Boots on the ground

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(Image via crikey.com.au)

Australia might be enamoured with Malcolm Turnbull's charm but his indecisive stance on war does nothing to assuage his nation's insecurity and may awaken the "Monkey Pod" stirring within his own party,​ writes David Tyler.

A MAN IN LOVE with himself may have no rival, but it doesn't stop him seeking approval.

Our emotionally needy, political parvenu PM's own self-promotion and arrogance has cost him undying enmity in his own party. Yet he's conned the public.

Revered simply for not being Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull is a people's messiah. So far. Perhaps that's why he is such a wanton in Washington. It's his endless quest for love. He cannot trust the public crush on him.

A stage-struck Turnbull is so taken with his U.S. reception that he goes "Monkey Pod" himself insanely reckless in praise of brute force and ignorance. His U.S. foreign policy salute is so embarrassingly overboard that listeners wonder what's next. A rap for Vlad Putin's gift to world peace?

To be fair, someone important is listening to Mal, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a leading think tank whose Facebook page asks: 'This Sunday marks 25 years of America bombing Iraq. What has it achieved?'

Has Turnbull researched his audience? A CSIS do is no ordinary wank fest. He appears unsure. Like Jay Gatsby, he has to flash a pedigree to win acceptance. He reaches for the classics, like every futurologist.

Our love-hungry stray from Down Under is desperate to impress overseas. He hefts his Thucydides. He shares a bit about how when nations see a new head, they rush to kick it. He winces. Abbott 's "Monkey Pod" does him over regularly.

MT's message is "lay off China". For Thucydides, self-control is key to self-respect; self-respect is vital to courage. Our PM may struggle with some of this but too much of the little Aussie China plate, will upset Washington. Turners quickly goes red, white and blue in the face in rapturous praise of U.S. "boots on the ground". Who needs Bolivian marching powder?

Skipping his party's creed in which the U.S. – an empire ordained by God for all eternity won all major modern wars for Hollywood and today is beloved unconditionally  revered by peoples worldwide for dispensing peace and democracy, often from the same troop-carrier, Mr Turnbull pulls out Pax Americana!

'He said the greatest period of prosperity and peace on earth – including China's rise – was due to post World War II stability that had been forged by the United States.'

Mal follows John Howard's nauseating fawning and Fraser's sweet surrender to Holt's, "All the way with LBJ?" Yet hapless blatherskite Mal has gone beyond the traditional, full Aussie grovel. Mal confuses brave with foolhardy. Someone needs to brief the PM that even Americans know bullshit when they hear it. As do Australians.

Onan the Barbarian does not need any bull from vassals seeking to excuse themselves their military duty of committing more troops to Iraq. Let the U.S. do its own smoke-blowing. Chomsky neatly notes:

'Powerful states have quite typically considered themselves to be exceptionally magnificent and the United States is no exception to that. The basis for it is not very substantial, to put it politely.'

Turnbull has to refuse Washington's request but a clear no is too negative. He searches out words to make his weasel into a war horse. A public liberty fondle? That'd do it. No groping even between mutually consenting freedom lovers.

Mal of the Never-Never praises America the land of the free, white rich male. He flaps his Yankee doodle, pays tribute but drops a clanger. Despite his protestations of love for liberty, his government is hell-bent on taking it away at home.

His government's victory over freedom in its wholesale metadata retention is disturbing. State surveillance powers have massively increased. Being stripped of your nationality if you are a suspected terrorist or mischief-maker is a bit of side-show but it reveals the complexion of the beast. Cuts to education and childcare help perpetuate an elite. Turnbull's Australia entails a systematic disenfranchisement of minorities and disadvantaged groups.

Intolerance and mutual suspicion are ratcheted upwards in the cause of anti-terrorism. Make our nation safe!  Australian Muslims feel far less than free or respected. Human rights advocacy has been steadily dismantled.

For four months, Australia has had no commissioner for sex discrimination. The Chris Gayle or the Briggs-Dutton fiascos alone, are evidence we can't afford to do without one.

Disabled Australians lost their commissioner, Graeme Innes, a fearless advocate and a giant in compassion and courage. Frightened that our human rights commissioner, Gillian Triggs might indict it for putting asylum seekers and refugee children into indefinite off-shore detention, or for covering up abuse including medical neglect and beating to death, the Abbott government appointed Institute of Public Affairs toy boy Tim Wilson to negate any malign influence of the United Nations and to ride Triggs until she resigned and right-wing Tim got the job. The plot misfired when Triggs stuck to her guns.

But we do have a wind farm commissioner, an absolute bargain at $600,000 when you consider the absurdity of his role: the impossibility his commission. Newly appointed Andrew Dyer will have his work cut out for him, according to the Liberal Party's environmental intellectual and protector of fauna he doesn't forget, Greg Hunt

'His role will be to facilitate resolution of complaints from concerned community residents about, and to provide greater transparency on the operations of, wind farms.'  

Transparency? What are they hiding in those rotating blades? Dervish technology?

"The right boots on the right ground" is a cute slogan for Malcolm Turnbull to offer in his fearless recent posturing as the good friend who turns you down. But what exactly does it mean?

Like a Point Piper Pavlova, Turnbull is soft and light inside a crisp crust. He  says what he thinks we want to hear. "The right boots" is a sop to his party's right-wing bullies who have him muzzled after his written guarantee to seize power nicely. No policy change. For their love, he poses as a hawk, or discerning buzzard, ready to put the boots in only if and when he absolutely has to. You can walk a mile in another man's boots, if you want to, but his own will fit him better.

It sounds profound and lofty, "the right boots" is an echo of the right stuff. Mal is the sort of world statesman who can elevate platitude into profundity by just adjusting the settings. The discerning use of force never hurt anybody. It beats the dangerous ranting of his bellicose predecessor — the hairy-chested empty shirt-front threat. (Yet how he must wish he could manage a swift judicious kick to get the junk-yard dog from under his heels and out of the house.)

Make-believe is the life-blood of all political scoundrels. Let's pretend along with Mal of the Never-Never. Our boys in Iraq are really training brave Iraqis to fight better — understand their own local situation.

We all learn how to fight better when it's all explained by a complete outsider. Especially one who wants your oil supply or comes looking for your approval. Or, who just trashed your place the last time he came looking to restore freedom.

The right boots on the right ground is boxing clever when what is needed is some plain old fashioned simple honesty. We failed in Iraq last time. Badly. Turnbull's faking a "perhaps-maybe" case for war does nothing to comfort his own or his nation's insecurity. Faking a concern for freedom and democracy into the bargain does nothing for the PM's credibility.

You can follow David Tyler on Twitter @urbanwronski.

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