[Marxism] Re: Spain, "The Militant" and "anti-American demagogy"
ozleft at optushome.com.au
Sat Apr 3 17:51:19 MST 2004
By Bob Gould
In the spirit of Waltern Lippman's very effective and politically
pertinent satirical piece about the attitude of the US SWP to the Spanish
government's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, Marxmail readers may
be interested in the following item, posted on the Australian Green Left
list by Peter Boyle on Friday.
The post doesn't really require much comment. It is almost a satire of
itself. Satire would have difficulty doing justice to Boyle's original
words. A little bit of context, however, is useful.
All through the mobilisations against the Iraq war, in which many Labor
politicians and union leaders participated, and the Labor Party federal
parliamentary caucus opposed the Iraq invasion, the Australian DSP
conducted a constant barrage of propaganda asserting that Labor's
opposition to the war was not genuine and Labor really supported the war
in some way, etc, etc.
Even as late as last Monday, Boyle put a post on the Green Left discussion
site chiming in with a television presenter on the ABC's Lateline, who
tried to put Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd on the spot by
alleging that Latham had broken with Labor's previous policy by calling
for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Latham's Wednesday speech, which
Boyle posted, is an adequate correction of that point.
Boyle is left, like the US SWP, with having to use abusive language to
dismiss the Laborite's call for withdrawal of troops because they're
alleged to have the wrong motivation.
The US SWP and the Australian DSP still have a hell of a lot in common.
ENJOYING LATHAM (From Green Left Weekly discussion list
By Peter Boyle
I have enjoyed Mark Latham's war of words with Howard around bringing
Australian troops out of Iraq, especially the exchange below (from
Hansard) on Wednesday March 31.
Further, Socialist Alliance comrades in the Stop The War Coalition were
quick to help get out a statement welcoming Latham's championing of
"troops out" since March 23 (though we are told "immediate withdrawal" was
the shadow cabinet's policy since 12 months ago). Socialist Alliance also
welcomed Latham's promise. Both statements are on the list.
Latham's stand is a great oening for the anti-war movement here, as as
doers and no just gasbaggers, Socialist Alliance comrades and other
anti-war activists are moving fast to act on this opening. I outlined the
orientation I thought that the anti-war movement should take on this list,
the day after Latham's interview with Carlton (and included the
I'll add another line to that. IMO, the June 30 anti-war rallies should
invite Latham to speak on their platforms on the theme of bringing the
I am also enjoying Latham's "Aussie larrikin style" (and try to imitate it
when taunting Bob Gould on the list -- just for fun).
But none of this convinces me to join the conga line of suckholes behind
the ALP leadership. Why? Because he is still a right-wing neo-liberal ALP
hack who runs a totally undemocratic, corrupt and increasingly discredited
neo-liberal capitalist party with a bureaucratic hold on the trade union
Even his bring the troops home call today is based on a conservative,
isolationist and nationalist rationale.Does Bob Gould dare to dispute
MARK LATHAM'S SPEECH
>From March 31, House of Reps Hansard:
Mr LATHAM-The Prime Minister has systematically misled this House time
after time after time in the contribution he has just made. I know the
Prime Minis-ter has a pretty big opinion of himself. He has tried to turn
the Australian Public Service into a sub-branch of the Liberal Party. He
thinks he has this born to rule right to make all sorts of decisions
around the country, but he really does take a step too far-he goes a
bridge too far-when he presumes to know more about the Australian Labor
Party and our policy-making processes than we know ourselves.
There is the Prime Minister trying to convince the House of
Representatives that I have invented-and that was his word; a heavy
claim-the proposition that, 12 months ago, our shadow cabinet made
decisions on the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Why would the
Prime Minister, the head of the Liberal Party, think that he knows more
about the decisions and recorded minutes of the Labor Party than the
Australian Labor Party itself? This is someone who has got so far out of
control and has such an inflated opinion of himself-who thinks that he has
some born to rule mandate to run every single organisation in the country
and centralise power and authority in his own hands- that now he somehow
thinks he is the minute taker at the Labor shadow cabinet. He is the
minute taker-the little chap-at the Labor shadow cabinet.
