Rebutting Ivan Molloy:
The Ivan Molloy Affair, including our comment published in The Australian


Gun-toting Labor candidate Ivan Molloy with MNLF guerrillas.
Source: NewsCorp

BackgroundDays after the March 2004 Madrid Bombings, which are believed to have helped Zapatero win the Spanish elections, I asked Australian Federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham whether he would withdraw troops from Iraq if he won the election. He seemed nervous in giving his answer, and said words to the effect, "Oh, sure, once their job is done, they will be coming straight home." Days later, he changed his position, stating that all Australian troops would come back from Iraq either immediately or by Christmas, whether their job was done or not. At the time, I felt that this about face was an ill-considered response to the Spanish election result, which would make Australia a more attractive target for terrorists in the lead-up to the election. Latham's changed policy, and the circumstances in which he made the change, made the election into a sort of referendum on whether Australia should retreat from Iraq. The recent bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta seems to have borne out these concerns.
More recently, with just over two weeks left in the 2004 Federal Election campaign, the State MP for Sunshine Coast, Cate Molloy (ALP), said she held "Liberal sitting members accountable" for the Bali Bombings and the more recent bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. Under pressure from Queensland Labor Premier Peter Beattie, Mrs Molloy said that she was sorry if Bali Bombing victims found her comments distressing, but failed to apologise for blaming Liberal MPs for murder.
Cate Molloy's husband Dr Ivan Molloy, the Labor candidate for Fairfax in the October 2004 Federal election, said he "100 percent supported" his wife's comments.
Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer called on Federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham to disendorse Ivan Molloy. Not only did Latham fail to disendorse the candidate, but he did not even call him to heel. On Friday the 24th of September, The Australian published an opinion piece by Ivan Molloy, under the headline, "PM Feeds the terrorists" and subtitled, "Hold John Howard to account for making us a terror target, says Labor candidate Ivan Molloy." I responded with an article that The Australian edited down to a letter and published on Monday 28th September. The text of my article, along with the letter published, can be read below.
MNLF trainingThe day after the publication of my piece, The Courier Mail published a photograph of Ivan Molloy posing with an M-16 (AR-15) assault rifle alongside a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Mindanao in 1983. At that time, the La Trobe University Student Representative Council frequently sent activists to the Philippines on student funds, ostensibly on study exchanges. However, participants have privately disclosed that trips to the Philippines involved paramilitary training with MNLF guerrillas. In other words, this photograph may show a candidate for Federal Parliament training with a secessionist revolutionary umbrella group that united Communists and Islamists. In Molloy's own words, non-state terrorism "is a global people's war spearheaded by Islamic radicals".

