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Whose side are you on, Johnny?

When John Howard refuses to condemn something that seems to use mere mortals to be worthy of condemnation, it usually means (a) he supports the action; or (b) Liberal voters support the action; or (c) both.

JWH generally makes me cringe with outrage every time I see him interviewed on television, and yesterday morning's performance on the ABC's Insiders is no exception. His neanderthal approach to foreign policy is bad enough without the outwardly-inconsistent manner in which he selectively offers opinion on other countries' internal affairs.

The decision to send Australian troops to Timor Leste last week was the correct one, but was it really appropriate to add:

But clearly, the country [Timor Leste] has not been governed well over the past few years, that's obvious.

Would he like it if President Gusmao were to point out that Australia has not been well governed over the past ten years?

But the thing that's missing from Barrie Cassidy's interview with the Prime Miniature is any condemnation of the forces that are causing all the trouble in Timor Leste and exposing Australian (and New Zealand, Malay and Portuguese) military personnel to risk. What game are you playing, Johnny?

Australia has treated East Timor/Timor Leste like dirt ever since Gough Whitlam turned his back when Indonesia rolled in as Portugal rolled out in 1975. We've done our darndest to take their offshore oil fields and we only stepped in to protect them in 1999 when the humanitarian situation became screamingly obvious. We need to have a good look at Australia's culpability in the current violence.

Tim Anderson's opinion piece on the Australian intervention in Timor Leste can be found on Evan Jones' excellent Alert and Alarmed.