FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tony Abbott and the Islamic State

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is full of predictable surprises. Stomping and punching his way into the history books, his government finds itself teetering before the electoral precipice. As it should. His domestic policy lies in stagnant waters. His foreign policy has entered the comic books – a Marvel animation with misguided perceptions of world power, his seemingly rehearsed idiocy lead to threats of “shirt-fronting” Vladimir Putin and prosaic speculations at world summits. His dangerous union with Peta Credlin, his tyrannical bully of a chief of staff who keeps ministers in line and leaks to please, continues to thrive with ominous energy.

All of that simply suggests the usual, malfunctioning government in desperate need of removal, despatched by the usual electoral bloodbath the Australian electorate delves a leader who has gone beyond the pale. Australia’s generally tepid electoral landscape doesn’t tolerate the brash and the distant. Nor do one’s own backbenchers, the first ones to go under the knife.

The time for Tony’s removal, it would seem, is nigh. Not necessarily because of his inability to listen to a range of opinions, his failure to digest and synthesise the complex world around him, or his own unchanging sense of where women relate in his disjointed cosmos, though these do play a part. No – his removal is required to save the state. (One might say Constitution, but such legal chest thumping doesn’t quite wash down under.)

Even a publication such as Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, which has done its best to feather the nest of the Abbott government since is monstrous inception – has gotten nervous. While it continues to have its demagogic spouters write the government script – Chris Mitchell as editor-in-chief, and the frothing Chris Kenny – the revelations about various meetings Abbott had over the course of his short term as prime minister is instructively dangerous. They reveal a fantasist-in-chief, a self-appointed suicidal villain keen to send thousands to their death at a moment’s trigger-happy notice.

The story, written by John Lyons in The Weekly Australian, makes the claim that, on November 25, 2014, the Prime Minister “suggested a unilateral invasion of Iraq, with 3,500 Australian ground troops to confront the Islamic State terrorist group.” The purpose: to assist in halting the surge of the IS group in northern Iraq. There was no resistance from his chief of staff, or any others, leading Abbott to raise the possibility with military planners who “were stunned”. Without “US or NATO cover”, it would be “disastrous”. “They argued that even the US was not prepared to put troops into Iraq and it would make Australia the only Western country with troops on the ground.”

Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun (Feb 21) gives the observations no credence. He claims that US President Barack Obama was already contemplating sending in US troops in early November on the grounds of assisting Iraqi forces, bolstering an existing group of advisors. Special force deployments were already being made by Canada. Ergo, “Lyon’s story is bull – t.”

Abbott has similarly claimed that the story “as reported was false,” claiming that the Chief of the Defence Force “is as mystified by this as I am.” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has called the story a “fabrication” (Daily Telegraph, Feb 21). The first rule of political survival is avoiding soapbox deniability – the more adamant one is in one’s rejoinders, the greater the clout to the claim. Refutations become full-blown confessions.

Even if the story was partly true, it shows Abbott the mad monk in hermetic action. While it would have been virtually impossible to imagine Australian soldiers in such a theatre without NATO or US support, what matters is the Tony worldview, the lunatic assessment that requires such numbers against such a foe, the need to throw Australian muscle into a historical meat grinder.

And it is entirely consistent with previous conduct from the PM, not to mention his extravagant insistence that a thousand Australian troops be deployed to eastern Ukraine after the shooting down of Malaysian Airliner MH17. Australian defence planners were similarly shaken by the logistical vision that was seemingly gestating in Abbott’s mind. Monolingual and resoundingly ignorant for such a task, Australia’s defence personnel would be incapable of speaking either Ukrainian or Russian, let alone distinguishing between Ukrainian or Russian militia.

While there is a case to be made for holding Australian politicians to account for surrendering sovereignty to such powers as the United States, be it via the security channel of deploying soldiers without direct discussions with Parliament to distant theatres; or the secret, and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the case against Abbott is even stronger. He shows that he is incapable of being a steward of any sort, a steroid-charged Biggles with an immolating streak.

He, of course, argues that such manic decisions have not become reality, suffering their predictable self-abortions. He misses the vital issue: they should never have been on the agenda to begin with. Coups have been launched for less, and it can be well argued that the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975 took place in less imperilling circumstances. High time for a re-enactment.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail