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Australia assigned to be the U.S. Policeman in the Pacific

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 19, 2020

The U.S. is ramping up pressure on Australia to support hostilities against China in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Last week in Sydney, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Arthur Culvahouse, said that “We’ll be pushing Australia to expand its step-up from the Pacific islands region to south-east Asia and to look north as well.” The U.S., Australia and like-minded countries need to win in this strategic competition, the diplomat said. The Ambassador emphasized that in consultations between American and Australian foreign and defense ministers, the two sides will focus their efforts to further strengthen the Pacific step-up strategy.

The US Ambassador told the gathering of business leaders last Tuesday that Australia “sits on the frontline of the great strategic competition of our time.” “If the security and prosperity enjoyed by our countries and the region is to continue, this is a competition that we must win,” he said in indirect reference to China being the competition that must lose.

Australia’s Pacific strategy was adopted in 2016 under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to assert Australia’s position as the policeman for the U.S. in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. The Pacific step-up strategy defines the Australian government’s approach to economic and strategic interaction with Pacific Island nations. However, this is just the friendly face of the strategy and rather it is primarily aimed at maintaining regional balance to counter China’s growing influence in the region. China signed an Action Program with eight Pacific Island nations at the October 2019 3rd China Economic Development Cooperation Forum and Pacific Islands held in Samoa. These countries’ support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative was confirmed.

As the U.S. is dealing with the growing influence of China and attempting to counter it all over the globe, Washington is relying on Australia to serve as a counterbalance to China in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. However, as the coronavirus continues to grow out of control in the U.S., it is likely that Washington is going to take its focus off the South Pacific for a long while. This will give Australia autonomy to act on Washington’s behalf and it appears that U.S. President Donald Trump immensely trusts the Australians in this role, so-much-so that  he honored the fellow Anglo-settler state by naming a new navy ship the USS Canberra, the only U.S. Navy warship named after a foreign city.

Australia wilfully wants to play a role that the U.S. assigned to them in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific so that it can more strongly assert its power on the region. Australia considers the small island countries of the South Pacific as an area within its sphere of influence. Canberra has a need to expand its weight in Southeast Asia, but finds this challenging as the region includes countries of larger populations and economies, such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Although Canberra wants to serve Washington’s interests in the region, Australia is a completely deindustrialized neoliberal country that does not have the means or capacity to challenge rising Southeast Asian countries and rather serves as a raw resource marketplace for the world. The U.S. is losing influence in Southeast Asia to China, and therefore Washington is relying on Australian support, hedging its bet on a common Anglo colonial-settler history to make Canberra receptive.

In this situation, Australia faces a very difficult choice as there is a clear divide between the economic community and the political class in regards to China policy. China is Australia’s most important economic partner, while the U.S. is Canberra’s most important security partner, so-much-so that Australia followed the U.S. to adventurist wars of aggression in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. China and Australia have established free trade areas and this agreement allows them to quickly increase the volume of bilateral trade. Therefore, the political will of Canberra is certain to face resistance from capitalist interests in the country as it wholly relies on China and other Southeast Asian countries for trade.

However, Australia is bound by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy that aims to use American allies like Australia, Japan, India and others, to counter China’s increasing influence. This is done by enhancing military cooperation between these countries and does not serve any economic role like the Belt and Road Initiative. As China finds the Indo-Pacific Strategy as an aggressive force aimed against it, it is likely that under economic pressure, Australia will try to balance relations, despite the political will and determination of Canberra to act as the U.S’ policeman in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

These sickening videos of Australian SAS troops murdering unarmed Afghan civilians are a disgrace to my country

By Damian Wilson | RT | March 18, 2020

The graphic footage, filmed by body cameras worn by the elite troops and broadcast on national television, must lead to the soldiers being tried for murder.

Australians always look forward to celebrating Anzac Day, but this year it will be different because a pall of shame has fallen over our armed forces thanks to a jaw-dropping TV expose aired this week that showed elite Aussie soldiers murdering Afghan civilians in cold blood when they were supposed to be protecting them from the Taliban.

While a four-year inquiry into the behavior of its soldiers in Afghanistan, by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force, is still to deliver on its investigation, the chances of alleged war crimes being swept under the rug thanks to lying soldiers misguidedly protecting their comrades, misinformation from witnesses, or from a political cover-up, have just been blown out of the water.

Thanks to whistleblower Braden Chapman, a former army intelligence officer who witnessed the atrocities first hand in 2012, no one can ignore the reality of what happened as the Aussie Special Air Services Regiment (SAS) stormed the dusty villages of Afghanistan in search of those it considered legitimate targets.

