The Guardian August 4, 2004


Editorial:

The arrogance of Howard and Downer

The arrogance of John Howard and Alexander Downer knows no 
bounds! They believe that because they nestle under the umbrella 
of the US Big Brother, they are free to pull the noses of any and 
every country whose government does not follow the dictates of 
the US leaders.

Downer has insultingly likened the Government of the Philippines 
to a "marshmallow" because it withdrew its forces from Iraq only 
a short time ahead of schedule. He berated the Spanish Government 
for the same reason.

Howard has now raised concerns about the security of Australian 
athletes during the Athens Olympics implying that the Greek 
authorities are incapable of protecting athletes. His remarks 
have brought a justifiable protest. Howard's remarks are not only 
an indication of arrogance but are also intended to pressure the 
Greek Government to permit armed soldiers from the US, Britain 
and Australia to be sent to Greece during the Olympics.

Downer has shown the same arrogance when he threatened to call 
off negotiations with East Timor over the disputed question of 
the exploitation of the oil and gas fields in the Timor Gap area. 
He claimed that a possibly more friendly and flexible stand on 
this question by a future Labor Government made negotiations 
meaningless.

This was merely an excuse to shelve any further negotiations with 
the East Timorese Government  a stand that the Howard 
Government would like to implement. Having seized control of the 
area, the Australian Government does not wish to negotiate 
further as Australia's stand would not be supported should the 
matter come to the relevant international body that administers 
the law of the seas.

The Australian Government has fully endorsed the Bush 
Administration's concept of pre-emptive strike and the concept of 
imperialist world domination. It is enthusiastically playing the 
role of junior partner but does not even bother to limit its 
lectures to countries in the Asian Pacific area. Hence Downer's 
berating of the Spanish Government.

While making claims to be bringing democracy and the rule of law 
to other countries, the Howard Government refuses to acknowledge 
or recognise the fact that the majority of the Spanish people in 
an election voted in a government on the basis of its commitment 
to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. The decision of the 
Government of the Philippines to withdraw its forces from Iraq 
was also met with enthusiasm among the Filipino people. The 
withdrawal of Australian troops would also be met with enthusiasm 
by the Australian people. Before Australian forces were sent to 
Iraq by the Howard Government public opinion polls showed that a 
big majority of the Australian people did not support the war but 
this expression of democratic opinion did not move the Howard 
Government. So much for their commitment to democracy.

The Howard Government, by slavishly following a policy that 
serves the interests of the United States, is leading Australia 
into more and more isolation which will eventually have tragic 
consequences.

As a result of the Bush-Blair and Howard policies, the world is 
facing more bombings and insecurity shown by the multiplying 
incidents in a number of countries. They are not limited to Iraq.

Instead of stability there is instability. Instead of security 
there is insecurity. Instead of a better life, conditions are 
getting worse in all the capitalist countries for a majority of 
the people. Instead of independent governments, the only 
governments that are acceptable to the US and the Howard 
Government are those which cravenly follow a subservient line.

Instead of challenging this shortsighted and narrow-minded 
course, the Labor Party leaders are incapable of breaking free 
from the embrace of Big Brother and limit their criticisms of the 
Howard Government to secondary issues which never get to the 
heart of the matter.

This was well illustrated by the remark of Beazley who said that 
it appeared that the Howard Government was "attempting to provoke 
the ALP into opposing the Free Trade Agreement". Such a remark 
only served to demonstrate Beazley's support for the FTA  which 
will come to be seen as an economic and political disaster for 
Australia's workers.
Back to index page