Saturday 2 October 2004

Myopia in Two Debates

Australians have recently been treated to the spectacle of Mark Latham and John Howard going at each other in a televised debate. And even more recently, Americans have had the same kind of viewing pleasure, watching John Kerry and George Bush having it out.

Mark Latham wants Australia to "concentrate on our region", Iraq is a "distraction" from the War against Terror.

Meanwhile Kerry said (quoting General Shinseki), and I quote in return,
Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor

Actually, it's more like Franklin Roosevelt invading Morocco in response to Pearl Harbor. Which, of course, he did in 1942 in the 'Operation Torch' landings, the first offensive action the Allies performed against the Axis. It was a Global War.

Even our enemies understand that. Here's the latest-and-greatest from Al Qaeda, courtesy of the ABC :

Senior Al Qaeda official Ayman al-Zawahri, in a purported audio tape aired on Friday, urged Muslims to set up an organised resistance to hit the interests of "crusader America" and its allies throughout the world.

"We should not wait until US, British, French, Jewish, South Korean, Hungarian or Polish forces enter Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen and Algeria before we resist," said the voice on the audio tape aired by Al Jazeera television.

"Let us start resisting now. The interests of America, Britain, Australia, France, Poland, Norway, South Korea and Japan are spread everywhere.

"They all took part in the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq or Chechnya or enabled Israel to survive."
The man on the tape said Muslim youths should emulate insurgents in Iraq, where US forces are battling an uprising against the US-backed government, and also in Afghanistan, where guerrillas from the ousted Taliban regime are stepping up violence ahead of presidential elections next month.

The tape urged fighters to form a leadership to organise resistance around the Muslim world and told them to carry on even if al Qaeda leaders were killed or arrested.
Australia has interests globally. Iraq was always a major trading partner, even under Saddam we sold them millions of tonnes of wheat (though how much of that actually got to the Iraqi populace is doubtful). And although it's not "All about Oil", neither can we ignore the effect of Oil on the world (and hence Australia's) economy.

To say that fighting Islamic terrorists on this (or any other) front is an irrelevancy is plainly innacurate. Or as we say in Oz, complete Bull. Even if we'd never gone in to Iraq as part of the Coalition, it would be in our interests to be there now, that's the most active front there is. And the enemy's hurtin'. People who're winning don't go around talking about post-mortem resistance even if their whole organisation's destroyed.

Now nobody could ever accuse (as I've said elsewhere) Al Qaeda of being any great Sheikhs in the fact department. Neither Norway, nor Japan, nor any of the other nations on Al Qaeda's Hit Listtm had anything to do with Chechnya, for example. And I think few sane people would argue that it's likely for Hungarian military operations to include supping Ghoulash in the shadow of the Pyramids any time soon. But one thing's quite clear : our most unforgiveable crime in their eyes is not to support Israel, it's merely to "enable Israel to survive". For that, they'll strike us anywhere in the world, not just in our own local region.

Anyone who can't see that suffers from Myopia of the worst sort. Latham and Kerry have political contacts, lots of them. But they need a new prescription.

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