Australian soldiers should be withdrawn immediately from Iraq. They are not doing their country proud by remaining there. The occupation of Iraq is immoral and only perpetuates the wrong-doing of the initial invasion. Our soldiers should be brought home before they bring more shame on Australia.
The Iraqi resistance is fighting to free their country from a brutal occupation. They have every right to strike at those forces that are trying to impose a new so-called democratic regime on their country. The real terrorists are those military forces that invaded Iraq without provocation, and now continue to try to subjugate the population.
Any attempt by the US to push through a new UN Security Council resolution, which would give the UN control over the political process in Iraq, is bound to fail while the US military occupies that country.
The US has refused to countenance UN control up until now. It is only because its coalition is on the brink of dissolution, with Spain pulling out, that it is pushing for greater UN control.
The UN would be cutting its own throat if it took over the political process in Iraq while the US military occupies that country. The Iraqi resistance is not going to stop while the occupation forces are there, and UN personnel would become primary targets if they were seen to be collaborating with US military forces.
Madrid and other recent attacks by militant Islamic groups will pale into insignificance compared with what will come if Western nations do not start to question their own immoral actions on the international scene.
The invasion of Iraq was nothing more than state-sponsored terrorism. How can we expect young Muslims not to join militant organisations if Western nations act like terrorists, and then try to impose their form of government on Islamic nations.
Meroo Meadow, NSW
Imagine this. The ayatollah of a powerful Muslim country has decided that the Australian prime minister is a dangerous, ruthless leader who, along with his fanatical party faithful, represents a dire threat to the Muslim world.
Intelligence services have revealed that Australia has secret stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons hidden in the outback.
The ayatollah assembles a coalition of willing Muslim nations and invades Australia with a force of overwhelming power. Australia's pleas for help from the US go unanswered — their forces are overstretched elsewhere.
The prime minister goes into hiding. The invaders torture and kill his children. Local militias form and start sporadic resistance to the occupiers, ambushing convoys. The occupying force is taken by surprise. They were told they had been sent to liberate Australians. The resistance forces have captured, killed and mutilated occupying troops.
The ayatollah orders massive retaliation...
According to the Reserve Bank, the wealthiest 20% of Australian households have average net private wealth of $1,276,000. Meanwhile, the poorest fifth have just $4500.
We hear a lot about the importance of efficiency, but such inequality is seriously inefficient. It means there is considerably less well-being in Australia than there could be.
Money which could be spent on basic items which make a big difference to the lives of the more needy is instead devoted to luxuries which produce markedly less well-being per dollar spent.
International comparisons suggest inequality in Australia (which is high by First World standards) could be significantly cut without any substantial effect on overall economic performance.
Inequality-increasing tax cuts are likely in the budget. When will we get a government which really is "for all of us" in the sense of displaying as much commitment to the well-being of poor Australians as the well-being of rich Australians?
Jackie Kelly, the MP for Lindsey, talks about a "Renaissance Centre" for science in western Sydney. There is such a centre already. It is called the University of Western Sydney, a centre of science and all-round excellence.
This university, like all Australian universities, famed for their research and talent, has been hard hit by Howard's horrendous hex hike! A massive, crippling increase in student charges by Jackie Kelly's government, to which she agreed without a wisp of a whimper.
Now we have promises about a "board" to discuss promises about promises, while talented Australians are hanging themselves in their parents' garages.
Hyperbolic, horrendous hypocrisy from the Howard government!
Wentworth Falls, NSW
Passion of the Christ
Unlike other correspondents, I haven't seen Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and I have no intention of doing so. Having grown up in the Catholic Church of the 1950s, I know what it's pushing and I want none of it.
The pre-Vatican II Church wanted to horrify believers into accepting the Church's anti-human teachings and so emphasised a masochistic Jesus who chose to be tortured to death. Vatican II opened up a new horizon, which led directly to liberation theology with its revolutionary implications.
Gibson adheres to the anti-Semitic thinking of French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, which opposes all post-Vatican II thinking. I recognised in Gibson's Braveheart, in the scene where the hero gets torn apart, a pornography of sadomasochism that comes directly from this tradition.
Mass of blubber?
The letter "Lone refugee" by Rosemary Evans (Write On, GLW #579) draws attention to the horrendous and unnecessary suffering of a Palestinian refugee in solitary confinement on Manus Island, PNG. Unfortunately Evan's conclusion distracts us from the plight of refugees. It said: "The cruelty and brutality of that mass of blubber, that boulder from Stonehenge, Amanda Vanstone, is incredible."
It may seem appropriate to heap any and all insults on career politicians who prosper from the abuse of human rights — like Vanstone — but describing her as a "mass of blubber" degrades not just her, but all women.
As defenders of human rights, we don't need to resort to commenting on people's bodies in order to win an argument. The facts are on our side. Commenting on the body size, shape or other physical attributes of women politicians reinforces the widely held stereotype that how women look is more important that what they say or do.
Dulwich Hill, NSW
Mark Latham's suggestion that voters would first be asked whether or not they want a republic and then, in a second plebiscite, what kind of head of state they prefer, is costly, unnecessary and potentially counterproductive. This can all be rolled into one composite plebiscite. Question 1: Republic? Yes/No; Question 2: Options for a model, say four or five.
Going by several opinion polls prior to the referendum the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Could be done even before the troops are home from Iraq by Christmas!
This first plebiscite to be followed, by a decisive referendum after the holiday break. Why stuff around with this for years?
Klaas Woldring From Green Left Weekly, April 29, 2004.
Pearl Beach, NSW
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From Green Left Weekly, April 29, 2004.