Friday 14th of June 2024

Downer And Democracy- Advertiser Letter Self-Reprint

Last year the freedom of speech in South Australia was challenged by the forbidding of the public to gather on the steps of  Parliament.  Fortunately the voice of democracy was heard and we were allowed to protest US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld's visit.  One of the proudest moments of my life was helping to fix the rallying banner for peace  to the Paliamentary pillars.  It restored my faith in the voice of the people being allowed to be heard.

Foreign Minister Downer's words yesterday have changed my mind.  Faced with statistics suggesting that four out  of five Australians believed that our atempted mission in Iraq  was a faillure, Mr Downer turned a deaf ear to the point of view.

The fact of the matter is that Mr Downer is the representative of the democracy of Austraila to the rest of the world.  If he is incapable of hearing such a strong message then, in my opinion, he should also be considered inappropriate as an ambassador speaking for our values.

If the Australian public believes that we are doing the wrong thing in Iraq then under the ideals of the democracy that we believe we have here,  the Australian Government should be listening to the voice of its people and withrawing Australian military forces from Iraqi soil.  

Our rights to free speech and participation in government are meangless if the voice of the public is ignored.    I hope that, unlike our message to him, Mr Downer's  message to us is heard loud and clear.  He's telling us that the ideals of our political system are being compromised by those who we appointed as its protector.

solutions .....

Hi Richard.

Many years ago, I was involved in designing 'business control systems'. In that context, it was always important to ensure that employees never felt that their freedom to act was totally constrained, otherwise they would not exercise judgement, take the initiative or make that extra effort that is essential to competitive success ... the principle works like the valve on a pressure cooker.

Forgive my cynicism, but I see your elation at being 'free' to demonstrate outside Parliament House as being akin to the above principle, whilst Downer's behaviour is a more realistic reflection of the real order of things in Awstrayla.

I don't believe we have a democratic system in this country at all. Indeed, I don't think there is a democratic government on the planet. People often confuse their right to vote or their right to reasonable free expression, movement or behaviour as a sign that they live in a democracy. But when the system of government is designed / operated not to represent the best interests of the entire populace, then it is hardly democratic.

Quite to the contrary, our system of government is oligarchical in nature, with the various political Parties intent on obtaining & holding power so as to be in a position to represent their sectional interests ... their real stakeholders. The voters .... you & I .... are just necessary but incidental players in this absurd theatre.

The positions taken by Howard / Downer & Beazley on Iraq are, amongst other things, just another metaphor for the shortcomings of our system of government.

Howard blindly mimics the great deciderer, arrogantly refusing to recognise the failure of the coalition's grand strategy, whilst Beazley looks for the easy way out, by simply arguing we should walk away. Howard promotes his fear meme, Beazley appeals to the populists & both are playing to the domestic audience. Both are wrong in my view.

Howard because, like almost all politicians, he cannot admit that he was wrong or, that by simply "staying the course", a positive solution to the disaster in Iraq, Afghanistan & the rest of the Middle East will never be found. Beazley because he is not offering a meaningful alternative to Howard's position, other than to pander to the populists. Neither offer a solution to the suffering being experienced by the people of Iraq & the positions taken by both only guarantee that their suffering will continue.

Howard & Downer are smarter than Beazley. They know that the population are afraid of the demon Islamists, but they also know that the punters will never turf them out of office, just because of what we've done in Iraq .... or East Timor or the Solomons. No sirree Bob, the punters will only turf them out of office if they perceive that their interests are not being considered or protected. That's why the Industrial Relations issue is the most dangerous threat to the rodent's survival.  

Beazley is a careerist, not a leader of principle. He appeals to the populists but ignores the reality of our corrupt alliance with the US & the negative implications of our not continuing to support their lunatic ambitions.

But neither of them are real leaders or statesmen .... & never will be. Neither has the wit or the intellect to understand that our strategy was wrong in the first place & will only continue to make life worse for all of us, if we continue its blind pursuit. More importantly, neither of them has the capacity or desire to rise above their petty political point scoring discourse & champion a solution that might just help Iraq & the rest of the planet find a solution to the disaster.

So, whilst we continue to enjoy the superficial benefits of our speudo democracy & our "leaders" pursue their meaningless mutually self-serving pantomime, other, more serious minds are trying to address real, long-term solutions.

On that note, apologies for the rant, but maybe you can find something of greater value in the following .....

‘There is an alternative to simply carrying on with the same policy, as George Bush and Tony Blair suggest, or running away as the antiwar campaigners demand. First, this would involve an admission that the current policy has failed. Washington has to recognise that it needs a great deal of help. The task of rebuilding the Iraqi State from the ground up is far too great for the world’s sole superpower, let alone a small group of Iraqi politicians long exiled from the country.

The second step is for the international community to change its attitude. The great powers that sit on the United Nations Security Council, especially France, have to put the bitterness surrounding the invasion behind them. The continued descent of Iraq into civil war will cause problems on a truly global scale: after all, Iraq is far closer to Europe than the United States. Iraq now poses such a problem that all the international community has an undeniable interest in solving it.

Against this background the UN, with full and unrestricted backing from the European Union, has to take over running the country. Such a huge undertaking would involve giving Iraq a similar status to Kosovo. Iraq’s sovereignty would have to be put temporarily into the hands of the international community. The creation of a new post-Saddam political settlement would have to start from scratch.’

Iraq: The Only Solution Left

John, what you say about

John, what you say about my misplaced sense of elation is close to the mark.  It was more the fact that the S.A. powers that be had realised that they'd extremely visibly crossed a line between,democracy and dictatorship. 

Leaving the ban (first in S.A.'s history) in place would send an interesting media message to the world.  I sometimes wonder who made this decision of diplomatic protocol.  Rumsfeld's minders would be extremely experienced in dealing with protest situations, and I'd be surprised if any such action would be taken without their "consultation".

Never mind.  It was my way of putting some palpability to the current situation.  Many people are doing what they can to minimise the effects of  the predicament  in Iraq, and while the current leadership are quick to seize  polls that favour their actions as citable evidence of justification, it needs to be conveyed that doing so will only retain credibility if negative results are also treated with seriousness.

Mr Howard's Cabinet may be in for a rude shock if enough members of the public realise that our democracy is, to paraphrase Al Gore,  a  convenient sham. 

On days like this I have, I'm afraid, quite an admiration for the Thair miliatry.   Seeing the level of corruption in their government, they've removed them.  On days like this I think that, given a cultural revvolution in Australia will never occur, our only option might be to appeal to the Australian army to redress the imbalance.   It's not to that level yet, but if things get worse it might become a possibility

What would've happened to your machinery if your freedom-simulation programs stopped working?  Would the equipment have broken down and ceased to function?  You provide a good metaphor.