Attack of the Stupids

Oh aren’t they so tough our current leaders? Beating their hairy chests over the ISIS threat to Western civilization. Here’s Cigar chompin’ Joe Hockey Wenesday morning

We will not be intimidated by the threats of murderers; we will never be intimidated as a nation or a people by the threats of murderers.

And here’s Tony Abbott, reaching for a line from his copy of George W. Bush’s classic Presidential Decision Making for Dummies.

This is a hideous movement that not only does evil. It revels in evil. It exults in evil

Have these people learned nothing from the last decade of disastrous engagement in the Middle East? It’s exactly this kind of  simplistic sloganeering that got America and its cocksure little deputy, caught up in this folly last time.

There’s no room for any clever strategic thinking with our guys is there? Mr. Abbott and his team are so keen to be seen staring down the ISIS monster that they’ve already shovelling armaments to the first bunch of ululating tribesmen who look as though they might have room on the back of their Technicals for a case of  good ole Aussie Steyr rifles to go with the pile of rusting Kalashnikovs.  They are so keen to be seen to be backing a US intervention into the region that they’re actively standing behind the US. Standing behind and pushing that is.

While Mr. Obama carefully deliberates about what to do in the face of the gruesome execution of its citizens Big Aussie Joe and Tenacious Tone are badgering the US from the corner and telling them to get in their and fight, and stop acting like a wus.

Meanwhile the shameless rhetoric is up-ticked by Australia’s most popular moral Caped Crusader, Andrew Bolt – who last week accused the Green’s leader of being willing to let innocent people die when she said “We cannot fix the tragedies and conflicts of the Middle East with more and more war. It is madness.”

What disgraceful moral grandstanding from Mr. Bolt. What irresponsible ignoring of our own recent involvement, and ignorance of the complex facts on the ground. Forcefully rebutted by fellow conservative Tom Switzer though.

… remember the adage ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’. We learnt that lesson at great cost during the last Iraq war. That is what, in essence, Greens leader Christine Milne means when she asks: ‘If we’re going to start, where is it going to end?’ She has been denounced as an appeaser and coward. But it is precisely the question our Parliament should be raising in coming weeks.

Sage words too from the likes of Hugh White give some insight into a better approach

the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State to western countries such as Australia is best met not by military interventions of the kind that have already been tried and have failed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but by the less spectacular but more effective work of intelligence agencies and police forces.

There’s no such recognition of this on-the-ground reality on the part of Prime Minister, or Mr. Hockey or Mr. Bolt. They trot out the simplistic moral arguments for strapping on the combat boots, when the case they have presented just makes them out to be moral simpletons.

Even a brief examination of an atlas showing the region and the surrounding countries,   and a whole array of other options for dealing with ISIS becomes available, and none of them involve Australia getting entangled in any way.

Take Jordan or Turkey. Anyone think they relish ISIS on their doorstep?  ISIS is not something they can control. It threatens their own regimes.  And there’s Iran who we refuse to work with – they just happen to be ISIS’s mortal enemy.  And Saudi Arabia? They are accused of secretly funding ISIS from the beginning – well perhaps so – but there’s a realization that ISIS may well be Saudi Arabia’s downfall too as the

[ISIS’] real potential for destruction lies elsewhere — in the implosion of Saudi Arabia as a foundation stone of the modern Middle East. We should understand that there is really almost nothing that the West can now do about it but sit and watch.

A West that was strategic and smart would be looking to get these players, who have much more at stake than we do, to take the hit.   But no we’ll go blundering in like we always do, ready to save the day.   We are indeed useful idiots.

Whose going to win if the West gets entangled in this maelstrom? Well for a while it will be our fearless leaders as their chest thumping arrests their slide in the polls and simplistic News Corp pundits who love a good war, but in the end the West will once again waste blood and treasure.

And the winners? Well I bet Vladimir Putin reckons he’ll be a winner as the West gets distracted and weakened in the Middle East – but no we’ll feel the need to have a go at Putin after this one.  Our last hurrah quite possibly

No I think It’s pretty clear that when all is said and done the winner will be the nation who best absorbs a lesson from  Sun Tzu’s Art Of War.  “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”  That nation, appropriately will be China.

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16 Responses to Attack of the Stupids

  1. derrida derider says:

    It is obvious that the indecent haste of this government to get involved is all about domestic politics – there simply is no possible payoff to Australian interests from being more neocon than the US neocons. In particular, what earthly use are F-18s in the present situation? They are far more likely to killl civilians than jihadis.

    Plus there is this. When in a couple of years our lastest enemy-du-jour are using Steyr rifles to do their executions, what will the government say? Weapons have an odd way in that part of the world of turning up in the hands of quite different people to those they were originally given to – as the Americans, Turks, Saudis and Israelis have all found their cost already.

  2. RexR says:

    It is obvious that the indecent haste of this government to get involved is all about domestic politics

    Indeed it is. And witness today the witless decision by PM Abbot to engage militarily in the Russian Ukraine conflict.

    This is not a strategically smart government. This is a government whose guiding principles are more akin to Kim Kardashian’s than Winston Churchill’s. That is, if it gets attention on social media then it’s a winner of an idea.

    Tony Abbott has begun engaging in War Porn.

  3. rog says:

    I am reminded of King Richard I (the lionhearted) who squandered enormous resources for foreign adventuring – a bad son, husband and king but a great soldier.

  4. Sancho says:

    Conservative Prime Ministers always want a war. No exceptions. It lets them do the Winston Churchill cosplay they’ve longed for their whole career.

