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Keane: Iraq intervention part of a war without end

The deteriorating Iraq situation and our response to it merely perpetuates a War on Terror that will always curb our freedoms.

Last Friday morning American time, when the New York Stock Exchange opened, the share prices of Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon and L3 Communications all immediately spiked between 1.5% and 3%. The night before, President Barack Obama had announced that the United States would be using airstrikes against ISIS forces in Iraq. They’re the biggest defence companies in the United States, and war is always good for business.

Indeed, over the last year, as the situations in Syria and Iraq have steadily deteriorated, US defence company shares have all strongly outperformed the Dow and the Nasdaq, with investors apparently convinced, even after the abortive threat to use military force against Syria over chemical weapons earlier this year, that the goods and services produced by the US military-industrial complex would be needed. So it turned out to be.

A new round of military intervention in Iraq, however limited, won’t help the US budget, but it’s rare for fiscal hardliners to apply the same austere mindset to the security establishment and its contractors as they do to everyone else. For that, look no further than our own government announcing it would be lavishing an astonishing $630 million in additional national security spending despite the “budget crisis” it insists the country is in the grip of that justifies big — and politically painful — cuts in other areas of spending. The government’s priority is Australians’ safety, it insists — by which logic, lavishing similar sums on health or infrastructure spending would be far more effective. But our capacity to think rationally when anyone starts using the word “terrorism” in public debate is minimal.

Meantime Australia’s Defence Minister, the gaffe-prone David Johnston, this week directly linked events in Iraq with the need to pass a series of national security law reforms that would significantly expand the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies at the expense of individual rights, reforms that invoke the advice of the former Independent National Security Legislation Monitor (INSLM) where convenient but ignore it, and indeed specifically contradict it, where inconvenient.

Iraq isn’t just a neoconservative gift that keeps on giving for military contractors. It demonstrates the self-perpetuating nature of the War on Terror, with a terrorist threat that we ourselves have generated …”

Recall that the 2003 attack on Iraq was sold — on the basis of fictitious weapons of mass destruction — as making the West more secure. As reports from US intelligence agencies and MI5 made clear, that war — cost, nearly US$2 trillion and counting — in fact made Western citizens significantly less safe, a view famously supported by then-AFP head Mick Keelty. But subsequent increases in the terror threat created by the Iraq invasion were used to justify further extensions of security agency powers in Australia, to protect us from the threat that they themselves had helped create via the attack on Iraq.

Now, with the US client regime that replaced Saddam Hussein falling apart, a situation for which Western governments are directly responsible is again being invoked as a security threat that requires more powers and further curbs on basic rights. Included in the government’s package are proposals to make permanent what were temporary powers for “preventative”, incommunicado detention (AKA abduction) by security agencies introduced in response to the Iraq-induced terror threat the first time around. Those are exactly the powers that the INSLM recommended be abolished, not strengthened.

Iraq isn’t just a neoconservative gift that keeps on giving for military contractors. It demonstrates the self-perpetuating nature of the War on Terror, with a terrorist threat that we ourselves have generated via that war used to justify endless extensions of national security powers and curbs on basic rights even as we return to fight the terrorists we’ve helped create. In the same way, US drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan helped enrage and radicalise future generations of militants, a point made by senior US military figures. This is a process that will ever wind down — it is specifically intended to be permanent. A senior Australian military figure wants a “century-long war” against radical Islam. Obama himself flagged that the current intervention would be a “long-term effort.” Everyone wants to see the brutal monsters of IS halted in their tracks, but interventions always start off black and white, with the “good guys” clearly delineated from the “bad guys”, in Tony Abbott’s parlance, before rapidly veering into morally unclear areas. What happens when civilians begin dying in air strikes, when governing regimes fall apart, when unintended and disastrous consequences emerge?

As the last 11 years tells us, they just become the justification for more military spending and more draconian security laws. It will never stop. There are too many powerful interests that benefit from it.

17
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    That would have been the “pre-gelded Mick Keelty”?

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Sort of a “Catch-69” isn’t it - you can’t see their head for someone’s arse?

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Get rid of IS?????????
    What would they have to scare us with next - on the back of which to further curtail individual freedoms?

  • 4
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t it wonderful-War is a growth industry!

  • 5
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Excellent piece: “It will never stop” will require the eternal vigilance we’ve forgotten to uphold.

  • 6
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to go to Yemen but was advised not to because of the terrorist threat. Closer inspection revealed the real reason for not going-namely the threat of being blown-up by an American drone.

  • 7
    Glen
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    To what extent is the massively increased spend on “national security” really about ensuring the personal security of senior politicians? They are targets, and know it.

  • 8
    UTS LIBRARY
    Posted Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    My children and grandchildren face a bleak world. I am so sad and powerless.

