||Issue No. 214||26 March 2004|
The Security Shift
Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
But Will He Get the Trains To Run On Time?
Uniting For Peace
The Security Shift
Where once it seemed all a conservative leader had to do was elevate the threat of terror to bump themselves up a few points in polls, the time has finally come when the public wants to stop being scared.
Fast realising that it is impossible to bomb a faceless enemy into submission, our so-called statesmen are slowly beginning to be held accountable by a public unpacking the assertions of their leaders.
George W Bush has this week been battling testimony from his own counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke that he ignored the threat of Al-Quaeda as president and then swiftly contrived to make Iraq the enemy in the days following the September 11 attacks.
The feverish push to discredit Clarke shows an Administration beginning to look just a little vulnerable, not helped by the on-going Iraqi quagmire that former US weapons inspector David Kay has denounced as a 'mistake'.
A similar exercise in shooting the messenger has been occurring in Australia, where the Prime Minister has been sprung heavying his chief of police for stating the bleeding obvious - our blind following of US military adventurism has made us a greater target of terrorists.
Like Bush, Howard can read the shift in the air - for all their show of military might their citizens are not feeling safer and - like the shell-shocked Spaniards - they are starting to look for a more sophisticated response from their leaders.
But this is only part of the story. More people are beginning to look behind the rhetoric and question how government decisions are really impacting on national security.
A case in point was the Deputy Prime Minister's hairy-chested announcement last weekend of how he had discovered that Australia's ports were a potential entrance point for terrorists.
To those in the Maritime Union who have been fighting against Flag of Convenience shipping for years this came as less than a revelation.
They've been the one's trying to warn the public that stacking our coastlines with Liberian flagged ships, crewed by workers on third world wages at a time of international turmoil may not be the most prudent sort of public policy.
Unfortunately, these warnings have fallen on deaf ears - indeed the government has extended the policy so that even our domestic shipping routes are now serviced by ships and crews that we know absolutely nothing about.
So it must have come as quite a relief to the MUA that the government will review maritime security in our ships and ports.
As with so much of this ill-defined war, the stated intentions seem to be undermined by the policy of deregulation that this government has been ideologically duty-bound to pursue.
This is where conservative governments ultimately hit a brick wall on security - they spend their time breaking down global rules - on currency exchanges, trade, the environment, shipping and even global security - and then wonder why they lack the capacity to impose order.
The Social Democrats like Kerry and Latham know the only way we can move forward is to accept that unilateralism and bilateralism are flawed doctrines - that until we rebuild our global institutions we have no hope at all.
That's their appeal to an electorate that still rates terror as a key issue. And that's the security doctrine that has the neo-cons like Bush and Howard running scared.
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