Gerard Henderson’s praise of Green Left Weekly

by

Bob Gould

Gerard Henderson yesterday quoted approvingly from Green Left Weekly in a column setting out to prove that there’s no difference between the Rudd Labor government and the defeated Howard Liberal government on Iraq, and Stuart Munckton posted the Henderson article without comment on the Green Left discussion list.

In subsequent comment on the Green Left list, Dave Riley, in his usual delightful way, ropes me in on the question of withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq. This question is well worth discussing.

I favour the complete withdrawal of all Australian military personnel from the Middle East and every aspect of the Iraq war. Doug Lorimer’s article in Green Left Weekly, which so impressed Henderson, meticulously documents the obvious fact that Australian troops have been withdrawn from operational military activity, leaving some to guard the embassy and some with a training function is very probably accurate. I’m quite prepared to trust Lorimer’s research on this question.

Nevertheless, the parallel views of the implications of this set of circumstances in both Green Left and the right-wing spin doctor Gerard Henderson’s column, is very striking.

Henderson campaigned vigorously for the Liberals in the election campaign and clearly opposed the withdrawal of any part of the Australian military commitment in Iraq. Now, in the broader interests of maintaining conservative pressure on the new Labor government he says hopefully that in foreign policy matters the Labor government will be no different than the Howard government.

Henderson is, of course, having a bob each way. If there’s no significant difference in foreign policy, why did he oppose the withdrawal of the troops that are now being withdrawn?

In my view, while the withdrawal of Australian troops from an active operational role is not all that I would want it’s a substantial step forward because it demonstrates the increasing isolation of US imperialism’s reactionary military venture in Iraq.

Henderson wants there to be no difference in foreign policy matters, and stating it the way he does, and particularly his cyncial quotation from Green Left, is actually an exercise in applying pressure to the Labor government from the right.

Green Left, if it so wished, could have handled the question in a different way. It could have said the withdrawal of the Australian troops from an operational role is an excellent thing and now the Labor government should go the full distance and withdraw completely from the reactionary military venture in Iraq.

It chooses, however, for reasons different than those of Henderson, to say there’s no essential difference between Labor and the Liberal on Iraq, because it suits the DSP leadership schema about Laborism.

The inability to make distinctions and the constant desire to paint Labor as no different than the conservatives is at the heart of the DSP’s political paralysis in making any sort of serious approach to conflicts and developments in the broad labour movement.

In the DSP leadership mindset on these matters, which is unfortunately broadly shared by both DSP factions, no serious approach to contractions and conflicts within the broader labour movement are really possible.

Memo to Riley: I’m about five feet nine inches tall, which is about the national average. I’m not too familiar with Riley’s height although I imagine he’s of the same order. In his garbled mind, he’s obviously throwing in some half-remembered reference by Lionel Murphy to his “little mate” Morgan Ryan, who was short and fat.

I’ve no particular objection to attempted humour at my expense in political polemic, but a word to the wise, Brother Riley, to make effective humour at someone’s expense, the joke has to bear some reference to obvious factual features of the person or persons you’re trying to satirise. Your attempts at humour are usually so remote and convoluted that they’re incomprehensible.

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2 Responses to “Gerard Henderson’s praise of Green Left Weekly”

  1. Ed Lewis Says:

    Pick your right-wing columnist. Denis Shanahan doesn’t quote Green Left Weekly favourably, but he’s more on the ball than Gerard Henderson about developments in Iraq, as he reports on Kevin Rudd’s meeting with George Bush, and Bush’s thrashing about trying to make out that the Australian policy makes no difference.

    Shanahan point out that the Australian pullback does make a difference, not a military difference but a political difference.

    “Bush was a guy who knew the strategic decision to withdraw the Australian troops was not damaging militarily but was a political injury that the President tried to dress in his own manner for his own sake and the sake of the alliance.” (“Bush forced into embarrassing crow eating”)

    Guy Rundle makes a similar point more strongly on the ABC’s Late Night Live yesterday, describing Rudd’s meeting with Bush as “exquisite torture” because standing next to him was someone who was pulling troops out just as the US “surge” was falling in a heap and journalists were firing questions about whether the Australian pullback was exactly what shouldn’t be happening from the US point of view.

  2. Dylan Rogers Says:

    The recent fuss over Rudd’s supposed “salute” to Bush has been utterly ridiculous. Rudd has withdrawn troops in what I would consider a fairly responsible way. As such he has made a considerable political statement. We are no longer Bush’s lap dog. However, the ANZUS Treaty is still a part of our foreign policy and we will remain allies with the US. Rudd is friendly enough and a good enough diplomat to maintain friendship with Bush, but won’t be cow-towing to Bush in the same way Howard did. This is the position I believe we should be taking.

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