“Nothing is free. Someone always pays”, says Joe Hockey, “we must live within our means”.
Much has been made of the two simultaneous messages appearing on one newspaper’s front page: severe cuts to pensioner entitlements and the extravagant outlay of some $12.4 billion on weapons of war.
Accusations of hubris and hypocrisy are mere water off a duck’s back to this Coalition government, who are convinced they can do whatever they wish whenever they wish, regardless of public opinion.
Tony Abbott still claims an irrefutable mandate to make choices and decisions with little consideration, consultation or advice. As with John Howard, ‘instinct’ and ‘belief’ are enough. In other words, unfettered open slather prevails: “You elected us, so we’ve won and we’ll do as we please. About anything. And everything. Because we can”.
The joint strike fighter jets will, according to Abbott, “ensure our edge as a regional power . . . you just don’t know what’s around the corner . . . the world remains a difficult . . . and often a dangerous place”. Confrontational, assertive language. Some might call it the language of a warmonger.
Weasel-speak, flung about like a certain proverbial substance, is used to distract us and disrupt our analytical thinking before we reach any conclusions, a sort of bait-and-switch operation which leaves us ignoring important issues and giggling at trivia.
A slogan is uttered, a camera flashes, a ‘gotcha’ moment happens, and in the confusion important questions go unasked and unanswered. The media pack moves on.
Meanwhile the warm fireside tone of the delivery belies the harsh message aimed at preparing us psychologically for the kicking and beating this brutal government intends to consciously, deliberately, inflict upon Australian society.
Hockey’s psychobabble continues: “It is about the we, not the me” (sounds a bit like socialism) . . . “more use of co-payments must be made” (definitely conservatism).
But is it babble? Or well-crafted spin to prepare us for war? Australia’s apparently irreversible engagement with the U.S. and subservience to its foreign policy seems really stupid and ill-advised whenever the sabre-rattling between the U.S. and China or Russia begins.
Isn’t this how it works? Step one: encourage recession by talking down the economy and defunding everything. Step two: follow through with austerity measures to ensure across-the board misery. Step three: encourage minority-blaming, thuggery, social dislocation. Step four: mission accomplished: the people are crushed and ready for war.
I was born several years after the conclusion of World War Two. During my whole life war and conflict have been constants on the world stage, and Australian soldiers have died overseas in Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
One thing you can count on with the human race; we’ve always got a war going on. And Australia has always been prepared to send its young men out as cannon-fodder at the whim of the U.K. or the U.S. on the flimsiest pretext.
Remember the Weapons of Mass Destruction which never were? There are many who wonder why John Howard hasn’t been tried as a war criminal for committing our country to the U.S.’s unjustified invasion of Iraq in which so many Iraqis, Americans and Australians died.
What is war other than schoolyard bullying writ large? A line is crossed, battle is engaged, and the reason for it all is forgotten in the heat of the action. Bait and switch, again. And again.
The invasion of Iraq was not sanctioned by the United Nations. At the time, Howard justified the action by saying it had “a sound legal basis” in previous decisions of the security council. As usual, clever language was used to deflect questions and criticism about the lack of U.N. support.
Today both Howard and George W. Bush are happily retired while a country lies in ruins, her people struggling to subsist within a legacy of destruction and conflict.
Is this what we can expect from Abbott? Another neoconservative bequest of misery, poverty and unrest? Blind unthinking subservience to the megalomania of a foreign power which believes it owns the world? Young Australians scattered about the globe to die for nothing? Young lives to be chewed up and spat out by a global military-industrial complex that prevails to this day, the same one Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world about in 1961?
How does the lie prevail, the lie that tells us something good is accomplished by slaughter and destruction?
As far as the Iraq war went, here’s how Howard justified it: “The government strongly believes that the decision it has taken is right, it is legal, it is directed towards the protection of the Australian national interest and I ask the Australian community to support it”. And support it we did.
Well, perhaps not all of us, but if we didn’t speak out then we too supported the invasion. I’ll declare myself here: I felt the outrage, but I didn’t express it. To my shame, I didn’t speak out.
Divided and conquered, we bury our misgivings and swallow the bitter pill of nationalism. We allow ourselves to accept the necessity for a conflict we don’t even comprehend. Then we participate in that conflict, convinced of the righteousness of our purpose. And history repeats.
That’s how they get away with it. By our silence we give consent. John Howard will never be brought to trial, because we would also be judging ourselves.
The huge government spend on fighter jets can only be seen as a “toys for the boys” indulgence by Abbott and Co. It’s hard to imagine our little airforce taking on Russia, the U.S. or China. And if we’re to ride on the coat-tails of the Yanks, don’t they have enough jets already? And what’s the real context of this? Defence? We’re hardly a match for a superpower, with or without jets.
Yesterday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a stern warning to Russia over the situation in Ukraine, saying “Whatever path Russia chooses, the United States and our allies will stand together in our defense of Ukraine”. More sabre-rattling. And what did Abbott say again? ” . . . you just don’t know what’s around the corner . . . the world remains a difficult . . . and often a dangerous place”.
Is it simply that there’s a mood in the world for war?