- From: Herald Sun
- August 31, 2014
I HAVE a question for Greens leader Christine Milne about what she agrees is the “slaughter of innocent people” in Iraq and Syria.
So, Senator, what would you have us do?
I ask politely — no abuse, no anger — because what you said last week struck me as so horrible and heartless that there must be some mistake.
Senator, I must have misunderstood you.
You cannot possibly be so dead to what you say are the “images of barbaric behaviour” we’ve all seen from the Islamic State.
You cannot possibly mean what I understood you to say: Let them die.
Let the men be decapitated or crucified.
Let the women be raped and sold into slavery.
Let us not answer the screams for help from Christians, Yazidis, Shi’ites and Sunnis the jihadists deem not sufficiently devout.
Let our soldiers and airmen stay at home, watching on TV the astonishing cruelty they know they could stop if you would let them.
Am I right, Senator Milne? Is that what you really mean?
I ask because your words were not as clear and plain as mine.
So maybe I’m just slow to understand anything not simple. Or maybe — just maybe — you lacked the guts to tell us precisely what you’re urging.
So let me politely repeat what you actually told us last week, to see if I’ve been unfair.
You demanded the Prime Minister “rule out sending troops to Iraq for a third war”.
You said: “We cannot fix the tragedies and conflicts of the Middle East with more and more war. It is madness.”
You had deputy Adam Bandt echo: “I don’t think we should be going to war again.”
To be fair, you didn’t say we should do nothing at all.
“The Greens have said all along that we support humanitarian assistance,” you added.
Well, that’s nice, Senator. But here is what I don’t understand.
What humanitarian assistance do you want sent to the hundreds of men, like US photojournalist James Foley, who have had their heads cut off?
What humanitarian assistance do you want sent to the 250 Syrian soldiers who were last week stripped and then shot in their head, or the 670 men in Mosul that UN investigators say were executed in June, or the scores I saw on a video being shot and tossed into a river?
What aid should we send the hundreds of Yazidi women the Kurdish Regional Government says the Islamic State is holding in Mosul’s Badush prison, where they are sold off as brides for as little as $25 — or raped if they refuse?
New dresses? Toothpaste?
Senator, exactly how will your “humanitarian aid” stop that savagery?
Let me describe that evil to you in the words of someone for whom you normally have inordinate respect — the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.
What the Islamic State is doing, Pillay said last week, includes “widespread ethnic and religious cleansing”.
There was “cold-blooded, systematic and intentional killings of civilians” with “women and their children … taken as slaves”, and jihadists “deliberately positioning the boys at the frontline in battle situations, as human shields”. But let’s stop pretending, shall we, Senator? No humanitarian aid of yours will stop any of that.
So I ask again: what is your plan? Indeed, what is the plan of so many of the Left, including even Labor MPs, now sneering at talk of sending in Australian forces?
You must have a plan, and not just because we could — with US and British help — stop the worst of this slaughter.
You see, this is not just about charity. It’s not even just about stopping millions more in Iraq and Syria from becoming refugees and crashing our borders to look for a new home or drown trying.
No, you must have a plan because the horror unfolding over there puts us in danger, too, if left unchecked.
The thousands of foreign jihadists serving with the Islamic State — men from Australia, Britain, France, the US, Austria, Canada, Holland, Norway, Chechnya and more — have made numerous videos warning that we in the West are next.
Australian boxer Mohamed Elomar, seen posing with two severed heads in his hands, even tweeted: “Don’t worry ASIO there is plenty of work for you guys coming up.”
Already one returned jihadist has shot dead four Jews in Brussels.
So I ask you again, Senator Milne: what is your plan to stop the slaughter?
Tell us, or just say it plainly: we should let those people die.
Originally published as What would you do, Senator?