Cavan Hogue. The new Vietnam.

Oct 15, 2014

​We seem to be rushing forward to the past in the Middle East and it looks increasingly like a rerun of Vietnam which began with a request from the Saigon Government (that we had to ask for), initial popular support for intervention against the Communist bogey, followed by disillusionment and defeat. A domestic political asset became a liability,

All the talk about evil skirts around the fact that however demented ISIL may be they are attracting young idealists to their ranks. Why? They are able to draw on longstanding distrust of Christian Europe and its American offshoots which goes back to the Crusades.This distrust was exacerbated by Western colonialism and the mess Europe made  of the region after World War 1. The more ISIL can push the West into involvement, the more they can build on existing distrust of the West. Australia is not a serious player in this region but we have identified ourselves with the Western nations who are seen as the bad guys in the Middle East where there are more factions than we have even heard of. This, plus our grandstanding over Ukraine, tells our Asian neighbours that we do not put our money where our mouth is.

The Middle East is a mess and there are wider implications but what can outsiders do that will not just make things worse? Ultimately the people of the region have to solve their own problems. The Western track record in Iraq suggests it might do better to butt out.

It is true that our identification with the West made us a target for terrorists before the present imbroglio but our strident public approach to current events can only increase that threat. Australia as such is not important enough to interest international terrorists but we might be seen as a soft proxy target for the USA and Western Europe. The domestic danger is that we will create more resentful Moslem youths than we stop. Tough security measures are only first aid.

We have managed not to get involved with the Lord’s Army in Africa and other sick psychopaths around the world so why single out this current bunch of loonies? Presumably we are there to support the Americans and for domestic political reasons.

You have to feel sorry for the Kurds who have been treated badly by everyone. Surely their case for a homeland is just as good as that of anyone else but this would take territory from Turkey, Iraq and Iran so they are likely to remain a persecuted minority. The US let them down after the first Gulf War and nobody is going in to bat for them now. Some of them at least will continue to fight for a homeland.

Given the size of the problem and the size of our contribution Australia’s effort against ISIL is token and will not make any difference to the situation on the ground.  We are being drawn into a complex quagmire far from our shores and our leaders have yet to tell us which national interest is being served and how, let alone where it will all end.

The Coalition of the Willing opened Pandora’s Box and I fear we have now joined the Coalition of the Lemmings.

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