Saturday, October 21, 2006


Australian View

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Iraq a 'Catastrophic Blunder'
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Here is an informative article from the Sydney Morning Herald about their countries view of the war on Iraq. It is copied here whole as the link has gone down.

The war in Iraq has been a "catastrophic blunder" that has substantially increased the terrorist threat to Australia, one of the nation's most distinguished former diplomats said today.

Richard Woolcott, a retired foreign affairs chief who advised seven prime ministers, launched a sweeping attack on the federal government, saying that Australian democracy was not functioning as it should.

Mr Woolcott made the comments during a speech at the University of Newcastle's annual Human Rights and Social Justice lecture this afternoon.

He branded the Iraq war a "disaster", saying the Prime Minister seemed unable to admit the obvious.

"The Iraq war has been a disaster and has substantially increased the terrorist threat Mr Howard said it would reduce," he said.

"The aim of foreign and defence policy is to make Australia secure - ironically some of our policies have placed Australians at greater risk."

Mr Woolcott called on the government to come up with an exit strategy.

"The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, having made such a catastrophic foreign and security policy blunder, are now trapped in a dilemma of their own making," he said.

He warned a precipitious withdrawal from Iraq could cause more chaos, however, staying the course would "only continue the bloodshed, energise the terrorist and Jihadists, including in our own region..."

Mr Woolcott's criticism of the war followed recent comments from Australia's former defence chief General Peter Cosgrove that it had boosted global terrorism and Britain's top soldier Sir Richard Dannatt, who called for the recall of his troops from Iraq.

Mr Woolcott said human rights suffered in a climate of war and fear.

"In 2006 our established ideals of decency, fairness, tolerance,
justice and truth in government are under challenge," he said.

Australia's democracy was not functioning as it should, he said.

"I believe it is affected by hubris, the arrogance that comes from 10 years in power, the politics of fear, nurtured by the so-called 'war on terror' and latent racism," he said.

"The government has also suffered from a lack of the important qualities of patience and humility.

"This is impacting adversely on the wider community, including in the areas of human rights and social justice."

Mr Woolcott said his service to four Liberal and three Labor prime ministers proved the objectivity of his remarks, but from "personal experience" he expected to be attacked.

"The present government tends to treat its critics - even those who have served it in the past - as virtual enemies rather than as possibly useful channels to community opinion," he said.

Calling on Australia to look past the economy and calculated distractions like the "cultural wars", Mr Woolcott said its citizens needed to address other issues in society.

"Obscuring the truth, discrediting individuals who do not agree with particular policies..., the myth ... that the Prime Minister is the sole repository of wise judgements and sound decision making, combined with a compliant public service and a strangely apathetic and detached wider community are all factors, which threaten the health of Australian democracy," he said.

David Braithwaite October 19,2006



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