18 October, 2007

War is the issue in this 2007 Australian federal election

Shrine near Sang Khom, West of Nongkhai, Mekong River, North East Thailand

What follows is a very frank disclosure on my part:

As you will see from my candidate profile on http://qld.greens.org.au/election2007/HouseofReps/griffith/ I was in the British Army and regard myself as a reluctant veteran of the CIA's Secret War in Laos. I have been damaged by war although I never faced the 'opponents' in battle nor was I called upon to fire a shot in anger. Credentials are important and I make that clear. I was a sapper, 20 years old, and helped build an airfield for Air America and for a Commonwealth invasion of Laos that was called off. Laos was a low-technology peasant society, no threat to anyone and neutral. I am currently researching the part that was played in this conflict by Britain, Australia and New Zealand. I understand how difficult it is for enlisted people to say no to illegal orders. I tried several times. I was never promoted and spent some of my time under suspicion.

I have thought for a long time that the anti-war movement needs to have at its core people who understand why war is unconscionable and a travesty against human security and human rights. See 'Winter Soldier', a film about American soldiers coming out and telling one another what they had done in Vietnam - John Kerry was part of that movement. They threw their medals over the fence of the Whitehouse.

As well as being concerned for the civilians of Indochina who were needlessly slaughtered, I am concerned for the well being of the people who went, often in good faith, often with misplaced trust in the political leadership, and returned as damaged and rejected people who could not put their case. Their lives are very painful now forty years later. I will be talking with one of these people very soon.

If we can find such a group of veterans who are prepared to step forward I want to join with them. I am not afraid of ASIO nor will I hold back in criticising the shabby and unprofessional role some members of the 'intelligence' community have played in allowing John Howard to politicise them and make them go along with his illegal wars of aggression and plunder against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and several other places where ADF personnel have secretly been sent without the knowledge of the Australian people.

I deplore the way these people have colluded with the Howard government to erode the civil liberties of this country and have infiltrated academia undermining scholarly integrity. I deplore the way these people have undermined Australia's absolute position against torture and capital punishment and how their 'war on terror' is allowed to instil fear in our population for the political purpose of maintaining John Howard in power.

If this group conducts itself in a manner that could gain the respect of a large body of Australians it will need to invite people like Colonel Mike Kelly (ALP candidate for Eden Monaro), Rod Barton, the weapons inspector, Lt Col Lance Collins, Andrew Wilkie (2004 Greens candidate for Bennelong), Warren Reed, Tony Kevin and others - all whistleblowers who have demonstrated that the Howard government have lied to us and threatened the very fabric of democratic institutions.

It is now time to tell our major parties that they have nowhere to hide when the question is asked: will you support the Bush administration if/when they bomb Iran? Will you allow further war crimes to sully this country's history? Mr Howard, Mr Rudd, only straight answers will be acceptable. You were both silent when Israel destroyed a large swathe of Lebanon and killed over 1,000 people. You hastened slowly to assist 20,000 Australians who were living in Lebanon at the time. You don't have that privilege now.

Willy Bach

Greens candidate for Griffith


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