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'Boston bombing despicable but US has much to answer'


Bill Hoffman | 17 Apr 2013

THE Boston bombing was despicable by any measure, but whether it was the act of external terrorism or internal malcontent it should have surprised nobody.
The language particularly of the right of US politics has become so loose and unrestrained that its capacity to incite some to extreme actions should never be underestimated.
Equally a nation that has waged continuous war and constantly been an occupier of foreign countries for the past decade can hardly expect to be immune to bite-back.
If 1% of the coverage afforded yesterday's blast had been given inside the United States to the impact on individual civilians of its own military activity there may be a greater appreciation of the potential consequences.
The United States considers itself the world's greatest democracy. By some measures that may be true.
But the reality of its economic system renders many of its citizens powerless.
Trapped in poverty, the poor gamble with their lives as foot soldiers for military adventurism promoted by the arms industry and energy companies, simply for the right to decent healthcare and education.
The US spends $711 billion or 4.7% of its GDP on its military, more than $90 billion of which funds its presence in Afghanistan and other conflicts.
That represents 41% of military spending globally.
Yet 15% of the American population or 46.2 million people live in poverty, including 21.9% of those less than 18 years of age.
Limited access to quality education coupled with exposure to media and politicians who show no restraint, in a nation where there is a constitutional right to own weapons with the capacity to wipe out 26 schoolchildren in the blink of an eye, creates a potent mix.
Nobody should be unconcerned about North Korea's nuclear capacity or religious jihadists. But we should be no less troubled by Iran's ambitions than by the hypocrisy that ignores the truth about Israel's arsenal.
Despite his recent attempts to rewrite history on the 10th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, we should never forget that John Howard and his government - many of whom appear destined for office later this year - led Australia into war and the invasion of another country on the basis of a lie.
Mr Howard's claims last week he had "no regrets" about the decision were enough to incite me to anger.
What their capacity may be to incite far more from those who lost loved ones in that clumsy, destructive search for "weapons of mass destruction" is beyond measure.
* Bill Hoffman is editor at large at the Sunshine Coast Daily and one of APN"s most experienced opinion writers. He has long questioned Australia's involvement in US military operations.