It is dark and there is a distant orange glow on the horizon. Rain patters on the footpath as a young man hurries past the terrace housing. He is rugged up, coat collar pulled high to beat out the chill. He is on his way to the Fish and Chip shop to purchase supplies for his family and friends. As he walks planes roar overhead. He flinches, wondering if he will have a home to go to in the morning. He puts this thought to the back of his mind. His immediate task is to get the Fish and Chips safely delivered to his friends and family down in the London Tube that doubles as a bomb shelter.
During World War II (WWII) England was subject to sustained bombing from Germany. This bombing became known as the Blitz. Incredibly, Fish and Chip shops remained open as the bombs exploded nearby. In the bomb shelters, runners would take lists of what people wanted from the Fish and Chip shop. They would then head off to the shop to collect supplies. Bombs were exploding no more than 5 kilometers away. My mother and father grew up in these times; it was a hard introduction to life. They and others who have endured the horrific times of war deserve immense respect.
My father is an Eastender. During the war he lived not far from the Docklands of London. He would sometimes tell me stories of his experience of the war. One that particularly sticks in my mind is that he witnessed a German pilotless V 2 rocket bomb fly overhead. Minutes later these bombs would have exploded. My father endured this as did millions of people. Living in these times took immense courage. Yet despite the dangers people remained positive and philosophical. “One evening a friend and I were in my garden when I remarked on the really beautiful sunset. The bright red sky was due to the fires in Docklands. It was a spectacular and memorable sight. That night was one of the worst of the Blitz”
Yet we should not romanticize war. We certainly should not encourage it. It is said that 85 million people died during WWII alone. During the Blitz 1200 people died and more than 250 000 were made homeless. We certainly need to respect and consider the people that suffer most from war, the civilians. During WWII it is estimated that 38 to 55 million civilians were killed. A further 22 to 25 million soldiers were killed. Clearly it is the civilians who cop the brunt of war simply by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apart from the bombings of Darwin most of the Australian continent has been spared these horrors.
Last week our Prime Minster flexed his muscles. He wanted Australian’s to know that he had their back. He was responding to questions about the impending visit of Russia’s President Putin. Australia’s Prime Minister holds Russia responsible for the deaths of the 38 Australians who were on board MA17 that was shot down by Rebels while flying over Russia. It is our Prime Minster’s view that Russia provided the weapons to the Rebels, therefore they are responsible.
When asked how he would respond to Mr Putin’s impending visit to attend the G20 Australia’s Prime Minister responded with these very words. “Look, I’m going to … ahh … ‘shirt front’ Mr Putin. You bet you are… ahh … you bet I am. Ahh…”
At the very least one expects the Prime Minister of any country to at least be articulate. Unfortunately for Australia we have a Prime Minister who is not only inarticulate but also an alpha male. Our Prime Minister seems to think that being a leader of a country amounts to showing the world how tough you are. Even to the point where he talks like a street fighter that mumbles and slurs his words like Rocky Balboa.
We expect our Prime Minister to do everything within his power to keep us safe. And this includes choosing his words. We expect him to make decisions and act in a way that will keep Australian’s out of harm’s way. Threatening to ‘shirtfront’ the President of one of the most powerful countries in the world falls well short of these expectations.
All it takes are a few ill-chosen words to spark the war machine. Indeed wars have been known to start as the result of something as simple as shooting a pig and even a football match. It is reasonable to expect the Prime Minister of the land to act in a way that will not provoke other countries and put Australian’s in danger. But no, Australia’s Prime Minister is gonna shirtfront Mr Putin, you bet he is.
It would be funny if it were not so serious. Our Prime Minister needs to pull his head in. Power is not a plaything of our leaders to show the world how tough they are. We need a Prime Minister that can think through what he/she is doing and saying. We need a Prime Minister that can represent Australia with intellect, dignity and integrity. Mr Abbott clearly cannot! Mr Abbott, just SHUT UP. I beg of you!