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Do we need a military alliance with anybody?

By Brian Holden - posted Monday, 17 December 2007

The moment I’ve been dreading. George brought his ne’re-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I’ll call Kinsley over at the "New Republican" and see if they will have him as a contributing author or something. That looks like easy work.

This is an extract from the diary of Ronald Reagan dated May 17, 1986. The “George” referred to is George Herbert Bush (then Vice-President) and the “ne’re-do-well son” was, of course, John Howard’s mate, George Walker Bush. Reagan used the word “dreading”. He must have appraised Dubya to be a proper ninny.

Reagan, by the way, was the president who seems to have reserved his important decisions for those days his wife’s spiritual friends advised her were his lucky days. Before Reagan there was the amoral Richard Nixon, a weeping drug addict who was close to being off his head.


The more matey our leaders are with the people in the White House, the more easily we end up signing alliances followed by orders for American weaponry. It is not in our interests to have a prime minister as a purring cat on the lap of a US president who is obsessed with his sense of righteousness and who is in command of a military obsessed with its sense of righteousness.

The road to Iraq

As reality is full of hidden variables, all of the information needed to arrive at a solution to a complex problem can never be there on the table. And yet, if the information is incomplete, the outcome of a decision is significantly determined by luck.

So said Edward de Bono who should be sitting-in at the US Cabinet meetings and reporting back to the members on the distortions in their thinking.

Bush and his inner circle saw with crystal clarity a logical path in front of them. They saw that the events of September 11, 2001 were a golden opportunity to get directly involved in the Middle East’s oil production. After quickly finishing with the basics in Afghanistan, the bigger plan was to move into setting up a US-friendly government in oil-rich Iraq. The plan didn’t work as the planners didn’t know what they were doing.

Riding on the glory of knocking-off the Taliban, this illegal invader was met with weak condemnation by the rest of the world. Now we all know the outcome. The “liberation” of Iraq has exchanged one set of problems with another. And, the Taliban are back.

Fundamental to American foreign policy is its gigantic war machine. That country would not get into its adventures if that awesome power was not sitting there waiting to be used. Where it is now going wrong for the US is that her war machine is obsolete.


In spite of more bombs dropped on Indo-China (Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) than in World War II, the soldiers with thongs on their feet won the war. Likewise, the US will be defeated in the Middle East because the enemy, by melting-in with the population, does not fight a high-tech conventional war on the invader’s terms.

When we joined the Coalition of the Willing, we forgot about our 10 years in Vietnam

As we in Australia have continued to re-elect the party which, when in government, got us into the Vietnam mess, what were we actually forgetting?

  • That ANZUS placed no obligation on us to join the US in Vietnam - but our “mateship” did;
  • that we jumped in when even the UK knew better than to get involved;
  • that when the regulars were not enough, we resorted to conscription;
  • that we lost 500 dead and many more were mentally or physically permanently damaged;
  • that the Pentagon Papers revealed that we and the American public had been fed lies from the start; and
  • that we lost the war and, to add to the absurdity, we are now welcomed as tourists.
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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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