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Australian war crimes show bloody reality of Afghan war

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/01/2021 - 1:44pm in

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The barbarity of Australia’s role in Afghanistan was laid bare late last year, with the release of the Brereton report into war crimes by Australia’s much-vaunted elite SAS regiment.

Twenty five current and former soldiers are alleged to have perpetrated 39 cases of war crimes against civilians or prisoners. Some 19 soldiers will be referred for possible prosecution. The report is deliberately based on evidence SAS members were compelled to give, so that it is inadmissible in court.

Practices included allocating junior officers a “first kill” where they would execute a civilian in a practice called “blooding”, and the planting of evidence on slain civilians to make out they had been armed or aiding the Taliban, using weapons known as “throw downs”.

Two 14-year-old Afghan boys had their throats cut and bodies dumped in a river; a man known as Dad Mohammed was shot while lying down in a wheat field in 2012; and an intellectually disabled man in his 20s was executed in what became known in SAS circles as “the village idiot killing”.

Confirmation of the atrocities is a tribute to Afghan village elders and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for continuing to document and raise the issue of civilian deaths.

The evidence was dismissed for years by Australian military commanders.

An Australian army lawyer who raised the issue publicly, David McBride, still faces life imprisonment as a whistle-blower. Morrison had the Australian Federal Police raid the ABC and threaten journalists with jail for exposing the war crimes.

All this horror is a direct result of the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan by the US and its allies, including Australia.

While the chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, apologised to the people of Afghanistan and Australia, he maintained the fiction that, “Afghans asked us to their country to help them.”

This is clearly not the case. The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and installed a stooge government, under Hamid Karzai, who then gave approval to the US to remain in the country, after the fact.

The war was justified as a “humanitarian intervention” for democracy and women’s rights against the Taliban government, who were accused of harbouring Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11. But the US supported Afghan warlords who were every bit as brutal in their effort to oust them.

The occupation has made life hell for ordinary Afghans, bringing terrible violence and death.

In the last ten years alone there have been over 100,000 civilians killed or injured. The UN recorded 5939 civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2020.

The occupying forces were so brutal that the Taliban was able to rebuild their support. The Australian government also turned its back on refugees from the country, torturing them on the prison islands of Manus and Nauru.

Imperialism

The war was only ever about power and imperialism. Afghanistan became an open-ended occupation because of its geo-political importance to the US, situated alongside its imperial rivals Russia and China.

Afghanistan has the misfortune of lying on one of the fault-lines where the rivalry between great powers is concentrated.

In the 19th century Lord Curzon, British Viceroy of India, coined the term “The Great Game” to describe the rivalry between Britain and Russia over the region. The British invaded Afghanistan three times in 1839, 1879 and 1919.

The 2001 invasion provided the US with an opportunity to create a string of military bases in Central Asia, in a region dominated by Russia during the Cold War.

General Colin Powell, US Secretary of State under George Bush Jnr, boasted in February 2002, “America will have a continuing interest and presence in Central Asia of a kind we could not have dreamed of before.”

But apart from its bases inside Afghanistan, the US has now surrendered the rest.

Australia joined the war not as a lackey of the US but as part of advancing our rulers’ own imperialist interests, both in dominating the local region and in protecting the investments of Australian companies worldwide.

Australia’s rulers have long sought to lock in the US as an imperial partner in furthering these aims.

As Paul Kelly, editor of The Australian, wrote in August 2002, “For half a century, the Australian way of war has been obvious: it is a clever, cynical, calculated, modest series of contributions as part of US-led coalitions, in which Americans bore the main burden. This technique reveals a junior partner skilled in utilising the great and powerful in its own interest, while imposing firm limits upon its own sacrifice.”

The West is not part of the solution in Afghanistan. The atrocities are further evidence of why it should leave.

By Tom Orsag

The post Australian war crimes show bloody reality of Afghan war appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Merry Christmas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/12/2020 - 8:10pm in

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I hope you all have a good one. If you don’t, and many won’t, my condolences and best wishes that the next year is a better one for you.

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BBC Fifth Most Trusted News Broadcasters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 9:54pm in

Or should that be ‘fifth most distrusted’ for news. Mike today has put up a piece commenting on the finding by Ofcom that that the Beeb is behind Sky News, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5 in poll of audience trust and belief in their impartiality. He contrasts this finding, which shows that of these five broadcasters, the Beeb is considered to be the least trustworthy and impartial and Sky News the most, with Andrew Marr’s comments about possible competition from GB News and Murdoch’s planned TV news service. Marr was upbeat, believing that audiences would prefer BBC impartiality to overtly opinionated broadcasters like Fox News. He also claimed that the Beeb didn’t have a left-wing bias with remarks about the Director-General Hugh Carleton Green. He claimed Green had a far more anti-hierarchical, anti-Conservative bias than today.

