Friday, July 11, 2008

Shhh, Don't Mention Iraq

Australia's greatest ever...hell, the world's greatest foreign minister in all of human history, Alexander Downer, was fondly farewelled here a few days ago. Obviously in declaring that Downer being removed to Cyprus would mean his nasally, perpetually whining voice would fall quiet in Australia, I didn't consider the fact that he would, and will, continue to bleat on about how awesome he was, and still is, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Hatcher gave Downer a solid serve last week, and so now Downer needs to have a big long whine in response :

The tragedy of much public commentary in Australia is that it is blatantly anti-conservative, fascinated with trivia and, when it comes to conservatives, rich with personal abuse.

It's good to see that Downer recognises that "much public commentary in Australia" from the conservative side is "rich with personal abuse." Surely I'm not reading that wrong?

But he's right of course. So much public commentary in Australia is blatantly anti-conservative. The irony is that much of the most influential and widely read anti-conservative commentary is written by those who claim to be "conservative".

Commentators like Andrew Bolt continually neon sign why conservatives in Australia are often seen as fanatical self-appointed moral gatekeepers, anti-progressives when it comes to energy, big money wasters when it comes to defence spending, generally hysteric and ceaselessly pro-war in an age where war-fighting between nations has almost ceased.

Nothing can damage the conservative cause in Australia more than to have commentators like Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman preach their extremist version of conservative politics and shout "I'm A Conservative!" every chance they get.

Back to Downer :

The last dozen years has been a period of intense activity in Australian foreign policy. Some of it has been controversial; some of it has been unpopular; and sometimes the practitioners have had a moment of laughter and personal enjoyment. But always our policies have been considered, planned and founded on the principle of promoting Australia's national interests.

Downer then praises himself for what he believes are the greatest achievements by the Howard government. Waiting until the last minute to send troops to East Timor tops Downer's list of My Greatest Achievements, even though that belated decision was made by John Howard.

But in his 'Why I'm Awesome' checklist, Downer fails to mention Iraq, or the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Why? Shouldn't the Iraq War be one of, if not the primary, sources of pride for going-but-still
-not-gone Downer?

Hartcher was particularly critical of Downer on Iraq. was Downer who most ardently and tirelessly defended the invasion of Iraq, but it was Howard's decision to participate in that misguided venture. And, in the historical assessment, Downer's term as foreign minister will surely be judged on the Iraq policy.
Downer's response :

One of the saddest things about modern Australia is we still have commentators such as Hartcher....They just want to make puerile anti-conservative party political points built on a foundation of trivia.

So now we know why Downer didn't mention Iraq in his epistle of self-praise : Iraq is now filed by Downer under "trivia."