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Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

G'day. Tuesday's Webdiary published Howard's 'World Statesman Award': on what criteria, please, New York's 'Appeal of Conscience Foundation'? which detailed Liberty Victoria President Brian Walters' concerns about the Appeal of Conscience Foundation's proposal to confer its World Statesman Award on Mr John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia

Today, in his first piece for Webdiary, Dylan Kissane presents another perspective. Dylan lives in suburban Adelaide and enjoys reading and writing about Australian and international politics. He supports the Fremantle Dockers (which, over the last ten years, have tended to lose more than they win) and the Liberal Party (which, over the last ten years, have tended to win more than they lose). His personal website is here.

Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan Kissane

Brian Walters' letter - published on Webdiary on 20 September 2005 - was written in response to Prime Minister Howard's recognition as a 'World Statesman' by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. This post considers the arguments of Brian Walter as stated in his letter and suggests that he might have it all a little bit wrong.

Brian begins by quoting a two-year old Human Rights Council of Australia report which - among other things - identifies a trend towards a "political climate dominated by fear, insecurity and division" and the de-legitimisation of dissent under the Howard government. Brian noted that this same report claims that the Australian democracy under Howard is one in which access to information is controlled and "other voices" are limited in their capacity - though he does not say exactly what they are limited in doing.

Brian presents this information as if it is somehow above question - after all, a group with the words 'human rights' in their moniker must be on the side of good, completely unbiased and committed to the free and fair exchange of ideas, right? Well, not really…

The Human Rights Council of Australia acknowledges that the research that went in to the report was paid for out of the pockets of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU). This is the same AMWU whose leader has recently branded the Australian Government authoritarian. This is the same AMWU who would seem to be unhappy with any government in recent history if their claim that contemporary capitalism restricts democratic rights is to be believed.

Consider the other crusades that the AMWU pledges the cash of its members to: the anti-Howard Rights at Work campaign; the anti-Howard push for a new minimum wage; the anti-Howard Medicare Reform campaign. Notice anything in common? The Human Rights Council of Australia might claim independence from AMWU interference but considering the causes and campaigns that the AMWU supports, might it be suggested that such a claim doesn't quite ring true?

Brian then mentions a report from The Australia Institute, a self-proclaimed "independent public policy research centre" working out of the ANU. Independent? Maybe. But it seems to be more of a roll call of the usual anti-Howard suspects. Michael Raper, Sharan Burrow and a few assorted left wing academics act as Directors and - naturally enough - the reports they churn out not anything that might be confused with pro-Howard rhetoric. Yes, it's true that the report specifies exactly what Brian says it does…but would we really expect anything less from such a cast of characters?

Looking past the summary of the Australia Institute report - where Brian sourced his quote - to the details is more enlightening. After explaining at the outset that there are as many as 700,000 NGOs in Australia (pg.1) the report goes on to draw conclusions with reference to survey data from only 290 groups (pg. 27). Indeed, only 750 groups were sent invitations to participate. Thus, the Australia Institute bases its conclusions on a sample of only 0.04% of the NGOs in the country. Yes, Brian, your quote is right, but should we really judge the Howard-focused fear of the country's NGOs on such a small sample?

Brian brings up the Scott Parkin deportation, linking to a story in The Age in his footnotes. Like just about everyone in the country, I cannot speak to the deportation except to say that it seems legal. Indeed, according to the article Brian points to, Parkin agreed to be deported. That the deportation of Parkin is unusual is beyond question - but is Howard less a World Statesman because he was the democratically elected leader of the state from which this deportation occurred? Howard would have acted on advice from ASIO and others in approving Parkin's repatriation and whatever the advice was - and not many can claim to know personally what the advice was - it was enough to also satisfy the Leader of the Opposition as to the necessity of the expulsion. The argument that "Mr Howard presided over the expulsion of a US citizen" from Australia and, therefore, is not a beacon for democracy is a little strained, I think.

Brian claims that the Mr Howard "failed to oppose the racist views of Pauline Hanson". Uh-huh. And expelling her from the Liberal Party and placing her party last on how-to-vote cards in spite of the obvious affinity of some Hanson supporters for the conservative Coalition isn't opposing her views, right Brian? As Michael Duffy wrote in the Courier Mail, "Howard always said that if more people ignored Hanson she'd go away. It looks as if Howard was right and his critics were wrong." If getting Pauline Hanson off the agenda was the goal, Brian, then Duffy is claiming it for the PM.

Attacking Howard's record on religious freedom, Brian writes of the Howard endorsed ban on Falun Gong protests outside the Chinese embassy in Canberra. This might be a lot of things but I can't see how it is denying anyone their freedom of religion. Howard has made no law to deny Falun Gong believers their faith, nor any other faith group for that matter. And where previous Federal governments avoided human rights dialogue with China, John Howard has been instrumental in ensuring a regular human rights dialogue with the Chinese. DFAT proudly announces on their website that the rights of the Falun Gong under communist rule in China are and have been a topic of discussion at the dialogue. Brian: are you really trying to argue that the leader of a small island state in the South Pacific standing up to the leaders of an authoritarian giant on the religious rights of its own people is an example of John Howard denying religious freedom?

Brian next claims that Australian anti-terror laws target Australian Muslims. This is true, of course, just as they target Australian Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and anyone else who is a terrorist or supports terrorism.

Brian points to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald as proof positive that Muslims are being singled out by the laws. One wonders why he doesn't point to the actual laws. Surely we could find the references to specific ethnic or religious groups in the text of the laws, couldn't we? Or should we, as Brian suggests, rely on the opinions of those who make the most noise and ignore the actual legislation?

Brian also gets stuck into Howard on his record on human rights. Howard, he claims, "voted against a resolution to strengthen the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights". This is, of course, the Commissioner that reports to the Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the UN who oversaw the Rwandan genocide, the Kosovo failure and, more recently, his own Oil for Food scam. This is the Commissioner who works with the Human Rights Commission and its admirable members including Libya, Cuba and China. Howard voted against giving more powers to this Commissioner? Thank goodness.

