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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Former Leader Says Australia A US Colony

'I detest war and the meatheads who volunteer to kill other human beings. The US alliance is a funnel that draws us into unnecessary wars; first Vietnam and then Iraq,'

-Mark Latham

Until January this year Mark Latham was Australia's alternate prime minister.

As the country's Opposition Leader, and head of the Australian Labor Party, he fought John Howard in the Federal Election in October last year. Howard faced a barrage of criticism over his support for United States President George W. Bush, and in particular the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Australians by a wide margin opposed Australia's involvement in the conflict.

Despite Howard's fall in grace the country re-elected his government for the third time to provide it with four consecutive terms in office. The stunning 87 seat victory to the coalition (75 seats to Howard's Liberal Party, and 12 seats to its partner, the National Party) compared to Labor's 60 seats, and was seen as a ringing endorsement of the Howard government's economic policy, as Australia stretched to 14 consecutive years of economic growth.

Latham fell ill with pancreatitis after the election and quit on January 18. 'Public office can take it out of people and after 17 years and two serious life-threatening illnesses, the time has come to put my family and my health first,' he said at the time.

This past week Latham has dazzled readers of Australian newspapers, and viewers of local television stations, with interviews and publications of excerpts of a forthcoming book, based on diaries he kept during his time in parliament.

One of the most revealing of his views was that of Australia's close alliance with the United States. Latham opposed the Iraq war and in February 2003 described U.S. President Bush as the most incompetent and dangerous in living memory.

This week he elaborated on his feelings.

An excerpt from his diary dated December 1st last year says, 'The Americans have made us a bigger target in the war against terror. Australian lives are certain to be sacrificed on the altar of the US alliance.'

'Look at New Zealand. They have their foreign policy right, and it's the safest country on earth. Labor should be the anti-war party of Australian politics. Other than World War II, every war this country has fought was disconnected from our national interests. All those young Australian lives lost in faraway lands, the folly of imperialism and conservative jingoism.'

'I detest war and the meatheads who volunteer to kill other human beings. The US alliance is a funnel that draws us into unnecessary wars; first Vietnam and then Iraq,' he says.

The diaries, according to a report in The Weekend Australian newspaper, reveal a far more visceral anti-Americanism and a deeper streak of pacificism than was apparent from his public comments as Labor leader. Mr Latham sees the US alliance and an independent Australia as completely incompatible.

'A timid, insular nation at the bottom of the world, too frightened to embrace an independent foreign policy,' he says.

'Politically, why does the alliance survive? Because a significant number of Australians still think we need an insurance policy against invasion by Indonesia, that's why. Poor old Indonesia. They can barely govern themselves these days, let alone invade us. The alliance is the last manifestation of the White Australia mentality,' he says in his book.

He writes that if Australia prefers being 'an American colony under (John) Howard, that's (Australia) a nation not worth leading'.

He accuses the Prime Minister, John Howard, and Mr Bush of being cowards, saying 'they wouldn't fight themselves, of course, but they readily send other people's children to fight in their name'.

Mr Latham is convinced that 'the Americans need us (Australia) more than we (Australia) need them'. He says Pine Gap (a supposedly secret CIA-run security installation in Australia's Northern Territory with over 800 employees) is 'vital to their international security network'. He claims that the Americans 'restrict our capacity to trade and integrate with Asia' and that 'one day their trouble with China will be our trouble'.

'It's just another form of neo-colonialism,' Mr Latham says of the alliance, saying, 'it should be ditched.'

Big News Network.com Saturday 17th September, 2005


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