N.B. All Editorials are always "current" Feel free to post resposes to any editorial at any time . The pages will be continually maintenanced. Do not feel obliged to agree. The object is to create a forum for intelligent debate on issues of national importance. Editrorials will remain posted until I believe that they are no longer relevant .Editorial Archives
Well ...where to start...
In the long days in September 11th; I, like many people, have struggled to find something adequate to say about the events in the the world around me.
My inability to contribute anything meaningful has distressed me somewhat. Distressed me because I feel that sometimes people look to me to find the words to describe their own feelings.
Piaget says "Word's are the hooks on which we hang our ideas"; without them we may formulate ideas but we cannot hold onto them. There are, however, so many conflicting ideas that surround such a gigantic tragedy. To search for any central one is daunting to say the least.
Quite bluntly the trouble for me, as for many of us, was that all my initial responses were rage-filled; and the trouble with history is that it is often initial outrage that inadvisedly shapes it's responses. Rage against the terrorists began to give way slowly over the days following the attacks to be replaced by similar emotions towards those who brought about the conditions that gave rise to such murderous and despicable acts of desperation.
The ongoing refusal by the American based media (and, by extension, most Western media) to recognize any part that U.S. foreign policy may have had in the passage of events also enraged me.
As the U.S. response became more martial; as the drums of war swelled in volume; and as the Bush Administration made it clear that to fail to support their position was to be in league with their enemies, my anger turned on the manufacturers of the weapons of violence who were soon to profit so greatly from all of this.
The first song that overflowed out of me onto the stage was "Money To Be Made" a somewhat brutal piece about that.
It's a hard song, brutally frank. It said some of what I was feeling about the culture of the dollar; but in the end I think it was probably faulted. Faulted, because it did not offer anything but criticism. There was nothing in it that provided any hope or liberation. Not that there is anything wrong with criticism; but like all things, I suppose, it's a matter of timing.
The funeral of a friend is hardly the time to raise the matter of his infidelities, (unless affectionately.) That's not some sort doublespeak for 'avoiding the truth' when you are out of step with public sentiment. But it is a recognition that if you want to have a meaningful dialogue, you first must engage. And to engage means to recognize and share the grief, the trauma, the anger, the deep sense of loss and fear.
By the second week I decided to largely cease playing the song but even this decision brought a new sense of unease for me. I was not sure how much it was my own decision based on charity and how much I was bowing to public sentiment. (Private archive reference link "Money to be Made" NB. If you sensitive about this issue or likely to be easily offended ..give it a miss. Don't read it and then complain!)
Increasingly the media was demanding that public people take sides. It was an extension of the outrageous Bush initiated 'if you're not with us you're against us' mindset.
Anthony Mundine was stripped of his world boxing ranking for expressing Anti American sentiments when unexpectedly questioned by Australian reporter Richard Wilkins and with that incident, it was clear that 'freedom of speech' supposedly so highly prized by the US was now to become the first casualty of the new war. In Australia, with the added polarization of an election campaign I was increasingly asked in the light of the song, if I sided with the Taliban or the U.S.
For over three years, and I might add, long before many Americans and Australians even thought much about where Kabul was, I had been condemning the Taliban regime from the stage in my preamble to "Flicker of an Eye" Their destruction of the ancient Buddahs, their institution of a system of marks on clothing to identify religious belief (something the world had not seen since Hitler) and their oppression of women were not only an appalling distortion of Islam but had ensconced them at the top of the 'hit list' for most human rights organisations such as Amnesty.
To characterize them as other than a brutal, misogynist, repressive and even criminal regime would be a huge distortion of facts. Equally to claim that U.S. support for the two brutally murderous and expansionist regimes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon and that the long history of U.S. covert interference and destabilization in Middle Eastern countries; including the supply of military weaponry to subversives did not contribute to the events of September the 11th, is also a huge distortion of facts.
It is after all the systematic abrogation of the terms of the hard won Peace Process from the Oslo Agreement, courageous initiatives that cost Yhitzac Rabin (Israeli Prime Minister) his life, which remains at the heart of the current Middle East impasse and thus all Jewish/Arab conflict world wide.
But beware the dangers of a balanced viewpoint and the perilous assumption that democracy allows one to hold and express it..Suddenly I found that the social milieu in which I move was increasingly demanding that I take a definitive side in the conflict. I am sure I am not the only one who felt that pressure.
