Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Lighting the Powder Train

Tuesday, 18 March 2003

So care needs to be taken when employing military force: the powder train can run very quickly and in the most unexpected directions. (Nigel Bagnall, The Punic Wars)

Here's how a people who are free to be proud of their country and heritage, free to realise themselves as individuals, and free to pursue their hopes and ideals, who value excellence as well as fairness and independence as dearly as mateship, go to war.

At 6.00 am your Prime Minister gets a telephone call from the President of the world's only remaining superpower with the long anticipated formal request for a little more involvement in the coming conflict than a mere "pre-deployment". In between finishing the call and heading into a cabinet meeting, your PM drops in to the ABC to give an interview about the phone call. Throughout, he valiantly maintains the fiction that the decision is not a foregone conclusion:

I indicated that Cabinet would meet again this morning, and Cabinet is meeting again this morning, at 8:30, to formally consider that request. We did, of course, talk in some detail about the whole issue last night and when Cabinet has taken a decision, that decision will be immediately communicated to the United States and of course to our military forces.

After the cabinet meeting, the PM briefs all Government MPs on the Cabinet decision then announces the decision publicly.

The Government strongly believes that the decision it's taken is right, it is legal, it is directed towards the protection of the Australian national interest, and [I] ask the Australian community to support it.

He also announces that Parliament will debate the issue this afternoon: once again, well after the critical decisions have been taken. In doing so, he is acting in accordance with the constitution and the precedent set by Mr R J Hawke when Mr Hawke involved Australia in the first Gulf War.

Doesn't it make you glad you live under a democratic and federal system of government which exists under law to preserve and protect all Australians in an equal dignity which may never be infringed by prejudice or fashion or ideology nor invoked against achievement?

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