Monday, March 25, 2013

If there's a dawn, it hasn't yet dawned on Alexander Downer ...

(Above: if you click to enlarge, maybe you can see Alexander Downer somewhere in this group photo. Perhaps with his head under the blanket, or perhaps off in the distance with his head in the sand?)

For almost completely inexplicable reasons - it was free, it was there, climbing it wasn't like climbing Mount Everest - the pond recently caught up with the re-make of Red Dawn.

It's an appalling, mind-numbing, reprehensible, silly show, too bad even to be really entertaining, but one speech stuck in the noggin:

We're gonna fight. We're gonna keep fighting 'cause it's easier now and we're used to it... When you're fighting in your own back yard... When you're fighting for your family... It all hurts a little less and makes a little more sense... That's our biggest advantage. For them, this is just a place. For us - this is our home.

The "them" is a risible bunch of inept North Koreans (with some Ruskis lurking in the background) who've somehow overrun the United States with conventional weapons, leaving the citizenry to fight back with conventional weapons, while mouthing platitudes about freedom and democracy.

The pond wondered at film's end just how many citizens of the United States came away from viewing of the film making a cognitive leap which would, seen from the other side, apply the same family, homeland rhetoric to Vietnam, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or any of the other wars the west has recently indulged in  ... as sorry an assortment of imperialistic ventures into "just places" as can be found ...

Let the pond be blunt. There's a similar lack of enlightenment when it comes to that fatuous Adelaide-based stocking-wearing fop Alexander Downer when it comes to recent events and wars:

Yes, everything's for the best in the best of all possible worlds for that fatuous fop as he scribbles Even with hindsight the Iraq war was the best option for all concerned.

Presumably he means that all concerned includes the thousands upon thousands of Iraqis who died as a result of the intervention, and the hundreds still dying as a result of the ineptly planned, badly organised "peace" that was implemented without any understanding or consideration of the situation on the ground ...

In the United States in recent days, journalists have been counting the costs, as usual with a selfish eye on what it cost America and never mind Iraq (An $800 Billion War, since revised upwards to a $4 trillion price tag and counting).

Naturally uppermost in mind is the way that the Bush administration put the cost on the tab, blew the budget, and in the end blew the American economy out of the water, by going to war based on a number of shameless lies.

The Say What? archive is the place to go for some seminal quotes, which illustrate the confused befuddled thinking:

"Once you got to Iraq and took it over, and took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? If you take down the central government of Iraq you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq."-- Dick Cheney, on not invading Iraq, April 15, 1994
If I had it to do over again, I'd do it in a minute."-- Dick Cheney, on invading Iraq, March 15, 2013

Well you wouldn't want to be out in the field with Cheney while he's carrying a shotgun, so let's see what Don had to say:

"My interest is to hit Saddam."-- Donald Rumsfeld, at a White House meeting five hours after the 9/11 attacks.
"I didn't advocate invasion. I wasn't asked."-- Donald Rumsfeld, November 20, 2005

And then there's the man who recently has risen to fame as a top notch painter, right up there with the statesmanlike efforts of Winston Churchill ... and Adolf Hitler (take that News Ltd, take that for banning Godwin's Law).

"Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!" – George W. Bush, during a White House videoconference call, April 6, 2004

 "Do you want to know what the foreign policy of Iraq is to the United States? (Gives the finger.) F*** the United States! That's what it is -- and that's why we're going to get him." – George W. Bush, at a Congressional breakfast, September 2002

(Above: oh dear sweet lord, he paints dogs, more here).

You can turn to handwringers now ready to point out the obvious, such as Christian Carl writing The War We Couldn't See:

Americans who did not serve may think that they have some idea of what the war in Iraq was like, but they’re wrong. The culprit here is a culture of well-intentioned self-censorship that refuses to show the real conditions of modern warfare. You can search the seven years of US broadcast news from Iraq almost in vain for images of dead US soldiers, or the grotesque effects of a suicide bombing on buildings or bodies, or the corpses of Iraqi families who had been riddled with bullets by nervous young Americans manning nighttime checkpoints. (The photo of the blood-spattered Iraqi girl taken by the late Chris Hondros is one of the most disturbing exceptions.) For writers the task was somewhat easier: reporters like Peter Maass, Dexter Filkins, and C.J. Chivers were able to confront their readers with gruesome realities. But the problem remains. We can hardly expect Americans to comprehend the grisly reality of wars like the one in Iraq until we’re prepared to show the consequences of the policies we so blithely adopt. The Iraqis themselves, of course, need no counseling on this matter. The war was never invisible to them.

Insights about the war were actively repressed, like the classified footage revealed by Wikileaks, still up on YouTube, and with the payback to Wikileaks the mother of all-out assaults. Collateral murder it was ...

There have been all sorts of apologies in recent times, and reflections on the coverage of the war over the years, some of them collated in The Iraq war in the New Yorker (may require paywall access).