Initially it would seem a fairly easy choice. The hard-line brutally repressive Taliban enforcing their view of religious righteousness on everyone around them; as against the U.S., ostensibly, and actually, one of the world's great democracies, with freedom of speech and the value of the individual central to their constitution. Most Australians had no trouble coming to the conclusion that, put like that, our sympathies must lay with the U.S.
Upon reflection however I have come to the conclusion that such a choice is both spurious and ill conceived. The real choice is not between America's 'good' military machine and the Taliban's 'evil' one; between dictatorship or democracy. The choice is, as always, between the violent and the innocent.
I am on the side of the innocent. The chef in the Trade Tower's top floor restaurant as he fell those long, long seconds to his death; the children in the residential areas of Kabul slaughtered by the US military blundering in the first weeks of the campaign; the passengers on the respective airliners as they rang their loved ones and contemplated their last minutes; the fire fighters and rescue workers entering those doomed towers only moments before their eventual collapse; the 200 pro American Villagers slaughtered in their sleep in Khel D'har by appalingly poor US intelligence; the UN workers killed by the patently not so 'smart' missiles unleashed by the US Navy and the aid workers imprisoned for their faith during those long and terrible months. I am on the side of all of these. See 10,000 Miles Away (The Bombing Of Bagdad)
I am not, however, on the side of those whose economic wealth has been founded on the manufacture of such appalling weaponry. (In the conference to mark the 5oth anniversary of the signing of the International Convention on Refugees held ironically in Australia the week after the Tampa Crisis,, the Keynote speaker Fatmata Levina Se Shea identified, not poverty, not natural calamity, not famine ....but the trade by international Arms dealers in third world countries as the biggest single cause of refugee movements in the world today.)
I am not on the side of those like the Taliban, the current Israeli Administration or the Palestinian extremists groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad, whose religious zealotry leads them to believe that innocent lives are acceptable losses in their earthly pursuit of a heavenly Utopia.
And as I stated in the Editorial "McVeigh and The Military mindset" (written somewhat prophetically it seems, six months before the New York and Washington tragedies) I am not and will never be on the side of those who stubbornly insist that civilized human beings can ever accommodate the revolting euphemisms of 'acceptable loss' or 'collateral damage' into their mindsets in the way that the cowardly exponents of the strategies of remote high altitude, 'high ordinance' bombing demand. Civilians deaths are not excusable accidents of history; they the predictable result of deliberate acts. I absolutely refuse to accept the proposition that they are some sort of regrettable but less significant side effects of the pursuit of more important and more legitimate military objectives by the armed services.
They are real, illegal and unjustifiable homicides for which the human beings who perpetrated them stand accountable.
That accountability remains the same whether they were committed by servicemen under orders (Hiroshima, Auswitch), militia under supervision (East Timor, Bosnia); terrorists under command (New York, Belfast) or individuals acting on their own volition (Oklahoma City)
No one has the right to the defence that they have subjugated their own conscience to another man in the attempt to transfer culpability for their own murderous actions to a superior officer.
In the end it is one man who pulls the trigger, who releases the bomb, who launches the missile. That one man is personally and eternally accountable for the outcomes of that action.
It would be considered reprehensible to suggest that the 6700 people who lost their lives on September 11th were merely 'collateral damage' and it is equally disgusting and unacceptable to suggest that the children of Nagasaki or any of the other innocent civilians slaughtered in the wars of the last century were such.... although it may well be said that it is only in the wake of September 11th that we in the Western world may be coming to clearly see the comparison.
Is it a time for us choose sides?
Yes, perhaps it is; but we are remiss in allowing the rampaging media to frame those choices in the biased and rhetorical manner that they have.
If it is time to choose then the choice is between the innocent and the violent.
It is a choice made all the more profound by the fact that it is one that is immediately relevant to us all; whether our governments are directly involved in the present conflicts or not; because it is essentially a choice of the heart; not one of political alliance.
All The Best
Subject: Choosing Sides
"Gary Davies" <Thetwelfth@aol.com wrote:>
If George (double-yer) Bush demands we take sides then I know which side I'm on. I'm on the side of those who care about their families and friends, about their communities and strangers that come into their communities. I'm an atheist, but the Christian dictum of "Do as you would be done by" is one I hold with.
