Sunday, September 01, 2013

They always disappoint ...

Is there anything more depressing or dispiriting than doing a compare and contrast of John Kerry in 1971, as shown above, taking a stand against the United States' ongoing efforts in Vietnam?

Especially when contemplating his recent war mongering speech explaining why there was a need for action in Syria, with nine reasons laid out, as you can read and watch in John Kerry's nine reasons for action in Syria ...

Memories of a hapless Colin Powell surged to mind. Memories of decisions made before the UN inspectors even got to file a report ...

And as expected, without any explanation of what might be the intended or unintended consequences of a limited intervention which seems impelled by the logic that we should bomb the Syrians to teach them a lesson about being careful the way they bomb people ...

Back in the day Kerry took a view on the United States being a prime user of chemical weapons, what with the estimated 20 million (US) gallons dropped on the country producing estimates of 400,000 killed or maimed, and 500,000 children with birth defects, not to mention the damage also done to US military personnel who came into contact with the chemical.

It makes it hard for the United States to sound righteous about the use of chemical weapons, all the more so because of the use of white phosphorous in Iraq, and that's before we get on to the indiscriminate mayhem in civilian populations arising from the use of cluster bombs or drones striking from the skies.

And certainly before we get on to the damage done the use of depleted uranium in weaponry deployed in Iraq, with full consequences still uncertain but the cost of the clean up put at a minimum of $30 million. (Depleted uranium clean up). With British and American forces defiantly asserting their right to keep using the stuff ...

Let's not even get into the nod and the wink that the US gave to Saddam Hussein when he used mustard gas against Iran, because in those days they were on side with him:

Oh yes. Back in the day ...

Things haven't gone quite so smoothly this time around, because the memories of war criminal Tony Blair falling into line with George W. Bush were perhaps a bit too fresh for the British.

(more British newspaper headlines here).

Meanwhile, back in Iraq ... car bomb kills 12 and wounds at least 20 in Iraq city of Ramadi ...

Meanwhile, off in Afghanistan ... Attacks in Southern Afghanistan Kill at Least 18

And then suddenly, following the British example, Obama remembered what he'd said in 2007:

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” candidate Obama told The Boston Globe in late 2007. 
He added that the president can only act unilaterally in “instances of self-defense.” 
“It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action,” Obama continued. (More in Obama and the power to go to war)

Domestically, the Ruddster managed to make a goose of himself by calling for a "robust response", while Tony Abbott - how it grieves the pond - almost sounded statesmanlike by calling for restraint.

Syria: Kevin Rudd backs 'robust response' over chemical weapons

Syria: Tony Abbott urges caution

Coalition leader Tony Abbott took a very cautious approach towards international action against Syria on Friday, saying it was advisable to "be very careful about getting involved in a civil war between two deeply unsavoury sides".

Amazing scenes.

So here's the Ruddster, allegedly Labor, wanting to seem at one with the American alliance, and the British, and join with a Conservative PM in wanting to rush off to join in another American adventure, without any sign of an understanding of what the objectives might be or what a limited strike might achieve - which could range from a change of heart by Assad to an assault on Israel - and Tony Abbott is the one urging caution ...

Now who knows what is actually going on in Syria, or who did what to whom, except that it's been going on for two years, and Obama seems only to have paid any attention when he said chemical warfare would be stepping across a red line, and now he finds himself caught out, as pointed out in the NY Times in Tripping on His Own Red Line?

The point was surely to wait for the UN inspectors report, and see what it says, and how much blame can be allocated to Assad and his forces, and use that to browbeat Russia and China, and then work out a sensible plan of action ...

The irony? It was Rudd who claimed Abbott would be out of his depth in foreign affairs, and it was Rudd who misread the situation, hoping for a little reflected glory by sounding tough ...

The result of all this farce and ambivalence?

Assad encouraged and a lot of dithering by inept politicians, including David Cameron, who now more than ever more closely resembles a cooked goose, or a loon ... a loon the Ruddster chose for company ...

