The hollowness at the heart of Hicks

Thursday, 5 April 2007 

For David Hicks, the Global War on Terror was ideal.

What better conflict for a hometown naiveté to get involved in than a full-scale military intervention by the world’s largest powers who themselves did not have a clue what to do once they got there.

The problem for Hicks was that the US’s lack of resolve translated to his treatment as a prisoner. At the core of the US’s handling of this POW was not vindictiveness but a lack of clarity over the legitimacy of the ‘W’. As time dragged on and the resolve of the US establishment faltered, it swung between regarding the Guantanamo Bay residents as examples to be made of and an embarrassment. The final days of Hick’s trial typified this with the ham-fisted move of the prosecutor to pose Hicks as a threat to the US (including calling him by his Muslim pseudonym) counterposed to the final farce of his sentence intended to get him out of the way as quickly as possible.

If the US has a problem of resolve, at least it has a decision-making process. Howard can do nothing but watch the US’s campaign unravel and try to tack and turn to look credible. Hicks’ home-coming only accentuates this government’s growing political paralysis with it not even having the political clout to impose the gag order that was agreed as a condition of Hicks’ release.

For Labor on the other hand, the Hicks case shows more clearly than any other its current advantages but also its problems. The international agenda is moving away from Howard giving Rudd continuing opportunities to embarrass the government. But there are similarities to Rudd’s global warming agenda, where he criticises the government’s lack of action on climate, but without the political consensus to propose his own. The Hicks case showed Rudd could even challenge Howard’s moral high ground over a self-confessed aider of terrorists. But once it was decided Hicks was coming home, Rudd had absolutely nothing else to say.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 5 April 2007.

Filed under International relations

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