On Friday, March 21, 2003, at 04:19 PM, Jon & Kym wrote:
Having just read your editorial on September 11 and choosing sides and given the events of today (20/3/03) I felt compelled to write.
It is as you say a sad state of affairs that the world now lives in after the terrible events since Sept 11. However, I must say that my initial reaction on that terrible day was one of overwhelming sadness and to this day still is. To think that any person could have lived with so much hatred to develop a theology of terrorism just simply dismays me. More than that though, what right do we as western civilisation have to inflict our views and cultures on any peoples of this world. Yes Iraq and Bin Ladden are out of line but these are two extremely mislead men and must be caught I agree. But killed - How dare we - How dare you George Bush, John Howard, Tony Blair - How dare you take a life for the any reason?
Life is a precious thing - we have for many years now as a society decided who shall live and who shall not justified by our legal systems and political systems. We say help the Red Cross save lives of poor starving children in this country or that - help the Leukemia Foundation find a cure for children so that they may live but in the same breath our leaders appear to condone the killing of World Leaders that don't act the way they want or worse still as the Americans put it "BugSplat" - a term used to describe the number of civilian casualties that will come as a result of war on Iraq.
I am disgusted to be counted amongst western civilization - what civilization?
We are no more civilized than Saddam or Bin Ladden.
Pat love your work - keep it up - keep challenging the opinions and thoughts of us all.
Love as always
Kym & Jon Betts
God have Mercy on us all!
Yep, Nothin' better for most folks. A good glass of chardonnay, a pizza and and all us safe middle class western 'christian' aggressors can settle down to a good war on television...except that after the the last two massive misinformation campaigns waged by CNN (which I have come to conclusion is just another wing of the US military) I think I'll be watching and listening to the ABC for the truth. On the cable the BBC coverage is the most thoughtful by a mile .
I think I'll spend tonight remembering the 50,000 children the US military killed last time by 'accident'...and praying for the probable similar number they slaughter this time.
From: "Andrew Introna" <email@example.com>
Date: Tue Sep 10, 2002 8:54:07 PM Australia/Sydney
Subject: September 11 1973
I feel a need to offer an opinion, something I don't often do by email
In all the hoopla surrounding September 11, I have recently found out about another event in history on this now famous date. Although I have sympathy for the people who lost their lives and their families I believe that the united states is far from clean of blood on it's hands.
As an Australian I believe we have a responsibility to stand up and be counted in our own country, question John Howard's support for the Americans, make sure that history will record Australia as a place of fair and reasoned peaceful response not mindless followers of a culture which does not respect the sanctity of human life and the opportunity for a better world for all.
The following are some bits I got off the net about September 11 1973. an interesting counter point to what happened a year ago.
My opinion may be naive but I firmly believe that world peace will never be achieved by waging war. As an idealist I can see a world where there is enough for all, I don't know how this will come about but I do know that we each have to make a choice to work towards it. A good way I believe is to give someone a hand, help someone out who we normally wouldn't, it can't hurt can it. Starting with the world in each of our grasps before we try to change what we can never touch.
Well enough of my rabble. I hope you are all well.
September 11, 1998 marks the twenty-fifth
anniversary of the military coup
led by General Augusto Pinochet. The violent overthrow of the
democratically-elected Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende changed
the course of the country that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda described as "a
long petal of sea, wine and snow"; because of CIA covert intervention in
Chile, and the repressive character of General Pinochet's rule, the coup
became the most notorious military takeover in the annals of Latin American
Revelations that President Richard Nixon had ordered the CIA to "make the
economy scream" in Chile to "prevent Allende from coming to power or to
unseat him," prompted a major scandal in the mid-1970s, and a major
investigation by the U.S. Senate. Since the coup, however, few U.S.
documents relating to Chile have been actually declassified- -until
recently. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, and other avenues of
declassification, the National Security Archive has been able to compile a
collection of declassified records that shed light on events in Chile
between 1970 and 1976.
These documents include:
** Cables written by U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry after Allende's election,
detailing conversations with President Eduardo Frei on how to block the
president-elect from being inaugurated. The cables contain detailed
descriptions and opinions on the various political forces in Chile,
including the Chilean military, the Christian Democrat Party, and the U.S.
** CIA memoranda and reports on "Project FUBELT"--the codename for covert
operations to promote a military coup and undermine Allende's government.
