By Ben Shearman

A satirical speech by John Howard called “Reflection on the situation in Iraq” has appeared on a website – www.johnhowardpm.org – which cleverly replicates the PM’s real website – www.pm.gov.au.

Its author, social commentator and former Oz
magazine editor Richard Neville, describes the fake speech and
lookalike Prime Ministerial website as an act of “culture jamming.”
Neville told Crikey today that he created the website to provide “a
frame for the satire” by making it look and sound as plausible as
possible.

Neville’s “Howard speech” begins with these words:

“During our recent celebrations of the Coalition’s ten
years in power, I have, as Prime Minister, been publicly reflecting on
our Party’s many great achievements, as was appropriate to do. But on
this occasion, among old friends and senior colleagues, I wish to share
some unsettling thoughts about the situation in Iraq.”

… and includes these passages:

“We have been lucky up to this point, because the full extent of the
mayhem resulting from our U.N sanctioned occupation has not been dwelt
upon by the Australian media. You can draw your own conclusions why
this is so. However, having been kept well briefed on the conflict by
our intelligence agencies, and I can assure you that many unpleasant
details are still to emerge.”

“Under
international law, all military forces owe a ‘duty of care’ to the
civilians of an occupied city. And I am starting to ask myself if this
is a commitment we have betrayed. In fact, I dare to wonder if we have
betrayed the very ideals that I invoked in my support of the invasion.”

“There
is tremendous pressure from the US for our troops to remain in Iraq,
and of course mutual loyalty is a vital component of the alliance. But
the longer the Coalition of the Willing remains, the more we are
detested, and the more blood is shed. The country is already tearing
itself apart, so I am asking you, could our departure really make it
any worse?”

“Flying home from India, I started to ask myself
what a leader like Mahatma Gandhi would do, but I feared I would not be
able to live up to the answer, unless I have some wise advice form my
longtime friends. Please look into your hearts and let me know what you
find.”

Neville’s spoof site (first image below) lists an “Address
to Deakin Society” as the first entry on the Speeches page, then goes
to to list the Prime Minister’s real speeches and press conferences,
just like the real site (second image below):

At least a few people have been taken in, including at least one American blogger
who wrote: “The words of John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia, must
leave anyone who cares about the truth – and the people of Iraq, with a
deep and abiding bitterness.

And we’re waiting for a call back from the PM’s
office to get their view of the spoof site and the practice of “culture
jamming.”

Peter Fray

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