Andrew Wilkie

Trust is a priceless commodity

Well what an extraordinary year this has been so far. For a start one of the most stupid and dangerous US Presidents in living memory has invaded, pre-emptively, a sovereign state, without UN endorsement, for reasons that have now been completely discredited - Iraq obviously did not pose an imminent threat to us all with any massive arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; nor obviously was Saddam Hussein co-operating with Osama bin Laden.

Along the way of course thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed; tens of thousands more have been wounded, injured, maimed, orphaned and terrorised; the fragile Iraq nation has been pushed over the edge into near-anarchy; and close to 150,000 coalition troops have become bogged down in a frustrating, dangerous and contentious quagmire of indeterminate duration.

Significantly, hatred of the West in the Middle East and beyond has now been stirred up. Already Iraq has become a magnet for Jihadists, like what was the case during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The irony of Iraq having now become part of the so-called War on Terror is of course simply staggering. After all, despite political manipulation to the contrary, Iraq was completely unrelated to the September 11 terrorist attacks, other than it being one of those misunderstood places that after 9/11 made many Americans feel angry and vulnerable; manipulation strikingly similar to how Howard has, for his own political purposes, leveraged off the anger and insecurity fuelled by the Bali tragedy.

The implications of the US's recklessness of course goes far beyond the immediate. Perhaps most worrying for me remains the way in which Bush's ill-considered adventurism is surely encouraging the further proliferation of WMD, especially in Syria, Iran and North Korea. After all, acquiring WMD is all that such countries can now strive for if they are to deter US aggression.

But enough picking on Bush for a moment, because just about every criticism of Bush can be applied to our own Howard. After all, he's the one tripping over himself to sign