And then they came for those who laughed
Mission accomplished. Who can forget the image of George W Bush declaring the so-called “war on terrorism” had been fought and won by the “coalition of the willing” in the wake of the attack on New York’s twin towers back in 2001.
12 months earlier Australia was in a buoyant mood, hosting the Olympic Games in Sydney to worldwide acclaim and much fanfare.
Since then much has changed. Since the attack on the twin towers, the desperate and farcical search for WMD, the leap from Osama Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein and the eventual demise of both the Howard and Bush governments, the West has endured a tenuous and strained relationship with the Middle East.
The West has maintained that its fight isn’t with Islam as such, but with terrorists, with both Bush and Obama at pains to stress that “Islam is a peaceful religion” almost through gritted teeth as they announce the next tranche of strikes in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It’s a facade that’s becoming harder to maintain in light of recent events, with beheadings of innocent westerners in the Middle East ostensibly carried out in the name of Islam, the hostage crisis in Sydney and the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Of course, the media is playing its acquiescent role predictably. Quiet diplomacy front page news does not make, so images of bloodshed are splattered across our screens and any association with terrorist organisations broadcast around the world whether verified or not.
It it would be ludicrous and hilarious if it wasn’t so serious.
It’s the old boiling frog syndrome. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Australia’s PM went to great lengths to insist that Australia’s role in Iraq would be humanitarian only. Fast forward a few months and now we’re contemplating how long our troops will be on the ground and how many more may be need to be deployed.
Similarly, I wonder how long the thin veneer of “Islam is a religion of peace” message will be maintained by Western diplomats and the media, when it may be more politically convenient and electorally palpable to dispense with these rhetorical pleasantries if and when it becomes necessary to escalate the military action.
it may well just be a matter of time.