Australia's ex PM John Howard thinks 'even America's enemies were impressed' - by Trump's missile attack on Syria. Really?
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
One of the key figures involved in the conspiracy to invade Iraq in 2003, based on a concocted and completely fraudulent story about weapons of mass destruction, was interviewed this Thursday by Australia’s national broadcaster the ABC.
Much like Tony Blair, John Howard was never tried and imprisoned for his crimes, though he was relieved of his Prime Ministerial duties in the election of 2007, losing his own seat as well as the general election. Although the “Howard Years” are a black stain on Australia’s record as a forward-looking and open-minded nation, the man remains popular as a speaker for conservative forums and commentator in our right-wing media.
Howard’s presentation to the Asia Society in Sydney was what attracted the ABC’s attention on this occasion, because of North Korea’s latest missile launch, and his rather better informed views on this crisis than those of the current Liberal government, led by Malcolm Turnbull. (who as we know is constrained from independent thought and action by being ‘joined at the hip” to Trump’s America.) Howard did however call Kim Jong Un “an evil man” – which is a bit silly and not very useful.
The ABC might even have thought John Howard was the man to ask about North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, given his record on Iraq. They seem to have quite forgotten what that record was, and see him as a man who had stood up to dictators and tyrants with WMDs before and so could have good advice on what to do this time.
A little history lesson is in order.
In the run-up to US attack on Baghdad on March 20th 2003, and in synchrony with US and UK leaders, Howard had made his own stump speech about Saddam Hussein and the imminent threat he posed to Western civilisation, and Israel. Of all those in his government, Howard’s apparent conviction on the existence of the WMDs was the greatest – years after it was finally verified that none existed he still refused to accept the truth, and the obvious conclusion that that terrible war had been launched on a false premise. As a trained lawyer he doubtless thought such an admission might expose him to retribution – as it should have.
The supportive propaganda and the deployment of Australian troops to Iraq also came despite the well-publicised claims from Andrew Wilkie, an intelligence officer with the Office of National Assessments who resigned in protest ten days before the launching of “Shock and Awe”. He had studied the intelligence in detail, such as it was, and was incensed by the way it had been exaggerated and distorted for political purposes. Australians also came out in protest against the war in significant numbers as they did in London and other Western capitals, but to no avail.
In the end however, Australia’s involvement in Iraq was militarily insignificant, with a token deployment far from the battle-fronts. Perhaps there was a recognition that the Australian public – who had not even been consulted about going to war – would soon protest if body bags started appearing back home. There was in fact nothing more to be gained from putting boots on the ground, as Australia’s primary role of bolstering the fake case at the UN to justify the US attack had already been served.
The rest as they say “is history”. And just fourteen years on from the Australian Senate enquiry into the Intelligence on the Iraq war, Australian troops are still there. What is more, the relatively small commitment still belies its significance in maintaining the whole false narrative that we now use to justify NATO occupation of the target countries – fighting terrorism.
Back in Howard’s day, after the demolition of the WTC towers in 2001, Howard declared himself proudly to be George Bush’s “Sheriff” in the Asian region; an act of “mateship” with “Dubya” that made many Australians cringe. Sixteen years later little has changed, though the threat to Australia from being such an intimate part of the US Imperial machine is immeasurably greater.
Thanks partly to Barack Obama’s popularity with the once-was-left there is no longer any opposition to the US alliance from the Labor party, and little from the Greens. As a population we are increasingly mindless slaves to US culture and thinking, and complacent under the US nuclear and propaganda umbrella even as it plays Russian roulette with our lives.
Recent illustrations of the way our US alliance is a threat include our cooperation in highly provocative exercises against North Korea, collaboration with US maritime incursions into Chinese territorial waters, and the deployment of Special Forces and surveillance aircraft in the Philippines. While the role of the US alliance is less obvious in this last case, US aircraft have already been involved in what is being portrayed as the latest front for Islamic State.
Thanks to Australia’s involvement in “Operation Euphrates Shield” in Syria, purportedly against Da’esh, we have made ourselves a target for Islamist terrorism in our region. Malcolm Turnbull says “we do not want Marawi to become the Raqqa of SE Asia”, while the IS group in the Philippines has already identified Australia as “the US Guard dog” – and a suitable and necessary target for their violent jihad.
But back to John Howard.
Hinting at some recognition that Kim Jong Un mightn’t be the only “evil person” responsible for the escalating tensions over North Korea, the ABC asked Howard what he thought about Trump:
JOHN HOWARD: “Well, there's a big difference though. President Trump was elected. And one of the problems many people have in analysing President Trump is that they don't seem willing to accept that he won the election. Whether they like it or not, he won. And under the rules that we believe in, he will govern for four years.
A sensible enough observation, though only to be expected from a man who pushed the same buttons of “Australian values” to the same constituency to get elected. But then came this:
“And you have to look at what he does. And what he does is a bit different from sometimes what he says and the way he says it.
But you look for example at the way he handles Syria: Unlike his predecessors, he did something when that red line was crossed, and the world applauded and I think even America’s enemies were impressed.”
Well Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova was NOT impressed! Somehow she cannot move on from that “something” that Trump did – which she considers the most serious crime a country can commit. Although Zakharova is not openly repeating the claims made by Seymour Hersh’s US intelligence contacts – that the US knew there was no chemical weapons attack because Russia told them in advance about the target – she is demanding the US produce evidence to confirm the claims that legitimised Trump’s missile attack.
By continuing to focus on this event despite an increasing log of claims against the US, Zakharova is making a fundamental point. Just as we cannot accept anything John Howard says at face value until he is held accountable for his lies over Iraq, so it is now with Donald Trump, and with everyone who supported his illegal attack on Syria.
It’s a formidable challenge, but we do have some great allies who aren’t about to give up the fight!
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Anyone is free to republish, copy, and redistribute the text in this content (but not the images or videos) in any medium or format, with the right to remix, transform, and build upon it, even commercially, as long as they provide a backlink and credit to Russia Insider. It is not necessary to notify Russia Insider. Licensed Creative Commons