You can read How We Forgot Iraq, or you can read considered reasons for regret in a conservative rag like The Economist in Decade of regret, which notes the unknown consequences of embarking on the unknown with the blunt instrument of war.

You can wander off to read A letter to Paul Wolfowitz (outside the paywall), which proposes that the unthinking should at last try to think.

You can even travel back in time a little and read an epic takedown of Thomas Friedman's confused stupidity, outlined in detail in Thomas Friedman's Confusions, which would be great fun if the subject wasn't such a sombre one:

In April 2003 Friedman said that Arab journalists who talked about the US ‘occupation’ of Iraq were guilty of ‘Saddamism’. In August 2003 Friedman wrote: ‘This is an occupation.’ 
In 2007 he surmised that Iraqis ‘hate each other more than they love their own kids’. In 2009 he hoped that they’d learned from America’s ‘million acts of kindness’ and ‘profound example of how much people of different backgrounds can accomplish when they work together’. 
 In 2005 Friedman argued: ‘We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war there.’ Earlier this year, he wrote: ‘For all of the murderous efforts by al-Qaida to trigger a full-scale civil war in Iraq, it never happened.’ Never mind that in 2006 he said: ‘It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war.’ (hot links in the original story).

There's a very good reason the pond never reads Thomas Friedman, and there you have it in a nutshell.

Reflections, reconsiderations, regrets, or terminal Friedman nonsense.

Of course you could always revert to reading the excuses and the blather of Alexander Downer, a bear of very little brain, and a man of very little conscience, who still finds a way to defend the inexcusable. Try to make sense of this, if you will, in relation to chemical weapons:

Second, there is the issue of chemical and biological weapons. These days it's fashionable to proclaim Hussein didn't have any. 

It's fashionable, you complete and utter goose, because none were actually found, you abysmal dickhead.

Sorry, the pond got a little carried away there with little Alex, and should have just awarded him a dunce cap and sent him to the corner to reflect on logic 101. Do go on, little Alex:

The whole issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction arose not because poor old Saddam was some benign and misunderstood gentleman, but because he did have these weapons and he used them. He used them against the Iranians in the Iran/Iraq war which he started. 
After the Iraq war, the unit charged with the task of finding Hussein's stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons - known as the Iraq Survey Group - found none.

Don't you just love the language, so typical of a prat? Though hardly a benign and misunderstood prat ...

But at least now we know why the fashionable proclaim that Saddam had no WMD. It turns out that the Iraq Survey Group, a most fashionable group, found none. How weird, how fashionably wonderful.

The assumption is that the regime had destroyed its stockpiles sometime between 1992 and 2003. That remains an unanswered question. 

Ah the unanswered question. Now there's a good enough reason to go to war, to get an answer to the question.

The UN inspectors were never happy this had happened. Nor were Western and Israeli intelligence agencies. 
But what the Iraq Survey Group did find was that Hussein planned to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction programs once the UN inspection team had been sent packing. Had that happened, the Middle East would have been a much more dangerous place than it already is. 

Yep, so a war is the way to solve any of your current "what if" and "what might have happened if" or "had that happened" questions ... a conundrum based on a speculation.

It turns out that according to little Alex, war in the end was a way to fix an unknown that was unknown, and things are much better in the middle east now that Iran is ascendant and Syria is in turmoil ...

About the only thing you can say in Downer's favour is that he didn't try to peddle the line that Iraq had smuggled its WMD out of the country and into Syria, where they were recently deployed in chemical warfare - a neo con talking point furphy, since the reports indicate that even if true, the 'chemical warfare' involved the sort of chlorine you can buy for use in swimming pools (Syria chemical weapons), while other reports tend to discount the preliminary reports altogether ('Something went down' in Syria, but it was short of chemical weapons).

Which hasn't stopped some desperate people, anxious to maintain the fiction, using the story as possible evidence that Saddam's fabled WMD still exist out there, somewhere, anywhere, despite the fashionable notion that he didn't actually have any ...

Anyhow, by the end of the piece, Downer is sounding like one of those synthetic actors you can find in Red Dawn, mouthing off mindless rhetoric:

That was the thing about the Howard government: we stood for something. And one of the things we stood for was freedom.

What a gormless git. Actually what you stood for, Mr. Downer, was a cheap-skate pose whereby you pretended to be freedom fighters while being careful to stay away from the main game.

While at the same time indulging in abject, supine war-mongering support for the United States...

So riddle this for the pond. If freedom was your main concern, why weren't you there on the frontline, leading the charge to bring down the North Korean regime, which is surely worse than Saddam (mad and bad though he was), and which does genuinely have WMD, and which every so often threatens to use them?

Why not? Well because you're full of hypocritical cant, that's why.

