27 Feb. 2008

Wanker Of The Day: Greg Sheridan Crosses A Dangerous Line

Greg Sheridan today is playing a very dangerous game indeed. He says that if US voters elect Obama, Israel will have "no alternative but to strike Iran's nuclear facilities". But if the GOP wins, "MCCain could handle it".

It would be more alarming if it were not all so ridiculous. Let's just start with the title: "This is no time for a celebrity in the Oval Office".

Can anyone tell me the last time a US President was NOT a celebrity? And what is he suggesting: that Obama and/or Hillary is a celebrity, but John "The Maverick" McCain (who calls the US press his "base") is NOT??? No, what Sheridan's really doing is branding Obama, in particular, as a shallow overnight sensation. Clever, if you like that kind of thing.

On to the opening para:
WOULD a Barack Obama ascendancy in the US presidential election lead to a new war in the Middle East? There's quite a respectable case for thinking it might. Would it also lead to catastrophe in Iraq? And what would it mean for Australia?
Um, wasn't it John McCain who suggested we should "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"? And aren't the rightwing crazies madly keen for another war anyway? And don't we already HAVE a "catastrophe in Iraq thanks to "respectable" people like this?

And what's with the old Sheridan angle about Australian interests? He says Obama is left of the Democratic Left, which is "bad for Australia in four ways". Let's examine them in isolation, shall we?
It has led Obama into protectionism, he campaigns against Clinton because her husband passed the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Even if this was true, which it isn't, what has our much-vaunted FTA with the USA (singed with the blood of innocent Iraqis on our former PM's hands) brought us? Anyone? And what has Bush's GOP done to (e.g.) help the Doha trade talks succeed? Don't get me started! This is a nonsense argument from Sheridan.
Second, the Left of the Democratic Party has no interest in Asia and can barely find it on a map.
It's a well known fact that nobody in America can find any foreign countries, not even Canada and Mexico, on a map. Most US citizens think Australia is somewhere near Germany! Bush doesn't know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland! This is (yet again) a stupid thing for Sheridan to even talk about. He's clearly reaching for arguments to support his nonsense conclusions (below).
Most important, Obama steadily increases the stridency of his opposition to US troops in Iraq.
That's a BAD thing????!! For Australia???!!! Really???!!!
Finally, the Left of the Democratic Party cares least for the military and for alliances. But the chief way Washington conceives of Australia is as an ally, and the chief US thinkers about us are the military.
OK, so that's what all this nonsense is really about! Greg's big buddies in the military-industrial machine are really our only friends in the USA. And screw all that talk about Free Trade, all that really matters is our military alliance. And of course the money that goes with it.

Which helps explain Sheridan's all-too-foreseeable conclusion:
In my view the best candidate from Australia's point of view is McCain.
There follows some more predictable B.S. about how McCain "knows Asia very intimately" and "has been such a fierce critic of the way the Bush administration initially mismanaged Iraq, and the war on terror more generally". Ahem!

But the main reason why McCain would be good for Australia is that "he would not let the Middle East spin out of control". And here's how that is going to happen, according to Greg:
Many Israeli leaders say that a nuclear armed Iran represents an existential threat to Israel. If they really believe this, they have no alternative but to strike Iran's nuclear facilities.
Got that, folks? If the people of the USA elect Obama, Israel will have NO CHOICE but to bomb Iran. But if McCain wins, Israel DOES have a choice: they can let McCain bomb Iran instead!

Sheridan covers his arse in the final para by saying "the odds are against" any US strike on Iran, or "even" an Israeli one, but the message here is pretty clear. Bush's neo-con supporters want to bomb Iran, and McCain supports them. If they lose power, Israel will go it alone. In fact, they might not even wait till November. An attack could be unleashed "if it looks like Obama will win".

Pay close attention to this, folks. Coming from the Political Editor of Murdoch's flagship paper, a man with close ties to the US and Australian military, not to mention political leaders and neo-conservative "geniuses", this seemingly ridiculous article carries a very real and very dangerous threat.

ANY strike on Iran, whether from the USA or Israel, would clearly not be in Australia's interests, or the world's. If Iran is going to develop nuclear weapons there is not much (short of military strikes) that can be done to stop them. But let's be real: what would Iran do with such weapons? An attack on Israel would guarantee mutually assured destruction. The 'mad mullahs" in Tehran really want a bomb for defensive purposes, and to consolidate their hold on power. Instead of wasting years on macho saber-rattling that only increased the Iranian leaders' popularity, Bush's team should have been continuing Clinton's efforts to bolster the Iranian opposition (now almost chronically forgotten). It's not too late to make new diplomatic efforts, with a whole new US team and a whole new, more humble, and more sincere approach.

What would really be in Australia's best interests would be if war-mongers like Sheridan were removed from the national discourse, their links to the military-industrial complex were exposed, and our nation's penchant for military adventurism was brought to an abrupt close.