Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Australian army’s top brass is betraying our soldiers in Afghanistan.

In war, loss of life or collateral damage is unfortunately unavoidable. I know all about it, I have first hand experience going through World War Two as a youngster in southwest Germany. I have seen relatives and friends killed, seen burning houses, I experienced the heart rending task of trying to rescue people buried under rubble from bombed buildings and failing. I have seen mutilated body parts from allied airmen strewn in our vineyards, a sight that is forever embedded in my mind. War is the biggest atrocity on humanity.

It is absolutely ludicrous to send our soldiers to fight in Afghanistan, then haul them before a court if, in the course of defending themselves, they accidently kill civilians who are often being used as human shields.
I have the highest regards and admiration for our defence forces. They are the best there is. This is a futile, costly (in lives and resources) and an unwinnable war, and we shouldn’t be there in the first place. I have previously written in this forum: “Why on earth is Australia involved in Afghanistan?” To read it, click here.

Something is not adding up here. We are sending our soldiers to Afghanistan to fight, and get killed, while young Afghan men come to Australia illegally in boatloads seeking refuge. So far 21 of our young soldiers have lost their lives. The question begs, what for? Military prosecutions: Parliament must act now. By Prof. David Flint click here.

Going back to
World War Two, the following springs to my mind. In February 1945, two months before the end of the Second World War, the German town of Dresden was filled with an estimated 240.000 women and children, fleeing from the Russian onslaught. The German army had already retreated westwards; there was not a single soldier left in Dresden, and the allied air command knew this. But nevertheless, they sent bombers there and flattened the town and killed all the women and children who had sought refuge there. Nobody was brought to justice about this atrocity. Pictures: Dresden before and after the bombing. Click on them to enlarge.

In comparison to the five civilians killed by our solders in self defence, or in the cross fire, pales into insignificance to the wanton and deliberate murder of women and children in Dresden. Our soldiers should never have been charged. I assume that the new rules of engagement in Afghanistan will be, “don’t shoot, run away as fast as you can.” Following is a great article by the Hon. Charlie Lynn MLC (Member of the NSW Legislative Council) I totally concur with Charlie’s sentiments. Source. - Werner

The great betrayal of our diggers in Afghanistan!
‘Stop firing’ screamed the Afghan interpreter metres away from a suspected Taliban leader as he emptied his magazine towards a small band of Australian commandos. As the walls exploded the insurgent responded by clipping on a fresh magazine and unloading it at them. The Australians returned fire and lobbed a grenade into the dark room. The firing ceased. As they crept into the room they noticed a sight that will haunt them forever. The suspected Taliban leader lay dead amongst a human shield comprising women and children.

Three of the commandos in the raid, doing what they were sent to do by the Australian government, now face charges of manslaughter. These young men have been double-crossed by our political leaders who have exposed them to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Membership of the world court is a gold plated pass to the finer things in life for the international legal fraternity. First class travel, 5-star hotels, fine cuisine and vintage wine are standard fare for the elite in the justice system. The court provides a forum for eminent legal minds from Australia, Albania, Botswana, the Central African Republic, Romania, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Tajikistan and others to discuss a new world order for law and justice.

Our major ally, the United States, is not a signatory to the world court. Neither are China, India or any of the major Middle Eastern nations. The conventions of the court are not recognised by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The United States has enacted an American Service-Members’ Protection Act to protect their troops against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court. Australia has failed to offer the same protection to our troops.

We have also failed to provide them with a system of justice that recognises and respects the unique nature of their role in combat i.e. to close with and kill the enemy. The enemy has a similar role. This was reflected in General George Patton’s address to his troops in Europe in WW11. ‘You don’t win wars by dying for your country,’ he urged. ‘You win wars by making the other bastard die for his country!’ Combat is not about group hugs and counselling sessions with your opponents. It’s about training, discipline, fear, courage, sacrifice, mateship and leadership. Only those who have experienced combat understand these human complexities. Strategies to prepare soldiers for combat operations have evolved over the centuries.

Soldiers also understand, better than most, that modern wars are not won on the battlefield. They are won within the hearts and minds of civilian populations. The historic decision to charge our commando’s with manslaughter as the result of a night combat operation in Afghanistan is a shameless act of betrayal by the Australian government. The decision will have far reaching consequences on the command and control of combat operations which require split-second decisions to meet changing or unforeseen circumstances. Soldier’s lives will be at risk if commanders hesitate as they weigh up the implications of their decisions against the laws of the International Criminal Court or the prejudice of an all-powerful Director of Military Prosecutions.

The traditional system of conducting military prosecutions by courts martial allowed for servicemen and women to be judged by peers with an understanding of the complexities of combat in a hostile environment. This system was replaced by a botched Australian Military Court in 2007.

The botched system sought to institutionalise the betrayal of our servicemen and women by our political leaders who would have been subject to trial by a civilian judge without a jury. The decision to prosecute was delegated to a new supremo, the Director of Military Prosecutions, who is not answerable to either the military high command or Parliament.
Whilst the Australian Military Court was found to be unconstitutional in 2009 the Director of Military Prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade remains as a supreme independent authority. Whilst McDade was awarded the title of ‘Brigadier’ and gets to wear a uniform she has never had to earn the rank and has no experience in combat.

Her military-political sympathies were revealed in an interview where she believed David Hicks had been badly treated because he trained with terrorists in Afghanistan.

Uniform and rank are an integral part of the military system. Both have to be earned and respected. Soldiers are comfortable with specialist officers such as medical doctors, nurses and padres wearing the uniform because they enlist to save lives and souls. They are more sceptical of the legal profession who often use their association with the military to enhance their status within their own fraternity.

They have forfeited their right to wear the Australian military uniform with the decision to charge our combat soldiers with manslaughter.

The Australian government should move swiftly to disband the Office of Military Prosecutions and withdraw from the International Criminal Court to protect the integrity of our command and control system. If our political leaders do not have the will or the fortitude to do this they should be banned from attending military funerals and not bother with meaningless motions of condolence in Parliament.

My quote for today. - Werner

War means blind obedience, unthinking stupidity, brutish callousness, wanton destruction, and irresponsible murder. ~Alexander Berkman


A. Lewis said...

Werner, I totally agree with your and Charlie Lynn’s sentiments. The Afghan war is a great tragedy and it will be an even worse tragedy if they convict our diggers that put their lives on the line in Afghanistan. If that happens there will be a revolt in this country.

I never knew about Dresden, which was absolutely abhorrent, thanks for sharing this in your blog.

Jan Waldon said...

Werner, war is indeed an atrocity on humanity. I also ask, why on earth are we involved in Afghanistan? It is not worth the sacrifice of our young soldiers. I was extremely saddened to read what had happened in Dresden, and not may Australian would have known about it. I think it would be better to make love instead of war. Keep up the good work, Werner, your blog is very informative and interesting.

Babette said...

Werner, a very well written piece by you. And my sentiments exactly follow yours.
Why indeed are we in this no-win war? It seems we just haven't learned a
thing from the last war no-win that we unnecessarily involved ourselves;
namely, the disastrous Vietnam War.