On 18 January 2012 the Solomon Star reported that RAMSI apologist and the former Solomon Islands Finance Minister and Member of Parliament for West New Georgia and Vona Vona, Peter Boyers, was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and intimidation. What is more interesting are the facts surrounding these charges. According to the Solomon Star, Boyers was engaged in a longstanding dispute with political rival Peter Boso. In an apparent attempt to bring matters to a head Boyers attended the premises of Boso with the express purpose of strangling him. By a stroke of good fortune on the part of Boso, he found himself elsewhere when Boyers attended on his home. Boyers then, apparently for want of a more edifying victim, strangled Boso’s pet dog in lieu of its master, a low act by any standards.
The Greek playwright Euripides said, “You can judge a man by the company he keeps,” an idiom worth remembering, especially if you are an invading and occupying force in the manner of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomn Islands (“RAMSI”). I’m not sure into what level of Hell Dante would have placed a buffoon who strangles a rivals pet dog in a fit of pique, though I would suspect it to be somewhat near the place reserved for the likes of Brutus, Judas, and Cassius, eternally chewed in Lucifer’s three mouths. I deliberately chose Dante’s Lucifer over Milton’s as my analogy for good reason. Dante’s Lucifer is everything that Milton’s Lucifer is not. Milton’s Lucifer is suave, sophisticated and appealing, though corrupt and evil, while Dante’s Lucifer is a dribbling idiot, corrupt and evil without the finesse of Milton’s; so it is with RAMSI.
Make no mistake, judging by the company RAMSI keeps it is organisationally corrupting to all those whose path it crosses. As with Dante’s Lucifer, RAMSI’s corruption lakes the finesse one would expect from its self-promoting friends and members. Indeed, dribbling idiot is an apt analogy for an organisation that went to great lengths to orchestrate the demise, transference and prosecution of the former Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands Mr Julian Moti QC on trumped-up charges, only to have the High Court of Australia grant Moti a permanent stay of proceedings because of the illegal manner in which RAMSI facilitated Moti’s rendition to Australia. Now there’s a billion dollars of Australian taxpayers money well spent! Yes RAMSI, believe it or not, is a billion dollar fiasco!
As we all know, in life everyone is selling something. Absolute power is what RAMSI is about which coincidently is also the name of a quixotic Eastwood movie, which has as part of its dialogue the following exchange. When E. G. Marshall is negotiating with the hit man, he offers him three million dollars to kill Eastwood, who he believes murdered his wife. Hit man: “You’re a good salesman.” Marshall’s glib response: “Selling sin is easy.” Though not Shakespearean flights of poetry, this exchange offers an insight into power politics in the Pacific.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer stated very publically in January 2003 that, “Sending in Australian troops to occupy the Solomon Islands would be folly in the extreme.” Yet, just six months later, Downer in a dramatic U-turn announced Australia’s plans for a military mission, saying that the Solomon Islands civil unrest had “forced” Australia to produce a new Pacific policy involving “nation rebuilding” and “cooperative intervention.” He stressed that the initiative was built on the spirit of the Biketawa Declaration, signed in 2000 by members of the Pacific Islands Forum to address the need for regional cooperation on matters of security.
The Biketawa Declaration also commits Forum members to some key fundamental values including, among others, a “… belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief” and to “upholding democratic processes and institutions which reflect national and local circumstances, including the peaceful transfer of power”.
To fully understand the reasons behind Downer’s and Australia’s policy U-turn, it’s worthwhile considering the Solomon Islands civil unrest within the overall context of contemporary global security concerns. The events of September 11 have demonstrated how transnational terrorism and the use of violence to achieve political ends has become de-nationalised, de-territorialised and privatised. Previously confined to specific places or conflicts, terrorism had now become global, with intricate financial and recruitment networks and new choices of weapons and victims. To a xenophobe war monger like former Australian Prime Minister Howard, the fear of Islamic hordes resplendent in Hijab, Qur’an in one hand Kalashnikov in the other, reaching Australian shores must have been palpable.
As Tobias Debiel of the Institut für Politikwissenschaft, University of Duisburg-Essen noted:
“The new terrorists act not only with diabolical precision, but also with camouflage, which makes them very difficult to apprehend using loose-knit actions or conventional means in the area of external or internal security.”
