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A point of no return

STATE Scene only rarely considers issues that can be categorised as international affairs.

With nearly 200,000 American, British and Australian military personnel moving into position, the point of no return seems to have been reached, meaning war with major oil producer Iraq is highly likely.

Iraq sits at the heart of the Middle East, so whenever Saddam Hussein flexes his muscles he impacts even upon Australia, be it petrol prices, economic confidence, finance market uncertainties or international trade.

But the present standoff isn’t simply linked to energy and economic considerations.

There’s also the question of our local anti-engagement appeasement groups.

Their followers are gearing up to yell and shout before ever-present television cameras against Australia contributing to the removal of Hussein, who gained power by murderous means.

It’s worth recalling that Australia’s military in the past dozen years has contributed to liberating two Islamic societies.

In 1991 Kuwait was freed from a Hussein tyranny.

A decade later Afghans were liberated from Mullah Omar’s equally vicious Taliban.

Australia thus has an enviable record, which the Hawke Government initiated with Kuwait and the Howard Government reinforced with Australia’s SAS expedition in Afghanistan.

Simon Crean-led Labor – with Greens and Democrat backers – has opted against backing Australia’s third bid to help liberate an Islamic people (without UN backing) – this time Iraqis – from an internationally dangerous tyranny.

Both earlier actions put paid to anyone alleging Australia and America are anti-Islamic.

Tragically one WA-based soldier, SAS Sergeant Andrew Russell, was killed in Afghanistan.

Not widely realised is that some countries have voluntarily dispossessed themselves of weapons of mass destruction, which the world – some governments very weakly – continues to demand of Hussein.

It’s therefore not an unprecedented path, as President Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice recently revealed.

“The world knows from examples set by South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan what it looks like when a government decides that it will co-operatively give up its weapons of mass destruction,” she said.

“The critical common elements of these efforts include a high-level political commitment to disarm, national initiatives to dismantle weapons programs, and full co-operation and transparency.

“In 1989 South Africa made the strategic decision to dismantle its covert nuclear weapons program.

“It destroyed its arsenal of seven weapons and later submitted to rigorous verification by the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency.”

Ms Rice said weapons inspect-ors had access to all nuclear facilities – operational and defunct – and anyone working within them. They gained access to all documents detailing uranium enrichment facilities and weapons construction.

“Ukraine and Kazakhstan demonstrated a similar pattern of cooperation when they decided to rid themselves of the nuclear weapons, intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers inherited from the Soviet Union,” Ms Rice said.

“Countries that decide to disarm lead inspectors to weapons and production sites, answer questions before they are asked, state publicly and often the intention to disarm and urge their citizens to cooperate.

“Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organization, which runs Iraq’s concealment activities.”

After Kuwait was freed of Hussein he agreed to go down the South African/ Ukrainian/Kazakh-stani path, but has reneged, prevaricated, and finally denied ac-cess to clandestine facilities.

Hussein has deliberately opted not to be like presidents de Klerk, Kravchuk and Nazarbayev of South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan respectively.

That’s why in 2002, under pres-sure from the Bush Administration, the UN finally gave Hussein his ‘last chance’ by passing Resolution 1441.

Unfortunately, the appeasement temptation persists, with four major international powers – Russia, China, France and Ger-many – moving towards reneging on ensuring enforcement.

None seems concerned for the Iraqi people, opting instead to weaken their brief resolve shown last year with Resolution 1441, which gave Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations”.

Their current response, and that of Simon Crean and his backers, resembles that of Allied Control Commission (ACC) of the 1920s that failed to police and enforce Weimar Germany’s obligations.

Germany was required, under the Versaille Treaty, to severely limit its military capabilities, something the German General Staff and many collaborating civilians wouldn’t accept.

Those people set about outwitting the ACC by creating secret training and research establishments and plants overseas and at home.

Germany’s army tested tanks in Soviet Russia.

Secret submarine design work was done in Holland, Finland and a clandestine Berlin facility. On one occasion an entire Heinkel aircraft production line was moved by rail into Holland, following a tip-off by Japanese diplomats, to avoid ACC inspectors.

Just as the Bush administration knows Hussein isn’t complying, the ACC knew of Germany’s infringements.

Rather than being forceful – like the United States, Great Britain and Australia now – the ACC chose, in 1927, to withdraw, five years ahead of schedule.

Can we afford to do likewise in a nuclear and biological warfare era?

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