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Thursday, July 1, 2010

NEW HAVEN: "'Burning rubber' never had such innocent connotations," P. L. Inkletter says, "and he finally found the cure for that infernal stickiness"

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:
'In other news…'
01st July 2010

Thursday: Never! We are now in the second half of the year.

What a sad rainfall total Perth and the Southwest have just clocked up for June: Perth has had less than a third of our average for the month. The big dry is hand in glove with the long cold snap we're having. 'Cold' being relative of course, for our daytime temps probably resemble a cool British summer.

Missus Inkletter and I are in the throes of a cold each, with the safe bet being that I gave it to her, for she's in day two, I'm in day seven. And so this altered the plans for this evening…

The Babies Ink&Peggletter flew in from Thailand this morning, having just spent about 12 days there. We have had their car garaged here, and we planned to travel to their place in the city, with a meal prepared by my wonderful wife, and to break bread with The Babies. Our infectious state has made that an unwise course.

So I drove their wheels in and parked it at Wilson Parking behind the Malaysian Consulate, their new parking space, 15 minutes ahead of the diffident driver. Even though this is but my second episode of driving a manual since last December, when Reeve and Chocci Chocson loaned us their utility for a week, I was almost back to form; however, everyone can keep their manuals. Janny was most nervous, despite being in our automatic, about driving into the city centre, and would not even consider parking the rig. Thus I had left those 15 minutes early, so that I could park their car, laden with the meal we were to have had, and various postage parcels and whatnot, and get to the pager in their building to let them know I'd found the car park, and put their keys into their mail box.

I then waited out on Adelaide Terrace for Janny, and in the meantime The Babies had found me up the road and, at a contagion protocol safe distance, came and chatted to me. It wasn't until seeing them in the flesh that I really felt they were back safe and sound, after the Koh Samui boat crash last weekend, when we couldn't raise them for five hours after learning of the accident at sea. I took the driver's seat for my wife, and we waved The Babies goodbye for now, without physical contact. We should be put in charge of infection control at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

I was so tired when we got back, that after din dins I slept for almost two hours before surfacing for Lateline: The Tick(y Fullerton) Check Mark: Ms Fullerton looked beautiful in a dark jacket with a strong white collar, and her trademark minimilist effect make-up, only small earrings for jewellery, and what appears to be a hair cut, still leaving her with shoulder length locks, and styled and flared such (convex) as to flatter her face nicely.

Her long interview was with Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Australia's defence force top poodle, decked out in his conservative Prussian blue uniform lightly peppered with chest cabbage. The subject was the depressing one of the Afghanistan military shemozzle and Australia's involvement in it.

All I want to do mainly is comment in the general about this depressing consultation: I pity Ms Fullerton for having to interview this somniferous military man Houston, who, at least in a PR capacity, would better suit the role of a Methodist pastor full time doing funerals, or more specifically, comforting the bereaved, with his delicate and hushed tones, after the funeral.

I cringe each time I endure Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston's television appearances, especially when we've lost or had maimed another of our soldiers somewhere. Tonight he limp wristedly tried to put lipstick on the pig that our involvement in Afghanistan is, hand wringingly emphasising that IF this, IF that, IF the other, we'll achieve our objectives. With the cooperation of THESE, the help of THOSE, the commitment of THEM, we'll leave Afghanistan as an enduring success story.

What a load of lukewarm pap!

Our military leader needs to come across as actually having balls, not as being the president of the CWA, although I have unfairly slighted those marvellous old battleaxes, as I think most of those old dears down the years would make better spokespersons for Australia's military.

The last way you want to feel, when having your top defence force chief speaking to you about anything, is that you've just witnessed a politically correct hand wringing and colic relieving session.

We've seen far too often – yet thankfully a mercifully tiny number of – military funerals in recent decades here in Australia. However, as terrible, as awful, as deaths of our soldiers are, that's what happens in the military realms, that's part and parcel of the military experience and expectation. And so, when our top brass assemble for these funerals, do we exactly want to see self hand embroidered floral handkerchiefs wiping a tear from their eyes? There is a military way to honour and mourn the dead that appears to be quickly becoming a historical memory here in Australia. But I digressed…

Do you want our top warrior habitually using words and expressions like "it's nice to be here", "unfortunately", "sad", "we regret it very deeply", "I deeply regret", "most regrettable", "a very enlightened move", "I'm very confident", "he felt", "need to take on board the concerns", "expressed concerns", "I would anticipate", "in harm's way", "perhaps I could finish…", "any suggestion", "a little wariness", "a very, very good thing", "of deep concern", "I think that is a good thing","very pleased","it has worked wonderfully well","we greatly respect","sad to see them go","we are very much attuned","handled this very well". There is nothing wrong, in fact a lot right, with such language, coming out of the appropriate mouths in the right contexts. That said, my wife's knitting group, Monday nights at Caffissimo's, doesn't even suffer such beautiful words, so lovely and sweet and soothing to the soul.