Similarly, Ari Fleischer, a White House spokesman, noted in 2002:
The threats we face are no longer from known enemies, nations that have fleets or missiles or bombers that we can see come to the United States, nations that can be deterred through previous notions such as mutually assured destruction or any other previous defence notions.
The argument that new terrorism knows no geographical, ideological, or moral borders or boundaries, thus making it less feasible to separate external and internal security has given rise to a new polemic on security policy. This new polemic has increased significance in countries that view themselves as potential terrorist targets.
The United States along with the United Kingdom and Australia argue that international law and the United Nations, which were created to resolve conflicts between states, cannot deal adequately with new terrorism. They argue that terrorists could use unstable, ineffective, and “rogue” states to broaden and strengthen their global network. The neo-colonial like strategies they have come up with to deal with new terrorism has engendered the Bush administration’s pre-emptive strike policy, the United Nations sanctioned invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. led invasion of Iraq and the Australian led intervention in the Solomon Islands. The irony of course is that the first black President of the United States using a military machine that is overwhelmingly made up of the disenfranchised of his nation is shouldering the “white man’s burden” in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, one Afro-American soldier during World War II summed up this irony succulently with these words he was reported to have uttered, “Just carve on my tombstone, ‘Here lies a Black man killed fighting a yellow man for the protection of a white man’”.
The words of our Afro-American brother ring as true today as they did when they were first allegedly uttered almost seventy years ago. In fact, they were prescient of a future Australia led by a xenophobic Howard, who in referring to Australia’s role in East Timor, for example, said:
This has done a lot to cement Australia’s place in the region…. We occupy a special place—we are a European Western civilization with strong links with North America, but here we are in Asia…. In foreign policy we spent too much time fretting about whether we were in Asia, part of Asia, or whatever. We should be ourselves in Asia.
Further in relation to the events of September 11, 2001 Howard said:
It stands to reason that if you believed that somebody was going to launch an attack against your country, either of a conventional kind or of a terrorist kind, and you had a capacity to stop it and there was no alternative other than to use that capacity, then of course you would have to use it.
Reading these two statements together, it wouldn’t be an altogether unfair interpretation to view them as an assertion of racial superiority. In short, what Howard is saying is that though Australia is geographically part of Asia. Australians (which I dispute) are European and as such, Australia asserts its right to pre-emptively strike against its yellow and black neighbours if it doesn’t like what they are doing. For Howard, “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet”.
In discussing Australia’s leadership in the Solomon Islands intervention, Howard said, “The Solomons is our patch…. If the Solomons becomes a failed state, it’s a haven potentially for terrorists, drug runners and money launderers… we don’t want that on our door step.” Howard’s words have a hollow ring for me, as one of the issues I have raised time and again on Blak and Black is that of the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue, an Aboriginal Australian who was fitted up and sacked by the white Australian justice system for raising concerns about money laundering in ACT Treasury. Clearly the Solomon Islands intervention wasn’t as much about a “belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief” as Howard and the Biketawa Declaration would like us to believe; it was about Australia asserting the alleged superiority of white European civilization over black Melanesian civilization. The problem for Moti was that he genuinely believed in a “belief in the liberty of the individual under the law, in equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief” and he paid a heavy price for those beliefs to a white racist Australia.
As with Lucifer, Eve and the apple, while Australia’s words to the people of the Solomons were literally true, they have come to mean something very different from the drivel Howard and Downer gushed forth in 2003. The reality is that the Solomons have exchanged sovereignty not for “the liberty of the individual under the law” but, to further the interests of one man’s neo-colonial ambitions and misplaced sense of the importance of white European civilization over the age old civilizations of the Asia-Pacific region.
What Australia is peddling to the peoples of the Asia-Pacific Region is sin, the sin is racism, which Australia using all the subtleties of an AusStyr rifle, is foisting on the innocents of the region. It’s time for accountability and justice. It’s time for the people of the region to send that dribbling idiot Lucifer back to the frozen wastes of Dante’s Ninth Circle, otherwise known as Canberra!
Remember, until Australia addresses its own issues of racism and corruption it does not deserve a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
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