Responses to the SMH Iraq War Editorial
As expected the Sydney Morning Herald
editorial on the war with Iraq has drawn a critical response. For an example of the low level intellectual level of public debate in Australia as exemplified in the journo-trash produced by Greg Sheridan, see More junk journalism
. Read it and weep for democracy.
The corporate media take no responsibility for fostering the quality of public debate in this country. They do not see themselves as accountable, even though they strut the public stage as the 'watchdogs of democracy' and write beautiful prose about the freedom of the press when being criticized by politicians. The lifeblood of a vibrant democracy is vigorous debate on public issues.
A more considered response came from The Australian,
which stated in an editorial that Case already made against Iraqi regime
. This responded to the statement by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Iraq was co-operating with UN weapons inspectors and that he could see no basis for the use of force against Baghdad at present. It defended the position of Bush administration as right and reasonable.
The editorial did adopt the old straw dog tactic. It defined the Australian war sceptics as being those who see 'President George W. Bush as a warmonger intent on attacking innocent Iraq remain little more than an exercise in whineing-whimsy' and who portray the [Iraqi] dictator as a victim of a sinister American conspiracy to secure control of Middle East oil. So it avoided addressing the diferent and far more considered position of the SMH
(Can our journo's only think in terms of black and white as warring opposites? Maybe they need a course in Hegelian dialectics to learn how to think in terms of both contradiction and shades of grey. However, our universities are in such a run-down state that such a course could no longer be provided. So we have to put up the black and white zapping one another out in the heavens whilst we go about our daily life on earth).
Things pick up after tilting at windmills with an acknowledgement of a more considered opinion. The editorial says,
"The opponents of the Americans' desire for regime change in Baghdad appear on firmer ground when they argue that reasons for war do not exist and that the US is seeking to coerce the world into supporting an attack. However, this is equally incorrect."
Note the caricature---of the SMH
position: the reduction of geo-political strategic interests of the US not being the same as Australia's---to 'the US is seeking to coerce the world into supporting an attack. 'Still , we should be thankful for small mercies, since the editorial did get the key bit, that the reasons for war do not exist. And the rest of the editorial adresses this. It states:
"The dossier on the Iraqi regime's development of biological and chemical weapons and interest in acquiring a nuclear war-fighting capability, published in September by the British Government, is ample evidence that Saddam has flouted UN resolutions since weapons inspectors left in 1998 ....That the UN inspectors are yet to find any evidence that the Iraqis have active research and development programs for weapons of mass destruction is hardly surprising .... Last month's release by Iraq of a 12,000-page dossier which purported to prove the regime had no illegal weapons was merely a repeat of its 1998 tactics. Indeed, much of last month's information was simply copied from the previous document. The Iraqi strategy is to endlessly delay in the hope that something will turn up and that time will erode the UN commitment ....There are already good and sufficient reasons for a war against Saddam. His regime has brought misery to the Iraqi people, destabilised the Middle East and continues in breach of existing UN resolutions."
What is of interest here is what is not said: editorial does not engage with the SHM
position that though the US has good strategic reasons for going to war with Iraq it is not obvious that Australia has. All we get from The Australian
is a defense of the Bush administration:
"Bush has been careful not to appear inexorably committed to unilateral action and has worked carefully to get all his diplomatic ducks in a row"; and "For a man allegedly looking for an excuse to attack Iraq and seize its oil, Bush looks remarkably like a leader who does not wish to act in isolation and is anxious to see a case for military action that will impress all but the conspiracy theorists before the bombers fly."
seems to have forgotten that is the national newspaper of Australia not the USA. Our two countreis are still separate nation states. Or is The Australian
tacitly arguing that US strategic interests and Australian strategic interests are identical? If so, then this is the very point that the SMH
addressed and began teased apart. So there is a failure by The Australian
to engage with the actual positions in the actual public debate. Is this a failure of nerve? An inability to think strategically? Or do we have here what Hegel diagnosed:an inability of Western culture to think outside of black v white and either/or?
Shed another tear for democracy.