The Guardian 16 March, 2005
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It's called tilting
John Howard has discovered a new word — tilting. The situation in Iraq is "tilting", something else is tilting. I hope the expression will go the way of describing John Howard as "Honest John". Haven't heard that one for ages. Is it because even the bought media realises the irony of the expression? Back to Iraq though and more precisely — what is going on with that deployment of extra 450 Australian troops? Many other countries are quietly removing theirs.
It's not only tilting; it's a complete chaos. First we hear that they are to protect defenceless and unarmed Japanese "builders". An honourable task as the Japanese are supposed to be constructing something which the "coalition of the willing", including Australia had demolished. Then a Japanese commander comes on the news and says that they don't need bodyguards and are quite capable of protecting themselves, thank you very much. The officer in question was in an army uniform, by the way, not in civilian clothes.
Then we find out that the army vehicles are not properly outfitted to protect those inside; there is no air support, there are questions of depleted uranium contamination (thanks again to the "coalition of the willing" and never mind the poisoned local population).
Then there is that unanswered question of torture. Again, Geneva conventions on torture of prisoners of war is quite clear. War prisoners are not to be tortured. They are to be detained for the duration of the hostilities and are to be provided with food and water.
For some reason, this quite simple rule seems to escape the comprehension of the present military bright minds. Ask any WW2 Australian veteran who had the bad fortune to suffer as a prisoner of war and they'll tell you what it's like.
The resentment against the Japanese military by veterans in Australia is due mainly to the vicious and inhumane treatment of captured soldiers during the war. That feeling has lasted for almost 60 years — how long will hostile attitude towards the US and Australian troops last in the Middle East?
Mr Howard and the present crop of politicians, so eager to please the US, will be pushing daisies but the results of their idiotic policies will be lingering on as a bad smell for years. Mr Howard loves to carry on about "values" — I'd personally like an explanation why lying to people is considered to be an accepted political behaviour.
Hiding behind the past
Howard and Costello can't keep mismanaging the finances of our country then offer excuses by comparing what the opposition did years ago. They operated under totally different international pressures. We require our present government to do something positive and original now under current conditions. To do otherwise makes Howard and Costello look foolish, void of ideas and lacking in ability.
Avalon Beach NSW