Friday 24th of May 2024

modern warfare with antique seasoning

modern warfare with antique seasoning


I've been wondering all day why A case for torture is so profoundly disturbing. If it had stayed within the confines of a journal article, the impact would have been very different. How was it offered to The Age, or was it requested? Who was consulted before it was published? What was the purpose?

It's too easy, and irrelevant, to say that some people assent to, or even relish the thought of, putting another person under physical duress. And it's not that the medical doctors almost always get caught up in the practice of torture.

I got this far - the two academics and the newspaper have performed an act of vandalism, or perhaps it should be moral terrorism. It's as though they didn't have to consider the consequences of the act of publication. The only "need" that I know of is to support the
position taken by AFP chief Keelty, that it will be necessary to have some forms of harsh interrogation given legal sanction, under the fatuous analogy of the ticking bomb. A close analogy to The Age's act of tossing the Bargaric bomb into Collins Street, was the grenade that was thrown into the crowd while George Bush was in Tbilisi. It may, or may not, have been armed and deadly; it may, or may not, have exploded; it may, or may not, have injured Bush (if he was the target). The perpetrator didn't care what happened, as long as it was noticed.

Bargaric's piece will be noticed. Oh yes, John Howard will deflect it with a contemptuous defence of his values, but he will not drag the perpetrators up to the Bar of Parliament. He had more feeling for Kylie Minogue's illness. Headlines for the protagonist case, but hardly a blip of official countermand.

Some of the anti-Western resistors in Iraq will have noticed that. If their next act includes the filmed mistreatment of a captured Australian, then Howard will have more ammunition to go in harder, to protect the homeland with tougher legislation. So, is The Age complicit in the next Howard-driven attack on our civil values? I think so.

Most of the elements in this dramatic assault on our common decency are present in the 1975 movie Operation Daybreak. This is an account of the assassination of Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague, by a group of Czech patriots. They had been trained in subversive techniques, including sabotage by bombing, in Britain and parachuted back into their homeland. The Germans would have called them terrorists. After they killed Heydrich, one of the group was captured by the Gestapo. During a quiet chat, he told about his colleagues. After dealing with the partisans, the Germans wiped the town of Lidice off the map.

This latest attempt to normalise the callous and considered abuse of other people is a step back into barbarism, and it's intrinsically linked to our government's desire to extricate itself from the moral morass it created for itself over the invasion of Iraq. If we hadn't let ourselves be suckered by Bush's lies about Iraq, Bargaric's career would have taken a smoother course into the Minister's office.

the butchers of baghdad....


By Tony Smith


The warmongers in the Anglophone countries of Britain, the USA and Australia today cause great concern with their AUKUS treaty and the not very subtle stirring of frenzy against China. It was similar in 2003 except that Iraq was the country being demonised.

In 2003 rallies against the invasion of Iraq were held around Australia. Then as now, the executive government did not need to consult parliament before taking military action which was not endorsed by the United Nations. In the town where I live, Tom Uren and Patricia Brennan led a march and spoke against the war. Their speeches were inspirational.

The build-up to the war was aided and abetted by media hysteria similar to that widely condemned campaign being conducted by some Australian journalists today. The errors in the case against Saddam Hussein were many and were largely ignored. There were for example, no weapons of mass destruction. Many American military personnel believed that they were on the way to avenge the bombing of the twin towers in New York by Al Qaeda.

The leaders of the three rogue states planning the attack on Iraq failed to make any compelling argument for the invasion. When asked how they could justify the killing of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, they claimed that this was not their intention. They denied any moral equivalence between their crusading murder of Iraqis and the suffering inflicted by a dictator on his own people.

In desperation, some courageous Australians decided to put their lives on the line as human shields. Such conscientious objectors were criticised for giving comfort to the enemy and endangering the lives of our service personnel. Regardless of what exciting description the warmongers gave the campaign, it proved to be a one-sided rout. Apart from the deaths of those thousands of children, the new Iraq was built on the horror of public hangings, destruction of cultural artefacts and the arrival of carpetbaggers offering to rebuild the shattered country. Small wonder surely that Iraq has not recovered and still experiences sectarian conflict and remains impoverished, despite its fabled oil.

In the spirit of not forgetting the past so that we do not repeat our errors, we must remember that the invasion of Iraq was a bloody mistake. It was we who were the butchers of Baghdad. We should not be distracted by those apologists who will insist that such a view is all very well with the benefit of hindsight. This is a complete red herring. In 2003, opponents of the war including parliamentarians, strategic analysts, church people and ordinary Australians of intelligence and feeling had the benefit of foresight. The warmongers wilfully closed their minds to all logic and appeals to humanitarianism.

Perhaps Iraq is a long way from China geographically and ideologically. Nevertheless, the similarities between the resort to war in 2003 and the so called ‘defence’ preparations of 2023 are stark. China is being demonised. AUKUS leaders are congratulating themselves on their supposed even-handedness in the Pacific. Their assertions that arming us to the teeth and making a garrison of Australia are nothing more than necessary security are just as hollow as the claims that we had a responsibility to remove Saddam Hussein. It is the low key justification for spending billions of dollars on weapons which will impoverish us and commit us to living in a hostile environment totally needlessly.

While the government might reckon that the $400 billion spent will create tens of thousands of jobs, similar investment in other areas would do the same. If we spent that much on housing, on health, on education, on care for the aged and facilities for the disabled, in a few decades we would have excellent assets and a proud population. The submarines will leave those employed with very limited skills and leave us with obscene weapons of war which have no purpose other than to kill and which will achieve nothing but create suspicion and tension.

The honeymoon period for the Albanese Government is over. While it did free the Biloela family, its decisions on finances and the environment have been disappointing. We can be thankful they were stable enough to provide an electable alternative to their horrible predecessors, but something of the weasel style persists. When asked about Julian Assange for example, the prime minister told reporters that he had raised the issue with the US ‘administration’. The press conference did not question him further. With whom exactly did he speak about the cruel and unjust treatment of Assange? Let us not roll over and accept any assurance on goodwill here. Nor do statements about security and diplomatic niceties cut it.

It is time to put the Albanese Government on the spot. Let them drop the AUKUS pact which is based on myths about China. Let them stop the order for nuclear submarines and other death machines. Let them tell the USA to withdraw their bases from Australian soil. These might seem to be extraordinary steps but we are facing an emergency. Only such radical action can repair their quickly damaged credibility and integrity. We forget Iraq 2003 at our peril.