Pleasese explain Iraq invasion – The Canberra Times

Dennis Richardson, former head of ASIO and of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of Defence, tells us that former PM John Howard was very good at receiving advice he didn’t like (“True servant of Australia”, CT, May 28).

This raises only two possibilities in relation to Howard dragging an unwilling Australia into the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, which has severely undermined Australia’s security. Either Howard was not good at receiving unwelcome advice, or the advice he received at that time was appalling.

We won’t know who said what on this most momentous decision because both our two biggest political parties have refused to consider a parliamentary inquiry into it.

On the same theme of giving advice, Greg Colton’s article “Sleepwalking in Iraq” (CT, May 26) reports on the recent “War in the Sand-pit” seminar which addressed lessons from Australia’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Keynote speaker at the conference was Robert Hill, Howard’s defence minister when we invaded Iraq. Having a good track record is apparently not a criterion for being hailed as an authority on making Australia secure. If it were, hundreds of thousands of Australians who took to the streets in 2002-03 would be more credible.

When proposals to go to war are not even debated in our Parliament, critical questions about objectives, strategy, legality, civilian and military costs, and likely outcome can be easily ignored. And a decade hence, the key players will again give keynote addresses on why it all went so wrong.

Dr Sue Wareham, vice-president Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), Cook

In “Reform to return fun to Saudi Arabia” (Sunday CT, April 30, p14), it was posited Saudi clerics were considering opening cinemas to meet demands of an entertainment-starved populace, which, except for the royal rave spectacles frequently provided, gratis, in Deera (“chop chop”) Square (153 executions in 2016, 158 in 2015), and an occasional bicycle-riding female if “appropriately” dressed and with male chaperone! is zero.

The decision to close cinemas was further justified by screening, to apoplectic Saudi outrage, the 1980 ATV docu-drama Death of a Princess! Perhaps entertainer Trump will fill some of the void until cinemas reopen, after all his verbal somersaults, alternative facts and contortions were command performances, worthy of the world media stage he dominated on his Middle East weapons selling jaunt (“Trump’s right royal hypocrisy”, Sunday CT, May 28, p18).

Trump’s genuflecting was not out of reverence for the holy site of Mecca, but in aid of America’s military industrial complex, which he hopes to enrich to the tune of $110billion from his deals, plus lifting of Obama-imposed sanctions, worth another $350billion over 10 years, thus “making America great again”. (Minister Pyne visited Riyadh in December 2016 to secure Australia’s share of the matriel budget, the world’s largest.)

As Trump was making deals with these despotic misogynists, US-supplied weapons were, as they signed, being used to pulverise Yemen. That, presumably, would not have impacted Trump’s “moral” compass.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

I have read the article (“Change not easy”, CT, May 28, p1) by Timna Jacks. I learn that both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are not fully endorsing the Indigenous leaders’ resolutions taken at the recent summit. Mr Turnbull suggests that it’s not easy to make such a change. Mr Shorten is also stepping back from his call for a treaty. I can assure both of them that it is easy to have a successful referendum if they join together and appeal to the electorates. It needs political courage and conviction. But have they got it?

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

It is good to read that James Allan (letters, May 29) sees the need for peace, harmony and prosperity in our world today.

But this is what all religions have been trying to get across for millennia. To blame religion itself is superficial thinking. Think deeper.

The real problem is tribalism/economic advantage; read the history of any recent trouble spot (Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Sunni/Shiite, Indonesia) and what do you see?

Religion was only the family marker that identified tribal membership. The Manchester bomber was angry about treatment of his tribe in Libya, and being not too bright was gulled into hurting young people at random. This is the key: “not too bright”. Yes, the history of religions is barbaric. So are yours and mine, uncomfortably recently. It’s up to us to put it right.

Dr Peter Cooper, Greenway

Paul Malone had better be careful. Religious people like me (well, I am told that non-belief is a faith) could take offence at his reference (CT, May 28) to people hearing from God or Allah. And on a Sunday, too.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy

The idea that we should seriously consider a future without Medicare, without ever intending to go there, would be like asking the Israelis to consider living in a future united with the democratic state of Palestine, just to give the debate credibility by considering all the options, you understand.

The Coalition plans to reduce Medicare to a combination of second-rate public services for second-class citizens and some sort of voucher system. They don’t have the guts to admit it in the current climate, so they plan to change the climate. Just wait for their polemical mouthpieces in the right-wing press to take up cudgels.

S. W. Davey, Torrens

Peter Martin outlines a logical argument (“Why is Adani is [sic] banking on the unbankable? The answer might be more Australian than you think.” Comment, June 1, pp 16-17) as to why Gautam Adani would want to persist with his Galilee Basin Mine, including a railway company in the Cayman Islands, despite India’s winding down of coal imports and a move to renewable energy.

It might be all very fine for Adani, but what’s in it for Australia, other than the possibility of a huge hole in the ground, severe depletion of central Queensland’s groundwater resources, added pollution of the Great Barrier Reef and environs and a mere 1464 jobs?

From my point of view, it still doesn’t make sense for Australia.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

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Pleasese explain Iraq invasion – The Canberra Times

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