The right-wing internet broadcaster Alex Bellfield was ranting about Ofcom’s findings yesterday. He’s an ex-employee of the Beeb and hates them with a passion. He regularly denounces them as a source of ‘woke’ bias for its continuing anti-sexism anti-racism and pro-LGBT stance. So he was highly delighted with this bit of news.

The Beeb has come under strong attack for its supposed anti-Conservative stance, partly because the Tories themselves want it privatised and its place in broadcasting filled by right-wing commercial broadcasters like their backer, Rupert Murdoch. I don’t doubt that the lack of trust the British public has for the Beeb largely comes from the regular attacks in the right-wing press.

But it also reflects the lack of trust those on the left also have with the broadcaster. When it comes to politics and international affairs, I have very, very little trust in the Beeb. The Corporation was part of the general media frenzy pushing the bogus anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, and are still doing so. Last Friday an alleged comedian on Have I Got News For You, Fin Taylor, joked about bombing Jeremy Corbyn supporters at Glastonbury. There’s been wide criticism of the joke, but the Beeb has naturally defended it. I’ve covered this in a previous blog post, where I mistakenly referred to Taylor as Torbin or Toibin/Tobin. I’m absolutely sure Taylor was invited on to the show because he was anti-Corbyn, and could be counted on to make some kind of dig at him. The Beeb just didn’t expect how much outrage it would provoke.

I’m also extremely sceptical about its foreign news. For example, it has consistently claimed that the 2012 Maidan Revolution in the Ukraine was democratic, despite the fact that it was carefully staged by Victoria Nuland of the US state department and the National Endowment for Democracy, the autonomous body to whom the American state has delegated its policy of regime change since taking it away from the CIA and their ‘Health Alteration Squad’. Putin is an autocratic thug, but in this instance the Russians are the wronged party. But you won’t hear that from the Beeb.

Just as you won’t hear news that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were about anything other than giving these countries freedom and democracy, when the reality is that they were attacked and occupied for their oil or strategic importance to the oil industry, and for western multinationals to seize their state industries in the case of Iraq.

The Beeb in many areas simply isn’t a trustworthy broadcaster. Far from being objective, it simply pushes establishment propaganda. Which I don’t doubt its hacks and management, coming as they seem to do from very middle class, very Tory backgrounds and living in the London metropolitan bubble, believe is genuinely objective news and analysis.

Now the Beeb’s under threat from Murdoch and the other private broadcasters. Once upon a time it could have counted on the support of people on the left. But it has alienated them with its overt Conservative bias and its repeated demonisation and vilification of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites and Jew-haters.

Which means that both left and right distrust the Beeb. Neither of whom believe it is impartial, whatever Marr says or chooses to believe.

BBC is named as least objective news provider – which we all knew already | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated – But Do They Really Have a Nuclear Weapons Programme?

I’ve just seen this report on YouTube from the Beeb reporting the assassination of the top Iranian nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Reports were confused at first, with the Iranian nuclear authority claiming that Fakhrizadeh had survived, but the country’s defence minister then confirmed that he had died. The Beeb’s Middle East editor for the World Service, Sebastian Usher, states that he was the head of Iran’s cover nuclear weapons programme. This has been extremely controversial for years, and is at the heart of the way Israel and America look at Iran. They see Iran as close to becoming a massive risk all across the region because of its nuclear programme. Fakhrizadeh was the ‘father’ of the nuclear weapons programme, and so the prime target, particularly for anyone trying to send a message by whoever was responsible that action would be taken against their weapons programme.

The head of the Revolutionary Guards said that these attacks had happened in the past and have been revenged in the past, and would be revenged this time. Usher states that was quite true. Between 2010 and 2012 there was a spate of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, four of whom were killed in relatively mysterious circumstances, but Iran blamed the Israelis. Netanyahu hasn’t made any comment on what has just happened. Usher states that we should look at the context of this assassination. Trump was in power with a very overt foreign policy from Saudi Arabia and Israel, which had a very strong attitude and ‘strategy of maximum pressure’ against Iran. Usher says that in the last few weeks there has been speculation what Trump’s administration would do to get its message across and make it more difficult for the president elect, Joe Biden, if he were to try to go back to the Iranian nuclear deal which Trump walked away from in 2018.