According to Brian, Howard has acted "in violation of normal conceptions of morality" by holding a stateless person in detention. Of course, feeding, clothing, providing shelter and warmth, fresh water and the like must be outside of the normal conceptions of morality Brian refers to. An attack on human rights? There are Australian's living on the streets of every major city in the country who would love the sort of treatment this stateless person received. Brian, you are reaching.

Brian then gets stuck into Howard's (now publicly disavowed) policy of pre-emption. I wonder what state in the world doesn't hold a similar policy, Brian? Howard was very specific about when the policy would apply: Australia was likely to be attacked; the attack was imminent; the sheltering country either could not or refused to respond. Tell me, Brian: if we knew that terrorists were going to attack us from a nearby state and that state refused to go in and root out the terrorists, would you want us to wait until the attack was completed or stop it before it took place? I would argue that every state would invoke a strategy of pre-emption in this situation - the only difference was that Howard had the guts to put it on the record.

As for criticisms of the anti-terror legislation, well maybe we should refer the Appeal of Conscience Foundation to the results of the election last October. Or maybe the approval ratings of Premier Mike Rann in South Australia who has committed his government to implementing even tougher laws than currently stand. The people have spoken, Brian, and they approve of Howard, Rann and the tough anti-terror laws. You submit that "significant legal and human rights bodies throughout Australia have vigorously denounced" the anti-terror laws. Yet for some reason the Australian public keep voting him and his anti-terror laws back into power, with increased majorities and control of the Senate. You deny that Howard has taken a courageous stand against terrorism but look at your own argument: if every significant legal and human rights body is against him, isn't his decision by definition courageous? Or maybe "all significant legal and human rights bodies" aren't nearly as significant as you imagine. Methinks this is closer to the truth.

Brian, you finish by saying that at Liberty Victoria you take human rights seriously. You state, "When an organisation confers an award for human rights on someone who has trampled on such rights, we are concerned that this debases human rights - the very foundation of democracy. Unless there has been a grotesque error, an award with this citation, to this recipient, bespeaks hypocrisy". I checked your website and found no reference to the hypocrisy of awarding human rights-centred awards like the Sydney Peace Prize to terrorist mouthpiece Hanan Ashrawi or the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations less than a decade after Rwanda.

In my opinion, you are not taking human rights half as seriously as you take your criticism of John Howard, a truly deserving recipient of the title of World Statesman.

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re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I had lost track of this site for some time but today I got onto it and this piece. Oh, I thought, things have changed for the better. Then a look at comments. One only, at this moment, by who I remember as a serial commentator, Marilyn Shepherd. And how does it start. This piece is a "fascist rant". The more things change the more they stay the same!

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Marilyn, notwithstanding the right or wrong of Dylan’s comments and following on from earlier threads, with a welfare state how many people do you think you can let in the country before it changes our standard of living?

What do you see as the alternative to mandatory detention if you want to keep the welfare system that we have?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Ha! Thanks Dylan, good joke.

Now, who's going to actually defend Mr Howard? Anyone?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

A spirited rebuttal, Dylan. Except I was waiting for you to elucidate why you think the PM is "a truly deserving recipient of the title of World Statesman" - but then your piece ended abruptly. So what then, in your opinion, are Mr Howard's achievements that particularly qualify him for 'the title'?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

What a load of fascist rant. Dylan, are you for real? A stateless man locked in Woomera has food, clothing, shelter and care? Are you mad? Try a tin shed shared with 15 others, in the desert, with second hand clothing being doled out twice a year, terrible food, water cannons, tear gas and riot guards with batons bashing anyone who annoyed them.

For years and years and possible a whole life time. You live in Adelaide mate, go to Woomera and have a bloody good look.

Here is a tip sunshine. Before you take on the likes of a senior counsel of the crown with so called facts, I suggest you get some.

The UN security council let down Rwanda, not the UN human rights commission - they are two different things.

The UN human rights has condemned Australia through its treatment of children, aborigines, refugees and asylum seekers.

We have breached the rights of a seven year old boy bashed and tear gassed in Woomera and nothing changes.

Breached the rights of 100s of children who self-harmed, locked them up and brutalised them, some for years.

Locking up babies is a grotesque violation of human rights.

No person who does that ever deserves to be called a bloody statesman.

Jesus wept.

And I will defend to the death your right to be right wing and your right to publish this mindlessly cruel drivel.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan, I'm afraid if I were marking your essay, you wouldn't get more than a Pass. If one were to extract the fallacious reasoning, there wouldn't be a great deal left.

To take one example, you condemn the report written by Eric Sidoti not by challenging its content, and not even by suggesting that Eric Sidoti is somehow unreliable, but by noting the political bias of the group that paid for the research (which the Human Rights Council thanks for "the respect [it] has shown for the Council’s independence"). Have you any reason to believe that the AMWU influenced either the Council or Sidoti in the preparation of the report, apart from your desire to poison the well and allege guilt by association?

Ad hominem arguments do not serve you well in your position. Especially when they're so blatant.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Rob, as I understand it the cost of maintaining each individual in detention is greater than the cost would be of paying them social security benefits for the same period of time.

And if the detainees were actually in the community then they would have the opportunity to get jobs, hence actually contributing to the economy and not consuming welfare.

Seems like a no brainer to me.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Marilyn, if you re-read the piece you will notice that I didn't blame the UN Human Rights Commission for what happened in Rwanda. I pointed instead to the role of the then head of UN Peacekeeping Forces and current Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan.

Note Kofi Annan's comments to the BBC in 2004: "I believed at that time that I was doing my best... but I realised after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support."

Jacob, you are right. I was aiming to provide more of a rebuttal to Brian's letter rather than a reason why I think John Howard should receive the award. Essentially I agree with the reasons given by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation: "inspiring leadership that has made Australia a beacon of democracy, religious freedom and human rights and for his courageous stand against international terrorism".

Kevin, thank you for your considered reply. Obviously we disagree on most matters but I think you make at least one of the errors you accuse me of.

You reject my comments on the AMWU report stating it is a "slur by association" and then go to on to attack the entire Australian government for the comments of a couple on the rights of women to wear headscarves. Is this not slur by association also?

