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The man in the glass bowl
John Howard should be tried for war crimes

Nick Possum

10 March 08

When Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1974, the great Tom Lehrer famously remarked that political satire was henceforth obsolete. We now know that Lehrer was wrong, it was in a coma. In news just to hand, Tony Blair is to teach religion at Yale.

The Pope must be mortified. One minute he’s reluctantly welcoming Tony into the fold and the next minute the grinning bloody-handed phoney is holding forth on Jesus, peace, love and forgiveness at Yale.

Fortunately for Henry Kissinger, in 2002 George W Bush announced that the US didn’t recognise the jurisdiction of the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Court, but Henry no longer takes flights that touch down in Chile or Argentina and last time he was in Paris he skipped town very quickly when a French court asked him to testify in relation to the disappearance of French citizens in Pinochet’s Chile.

I thought of Kissinger’s shrinking horizons when I heard John Winston Howard had turned up in Washington where he’d received the 2008 Irving Kristol award from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.

Not a single member of the Bush administration came along to hear Howard defend his decision to stand by Dubya in the invasion of Iraq. He ran Australia for 11 years on behalf of the neocons and all he got was a glass salad bowl, but it was probably better than any reception the Liberal Party would give him here, where he’d be lucky to score a cracked old dish from St Vinnies. Nor is it likely John will get the call from Yale.

Of course the neocons really think of him as a cheating little weasel. Like Tony Blair, Howard was a parsimonious ally, to say the least. The two of them figured out that Bush was really, really, desperate for any allies at all, no matter how token their contribution.

And token is what the big goofball got from his great English-speaking allies. Back in 2003, when George finally got a call through to John to asked what he could kick in, John told him proudly that our soldiers were so highly trained that any one of them was worth ten of anybody else’s … and he’d send both of them.

There was a condition of course: they were to be station in the safest place possible. No sense getting either of them killed doing any actual fighting, if that could be avoided.

But none of this lessens Howard’s culpability. As a result of the illegal invasion of Iraq, probably a million Iraqis are dead and the country has been divided up into sectarian cantons. Two million have fled, including a hefty swag of the professional classes. Infrastructure and hospitals and schools and universities are shattered; whole towns and districts have been laid waste; women, who once enjoyed the greatest personal and professional freedom in the Arab world go about in fear. Unemployment runs at 60 per cent and the country’s oil resources are being parcelled out to US companies.

Howard and his government lied, and lied, and lied again. There were no weapons of mass destruction; there was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; the Iraqi government never tried to buy uranium in Africa.

Howard knowingly spruiked for a war of aggression. For that he should be arraigned for war crimes.

And not just Howard. At the very least, his cabinet should be in the dock with him, along with not a few of the Howardista pundits who peddled the lies that came to them on a conveyer belt from the Prime Minister’s office. Yes, I’m thinking of Miranda Devine. Who could forget her gem from April 2003: "Better to bring it on now, at a time of our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home, our economies shrinking, our civilians picked off, our enemies growing stronger ...".

I was musing on these things when Joadja put a cold cider down in front of me.

"Did you see where Christian Kerr from Crikey.com has gone to the Murdoch press? You got that one right, eh?", she said.

"That was easy", I replied. "And I don’t think he’ll be the last young right-wing journo to get the call. A whole generation of clapped-out old culture warriors who spent a decade advancing the agenda of a man who led his party to ignominious defeat will have to be cleaned out. The mainstream media is ravenous for clean-skin conservatives who can groom the Rudd Government.

"Take poor Tom Switzer for example. He’s left the editorship of The Australian’s opinion page to work for Brendan Nelson! Talk about sliding downhill, he was once a staff writer at … the American Enterprise Institute."

"Paddy McGuinness died just in time", Joadja said.

:: Article nr. 41884 sent on 11-mar-2008 00:07 ECT


Link: www.brushtail.com.au/july_07_on/man_in_glass_bowl.html

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