Keating says Howard’s Iraq war commitment brought the ‘spectre of terrorism’ to Australia

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating has launched a ferocious attack on his successor John

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating has launched a ferocious attack on his successor John Howard, claiming his “craven” support of the American invasion of Iraq “visited on Australia the whole spectre of terrorism” and torched our multicultural society.

Keating said Howard’s “stubborn and unctuous denial of his responsibility” in committing troops to the assault “should be held in contempt by every thinking Australian”.

In an extraordinarily strongly worded statement, he said that in light of the Chilcot report on Britain’s involvement in the war, Howard “should atone for his actions and those of his government. He should, at least, hang his head in shame.”

The Chilcot inquiry concluded the United Kingdom chose to join the invasion before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted – military action was not the last resort.

Howard on Thursday stood by his own decision, based on the information at the time. “I defend it. I don’t retreat from it. I don’t believe, based on the information available to me, that it was the wrong decision. I really don’t.”

He said that over the years there had been the constant claim that we went to war on the basis of a lie. “There was no lie. There were errors in intelligence, but there was no lie.”

Keating said Howard had committed Australia, by his own admission, on the basis of Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. But there was never any evidence of such weapons and that was established following the exhaustive United Nations investigation led by Hans Blix.

The incompetent management of Iraq after the invasion fractured it and with it Syria and the region, casting millions of people adrift, he said. “A sea of refugees. Yet Howard has no shame of it. And no responsibility.”

Keating said that during Howard’s prime ministership, “his party was advertising that people should be aware of the risk of terrorism. And invited people to pin such official warnings on their fridges with magnets. We need more than magnets now.”

“Howard has visited on Australia the whole spectre of terrorism, through his craven and ill-judged support of the United States and its invasion.

“Australia was perhaps the most successful multicultural society in the world, including the settlement of a large Muslim population. John Howard put the torch to that,” Keating said.

“Now we live perpetually with the spectre of terrorism and racial strife, visited upon us by his prejudices and lack of judgement,” he said.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Is John Howard to blame? Or is Keating wrong on this one?

  1. Roy Bridges  

    Mr Keating so self centred, even with your comments you continue to divid and you complain ., you should hang your head in shame .
    Of course were you spent most of your time everything was fine but you did not I real world.

  2. Trevor  

    I wont even waste time by giving Keating a comment

    • Keating handed Howard a bonanza with a great economy built by he and Hawke. Howard stuffed it by giving tax reductions to the wealthy which we could not afford at the time and are paying for now. Check the opinion of John Housten.

      • Marianne  

        ……..and Howad left Govt., leaving EIGHTY BILLION $$$$$$ credit in the Treasury, which krudd spent in 6 months!

        We’re paying for the wasted funds of krudd/Ju-liar/krudd for a long time yet…………

  3. You mean “cheating” this person lied and cheated his way through his term my mother was in states when he was representing Australia where was he at the Americas cup and did not appear at the designated representation never trusted him after that also got lots of press in states as he let us down.

  4. David Humberstone  

    The sad part of this debate is that these 2 blokes should go back to kindergarden with their mates we view in Question Time..but have the audacity to pick up a weekly pay check at our expense… for goodness sake go to sleep …you old hasbeens!!!!

  5. earn it  

    This profound ‘wisdom’ from a pig farmer. A recalcitrant ratbag full of self.

  6. Rex  

    Several fabrications were made to justify the first gulf war. Apparently Hawke and Keating gobbled them up willing and never questioned them. As for sowing the seeds of terrorism, the US air dropped millions of pamphlets urging Iraqi’s to rise up, they then stopped short of the capital and went home. Tens of thousands were rounded up and executed or imprisoned. Will Keating and Hawke hang their heads in shame in the deaths of those people?

  7. Richard  

    Of course Keating is correct. You can’t invade a sovereign nation on a false premise, cause the deaths of many thousands of innocents and then wipe your hands of any responsibility. Howard was warned many times on the potential repercussions, the majority of Australians were against it at the time if I recall correctly, and yet the so called Man of Steel went ahead anyway. If Howard had a conscience he would hang his head in shame, but apparently he doesn’t

  8. Pamela  

    Islamic terrorism is found in countries across the world.

    It is not restricted to the few countries that fought in the Middle East.

  9. Janice  

    Stop bringing him to the fore to comment on current issues.
    He’s had his day in the sun, & now’s just an old has-been, & wasn’t good at the job, anyway.
    He’s boring, & a few other things beside.
    Don’t want to hear from him, & don’t want to see him, especially after the ‘outfit’ he wore to lunch the day krudd left the Lodge. Very telling.

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