Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

The stakes

As I said the other day, I am much more concerned about whether we are identifying and helping those who need asylum than I am about exactly how many asylum-seekers make it to our shores. This is why.

And Senator Sarah Hanson-Young sums it up:

“Government policy isn’t just words on paper – these are people’s lives we are talking about here,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“The decisions made about immigration by the Howard Government have cost people’s lives.

“Now the Rudd Government has the chance to demonstrate the understanding, compassion and sense of justice that the Howard Government lacked so callously.

UPDATE: Idiot/Savant at NZ blog No Right Turn has more about this failure to do what is required.

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Shhh, don’t tell Andrew

… he’s a simple sort of bloke, and he’s just back from a long holiday. Don’t go saying too much about this notion that Teh Surge != Victory!

Next thing you know, people will be suggesting that it’s unfair to call anyone who opposed the occupation of Iraq a staunch supporter of Saddam Hussein.

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Damning evidence:

Former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured, according to medical examinations detailed in a report released Wednesday by a human rights group.

The Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights reached that conclusion after two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees, who had been held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.

The detainees were never charged with crimes.

The report is prefaced by retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003.

“There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes,” Taguba says. “The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

The report is available here.

The argument that invading and occupying Iraq is justified because it ended the human rights abuses of a brutal dictator becomes ever shakier as this type of evidence emerges. The only hope for redemption is, as Taguba implies, for the United States to demonstrate its government and justice system are capable of bringing those responsible to justice.

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Yesterday, Andrew Bolt and his disciples were quick to criticise Kevin Rudd for what they considered an attempt to politicise the death of Sergeant Matthew Locke (to his credit, Bolt later apologised, although I maintain that he should have had the knowledge and professional integrity to avoid such a false accusation in the first place).

Phillip Coorey reports that, while talking on commercial radio yesterday, John Howard took the opportunity to attack Labor for not supporting the Australian involvement in Iraq:

Also yesterday, Mr Howard took a shot at Labor following the death in Afghanistan of the SAS trooper Matthew Locke. Labor supports the war in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Mr Howard said if it was important to fight terrorists in Afghanistan, “it’s also important to fight terrorists in Iraq”.

Who among the Rightists that were so quick to condemn Kevin Rudd for exploiting a soldier’s death will say the same about John Howard? Will Andrew Bolt acknowledge that this was inappropriate at a time when we should be united in our sorrow and respect for a fallen soldier?

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A despicable prick

Andrew Bolt.

He accuses Rudd of politicising the death of an SAS soldier in Afghanistan:

Kevin Rudd takes all of a couple of hours to exploit the death:

“On a tragic night such as this, for this soldier’s family and for his regiment and for the nation, we should leave discussions and debate about the adequacy of the force deployment in Afghanistan until the days ahead.”

Nice spin, too – to do and deny in the one breath.

Watch the video of the press conference.

Following an appropriately solemn statement, in which Rudd made not the slightest comment about anything political and expressed his sympathies and support, Rudd was asked a direct question about troop deployments. His response was intended to shut that line of questioning down.

So, while falsely accusing Rudd of using a subtle denial to politicise the issue, what did Andrew do?

John Howard, too, is running out of luck. Two soldiers now dead, just on the eve of an election. Ironically, the troops – from what I’ve seen – strongly support both him and their role in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But will these deaths sour the public’s support still further?

How much longer will people distinguish between the so-called “bad war” in Iraq and the “good one” in Afghanistan? In truth, the enemy is the same, and must be defeated in both fields. Let’s hope voters don’t decide to flee from both.

What a hypocrite.

UPDATE: After quite a few commenters suggested it and he “checked the transcript”, Bolt has apologised.This creates an interesting field study in groupthink behaviour – will the Boltheads who vigorously defended his condemnation of Rudd (even after viewing the clip) continue to believe his original post was justified?

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Not the time for idiocy

Larvatus Prodeo notes that in the aftermath of troop casualties in Afghanistan, finger-pointing at Iran has begun. Based on the discussion in the comments thread, it appears that Admiral Nelson’s quote may have been taken somewhat out of context and that it’s shoddy reporting. However, one would like to think that an experienced Government Minister could manage to deflect some silly questions and keep the focus where it belongs at this time – on observing and honouring the passing of a dedicated Australian soldier.

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Australian troops injured in Afghanistan

No details so far. Fingers crossed that there are no serious injuries.

UPDATE 7:35pm: There is a report that a soldier may have been killed.

UPDATE 9:23pm: The SMH’s page now says it is confirmed that one Australian soldier is dead, although the rest of the story is unchanged.

UPDATE 9:27pm: The Age indicates the report of one dead and one injured has come from Reuters.

UPDATE 9:46pm: Another update on The Age – an ADF spokesperson says they cannot confirm casualties yet and are waiting for more information to come in.

UPDATE 7:04am: Confirmed – one Australian soldier dead, another one injured along with three children. Very sad news.

FINAL UPDATE: The death of Trooper David Pearce, age 41, has been announced and statements released by the ADF and his family.

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