Such language, when thrashed to expiry, runs the very real risk of exhausting its sincerity quotient, and thus should be used sparingly; in a military context, I think it should be hardly used at all.

To be fair, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston may be a brilliant military leader, a thousand times better than I would ever have been (and I take no pleasure making this criticism, wishing that I had absolutely no grounds for complaint), but how refreshing it would be to be struck with the manliness of the leader when we heard him, the power, the resolve, the forcefulness, the balls, the "so much as point a gun at my troops and it will be the last thing you'll do" attitude, "the "I'll resign before I take shit from any politician" menace in his demeanour.

Our enemies, and potential enemies, need to have the fear of likely defeat, suffering, destruction, and death struck into them when they hear our military leaders speak; this can be conveyed by tone, not only by words. They should almost sh*t themselves when listening to our top warriors, rather than being left feeling warm and fuzzy. Leave the sweet talk to the diplomats – that's their expertise.

Nevertheless, further on the being fair front, I'm sure it must be excruciating for a military leader to have to operate under the often naïve constraints of the political masters he has to answer to; how difficult to struggle on always under-resourced; it must be frustrating to be under the leadership of others who are not Australian commanders, and to be part of a hotch potch alliance of labile commitment.

However, his finishing remarks are so utopian he could not possibly believe them privately: "I put it to you that we could never ever let that happen again (Al Qaeda using Afghanistan as a base for terrorism) so what we have to do is ensure that the outcome we achieve in Afghanistan is one that denies Afghanistan as a sanctuary for terrorists into the future."

The bleak likelihood is that if not Al Qaeda, then the Taliban, and a cornucopia of new terrorist outfits, will find a thousand niches in that country, when we and our allies throw in the towel after nowhere near establishing a liberal democracy in that primitive mindsetted nation, a nation whose populace doesn't remotely share our values of governance and societal life, who have no experience with the long nurtured institutions of liberal democracy like we have. And even if this did not occur, the death to the infidel mentality infests the sanctuary provided by the mountains of nearby Pakistan. It exists in pockets in Indonesia, the Philippines, through the Middle East, in parts of Africa, even in Europe, as well as Britain, even, sad to report, here in Australia, judging by recent court cases.

All that the terrorist groups anywhere really need is access to the internet to keep their ugly flames burning. How, Air Chief Marshal Houston, does Australia's sacrifice of lives, health, and money in Afghanistan make any difference to that? I suspect he would agree with me if he was allowed to, if he could actually speak the bleeding obvious without repercussions from his political masters.

Despite her excellent skills as an interviewer, Ms Fullerton could barely have felt inspired that Australia's military is headed by grit and determination after tonight's wasted opportunity Houston had available to convince us so. I felt like a baby being mollified after a breast feed. Sorry.


Gladys Hobson said...

'felt like a baby being mollified after a breast feed' ?
You mean you dropped off to sleep content?
Dropped off to sleep maybe but content? NEVER
(I guess it is the koala's fixation with breasts that brings out these thoughts.)

Yes, I know what you mean. No one wants to be there. I fail to see that the men being trained will be able to stand alone against insurgents — men whose whole aim is to kill men, women and children — streaming over from their neighbours. I hate to think what might happen to those who have sided with the forces trying to keep them safe.
Will we get a mass influx of asylum seekers? How could we possibly refuse? And how would we know which of them are genuine or here as a base for terrorism?
Better to live in the present than try to predict the future! But for some, decisions have to be made. I'm glad I'm not one of them.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Gladys: I was a breast fed baby after all.

The mess of Afghanistan, thought up by the low grade thinkers of the ilk of George W. Bush, with their moronic slogans such as 'Freedom! Freedom!', will take the wisdom of Solomon to clear up.

The citizens of that country can hardly be relied upon to be the leaders in improving the mess, given their primitive physical and attitudinal conditions.

The allies are sacrificing young blood and billions of dollars to do what only the Afghanis can do for themselves over hundreds of years, if they truly understand the choices, value them, and pursue the best of them.

If the latest tragic experiment fails (and I hope it doesn't, while being very pessismistic that it will succeed), we will be leaving the Taliban, or whichever extremist horde takes over, with a trained and equipped military and civilian infrastructure with which to continue pursuing their 'death to the West' goals.

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