Further, is it not oversimplifying matters to assert that Security Council agreement on Afghanistan was quick because a terrorist link was easily established but non-existent on Iraq because no strong links were found? I think perhaps that a case could be made that France and Russia were not waiting for proof but rather playing plain old power politics.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Hmmm...WD's committment to a diversity of views is nowhere better demonstrated than by publishing Dylan's jaundiced and disingenious piece.

Just one example (of so many one could highlight): exactly how do you justify describing Hanan Ashrawi as a 'terrorist mouthpiece'?

Please; his kind of casual slur on an individual of Dr Ashrawi's stature should not be allowed to pass without justification.

Recall that in 2002 she led several dozen prominent Palestinians in signing a full-page newspaper ad in the Al Quds newspaper which urged militant groups behind the sucide bombing of Israeli civilians to "stop sending our young people to carry out such attacks."

The ad continued:

"We see no results in such attacks, but a deepening of the hatred between both peoples and a deepening of the gap between us". The ad urged all Palestinians who supported such a call to sign on to it.

So, Dylan, where's your evidence that Dr Ashrawi is a "terrorist mouthpiece"?

Or does the ideological warrior peek through the 'reasoned' facade when it comes to acknowledging a Palestinian global statesperson?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Disingenous spin in the extreme. Your paragraph ending "Brian, you are reaching" encapsulates the weakness of your argument and shows who is really doing the reaching.

Tha two main thrusts of your piece seem to be "Howard and his Government say everything is okay, therefore it is" and "Anyone who has criticised Howard in the past will always criticise Howard, so their opinions can be ignored". I'm sure you don't need me to point out any obvious historical examples of the dangers of going down that path.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Reading this article I had the old sinking feeling. I felt like Miranda Devine had wandered onto the Webdiary pages. There is the same attempt to discredit reports, not by reference to what they contain, or what conclusions they reach by reference to who commissioned them. There's the same attempt to slur by association - the AMWU has done bad things therefore any report commissioned by them must be bad - Voila! Like magic we don't have to consider the report, it's tainted, we dismiss it and move on.

Next the Australia Institute, again, I spy a 'left wing academic' therefore disparage the organization. Although that's not all, for good measure we'll attack their methodology, ignoring the fact that drawing conclusions from small, representative samples is a mathematical study, called statistical analysis and is performed by companies in focus groups to sell their products. No, let's not consider their argument - Phoof! gone.

I found this article appalling badly written for many reasons - here are some of them:

I think the issues surrounding the Scott Parkin case have been canvassed quite well in an earlier thread and don't need to be repeated here. However the deportation is more than simply 'unusual', its disturbing to a degree that anyone concerned about civil liabilities and protecting dissenting voices in the community should be very alarmed.

I would point you to Bob Hawke's response to the Tianamen Square massacre when the Labor Government allowed Chinese students to remain in Australia and condemned the actions of the Chinese Government.

While the laws don't explicitly target Australian Muslims, taken in the context of the current debate about 'Australian' values and the war in Iraq and comments by government ministers on the dress code of Muslim women, it leaves little doubt who the target of the laws are. After all, if it quacks and waddles, you can presume it’s a duck.

Yes, the UN Human Rights Commissioner works with member states who have appalling human rights record, but this doesn't mean the Commission endorses those views, it simply means that as members of the UN these countries have a right to a voice. The more insightful approach is surely to examine the actions of the UN Human Rights Commission and not attempt to denigrate by association (again).

Homeless people living on the streets in Australia have legal rights and choices which those in detention would love to have. But that isn't really the point is it? The point is surely that the policy of endless mandatory detention for stateless people is a violation of their human rights and a morally bankrupt policy.

You are wrong to say that Howard was specific about when this policy of pre-emption would apply. Those comments were made for domestic consumption as part of Howard's attempt to look 'tough' on terrorism and with little forethought as to how countries in our region would respond. Further the way you frame the pre-emption policy is a distortion of what Howard, Downer et al said and you make it appear as a restatement of the accepted international policy of self defence. Your comment, "if we knew that terrorists were going to attack us from a nearby state and that state refused to go in and root out the terrorists, would you want us to wait until the attack was completed or stop it before it took place?" is a silly remark. Of course no one would agree with this, but if this level of certainty existed then it would be an act of self defence to respond. The difficulty is that such a level of certainty is extremely unlikely to exist. I would remind you that the UN approved the invasion of Afghanistan in record time as clear evidence existed of the part that country played in the attack on the US. The difficulty the UN had with Iraq is that no such evidence existed.

Howard's election victory is a testament to his skill as a political operator (I do not say this as a compliment). The fact that experts in the field condemn his approach says volumes about what he is doing. The fact that Beazley supports these laws is a politically calculated decision he's made to try and curry favour with the electorate and it does not reflect well on him.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

What are you people whining about? How many people should we let in before we lose our welfare system? What has that got to do with Howard getting a bogus statesman of the year award?

We don't have to spend $3 billion locking up a few people to keep our welfare system but $3 billion would have fed and clothed a lot of people who needed help.

Here is a tip guys - next they will come for you.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

A good peice Dylan. An argument well put. Unfortunately you're wasting your time posting it here.

The phrase "casting pearls before swine" comes to mind.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan Kissane's assertion that he accepts that John Howard's "inspiring leadership that has made Australia a beacon of democracy, religious freedom and human rights and for his courageous stand against international terrorism" is unbeleivably insulting to every Prime Minister who came before him, every Digger who fought for this country and every working man and woman who has sweated blood to make Australia the country it is.

For over 200 years our forbears have struggled to create this amazing place at the end of the world. Australia did not begin with the commencement of John Howard's prime ministership ten years ago, no matter how his supporters attempt to re-write history.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

This is a disingenous piece as it simply sets out to take the opposite point of view on Brian Walter's piece and attempts to pick it apart on the slimmest of evidence.