Top Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated – BBC News – YouTube

I’m calling bullshit on some of this. I’m not at all sure that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons programme – not after the lies Netanyahu and the Americans have told in the past, and definitely not after the total hogwash we were also fed about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction.

Readers of this blog will know that I despise the Iranian regime. They are a bunch of corrupt mass-murderers and torturers, who oppress and rob their people. But it’s a very good question whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons. As the Beeb report says, concerns about this have been around for years. The Iranians do have a nuclear programme, but denied it was military. They said it was all about supplying domestic power. Some western commenters I’ve read have said that’s probably true. Iran’s economy is heavily dependent on oil exports. They want to increase these, and so it would make sense for them to develop nuclear power to generate electricity for their people, so they can export more to the rest of the world.

I also remember how Netanyahu nearly a decade ago now was screaming that the Iranians were close to developing a nuclear bomb, and that action had to be taken against them soon. It was a lie from a man all to practised in lying. It was contradicted by that mamzer’s own security service and his generals. Unsurprisingly, William Blum has a chapter on Iran and the US’ hostility and lies about it in his book, America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. He talks about the scare in 2007 when the Israeli state was telling the world that Iran was on the point of developing nuclear weapons and a threat to Israel. But three months before that, Tzipi Livni, the same foreign minister making the claim, had said instead that the Iranian nuclear weapons programme was not a threat to Israel. Blum also quotes Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International, on how cooperative the Iranians were when the Americans negotiated with them in the 1990s.

The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan [early 199s], in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush’s representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that ‘the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance [Afghan foes of the Taliban] to make the final concessions that we asked for.’ Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, ‘looked down and rustled his papers.’ No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They’re mad. (p. 104-5).

Dobbins himself states that it was the Iranians who included the references to democracy and the War on Terror in the Bonn Agreement and insisted that the new Afghan government should be committed to them.

Blum goes on

Shortly after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran made another approach to Washington, via the Swiss ambassador, who sent a fax to the State Department. The Washington Post described it as ‘a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table – including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.’ The Bush administration ‘belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax.’ Richard Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department at the time and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said the Iranian approach was swiftly rejected because in the administration ‘the bias was toward a policy of regime change.’ (p. 105).

Blum concludes

So there we have it. The Israelis know it, the Americans know it. Iran is not any kind of military threat. Before the invasion of Iraq I posed the question: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, and neither do the Iranians. (p. 105).

Blum also has a chapter on Iraq, and how Hussein tried again and again to make a peace deal with the Americans and show them he didn’t have WMDs. And each time he was rebuffed. A little while ago Trump had an Iranian general assassinated in a drone strike, and there are reports that he would have liked to have had others assassinated in the final days of his presidency. He’s frustrated that he couldn’t. We don’t know who was behind this assassination. It could be the Israeli state, or the Saudis, but it may very well be Trump.

And I’m afraid that over the next few days or weeks, we shall hear more about an Iranian nuclear weapons programme and how they’re a threat to America and its allies. And I fear that the hawks are also preparing to demand war with Iran. If they are, then we’ll hear all the same lies we were told about Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan – that the Iranian government is a tyranny oppressing its people, and that we shall go in there to give them democracy and freedom while eliminating them as a threat to the region’s peace.

But any invasion very definitely won’t be for the benefit of the Iranian people, or to give them freedom and democracy. It will be for the same reasons Iraq and Afghanistan were really invaded – for the oil and the maintenance of American geopolitical power. Plus in the case of Iraq, American and western multinationals also wanted to buy up the country’s state industries.

And the results of any invasion of Iran will be the same as Iraq: bloody carnage. There will be ethnic and sectarian violence, the country’s economy will collapse and unemployment skyrocket. Whatever the country has of a welfare state will disappear and the position of women will get worse. Iran is an Islamic theocracy, but it was also one of the most westernised and industrially advanced societies in the Middle East. I think it still is. The Iranian middle class go skiing in the mountains during which they sport the same fashions as the west. Yes, it part of the developing world, but I got the impression that it was also a comparatively rich and sophisticated country.

We’ve got no business whatsoever invading Iran and the other Middle Eastern nations, and so much of what we’ve been told about them, about the threat they pose, is just one lie after another. And it’s utterly disgraceful that our leaders sent our brave young men and women to fight, die or come back maimed and scarred in body and mind, not to defend this country, but simply so the multinationals can see their stocks and their managers’ salaries rise.

We were lied to about Afghanistan and Iraq. And I’m afraid our leaders will lie to us about Iran, and the Beeb will repeat these lies.

For the sake of millions of people, No War!

