military

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The Pentagon 10 Speak Out – Should Anyone Care?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 7:10am in

That each and every one of the Pentagon 10 is by his own lights a patriot, not to mention a beneficiary of white male privilege, is undoubtedly the case.  That each did his level best is also no doubt the case.  Yet all accepted without question an assumption that has long formed foundation of U.S. national security policy:   the conviction that the possession and use of matchless military might offers the best way to protect American freedom.  In one way or the other, in other words, they were without exception warmongers. Continue reading

The post The Pentagon 10 Speak Out – Should Anyone Care? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

It’s Almost Twenty Years Since 9/11

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/12/2020 - 3:45am in

Maybe this time we can finally ask whether trying to prop up a dying empire actually makes us — or indeed the world — any safer. Continue reading

The post It’s Almost Twenty Years Since 9/11 appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/12/2020 - 3:00am in

Tags 

military

Britain’s Armed Services Memorial is a silent, haunting place. Set in the rural beauty of Staffordshire, in an arboretum of some 30,000 trees and sweeping lawns, its Homeric figures celebrate determination and sacrifice.

The names of more than 16,000 British servicemen and women are listed. The literature says they ‘died in operational theatre or were targeted by terrorists’.

On the day I was there, a stonemason was adding new names to those who have died in some fifty operations across the world during what is known as ‘peacetime’. Malaya, Ireland, Kenya, Hong Kong, Libya, Iraq, Palestine and many more, including secret operations, such as Indochina.

Not a year has passed since peace was declared in 1945 that Britain has not sent military forces to fight the wars of empire. Not a year has passed when countries, mostly poor and riven by conflict, have not bought or have been ‘soft loaned’ British arms to further the wars, or ‘interests’, of empire.

Empire? What empire? The investigative journalist Phil Miller recently revealed in Declassified that Boris Johnson’s Britain maintained 145 military sites—call them bases—in forty-two countries. Johnson has boasted that Britain is to be ‘the foremost naval power in Europe’.

In the midst of the greatest health emergency in modern times, with more than 4 million surgical procedures delayed by the National Health Service, Johnson has announced a record increase of £16.5 billion in so-called defence spending—a figure that would restore the under-resourced NHS many times over.

But these billions are not for defence. Britain has no enemies other than those within who betray the trust of its ordinary people, its nurses and doctors, its carers, elderly, homeless and youth, as successive neoliberal governments have done, Conservative and Labour.

Exploring the serenity of the National War Memorial, I soon realised that there was not a single monument, or plinth, or plaque, or rosebush honouring the memory of Britain’s victims—the civilians in the ‘peacetime’ operations commemorated here.

There is no remembrance of the Libyans killed when their country was willfully destroyed by Prime Minister David Cameron and his collaborators in Paris and Washington.

There is no word of regret for the Serbian women and children killed by British bombs, dropped from a safe height on schools, factories, bridges, towns, on the orders of Tony Blair; or for the impoverished Yemeni children extinguished by Saudi pilots with their logistics and targets supplied by Britons in the air-conditioned safety of Riyadh; or for the Syrians starved by ‘sanctions’.

There is no monument to the Palestinian children murdered with the British elite’s enduring connivance, such as the recent campaign that destroyed a modest reform movement within the Labour Party with specious accusations of anti-Semitism.

Two weeks ago, Israel’s military chief of staff and Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff signed an agreement to ‘formalise and enhance’ military cooperation. This was not news. More British arms and logistical support will now flow to the lawless regime in Tel Aviv, whose snipers target children and whose psychopaths interrogate children in extreme isolation. (See the recent shocking report by Defense for Children, Isolated and Alone.)

Perhaps the most striking omission at the Staffordshire war memorial is an acknowledgement of the million Iraqis whose lives and country were destroyed by the illegal invasion of Blair and Bush in 2003.

ORB, a member of the British Polling Council, put the figure at 1.2 million. In 2013, the ComRes organisation asked a cross-section of the British public how many Iraqis had died in the invasion. A majority said fewer than 10,000.

How is such a lethal silence sustained in a sophisticated society? My answer is that propaganda is far more effective in societies that regard themselves as free than in dictatorships and autocracies. I include censorship by omission.

Our propaganda industries—both political and cultural, including most of the media—are the most powerful, ubiquitous and refined on earth. Big lies can be repeated incessantly in comforting, credible BBC voices. Omissions are no problem.

A similar question relates to nuclear war, whose threat is ‘of no interest’, to quote Harold Pinter. Russia, a nuclear power, is encircled by the war-making group known as Nato, with British troops regularly ‘maneuvering’ right up to the border where Hitler invaded.

The defamation of all things Russian, not least the historical truth that the Red Army largely won the Second World War, is percolated into public consciousness. The Russians are of ‘no interest’, except as demons.

China, also a nuclear power, is the brunt of unrelenting provocation, with American strategic bombers and drones constantly probing its territorial space and—hooray—HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s £3-billion aircraft carrier, soon to sail 6500 miles to enforce ‘freedom of navigation’ within sight of the Chinese mainland.

