John Howard Speaks

With full credit for the find to NRO via Damian Penny, I point you to the remarks made yesterday by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, regarding the bombings in London. I won't post the whole thing here - follow the NRO link and read it for yourself; you'll be glad you did. An excerpt, however, is in order:

"Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq. And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq. Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that? When a group claimed responsibility ... for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan? ...

"[T]his is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder."

Damn. Why - WHY - can't we have politicians like that here?

More later.


At 10:28 a.m., Blogger Liam O'Brien said...



At 1:44 p.m., Blogger Erin Airton said...

Because we don't reward courage in this country...

We DO reward mealy-mouthed Liberals who speak from both sides of their mouths and refuse to take a stand an anything meaningful.

(Clearly I need a holiday.)

Welcome back!


At 12:55 a.m., Blogger Psychols said...

He's right. The London bombings were probably not a direct result of the Iraq war and terrorists are bad.

The invasion of Iraq was still a dumb idea so they can keep Howard down under as far as I'm concerned.

At 2:59 a.m., Blogger Jason Hickman said...

Liam & Erin: Thanks, agreed, etc.

Cycles - Welcome back. (Seriously.) To speak to your point, as I read Howard's remarks, he's not saying that the Iraqi war was or is a wonderful thing. He's making the point that using it as an explanation (or worse, an excuse) for what happened in London this month doesn't fit the facts.

A second point, as I read it, is that Howard is saying "give them an inch, they'll take a mile" - if you say to the terrorists, "you win, we'll get out of Iraq", the same terrorists and/or a different bunch will say "now get out if Saudi Arabia / Qatar / etc.". Then it'll be "now get out of (or isolate) Isreal." And so on ...

The third, perhaps most powerful point, is that nation states mustn't let their governments' policies be dictated by terrorist activities.

As for whether the invasion was, in the long run, "dumb" ... one of these days I'll post a topic on that, and we can all go to town on it.

- JH.

At 11:22 a.m., Blogger Psychols said...

Jason, thank you and it is nice to see you posting again.

I cannot disagree that he is correct in asserting that the London bombings may have had little to do with Iraq. If the bombings were an attempt to force the Brits to leave Iraq it would be ill considered. There are Brits who want out of that war but a terrorist attack makes it all but impossible to withdraw quickly. That would send a message to the terrorists that the Brits were cowed by their activities and the appearance of appeasement (as in Spain) must be avoided.

Howard didn’t specifically use the bombings to justify Iraq so in reality I have little to disagree with him on here. I do think that he did allow terrorism to dictate Australia's foreign and military policy by responding to Bali and 9/11 illogically (IMHO) but that is a different debate.

At 1:43 p.m., Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

Cycles, I guess the invasion of Iraq is a "dumb idea" if you think maintaining a genocidal regime is preferable....now this is the part where you will probably try to evaluate the operation asusming that the only objectives and motivaters by which it can be evaluated at the ones showcased in early 2003 by the US president.... odd way to evaluate anything really....but before I assume too much, or crash Jason's Blog, I'll just say that
Bitching about Iraq is new great Canadian pastime

I wish we had somebody in Canada with half the sense and courage of Howard.

At 11:23 p.m., Blogger Psychols said...


Not invading a nation is not the same as maintaining a genocidal regime. The US (and in some respects Canda) have maintained genocidal regimes for economic reasons but Iraq ceased to be a maintained regime when Saddam invaded Kuwait.

I was bitching about Iraq right from the start. Does that make me a fashion leader? :)

At 11:12 a.m., Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

Read the UN Human Rights Rapporteur (well, from the years when he wsn't booted out by Hussein) reports and Amnesty Reports from late 1990s-2002. Read the reports from Ian Hanson of Bournemouth University on the mass graves.

It's sad anmd sick to hear so many Canadians are so willing to use national sovereignty as part of their reason why they oposed invasion and intervention.

Unless you're arguing that we should consistently chose inaction, I fail to see the point of you examples. I am critical that we did't act in more situations .... such as Rwanda.

At 5:20 p.m., Blogger Psychols said...

Inaction isn't the only alternative to inappropriate action. Information and economic development are often much more effective than military intervention. IMO educated, comfortable and informed people are less likely to tolerate genocide or authoritarian regimes. China is an example. She is not a truly free and transparent democracy but is moving slowly in the right direction.

Military action, or the threat of it, in defense of human rights can certainly be appropriate and successful if done as part of an international cooperative effort. Afghanistan can yet be a success if we commit appropriate military and economic resources, though questions of an oil agenda may continue because of the pipeline. An international coalition to end the genocide in Rwanda might actually send a more powerful message to genocidal regimes with fewer questions of the agenda.

IMO Iraq had less to do with 9/11, terrorism or genocide than it did to do with making an example of Iraq by the PNAC people (Jeb Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Quayle et al). Some US citizens agree that America possesses the wisdom or maturity to lead the world but Americans do not appear to be sufficiently imperialistic that they will readily tolerate American and other deaths to achieve it. There was never a doubt that the US would win the war in Iraq. It was whether or not she would “win the peace” that dominated the debate in 2002/03. Many felt that without real international support or legitimacy she would not.

The overall Canadian (and world) animosity about the Iraq war may be a reflection of US bullying in 2003 and 2004. “With us or with the terrorists” was a simplistic attempt to polarize the discussion into absolutes that alienated those of us that were seriously considering our position based on something other than pure support for the US GOP. Lectures by the boorish Paul Cellucci ensured our continued alienation by questioning Canada’s right to an independent foreign policy. Wilkins may be better, but we may soon have Bolton bullying the UN to ensure continued international anger.

