Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Howard's no warmonger but he is right to engage us in a just war against Iraq

By Neil Brown - posted Tuesday, 11 February 2003

I hope that nobody thinks that all of John Howard's former colleagues oppose him on Iraq. Others can speak for themselves and I hope they will.

But at least I know one who will definitely not go along with the latest burst of un-reasoned, anti-war tear jerking: me. And I know one who believes that Howard's position is absolutely right, no matter what you might read from Malcolm Fraser, John Hewson, John Valder, Peter Baume and Fred Chaney: me.

Let me tell you why. In the first place, I got to know Howard well during the dark days of Opposition in the 1980s. It is then that you find out what really makes a politician tick. I'm not going to write a hagiography of him and I had my disagreements with him on policy but I will tell you this about him because he is now being abused both personally and unfairly. I learned that he is interested in one thing: the welfare and best interests of ordinary Australian men and women.


Because he is so much part of the mainstream of Australian life, he is against war, deeply and personally. His family has suffered from it and the last thing he wants to impose on anyone else's family is the tragedy of war. Any attempt to paint him as some sort of warmonger is offensive and baseless. So he is entitled to be irate when others claim to have some sort of monopoly over the cause of peace and how to get there.

Second, he is in particular opposed to the looming war with Iraq - looming only because of Iraq's own intransigent conduct. He knows there may be a loss of Australian lives, that there will almost certainly be injuries and that the military engagement will definitely be at enormous cost. A politician as astute as Howard would not drag the country into an unpopular conflict and all that it involves unless he were absolutely convinced that the long-term interests of the country and its people demand it. They do.

Third, his critics keep up the cry that the UN must have a role. I agree. And so does Howard. After all, we have used our influence to have the UN involved and to keep them there, so long as they get results or look as if they are getting them. But what if the UN will not or cannot act?

Critics such as Fraser say there can then be no military action as it would not be taken with the approval of the Security Council. Now, coming from someone who had no qualms about sending young men to Vietnam and even less about now saying it was all a mistake, that's a bit rich.

Moreover, the argument that he and the rest of the doves give in support of this view is so bizarre that it should influence no one. They say that if we take military action without the approval of the Security Council it would mean it had been "snubbed and denigrated".

But it is apparently all right for Iraq to snub and denigrate the UN, ignore its resolutions for the past 12 years, attack some of its neighbours, threaten others, poison its own citizens and break every known rule of international law. If the UN allows Iraq to snub and denigrate it and if it takes no action to force Iraq to disarm, the UN may as well go out of business. But that is no reason why the rest of us should pay any sort of price for the UN's inaction.


This is really what is at the root of the anti-war movement and the increasingly anti-Howard tone it is adopting. For he will clearly not go along with the nonsense that Australia cannot take part in military action, even with its allies, unless it is under the banner of the UN. This is contrary to law and contrary to fact and Howard is right to reject it.

Finally, a few thoughts of my own, to show that Howard is really a moderate.

First, the real war is with Islamic extremism and that war has already been declared, not by us, but on us. There may be no smoking gun to link Iraq with the one branch of terrorism known as al Qa'ida, but Iraq and its hideous Ba'athist Party are, beyond any doubt, in the thick of fomenting violent revolution on a much wider scale and always have been. Hussein's regime must therefore be disarmed if we want any chance of winning the war being waged against us. If we get a bonus that Iraq's oil will no longer be under the control of a maniac, then well and good.

Second, and let's not be coy about it, the Arab states know that all of this is true and will breathe a giant sigh of relief when the Iraqi dictator is finally dispatched.

Third, the so-called peace movement is really just anti-Americanism in another form. But in reality, now is a time, if ever there were one, for standing beside our ally.

Liberal Party and other peaceniks would therefore be making a bigger contribution to peace and security if they showed the same courage as Howard, rather than giving more reading material for the Baghdad butcher to gloat over.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. All

This article was first published in The Australian on 6 February 2003.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Neil Brown QC was Minister for Communications 1982-3 and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Neil Brown
Related Links
Prime Minister's home page
War on Iraq Special Feature
Photo of Neil Brown
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy