, Mr Crean abrogated his proper responsibilities and boycotted this crucial meeting with a senior official of the US administration - an administration which he now criticises for the same reasons form the refuge of Parliament house.
He couldn’t find time to see Mr Armitage. But he couldn’t scurry down to the wharf fast enough to hector our troops about the evil of their mission. If Mr Crean could not offer support for our defence forces he should’ve kept his mouth shut and stayed away. His speech seemed to serve no purpose other than to demoralise the troops and cheer up his own side.
As I have said previously in this house, many in the Labor Party pretend to support great Australian institutions, but scratch beneath the surface and you will find disdain and disrespect. Only last December the member for Corio mocking labelled our great navy “McHale’s Navy” – but I am sure he not averse to having publicity photos taken with his local RSL branch.
It is people like Simon Crean and his fellow travellers who have no respect for our serving men and women and no sensitivity for their families. These troops who have gone to the gulf choose to make it their vocation in life to serve their country and place themselves in life threatening situations. My thoughts are with them and their families.
The leader of the Opposition is driven by a desperate attempt to hang on to his job rather than securing our region against terrorism and cutting off the supply of weapons and training of terrorists by nation states.
In addressing the motion, the leader of the Opposition spent most of his time snarling at the Prime Minister and the President of the United States. He referred to the Prime Mnister 83 times, to the Bush administration 56 times, mostly in pegorative terms and to Saddam Hussein only 3 times. He spent no time focussed on the human rights abuses of the Iraqi regime and the critical role Iraq plays in giving succour to terrorist cells around the world including those in the South East Asian region.
It is also true that the leader of the Opposition’s crude anti-Americanism must please the left fringe in his party but those on the other side of the house who fit more comfortably with the mainstream are hanging their heads in embarrassment and shame. They know that the United States is a friendly nation with which we share the common values of democracy and dignity for human life.
They know how important the United States is to maintaining world peace. As Kim Beazley said in this place in 1996 when he welcomed the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton:
“We have always sought American engagement in this region. We have never always agreed with you on things that you have chosen to do in time, but we have always sought it because we have always believed that at the end of the day the values we share are the same. Those values are egalitarian values that recognise the rights of all people of all backgrounds. Those values are values which at the end of the day ensure world peace and ensure decent living standards.”
And of course we all remember the comments the Member for Brand made in 1998 when he fully supported the deployment of Australian troops and stated that:
“the stand Australia takes on this is very important. When we were in Government we always took the international arms control issue very seriously. We hope that the international community will pursue the enforcement of those agreements with good commonsense and with a degree of substantial unity. The current Labor Leader could learn something from his predecessor.
Similarly, another born again pacifist Laurie Brereton could do well to re-read his comments of 1998, when in regards to Australia’s deployment of troops to the Gulf he said:
“the threat of military action was justified, given Iraq’s undeniable record as a rogue state. Saddam Hussein has never hesitated to use military force to pursue his objectives. He is a regime with an extraordinary record of aggression, of treachery, of duplicity and gross abuse of human rights. It is a regime which routinely resorts to appalling violence to achieve its ends and at the end of the day appears to respect only the threat of military force.”
Yesterday however, Mr Brereton stated that our involvement should be “limited to the present naval enforcement of the UN sanctions and our bilateral logistic and intelligence co-operation with the United States.” How things change with the internal convulsions of ALP party machinations.
But Mr Brereton does not have a monopoly on shameless hypocrisy. Mr Rudd has also done a 180-degree turn on the role that Australia should take in international affairs. In his maiden speech he expressed pride in Australia’s role in the resolution of international problems and said:
“…we have been respected as an effective international citizen. This represents the cumulative capital of successive Australian governments, ministers and officials. This capital must be harnessed for the future. That requires leadership – leadership that the current foreign minister is demonstrably incapable of providing. Our future challenge is to build across this nation a robust domestic constituency of support of Australia’s future engagement, one that will not be hijacked by the periodic outbreak of local populism.”
So much for the U-turn of the politics of yet another leadership aspirant.
In addressing this motion, Simon Crean has said that Saddam Hussein needs to be disarmed and on the other hand that we have an opportunity to secure a peaceful outcome, yet he has not explained the process of the peaceful outcome that will disarm Hussein. The UN has been trying for 12 years to do so and it has failed. If Mr Crean has a hidden plan to succeed where the UN has failed, it would do his standing, and his approval rating in the polls some good if he shared that wisdom with us.
In spite of all the evidence, Mr Crean has said that no case for war has been established. We do not know what further facts and justification Mr Crean needs. Why is it that if the UN Security Council says it is O.K to use military pressure to disarm Saddam Hussein, then somehow justification magically materialises.
Of course it is preferable to have support for any action against Iraq from as many nations as possible. The fact that any of the five permanent members of the security council, including Russia and China may not agree with taking steps to finally disarm Saddam Hussein, does not take away the fact that it is morally the right decision for Australia to make. Co-operation with other nations does not translate into an automatic abrogation of our responsibility to make the right decisions for Australia and moral decisions for enduring world peace.
Comments? Email Michael Darby