Attila the Pun
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Roll up, roll up - Get your quagmires here!

Bruce Grant spins a tale of woe in the Age today.

He begins rather badly, listing the invasion of Iraq with Napoleon's and Hitler's invasions of Russia and Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour. I love the smell of hyperbole in the morning...

He then plugs his own book written "at the time of the Vietnam War" where he claims he pointed out that Australia and the US had overreached themselves and that the result would be a crisis in their foreign policy. What he doesn't mention is that this book was published in 1972 - by which time the US had pulled out 2/3 of its troops, with the rest leaving soon afterwards. Australia's commitment was also being wound down significantly. There was also severe opposition to the war. His book was hardly making any stunning conclusions.

Bruce does mention Afghanistan, which was supposed to be the intractable quagmire that many hoped for, but then quickly brushes over its inconvenient facts.

"I recall a phrase used by Condoleezza Rice to the effect that if we took more time looking for a smoking gun we could find ourselves faced with a mushroom cloud!"

Beware authors using exclamation points!!! It is usually a good sign that they are desperate to present a rather ordinary points as being extraordinary.

"We have now learned that, by invading Iraq, we not only ignored the main threat of global terrorism, which was elsewhere.."

Can you provide GPS coordinates for that threat Bruce? No? Didn't think so.

"We can hardly argue that those who did not are more likely targets."

Eh? Like France? The French have received threats from terrorists, based on the banning of headscarves in schools. Australia became a target after assisting the liberation of East Timor. Unsurprisingly, that action isn't mentioned in this article.

"Some fear another security crisis will arrive to benefit the Bush and Howard governments in an election year."

No, some fear another security crisis will arrive and kill lots more innocent people. It says something about the high handed view that many take, (it comes as no surprise to find that Bruce is an ex-diplomat) claiming a level of sophistication by looking at things in a geo-political way, rather than in a dead and maimed victims way.

"Australia was alone in its region in being part of the military attack on Iraq and has much work to do in rebuilding the kind of diplomatic confidence that was a feature of our initiatives in the region in the 1980s and '90s."

Ahh yes, we had to get to this didn't we? Bruce isn't quite cheeky enough to name Keating and Gareth Evans (with whom Bruce has written a book) as the architects of this 'golden period' of Australian diplomacy, but the subtext is there.

"I gain no pleasure from seeing the US, the greatest power on earth and a beacon of democratic values, thrashing about in disarray."

And i gan no pleasure from reading this tripe. Again though, care to provide examples of this thrashing Bruce? I will help you out. We gave the Taliban a good thrashing, and Saddam copped a hiding as well.

"The war in Iraq simplified a complex threat and distracted us from the main game."

mmmm nuance... Big picture people do hate 'simplification' - it tends to let the common folk feel they have a grasp on things that normally require the services of diplomats.

Again - main game? Is that being held in the same place that the 'main threat of terrorism' is? We could knock off two birds with one stone.

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