13 April, 2017

                                        O Vacuum 

Tham Piew Cave 24 November 2008photo by Willy Bach

I met a man
Told me his story
He had to look his children
And ours
In the eye
He was sketchy in parts
But remembered a place
Not far from Sài Gòn
They tested weapons
He wondered how
People could imagine
Weapons like these
Weapons and enemies
Need each other

He wondered how
To look his children
And ours
In the eye

One weapon
He remembered
They tested
Frightened its inventors
Too potent to use

One kilometre radius
Every cricket
Bird and mouse
Snake and dog
Dead still
Total kill

How could you look
Your children
In the eye

Dedicated to Phuong Le Duc

On 24 November 2008 I visited Tham Piew Cave, Xieng Khouang Province, Lao PDR for the fortieth anniversary of the USAF bombing, which killed 374 people, including many women and children. Some accounts suggest that the bomb used in this attack was a thermobaric, or fuel-air explosive bomb. They knew there was something unusual. The cave was too hot for rescue crews to enter the cave – they had to wait three days. When they entered the cave, it was a scene of horror.

16 December, 2015

Its Us

Its us
In this silver merc
Our best one
That was
Just a little
Joke - OK
It’s aspirational, you know
That silver is deep
Classy, sort of
Like ancient pewter
But the latest thing
From space
It’s so cool - amazing
Wanted you to know
We’re important
‘Like’ our Rego
On facebook
Its customised
Its us
We’re gorgeous
Made all this money
From our
Lockheed Martin shares
Don’t give a shit
What you think
But you have to LIKE us
We want to be liked
Like smothered
With affection
Yes, yes
An orgasm
Of shimmering
Cool Mercedes
Its Us
Caught on our iPod

Willy Bach © 2015


22 October, 2015

This is not my village

This is not my village

As I come
To tread your dust
Walking as though fixated
Returning as though a hero
On my pilgrimage of peace
Memories and anguish
I tell them in my mind
This is yours
Left hardly better than before
I have no sense of place
This is not my village

Just because it all looks familiar
Just because the children
All run into the street

Group themselves for photographs
Give me their address
Let it be yours
Let me give it back
With my shattered conscience
This is not my village

These are not my people
Lost in dust
Just because this old man
Can talk my language
A little ......and yes
He remembers Kevin
From Sydney not known to me
And next month
Those who came after
Will return - perhaps to gloat
Slap one another
On the back

This is not my village

For up this dusty track
Young women came
To feed on wasted semen
And be forgotten
Now all the beer bottles
Mamasans and bars
Are gone
This place is where it was
Before- long ago I came
This could never be my village

This is not my village
This is not where my
Placenta is buried
Not where the spirits
Of my ancestors dwell
The right to own this land
Was never granted me
I should neither bring
Nor take
Soldiers are tourists with guns
Tourists are invaders with cameras
This is not my village

This could never be mine
These are not my people
Though I am their brother
Nothing could give me the right
To remove them
To another place
To extinguish their houses
From the face of the earth
To set them wandering

In search of roots that cannot be
A new village cannot be their village
New land has no ancestors
This is not my village

Dedicated to the villagers of Ban Kok Talat where the airstrip was built, ten kilometres from Leong Nok Tha, revisited in January, 1993.   This poem has been published in several literary journals.

25 June, 2015


What if we remember
What if we go back

What if we can't clear
Our minds
What if it hurts too much

Only the troubled souls
Can hear screaming in their heads

Helicopters thrashing the air
Flattening grass
Flashing lights
Blades like crazy
Whirling knives
What if we can't forget

What if we just
Can't stand the torment
What if we lose our minds

Millions of plastic toys
Raining from the sky
Amputating tiny feet
What if that child was mine

What if we just can't determine

Nightmares from real life
What if revisiting feels
Like we never left the place
What if we carry it with us
Till we're dead

Willy Bach (c) 1991

Footnote: CRAS (Citizen Reality Avoidance Syndrome), it turns out, is much more widespread than VSCRAS (Veterans Stressed by Citizen Reality Avoidance Syndrome), and much more deadly, to other people’s children.