Why the Shock?: Australian Atrocities in Afghanistan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/11/2020 - 3:01am in

The host of ABC’s 7.30 program, Leigh Sales, could barely believe what she was hearing: ‘I’d like to think I just misheard this but I didn’t—Chief of the Defence Force says there’s evidence that 25 Australian defence personnel unlawfully killed 39 Afghanis’. Media outlets were awash with reports of ‘disgust’; former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd said as much. Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds admitted to being ‘physically ill’.

The findings of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry, another addition to the history of Australian war crimes, shocked and repelled. The report, compiled by Major General Paul Brereton and his team, notes how thirty-nine Afghan non-combatants and prisoners were allegedly killed by Australian special forces personnel. These involved executions and the planting of weapons on the bodies. The report also notes how two other Afghanis were treated with cruelty while under special-forces control. Nineteen personnel will be subject to criminal investigation with a view to prosecution. But what should hardly count as a surprise are the findings themselves.

In Afghanistan Australian forces were minting a reputation for a cavalier approach in the field from the moment they hit the ground. Veteran journalist Michelle Grattan recalls how ‘even when I was there back in 2002, and Australia had 150 special forces in place, there was chatter among the international media that the Australians were fast and loose’. In other words, for anybody interested to look, instances of brutality could be found.

Over time, these violent accounts accumulated—not quite in the form of an avalanche, but as a series of increasingly heavy snowballs. The chronology of accounts outlined by Karen Elphick of the Law and Bills Digest Section of the Australian Parliamentary Library is instructive: ‘On a number of occasions since 2006, reports have been published in the Australian media alleging that a few Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel operating in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2013 engaged in criminal conduct’.

In 2016, Special Operations Commander Major General Jeff Sengelman, would admit that ‘a growing body of actual and anecdotal evidence from the past decade suggests that the personal and professional ethics of some have been deeply compromised’.

While the Brereton Inquiry was being undertaken, more revelations came in the form of the Afghan Files, the bitter fruits of the actions of whistle-blower David McBride and the investigative efforts of Dan Oakes and Sam Clark. It was all there: the killing of non-combatants, a toxic competitive culture between the special units, the failings of command.  This should have given Australian commentators and pundits the stomach to face facts. Instead, attention turned to whether Oakes and Clark would face prosecution after an Australian Federal Police raid on the ABC’s Sydney headquarters in June 2019. Both Oakes and Clark were spared, but McBride was prosecuted for theft of Commonwealth property and the unauthorised disclosure of material to journalists. War crimes could be psychically buried as a rumour, leaving the tattletales to be punished.

Much of this shock stems from the pedestal upon which Australian forces have been placed. This has led to a collective hypnosis of denial. Australian defence personnel, notably those of the special forces units, are almost childishly revered. Their activities are heroic; their killing is seen as calculatingly clean and undertaken to defend Australian interests. (That killing Afghans is in Australia’s national interest is an increasingly unpersuasive, even ludicrous, proposition.)

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, all things military have been elevated, including the ADF, who have been splashed in the gaudy paint of nationalist glamour. In the process, claims the ABC’s Laura Tingle, Australian governments, starting with the tenure of Prime Minister John Howard, ‘have elevated the mythic elements of Australia’s military to ever increasing heights’.

Such a culture has been swathed in commemorative gloss and padding. The Morrison government’s half-billion dollar commitment to expanding the Australian War Memorial with all the fripperies of conflict took precedence over other public institutions, such as the National Gallery of Australia. Funding cuts to the latter have been telling, given the need for gallery staff to bring out the buckets when the rains come. Leaky roofs for the capital’s art collection are practical realities easily ignored when military exploits need glorification.

While a tone of delusion and comfort was being set in Canberra and around the country, the nature of the killing and deployment of Australian forces was studiously kept out of the public eye. Placing troops in conditions of guerrilla insurgency, with resilient combatants and apparently shape-shifting villagers (shepherd one day, gun-toting militant the next), made the conditions all the more savage.

Historian Damian Powell, one of the few voices suggesting that we should not be surprised by the Brereton Report findings, notes that ‘demands placed upon the Special Air Service Regiment and Commando regiment have stretched our soldiers to the point where some have failed themselves, each other and the Anzac tradition’.

Despite quaffing the numbing brew of the ‘Anzac tradition’, Powell at least acknowledges the point that selecting people for the express purpose of ‘kill and capture’ missions is bound to engender a fragile and dangerous mentality. With this came ‘the constant reality of potential death or maiming through close-quarter combat, IEDs and “green on blue” attacks by Afghan allies’. While these warriors were tasked with such brutal missions, other Australian service personnel were occupied with more mundane activities within margins of strict deployment: school construction, building relationships with ‘local warlords’ and guarding sites of importance.

