Abbott’s opportunism over MH17 stokes imperialist tensions

by Ian Rintoul 29.07.2014

The shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 over rebel held territory in eastern Ukraine is a terrible tragedy.

It has cost 289 lives, including 37 Australian citizens and permanent residents. Sadly, six researchers and advocates attending the International AIDS conference in Melbourne were among the dead. The dead are victims of the imperialist rivalry between the West and Russia that has destabilised Ukraine and turned it into a war zone. …

|Australian Prime Minister| Tony Abbott was quick to point the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin, beating even the US and European leaders to demand that Putin “show genuine remorse and regret” over the downing of the plane. His response has helped the West build its case to isolate and pressure Russia.

It has become very clear that Abbott is trying to use the disaster to re-invent his image and halt his falling popularity. The media is full of Abbott apologists and spin doctors trying to portray the disaster as Abbott’s “Twin Towers moment”. Writing in the ABC’s The Drum, Terry Barnes, a former adviser for Tony Abbott said Abbott’s response to Malaysian plane disaster had transformed Abbott into a “genuine national leader”.

Any bounce in Abbott’s popularity is likely to be as fleeting same as the increase in popularity for Queensland Premier Anna Bligh during the Queensland floods in 2011. Behind the veneer of concern is the same Tony Abbott. He expresses sympathy for the families who have lost loved ones on MH17, but his budget inflicts misery on families and pensioners across Australia.

The government made much of the fact that it called all the families in Australia, but has said nothing about the much greater number of Palestinian civilians being deliberately killed by Israel.

We must not allow Abbott to use the MH17 disaster to increase the Coalition’s militarism. In June, Abbott visited the US to sign the Force Posture Initiative to extend further cooperation with US forces beyond the agreement to have US marines permanently stationed in Darwin.

Abbott and Bishop see their response to MH17 in the context of Australia’s alliance with the US. During his visit to the US, Abbott reportedly told the US, “We are an ally, that’s meaningful. You carry a lot of burdens, sometimes you carry too much. We want to help.”

It was the US alliance and the interests of Australian imperialism that saw Australian forces join the US to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Neither Abbott nor Obama have apologised to Afghanistan or Iraq for the tens of thousands who died as a result.

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