Thank God Australian journalist Alan Ramsey is back, drawing our attention to things that really matter and asking all the right questions:
"Seven months ago, at Washington's request, the Abbott cabinet sent 200 special forces troops, plus 400 military support staff and 6 Australian jet fighters, to Iraq to join a US-led multinational force to 'assist' the Iraqi government in its campaign against Islamic fanatics, whom Abbott prefers to call 'the death-cult.'
"After a 'formal request' from Washington with the 'support of the Prime Minister of Iraq', the Abbott government last month agreed to commit another 340 ground troops, in tandem with 143 New Zealand troops, who will join the Australian 'training' force at a base north of Baghdad next month.
"It was these additional Australian troops Abbott was farewelling in Brisbane this week. What he doesn't seem to realise is that his government's piecemeal decisions on military deployments to Iraq eerily mirror what the Menzies and Holt governments said and did exactly 50 years ago as they persisted with the pretence that they were reacting to appeals from South Vietnam's besieged government rather than colluding with Washington in an escalating Asian civil war that, unlike Australia, Washington's European allies wanted nothing to do with.
"Doesn't anybody in this ridiculous government of ours pay any attention to the mistakes, blunders, lies etc of their predecessors when it comes to forever knuckling under, previously, to London, and now to Washington?
"Don't we have any self-respect in what we do and how we're seen when we persist in kissing foreign backsides?
"No Australian under 50 today was alive when we went to war in Vietnam in April, 1965. Our London-born Prime Minister was just 3 when his parents migrated here in 1960 and 7 years old that April night Menzies announced we were sending ground troops to Vietnam.
"Is lack of firsthand knowledge, of having lived through those often dramatic and hugely divisive times, political and social, any excuse for repeating the folly of Australia having joined the United States in Washington's war there?
"Or are the lives of 500 dead Australians seen as acceptable in keeping favour with the White House when the United States sorely needed, for political and strategic reasons, other white faces alongside American ones in an otherwise wholly Asian war?" (Knuckling under in other people's wars ignores blunders of the past, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/4/15)