The nature of the deployment, the conditions of war: these are the factors that recur, time and again, in accounts of war atrocities. When brutal events take place, they are disbelieved; if they are acknowledged they are justified and rationalised as aberrations. Scapegoats are found, retribution targeted for reasons of moral expiation.

At play is a cultural presumption: other armed forces commit atrocities; we are immune to them. It was a tendency Colonel Robert Rheault, former commander of US Special Forces in Vietnam, remarked upon in 1970 with reference to his troops:

Some people think that the Japanese commit atrocities, that the Germans committed atrocities, and that the Russians committed atrocities, but that the Americans don’t commit atrocities. Well, that just isn’t so. American troops are as capable as any other of committing atrocities.

And they were capable. There were the exploits of non-specialist troops, such as those of the Americal Division in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai on 16 March 1968. These troops killed over 500 Vietnamese people, including unarmed women, children and elderly men, but only one conviction resulted—that of First Lieutenant William Calley Jr. Even that was despite extensive institutional cover-up by officers within the division.

Even more analogous with the Australian special forces, given the supposed mettle of the troops, were the bloody deeds of the US Navy SEALs in Vietnam. In the New York Times magazine and 60 Minutes, reporter Gregory Vistica revealed a gruesome secret of former US Senator Bob Kerrey, who led a unit called Kerrey’s Raiders. Certified war hero, survivor of serious wounds, and presidential aspirant, Kerrey was part of a unit responsible for a February 1969 raid in on the Vietnamese hamlet of Thanh Phong in the country’s eastern Mekong Delta. It resulted in the deaths of at least thirteen unarmed women and children.

In such massacres, the same ingredients were present: guerrilla warfare, invisible and changing enemies, and a rising body count without evident reciprocal infliction of harm. The debilitating effect of booby traps. The environment, a sanctuary for the enemy to melt into. Soldiers, snapping under pressure, secretly executing captives. Officially, a different tale: Kerrey, lauded for his unit’s ‘heroic achievement’ in burning peasant huts, capturing two enemy weapons and, most importantly, slaying twenty-one Viet Cong members.

Such forces, then, bear the brunt of unmatchable expectations. Be hungry, but not too greedy. Be effective, but avoid overzealousness. Back home, prime ministers and members of cabinet can be left dreaming about exceptional character traits and noble virtues, their own responsibility for deploying such troops rarely questioned. The only thing to do: find a few scapegoats. The show must go on.


Safe Space for Spying: What remains unsaid by the Signals Directorate

Clinton Fernandes, 10 Sept 2020

In government, neither side of politics has ordered an inquiry into the Iraq War, and the most obvious question is not asked in the NSC’s safe spaces: do Australia’s expeditionary military campaigns raise or lower the threat to domestic security? If you fear the answer, better not ask the question.

Report into Australian special forces war crimes in Afghanistan ‘gut-wrenching’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/11/2020 - 4:04pm in

Twenty-five defence force personnel face charges over thirty-nine killings

Afghan Files- Four Corners video 16 March 2020 ‘Killing Field’ screenshot

Screenshot: Australian Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners video 16 March 2020 ‘Killing Field’

A report published on November 19 into alleged war crimes by special forces in Afghanistan has stunned Australians. Australia has had troops in Afghanistan since 2001 as part of the International Security Assistance Force. Combat troops were withdrawn in December 2013, with 400 trainers and advisers remaining till today.

Despite media stories and widespread rumours of troop misconduct, the Afghanistan Inquiry report has been described as a horrific bombshell.

The inquiry was conducted by Paul Brereton, a judge and Army reserve Major General. The independent investigation, commissioned by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), reviewed over 20,000 documents and 25,000 images and interviewed 423 witnesses. “57 incidents and issues of interest” were examined in detail.

The investigation followed a 2016 review of special forces culture by military sociologist Dr. Samantha Crompvoets. Crompvoet's investigation was commissioned by the ADF in 2015 after rumours of war crimes circulated in the special forces community. She found that there was, “illegal application of violence on operations, disregard for human life and dignity, and the perception of a complete lack of accountability at times.” The review has a comprehensive list of media reports about special operations overseas from 2000 to 2015 but was finished before the sensational 2017 Afghan Files revelations mentioned below. Her review did not document specific incidents. Media stories helped to inform the Brereton investigations but are not specifically detailed in its report.