The documents, including minutes of meetings between Henry Kissinger and CIA
officials, CIA cables to its Santiago station, and summaries of covert
action in 1970, provide a clear paper trail to the decisions and operations
against Allende's government
** National Security Council strategy papers which record efforts to
"destabilize" Chile economically, and isolate Allende's government
diplomatically, between 1970 and 1973.
** State Department and NSC memoranda and cables after the coup, providing
evidence of human rights atrocities under the new military regime led by
** FBI documents on Operation Condor--the state-sponsored terrorism of the
Chilean secret police, DINA. The documents, including summaries of prison
letters written by DINA agent Michael Townley, provide evidence on the
carbombing assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington
D.C., and the murder of Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos
Aires, among other operations.
These documents, and many thousands of other CIA, NSC, and Defense
Department records that are still classified secret, remain relevant to
ongoing human rights investigations in Chile, Spain and other countries, and
unresolved acts of international terrorism conducted by the Chilean secret
police. Eventually, international pressure, and concerted use of the U.S.
laws on declassification will force more of the still-buried record into the
public domain--providing evidence for future judicial, and historical
Helon Osborne Wrote:
This is a lengthy but interesting email about the 'legalities'
internationally speaking, of the Afghanistan attacks.
Patrick Byrt sent it to me.
Toronto Globe, Tuesday, October 9, 2001 - Print Edition, Page A21
Say what you want, but this war is illegal
By MICHAEL MANDEL
A well-kept secret about the U.S.-U.K. attack on Afghanistan
is that it is
clearly illegal. It violates international law and the express words of
the United Nations Charter.
Despite repeated reference to the right of self-defence
under Article 51,
the Charter simply does not apply here. Article 51 gives a state the right
to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure
until the UN Security Council can take steps necessary for international
peace and security.
The Security Council has already passed two resolutions
Sept. 11 attacks and announcing a host of measures aimed at combating
terrorism. These include measures for the legal suppression of terrorism
and its financing, and for co-operation between states in security,
intelligence, criminal investigations and proceedings relating to
terrorism. The Security Council has set up a committee to monitor progress
on the measures in the resolution and has given all states 90 days to
report back to it.
Neither resolution can remotely be said to authorize the
use of military
force. True, both, in their preambles, abstractly "affirm" the inherent
right of self-defence, but they do so "in accordance with the Charter."
They do not say military action against Afghanistan would be within the
right of self-defence. Nor could they. That's because the right of
unilateral self-defence does not include the right to retaliate once an
attack has stopped.
The right of self-defence in international law is like the
self-defence in our own law: It allows you to defend yourself when the law
is not around, but it does not allow you to take the law into your own
Since the United States and Britain have undertaken this
the explicit authorization of the Security Council, those who die from it
will be victims of a crime against humanity, just like the victims of the
Sept. 11 attacks.
Even the Security Council is only permitted to authorize
the use of force
where "necessary to maintain and restore international peace and
security." Now it must be clear to everyone that the military attack on
Afghanistan has nothing to do with preventing terrorism. This attack will
be far more likely to provoke terrorism. Even the Bush administration
concedes that the real war against terrorism is long term, a combination
of improved security, intelligence and a rethinking of U.S. foreign
Critics of the Bush approach have argued that any effective
terrorism would have to involve a re-evaluation of the way Washington
conducts its affairs in the world. For example, the way it has promoted
violence for short-term gain, as in Afghanistan when it supported the
Taliban a decade ago, in Iraq when it supported Saddam Hussein against
Iran, and Iran before that when it supported the Shah.
The attack on Afghanistan is about vengeance and about showing
the Americans are. It is being done on the backs of people who have far
less control over their government than even the poor souls who died on
Sept. 11. It will inevitably result in many deaths of civilians, both from
the bombing and from the disruption of aid in a country where millions are
already at risk. The 37,000 rations dropped on Sunday were pure PR, and so
are the claims of "surgical" strikes and the denials of civilian
casualties. We've seen them before, in Kosovo for example, followed by
lame excuses for the "accidents" that killed innocents.
For all that has been said about how things have changed
since Sept. 11,
one thing that has not changed is U.S. disregard for international law.
Its decade-long bombing campaign against Iraq and its 1999 bombing of
Yugoslavia were both illegal. The U.S. does not even recognize the
jurisdiction of the World Court. It withdrew from it in 1986 when the
court condemned Washington for attacking Nicaragua, mining its harbours
and funding the contras. In that case, the court rejected U.S. claims that
it was acting under Article 51 in defence of Nicaragua's neighbours.