So what if a set of 'left' leaning organisations attack Howard? That doesn't mean the information they present is incorrect. Particular when enough right wing organisations which are far better funded present the opposite views that are based more on ideology than facts. Take Garry Brack as a spokesman for employer groups who along with John Howard has opposed every single wage rise in Australia claiming it will lead to the loss of jobs. Jobs haven't been lost and then Howard outrageously turns around and claims that higher wages are the result of his efforts. Bracks is simply fibbing for the ideological reason that employers are simply mean bastards whilst groups like unions seeking the rise are doing so for a genuine reason - people need the bloody money to live.

Kissane also sites just one roundabout incident to defend John Howard's so called human rights record as though this absolves him of a shocking record in the past. Howard has expressed support for the South African Apartheid regime and the continued incarceration of Nelson Mandela and has a history of anti-Asian comments only suppressed when the media outrage made it political unacceptable.

This whole piece is blatantly biased and each of Kissane's arguments could be shot down in flames if one takes the time. His premise that 'left wing' people are attacking Howard and therefore their information is incorrect is a blatant insult and reeks of fantacism.

The premise of Walter's question as to why is John Howard receiving a 'World Statesman Award' is very relevant given the Appeal of Conscience Foundation's stated reason is: " for his courageous stand against international terrorism." Excuse me! What stand? Invading Iraq? Not bloody likely and quite the opposite in reality. The Iraq invasion has created more terrorism for Iraqis and more terrorists who are likely to strike us as evidenced by the London Bombings. Even worse as we are now discovering, Howard has been utterly slack in protecting us from terrorism as we see with our airport's total lack of real security.

By all means give the man an award but not one based on lies and not one from a blatantly political organisation like this that poses as a religious group.

Are we sure Dylan Kissane is not a pseudonym used by Piers Akerman?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Rob Wearne, our aging population ensures that the welfare system as we know it now is going to be history in a very short period of time anyway (10yrs, 20 tops). When there are only two or three taxpayers for every pensioner, all welfare benefits are going to have to be reduced.

Also Rob, allowing young capable immigrants into Australia in large numbers may actually help prolong the life of our present welfare system.

Mate, mandatory detention isn't going to safe our current welfare system, it actually speeds its demise.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Marilyn: "Here is a tip guys - next they will come for you."

Yes, I have no doubt at all that the detention centres, especially Baxter, will eventually (soon?) be used to incarcerate Australian citizens.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Marilyn: "Here is a tip guys - next they will come for you."

Y're wrong baby. The one group 'they' won't come for is themselves. Pick the ones who want to be the people-takers. They're probably pretty safe.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Tony Powers: "Unfortunately you're wasting your time posting it here."

Dylan is bothering to engage, and good on him for it. Much more courageous than sniping from the sidelines.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan Kissane: "Essentially I agree with the reasons given by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation..."

Actually, Dylan, I was rather hoping you yourself would put a cogent case for the PM receiving this gong. Quoting the Foundation's woolly citation effectively does no more than say Mr Howard deserves the award because, well, he just does.

But okay, let's look at these just briefly.

1. "Inspiring leadership" - clearly in the eye of the beholder. The perception of "mean and tricky" was one that was identified within his own party. Of course, some may find rat-cunning inspiring in its own right.

2. "... that has made Australia a beacon of democracy..." - I guess the key word here is 'democracy', so let's see. Having taken our country into an illegal war against the wishes of the majority of its citizens, the PM now has a wafer-thin sometime majority in the Senate that he has pledged to wield with restraint, which however his Government's gagging and guillotining performance on the Telstra sale bill has completely contradicted. I wonder how familiar with Australian public affairs are the leading lights of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. Are they really interested, do they really care, or is this whole thing an ideological sop for this year's pin-up head-of-government?

3. "...religious freedom..." - okay, it's true he hasn't actually banned or persecuted any religious groups. However, his toleration for China's appalling persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, to secure trading privileges no less, would count considerably against, I'd have thought.

4. "...human rights..." - A clean score for Howard on this count would entail forgetting families/children in immigration detention, various cases of forced deportations, unlawful detentions, David Hicks rotting in legal limbo for four years, complicity in same for hundreds of others, etc. We must also ignore flagrant disregard for the right to life of 25-100 thousand Iraqi civilians, with children disproportionately represented among the dead and injured. It goes without saying that the Howard Government is missing in action regarding human rights concerns for China, Burma and various other tyrannical regimes.

5. "...his courageous stand against international terrorism..." - this is a thread in its own right, no doubt. But to be brief, where was Mr Howard's courage and concern for the suffering Iraqi people before Bush and Blair took to beating the war drums? And how was it that 40 US trade representatives arrived in the country soon after 'Mission Accomplished' to resurrect a AUSFTA that was dead in the water the year before due to the intractability of the US agricultural sector?

I could go on, Dylan - endlessly. However, its up to you to present a rigorous case detailing the ways in which Mr Howard has singularly distinguished himself to warrant such an award. Are you up for it?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I think it's fairly obvious Gareth Eastwood. If, as you say we end up having a quarter or a third of our population who have no income and thus no spending power that must result in a huge blow to the economy and that will affect everyone. With less people to buy products, production prices must rise along with retail prices. The US with it's huge population can carry millions of people in poverty who have no welfare, as there is a cut-off point there for payments but I don't see how Australia could carry a large poor section.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

"An argument well put."

You think so, Tony Powers? How about you try counting the logical fallacies, then tell us how well the 'argument' is put.

I think that what you actually mean is that you agree with its sentiments.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Michael de Angelos, there is a problem with your sequence of events. That is, being entitled to some form of pension does not mean you are welfare dependent. I fail to see how a gradual reduction in welfare benefits results in the mayhem you describe. It has already started and we seem to be doing ok.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan Kissane: "...a reason why I think John Howard should receive the award. Essentially I agree with the reasons given by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation: 'inspiring leadership that has made Australia a beacon of democracy...'"

Here is John Ralston Saul's take on leadership:

“Why is there such a dearth of good leaders? Because we’re in a leadership crisis. Such is the modern lament.

"The proverbial wise foreigner... would probably note that this a curious obsession for democracies to harbour. Democrats are supposed to be, after all, obsessed by their own participation and that of the citizenry in general. Leadership, after all, is the cry of unevolved, craven peoples frightened by the idea of individual responsibility. The sort of people who desire nothing better than a god or divinely inspired chief to hold them to his bosom, or better still hers, for protection and reassurance”.

