20.4 C
Byron Shire
September 20, 2021

Critical thinking the first casualty of war

Latest News

A new COVID-19 case flies into the Far North Coast

The Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed that there is a new case of COVID-19 in Northern NSW today, and they will be included in NSW Health’s official reporting tomorrow.

Other News

A new COVID-19 case flies into the Far North Coast

The Northern NSW Local Health District has confirmed that there is a new case of COVID-19 in Northern NSW today, and they will be included in NSW Health’s official reporting tomorrow.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 15 September, 2021

Inception – Byron Theatre’s first post-lockdown live event Cancelled twice owing to the local lockdown, Three Lords’ Inception and AV...

Planning staff back Wilsons Creek DA, residents’ concerns downplayed

Residents living near a proposed 15-lot housing development in Wilsons Creek say it will negatively impact a precious wildlife corridor on the site, exacerbate traffic safety problems on the surrounding roads, and damage the peaceful character of their quiet enclave.

COVID venues of concern at Evans Head and Lismore

Three new venues of concern have been added to the list of COVID-19 venues of concern following a student...

COVID update – sewage detection in East and South Lismore and Byron Bay

Northern NSW Local Health District is urging people in the Lismore City and Byron Bay areas to get tested for COVID-19, after fragments of the virus were detected in samples from the East Lismore, South Lismore and Byron Bay sewage treatment plants.

Excessive onanism

Former coroner David Heilpern’s confession last week that he mistakenly recorded a death as from ‘onanism’ rather than aneurism...

Prime minister Tony Abbott with members of Australia's armed forces. Photo Crikey
Prime minister Tony Abbott with members of Australia’s armed forces. Photo Crikey

Jeff Sparrow, editor of Overland

It’s a funny old war, this one — and the discussion of it is even stranger. As Australia joins the latest Western campaign in Iraq, where’s the debate about what’s supposed to happen?

Consider a few obvious questions.

On the weekend, a cabal of military experts told The Australian defeating the Islamic State would require a ‘substantial ground campaign’. Does Prime Minister Tony Abbott agree? Does Opposition Leader Bill Shorten? Is that what Australia is really signing up for?

Meanwhile, Australian scribe Greg Sheridan thinks the ‘long campaign ahead’ might involve combat in Syria. Is this true? If so, which side of the Syrian civil war does Australia back?

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says US President Barack Obama is already co-ordinating attacks with Syria (something Obama denies). More importantly, the non-IS rebel groups in Syria — the people the White House ostensibly backs — widely oppose the American air strikes.

The Atlantic says the Americans are ‘backing away from the goal of toppling Assad’, who is, of course, probably the worst dictator in the region. What’s the Australian attitude?

What about the Kurds? Where does Australia stand there? Bernard Keane has already noted that Australian-supplied weapons may be ending up with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is, um, a designated terrorist group. What’s Australian policy if, as many commentators expect, the Kurdish groups strengthened by the intervention declare their independence?

Let’s note that Turkey has just joined the anti-IS coalition — but, as Newsweek notes, its ‘reason for joining the war may be as much to suppress Kurdish separatists as to destroy ISIS’.

What’s Abbott’s position?

What about within Iraq? We have already seen the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrating against the US returning to Iraq. Al-Sadr opposes IS, but his backers, including one of Iraq’s Deputy Prime Ministers Bahaa al-Araji, see the Americans as a bigger enemy — indeed, they call IS an American creation. How will Australia relate to this hostility from one of the most powerful groupings in the country?

On a related note, what’s the Abbott attitude to Iran, far and away the biggest winner from America’s Iraq policy since 2003? The White House seems to be allying with the Islamic state in Tehran against IS in Iraq and Syria. Is this Australian policy, too?

Most fundamentally, what happens if and when IS is pushed back? No doubt airstrikes can, as advertised, degrade the military capabilities of the Islamic State … and then what? Given the fundamentally antagonistic forces being set into motion, how does the mission end?

It’s not merely that Australians aren’t being given the answers. It’s also that no one much seems to be asking the questions. On the contrary, pundits — particularly liberal pundits — seem endlessly preoccupied with empty symbolism.

Think about the string of op-eds proposing different terms to call the Islamic State, as if that makes the slightest difference to anything. Or the way that there’s been far more discussion about the UAE’s female fighter pilot (‘Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri may be ISIS’ worst nightmare’) than, say, debates on the Kurdish question. In 2010, the Australian Federal Police conducted anti-terror raids raids against Kurdish organisations across Australia on the basis that they supported the banned PKK, a group that Newsweek now calls an ‘important asset in the allied fight against ISIS’.

Is the fundamental incoherence of all this not of some significance, as we send young men and women out to kill and be killed?

Of course, symbolic rejections of the Islamic State’s barbarism make us feel good about ourselves, while arguing through the consequences of the strange alliances now taking shape has the opposite effect.

This article was first published in Crikey


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

1 COMMENT

  1. how would you know with this current government what the truth is.. they are truly Orwellian with it and seem obsessed with cutting the wages and conditions of ordinary people,some of whom must have voted for them.and who should have a chronic case of buyers remorse.. they are truly horrible..

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Found – Have you seen Steve? Missing person

Mullumbimby man Steve Mustchin went missing at 11am this morning from Byron Bay Hospital and his family are asking locals to keep an eye out for him.

Images released of men who robbed the Byron Bowlo

Detectives investigating the armed robbery of a licensed premises in Byron Bay earlier this year, have released CCTV images and are appealing for public information that may assist their inquiries.

New Nesbitt Park mountain bike skills course in Lismore

Though Lismore is currently in lockdown, the city has inaugurated a new sporting activity in Nesbitt Park that will make residents want to enjoy outdoors as soon as possible.

New cases of COVID-19 below 1,000 for the first time in 25 days

In what is now a general press conference, the Premier spoke to media at 11am this morning about the pandemic and other business.