Guardian Australia reporter Paul Daley summarised the background and findings of the recent report:

For more than four years, the Maj Gen Justice Paul Brereton has investigated allegations that a small group within the elite Special Air Services [SAS] and commandos regiments killed and brutalised Afghan civilians, in some cases allegedly slitting throats, gloating about their actions, keeping kill counts, and photographing bodies with planted phones and weapons to justify their actions.

Among the findings of the Brereton report are the following:

  • 39 Afghans were killed and 2 others treated cruelly between 2009 and 2013. 25 current or former ADF personnel are implicated in one or more of the 23 incidents identified.
  • The killings did not happen ‘under pressure in heat of battle’.
  • Junior soldiers were required by patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner for ‘their first kill’, a practice called ‘blooding. The commanders were usually senior NCOs (non-commissioned officers).
  • So-called ‘throwdown’ weapons were carried by Special Operations Task Group to be placed next to bodies to justify killings.

This screenshot is an example of the heavily-redacted nature of the report, with names and other details blacked out:

Brereton report extract page 73

Screenshot: Brereton report extract (page 73).

Incidents involving 19 individuals have been referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for criminal investigation, which may result in murder charges.

The report also explores the fostering of a ‘warrior hero culture’ as a contributing factor. An example of the toxic culture emerged in September 2020 when an Instagram account run by special forces soldiers, past and present, mocked war crimes allegations. Many Australians on social media were appalled at the time:

The report has dominated social media. Afghan-Australian human rights lawyer Diana B. Sayed posted this statement on Twitter:

There has been ‘shock and anger’ in Afghanistan. Hani Marifat, CEO of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, raised the implications for other nations:

The Australian government’s intention to pay compensation to the families of victims in Afghanistan has been welcomed.

However, not everyone accepts the report’s recommendations:

The report found that ‘no evidence that there was knowledge of, or reckless indifference to, the commission of war crimes, on the part of commanders at troop/platoon, squadron/company or Task Group Headquarters level, let alone at higher levels such as Commander Joint Task Force 633, Joint Operations Command, or Australian Defence Headquarters.’

In an article on The Conversation, veteran journalist Michelle Grattan questioned how it was possible for those up the chain of command to not know.

If senior officers did not pick up gossip and whispers, surely they should have been enough aware of the broad special forces culture to know that extensive checks should be in place to guard against the ever-present threat of misconduct.

Former soldier Dr. Julian Fidge believes that the culture of military leadership has led to a lack of accountability at higher levels:

A potential consequence of the recent report concerns former SAS member Ben Roberts-Smith, a recipient of Australia’s highest military honour the Victoria Cross. The Court has directed him to hand over documents from the Brereton inquiry. The documents may reveal whether he is implicated as a suspect. His old SAS squadron is to be disbanded as a result of the recent report. Roberts-Smith is currently suing newspapers for defamation.

Whistleblowers and the media

Between 2014 and 2015, Australian Army lawyer David McBride leaked information on war crimes in Afghanistan to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). A criminal prosecution against McBride is still proceeding. There are many people calling for the charges to be dropped:

However, Federal prosecutors are not proceeding with charges against ABC journalist Dan Oakes as it was not in the public interest. Oakes helped expose secret defence force documents leaked to the ABC in 2017 (also known as the Afghan Files), he was also one of the journalists at the centre of an Australian Federal Police raid on the ABC in June 2019.

The chief of the ADF, Angus Campbell, has been accused of hypocrisy:

Colin Hocking blames the Federal police and Prime Minister Scott Minister for the pursuit of the media:

On the broader front, the ramifications of these disturbing events will be playing out for years to come, especially criminal charges.

Why the World Hates America and the West: We Bomb, Kill and Wreck their Countries

One of the issues William Blum repeatedly tackled in his books about the crimes of American imperialism was the complete failure of the American political establishment and the general public to understand why their country is so hated by the rest of the world. He produces quote after quote from American politicians, civil servants and senior military officers declaring that America has America’s actions have always been for the good of those nations they’ve attacked, whose politicians they’ve overthrown or assassinated and whose economies they’ve destroyed and plundered. In their opinion, it has always been done by a disinterested America for the benefit of other nations. America has been defending freedom from tyranny and trying to rebuild their economies through free trade capitalism. And American forces have never been responsible for the deliberate targeting of civilians and have been concerned to rebuild the countries afterwards.

Again and again Blum shows that this is all lies. America has overthrown and interfered with democratically elected regimes as well as dictatorships. It has installed vicious fascist dictators, mass murderers and torturers in their place. It has stolen countries’ industries so that they could be acquired by American multinationals. It has hypocritically deliberately targeted civilians, even while denouncing its enemies for doing so. And while it has signed contracts obliging it to pay compensation to the nations it has attacked, like Vietnam and Serbia, these treaties have never been honoured.