Seems to me that rewarding leadership is an insult to democracy because it implies legitimacy lies with an individual rather than with the citizenry.

What was that about a 'nanny state'?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I’m afraid, Dylan Kissane that your argument in regards to Scott Parkin doesn’t measure up to any real standard of protection for human rights. It’s true that the sausage machine ground along, with all the usual suspects being satisfied with bureaucratic advice from “a competent authority”. (“It’s an absolute fact. Children were thrown into the water.” Philip Ruddock in 2001, then Immigration Minister, now Attorney-General).

Scott Parkin agreed to deportation to avoid indefinite detention in solitary confinement, for which he was being charged $130 per day. At no stage were any allegations put to him as to why his visa had been cancelled. At no stage has he been charged with any crime. He was legally misinformed twice by the immigration department about his rights in relation to the visa cancellation.

Because competent legal advice was made available to Scott by his Australian colleagues, Mr Parkin is now exercising his rights to a review of the visa cancellation. This is hardly an admission of guilt.

We have no way of knowing what was in the briefing to the Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, just as they had no way of knowing how accurate the 'intelligence' was that condemned Scott Parkin without any examination by a court.

If the 'Sheridan allegations' are to be believed, the intelligence collected on Scott Parkin was either incompetent at agent level, or was manipulated by advisers at political level.

“Rolling marbles under horses hooves” is not sanctioned by any part of the global nonviolence movement. Scott has stated that he spoke against techniques of 'de-arresting' activists, which acknowledges that such topics were under discussion in the 30A forums, and perhaps arose in the knowledge exchanges with other nonviolence groups.

Far from encouraging violent behaviour, Scott espoused successful nonviolent techniques, and cannot be held responsible for unrelated acts by others who do use violent tactics. Yet this is precisely what has happened.

It seems that John Howard champions human rights by limiting free speech and political action through the use of secret police and a strict regime of detention and harassment for dissidents. But it’s not just John Howard. Homicide Bomber Beazley deserves his jersey too.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan wants us to believe that any report commissioned by or influenced by the AMWU in relation to social policy in Australia is inevitably biased and that any conclusions reached therein can be summarily dismissed. But the argument he presents is without foundation. Just because a report (I will concede him this point) repeats the findings of AMWU research does not make conclusions reached within it invalid. The AMWU research should be analysed rationally; examine its theses; its methodology; does the AMWU's research stack up with objective research by others? You know basically use the scientific method. I would do the same with a report by the IPA or something.

Dylan's piece here is a form of argumentum ad hominem.

Besides, no person who cruelly intercepts at the point of a gun refugees fleeing from Saddam Hussein and the Taliban and then places them in mandatory detention deserves any award that has anything remotely to do with human rights.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

If this is the case Gareth Eastwood - "When there are only two or three taxpayers for every pensioner, all welfare benefits are going to have to be reduced" - I trust you are then prepared to give up the high standard of living that we enjoy. You are proposing that nearly a third of Australians will be welfare dependent - that spells doom for our economy and those who have a job can look forward to living in a country that will be the equivalent of today's South Africa. House prices will plunge while commodity prices will rise dramatically as Australian's spending ability plummets. Those with a job may just find themselves paying massively increased taxes to cover crime prevention which will rise dramatically. They will of course also be paying huge taxes to support infrastructure. I'd hate to think what their take home pay will eventually be but they may well decide that there is no point in having a job. Corporations and farmers who depend on welfare subsidies will go to the wall.

There is only one way out of this coming doom you are predicting - job sharing or a social living wage where people are paid to actually not work. There is no other solution but it will be murder for those who ideologically cannot bear the thought of welfare and retain a puritanical hatred for those who do not work. Alternatively the unemployed could be turned into an extremely cheap slave labour force.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I think most are being a little unfair on Dylan Kissane. He has to learn how to write articles and no-one gets it correct the first time. Was he meant to write a cogent factual argument? No, that is not what current journalism is about. It is about dismissing the opposing argument by using how one thinks, rather than presenting boring old basic facts that most people cannot get their heads around anyway, nor could be bothered concentrating long enough even if they could. And it makes too long a sentence.

By choosing an opponent's point, raising an objection and then self-validating the objection, one has covered and dealt with it in new-journo style. Really it is a form of elegant propaganda. I think Dylan did a talented job and obviously has a future with the Murdoch media, maybe in not in China, but then it appears that neither has Rupert's empire there either.

Proper analysis of content, argument, facts presented, of course would be a little harsh for Dylan's article, but that was not the intention of the article, not meant to be a university level paper or even the old fashioned journo product. 'Comment journalism' with clever spin is in demand now. Impressive.

Of course if Dylan does wish to argue his point at an intellectual level with a bit of quality rather than spin, it may be worth looking at. Trouble is facts get in the way then.

Oh and Tony Powers, I would really be interested in why you agree, like thingy Black who didn't actually answer with facts, why you think he deserves this award, other than his well performed loyalty to interests. This is what drives most polies, so it is neither a neg nor a pos.

Where someone draws the line in serving interests is what determines the character of a polie. How his actions have benefited or damaged our country(s) is of interest to me.

Sadly I see mainly negatives, but it could have been worse and some of his tricks were amusing. Even worse would have/will be blunderbuss Beazley who lacks even the small integrity that Howard has, after minimum trial.

When a terrorist attack comes here, he and his supporters will have to shoulder the blame and that is when the fan will be browned. How will you be writing then Dylan, what if it is yours who are harmed? I know how I will react.

Knowing as we do that clear advice was given that terrorism was guaranteed to come home if the prowar actions were taken or if it was needed to increase the anger of the people or for an election like the last one, Howard and his backers will be washing their hands each night, out damn stain.


