Iraq: It's the American Alliance, Stupid!
Iraq: It's the American Alliance, Stupid!
Dear Caven Hogue
Thanks for a worthy article. There is much in this article to agree with and to value. The 'insurance policy' argument is regularly trotted out by International Relations academics of the so-called Realist persuasion. It is unfortunate that the people who do the number crunching on the premiums never factor in all the detrimental outcomes of Australian involvement in whatever militarist adventurism with which the USA is involved.
I would draw your attention to the book 'A very small insurance policy, the politics of Australian involvement in Vietnam, 1954-1967 by Glen St J Barclay, UQP 1988. Even the dates in the title are interesting. The USA intended and planned its military aggression in Indochina long before the fabricated Gulf of Tonkin incident, long before there were military combat troops on the ground and long before Sir Robert Menzies shabby lies to the Australian parliament.
Many veterans will tell you, some from behind cupped hands, that they were not happy to be associated with what one British Ambassador to Saigon termed "a tide of napalm". They were uncomfortable with any association with what their American counterparts were doing.
In Iraq Australian troops have not been exposed to the 'worst of the worst', which is why Australian troops, apart from our Special Forces, have suffered so few casualties. Just the other day our 'Defence' Minister refused US requests for Australian troops to be 'embedded' with the newly reformed Iraqi troops (some of whom are also members of the deadly militias - see Paul McGeough's article in the Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/leave-it-all-behind-and-youll-live/2006/12/15/1166162319928.html and his interview on ABC RN 'Breakfast', Wednesday 20 December 2006).
One ADF officer mentioned to me in conversation that he and his colleagues hated torture and would refuse to cooperate with any Americans who were engaged in these abhorrent practices. Rod Barton, former Australian intelligence officer and member of the WMD search team, confirmed on a number of occasions that the Americans were indeed routinely carrying out barbaric and degrading practices on prisoners with which he raised objections. He was ignored by the real war criminals in Canberra, of course.
In short, we are not along for the ride without inheriting some of the baggage. American war crimes in Indochina, including the carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, the use of napalm, cluster bombs, phosphorus, Agent Orange and other egregious weapons against non-threatening peasant societies are all well documented (though no doubt absent from John Howard's version of the history books).
Any one who doubts the long-term harm of these weapons should check media photographer, Tim Page's web site http://www.vietnampix.com/ackn.htm and order the shocking images of third generation Agent Orange babies. These are nearly as grotesque as the Depleted Uranium babies of Iraq.
Our so called insurance policy causes lots of veterans to fight our stingy, mean-spirited and ungrateful government to get some compensation for their injuries and their PTSD, whilst their children commit suicide at three times the national youth average. Lets not forget the unmitigated disaster of the Union Carbide factory in Sydney, where Agent Orange was manufactured. Nor should we ever forget that UXBs and mines in Laos will continue to kill and maim for the next 700 years.
For our trouble, as you will see from reading the declassified documents in the US State Department, our 'powerful friends' seldom bothered to 'consult' with the Australian government about their intentions, though much is made of the possible ‘influence’ we may have (in our dreams) in Washington.
Finally, with many of the detriments not factored into the premiums, many of us have known for over thirty years that the USA would not have come to our aid if we were attacked by Indonesia, though this is, admittedly, any unlikely scenario. Our governments, of both 'Tweedle' persuasions, pandered to General Suharto and his brutal militarist regime, to the delight of people like Henry Kissinger.
An insurance policy with so many hidden costs, and one that denies us a right to democratic governance and a conscience is, in my view, not worth a cracker.
I fully expect the US forces and their 'allies' and mercenaries to shoot their way to the airport as the flee Iraq in hasty and undignified retreat any time in the next eight months. This disgraceful war crime, the war of aggression and plunder against the people of Iraq, is an episode we will long regret. I do not share the view that 'collateral damage' to Australia will be minimal. When will we be able to repay the 600,000 + Iraqi deaths we helped to cause?
See also: http://willybachpropaganda.blogspot.com/
If anyone wants to contact me about Australia's part in the CIA's Secret War in Laos please do so through NewMatilda