But the American state and public have absolutely no idea why America is so hated and resented, particularly in the Muslim world. They’ve set up think tanks to try to work out why this is, and hired public relations companies to find ways of persuading the rest of the world why America is a force for good. In their view, this hatred is due not to America’s vicious imperialism per se, but simply to their mistaken views of it. In 2005 the Smirking Chimp, George W. Bush, sent his Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy on a tour of the Middle East to correct these mistaken impressions. She did not have an easy time of it, particularly in Turkey, where they told her where the people of that country made their views very clear. She told the crowd that sometimes to preserve the peace, America believed war was necessary, and repeated the lie that after the fall of Saddam Hussein, women were being better treated in Iraq. She got angry replies from the women present, to which she responded that this was just a PR problem, just like America had in other places around the world. The Arab News, the leading English-language newspaper of the Arab world, described her performance as ‘Painfully clueless’.

See: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, p. 29.

But some sections of the American political and military establishment have a far better idea of the cause of this hatred. In 1997 a study by the Department of Defense concluded that ‘Historical data show a strong correlation between US involvement in in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States’.

And former President Jimmy Carter also realised that American military action in Lebanon and the consequent killing of Lebanese civilians had cause the people to hate America. He told the New York Times in an interview in 1989 that

We sent Marines into Lebanon and you only have to go to Lebanon, to Syria or to Jordan to witness first-hand the immense hatred among many people for the United States because we bombed and shelled and unmercifully killed totally innocent villagers – women and children and farmers and housewives – in those villages around Beirut…. As a result of that… we became kind of Satan in the minds of those who are deeply resentful. That is what precipitated the taking of our hostages and that is what has precipitated some of the terrorist attacks.

See Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, pp. 34-5.

General Colin Powell in his memoir discusses the American military actions in Lebanon in 1983. Instead of blaming the terrorist attacks subsequently launched against America on Muslim hatred of western democracy and liberty, he recognised that they were only acting as America would if it were attacked.

‘The U.S.S. New Jersey started hurling 16-nch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion. What we tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would.’ (p. 35).

A 2004 poll by Zogby International of public opinion in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates came to the following conclusion, as reported in the New York Times:

Those polled said their opinions were shaped by U.S. policies, rather than by values or culture. When asked: ‘What is the first thought when you hard “America?” respondents overwhelmingly said: ‘Unfair foreign policy’. And when asked what the United states could do to improve its image in the Arab world, the most frequently provided answers were ‘stop supporting Israel’ and ‘Change your Middle East policy’…. Most Arabs polled said they believe that the Iraq war has caused more terrorism and brought about less democracy, and that the Iraqi people are far worse off today than they were while living under Hussein’s rule. The majority also said that they believe the United States invaded Iraq for oil, to protect Israel and to weaken the Muslim world. (pp. 37-8).

Which is more or less true, as Greg Palast has also shown in his book, Armed Madhouse.

The Defense Sciences Board, which advises the Pentagon, partly confirmed these findings in a report published in November 2004:

“Today we reflexively compare Muslim ‘masses’ to those oppressed under Soviet Rule. This is a strategic mistake. There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-U.S. groundswell among Muslim societies-except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the U.S. so determinedly promotes and defends…. Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather they hate our policies…when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy…. [Muslims believe] American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering.” (p. 38).

Unfortunately, our government and public opinion shares the same attitude as the American imperialists. This was shown by the full backing of the Iraq invasion and, indeed, the whole neo-Conservative foreign policy by the unindicted war criminal, Tony Blair and the propaganda of the lamestream British media. If you believe Daily Mail hack, Melanie ‘Mad Mel’ Philips, the cause of these attacks is simply Islam. It isn’t. It’s western foreign policy in the Middle East.

If we really want to do something to stop the terrorist attacks on our countries, we could start by stopping bombing, invading and looting other countries around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, even with the accession of Biden to the presidency, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Skewed Responsibility: Australian War Crimes in Afghanistan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/11/2020 - 3:20pm in

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The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry was always going to make for a gruesome read – and that was only the redacted version. The findings of the four-year investigation, led by New South Wales Court of Appeal Justice and Army Reserve Major-General Paul Brereton, point to “credible evidence” that 39 Afghan non-combatants…

The post Skewed Responsibility: Australian War Crimes in Afghanistan appeared first on The AIM Network.