Ps. It should be asked in our Parliament, as it is to asked in UK Parliament, whether our commandos are working in Arab disguise and driving weapons and explosives around Iraq. If our troops are at risk of warcrime accusations, as the British now are, we have a right to know, not a 24hr media blackout about the topic as happened on Monday 19th September. Shameful. The reasons for that should be asked as well. Protection of criminal actions, even if by our allies, helps no nation.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I read as far as the 'usual suspects' attack on the Australia Institute and gave up. Play the ball, not the man, Dylan. Here's hoping for some journalism next time.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

When the truth doesn't matter.

We see with Vivian Alvarez and the way she was exiled from Australia on the basis of a fairy tale by DIMIA that in Howard's Australia the truth doesn't matter. In October 1999 Ali Bakhtiyari arrived in Australia, told DIMIA his wife and kids were living illegally in Pakistan and was released in August 2000 as an Afghan refugee.

In January 2001 Roqia and the kids were hounded out of Pakistan, arrived half dead in Australia and were taken to Woomera. She was not believed and stayed locked up.

In July 2001 after the RRT decided she was not Afghan and not Pakistani she found out Ali was here and asked to be let out. In August the ACM staff asked, in September a migration agent, in December an ACM staff, in January ACM again, in February the doctors and psychologists who said the children were suicidal.

In March ditto 2002, June 2002, July 2002, August 2002, October 2002, January 2003, June 2003, July 2003 until they were finally let out in August 2003. During that time no one investigation was made anywhere to say that she was from Pakistan. Not one document or application form or registration of any kind ever said she was Pakistani.

DIMIA claimed she could live in Pakistan because her husband was Pakistani - that doesn't even happen in Australia let alone a nation with four million Afghan refugees wanting citizenship.

In July 2003 her brother was forcibly deported to Pakistan on phoney travel documents and forced back to Afghanistan.

On July 28, 2003 a compliance officer sent applications for passports to the Pakistani embassy in Canberra, a 1975 ID application for someone called Asghar Ali DOB 1957, an Australian ID card with Ali's photo on it in the name of Asghar Ali - not one document was signed or asked for by any of the family.

Late August DIMIA wanted to deport Roqia to Pakistan alone with the children - while she was sick in hospital and seven months pregnant. ON false documents.

In October they sent a reminder notice to the Pakistan embassy.

In December 2003 - one year after they locked up Ali again - they got confirmation from the Pakistani embassy that someone called Asghar Ali DOB 1971 was a Pakistani national and they added Australian ID numbers for Roqia and five of the children.

The Pakistan embassy then wrote a letter to DIMIA claiming the family were Pakistan nationals.

In January 2004 the brother of Roqia Bakhtiyari sent from Afghanistan her official registration as a citizen - he sent it to Amanda Vanstone who ignored it. It is the only form of ID available to women in Afghanistan and usually for men as the records have been destroyed.

On 6 February 2004 DIMIA sent the baby's birth certificate saying he was the child of Afghans to the Pakistani embassy and on the same day they claimed he was a Pakistani national based on the birth certificate.

In March 2004 an Afghan leader gave the documents and verified them - he also gave them to all the SA senators and ALP MP's as genuine. They were ignored.

In June 2004 an Afghan expert finally examined the so-called Pakistan documents and declared they were bogus - Jesus wept when confronted with a 12 point question sheet how the hell do you get 13 answers, different each time?

That was ignored.

In August 2004 ditto.

In December 2004 the Afghan government confirmed a relative of Roqia's in Afghanistan and said they needed a bit more time.

Eight days later she was deported illegally to Pakistan where they had no documents.

Apparently the only thing that mattered was the same f...g deranged process that had Cornelia locked up and Vivian deported.

When the hell does the truth matter when lives are at stake?

And the senate have refused to ask.

Over and over I pleaded last year to have this exposed - to no avail.

Six young kids - card board cut outs or wind up cockroaches.

Not human. Don't count.

From London to New Zealand discarded, unwanted.

What the hell did they do to deserve this?

Don't anyone ever, ever mention John Howard and human rights in the same breath to me.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Col Everton, Beazley out-doing Howard in the Bring in the Big Scary Guns Department? I wish I could say I was surprised. He's not called Bomber Beazley for nothing, however.

It's reminiscent of sundry state parliamentarians trying to compete on Laura Norder. Except this is far, far more dangerous.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Angela Ryan, if terrorism comes to Australia? Will it be definitely because of the Iraq war? Where does that leave the Bali bombings? Did nut-cases go back in time to punish Australia for liberating East Timor?

And did Spain pulling out of Iraq stop planned attacks against Spain?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I saw this in the newspaper today; I wonder what Julian Burnside and the Muslim leaders are going to say now.

Mr Beazley also outlined a Labor plan which would give police the power to search anyone found in a suspected terrorist 'target area', without police needing a warrant. Under the plan, police commissioners would be able to lock down a suburb or area in which terrorists were suspected of planning an attack.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I often wonder when the right-wing are ever going to realise that everything they say and believe is just morally unjustifiable and that their view, no matter how much they think it may be supported, is just plain morally wrong.

In Dylan Kissane we have a person that actually supports John Howard, a known liar whose lies have directly and literally caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. Yet, knowing this, Dylan Kissane still continues to support Howard. Does Dylan Kissane believe that it is acceptable to lie? Does Dylan Kissane believe that it is acceptable that as a result of those lies that those tens of thousands of innocent people have died?

Does Dylan Kissane argue, as do other right-wingers on Webdiary, that because Howard was voted back into power, despite the lies and the deaths, that it was alright for Howard to lie and that, therefore, the deaths are OK? If so, then what does that tell you about those that voted for Howard?

John Howard? Human rights? Dylan Kissane, explain Howard’s lies! Explain the resultant deaths! Try and explain yourself.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

I very much support Angela Ryan’s call for questions to be asked generally about the nature of Australian SAS operations in Iraq. It is well known that Australian and British SAS have worked hand in hand in various operations in the past.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

One outstanding fact about John Howard that keeps coming back to haunt me: 'core promises and non-core promises'. I have to say that after that breathtaking admission, I wonder how anyone could ever believe the man again. After all, that was an admission that some promises were made to be broken, only he won't tell us which ones until after the fact. That's such a convenient get-out-of-jail-free card, and I'm surprised that it didn't catch on with other pollies. Maybe it was something he shouldn't have let slip.