Among the alleged crimes, Chapman says he witnessed an army dog handler allowing his charge to chew on the head of a newly-murdered man, another where an elite troop punched a child in the face and a third showing a soldier seemingly in the grip of ‘blood lust’ firing indiscriminately and throwing thermal grenades from close range into a mud hut occupied by several Afghan combatants.

Then there is the execution of a young, apparently unarmed Afghan man in a quiet wheat field. Shot from a distance of around two meters, his killer seems indifferent to the fact that his act was being filmed.

Somehow, those involved in several of the incidents explored in the documentary had already faced investigation over their actions but were found to have acted lawfully. Looks like they might have some further questions to answer now.

The culprits will regret that alongside their modern-tech weapons and armor they wore high definition body cameras that caught some of the inhumanity, and equally grim audio commentary, during their operations to flush out enemy combatants.

Several of the worst offenders, caught clearly on camera apparently murdering Afghans with thermal grenades, guns and through severe beatings, are still serving in the ADF. Though probably not for much longer thanks to their grinning murderous faces being caught for posterity on 4K video.

As an Australian, I am deeply ashamed by these disgraceful, impossible to deny scenes.

Our armed forces, and particularly their courageous, selfless behavior abroad while on active duty have always been a source of immense pride to Aussies.

Anzac Day (April 25) is a national holiday in our country, initially instituted to celebrate the contribution of Australian and New Zealand soldiers toward the ultimately futile Gallipoli campaign in the First World War that cost the lives of nearly 12,000 soldiers from the two nations among an Allied total of 56,000. The day of remembrance later widened its scope to include the sacrifices by soldiers from Down Under in all wars.

Nowadays, far from being a relic of the past, Anzac Day is celebrated by an increasing number of young Australians, many of whom attend ceremonies swathed in Aussie flags, wearing green and gold T-shirts and beanies and with national flag temporary tattoos on their cheeks.

Across the country, dawn ceremonies are held in memory of the time of the original landing on the Gallipoli peninsula, after which many take a traditional ‘gunfire breakfast’ – coffee with added rum – in memory of the sustenance taken by Aussie soldiers before battle.

It’s all highly symbolic and reflective stuff. Not taken lightly nor ever mocked even by the usually irreverent Aussies.

So to have the reputation of Australian fighting men and women representing the nation abroad dragged through the mud by rogue murderers in disgraceful scenes, all caught on camera and broadcast on the national broadcaster’s foremost investigative affairs programme on a Monday evening, is a devastating blow to national pride.

To realise that some of these animals are still serving in the ADF takes your breath away. It’s as simple as Braden Chapman says: “You can’t shoot unarmed people and not call that murder.”

Damian Wilson is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , | 6 Comments

Syria’s War of Self-Defence Turning the tables on claims of war crimes

By David Macilwain | OffGuardian | February 28, 2020

Continuing in efforts to get the OPCW fraud exposed to the Western mainstream media’s sheltered and blinkered audience, I recently had an opportunity to have an opinion article published in the Sydney Morning Herald. This followed a formal complaint to ACMA, Australia’s media overseer, over the failure of state broadcasters to report on the OPCW story. The proviso for this article was that the OPCW “story” needed to be linked in some way to current events in Syria, given its controversial nature.

This, of course, I readily accepted, because the very “humanitarian crisis” in Idlib predicted two and more years earlier was now eventuating, or at least in the minds of anyone following the Western MSM news output.

Linking this with what happened in Douma in April 2018 was no problem, and in fact was more than that, because had the lies about the “humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta” been properly exposed at the time, along with the fake chemical attack, the course of the war would have been entirely different.

Now two years later, as the true extent of the deception is exposed, along with those who organised it in Westminster and Washington, Tel Aviv and Ankara, I had hoped that credible newspapers like the non-Murdoch SMH would consider dipping a toe in the water. Then at least they would be already swimming with it if the water came up rather suddenly, and be ready with some explanation or excuse on how they had been wrong or didn’t know.

It didn’t even need to be “wrong about Assad” – in the first instance, and before the penny dropped on the ramifications of corruption at the OPCW. As James Harkin “admitted” – Jaish al Islam ruled Douma with an Iron Fist, so the White Helmets had to do what they said, and were desperate for foreign assistance. It was all just a big misunderstanding, and Trump’s fault for launching a missile attack on an impulse.

