‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. this world in arms is not spending money alone. it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.’
— dwight d. eisenhower, from a speech before the american society of newspaper editors, april 16, 1953
So what about the wars of terror?
You who live safe
I think that we need to ask people why are we in Afghanistan?
We need to get beyond the rhetoric.
But even then people will switch off because few are directly affected by the war on a human or on an economic level.
The war in Vietnam differed because large numbers of people were directly affected by conscription and a number by injury and death.
Still, it took the anti-war movement from 1963 to 1972 before the Whitlam Government called the troops home.
And by 1972 the Americans had been defeated on the ground by an implacable Vietnamese people.
Part of the answer to the question lies in Iraq because the wars in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan are all connected by the rhetoric used, ‘the war on terror’. These words summarise US reaction to 9/11. Some say it was pure revenge. Australia had an excuse, the bombing of Bali was before the invasion of Iraq. Never mind that the Bali bombing was done by Indonesians, it didn’t bother the US that the 9/11 tragedy was executed by Saudis.
So what about the wars of terror?
Australian troops committed acts of terror and of murder in Iraq and then repeated them in Afghanistan. People are prepared to excuse them because some died and they have sympathy for their families. But what of the pain suffered by the families of the victims killed by Australian soldiers?
It is the evening of February 26, 2005. There are four Australian soldiers who are on patrol in the streets of Baghdad. One (at least) appears to be drunk or drugged.
Nabil and Lubna and their three kids Sadiqah (12), Aadil (8) and baby are crowded into a Volkswagen as they return home from a family function. They live in a building in Baghdad with 47 members of their extended family. Nabil is a supervisor in the civil service and Lubna previously worked for a radiologist before having kids.
They see four armed soldiers in front of them telling them to stop the car. They do so. In the car are Lubna with baby, Sadiqah, and A. One of the soldiers, the ‘drunken’ one, on the right hand side of the road knelt on one knee on the street and fired four shots into the passenger side of the vehicle, where Lubna was sitting. Lubna protected Sadiqah and the baby as best she could. S says that ‘
‘the soldier was drunk but the rest is a dream, it couldn’t happen, Mum’s body shielded mine. I took refuge behind her and then the car was full of blood.
Lubna was shot in the left side of the face. Mother and son have horrible injuries to their faces. The father is traumatised, his life a painful agony. Lubna lost the sight in her left eye and she also sustained scarring to her face, broken bones in her face and skull, hearing loss in her left ear and can only breathe through one nostril. Her son Aadil, has lost the sight in one of his eyes due to shrapnel or a glass fragment.
Nabil complains of his mind being ‘busy all the time, day and night’.
On 1 April 2005, a senior military officer attended their home and gave them two envelopes. The first envelope contained $3000US for 8 year old Aadil and the second contained $4700US for Lubna. They have lived in Brisbane since September 2007 after they were granted visas by the Australian Government for medical treatment.
And Western commentators talk of 9/11.
Only now, after 7 years, do we see on Australian TV acts of murder and terror committed by American and British soldiers.
But the A BBC’s 4 Corners program ‘Secret Iraq – Insurgency’ broadcast on 11/10/2010 and again on 18/11/2010 still leave out acts of terror committed by Australian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan sent there by Australian governments.
Parliamentarians are aware of these war crimes but continue to speak in favour of war.
That soldier who shot this family without reason is based at Enoggera Army barracks in Brisbane, Australia.
Everyone knows or should know, the truth is individual soldiers from our country, our town were involved in murderous deeds in Iraq and now they are involved in similar deeds in Afghanistan. It is Australian governments who send them there to do this murderous work. Australian soldiers go there for money, for excitement, to follow orders, through stupidity, because their mates are over there … whatever the reason, the result is meaningless and futile.
Let the record be truthful. Let’s not be overcome by national sentiment or sentimentality that we read every day in the press and hear each night on TV.
The Iraqi family told me that they had been interviewed by Channel 7 about their being shot while parked in their family car in Baghdad.
Sadiqah, the oldest girl in the family, still at school and who did most of the translating from Arabic to English told me that ‘the family realises now that it (speaking to the media) doesn’t work’. Why can’t people learn from this girl, from her experience? The media will turn the story at best into an unfortunate mistake by our boys, at worst they will blame the Iraqi family for being in the wrong place or not stopping or in the case of the Murdoch press they will confect a story about an uncle who is supposed to be an insurgent. Some will say the family could have been left dead, like the poor family in Afghanistan murdered 18 months ago by three Australian soldiers.
The girl said that she wore a scarf to school here in Brisbane until her friend who also wore a scarf was abused by her fellow students.
Her father counselled her that it might be best to stop wearing the scarf. She said that after two years at school she knows her father’s advice was right.
‘Australians are racist’ said her younger brother blind in one eye that cannot look straight because of the bullet wound inflicted by the drunken soldier who is now based at Enoggera army barracks.
Wars of terror
And what of the politicians who compete to have ‘photo ops’ in the war zone?
What of the pollsters who say that Tony Abbott was hurt in the polls because he did not accept Julia Gillard’s invitation to accompany her to Afghanistan?
Who are the criminals and who are the innocent?
The British were run out of Basra in the south of Iraq by the resistance to the occupation. The resistance was not Shia, as Four Corners states — it was Iraqi.
It was not until the resistance in the North sought to rid the country of Usama Bin Laden’s Saudi mob that the Americans had any luck. They quickly re- defined their mission from finding nonexistent WMDs to getting rid of Al Qaida. This resistance was not Sunni, as Four Corners states in ‘Secret Iraq – Insurgency’ as if to make the whole tragedy religious.
The resistance was Iraqi, they saw the others as foreign interlopers into their struggle. It was the Americans who had brought Al Qaida to Iraq in the first place by seeking to enlarge the conflict with Bin Laden and by invading Iraq under the pretext of ridding Iraq of their former ally, the dictator, Saddam Hussein.
As one Iraqi said on the ABC’s Four Corners program:
‘the occupation has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein, it is about oil’. He was talking about Britain and the US.
In Australia’s case, prior to the occupation it was all about cutting deals over wheat contracts with Saddam and kickbacks for the criminals at the Australian Wheat Board.
The Australian government gave Saddam $300 million in bribes and the Iraqis got some much needed bread after years of starvation at the hands of the UN embargo on goods and medicines into Iraq. Children were starving in the south but no one cared least of all those in Westminster and Washington.
As Howard said in the parliamentary debate on the invasion of Iraq, Australia joined the invasion for the US alliance. He knew it was wrong but went ahead anyway to keep in with the Americans. Don’t forget that Australia has used the US alliance as an excuse for war crimes since World War II: Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, the first gulf war, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.
In the post war era (how ironic that it should be stated thus), Australian governments sent Australian troops to join in every war American governments sought to expand their influence.
Now the Americans have killed Usama, run out of money to fund the war, created a new generation of illiterate, impoverished people ravaged by war crimes and weapons (land mines, gerenades) that still harm.
Now we have another depression upon us … bad choices were made, it is too late now, hard times are ahead …
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.
— Primo Levi