Invasions don’t bring democracy
It’s a pity the “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe if they hadn't, the Iraqi and Afghan people would have been getting rid of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban themselves — right now. And building their own real organic democracies, step by step.
Instead of having the opportunity to overthrow a stale dictatorship themselves (with all the catharsis that entails), the Iraqi people stand brutally occupied by the world’s most powerful war machine, a force so violent it makes Gaddafi's strongmen look like a litter of grumpy kittens by comparison.
Iraq is now a regional military launch pad for the US-led occupying force (complete with puppet regime), a land of shellshock and radioactive-waste-tainted-depleted-uranium poisoning.
Meanwhile, Australian troops continue to die needlessly in Afghanistan — apparently not to assert imperial dominance, but as part of an oxymoronic quest to empower by invading and occupying.
Authentic change comes from the people
There are some really important differences between the recent successful peoples’ revolutions in the Middle East and foreign interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When the people have had enough of oppression and can stand no more, they lose their fear of their despotic rulers and rise up.
In the recent popular rebellion in Tunisia it took only days, and in Egypt only weeks, for the dictatorships to fall.
Despite the distressing loss of lives, the numbers of people who died were small compared with the many hundreds of thousands of deaths in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
And these wars have dragged on for years, costing trillions of dollars — money that could have been better spent on welfare and health and would have wiped out poverty, disease and many other social and environmental problems.
It is the distinction between authentic change that comes from the wishes of the people themselves and the sham change that comes from the foreign imposition of a new set of corrupt rulers.
The former offers a real chance for the desires of the people for true justice, democracy and freedom to be properly fulfilled.
The role of outside forces should be to help their struggle as much as we can morally, politically and materially, but not to meddle, or come in and take over and impose from the top another dubious leader. Because then it’s no longer their revolution.
Victory to the Arab people's revolutions!
Carbon price no answer
Julia Gillard has announced the date of a new carbon tax (but not the rate of the tax nor the extent of free handouts to polluting industries).
In making her announcement, she claimed that putting a price on carbon is the most efficient way to cut carbon pollution. This is simply not true.
The most efficient way to cut pollution is to make it illegal and impose a timeline on industry for the phase-out of the illegal activity.
Parallel with this, the government should move for public investment in renewable energy, public transport and other measures that can replace the existing polluting activities.
To bolster her false argument, Gillard put forward another furphy: "If you put a price on something, people will use less of it."
While this may appear self-evident, it is not the case that price increases for products like cigarettes and petrol lead to comparable drops in consumption.
Carbon pollution is so deeply embedded in our economy that simply increasing the price is not likely to have a big impact. Much more useful would be a be mass rollout of publicly funded zero carbon alternatives.