Terrifying Tony's war on unpopularity

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‘Terrifying’ Tony Abbott is using the politics of fear to bully the Australian people into liking him and letting him to take away some of their rights and freedoms, writes Lyn Bender.

With each new threat from ISIL, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is shamelessly fanning the fires of terror in the hope we will forget his shortcomings blunders and buffoonery. Hoping that he will become a strong leader of gravitas the masses will cling to.

In Abbott Land — security has become insecurity.

Fear constricts the mind, to a reactive state. Stress hormones heart rate and blood pressure rise. Digestion is disrupted and pupils dilate. We startle at a sudden noise due to hyper-arousal. Living in a state of fear and anxiety is a health hazard.

Fear produces powerful, emotional and physical responses. It’s a survival instinct and can be a lifesaving force. Under threat decisions are made on the basis of fight, flight, freeze or attach. Fear is the weapon of choice, of those seeking to gain and maintain power. Frightened people can be manipulated and subjugated.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

These famous words by American President Franklyn D. Roosevelt are now a cliché.

But, nevertheless, now a reactive, fearful and fear-manipulating leader is now catapulting us into war. Tony Abbott struts ‒ or more correctly frets ‒ on the world stage: a small frightened man, determined to hold onto his fifteen minutes of fame.

In fight or flight, reactions are crude.

Is western involvement in another war the answer or the problem?

Even Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that ISIL is an ideology that cannot be defeated in the battlefield alone.

The grotesque acts of ISIL circulated on the internet and in screaming headlines have primed Australians to be afraid. But was it really a threat to Australia? Or did it become an increased threat when Tony Abbott intensified his provocative stance?

Tony Abbott, the reactive political opportunist, has seized the day — but not in a good way.

Hamish McDonald headlines in The Saturday Paper:

‘War on opinion polls leads us back to Iraq’

But things could always be worse. Remember when Abbott’s alpha male posturing to ‘bully’ Putin and his threats to send in armed troops for ‘Operation bring them Home’.

Abbott’s idea of sending an armed defence force to Ukraine was branded as insane in a Fairfax headline:

Abbott's mission to Ukraine branded “nuts”

Joerg Forbrig, senior program officer for central and eastern Europe at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the US, said of the Abbott’s plan.

“They must be nuts. It's a very dangerous proposal and will be seen as a provocation by the separatists and the Russians.”

Abbott is now distracted from downed plane missions. He is no longer claiming glory in the search for missing MH370  and recovery of downed MH17. He has now moved on to the more fertile field of homegrown Muslim terror.

Abbott is widely acknowledged as a serial liar. The list of obvious lies is long — indeed, far too long to be included in this article. And the lies and broken promises continue.

The latest lies relate to what is being dubbed as ‘operation mission creep’.

At first, it was a humanitarian mission to deliver aid to besieged Iraqis. Now it has morphed into a mission to destroy the death cult” of ISIS and to “respond with extreme force”.

When it comes to understanding and responding to ISL in Iraq, it’s complicated. When it comes to Tony Abbott’s ability to comprehend the global political sphere, it’s simplistic.

The terms ISIS, ISIL or IS reflect its history in Syria and Iraq.

Abbott does not do subtle, nuanced, or complex.

Remember his description of the situation in Syria just prior to the last Federal election:

“It’s not goodies versus baddies but baddies versus baddies.”

In Abbott’s black and white world there are no shades of grey.

Except when defending baddies as being goodies.

Abbott has excused Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appalling human rights record.

Justifying torture, he explained:

“Sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen.”

As Rodney E. Lever points out:

‘It is difficult to believe that Tony Abbott knows what he is doing in committing Australia to a third war in Iraq.’

But there is method in the synchronising of fear announcements and photo shoots.

Tony Abbott’s September fear diary

  • Abbott urges everyone – especially Muslims – to be on Team Australia and put this country first.
  • Departing ASIO chief, David Irvine, declares that Australia could soon raise its terror threat from medium to high.
  • Terrorism threat level is raised from medium to high. Tony Abbott stresses that no terror attack is imminent.
  • Abbott announces deployment of 600 troops to the Middle East.
  • Abbott is pictured heroically running the nation from a tent in Arnhem Land.
  • More than 800 ASIO and Federal Police, accompanied by the media, conspicuously raid suspected terrorists in Queensland and New South Wales
  • Abbott declares from Nhulunbuy, regarding the raids: ‘This is not just suspicion, this is intent’
  • Abbott leaves Nhulunbuy days short of his belatedly delivered promise to spend a week in Arnhem Land.
  • Abbott farewells the troops.
  • Abbott tells the media that any random person could have been seized. All that is needed is an iPhone and knife. A statement the media reports repeatedly. and uncritically
  • Abbott confirms a threat to Parliament House.  
  • Man is removed from plane and questioned by police for doodling satirical notes on terror.
  • Abbott dismisses Muslim protests at anti-terror raids, saying “have a good, long, hard look at yourselves”
  • Operation Sovereign Borders ‒ hitherto secret on water matters ‒ are announced to convey an image of strong tough mean leadership-keeping those Muslim-refugees out
  • New anti terrorism laws to be tabled to Parliament, that could place journalists under threat of 10 years imprisonment, for publishing details about national security operations.
  • Under pressure from crossbencher David Leyonhjelm “torture is explicitly forbidden”, but not defined.
  • Abbott shifts focus in Question Time in Parliament from scrutiny of the Budget to elaborating on the terror threat to all Australians.

Abbott’s mentor, former Prime Minister John Howard, has allegedly lied on national television on Sunday about leading us into Iraq on false intelligence and by ignoring expert weapon’s inspector Hans Blix.

There were no weapons of mass destruction and Howard allegedly knew this for two years prior to the invasion.

Tony Abbott ‒ like his father-figure, Howard ‒ is again leading us into dangerous waters and setting Australia up as a terrorist target.

Australia is now named on the hit list in a video believed to be from ISIS. It exhorts the killing of infidels in countries including Australia who have joined the Coalition to attack ISIS. Abbott is seeking greater powers, with limited scrutiny.

The fusion of passion for military adventures, and the political exploitation of fear, is a dangerous mix. Abbott may be creating the terror he is claiming to lessen.

Disturbingly, he is now saying we may need to give up some of our rights and freedoms to lessen the terror threat.

“…for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we’re used to, and more inconvenience than we’d like. Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift.”

Even more worrying, Abbott flags discriminating against certain sections of society — presumably Muslims:

“There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others.”

He is asking us to let him persecute certain members of our society for the greater good. That is not democracy.

Moreover, he is asking us trust him to act honestly and decently in the national interest.

From what we know about Tony Abbott, that is what should terrify us.

You can follow Lyn Bender on Twitter @lynestel.

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