Monday, October 20, 2014
The war hawks have been dominating the media just like the Hawthorn Hawks dominated the AFL grand final, mainly because in both cases the opposition just didn't show up. Bill Shorten did not have any wiggle room, because the polls were always going to favour the PM at the start of a war. Shorten has to bide his time and rely on the inexorable turning of public opinion once the grim realities of war become apparent, as they always do eventually to shame the chickenhawk granny bloc into changing their minds. At the moment, Shorten is playing Ryan Schoenmakers to Abbott's Tom Hawkins, and ISIS keep bombing the ball long to the square for the Speedo-clad Tomahawk to grab easily and bang through for goal after goal. Would Anthony Albanese have been the Brian Lake equivalent, a more capable operator who can take on the gorillas and nullify the threat? The supply from midfield is too great at the moment. (I think I've waterboarded that analogy enough now.)
As with the Schoenmakers situation at my beloved Hawthorn, the only emotion I have in watching Abbott strut about the national stage saying stupid things and not being punished for them is exasperation at how easy it all is for him. The beheadings are horrible, yes, but it's just way too simplistic to use them as an excuse for jingoistic nationalism as a pretext for war. Bill Clinton was never seriously punished electorally for his Kosovo bombing campaign under somewhat similar circumstances, because the troop losses were minimal and the war only lasted a handful of months; can the current coalition get as lucky? The facts are different in this case, as this one won't be over quickly, the world is paying much more attention, and it's a different era where YouTube is as much an instrument of militarism as RPGs. Even if there aren't a heap of body bags containing Western soldiers, a My Lai situation is more likely in this theatre.
The timing is wrong for Abbott on this one. By the time the next Australian federal election rolls around, the Iraqi quagmire will have had a good two years to drag him into it. Interestingly, it will probably coincide with the 2016 presidential election in America, with the looming Hillary Clinton era promising a war hawk wonderland. Will Obama be able to wrap up the ISIS bombings before the voters in the Western coalition get disenchanted, like Bill Clinton did for Kosovo? I doubt it.