For its part, Canada cannot duck complicity in this lawlessness
on the "solidarity" clause of the NATO treaty, because that clause is made
expressly subordinate to the UN Charter.
But, you might ask, does legality matter in a case like
this? You bet it
does. Without the law, there is no limit to international violence but the
power, ruthlessness and cunning of the perpetrators. Without the
international legality of the UN system, the people of the world are
sidelined in matters of our most vital interests.
We are all at risk from what happens next. We must insist
make the case for the necessity, rationality and proportionality of this
attack in the light of day before the real international community.
The bombing of Afghanistan is the legal and moral equivalent
of what was
done to the Americans on Sept. 11. We may come to remember that day, not
for its human tragedy, but for the beginning of a headlong plunge into a
violent, lawless world.
Michael Mandel, professor of law at Osgoode H
all Law School in Toronto,
specializes in international criminal law.
From: "Blue Mountains Energy Centre" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 09:39:30 +1000
To: "Catherine Dignam" <email@example.com>
Subject: Fw: Radio B92 - Interview with Chomsky
LOVED ALL THE NEW STUFF I'D NOT HEARD BEFORE. STILL TO GET TO SOME OF IT YET. IT WAS GREAT TO TALK AGAIN AND I HAVE ATTACHED THE INTERVIEW THAT I THINK SO ELOQUENTLY CAPTURED THE LINE OF COMMON SENSE AND COMPASSION EVEN THOUGH IT IS PROBABLY ALL NOW HISTORY. DON'T GIVE UP HOPE..WE NEED PEOPLE LIKE YOU STILL TO POINT THE WAY.
Been a while since I posted to your editorials, but as time has passed on many issues, I think I might just drop a few points have read through a few of your editorials.
Aggression against civilians is unacceptable by anyone, terrorist, soldier or any other name a person wishes to take. It is also enshrined within the UN treaties, we Australia are signatures to and teach our soldiers to comply with. Yes it is hard to make the judgement and good discipline and training come to play. Recently I had the chance to have a drink with a young soldier I trained in the Reserve before he transferred to fulltime service. He told me the story of when he was on patrol in East Timor and was the lead scout, responsible for the forward protection of his section. As he patrolled, a man stepped out with a rifle in his hand and he took up a firing position and called for the man to dorp the weapon, after a number of minutes of tension while they tried to get the man to put the weapon down, he kept aim with the safety off and the rifled aimed at the centre of the man's chest.
Fortunately the man put the rifle down and it turned out he was a civilian who had been hiding from the militia in the jungle. The young man sat quietly telling me this story and I finally asked the question, would you have shot him if he had not put the rifle down? He answered after a long pause, 'only when he endangered my section'. In other words he was prepared to do his duty to protect his fellow soldiers or other civilians.
We are lucky today that we have a professional armed service. Yes we demand a high level of integrity and discipline, things unpopular in the civilian world these days. Yes there are some who cross the line, but they are very few. Everyone wishes we did not need an armed force or need to put our young Australians in harms way, but we live in a very volatile world today. Those that step up do so predominately out of patriotism and a belief in our way of life, service people are equally upset when civilians are targeted, people are prevented from exercising there right to free speech and the things they are ready to protect are withered away.
Soldiers know too well they have a responsibility to carry out LAWFUL orders and to reject unlawful ones. It can be very hard to make that call when you are taking incoming fire and your enemy is choosing to dress and hide behind a screen of 'civilian status'.
What I raise to you is this, just as our soldiers must hold higher levels of integrity and discipline, so must we as a society. Sept 11 and other acts that have followed should not give us cause to accept the same level of behaviour from our Police or military personnel. We collectively as a society must accept responsibility and dictate our political behaviour as a nation; this may be how we treat muslims who live in our country as much as how we treat our Asian neighbours who also are victims of the same crimes as these anarchists who hide behind religion to justify their behaviour.
For me choosing sides is easy, the side I choose is to demand we behave like a responsible nation and demand our neighbours to do the same. We live in a very small world these days and we must all reject these anarchists and work together to prevent them from continuing their aggression. We must also make it clear to our political leaders that we expect this to be done without expecting our police or military service to lower the standards of behaviour demanded of us and enshrined within the various UN charters.
Glenn A. Jones
P: 0408 658 293
F: 0267 655 676