Attila the Pun
Thursday, July 14, 2005
On the other side

With such blind hatred of Bush and Howard, is it possible for Richard Ackland to write an even slightly balanced opinion piece?

THE war on terrorism doesn't seem to be going so well. The rhetoric from world leaders, and the Prime Minister, John Howard, keeps being cranked up, but the sound is dreadfully hollow.
Four days after the London bombings, the US President, George Bush, was making vacuous noises to a gathering of FBI trainees at Quantico, Virginia.

After introducing the Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, as "General" and referring to the Drug Enforcement Administration as the "Drug Administration", Bush got down to some well-worn tub-thumping.

Hold it right there. Unlike SMH readers, we have the benefit of the transcript. Here is what Bush said:

I appreciate our Attorney General, Al Gonzales, who has joined us today. General, thank you for being here. I want to thank Ambassador John Negroponte, the Director of the National Intelligence. Thanks for coming, Mr. Director. I appreciate Director Bob Mueller, of the FBI -- doing a fantastic job. Thank you, Bob, for coming. Director Porter Goss of the CIA; Administrator Karen Tandy of the Drug Administration -- the Drug Enforcement Administration -- (Laughter.) Thank you, Karen.

Which shows that Bush introduced him as "Attorney General", then made a verbal slip up - which he corrected - regarding the DEA. We will assume that Ackland has never misspoken in any form of public speaking before. Of course, without the transcript, you would never had known this, and the Bush McChimpHitler bandwagon rolls on.

To the graduating trainees: "America is counting on you to stop them [the terrorists]."

Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that, as Mark Twain said of Wagner's music, "it's not as bad as it sounds".

Is it only me that doesn't see anything wrong with Bush telling a group of FBI agents that their country is relying on them to stop terrorist attacks? I know Ackland must be extremely intelligent (he quotes Twain after all), so am I just too stupid to see the problem?

Bush reiterated that airport and seaport security was being strengthened, better visa screening procedures were happening, cross-border movement of terrorists was being checked, and critical infrastructure was being protected.

Thats a surprisingly accurate summary of what Bush said.

You'd have to go back to his speech on the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003, to find something even more delusional.

No one would argue that security arrangements in the US are perfect, but is Ackland suggesting that it is "delusional" to say that security has been beefed up since September 11? Is he blind?

There, the commander-in-chief proclaimed that the toppling of Saddam Hussein was "a victory in a war on terror".

So now suggesting that toppling Hussein (who supported and harboured terrorists) was a victory in the war on terro is even more delusional than suggesting that security has been increased? Oh jeez.

Now all the billions of dollars, the airport security, the round-the-clock watch on infrastructure, the new-fangled anti-terrorist laws, the entire apparatus seems incredibly misdirected in the face of a home-grown terrorist who is knocking up bombs in the bathtub in Leeds, who crosses no borders, who does not need a visa and whose training kit is on the internet.

Except that Leeds isn't in the United States Richard.

Still Bush insists Iraq is a "central front" in the war on terrorism. Howard thinks the same. "I want to make it very plain that this kind of attack [in London] will not alter the attitude of the Government of Australia towards terrorism and towards the commitments we have with our American, British and other friends to Iraq and Afghanistan." We will not be bullied. We will not be intimidated. Rah, rah, rah.

Sorry Richard, does rhetoric against terrorists bore you? Would you rather a more "nuanced" position be taken - where our leaders say that they understand the terrorists concerns and will seek to address the "root causes"? Depressingly, I think he would like a much more concilliatory tone.

But to be told by political leaders that we are winning the war and that this brutality cannot intimidate people, or that somehow the war in Iraq is stopping terrorism, is tripe.

Pop quiz - since the invasion of Iraq, how many terrorist attacks have occured on US soil? I will make it easier for you - how many have occured since September 11, and the increased security resulting from it? Give up? Answer - none.

What has been fascinating, though, is the way Blair has responded to this attack. Unlike Bush, Blair has not immediately looked to invade someone. Instead, he has talked about the need to address the hatred that is being taught to, and absorbed by, some Muslim youths.

I will say this slowly for him - The attackers on September 11 were from the middle east, trained and supported by Al Qeada, who in turn was supported by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush didn't immediately invade anyone, but when the US did retaliate, it was against a country that harboured the people behind the 9/11 attacks. The people who bombed London were from Britain. Therefore Blair is looking to address that source. Whilst talk of invading Leeds might make some happy, the approach Blair took is appropriate, as was Bush's.

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