Topic: election Oz 2007
Everywhere we look we see cartoonists with bombs in their graphics. Warren in the Sydney Daily Telegraph today main cartoon.
Nicholson top page 1 of The Australian. All about unrelated matters yet somehow echoing in a subliminal way the suicide bombing last Friday in Pakistan with horrific visuals on our tv screens.
People across Australia could not help be affected by the evil violence surely: 'That's exactly what we don't want for our country' might have been the collective reaction. Certainly it was this writer's.
So if you do a little thought experiment - as we like to do - you get to thinking: If I were a pro Iraq war, national security hard line pollie [or even big media outlet?] getting desperately behind in the polls during this election phase, how might I best .... choose your word ....inform/leverage/spin/exploit this grim mass murder to best advantage with voters, and indeed folks in focus groups?
Well I would be cooking up law and order concerns about potential terrorists that my side were most 'experienced' and 'pro active' in dealing with distinct from those bleeding heart ALP or Green mob. Indeed the admirable ABC political analyst Chris Uhlmann in the recent Leaders Debate asked exactly this related question to John Howard, words to the effect of:
'Is Australia safer today from terrorism than when we invaded Iraq 5 years ago?'
Howard fudged an answer about Bali bombed in 2002 some 6 months before the Iraq invasion in March 2003. Fudged we say because Howard had already effectively decided to go all the way with the USA much earlier in 2002 so it was a limited view of history. We wonder further if the bombers in Bali were doing their brainless ugly best to warn Australia off (?) in the only way they believed in, fully understanding Howard was in lock step with Bush regardless. Or maybe it was always a target as Howard says.
Having travelled through Bali in early July 2002 and a potential victim we did alot of reflecting about this.
The explanations by Howard always assume that terrorists don't play real politik, but every thinking observer knows they do only with no civilised rules, which means they react to Howard's policies on access to oil, soveriegnty and the rest.
Sure enough in the wake of the chilling outrage in Pakistan last week we suddenly hear more about David Hicks a stereotypical ostensible trainee terrorist:
THE Prime Minister today denied striking any deal with the US over the release of former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks.
Look carefully at the sourcing of the story. A prosecutor in the USA says he fears political interference in the release of David Hicks back to a gaol in Australia as published in Harpers. Well derr. That's exactly what the political activists in Australia were seeking. Then the Coalition are reported as outraged at being criticised for making political overtures outside the US legal process.
Wait a minute - no one is complaining about the Howard/Downer political lobbying anyway. Are the Govt arguing with themselves? Is Howard PM arguing with a prosecutor in the USA in the middle of an election? Why bother? Why is Downer complaining about criticism that doesn't exist here, excepting from some angsty prosecutor pursuing an off again, on again Military Commssion quasi star chamber in the W Bush regime? Is it another stupid Rovian frolic?
It smells very much like either The Oz or Downer/Howard et al want to raise Hicks back up into the public's mind after the broad visual coverage of the Pakistan outrage tragetting that nice Benazir Bhutto, and manufacture confected outrage at the Left for their 'support' for 'highly suspect' Hicks.
Very cynical timing that, just as Trioli quite accurately pointed out on abc radio earlier today - the Howard Govt were all on a callously brutal script up until about mid 2006 ie that Hicks could rot in Gitmo forever for all they cared. But the tide was turning. At sometime late 2006/early 2007 Howard's rhetoric turned on a 20c piece. Suddenly the Coalition Ministers, not least PM Howard, were concerned about "the delay".
Was it the Abu Grahib scandal? Was it Rudd increased polling? Was it the AWB scandal? Was it the demonstrable failures in Iraq of endless duration and cost in blood and money? Was it the demonstrable falsity of WMD. Was it focus groups getting the sh*ts with Hicks' five year sojourn in chokey without trial? Was it 'unAustralian'? All of the above?
Whatever it was, the political shift was stark after endless support for getting a USA military commission process up and running (with Supreme Court challenges and restarts taking years). Then suddenly the tune reversed in the govt here. Howard wanted Hicks back. Hicks was an embarrassment in Gitmo. Perhaps in the wake of the Pakistan bombing we are seeing that the feds, who were careful to keep some legal hooks in Hicks, and/or The Australian who always condemned Hicks, can now see him as useful in the national security scaremongering stakes again? If Hicks didn't exist it would be necessary to invent him for a Coalition national security scare monger grandstanding PR strategy.
And a control order on hapless Hicks is probably just the ticket with Commissioner Mick Keelty playing coy, neither confirming or denying.
How cynical it would be to use the miserable slaughter in Pakistan and indeed in Iraq for opportunistic domestic political adavantage. Also to use the miserable and fairly pitiful David Hicks in another PR choreography. As if tackling terrorism was some silly shallow media game. Au contraire it's a deadly serious matter of carefully calibratred foreign and domestic policy based on real evidence and factual intelligence, not ham fisted ideology. In short national security should not be the plaything of desperate politicians losing in the polls. But is it just the flailing pollies?
We detect yet another angle on the reprise of the great 'Give Hicks a public kicking' story. It was network 9 that broke from the fairly unified discipline of the conservative media in condemning Hicks by giving the Hicks family his media oxygen on 60 Minutes earlier this year. Yet again it was 9 via Laurie Oakes this week who embarrassed Glenn Milne of The Oz and their Press Council who had the most to lose over the embarrassing Leaders Debate worm affair with Oakes referring to "log rollers and real estate agents" suppressing media freedom. Those are cutting words. Are we seeing a bit of referred Big Media internal biffo going on here at the expense of Hicks, soon after the battle of the worm, in an emerging power struggle between News Ltd and PBL, respective owners of the Oz and channel 9? Mmmm. That's interesting. My money is on Oakes over Milne but it could get very rough indeed.
Elections are dangerous affairs often and not just for the pollie careers.