The politics of the Bali bombings will be very divisive and we’ve already seen strongly alternative views expressed in the first 36 hours.

John Winston Howard – war leader

John Howard underlined yesterday just how fundamentally weak is Australia’s plight in the war on terror. With the nation reeling from the Bali attack and looking for leadership, Howard could offer no real hope that justice would be done. “We’re going to find out who did it, if we can,” he told Richard Carleton on 60 Minutes, looking upset and powerless. Howard knows who did this – religious fundamentalists linked to al-Qaeda from the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, and our immediate neighbours to the north, Indonesia.

But he is in no position to do anything about it. Compare Howard’s wimpish words to the pugnacious pronouncements of George Bush Jnr after September 11 that the US would get Osama Bin Laden “dead or alive” and that in the war on terror, the rest of the world was “either with us or against us”. The difference, of course, is that the US can back up its rhetoric with force. Howard and Downer, in ignoring Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim to “talk softly and carry a big stick”, have set Australia up for this terrible retribution.

Howard is the PM whose campaign platform at last November’s election was how secure we would be under his leadership during turbulent times. Now the terror has hit the fan, just how safe do we feel? Howard has no pull in Indonesia – President Megawati barely talks to him, and has been effectively harbouring the chief suspect in the Bali attack, Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group. It’s ironic that the man who would have been PM, Kim Beazley, had developed much closer relationships with key Indonesians in the security apparatus, especially during his term as defence Minister, and would have been far better placed than Howard and Downer to get results with Indonesia in the fight against terror.

Howard yesterday refused to acknowledge the obvious presumption – that his government’s bellicose war talk has contributed to the deaths of scores of young Australians. Take his bizarre rationalisation that this could happen to any country – and that citizens of anti-war Germany had been killed in terrorism attacks, therefore the terrorists were undiscriminating in their targets. All the windy talk by Downer of leading the fight against terrorism has now been exposed as empty, dangerous and self-defeating rhetoric.

Yesterday, Howard at least had the chance to acknowledge that the Bali disaster was a price we paid for taking the lead in a war that must be won. His weak attempt to deflect responsibility underscored Howard’s tragic lack of moral and intellectual leadership.

Bali blast rocks Labor

Crikey’s resident warmonger, Hillary Bray, begs to differ with Hugo Kelly. We are slightly ahead of the pack in focusing on the politics before the human tragedy has played itself out but we are a specialist website dealing in politics so we must take this course:

“The Bali terrorist blast has played right into the Government’s hands. Once again, the Prime Miniature has got a political gift. Simon Crean has said Australia must commit itself to hunting down those responsible for the Bali bombing – but he and his party are going to come in for an almighty kicking with Parliament back this week. This is what the ABC is reporting his foreign affairs spokesman – and wannabe leader – Kevin “The Ego has Landed” Rudd as saying on Sunday afternoon: “This seems to have been the direct result of a terrorist attack, more fundamentally this seems to be the first occasion on which Australian civilians have been the target of a terrorist attack in the history of our country, and this is an appalling, appalling set of developments.

“Security now is a global fact, it is something which affects events in other parts of the world and it affects what happens in this part of the world as well. “There is no longer a neat divide between foreign policy and domestic policy, between foreign security and domestic security.”

But what was Rudd saying on Saturday? Here’s another grab from the ABC: “We argue that the time has come for the Prime Minister to take the Australian people into his confidence and make a full and complete statement to the Australian Parliament about the precise nature of the terrorist threat to this country. The people of Australia want that.”

Specifics won’t matter much now, Kev. Bob Brown can also expect to be tackled after his criticism of terror warnings and statement that “the federal government should not have warned of a possible terrorist attack unless there was a specific threat against Australia”.

Stand by for our great war leader to do everything he can to turn anger and horror over the Bali blast into support for an attack on Iraq – and Labor.

Your feedback: Everyone was politicising the bombing

A subscriber writes:

It was interesting to read you accuse Ackerman of politicising the Bali tragedy as if you in your email and the ABC and everyone else linking it with Howard’s stand on Iraq wasn’t. So far Prof Budiman the Indonesian expert used by SBS, Indonesian politician Lie, and an Australian Indonesian specialist picked by GMA this morning have all confounded our leftwing TV media by categorically ruling out the notion that Australia was singled out in the attack. It was to them to get international attention, to destroy the economies of non-Muslim Indonesia as with Ambon and so forth.

I notice Rudd as opposed to Crean is trying to get political mileage out of the tragedy and as for the Greens and Democrats, their policy of no mandatory sentencing for illegal immigrants would make it dead easy for Al Queda or JI to enter Australia with the genuine asylum seekers and go and do precisely what they want. If ever there was a time to cleanup terrorist training sites, in Ambon, in Ramallah, in Iraq, in Chechnya, as we have accomplished in Afghanistan and Sudan, then by whatever means works we should act without delay to prevent further worse tragedies.

Barry, Mackay

Was this revenge from TNI

I note that Peter Carey said on (BBC World News) that the Islamic groups could not have done this without the connivance of the security forces.

These things point to it being (possibly the work of the TNI security forces.)

(1) Who ever heard of a terrorist group putting a bomb near (300) a American
consulate. They blow the things up. If they had blown up the American
Consulate the Americans would have done the forensics.

(2) Al Qaeda normally does things by suicide bomber – making it obvious
that it is a suicide bomber (to make a point) – nothing of that here.

(3) Al Qaeda do not blow up night spots.

Who would want to blow up Australians. The target would not be by chance
and it is a mostly Australians night-spot.

(a) TNI has the motive. (They want to get back at Australia after what
happened in East Timor). TNI sees Australia as having tossed TNI out (and
all their business links.)

(b) TNI has the means – access to explosives etc.

(c) TNI has a history – bombs massive ones the same as this one at Bali
have been attributed to TNI

(d TNI has a history of concealing its activities by trying to make it
look like somebody else has done it. (Maybe the recent shootings in Papua
is an example of this.)

I just thing there is enough doubt about all this to stop pointing the
finger straight away at Muslim Terrorists.

Paul D

Unfair links between Australian politics and terrorism

Re: Hugo Kelly – War Correspondent

I find it quite unfair and unreasonable to make such definite links to the bombings throughout Indonesia on the weekend to Australias stance in the war against terror. The attacks that have killed German and French nationals in the past year, and the more recent attack on the French tanker are dismissed far too easily.

To determine the precise motives of the terrorists within 36 hours of the attacks would require a great deal of knowledge, in particular, an understanding of who the terrorists actually were. I would like to think that Crikey is above the abhorrent display of journalism Richard Carleton displayed on 60 minutes last night. How can Howard appear to be a great war leader when the first one-on-one interview he does is an ambush.

It does not surprise me that left wing journos, ex nationals, former politicians and diplomats push their agenda after an incident like this, but Crikey should show more moderation.

The link between this attack and Australia is strong, but could it just be that the incident was an attack on the Western world in general? Until the group responsible outlines that the attack was targeted towards Australia it is far too presumptuous to assume the motives of the terrorists, so please ask the quest.

Kind Regards, Gareth