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Sunday, September 12, 2004


The 9 September 2004 bombing outside of the Australian embassy in Jakarta was the first direct attack against Australia since the so-called ‘War Against Terror’ began. However, of the nine dead and 161 injured only one Australian became a victim, a five year old girl who was injured. At least one Australian commentator has suggested that the bombing was a failure because no Australian was killed and, as a result, the perpetrators are likely to try again.[1] How is it, then, that Howard can say that Australia is a safer place because of our active involvement with the US in invading Afghanistan and Iraq? He had told Australians that it was in “…Australia's security interest to have a close defence alliance with the United States and that defence alliance makes Australia safer, it doesn't make Australia more vulnerable and more dangerous.”[2] The Australian embassy bombing has made a lie of Howard’s assertion; indeed, it seems that the bombing occurred precisely because of our defence alliance with the United States which, in turn, has resulted in Australian forces being in Iraq.[3]
While Australia continues to support the so-called ‘War Against Terrorism’ in the active and aggressive way that it does, it will continue to be a target of Islamic militants. If Australia, as part of the coalition of the willing, attacks and invades Islamic nations it must expect retaliation. Just as Australia, which was not attacked on 11 September 2001, nevertheless decided to join forces as part of the coalition of the willing with the US by invoking the ANZUS treaty, [4] whereby an attack on any of the signatories is regarded as an attack on all of the signatories,[5] so Muslims have allied themselves trans-globally in a pan-Islamic alliance to fight and resist Western aggression. The cycle of hatred and violence escalates on a world wide basis because of the intransigence of both sides. Howard and Downer seem to forget that the so-called ‘War Against Terrorism’ that they have adjoined is not a regional one. If they wish to commit Australia to be part of the bombing and killing of Islamic peoples on the other side of the world than they must accept that this war is global and any actions by Islamic militants against Australia or Australians is part of a global war, not a regional war. They must, therefore, take responsibility for the wrath that Islamic militants vent upon Australia and Australians even when it happens in this region.
What Australia can do to contribute towards a transition from antagonistic regional mayhem toward a peaceful settlement of differences is do as Brian Deegan has suggested[6] and that is discuss with the Islamic militants how that part of the war in our region can be stopped before it escalates into even more death and destruction on both ‘sides’. If this does not happen then the so-called ‘War Against Terrorism’ will, as Howard says, be a very long one. Unfortunately, Howard and Downer’s world view would not allow them to even consider this approach. Their view is simplistic; they are right and the Islamic militants all over the world are wrong. There is, from their point of view, no room for compromise. As a result, the war continues. While this mentality prevails the risk of further deaths of both ‘them’ and ‘us’ will not only continue but increase as both ‘sides’ become more and more frustrated and polarised to a point where any negotiation would become impossible.
The only way to be rid of terrorism, and remember, terrorism works two-ways, is for all the parties, the extreme right of the West and the extreme right of Islam, to get together and discuss how their differences can be resolved without resorting to violence. Meanwhile, if the armies of rightwing governments of the West continue to bomb and kill innocent Muslims in an effort to defeat the militants of Islam so the militants of Islam will continue to bomb and kill innocent civilians of the West as they attack the icons of right wing governments of the West.

[1] Rohan Gunaratana, “Expect more JI attacks, overseas or at home”, The Australian, 10 September 2004. Available online:,5744,10721504%5E7583,00.html Accessed 10 September 2004.
[2] John Howard, Transcript of door stop interview, Darwin, 5 August 2003. Available online: Accessed 10 September 2004.
[3] “JI claims embassy bombing”, The Australian, 10 September 2004. Available online:,5744,10723167%5E1702,00.html Accessed 10 September 2004.
[4] “Howard's obsequiousness to America exceeds even Holt's”, The Age, 22 July 2004. Available online: Accessed 10 September 2004.
[5] Roger Holdich, Vivianne Johnson, Pamela Andre, (eds.), Documents on Australian Foreign Policy: The ANZUS Treaty, 1951. (Canberra: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2001. p. 243. Articles IV and V.
[6] “Negotiate with terrorists: victim’s father”, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 September 2004. Available online: Accessed 10 September 2004.