In terms of world affairs, Australia is a parochial backwater, reliant on Washington’s orders and wishes. The invasion of Iraq has left Tony Blair a virtual pariah, and John Howard may well be remembered in a similiar way. Iraq isn’t simply a mistake that can be forgotten, an error that history will look upon kindly. No, it’s a monumental act of arrogance, a belief that the Western powers have the right to “civilise” the Arab world.
The spectacular failures of the mission are unlikely to be appreciated by most of the pro-war crowd, but America’s ability to positively shape world affairs has greatly suffered. Indeed, the rise of alternative power centres (Latin America and the EU, as just two examples) are leading the way.
In Australia, the government is currently considering introducing legislation banning films and literature that “advocates terrorism.” Of course, the definition of such provisions is far from clear. Is supporting US defeat in Iraq advocating terrorism? Is supporting non-violent Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation advocating terrorism? If so, then they’d be better come and lock me up immediately.
Such moves are lazy and counter-productive. The government is desperate to appear tough on terrorism – perhaps somebody should tell little Howard that the Iraq invasion has contributed more to international terrorism than any other event in the last decade – and even the ever-dutiful Jewish community are calling the proposed changes too soft. The real aim of these laws is to silence serious criticism of US foreign policy and provide proscribed boundaries for debate over terrorism and its causes. Vile race hate, anti-Semitism and other forms of bile should be appropriately handled by the authorities, but perhaps this government should arrest themselves for assisting the Islamist’s cause.