Where was the minute taker, the Prime Minister, on 17 March 2003 when our
shadow cabinet resolved, 'A Labor government would immediately bring the
Australian troops home from Iraq'? Do you understand that, Prime Minister?
Do you understand the proposition that was moved in the Labor shadow
cabinet and carried on 17 March 2003 that a Labor government would
immediately bring the Australian troops home from Iraq? Prime Minister, if
you were the minute taker at that meeting, you have missed the point. You
have been asleep at the wheel. You did not really know what was going on.
The Prime Minister has misled the House in suggesting that I have invented
the proposi-tion in black and white in our minutes for the shadow cabinet.
It is not all that usual in parliamentary debate that a leader would be
quoting minutes from a cabinet or shadow cabinet decision, but given the
gravity and the hysteria of the Prime Minister's claims, I just want to
put these things straight on the record. He does not know what he is
talking about. He is spinning around in a total state of confusion. He
does not know what he is talking about. On 17 March 2003, we said, 'A
Labor government would immediately bring the Australian troops home from
Iraq.' The very next day there was a Labor caucus resolution. Okay, let us
go beyond the shadow cabinet and ask the caucus what was decided on
Tuesday, 18 March. The proposition was: 'Labor opposes the use of military
forces and urges their withdrawal. Furthermore, a Labor government would
immediately bring the Australian troops home.' So there is the second
proposition. Where was the minute taker, the Prime Minister, at the Labor
caucus meeting? He has this huge inflated view of himself. Where was he at
the Labor caucus meeting on 18 March?
Where was our little mate the minute taker at the Labor shadow cabinet
meeting on 24 March 2003, when the shadow cabinet resolved, 'A Labor
government would immediately bring the Australian troops home'? This is
the fantasy of someone who thinks he knows everything. When it comes to
the Australian Labor Party, as ever, he knows nothing at all. He has
totally got it wrong, and he has misled the House accordingly. Where was
our little mate the minute taker on 12 May 2003 when the shadow cabinet
passed a lengthy resolution on the postwar Iraq situation, which included
a commitment in relation to security operations in Iraq to return the ADF
to Australia as soon as possible?
So there are not one, not two, not three, but four resolutions from the
Australian Labor Party rebutting the point that the Prime Minister has
tried to make in the House today. The Prime Minister knows nothing about
the workings of the Australian Labor Party and, as a consequence, his
ignorance and his inflated opinion of himself have led him to mislead the
House of Representatives today. Prime Minister, it is a shameful thing
when, for political point scoring, you mislead the House of
Then we come to his other claim about the nature of advice that has been
given to me by intelligence agencies out of the Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade and the Department of Defence. Of course, you need to
understand that the government was saying time after time in question
time, 'The Leader of the Opposition over here hasn't had any discussions
about Iraq with officials from Foreign Affairs and Defence.' That is what
the Minister for Foreign Affairs was say-ing time after time last week and
again in the debate about Iraq yesterday. That is what the Prime Minister
has been saying.
So I was asked a question about it at a press conference yesterday, and I
said, 'I have had discussions with officials from Foreign Affairs and
Defence about the situation in Iraq.' Then the Prime Minister comes into
question time and goes back to his assertion: 'Oh, no, the Leader of the
Opposition has had no discussions about Iraq with officials from Foreign
Affairs and Defence, it is just fundamentally untrue-by his own admission.
Even the material that he has presented demonstrates that I have had
discussions-lengthy discussions- with officials from the Department of
Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence about the situation in Iraq.
It is interesting to go to the Prime Minister's personal explanation in
the House last night. It is interesting to go to his explanation at 7 p.m.
last night, be-cause he states, first of all, that on 5 January I received
a briefing from the deputy director of the Department of Defence. He has
his title wrong, so that was his first error. Then he goes on to say, 'I
have seen the record of interview and there is no reference in that record
of interview to Iraq.' Then he says, 'I am sorry-I have not seen the
record of interview.' So a second mistake
from the Prime Minister. Has he seen the record of in-terview or hasn't he
seen the record of interview? Today in the House, it was instructive to
listen closely to him-you always have to listen closely to him. What was
last night a record of interview is now a file note. So first of all he
has seen the record of interview, then he has not seen the record of
interview and then there is no record of interview, it is a file note.