The Political Background to the Balfour Declaration and the Harm Done by Western Interference in Palestine

2017 was the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. This was the statement of the British government during the First World War committing Britain to supporting a Jewish state in Palestine. There’s a very interesting article on it in Bowker’s Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, which makes it very clear that our support for Zionism was hardly disinterested. It states very clearly that, enacted as it was by politicos who were ignorant of religion, it has resulted in immense harm and conflict. The article says that it was the

British declaration of sympathy with Zionism. It was made in a letter of 2 November 1917, from the British Foreign Secretary (i.e., Balfour) to Lord Rothschild: ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people ….’It was qualified by a clause ‘that nothing should be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’. But at the time, the British supported the idea of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine under British protection in order to detach Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, and as a means of encouraging Russian Jews to pressurize the new Bolshevik government to stay in the First World War. According to Field-Marshal Smuts (in 1947), it had been passed ‘to rally Jewry on a worldwide scale to the Allied Cause’. The declaration was endorsed in 1920 by the allies at the San Remo Conference. It was, however, in apparent conflict with the McMahon correspondence, which made commitments to the Arabs. Sharif Hussein and ibn Sa’ud were ‘courted in order to secure their help against the Ottoman Turks. Thus are the seeds of conflict sown by politicians who (as almost always in post-Enlightenment countries) neither understand nor care about religions. (p. 121).

We had absolutely no business making that commitment. The British Jewish establishment, including the only Jewish member of the cabinet at the time, didn’t want it. They wanted British Jews to be accepted as patriotic fellow Brits, and felt that the establishment of a Jewish state would lead to them being accused of disloyalty. The British government may have envisaged the founding of a small canton, rather than the populous country that emerged. It has also been claimed that the British government was anti-Semitic in issuing the declaration, because they followed the anti-Semitic view that Jews had considerable power in Soviet Russia. It has been remarked that it’s one of the few times anti-Semitism has worked to the Jews’ advantage.

Tony Greenstein has written a long piece about how we courted the Saudis and other Arab leaders to get their support for Israel against the interests of the Palestinians. It’s a convoluted, violent, and sordid tale. It’s also been argued that Israel was founded and supported with the aid of Britain and America as a kind of western colony and centre for European and American imperial influence in the Middle East.

The West has frequently interfered in the affairs of the Middle East not for the benefit of its people, but for the West’s own geopolitical and commercial interests. These have been very much against those of the region’s indigenous peoples. The Iraq invasion, for example, wasn’t about liberating the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant, but about grabbing its oil and state industries. Ditto the invasion of Afghanistan. We never went in to punish al-Qaeda for the horrendous attacks of 9/11 nor the Taliban’s oppression of the Afghan people. It was just another attempt to secure American oil interests in the region against those of Russia and Iran. And the article on ‘Anti-Semitism’ in the same Dictionary states that, in contrast to the hopes of the Zionists, ‘as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Muslim anti-Semitism is today even more virulent than its Christian counterpart’. (p.77).

It could therefore be said that Zionism, or at least the persecution of its indigenous Arab population by the Israeli state, far from combating anti-Semitism has simply spread it still further.

Invading Afghanistan was a war crime

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 22/11/2020 - 12:31pm in

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Nineteen current and former SAS soldiers are facing war crimes trials, after Scott Morrison agreed to appoint a special investigator to pursue prosecutions over the Afghanistan war. Those facing charges include Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith, according to Nine Media.

The release of the report from a four and a half year inquiry by Inspector General Paul Brereton has confirmed evidence of the “murder” of at least 39 Afghans that constitute war crimes. These are incidents where there is “credible information of a war crime” and “where it was, or should have been, plain that the person killed was a non-combatant”, it said.

Reports of these atrocities have been circulating for years. In March the ABC broadcast video of one particularly disturbing incident, the cold blooded murder of Dad Mohammad, an unarmed father, as he crouched in a field.

The Inspector General’s report confirms that patrol commanders developed a routine where junior soldiers were pressured to execute prisoners, a war crime, in order to get their “first kill”. Soldiers also carried “throw downs”, weapons that could be left at the scene to cover up executions and claim a civilian had been armed. This was all known about and covered up for years by higher ranking officers.

These outrages were all part of a larger war crime—the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 2001. The war has made life for ordinary Afghans a misery. After almost 20 years of war the killing continues. A UN report recorded 3458 civilian casualties in the first half of this year alone, the majority of them caused by coalition troops.

The war was never about the interests of the Afghan people. Popular support for the Taliban has grown due to the brutality of occupation troops and the US now wants a peace deal to bring them back into the government. Australia still has troops in Afghanistan. They should all get out now.

The post Invading Afghanistan was a war crime appeared first on Solidarity Online.

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