They always disappoint, closer you get, the more you look, all of them, Royce's ec-chief of staff Coleman Parker once said to Norman in The Wire about politicians, and it's true today as it was when it first hit the air ...

(Below: more Guardian cartoons like the one by Chris Riddell here, and below it a golden oldie from Martin Rowson)


  1. I just got this lovely email from Bridget Abbott.

    "Today is a special Father's Day for us. We could not be more proud of our Dad. You know the public figure Tony Abbott, but we know him as Dad.

    Growing up he has always been there for us. He is more than just a politician. He cares passionately about all people and sees the great potential in everyone.

    He always taught us to be grateful and kind to all of those in our lives. He taught us the value of hard work and education.

    He often volunteers as a firefighter and surf life saver. He doesn't like to bring this up on the campaign, but this is one of the many ways that he enjoys giving back to the community."

    Aren't you just weeping over your Weetbix?

    1. It's apparent you've been raised much as Bridget herself to weep after a wank.

    2. I suppose another of the "many ways that he enjoys giving back to the community" is through his Pollie Pedal days where in 2010, 2011 and 2012 he claimed a total of $8237.00 for "official business", that is, riding a bike for charity.

      For Abbott charity is not how much he can give to others but more how much he can keep for himself.

  2. Weeping? That's finger down the throat material ...

  3. Oh why are people so unkind to Tones? In your guts you know he's nuts.

  4. Hi Dorothy,
    It's fascinating to see the urgent need for action when western leaders are horrified by a brutal war crime. The urgency is evidently due to the shockingly poor memories western democracies have when faced with such atrocities.

    Back in 1982, Bashar Assad's dear old dad, Hafez was facing a major uprising in the city of Hama by what was then described as the 'Muslim Brotherhood'.

    President Hafez Assad put his brother Rifaat in charge of retaking Hama. After a prolonged siege and continual bombardment by Syrian battle tanks, Hama fell and its starving residents were rounded up by the security forces.

    It is generally estimated 25,000 people were massacred in Hama by Rifaat Assad and his Special Forces.

    Now guess where Rifaat Assad, the Butcher of Hama has been living for the last twenty years?

    Yep, he has spent his time shuttling between his mansions in London and
    Paris. He just sold the seven storey mansion in Paris for 70 millions euros two months ago.

    So if politicians want to show they are serious about human rights abuses, they could start by actually arresting the war criminals that are living in he lap of luxury under their noses, instead of indiscriminately bombing another country.

    Oh and the golden oldie is a Rowson not a Bell I'm afraid.

    All the best DiddyWrote

  5. thanks DiddyWrote, corrected, and it's in the cartoon!

    As for the rest, Assad himself was once a fashionable dictator, with a trophy wife, given the full Vogue A Rose in the Desert treatment by Vogue in February 2011. It's the selective blindness or the hypocrisy. Once upon a time, he even scored an audience with the Queen and a meeting with Prince Chuck

  6. Hi Dorothy,

    "From the Halls of Montezuma,
    To the shores of Tripoli;"

    The first lines of the US Marines marching hymn. The First Barbary War actually created the US Navy and Marines in 1805 and whilst a partial success in regime change it was basically useless in the long term.

    The Americans certainly have had plenty of experience in only looking for short term expediency in the ME and North Africa.

    Hypocrisy I could stomach but the repeating of the same mistakes again and again is nauseating.

    Does nobody read any sodding history.

    Always a pleasure to read your thoughts.


  7. When I heard TA's initial response to the Syrian missile attack threat I thought he was beating the wardrums. I was surprised to read reports that he was being cautious. Sure he used words like 'cautious' and urged cool heads etc. but he left many gates open to pick up the rhetoric if or when required. Maybe I am too cynical or have become too addicted to decoding Abbott. I have heard him utter twice more on the subject. I think he is drumming quietly under childish language like 'goodies and baddies'. If the US demands T A will deliver. He is an acolyte.


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