  • 9
    MJPC
    Posted Friday, 15 August 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Interesting view on the current disaster. Whilst the finances never end for security forces to stop “terrorism”, what are they spending the $$$ on in light of yesterdays news reports that the said security agencies underestimated the power of social media to recruit radicalised youth for these conflicts.
    OOOOps, wait for the next budget where money will be allocated into surveillance of social media…this is just obscene on so many levels.

  • 10
    drsmithy
    Posted Friday, 15 August 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Well, they need something to keep the generation of angry, unemployed, unemployable youth they’re eagerly creating, busy.

    Expect military service to feature as an alternative to waiting 6 months for the dole at some point in the not too distant future.

  • 11
    Luke Hellboy
    Posted Friday, 15 August 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget all of the other beneficiaries of war profiteering, I mean defence contracting. Halliburton, KBR, our friends at G4S, a myriad of PMC’s (mercenaries) not to mention the financial institutions that take a healthy cut from brokering arms deals. The Hand should be suitably impressed that mega-profits to huge multi-nationals out weigh the piles of corpses of the poor. The pinnacle of free-market capitalism!

  • 12
    AR
    Posted Saturday, 16 August 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Unlike the higher primates, most mammals and slime mould, our Masters do not have the ability to learn from experience - in fact almost the opposite, each tragedy, calamity and SNAFU reinfores the urgent need to be even dumber to justify the next idiotic cure.
    Spreading woofle dust to keep dragons at bay cannot be criticised on the basis that they are none as they non existence is simply proof of how effective the woofling is.
    Unfortunately it is also mutagenic, giving rise the new, improved breeds of dragons.
    But, of course, “we have always been at War with..insert foe du jour.”
    Klewi - alien invasion?
    Poor Bugger, my Planet.

  • 13
    GideonPolya
    Posted Sunday, 17 August 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    The US , UK and Australia illegally invaded Iraq on 20 March 2003 on the utterly false and illegitimate excuse that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The invasion occurred after over 12 years of deadly sanctions, war and bombing that had devastated the infrastructure of Iraq , violently killed 0.2 million Iraqis in the Gulf War and killed 1.7 million Iraqis through war-imposed deprivation (see “Genocide in Iraq . The case against the Security Council and member states” by Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and Tarik Al-Ani; for review see: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya080213.htm ). The subsequent US-led invasion and occupation was associated with 1.5 million violent deaths (see the US-based Just Foreign Policy: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq ) and an estimated 1.2 million avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation (see “Iraqi Holocaust, Iraqi Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ and “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/body-count-global-avoidable-mortality_05.html ).

    However the US War on Terror has had a disastrous impact not just on Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and other Muslim countries (10 million Muslim deaths from violence or war-imposed deprivation; see “Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ ) but also upon the US itself and on Australia, one of America’s most slavish allies. The War on Terror was precipitated by the 9-11 atrocity that in the view of many science, engineering, architecture, aviation, military and intelligence experts must have involved the American Government itself (with some asserting Israeli involvement; see “Experts: US did 9-11”: https://sites.google.com/site/expertsusdid911/ ), Thus the long-term accrual cost to America of the Iraq War and the continuing Afghanistan War has been estimated at $3.5 trillion and $1-2 trillion, respectively (i.e. as high as $5.5 trillion) and the cost of the US War on Terror for Australia has been estimated at $125 billion. This huge fiscal perversion is associated with preventable deaths since 2001 in the US and Australia totalling 17 million and 0.8 million, respectively, associated with the US Alliance committing trillions of dollars to killing 10 million Muslims abroad in the US War on Terror rather than keeping Americans and Australians alive at home (see Gideon Polya, “Endless War on Terror, Huge cost for Australia & America”, MWC News, 14 October 2012: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/22149-endless-war-on-terror.html ).

    Sensible, science-informed, humane and patriotic Australians will reject the horrendously expensive state terrorism of the pro-war, pro-Zionist, human rights-violating, US lackey Lib-Labs (Liberal-Laborals, Coalition and Labor Right) linked to the preventable deaths since 9-11 of 17 million Americans and 0.8 million Australians - patriotic Australians who care for the lives of fellow Australians will vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last.

  • 14
    Posted Sunday, 17 August 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Well, you’ve gotta hand it to FDOTM, he’s summed it up well: https://twitter.com/firstdogonmoon/status/500756394476204032

  • 15
    Posted Sunday, 17 August 2014 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    KLEWSO: Relax, they haven’t come up with Bubonic Plague-YET!

  • 16
    Yclept
    Posted Monday, 18 August 2014 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    So just to be clear, is the war in Oceania, Eurasia or Eastasia? Oh, it doesn’t matter, cause WAR IS PEACE!

  • 17
    Posted Tuesday, 19 August 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    YCLEPT: If it had been a civil war in Tierra del Fuego Tony baby would still have shrieked total war. Anything to deflect the public from seeing the sorry state of his government’s non-policies.

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