Bill Distler served in Vietnam, he is a member of VFP Chapter 111, Bellingham

27 April, 2015

ANZAC ‘ed out 2015

ANZAC ‘ed out 2015

As we know….
They shall grow not old,
Lives cut short
Denied parenthood
Pleasure, creativity
as we that are left grow old:
Lamely, sullenly
Age shall not weary them,
As they tirelessly
To keep their minds
nor the years condemn….
The leaders who
Recklessly sent so many
To their deaths
At the going down of the sun
As it always does
and in the morning
We will still
Avoid asking why
We will remember them.
We said
As we ignored
Their problems
The cries of their loved ones
Partners and children
We only want
The official narrative
To prevail
The people who did
What they were told
Even secret, awful acts
Of no more use
Thanked only
With sanctimonious courtesies
For perpetual war

Willy Bach © 2015
Willy Bach 26 April 2015
After an Evensong at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane
Re Casting the words of the famous excerpt from Robert Lawrence Binyon’s poem, “For the Fallen”, The poem was written in mid September 1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

20 August, 2014

A letter to Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

21 August 2014

Dear Prime Minister
I understand that you share my disgust with beheadings. This is not difficult to agree upon. For me, the murder of another human being is unconscionable. I maintain this consistently and strive for solutions that do not require or minimize the use of violence.  It would be preferable to bring these offenders to trial at The Hague; rather than blow-up large tracts of Iraq. The Australian federal government has applied this principle selectively and this approach may be worsening the problem that it is trying to solve. The Attorney General is in the process of introducing new anti-terrorism laws, but Muslims are not the only people who can be extreme in their views and inflict violent acts on others. As Dr Anne Aly stated on ABC RN on Wednesday 20 August 2014, much of the appeal of groups like IS is through claims of victimhood and applying that logic in urging young men (mainly) to protect their community:

“Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action.” Anne Aly
As Dr Aly pointed out, this applies to Neo Nazis and white supremacists in similar ways. She said that Germany has effective programmes to address radicalisation issues. Please explore this.
There is a very intense problem in your approach to consultations with Muslims, Prime Minister, that you appear to be lecturing Muslim leaders, rather than attentively listening to them and drawing upon their experience with the intent of producing more effective and acceptable legislation. As we have heard, some of Melbourne's Muslim community-leaders have refused to meet you because of what they see as your hectoring tone and frankly a colonialist and assimilationist attitude. However, I remember a long list of political leaders, notably Brendan Nelson and Kim Beazley who took the approach a few years ago that Muslims, and only Muslims, should 'go back where they came from'. That insult stays with people for a long time when they feel threatened and when successful settlement depends on a confidence in making plans to stay where they are, building careers and families.
Your term, 'team Australia' is inherently coercive and exclusionary. It sounds like a re-play of those earlier times when unfortunate and hurtful things were said. It will result in social division. If you look at what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri, USA, that is somewhere this country should not go. A Prime Minister needs to be much less cavalier and more empathetic. Please practice attentive listening, it may bear better fruit.
I find it astonishing that the word Gaza barely passes your lips. I find it quite shocking that you and your Ministers have no comments to make on the military excesses committed by Israel and the unacceptably high civilian death and injury rate among the population of Gaza. I do have an understanding of Just War concepts and military necessity. The ruins of Gaza do not relate in any way to either Israeli defence or military necessity. What words will you have for the Muslim community to explain this callous apparent indifference to suffering?
If you are serious about protecting Australia from terrorist attacks, there are a number of courses of action you should initiate without too much delay. Whilst talking with Muslims, it is prudent to also talk even-handedly with Zionist leaders about the 400 or so young Australians going to Israel to join the IDF and, in Ben Zygier’s case, Mossad. There they learn to use military weapons in real situations to inflict terror against civilians. This is not only a military skill. They are not fighting another army that has attack helicopters and tanks like theirs. It is a traumatic experience, which has been described in some detail by former IDF soldiers. You are also aware that IDF soldiers on deployment routinely deface places of worship, both Muslim and Christian and leave the homes of Palestinians in a state of utter destruction and chaos. In short, young Australians who join the IDF learn to hate Palestinians and to act violently towards them. Their PTSD, bitterness and confusion can lead to societal problems like those you fear from Jihadi veterans.
In conclusion, a more even-handed policy toward Israel could contribute to a situation in which Muslim Australians would feel affinity with their/our government and not find our foreign policy so offensive and so alienating. Then we might persuade some Jihadis to stay home and keep the peace.
Please give this letter due consideration and do not allow a staff member to serve one of those dismissive replies. I want a serious reply from you because I care about this country and how we walk in the world. Please.

Willy Bach

“Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action.”

On the footer it says:
The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
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15 August, 2013

Were the wars against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq illegal? – for evidence in the trial of Graeme Dunstan.

                                                Were the wars against the peoples of 
                                                       Afghanistan and Iraq illegal?

