The Guardian November 27, 2002


Government war propaganda rebounds

by Peter Mac

The Howard Government last week warned of terrorist attacks against 
Australia, and is planning a media campaign about "things to look for" 
regarding such an attack. However, subsequent reports that Australia has 
now become a prime terrorist target have resulted in mounting public 
anxiety and growing opposition to the planned war against Iraq.

Howard this week appealed to the media to suppress such reports, and asked 
people not to become paranoid over terrorism. (Foreign Minister Downer 
noted that the Government had no information about specific threats or 
precautions "like staying away from the cricket".)

However, the Government's policy threatens our future social cohesion and 
civil rights.

One security specialist has warned that the Howard Government's "war 
against terrorism" could last for decades.

NSW Premier Bob Carr declared recently that this "war" would curb civil 
liberties, and has introduced laws which have this effect. He declared that 
people with "suspicious lifestyles" would be targeted by security 
organisations, noting "If you've got a website with a photo of Osama Bin 
Laden you ought to be subjected to surveillance".

He also stated that Australians should tolerate a "warlike atmosphere", and 
that regarding terrorism he had an "open cheque of co-operation with the 
Federal government" (which has a similar relationship with the US 
Government).

Former ALP leader Kim Beazley advocated appointment of a new "intelligence 
supremo" to run security organisations, and ASIO boss Dennis Richardson 
argued for even further powers to be given to his organisation.

In short, what Carr, Richardson and others are advocating is, in effect, 
the transformation of Australia into a nation beset by fear and stripped of 
most if not all of its hard-won civil rights.

As appalling as terrorism is, its origins lie in a desperate reaction 
against multi-national attempts to take over key resources such as oil, and 
in the oppression, enforced dispossession and eviction of people such as 
the Palestinians.

Moreover, the US supplied Iraq with chemical and biological weapons to use 
against Iran 20 years ago.

Many of those now accused of terrorist activities were assisted and even 
trained by the US in their military campaign to bring down the progressive 
Soviet-supported Afghan Government during the same period, and more 
recently the government of the former Yugoslavia.

With regard to combatting terrorism, Premier Carr also stated that "we 
should bear these modest sacrifices and think of the tough Australians who 
went before us."

Australians have indeed shown repeatedly that they are willing to take 
risks and endure suffering  but only if it's genuinely in the interests 
of Australia anditspeople.

We should certainly take precautions against any threat of terrorist 
attack. However, in this respect governments have boosted security 
organisations far more than our public hospital and fire fighting services

It appears that even our anti-terrorist defence force, the Special Air 
Services, is not to be used for Australia's defence, but is to be put on 
readiness for another deployment (to Iraq, another US military exploit) on 
its return from Afghanistan..

And more and more Australians are beginning to question why we became 
involved at all in this increasingly dangerous situation, with the Howard 
Government overwhelmingly focussed on helping the US to secure its Middle 
East oil interests.

A critical indication of the growing public awareness about the real issues 
involved in international terrorism in general, and specifically the US-
proposed terror war against Iraq, will be given in the "Walk Against the 
War" marches in Australia's major cities this weekend. Be there, if you 
care.

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