9.3 C
Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Critical thinking the first casualty of war

Latest News

Six slips sites, $5m and 42 weeks sees Bilambil – Urliup Road open

The 2022 floods saw the Tweed hinterland connection road between Bilambil and Urliup severely damaged with six slip sites....

Other News

BayFM lands major grant 

Independent local radio station, BayFM 99.9, has received a major grant from the Community Broadcasting Foundation, enabling it to plan big for the future. 

Byron’s foreshore future – a closer look

Plans for Byron Bay’s foreshore are on exhibition until July 31 – Council staff propose options and a ten-year vision for the much-used space, including the removal, or partial removal of the carpark around the pool and Fishheads restaurant. 

Regional ratios rollout NSW begins in Lismore

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has welcomed the announcement of nurse-to-patient ratios at two regional NSW hospitals but has expressed concern over the pace of the phased rollout.

Crunch time in local rugby league

The Ballina Seagulls came away with a 12–12 draw, playing away against the Murwillumbah Mustangs last Saturday, which was...

Tyagarah clothing-optional beach

I am a 35-year-old woman who has been a Tyagarah clothing-optional beach (COB) regular since 2018. In summer, I...

Public subs support Mullum’s locally-sourced water supply

Mayor Michael Lyon has criticised the Mullumbimby Residents Association (MRA) and Greens Cr Duncan Dey, claiming they presented a ‘one-sided’ view which ‘certainly swayed current public opinion’ around the future of Mullum’s water supply.

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

Developer may destroy up to 1.5 million indigenous artefacts in Lismore

Land and Environment Court accepts Uncle Mickey Ryan as party to the case after Lismore Council fails to defend Aboriginal cultural heritage of North Lismore Plateau.

Tyagarah – changed overnight traffic conditions

From Monday, July 22 there will be changed traffic conditions on Tyagarah Creek Bridge on the Pacific Highway at Tyagarah to carry out essential maintenance.

45 search and rescue missions in June on Northern Rivers

Marine Rescue NSW saw a drop in search and rescue missions this June compared to last year, however, it was still their second-busiest June ever.

Veterans honoured for their service

On July 11, the Byron Bay RSL sub-branch held an inaugural memorial service to officially recognise the veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Arabian Gulf, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.