Well the reason there is no record of interview is that there was no-one
there recording the interview. It was a one-on-one discussion between me
and Mr Ron Bonighton where there was no note taker. He was doing the
talking, and I was doing the listening and ask-ing the odd question. There
was no record of interview because there was no-one there to record the
interview. So the Prime Minister has been caught out again mis-leading the
House. First of all, he has seen the record of interview, then he has not
seen the record of inter-view and then there is no record of interview and
it is downgraded to being a file note.
Then, if you listened closely also to what he had to say in the House
today, he pointed out that in my dis-cussions with Mr Ron Bonighton we
discussed the in-telligence provided to the ADF in Iraq, and then he
quickly said that we discussed weapons of mass de-struction- as if weapons
of mass destruction and the lengthy discussion about that would not have
been re-lated to Iraq. Well of course it was.
I suppose, Mr Speaker, given the Prime Minister's tactics, I have the
right to defend myself here. I sup-pose I wish there was a record of
interview giving word-for-word what Mr Bonighton said about the government
's record on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq-what he actually said
about the government's failure to find weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq. I give the government and I give the House this guarantee: I walked
away from that briefing knowing and understanding the government's policy
in Iraq was a fiasco-an absolute fiasco. What is more, I concluded that
the faster Australia could get out of Iraq the better- in response to that
policy fiasco, in response to the problems that the government caused in
relation to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the sooner Australia
could get out of Iraq the better. So if the government wants to ask me
about the information I have gathered, I am giving you the conclusions I
have made. I am giving you the conclusions I have made from the briefings
I have received from officials of the defence department and the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Of course, in relation to the ASIS briefing, it is extraordinary that the
Prime Minister makes public a confidential security briefing given to the
Leader of the Opposition. I did not want to mention ASIS; he has mentioned
them now on the public record and he has produced the letter from Mr
Irvine, saying: According to my recollection there was no discussion on
strategic policy relating to Iraq. There was no substantive discussion on
the role of the ADF in Iraq.
Of course that does not rule out what actually happened: discussion of
ASIS security matters relevant to Iraq. So my claim, my truthful
proposition, that I have had discussions with officials from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about matters relevant to Iraq
stands up. The government's repeated claim that I have had none of these
discussions with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade is just plain false; it is just plain untrue.
In relation to the conversations with Mr Bonighton, I stand by my personal
explanation to the House earlier today when I said that I met with Mr
Bonighton in my electorate office at Ingleburn on Monday, 5 January. The
meeting was scheduled to go from 5 p.m. to 5.45 p.m., and my recollection
is that it went longer than that. Mr Bonighton briefed me on several
subjects. One was the situation in Iraq-and the Prime Minister has
confirmed that-the intelligence support provided to the Australian defence
forces in Iraq and the govern-ment's failed policy in relation to weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq. That was my claim: that I was briefed on the
situation in Iraq, intelligence provided to our troops-and the Prime
Minister calls that 'inciden-tal'- and the government's failed policy in
relation to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq-and he regards that as
I mean, what has this debate been about for the last 12 months? It has
been about the policy failings of this government in relation to weapons
of mass destruction. None were used in the conflict and none have been
found since. Your government, Prime Minister, sent Australian troops to
war for a purpose that was not true, and you regard that as incidental.
When I get a briefing from a defence intelligence official about that
serious matter of public policy concern, about that serious matter of
national concern, the Prime Minister says, 'That's incidental.' Prime
Minister, it is the core of the debate about Iraq. It is the core of the
debate about Iraq-that you sent Australia troops to war for a purpose that
was not true. And I have had that con-firmed to me in a briefing from a
Defence official, and I am supposed to say, 'Oh well, that's just
incidental to the debate.' I should just wipe that. I should just wipe
that out of the memory bank. That does not matter. That was not really
about Iraq. That was not about Australian policy in Iraq. That was not
about our military commitment. That was not about our military engagement
in Iraq. That was something that the Prime Minister would call incidental.
I should just wipe that in terms of my public policy decisions and
considerations. Well, Prime Minister, I am not wiping it.
The SPEAKER-Order! The Leader of the Opposi-tion should address his
remarks through the chair.
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