The real America?

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, a close confidante of George W. Bush, recently advocated the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in an attempt to stop his country from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.”

“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Robertson said the Christian Broadcast Network’s “The 700 Club.”

“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” he argued. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

This must be what Federal Treasurer Peter Costello meant when he talked last night on Lateline about American values.

TONY JONES: Given that the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq is probably the leading cause of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, does that make us, as an ally of the Americans, a greater target for terrorists?

PETER COSTELLO: I don’t think it’s the principle cause at all. I think if you want to look for perceived areas of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, it was around a lot before Iraq. It’s been around for a very long time, Tony…There was substantial hostility to the US in the Arab world long before Iraq. Whether it’s over perceived injustices to Islam, whether it’s over the Palestinian issue, whether it’s over support for Israel. Most of these things, and I don’t believe justify hostility at all, but it’s been there long before Iraq. Let me tell you this, Tony – you are profoundly wrong if you thought hostility to the United States started in 2003. It was around a long before that.”

Costello’s almost comical understanding of Muslim grievances wouldn’t be so irrelevant if he wasn’t Australia’s next potential Prime Minister. Has the Treasurer not heard about Western meddling in the Middle East for the last 50 years or the imposition of deadly sanctions on Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands?

Even yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald exposed Costello’s dishonesty:

“It is not anti-American to criticise the actions of the current US leadership or its policies. It is not anti-American to criticise the war in Iraq. Many, many Americans are doing precisely that right now. It is in fact the fullest expression of the freedom which both countries boast of as their heritage. The surest way to guarantee a rise in anti-Americanism is to try to stifle legitimate and justified criticism by smearing it as disloyal.”

The fact that so-called “debate” in Australia is reduced to discussion about the evils of questioning the American alliance and the Bush doctrine – after all, apart from the ideologues, who really believes the Iraq war is a success? – illustrates what a parochial nation we have become.

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