Some 400 American bases encircle China, ‘rather like a noose’, a former Pentagon planner said to me. They extend all the way from Australia, though the Pacific to southern and northern Asia and across Eurasia.

In South Korea, a missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Air Defense, or THAAD, is aimed point-blank at China across the narrow East China Sea. Imagine Chinese missiles in Mexico or Canada or off the coast of California.

A few years after the invasion of Iraq, I made a film called The War You Don’t See, in which I asked leading American and British journalists as well as TV news executives—people I knew as colleagues—why and how Bush and Blair were allowed to get away with the great crime in Iraq, considering that the lies were not very clever.

Their response surprised me. Had ‘we’, they said—that is, journalists and broadcasters, especially in the United States—challenged the claims of the White House and Downing Street, investigated and exposed the lies, instead of amplifying and echoing them, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 probably would not have happened. Countless people would be alive today. Four million refugees would not have fled. The grisly ISIS, a product of the Blair-Bush invasion, might not have been conceived.

David Rose, then with the London Observer, which supported the invasion, described ‘the pack of lies fed to me by a fairly sophisticated disinformation campaign’. Rageh Omah, then the BBC’s man in Iraq, told me, ‘We failed to press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough’. Dan Rather, the CBS anchorman, agreed, as did many others.

I admired these journalists who broke the silence. But they are honourable exceptions. Today, the war drums have new and highly enthusiastic beaters in Britain, America and the ‘West’.

Take your pick among the legion of Russia and China bashers and promoters of fiction such as Russiagate. My personal Oscar goes to Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald, whose unrelenting rousing drivel about the ‘existential threat’ (of China/Russia, mostly China) was illustrated by a smiling Scott Morrison, the PR man who is Australia’s prime minister, dressed like Churchill, V for Victory sign and all. ‘Not since the 1930s…’ the pair of them intoned. Ad nauseum.

Covid has provided cover for this pandemic of propaganda. In July, Morrison took his cue from Trump and announced that Australia, which has no enemies, would spend $270 billion on provoking one, including missiles that could reach China.

That China’s purchase of Australia’s minerals and agriculture effectively underwrote the Australian economy was ‘of no interest’ to the government in Canberra.

The Australian media cheered almost as one, delivering a shower of abuse at China. Thousands of Chinese students, who had guaranteed the gross salaries of Australian vice-chancellors, were advised by their government to go elsewhere. Chinese Australians were bad-mouthed and deliverymen were assaulted. Colonial racism is never hard to revive. 

Some years ago, I interviewed the former head of the CIA in Latin America, Duane Clarridge. In a few refreshingly honest words, he summed up ‘Western’ foreign policy as it is ordained and directed by Washington.

The superpower, he said, could do what it wanted where it wanted whenever its ‘strategic interests’ dictated. His words were: ‘Get used to it, world’.

I have reported a number of wars. I have seen the remains of children and women and the elderly bombed and burned to death: their villages laid waste, their petrified trees festooned with human parts. And much else.

Perhaps that is why I reserve a specific contempt for those who promote the crime of rapacious war, who beckon it with bad faith and profanities, having never experienced it themselves. Their monopoly must be broken.

Note: This is a version of a piece that was originally published on http://www.johnpilger.com


Standing up Straighter against COVID-19?

Pamela Maddock &Warwick Anderson, Dec 2020

The Morrison government plans to amend the Defence Act to make it easier to deploy the ADF domestically at times of national emergency.

Is Trump Right Not to Surrender?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/12/2020 - 11:00pm in

Tags 

Politics, military

Photo Credit: Gints Ivuskans/Shutterstock It’s become another endless loop of the Trump administration: the constant refrain that the President won...

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This mural is on a wall of a former military Training and Drill...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/12/2020 - 9:21am in

Tags 

military

This mural is on a wall of a former military Training and Drill Hall in 36th Battalion Park, a small public reserve. The 36th was locally raised in the Inner West and took heavy casualties in the Second World War, receiving battle honours in the South West Pacific 1941-45. The only memorial is a small plaque and a flagpole (which doesn’t fly a flag) installed in 1985. Leichhardt.

Heather Cox Richardson: Trump’s Personal Pentagon

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/12/2020 - 5:57am in

While coronavirus continues to burn across the country, Trump is focusing instead on continuing to contest the election results and on the Pentagon. Continue reading

The post Heather Cox Richardson: Trump’s Personal Pentagon appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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.

Australian War Crimes Report Means Get The Fuck Out Of Afghanistan

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/11/2020 - 2:16pm in

The much-anticipated report on potential war crimes by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan has been released, recommending 19 current or former soldiers be investigated for up to 39 murders.

Not combat kills. Not accidental kills. Not non-combatants killed by disputable decisions made in the heat of battle. Not civilians killed due to recklessness or carelessness on the part of Australian forces. Murders. Of non-combatants who died for no other reason than happening to live in a region the US power alliance has seen geostrategic value in keeping militarily occupied for 19 years.

