Evil is one of those strange things isn't it? It is a very particular characteristic that always seems to be found in people who just happen to be in places our governments really want to bomb.
Though, to be fair, I am not sure in the case of Tony Abbott that he really cares where he gets to bomb. He just wants a damn good war with someone, somewhere, in the desperate hope of distracting us from his deeply unpopular policies aimed at kicking the poor on behalf of the rich.
To judge by Abbott's recent statements on international affairs, he'd be just as happy to attack Iraq, Russia or Scotland — anywhere the enemies of freedom are on the march.
So it was no surprise when Abbott responded to the September 3 beheading of Steven Sotloff by Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the second such execution of an American journalist in recent weeks, by insisting “we are dealing with pure evil”.
Such evil, Abbott insisted, “abundantly justifies” Australia's military involvement in Iraq.
Now, beheading someone is a pretty gruesome atrocity, but, in a world hardly short on gruesome atrocities, what was it about this one that marks it out as needing Australia's military intervention?
“The extraordinary thing about this movement is that it does not simply do evil,” explained Abbott, “it boasts of evil. It is proud of evil and it advertises evil.”
Ah, so it is the boasting that is the thing. I am glad Abbott has clarified this, because I was wondering what the difference is between an IS beheading and the many beheadings carried out in recent weeks by the Saudi Arabian regime.
At first I thought the difference might be that the Saudi regime was one of the West's strongest allies in the oil-rich region. But now I see I was being too cynical and in fact the decisive difference is that the Saudi regime doesn’t go about advertising its many head-choppings all over social media, and so that is why we don't need to invade.
“You have to go back to the Middle Ages,” Abbott added, “to see this arrogance in atrocity.”
Fair point. The world has certainly not seen such arrogance in atrocities since ... well OK maybe not the Middle Ages, but but possibly not since August 26 when Israel finally signed a ceasefire to end its five-week-long slaughter of largely defenceless Palestinians in a “turkey shoot”, killing hundreds of children with indisputable cold-blooded deliberateness.
The Abbott government has also decided there is no reason why, if it wants to go to war, it needs worry about bureaucratic measures like letting the elected parliament debate and vote on the matter.
In response to a push from the Greens and independent MP Andrew Wilkie to ensure parliamentary approval is needed before the government can send soldiers to Iraq, defence minister David Johnston said such a move “would put lives at risk”.
Absolutely. That's what costs lives, alright. Not starting wars. It's parliamentary debates.
Yes, you might think sending soldiers off to a war zone might what puts lives at risk, but really it is letting elected representatives vote on whether that's a a good idea or not.
Actually, we could go a step further than the Greens and Wilkie and say why not let society as a whole decide on whether to join a war. Given it is about as big a decision as a government can make, why not put it to a referendum?
After all, there was huge opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq in all the countries that took part in it and it was that illegal invasion — based on lies almost no one believed — that directly led to the bloodshed now being used as an excuse for fresh intervention.
If they had let us decide in the first place, 1 million Iraqis would not have died and there would not be the bloody sectarian conflict now being exploited to justify a new war — presumably on the theory that if at first you don't succeed, keep doing exactly same thing until every one is dead.
But no. They won't even let our elected representatives decide. Which makes you think Abbott might want to look up the word “arrogant” in a dictionary.