An Australian led force which includes soldiers from New Zealand is en route to take over the Solomon Islands.
What might be more surprising to outsiders is the fact that most Solomon Islanders seem to support the intervention force. There is no official opinion polling in a nation whose telephone book runs to just over 100 pages (Sydney's has more than 6,000), but it takes a long time to meet anyone on the streets of Honiara who doesn't welcome it.
Most importantly, there is no point in pumping in aid money to support the Solomons so long as anyone with a gun is able to extort it from a government that is unprotected by any effective police force or army.
Late last year, both the prime minister and treasurer paid hefty sums from the national budget to buy off armed militants close to the country's police force. Honiara's ANZ bank was less easily threatened: when its managers were issued death threats after refusing to open accounts for a well-connected local gang, the company's Australian headquarters was able to airlift the staff out of the country.
An Australian led force, including contributions from Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, will provide policing and military back up to efforts to restore law and order.
Ben Devitt, Australian Federal Assistant Police Commissioner, sees Australia's involvement as lasting for years.
We're actually expecting to be in the Solomon Islands for some years and we won't leave until there is a viable police force in place.
A SOLOMON Islands rebel leader says he is happy that an Australian-led intervention force is coming. Harold Keke, who describes himself as general of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, said the force was welcome "as long as its first priority is to disarm the militants in Honiara and get rid of corrupt politicians".
Aside: whenever I read references to "militants" it is like a warning sign flashing that Orwellian double-speak is being used. Why not call rebels, well, rebels? Or why label predatory criminal gangs what they are as well?
Even as Harold Keke fights for secession for his part of the main Solomon Island Prime Minister John Howard of Australian wants to merge Pacific nations into a larger nation.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard yesterday risked angering smaller Pacific states by saying some of them were "too small to be viable", after rejecting suggestions that sending Australian and New Zealand troops to the Solomon Islands was a "colonial hangover".
Some element of high tech automation will be used to help restore order with UAVs to track rebels and gangs.
The spy planes, known as UAV's (unmanned aerial vehicles) will be used to track the rebel forces and gangs of thugs which have terrorised the Pacific island nation.
This operation is going to cost Australia about $200 million in US dollars per year. That compares favorably with the $1 billion per week the US is spending in Iraq or the $1 billion per month the US is spending in Afghanistan. Why can't terrorists and nuclear bomb developers try to operate from Pacific islands rather than from the Middle East?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 July 22 11:11 AM Chaotic Regions|