Jason, my apologies for cluttering your blog with my comments. I just can’t help myself when it comes to Iraq. Thankfully you didn’t mention international child poverty - I’d be going on for hours. :)

At 10:16 a.m., Blogger Jason Hickman said...

No apologies necessary from either Liam or Cycles. The more debtate / discussion the better (so long as it's *somewhat* civil - at least according to the high standards set by the blogosphere *cough*), so keep it coming!

And I'll try to get a post up on international child poverty as soon as I can ...

At 10:30 a.m., Blogger Jason Hickman said...

Cycles (and others): Quick (and admittedly, over-broad) question, in light of your last comment:

Would the world be better served if the US were to become isolationist, as it (arguably) was between the 2 world wars and as some paleoconservatives, libertarians and others in the US would like it to be today?

In other words, would the world as a whole be better off if the US simply didn't "get involved" in areas that weren't of direct / immediate concern to it?

At 5:00 p.m., Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

Information and economic development were two things that were stymied thanks to the Hussein regime. Are you suggesting that the people of Iraq "tolerated" genocide?!?!? That's an interesting way to look at these people who had to endure this. I think there are tens of thousands of Kurds and Shiites who would no doubt take issues with your view of what unfolded!

Multilateralism is a means to an end, not an und in and of itself. As it stood in 2003, the veto countries that were opposed to military intervention did so with determination to never see an ultimatum put to Hussein. They had vested interests in maintaining Saddam Hussein's regime. So UN approval was going to be denied no matter what. Does that mean we don't act? Does that mean we conintue the same tactics that were tried with 12 years? The very tactics that cost more lives, kept Hussein in power, and ultimately failed? As it was, the invasion was overdue.

It's amazing how many Canadians fixate on the multiple motives and "agenda" of the coalition side while they ignore very similar multiple motivations f countries that helped deny UN approval for action. I fail to see how the existence of more than one motivation for an action makes it any less valid or worthwhile (unless something about that specific motivation changes the overall outcome and makes it worse-- I don't see it here).

You can chose to talk on and on about stuff you don't like about Bush or some other character. This strikes me as a desperate atempt to change the subject. I thought we were talking about Iraq (or, given the post, John Howard and his positions on subjects such as Iraq).

The "Imperialism" claim, unless supported by some evidence of the intention to create an "empire," is content-empty and fear-based politics.

Let the country without multiple crass political motivations cast the first stone. That's right -- France, Canada, and Russia would have to step back also.

Lets deal with the realities here. What was the reality of keepinga genocidal regime in power? The reality of no invasion was that he would indeed stay in power and continue to test his limits as he did right up to 2002 or so. While I think mistakes were made in the invasion and there are things about how it came to be that are not totally nice, I fail to see how any of this leads to the conclusion that it was a "dumb idea" to move with some haste towards regime change and democratization in Iraq.

At 1:38 a.m., Blogger Psychols said...


I don’t believe US should resurrect isolationism. In the 20s and 30s an abundance of resources and farmland could easily sustain the US economy and her physical isolation rendered her relatively safe from serious threat. The nature of the global economy, the US dependence on imported natural resources and the technology of weaponry has made that all but impossible. The best I can suggest is a US that considers itself a participant in the world instead of a self appointed leader.

“I think there are tens of thousands of Kurds and Shiites who would no doubt take issues with your view of what unfolded!”

As I am equally confident that there are tens of thousands of Shiites and Sunnis who would take issue with your view that their land needed to be turned into a war zone because we didn’t like Saddam. Sure, Saddam was bad but so are the governments of many nations. Are you hoping to invade them all too? How, pray tell, will you accomplish it with Iraq and Afghanistan on the verge of anarchy, the US army fully deployed and a world becoming increasingly hostile to US interests.

“You can chose to talk on and on about stuff you don't like about Bush or some other character. This strikes me as a desperate attempt to change the subject.”

The political handling of the lead up to the invasion of Iraq is an intrinsic part of the folly. The US needed the support of the world to affect positive change with a minimal of upheaval. I’ll refrain from calling you desperate and simply assume that you misunderstood the fact that I was talking about political and diplomatic reality.

The "Imperialism" claim … is content-empty.

See: http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm. I believe I said “Americans do not appear to be sufficiently imperialistic…”. It is a nuanced discussion that cannot, I think, be so easily dismissed.

“Lets deal with the realities here. “ .. I fail to see how any of this leads to the conclusion that it was a "dumb idea" to move with some haste towards regime change and democratization in Iraq.”

The reality I see is that the excuses for the war have fallen like dominos, the coalition continues to shrink like a cheap T Shirt and the ranks of terrorist organizations swell like Bush's head at a GOP rally. “Haste” and political ineptitude led to a politically unsustainable occupation that has many Americans claiming that they are “losing” the war and demanding a quick withdrawal. It was a “dumb” idea because leaders like Bush, Blair and Howard failed to heed sobering advice from qualified individuals and relied entirely on those who told them what they wanted to hear.

Going forward, there appears to be little to do but remain in Iraq and Afghanistan until the fledgling democracies are stabilized. Hopefully it will not be too many decades hence.

At 1:53 a.m., Blogger Psychols said...


BTW, I forgot to mention that I changed my blog name to "political cycles" a few months ago. Nowadays I try to focus on specific political issues and leave the analysis of party performance to more qualified bloggers.


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