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The information about atrocities perpetrated by Australian forces in Afghanistan has taken many years to emerge, was fought tooth and claw with attacks on whistleblowers and journalists, and surely only touches on a tiny fraction of the war crimes which have been perpetrated and covered up with the investigation finding that “the criminal behaviour of a few was commenced, committed, continued and concealed at the patrol commander level”.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ADF Chief Angus Campbell describes a “self-centred warrior culture” in Australia’s Special Air Service which “was embraced and amplified by some experienced, charismatic and influential non-commissioned officers and their proteges, who sought to fuse military excellence with ego, elitism and entitlement,” leading to acts of horrific brutality.

“In this context it is alleged that some patrols took the law into their own hands: rules were broken, stories concocted, lies told and prisoners killed,” says Campbell.

“The Brereton report also found evidence that junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner to achieve their first kill, in a practice known as ‘blooding’,” SMH reports.

Troops “carried ‘throwdowns’ — foreign weapons and equipment such as pistols, small hand-held radios and grenades to be placed with the bodies of enemies killed in action for the purpose of taking photos,” reports SMH. “This practice eventually was used for the purpose of concealing deliberate unlawful killings.”

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The Guardian’s Christopher Knaus writes the following:

One of the more disturbing alleged incidents canvassed in the documents released on Thursday comes from prior work by military sociologist Samantha Crompvoets, who had the job of examining special forces culture and began to hear disturbing allegations of war crimes.

One soldier told her: “Guys just had this blood lust. Psychos. Absolute psychos. And we bred them.”

She heard one allegation that two 14-year-old boys were stopped by SAS, who decided they might be Taliban sympathisers. Their throats were slit.

“The rest of the troop then had to ‘clean up the mess’ by finding others to help dispose of the bodies,” Crompvoets reported. “In the end, the bodies were bagged and thrown in a nearby river.”

Her work eventually triggered the Brereton report.

These are unforgivable atrocities which cry out to the heavens for vengeance. Nothing can undo them. Nothing can set them right. And any grown adult looking at the situation with clear eyes knows that nothing can be done to prevent them from continuing to happen going forward.

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If you train teenagers to kill, deliberately warping their minds so as to normalize the entirely abnormal act of killing their fellow human beings, and then leave them to their own devices in an unfamiliar land full of unfamiliar people over whom they hold the power of life and death, these things will happen. They cannot but happen. They have happened many, many times in ways we will never know about, not just at the hands of Australian forces but of the entire occupying coalition.

This is on top of the massive pile of corpses the US power alliance has already heaped upon Afghanistan by the Trump administration’s record-shattering bombing campaigns and corresponding civilian casualties, and by the nearly two full eight-year presidential administrations previous to it.

Afghanistan is a military occupation which we know for a fact we were deceived about from the very beginning and deceived into allowing to continue, every step of the way. Knowing that we were deceived into it and knowing what its grave consequences are, there is no excuse for it to continue.

There is no legitimacy in babbling about “power vacuums” and what political system Afghanistan will have after brutalizing that nation in the way that we have. At this point such arguments are like a rapist saying he can’t stop raping a woman because some other rapist might come along and rape her if he stops. The most depraved and murderous force in the nation, which has already been killing far more civilians than the Taliban and ISIS, has no business concerning itself with what might happen after it leaves.

https://medium.com/media/00db49a24b463e5a106e8abbcddfc77f/href

Get out of Afghanistan. Get the fuck out. Now. Not just Australia, but the entire murderous occupying coalition. It’s not your country and you’re making it worse. Get. The fuck. Out.

Do not concern yourself with what might happen when you leave. What will happen when you leave is that you will not be there murdering human beings. There are no “conditions” which need to be met first. You are the violent extremists in Afghanistan doing the killing and destroying. You are the terrorists. Leave.

There is no more destructive force on this earth than the tight alliance of nations loosely centralized around the United States which functions as a single empire on foreign policy. The only beneficial thing such a blood-soaked empire can do for the world is to cease its behavior and cease to exist. It is not the benevolent good guy staving off the bad guys, it is the bad guy, and its depravity must come to an end.

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Let the world sort out its own affairs without the “help” of the psychopathic force which unleashes such horrors upon our species.

___________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The Looking Glass World of the White House

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/11/2020 - 1:55am in

President-Elect Joe Biden is now 5.6 million votes ahead of Trump in the popular vote, with 50.9% of the vote to Trump’s 47.3%. And yet, Trump continues to maintain he won the election. Continue reading

The post The Looking Glass World of the White House appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

The GOP — Is Not the Party of Lincoln

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/11/2020 - 2:08am in

Men like Abraham Lincoln organized to overturn the idea that they were mindless workers, doomed to menial labor for life. In 1859, Lincoln articulated a new vision for the nation, putting ordinary men, rather than elite slaveholders, at the heart of national development. Continue reading

The post The GOP — Is Not the Party of Lincoln appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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