If you had to select a single moment that sums up the profoundly hypocritical behaviour of politicians in the War on Terror, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews’ disastrous interview on 7.30 last night would do the trick.

Having announced that we were sending Australian troops back to Iraq for the ostensible purposes of training the Iraqi Army — an endeavour that John Howard boasted about achieving in 2007 — Andrews was interviewed to discuss the deployment.

Australians troops will be helping train the Iraqi Army, while the hard fighting against Islamic State is being carried out by Iranian-backed Shiite militias. These militias have already engaged in reprisal killings against Sunnis in areas they have retaken from IS — which, by the way, only exists because of the West’s attack on Iraq in 2003. As CIA director John Brennan noted last week, one of the consequences of the War on Terror has been to spawn more terrorists and terror groups.

But when asked by Leigh Sales who the head of IS actually was, Andrews didn’t have a clue. (It’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a one-time prisoner of US forces in Iraq, who is routinely identified in the government’s own counter-terrorism communications.)

In an attempt to throw Sales off while he was fumbling for an answer (it didn’t work), Andrews resorted to secrecy, insisting the name was an “operational matter”. The interview neatly demonstrated how national security secrecy is as much about enabling politicians to cover up their own embarrassment as it is about protecting Australia from threats — threats that our own actions have helped to create.

Peter Fray

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