My articleThe full text of my article as submitted to The Australian follows:
Labor candidate Dr Ivan Molloy's article, "PM feeds the terrorists", demonstrates such an alarming failure of logic that Australians ought to be very concerned about the prospect that Molloy could soon be in Parliament. Following closely behind his wife's assertion that Liberal Parliamentarians are responsible for both the Bali bombings and the recent Jakarta embassy bombing, Molloy, like Mark Latham, has identified the first objective of global terrorism (the withdrawal of all foreigners - except terrorists - from Iraq) and made it his election policy. Is it any wonder that Jemaah Islamiyya recently cast its vote at the Australian embassy, just as Moroccan terrorists cast their vote in the Spanish elections?
Molloy's statement, "history shows that democracy cannot be imposed on foreign cultures where no democratic tradition has pre-existed", presents a fashionable but easily refuted argument. Japan was a dictatorship with a basket-case economy when it was occupied in 1945, and today it is a thriving liberal-democracy. South Korea and Taiwan are two more cases in which democracy has developed behind the shield of Western military force. Indeed, before 1945 Germany had repeatedly but unsuccessfully experimented with democracy. The democracy we now see in Germany was imposed under foreign military occupation. Our region's newest democracy, East Timor, was established with the help of Australia's defence forces.
The use of force is always unpleasant, and of course peaceful avenues are preferable when they are feasible. But when a fledgling democracy is threatened by a ruthless, heavily armed opponent, it is unrealistic to suggest that it can be defended without countervailing force.
On the contrary, to withdraw prematurely, as we and the Americans did in Somalia, inevitably damages prospects for democracy. Al-Qaeda has repeatedly referred to our withdrawal from Somalia as evidence of the effectiveness of violence against the West. Molloy's proposal that, having removed the Baathist dictatorship from Iraq, our most well-advised course is to immediately withdraw, is flawed.
The most telling historical parallel, though, is one that Molloy himself invokes - Vietnam. Vietnam is a useful case study against which to test Molloy's theory that if we immediately withdraw, "the Iraqis will eventually be masters of their destiny and deal with damaging Islamic radicalism in their way." Applied to Vietnam, this theory predicts that "the South Vietnamese will eventually be masters of their destiny and deal with damaging communist insurgency in their way." In fact, the withdrawal of American, Australian and Korean support from South Vietnam led to a victory for the insurgency and the establishment of communist rule in the South.
Similarly, a premature withdrawal from Iraq will potentially lead to a seizure of power by international Islamic militant organisations. A recent interview in London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat eloquently expressed the goals Palestinian-born terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group Tawhid and Jihad are pursuing in Iraq. These goals, identical to the model pioneered by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, follow the following sequence:
  1. Expel foreign forces from Iraq.
  2. Establish an Islamic state on a radical, Salafi model.
  3. Use this base to spread the revolution abroad.
As Zarqawi's emissary puts it, expelling the Americans and their allies "is part of the goal, because if this is not done, how will we be able to bring about coups d'etat in neighbouring countries?"11 MEMRI translation of recent interview in al-Hayat.
Opposing America on Iraq would not protect Australians from terrorist attacks, just as it has not protected the Russians from two passenger plane bombings, a subway bombing and the Beslan hostage siege, or the French from the recent hostage drama in Iraq - all within the past month.
Appeasement is an easy, attractive option, until the full consequences are understood. What would it take to satisfy Jemaah Islamiyya?
Withdrawal from Iraq could not have prevented the Bali bombings because the Iraq war had not happened yet. It would also not have satisfied JI's demand after the Jakarta embassy bombing, which was that Australia withdraw from both Iraq and Indonesia. What can this mean, when Australia has no military occupation force in Indonesia? What JI is demanding is the withdrawal of all Australians - embassy staff, businesses and even tourists - from Indonesian territory, in order to leave Indonesia ripe for insurrection. Don't the Bali bombings make this clear?
Molloy's attempt to characterise the suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings and ambushes in Iraq as some sort of national uprising is insulting to ordinary Iraqis, who in fact are the most frequent victims of these crimes. The increase in attacks is the result of the mobilisation of transnational networks with a global political agenda in an attempt both to sway upcoming elections in countries such as America and Australia, and more importantly to derail Iraq's scheduled January 2005 elections.
Nobody is arguing for a permanent military occupation. Molloy asks mockingly what Howard's "vaguely explained 'job to be done'" is in Iraq. At the very minimum, if Molloy and Latham really want to see a democratic Iraq, they should support the retention of Australian troops in Iraq until the January elections, so that there will be a legitimate democratic government to face the terrorists.
Whatever Molloy and Latham might think of the initial invasion of Iraq, to withdraw now is to retreat from the most critical front in the war on terror.
When politicians add the demands of terrorists to their own election platform, they should be careful not to then raise the question whose policies make Australians targets of terrorism.

The letterIraq now the frontline in the war on terror
As published on The Australian's letters page.
Labor candidate Ivan Molloy (Opinion, 24/9) demonstrates such an alarming failure of logic that Australians ought to be very concerned about the prospect that Molloy could soon be in parliament. Following closely behind his wife's assertion that Liberal parliamentarians are responsible for both the Bali bombings and the Jakarta embassy bombing, Molloy, like Mark Latham, has identified the first objective of global terrorism (the withdrawal of all foreigners - except terrorists - from Iraq) and made it his election policy.
His statement that history shows that democracy cannot be imposed on foreign cultures where no democratic tradition has pre-existed, presents a fashionable but easily refuted argument.
Japan was a dictatorship with a basket-case economy when it was occupied in 1945, and today it is a thriving liberal-democracy. South Korea and Taiwan are two more cases in which democracy has developed behind the shield of Western military force.
Our region's newest democracy, East Timor, was established with the help of Australia's defence forces. To withdraw prematurely from Iraq, as we and the Americans did in Somalia, inevitably damages prospects for democracy.
Al-Qa'ida has repeatedly referred to our withdrawal from Somalia as evidence of the effectiveness of violence against the West. A premature withdrawal from Iraq will potentially lead to a seizure of power by international Islamic militant organisations.
Withdrawal from Iraq could not have prevented the Bali bombings, because the Iraq war had not happened yet.
Molloy's attempt to characterise the suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings and ambushes in Iraq as some sort of national uprising is insulting to ordinary Iraqis, who in fact are the most frequent victims of these crimes.
The increase in attacks is the result of the mobilisation of transnational networks with a global political agenda in an attempt both to sway both the upcoming elections in the US and, more importantly, to derail Iraq's scheduled January 2005 elections.
Whatever Molloy and Latham might think of the initial invasion of Iraq, to withdraw now is to retreat from the most critical front in the war on terror.
When politicians add the demands of terrorists to their own election platform, they should be careful not to then raise the question whose policies make Australians targets of terrorism.



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Copyright 2004 Trevor Stanley