Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Phillip Adams - political strategist and eminent historian 

Phillip Adams - wait for it! - doesn't like John Howard's visit to see the Australia troops in Iraq:

"There he was at a dawn service at the airport. And again, trying on night goggles in a sexed-up photo-op. All serving to remind us that the prime purpose of Operation Iraqi Freedom has been to prevent regime change in Washington and Canberra."

Really? That tricky John Howard got Australia involved in what in the beginning was an unpopular war in order to get popular support for re-election. Figure that one out.

Adams's grasp of history is fortunately as strong as his handle on political tactics:

"In both cases [Gallipoli and Iraq], young Australians were involved in wars that were none of our business. In both cases, we invaded Middle Eastern nations that posed no conceivable threat to us. In both cases, the nations, while notionally Islamic, had secular governments. And in both cases, the decisions to invade were based on faulty intelligence and serious strategic miscalculations. And the Prime Minister seems to be forgetting that, in the case of Gallipoli, Australia decided the sensible thing to do was cut and run."

What can one say to an isolationist argument like that? Not sure, because I don't know what for Adams satisfies the test of "our business". Somebody attacking Balmain? Somebody attacking "our ABC"?

We invaded Turkey not on some random basis (much less because we needed to invade any Muslim country "that posed no conceivable threat to us" and Turkey just lucked out), but because Turkey was a belligerent allied to Germany and Austro-Hungary, which happened to have been the countries that our side was fighting in World War One.

So what if both Turkey and Iraq had "secular" governments? (although Adams might care to note that Kemal Attaturk was yet a few years away from his drive to secularise Turkey, as in 1915 he was actually busy fighting Australians at Gallipoli.) Oh, I know, in the Adams universe it's only "religious" governments (particularly if that religion is Christianity) that are dangerous. Saddam might have been deep down "secular" but it's hardly a consolation to all those hundreds of thousands laying in his mass graves.

And then there is the "lesson from the past" that John Howard should heed: do the "sensible thing" and "cut and run" from Iraq, just like your predecessor did in the case of Gallipoli. Adams seems to forget that the places we "cut and run" to in 1915 were not back to Australia, but Palestine and the Western Front, where Australian soldiers fought with great valour for the rest of the war. This would be an equivalent of, oh, let's think, withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan to keep on fighting in Iraq.

As Adams's hero Karl Marx used to say, history repeats itself, first time as a tragedy and second time as a farce. Adams decided long time ago to skip the boring first stage.


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