So no, I can't take 'human rights and John Howard' seriously. How can anyone?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Marilyn Shepherd, it’s not just in Howard’s Australia that the truth doesn't matter. It is in Australia full stop! That’s the part that you don’t seem to get, or don’t want to believe. For some reason you think that if Labor was in power it would have been different!

Didn't you bring your complaints to the attention of the Labor Government as well as the Liberal Government?

Don’t anybody ever mention Labor and Human Rights in the same breath to me! I too can say when the hell does the truth matter when children's lives are at stake?

Over and over I have pleaded last six years to have systemic neglect, victimisation and corruption exposed - to no avail.

Four young kids - suffering because nobody cares enough to ensure that they are protected from their tormentors.

Not human. Don't count.


What the hell did these children do to deserve that? This is the Labor Government and Public Service I am talking about. Liberal, Labor - doesn’t matter, they are all ignoring it, they are all the same.

It’s not until the people change that things will make a turn for the better. You have gone on about your children/families for years, have you ever seriously considered mine and whether you can do anything to help or thought about the fact that its the same issues that have caused all these situations!

I have written to Amanda Vanstone, I have written to the newspapers and to the media about the terrible treatment of human beings in refugee camps. I have tried my best to do something to help. You tend to ignore my family's plight as per the new Australian way that goes something like this – 'To each their own', if it doesn’t affect you directly then don’t get involved. It seems like the public needs to wait until something drastic happens and it affects them directly before they take notice. Not very smart!

You have no right to get angry at anybody because you are not different, your only concern is your own agenda, just like everybody else – including the Liberal Party and the Labor Party.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dear Dylan, on reflection, I agree. Howard could be worse and we should encourage the little glimmer of humanitarian leanings that he has shown. One should try to ignore bad behaviour and focus on the good. That's what I would do if I had a problem child, like Johnny. Don't you agree?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Jolanda, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. I am a human rights advocate and want to help and protect all people.

Your children should be helped, mine should have been, the Bakhtiyaris should have been.

Now I don't know where you have been for the past four years, but I blame the ALP. But it is Howard who has made this place disgusting.

I have spent the day at Senate hearings into the detention of human beings, heard the horror stories and listened to lawyers and shrinks.

At least with the ALP now there seems to be a will for change. Unlike Howard and co.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Baghdad Neighborhood's Hopes Dimmed by Trials of Occupation - Some Who Welcomed Americans Now Scorn Them
By Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post Foreign Service, Tuesday, September 27, 2005; A01


BAGHDAD -- In the chaotic, hopeful April of 2003, Baghdad's Karrada district was one of those neighborhoods where residents showered flowers on U.S. forces entering the capital. Revelers threw water on one another and the Americans, exuding joy at the crushing of a dictatorship that had silenced, tortured and killed their people.

Now, with the end of the third and in many ways hardest summer of the U.S.-led occupation, the lights of Karrada are dimmer. The collapse of Iraq's central power system has left Baghdad averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

The crowds on the sidewalks have thinned -- kidnapping and other forms of lawlessness since the invasion mean Baghdad's comparatively liberated women seldom leave home without a good reason.

Car bombings and other insurgent attacks, as unknown in Baghdad before the invasion as suicide subway bombings were in London until this summer, have killed more than 3,000 people in the capital since late spring.

Leaving the house for work each day has become a matter of turning the key and consigning one's fate to God, said Jassim Mohammed, 41, a Karrada merchant who has lost two of his closest friends and one of his lighting shops in car bombings since the Americans came.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

G'day. See Britain, Australia to Pull Troops, Report Says frokm Associated Press (AP).

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

In what's now looking like a fast move to close the citizenship loophole (see my post on the journalism thread) Hicks will now face a hearing on November 18.

Won't it be ironic if half of the Whitehouse Cabinet is in Adelaide when one of our local boys is been tried on a charge he could never face here?

Has anybody heard any more news on Rice and Rumsfeld's visit? It's very quiet over here.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Marilyn Shepherd, you are wrong. It's not Howard who has made this place disgusting. It's politicians who have made this place disgusting because they only care about their own agenda, enjoying their own life to the fullest, saving their own skin and making their Governments look good, no matter what or who suffers.

Labor has done far more damage to Australian children than any other Government through its shocking management at state level and through its lack of opposition at Federal level. Given that our "children are the future" and their welfare should be of paramount concern - Labor are the biggest culprits in neglecting children and that is one reason they will not win an election and one reason why I would not vote for them!

Do you have any idea how many children are being abused both physically and psychologically and nothing is being done about it? The system is set up to protect pedophiles, child abusers and bullies.

It's wrong and our children deserve better, they deserve protection, we shouldn't have to wait until one of them dies.

Labor needs to change and I can’t see that happening anytime soon as our politicians are all a waste of money as they have no morals and no balls.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Despite winning such accolade as a leader we find some problems about Mr Howard’s responsibilities for decisions taken and the future suffering by Australians should we be attacked by terrorists.

Stuart Lord (25/09/2005 11:08:33 PM) writes: "...if terrorism comes to Australia? Will it be definitely because of the Iraq war? Where does that leave the Bali bombings? Did nut-cases go back in time to punish Australia for liberating East Timor?

"And did Spain pulling out of Iraq stop planned attacks against Spain?"

Hi Stuart, good clear questions:

- Not if, but when as we are told by so many ministers.

- Yes, yes definitely because of Mr Howard's decision to take us to war and the warmongering against Afghanistan and Iraq (we know this from the pre-war assessments that it would "increase the risk of terrorist attack" and Mick Kelty's response that "we are now a target because of our action in Iraq").

- The Bali bombings are part of the same picture though.

I would have thought that our/UK/US intelligence community and AFP leader both would have a greater credibility than your time travel theory. Gee, would current events or three year old events have more relevance?

As to Spain, how can we know, Stuart, about planned attacks? At least no more Spanish troops are killed for lies and no more are causing carnage on a much harmed society in Iraq.

As you mentioned Bali...

