David Speers, the ABC employee who hosts the Insiders political current affairs show on Sunday morning, is not known for being afraid to confront his guests during an interview. He interrupts them frequently, always trying to get a point across and validate a narrative that he has.
But in front of Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko on 2 July, Speers was like a lamb, never asking the envoy anything that would cut across the latter’s view of the Ukraine war — obviously a sympathetic one — and seemingly unable to ask even a single contradictory question.
Fourteen years ago, the civil war between Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to a bloody end, with the government shooting dead, in cold blood, a slew of Tiger officials who had neogtiated a surrender and were making their way across a lagoon, holding up white flags.
This act of bastardry was what enabled the government to show the dead visage of Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhkaran on TV, signalling that the conflict, which had run for 26 years, was finally over.
There were claims and counter-claims after the war ended, with both sides accused of war crimes. But because Sri Lanka is of little importance in the global scheme of things, there has been no push internationally for investigation of these claims.
National Bird is a disturbing documentary. It isn’t new, having been made in 2016, but it outlines in stark detail the issues that are part and parcel of the drone program which the US has used to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and a number of other countries.
The use of remote killing was even seen recently after a bomb went off at Kabul Airport following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. There were boasts that two people responsible for the blast had been killed by a drone – only for the truth to emerge later.
And that was that the people killed were in no way connected to the blast. Using faulty intelligence and an over-quick finger, America had pulled the trigger again and killed innocents.
The craven manner in which Australia continues to bow before the US is borne of a deep-seated fear that Washington will again choose to interfere in Australian politics as it did in 1975.
That year, the late Gough Whitlam, who was prime minister, hinted that he might have second thoughts about renewing a lease for Pine Gap, a base in Australia’s northern parts which the Americans use for spying on other countries.
Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general John Kerr shortly thereafter. A full account of the affair is here; the CIA’s involvement has never been in doubt.
The veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk died recently at the age of 74, and his death means one of the Western world’s journalists who best understood the region has left the scene.
Fisk lived in Beirut for most of the 30-plus years he covered the region and reported the troubles in Northern Ireland before venturing out of the country.
He reported on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the continuing woes in that country. Fisk interviewed the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden thrice and also covered the US invasion of Iraq.
Some questioned his approach to journalism; he did not believe in getting opinions from both sides, so-called balanced journalism. Rather, it was his belief that the job of a reporter was to provide an outlet for the underdog.
His famous example was that of the liberation of a concentration camp. And he asked whether one should be expected to get a quote from a SS guard for balance, a query which nobody has attempted to answer.
On 3 August 1990, the morning after Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Saudi Arabian government was more than a bit jittery, fearing that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would make Riyadh his next target. The Saudis had been some of the bigger buyers of American and British arms, but they found that they had a big problem.
And that was the fact that all the princes who were pilots of F-16 jets, considered one of the glamour jobs, had gone missing. Empty jets were of no use. How would the Saudis defend their country if Baghdad decided to march into the country’s Eastern Region? If Hussein decided to do so, he would be in control of a sizeable portion of the world’s oil resources and many countries would be royally screwed. Continue reading “Saudis want US to fight another war for them”
AT THE end of World War I, many ethnic groups were able to get a patch of land for themselves, with the area and population therein largely dependent on the extent to which they had pleased the imperial powers that came out as victors of that war – France and Britain.
The Kurds were one group that missed the bus and ended up scattered over four countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They are a restless lot and the countries in which they lived often had to keep them quiet by one means or another.
The late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gave them a limited measure of autonomy. But there was always the implicit understanding that if the Kurds got too ambitious, then they would be met with blanket slaughter. Dictators like Saddam — and his neighbour, the late Hafez al-Assad of Syria — do not do things by half-measures and for years the Kurds were content to remain within their allocated freedoms. Continue reading “America’s Kurdish adventure will end in tears”
Today marks 11 years since Al Qaeda flew planes into the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and made the US aware that it was not safe on its own soil. Sad to say, the US has used the attacks down the years to curtail freedoms for its own residents.
All kinds of ridiculous curbs have been put in place; fear has been used time and again to restrict the lives of ordinary citizens, with the government all the while claiming to be doing so in the cause of freedom.
IN AUSTRALIA, Anzac Day is a means to promote militarism and nationalism. It marks the day when Australian forces invaded Turkey in 1915, entering World War I.
Sixty thousand Australians were killed in that war and nearly 16 million people died worldwide. It was no event over which to rejoice.
Anzac Day was initially used during the war to recruit people to fight on the other side of the world. In 1916 and 1917, Anzac Day became a means of supporting conscription. Continue reading “Anzac Day glorifies war”