Letters to the editor

Issue 

Bandt Afghan contribution too weak

The measured diplomatic approach as revealed in the excerpts from the Greens’ Adam Brandt in his contribution to the debate on the war in Afghanistan (GLW #858) is limp and disappointing given the importance the Greens gave to having this opportunity in Federal Parliament in helping to stitch a deal with Labor to maintain government. Already Brandt, like so many conviction thinkers before becoming elected, has developed the first tinge of mellowed restraint and clubability having now got a foot in the door of establishment power and influence of the politically right.

True, he speaks of and analyses many of the inconsistencies and incongruities with respect to the officially given reasons for being in Afghanistan: fostering of democracy and human rights and fighting terrorism for example. But such a debate contribution, couched much in terms of military engagement being folly or a mistake, are all quite reasonable fuzzy objections already quite permissible in many dissenting opinions or columns in establishment mainstream newspapers which support and encourages government war policy. They are easily regarded as simply letting the public have a limited say and then encouraging governments to carry on with business as usual.

The reason the US initiated such a brutal conflict as in all theatres of war (and consistently against weak military regimes) is all about hegemony, imperial design and ensuring a strong arm in strategically important material regions of the world. If it involves huge loss of life on either side, administering torture, as well as inconsistency and incongruity in the face of proclaimed public reasons for invasion, so be it. It’s the “Whatever it takes” mentality.

These are themes which the likes of John Pilger, Noam Chomsky and a raft of other thinkers and writers have been hammering for decades, but whose high level of argument, understanding and vision are not sought widely or often in the corporate media for public consumption and education. It is all too close to the bone and the ever precious American Alliance is too important to offend.

Adam Brandt had a heaven sent opportunity to have launched his speech for bringing the troops home much more to the point. Instead he settled largely into the comfort zone of debate and actually contributed some way in the “Debate” on war farce which Pip Hinman writes more vigorously about elsewhere in GLW #858.

Nigel Rogers
Mt. Nelson,
Tasmania

Proud of Assange

Coming from a culture that once delighted in giving the "finger" to authority, the Australian in me is very proud of Julian Assange.

Obsequious governments in the western world have bowed to US pressure to condemn the messenger.

This courageous man has risked his life and freedom to shed light into the darkness of US hegemony.

If, by some miracle, I were to give birth to a son, he would be named "Julian" as that name seems to breed men with a true social conscience as per Assange, Burnside and Disney.

Mary Doyle
Faulconbridge, NSW

Pay piece was pertinent

Green Left Weekly’s article about the scandal of women’s wages in Australia was very pertinent. At the WA Civil Service Association’s annual delegates’ convention on November 9 and 10 in Perth we were told that the gap between men’s and women’s wages nation-wide is 17%, but in WA it is 27%.

That is probably a measure of the extent to which women are frozen out of jobs in the mining sector and it speaks volumes about sexism in WA society.

A subsidiary issue is that the WA mining industry is a fossilised bastion of macho male attitudes, attitudes that have disappeared from other areas of Australian society.

Those attitudes show up in unsafe workplace behaviours. The cliche in the mining sector is the saying “toughen up, princess” said to any man who expresses doubts about the safety of a work practice.

Overall, everyone loses when sexism is present, even if there are relative benefits for the blokes.

Barry Healy
Perth, WA

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