As for freedom, pity the poor Iraqis. That piece in The Economist had a different view to the rosy apple-eyed delusions of freedom fighter Alex Downer:

The resulting rough, majoritarian version of democracy has proved chronically unstable, but has also created opportunities to be exploited. Violent, radically sectarian groups used suicide-bombs and tit-for-tat atrocities to pitch Iraq into full-scale civil war under the hapless noses of America’s troops. Ruthless politicians, most notably Iraq’s now two-term prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, also benefited...
It is a tale worthy of Shakespeare, and its conclusion remains to be written. In Mr Dodge’s assessment, Mr Maliki has made himself indispensable to too many powerful people, and controls enough of the nearly 1m armed men now on the state’s payroll to be unseated any time soon. The future for Iraq itself looks less assured, despite the growing inflow of oil money. 
 Sunni parts of the country are currently in a state of insurrection, and the now prosperous and peaceful, if politically authoritarian, Kurdish north looks closer than ever to seceding. The turmoil in neighbouring Syria, where sectarian tensions starkly mirror those flaring up in Iraq (on an even more destructive scale), is spreading its poison insidiously across the region. In Iraq something may once again have to give.

It's a different story to the glib rhetorical fantastical flights of freedom fighting delivered from the comfort of an Adelaide home.

Does Downer emerge from hiding simply to make Bob Carr sound sensible, coherent and intelligent? Or is it just that he wants to confirm once and for all that old dogs can't learn new tricks, or even new rhetoric?

Well at least it took the pond's mind off generally grumpy Paul Sheehan, who wondrously, strangely and bizarrely decided to channel Mark Latham in PM in snake pit with no antivenom. Sheehan managed the stupendous Herculean feat of copying Latham on the subject of Graham Richardson, while also abusing Latham for abusing Richardson.

No wonder you can sell to this man magic water and special bread for double the average price.

What's even more amazing is that Sheehan abuses ex-pollies as mouths for rent, while being a perfect exemplar of a paid mouth blathering contradictions twice a week.

Is there any upside? Well it seems that the generally grumpy Sheehan has joined the Fairfax fight, and deplored the Murdochians and no longer will it be possible for the Bolter and Miranda the Devine and Tim Bleagh to write admiringly about the way he's the only sensible voice at the place.

Quelle horreur, he takes a swipe at Chris Mitchell ...

One has to question the ethical cynicism of The Australian newspaper, and its long-time editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell, in continuing to employ Richardson given that, for 33 years, ever since his appearance before the Wood royal commission in 1980, he has had multiple cameos in stories involving skulduggery. 
The ''Richo'' highlight reel includes appearances in the Offset Alpine scandal, the Rene Rivkin scandal, the cash-for-comment scandal, his own resignation scandal, the Ron Medich scandal and the Eddie Obeid scandal, among others. Now comes his dodgy numbers in the botched power-play in Canberra. 

Of course you might want to question the ethical cynicism (whatever that means) of Fairfax and its many editors for continuing to employ a man who produced the magic water scandal, along with sundry festering outbursts that have done much harm to the community and increased tensions in relation to persecuted minority groups, while embarking on lavish overseas junkets and sauntering off to the finest bakeries for the very finest bread (let the peasants eat cake).

But hey, it's all good, especially when placed up against the rhetoric of freedom fighting Alexander Downer, snug as a bug in a rug in his Adelaide home ...

(Below: lastly a request, involving a cartoon seen online without a source. Seeing as how News Ltd has rendered Godwin's Law meaningless, the pond was struck by this fine blow against News Ltd using the very same tactics. Does anyone know where this cartoonist publishes, online or in hard copy? The pond likes the cut of his/her jib, or his/her thrusting, jutting fine point pen nibs, and would like to see more of his/her work. Click to enlarge).



    Pope is consistently brilliant. Where'd you find that one?

  2. Agreed, the Canberra Times is worth buying just for Pope but added to that they have half a dozen writers who produce balanced copy, unlike most of the MSM.

    And as for Downer, the man is a true idiot in that he doesn't even begin to comprehend his idiocy while it is obvious to most.

  3. Why does Fairfax routinely publish the dessicated thoughts of ex-Liberal politicians? For an opinion piece it's not well written or argued. Oh, wait....

  4. Thanks for that Anon, much appreciated. David Pope now bookmarked!

    I found the Murdoch one on the full to overflowing intertubes but couldn't remember where, and of course as soon as you google for Pope, you get a lot of bloody Catholic detritus and useless popes, and miss out on the Pope of value.

    It also hows the pain and suffering and loss that can occur when you're exiled from Canberra and from print media, and rely on Google. Who'd have thought?

    I see the one I mentioned appears at number 9 of his most recent 100, though it'll shuffle down the list tomorrow I guess, but how nice to discover another sharp cartoonist. You're never too old, even if you're ancient.

  5. dorothy another good one is david rowe,sometimes a little dark and disturbing but full of little surprises.he is published in the afr.

    sorry try this.


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