    The success, affordability or wisdom of any military engagement is of no concern to Tony Abbott, because he will get to make Speeches to Troops. He will utter vague motherhood statements about death and destruction, and fondly remember himself as a war leader, and live happily ever after.

  5. Doug says:

    What do we think would be a good outcome from Australian intervention? Anyone care to ask the Prime Minister, or the Leader of the Opposition (whoever he is) for that matter?

    If we are concerned about people having their heads chopped off than we should probably add a few other countries to the list, Saudi Arabia might be a prime candidate.

  6. David Walker says:

    Pointed commentary from James Brown – no, the Lowy Institute analyst – at The Guardian yesterday:

    Tony Abbott was asked this week to state Australia’s mission in Iraq. His answer: “our mission is to work for the betterment of mankind.”

    “Betterment” is a new addition to Australian military doctrine, very different to the military missions statements I was trained to craft. It’s a noble sentiment, but hard to measure, and makes for inscrutable policy and loose strategy …

    … Yesterday, when queried about the latest Isis hostage execution video, the prime minister’s rhetoric hit fever pitch, describing them as “abominable, unspeakable, repellent, abhorrent”.

    To be sure, Isis are a murderous band of fighters, but they can be targeted like any other enemy. Hyped, comic book descriptions of their villainy only serve to breath oxygen into Isis’s propaganda operations …

    … If the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq is the greatest moral challenge of this parliament’s time, then why has Australia’s total response to date been two planeloads of dry biscuits and weaponry for the Kurdish peshmerga? The reality is that Australia’s political rhetoric on this crisis has advanced well beyond the front line of our capabilities, or intentions to date ….

    Tony Abbott craves a moral battle; not for nothing was his book called Battlelines. It’s not the worst instinct in the world, and it would probably make him a fine leader if, say, New Zealand were to mount a full-scale military invasion. But when the events are occurring on the other side of the world, with no real Australian interest at stake, he does risk sounding like someone who just enjoys the sound of his own thundering.

  7. conrad says:

    I think you’re too negative on this (at least in terms of winners). The Kurds are the largest ethnic groups in the world without any homeland and have been treated poorly by more less everyone. If the West is willing to give them enough arms that allows them to exist pretty much autonomously, including against pretty nasty opposition, I can’t see why that’s a bad thing, excluding for groups currently treating them badly. Even destabilizing Turkey a bit is not necessarily a bad thing, as with over 10,000 political prisoners, forcing Turkey to do something or compromise a bit doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

    • paul frijters says:

      bit of an old link there to Turkey, Conrad. However, I dont think Turkey will be destabilised. Things are going too well for that there.

      I am surprised no-one has mentioned that every Western soldier on the ground costs over a million dollars each. That cost represents a huge incentive by our military establishment to argue for our involvement.

      I do hope the Saudis repay us (and not just a few individual Western leaders) handsomely if we end up fighting their war for them.

    • derrida derider says:

      Hilarious, Conrad. Tell me, do you think “destabilising Turkey a bit” would result in more or fewer political prisoners? On the historic experience, do you think better-armed Peshmerga terrorism will make the Kemalists less or more inclined to “compromise a bit”?

      • conrad says:

        I think a fully functioning Kurdish state, which seems achievable, would have far more clout to help individuals than now (which is basically none). So I don’t really see the downside at that level. It’s also not clear to me that looking at history as a guide here is as useful as it could be since Turkey wants to join the EU which means they are and will be restricted in terms of what they can do. Turkey is also now a modern, democratic and reasonably prosperous state, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t try and find reasonable solution, especially because trying to stop 15-20 million people being in a bad mood might be rather difficult if they are potentially armed and helped externally. I also doubt the Kurds will want to destroy where they are living either so both sides have quite reasonable reasons to get a good solution and neither wants some nutty religious (or similar) government.

  8. hammy says:

    Conservative Prime Ministers always want a war. No exceptions. It lets them do the Winston Churchill

    You’re so right, Sancho. My mother used to call Churchill a war-wonger when I was a young child. It wasn’t until many years later I realised how right she was. The blood of millions can be sheeted back to him.

  9. hammy says:

    Bolt has changed his tactics lately, I notice. After his conviction for racism a few years ago he became ultra cautious, claiming legal advice that the authorities were “silencing” him.

    These days, however, he’s more likely to author outrageously Islamaphobic guff like this.

    I think he’s daring the authorities to charge him again. He probably thinks that the last case made him a hero among the vast mass of Australians, who are, in my view, among the most racist on the planet.

    • RexR says:

      Mr. Bolts logic appears to be that if you shout loudly and without respite that Muslims follow a faith that is incompatible with Australian values, that they are not to be trusted, and that they are a conduit for importing terrorism, then Australia’s Muslims will graciously see the logic of the argument, will acknowledge the superiority of our mainstream culture, shun their cultural roots and abandon their peculiar ways and sympathies with their kin in far away lands.

      The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  10. hammy says:

    The letters column in The Australian has become the resting home of the rabid fascistic mob in tghis country lately. Makes me feel quite sick.

  11. Sancho says:

    Well, maybe.

    I’m not aware of any polling on Bolt’s popularity or influence, but I suspect there’s a bit of the Tea Party effect involved, where a small number of offensive partisans have an overestimated influence on the public.

    The Australian is losing millions of dollars per year being propped up as a propaganda organ, and all of Bolt’s railing against progressive causes hasn’t dented public approval of same-sex marriage or government services, so I think left-wing cynicism is a bit unjustified.

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