Thursday, April 01, 2004

Like Singapore, Latham's guns point in the wrong direction 

So Mark Latham is sticking to his guns (so to speak) on his commitment to bring our troops home for Christmas; a Whitlamesque policy, justified with Curtin’s rationale, and pursued with the softly-softly touch made famous by Paul Keating. When you remember, however, that it was McMahon and not Whitlam who brought our boys back from Vietnam, and that Curtin was chucking a tantrum because the Japanese were on our doorsteps while our troops were in the Middle East, all that’s left of Latham’s initiative is Keating’s style. And that’s not much to have going for one’s policy.

Latham, of course, is not very clear on how our 800 personnel, currently deployed in Iraq, will be better used to make us safe at home. Send them to patrol city streets? (Who knows, they might actually stop another gangland killing in Melbourne.) Have our infantrymen sniffing bags at the airports for explosives? SAS to protect taxi drivers from dangerous and violent individuals?

And why stop at our contingent in Iraq? After all, if our domestic security is so overstretched because of overseas commitments, why not bring back home our peacekeepers from East Timor and the Solomons, as well as our police and advisers from the PNG? They’re closer to home than those in the Middle East, so the ADF can save on transport costs. Pulling out of East Timor will have the additional benefit of satisfying the demands of Bin Laden and his cronies in South East Asia, who want to see East Timor returned to the Muslim fold, where it supposedly belongs. Hey Mark, if you’re trying to appease Al-Quaeda by pulling out of Iraq, why not also appease Jemaah Islamiah while you’re at it? That the beaut thing about appeasement – there’s always plenty of it to go around, and as the Pringles slogan goes, “once you pop, you can’t stop”.

So Mark, why not just come out and say that what you really want home by Christmas is yourself at the Lodge. Stuff the troops, stuff our allies, and stuff the people of Iraq even more. Politics is war, after all, and casualties are inevitable.


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