The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Let’s Bomb ISIS! (Some More)

A little while ago, a committee head that nobody but particularly hard-up spy-watchers has ever heard of floated the vague notion of initiating military action in Syria. At around the same time, PM Tony Abbott appears to have stumbled across a Boy’s Own Military Jargon Book and began flitting around the country in order to overuse the words ‘Detect’ and ‘Degrade’. In the meantime, analysts all over the country and the world started looking at the problem of how to attack ISIS in Syria, which is important for all sorts of reasons that I won’t go into here.

But let’s just hold on a moment. What, in actual fact, is going on? It sounds to me like a declaration of a significant upshift in a military conflict in which we are already deeply involved. Now, call me a traditionalist, but that sort of thing used to come with public announcements and discussion and other key words that float around the concept of democratic process. What I appear to be seeing here is a kind of crowd-sourced, incremental introduction of an idea that is far from being clearly defined. Now, of course, with a formal request from the USA for a change to our already heavy (relative to other nations) commitment in Iraq, the penny drops.

Waters were being tested. Some nobody MP floats the idea to the public, lets the media sensationalise, analyse or puzzle over it according to ownership and inclination, and then the government sits back and watches how the public takes it. There’s a name for this kind of thing where I come from. Cowardice.

We are in a situation now where our PM has taken so many beatings from the public, the media, the Senate, and his own cabinet, that he feels he can’t make a decision relating to the fundamental function of government without first taking the public’s temperature. This suggests certain things about the government’s current effectiveness. Certain things that are shaped suspiciously like zeros. And clown faces.

Do I think we should attack ISIS in its Syrian refuges, arguing ‘collective defence’ as a counter to Syria’s sovereignty? Do I think that Syria has crumbled to the point where talking about their ‘sovereignty’ should always be done while laughing like a braying horse? Do I think that our participation in an aborted attempt at US hegemony in the Middle East should obligate us to participate in fixing some of the problems we helped to cause?

Yes, yes and yes.

But that’s completely irrelevant at the moment. Because what I think most of all is that if you are about to send more Australian service people into harms way, or significantly alter their ROE to the point that it changes the nature and terms of their mission to the point of creating a new mission, there’s a key thing that needs to happen first.

What we need is a clear statement of intent, terms for success and failure, and an exact outline of the long term strategy and its goals. Basically, we need the PM and the relevant ministers to stop talking meaningless gibberish interspersed with faux military terminology in order to look clever and tell us what they actually intend to do.

And then, if it’s sensible, we can and should get behind it.

Category: Politics

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2 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    “He feels he can’t make a decision relating to the fundamental function of government without first taking the public’s temperature…” and then ignoring it completely.

    Vis a vis climate change, same-sex marriage, tax reform, parliamentary entitlements, knighthoods for racist monarchs, environmental lawfare, and treatment of refugees[1].

    [1] Debatable as to whether he is with or against public opinion on that one.

    • chris says:

      I think it’s exactly the responses he got on these issues that have made him gunshy now. With the exception of refugees that is.

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