OPINION: Foot soldiers at the call of the US
COMMENT BY BILL HOFFMAN: HOW were the best interests of the Australian people served by our involvement in the Coalition of the Willing?
What did we actually achieve in Iraq in 2003 apart from the destruction of cities and the creation of chaos that claimed 500,000 lives?
What was gained for the loss of those lives and the lives of Australian servicemen? And where is the Prime Minister's desire to talk about anything but his budget and national financial crisis going to lead us now, given that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten appears so terrified at the prospect of opening a fresh avenue of debate that he is in lockstep?
"Doing anything involves serious risks and weighty consequences," Mr Abbott says. "But doing nothing involves risks and consequences too. As things stand, doing nothing means leaving millions of people exposed to death, forced conversion and ethnic cleansing."
Yet when those who escape the horror seek sanctuary here, they are pilloried as queue jumpers and illegals to be condemned to live in tents and dongas on isolated islands where their care and security is demonstrably inadequate.
And Labor stands mute as Australia remained mute during the bloody-minded, 50-day ethnic cleansing of Gaza that has left 2000 dead, 250,000 homeless and 4000 businesses destroyed; and as Israel seizes another 400ha of land on the West Bank.
"I refuse to call this hideous movement 'Islamic State' because it's not a state, it is a death cult," the Prime Minister says. Seriously, who wrote that line for Mr Abbott? More importantly, to whom is he speaking?
Australia, a supposedly sovereign state, has no foreign policy other than that dictated to it by the US.
That approach may serve the interests of some levels of business and trade. It does, however, leave us no other role to play in world affairs than as foot soldiers to the blunt edge of US domestic politics and business influence.
A government of which the now Prime Minister was a member marched us off to Iraq in 2003 as part of an ill-considered invasion driven by a US government, members of which profited handsomely from the reckless destruction that ensured.
The actions of those forces were at times barbaric, the treatment of prisoners inhumane and the instances of murder perpetrated on defenceless families as deadly and as unacceptable as anything we are now witnessing. Now we intend to take sides in the resumption of the ancient battle between Shiite and Sunni.
In an era where a 20-hour plane journey, not oceans, now separates us from every imaginable hell hole on the planet, we invite trouble to our doors by such ill-considered sabre rattling.