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General:

Reported in Yew York Times, BBC, ABC (Australia), The Guardian
Lessons of Iraq war underscore importance of UN Charter - Annan

Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan
Julian Borger

Ramesh Thakur

The Iraq crisis and world order: Structural, institutional and normative challenges
Edited by Ramesh Thakur and Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu
Part V: International legal and doctrinal issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379
23 The war in Iraq as illegal and illegitimate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381
David Krieger (use this)
24 Legitimacy as an assessment of existing legal standards:
The case of the 2003 Iraq war . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397
Charlotte Ku
25 The multinational action in Iraq and international law . . . . . . . . . 413
Ruth Wedgwood
26 Iraq and the social logic of international security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 426
Jean-Marc Coicaud
27 Justifying the Iraq war as a humanitarian intervention:
The cure is worse than the disease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 444
Nicholas J. Wheeler and Justin Morris
28 The responsibility to protect and the war on Saddam
Hussein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464
Ramesh Thakur
29 Post-war relations between occupying powers and the United
Nations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 479
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 479
Simon Chesterman

Alison Broinowski

Howard's War

Alison Broinowski

Call for an Iraq war inquiry

Why did we go to War with Iraq?

Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser
An illegal war, a divided world
By Margo Kingston
May 20, 2003

US TV station Democracy Now!
MONDAY, MAY 27, 2013 
Memorial Day Special: U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Return War Medals at NATO Summit
“...Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. "I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe." Scott Kimball, an Iraq war veteran, adds: "For all the servicemembers and veterans who are against these wars, you are not alone!"

Is War Against Iraq Legal Or Not? a Debate Between Roger Normand and Ruth Wedgewood
War against Iraq is "unequivocally illegal under the UN Charter and international law." That is the conclusion of a new report by the Center For Economic and Social Rights.
"It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. and U.K. to base war on Resolution 1441 when they are fully aware that France, Russia and China approved that resolution on explicit written condition that it could not be used by individual states to justify military action," said CESR Executive Director Roger Normand, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq.
"This war violates every legal principle governing the resort to force. It clearly has little to do with disarmament, democracy, human rights, or even Saddam Hussein, and everything to do with oil and power."
The report warns that an illegal war in Iraq would threaten the pillars of collective security established after World War II to protect civilians from a recurrence of that unprecedented carnage.”

MARCH 21, 2013

WATCH: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young on Bush, Missing WMDs, Failed Medical Care


Particular War Crimes:

1. The Sanctions and 12 years of around the clock bombing were each war crimes in their own right:

Iraq Still Years From Seeing Sanctions Lifted
by Jason Ditz, June 18, 2013

Declassified Documents Point To US War Crimes In Iraq
By Stephen Gowans
© 2001 Steve Gowans

2. Fallujah: The use of egregious weapons, Depleted Uranium and White Phosphorus and resultant birth defects:
(see also Donna Mulhearn’s accounts)
Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault
• Defects in newborns 11 times higher than normal
• 'War contaminants' from 2004 attack could be cause
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 30 December 2010

The Children of Fallujah - the Hospital of Horrors 

Stillbirths, disabilities, deformities too distressing to describe - what lies behind the torments in Fallujah General Hospital?

by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani on 13-06-2013
A 2012 World Health Organization study on congenital birth defects in Iraq has still not been released to the public.

Fallujah children's 'genetic damage'
21 July 2010 

3. US Colonel James Steel and General David Petraeus – the use of Death Squads in Iraq (its link to ongoing sectarian violence in Iraq):
From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads
In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America's dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage

6 March 2013

How the US exported its 'dirty war' policy to Iraq – with fatal consequences
Using Latin American covert operations as a template for its Iraqi paramilitary proxies, the US once again lost the moral war

Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres
Exclusive: General David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse 

6 March 2013

Searching for Steele
Broadcast: 02/04/2013
Reporter: Trevor Bormann (narrator)

Friday, March 22, 2013
BBC-Guardian Exposé Uses WikiLeaks to Link Iraq Torture Centers to U.S. Col. Steele & Gen. Petraeus

4. Abu Ghraib, Torture, Extraordinary Rendition (Australia implicated) see Rod Barton book:
The Weapons Detective
The Inside Story of Australia's Top Weapons Inspector

Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse

5. Orders to carry out 360 degree rotational fire – documented by US veterans, Ethan Mccord, Vince Emanuele and others (see Winter Soldier Hearings)
Soldier's Shocking Allegation: Troops Ordered to Engage in '360 Rotational Fire' Against Civilians
If even a fraction of former Bravo Company 2-16 soldier Ethan McCord's story is true, Congress must investigate.
June 21, 2010

6. Looting, Destruction, Theft of Cultural Heritage and National Treasures.

7.  Crimes by individual soldiers, often under orders, disrespect for Qurans, mutilation of corpses and massacres.