The worse things get for the Coalition of the Willing in the not-so-new Middle-East, the more its most vociferous Australian supporters seem to be subjected to bouts of magical thinking, whereby merely saying will make it so.

İnitially there was a focus on the surge and the optimistic results forecast by American forces. The reconstruction of İraqi society was possible, Australian Brigadier Rod West said, ”I am definitely a true believer that this is doable and it’s probably doable quicker than some might imagine” as reported by Paul Kelly, in an article that was pretty much a direct transcription of official military opinion.

Sadly, the rest of the West’s comment was drowned out by a car bomb killing 150 in Kirkuk.

“Things are terrible in Iraq for now, but we’ll see the benefit of Iraq’s regime change in decades to come.” Quoth Tim Blair in the Telegraph, only to find that the White House – faced with the final collapse of support among key Senate Republicans – is debating whether to set a withdrawal date, an admission of the war’s final and complete failure.

So it wasn’t surprising that some started to turn their attention once again to Afghanistan – as St George Orwell said, in the manner of an invalid turning the pillow every ten minutes in the illusion of relief.

”Afghanistan is a test of western resolve,” that man Kelly writes, days after his upbeat assessment of İraq – this apparently is the real war, not riven by sectarian struggles. The editorial of the Oz follows that up with the unintentionally hilarious comment:

… the war there can be, must be, won, if the West is to have any hope of demonstrating to the people of the Middle East that their future lies with government by the ballot box, not the gun …

And you can’t fight in the war room. Priceless.

Are these people terminally stupid? Apparently so. Take, on a related matter, Frank Devine’s comment on the ”national emergency”:

I think Louis Nowra was the first to gazump me by referring to the opening moves of Howard’s reform program as the shock and awe phase, an expression and analogy I had been storing for my own use.

Get that? He supports the Howard policy and he expresses that support by saying that it will proceed much as the İraq war did. Lucky aborigines.

There is no western public will for a new imperialism and thus no way of enforcing it. In five years the Taliban or similar will run Afghanistan and İraq will be one or several anti-American local powers.

How is it possible not to see these obvious truths? Sheer trauma. Acknowledging that this disaster hurried US power to burial is just too much to face.

Peter Fray

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