Bali occurred when the majority of Australians were against invading Iraq, and, despite the sombre event, attempt was made by Mr Howard to link the justification for the imminent attack upon Iraq. One remembers the embarrassing back down he had to do when challenged by Magistrate Deegan on his facts. Magistrate Deegan lost his son Josh in Bali and was in no mood for lying spin. Not a very proud moment for Mr Howard.

Mr Howard chose to lockstep us with the Us invasion and attacks upon two Moslem countries Afghanistan and Iraq, causing enormous suffering in both nations, then and still as the fighting continues. The many atrocities in Afghanistan may not have hit our media but the world media covered it well.

Considering the Afghanistan based trainers were known to have run training camps in Java in 2000 and close association with the military is it any surprise that both were probably involved in Bali? The reasons were complex but let's not pretend they were not intertwined with current political events, the looming invasion of Iraq and the recent carnage and continuing carnage in Afghanistan.

Mr Howard chose to lead us into two invasions. Both were preceded by warnings that it would increase the likelihood of attack against those involved.

Mexico, Canada, New Zealand all chose not to join the COW invasion. Mexico caught foreign agents with explosives in their Parliament in the build up to the war and were very outraged against their official allies.

NATO also was not required by the tight treaty they have, to assist the invasion.

There was choice.

Howard et al chose war for us, after the warnings of the result, despite these warnings.

If a terrorist attack comes he and his cabal have our blood upon them. This is simple logic, just as any soldier injured in the war in Iraq, an invasion based upon lies, is a condemnation of he and his kind. Why do you think we never have interviews with the wounded Aussies or grieving widows? Don't engage the home viewer or they may empathise, question and wake up.

The spin line used to be, "they hate us for what we are." Yep: ruthless invaders bombing cities from far above, using napalm gas, fletchetted weapons, cluster bombs, excessive force, hospitals targeting for bombings, massive destruction and inflicted suffering, sell off of national assets, torturers, terrorists dressed as locals... yep I hate what we have become too. Thankyou Mr Howard et al. Perhaps if I had no hope and my family was killed by napalm I might consider response, we don't know until each are tested to the limit. Why would we be surprised that a response may come?

Now everybody back to the footy. Can't waste time on unimportant issues. What award was it that he earned?


re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Thanks for that Bob. I think it's coming back to me a little. How did I overlook such an episode? Do you know of a good reference to refresh up on the topic? Google doesn't yield much.

I guess it must have been conceived as an "executive action" capability, just like the Big Guys have in Washington. But using the AFP? Could that have been legal without big-time, headline-grabbing legislation?

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Hi Jacob, the AFP "flying squads" plan was separate from the preemptive strikes. The idea - that AFP personnel would go off to hunt terrorists in neighbouring states is OK ... as long as it is discussed and agreed with those states before making a public announcement.

The resurrection of the preemptive strikes idea during last years election campaign was a muddled attempt at sounding tough. Had Howard talk about it and then Downer and Hill saying he didn't really mean ... then Howard would say he did actually mean ... and finally the lovely question put to Dolly that if it was OK for us to do it then it must be OK for say Indonesia to bomb the Kimberleys if they had intel about a terrorist training camp there ... all Downer could say was "Yes".

In the middle of it all we had the revelation that two years earlier when the idea had first been announced Downer had called in the reps of neighbouring states and told them it was all about "domestic politics".


re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Hi Bob, not sure that our esteemed Mr Howard's doctrine of pre-emptive/preventive strikes in neighbouring states could be described as wholly original, since all he did was crudely ape the Bush Administration's worldwide posture at a regional level.

Unless, Bob, you mean that Howard's bullish effrontery towards our regional neighbours was in itself "original". I agree, we'd have to look long and hard to find a precedent for that kind of performance outside of tin-pot dictatorships and fascist regimes.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Jacob, Howard does have ideas of his own. Remember the AFP flying squads that would operate in neighbouring states? Problem was that Howard failed to consult our neighbours before announcing the plan; seems like another bit of tough rhetoric for the domestic electorate.

Anyway, our neighbours were not pleased, the deputy PM of Malaysia described the plan as an infringement of Malaysia's sovereignty.

Some statesman, eh Dylan? I'd like to see your responses to these issues.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Dylan, one final observation on that Foundation's citation/promo for Howard's award, which states approvingly that our Prime Minister recently announced "Australia's partnership in the Asia-Pacific Partnership On Clean Development and Climate, an enterprise devoted to addressing the challenges of climate change, energy security and air pollution in a way that strives to encourage economic development and reduce poverty in developing nations."

Well then, whose idea was the Asia-Pacific Partnership On Clean Development and Climate? Was it our esteemed Mr Howard's? Surely must have been, eh?

But, oh no, this was an "American-led" initiative of George Dubya's Whitehouse (see here), which our Foreign Minister Downer said would "complement and not replace" the Kyoto agreement. Yep, that's the Kyoto Agreement that Our Government, slavishly following George's, has persistently eschewed.

This 'Partnership' - which "Mr Downer revealed that Japan was initially reluctant to join up and ... was initiated by the US" - is a ploy dreamed up in the Bush Whitehouse to rope in India, China, Japan, South Korea and good old dependable Australia in a target-less and outcome-free alternative to Kyoto. A carbon-junkies' dream come true, no less. And let's not forget China and India have recently been recipients of special concessions on nuclear energy from the US, circumventing the IAEA's jurisdiction.

Yippee! Mr Prime Minister, come and get your reward for your latest unoriginal, reflexive, opportunistic, lickspittling, kow-towing, arselicking "statesman-like", gesture.

No-one could disagree, Dylan, he thoroughly deserves it.

re: Taking human rights and John Howard seriously

Angela Ryan, I don't think you got the Spain reference.

Even after Spain pulled out of Iraq in highly public fashion, Spanish authorities found terrorists planning other attacks on Spanish soil, and AlQ support for terrorist cells planning attacks in France, the nation most loudly against the war. Read this article.

Again, if appeasment doesn't work (now you see why I included my Spanish example, with a French connection as well) then how will our involvement in the Iraq war change a damned thing at this point? And how does not going into Iraq help France, Russia, Germany? Not much, by the looks of it.

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