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Green on the outside, empty inside

By Ted Lapkin - posted Wednesday, 20 October 2004

In July, Greens senator Bob Brown proposed dispatching Australian troops to halt the genocide taking place in the Sudanese province of Darfur. In theory, that's fine and dandy. But in practice, a problem may arise from the fact that a Green Australia would have precious little with which to intervene.

The most casual study of the Greens' platform on "Peace and Security" reveals that in essence, the party's senators, Brown and Kerry Nettle (NSW), believe the best defence is no defence at all.

The Greens proclaim the "demilitarisation of the South-East Asia-Pacific region" is their "short-term target". And they propose to kick things off by reducing "the level of defence spending and redirecting the savings to vital social and environmental programs".


In other words, Brown wants to further squeeze an already modest Australian Defence Force to fund "investigations of options for the regulated supply of social drugs such as ecstasy in controlled environments", as the Greens outlined in their "Drugs, Substance Abuse and Addiction" policy.

Instead of maintaining a highly trained, well-armed military, the Greens would defend Australia through "a comprehensive strategy of non-violent conflict management". Nettle would sooner dispatch the "Love Boat" to deal with a terrorist threat than an RAN frigate.

The Greens do not appear to comprehend that there is no such thing as Santa Claus in international affairs.

Moreover, after Nettle got through with the defence budget, whatever remained of the armed forces would be more subservient to the United Nations than to the Commonwealth of Australia. This is what the Greens mean by "maintaining an Australian military defence based upon a wide definition of security". But, while any such definition might be a mile wide, it would only be an inch deep.

And what about the war against al-Qaeda? The Greens "reject the US-led 'war on terrorism' as a cover for the promotion of US interests rather than an effective anti-terrorist strategy". To the extent that they want to combat terrorism at all, Brown and Nettle advocate treating Osama bin Laden as a criminal justice issue rather than a national security problem. Never mind that this was how Bill Clinton tried and failed to handle al-Qaeda during his presidency.

The fact is that Western democracies are under sustained terrorist assault from Islamic zealots. In the world according to Wahabi Islam, it's the mujahideen way or the highway. Women are to be shorn of all rights and confined to the veil, while Christians and Jews are to be barely tolerated as second-class "dhimmi" citizens.


This is the only acceptable outcome to bin Laden and his followers. And it is an unacceptable outcome to any self-respecting democracy. Like it or not, this is a war. A war that we did not start, but that we must finish.

Yet Brown and Nettle view the world through a political prism that distorts this essential reality. Fixated by a knee-jerk hostility to things military and American, the Greens refuse to recognise the existence of this conflict, much less the stakes that are involved.

The Greens' "Peace and Security" platform propels the party far past the threshold that separates harmless naivety from delusional folly. Under the guise of utopian slogans like "Transforming Australia's National Defence and Security Culture", the Greens would gut the Australian military to a shadow of its present size.

Allowing the Greens to come within barge pole of defence policy would constitute a clear and present danger that our national security can ill afford.

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Article edited by Nicholas Gruen.
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First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on October 6, 2004.

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About the Author

Ted Lapkin is associate editor of The Review, a monthly journal of analysis and opinion put out by the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, AIJAC.

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