So I wrote an article proposal, looking at the way that the “humanitarian crisis” predicted in Aleppo in 2016 and in Ghouta in 2018 had not materialised, and had in fact been prevented by the Syrian government’s setting up of humanitarian corridors to allow people to escape – to the safety of areas protected by the Syrian Army and Russian police. It was I said, the failure of Western media to report on what had actually happened that allowed yet another humanitarian crisis to be played as a cause for intervention once again.

Naturally and unavoidably I criticised those media for relying on unbalanced and unsavoury sources, and for providing platforms for “propagandumentaries” like For Sama. The awarding and release of this film to coincide with the campaign to liberate Idlib deserves a whole article of its own, as more doctors with photogenic young children now appear in the last hospitals in Idlib.

Criticism of Waad al Khatib and her Oscar-winning partners in East Aleppo could have been a mistake, but the critical role of the White Helmets in staging the “Chlorine attack” in Douma made this part of the essential context for a discussion on the OPCW story – which was, of course, the real focus of the article.

In declining to publish my article following consultations with the opinion page editor, and despite my assurances on the credentials of Ian Henderson, I was offered the following explanation:

Thanks for the contribution but after talking to the opinion editor I think it doesn’t work for us as it is. There are enough questions over whether Henderson is telling the truth or not to make it hard to use him to absolve the Assad regime of war crimes during the war.

To say so lightly would offend not just the security establishment in the West but also the many Syrians who (even allowing for the exaggerations of western propaganda) have suffered at Assad’s hands.

Perhaps you mean that Syria is no worse than the rest, and as the government it has a right to use violence. But at the moment it seems to whitewash Assad.

In fact I’d already concluded my views “wouldn’t work” for the SMH, after just reading their correspondent’s “Explainer” on the Syrian war and events that led up to the current crisis in Idlib. It didn’t explain anything to me, except why it was that I would never get an article published in this mainstream paper!

Almost every sentence in my article contradicted the accepted Western narrative expressed by the Herald’s correspondent, as here:

Assad, largely thanks to Russian air power, has subdued the rebels in most parts of the country, partly by bombing several of his own largest cities into oblivion and deploying chemical weapons against his own citizens.”

And this is what most people believe, with emotive propaganda and photos turning belief into a conviction which evidence and reasoning is unable to dislodge. The SMH article above devoted as much space to a photo of a blond-haired child sitting in a bus as it did to the ‘explainer’, along with the title – “Sequel to a real-life horror show”.

Such propaganda has worked not just on the audience but on the editors of our media, as it has also done on most of the refugees living in Turkey. They fled because they were told the Syrian Army was coming after them, and they now believe they are in danger of retribution if they were to return. The idea that the Syrian Army and its partners are fighting and dying to kill the terrorists so that it will be safe for Syrians to come home is probably not one they can believe.

In deference to the editor of the Herald, I welcomed his willingness to consider my views and some of the evidence supplied in links. That he did is clear from his recognition that “using Henderson’s claims” should not be taken lightly as “it could absolve Assad of war crimes”. Which of course was my very point.

While OffGuardian remains something of a “Salon des Refuses” to republish opinion unacceptable to the mainstream, it is more useful to repaint this dispute over the OPCW’s toxic deception as a question of “whose war-crimes”. As far as we – on Syria’s side – are concerned, all the war-crimes committed in Syria are attributable to the aggressors who started and fuelled the war on Syria, including all those cases where civilians have been victims of Syrian or Russian airstrikes.

Both militaries have gone to great lengths to avoid hitting civilians where they can be identified, despite the incessant stream of claims to the contrary. An integral part of this effort has been to provide and protect humanitarian corridors for civilians to escape, and many or most of the trapped residents have bravely resisted the insurgents’ threats and propaganda to do so.

There is little verifiable evidence of civilian deaths from Syrian bombing however, as confirmed by the White Helmets’ evident need to fake such deaths for their rescue videos. At the centre of the Douma hoax chemical attack were the contorted bodies of 35 women and children, whose murder for a propaganda video is certainly a war-crime. At the same time the number of civilians killed by the terrorist groups in missile and bomb attacks aimed at residential neighbourhoods now numbers in the hundred-thousands.

The difficulty in persuading people – even reasonable and sympathetic people – of this evident truth on who is responsible for the worst war-crime of this century – the war of aggression on Syria – is illustrated by another group discussion in which I have been involved this week.

On one side are those who believe that President Bashar al Assad is basically a good person who has not, and would not intentionally kill “his own people”, and of course would never and never did use chemical weapons against them, (or even against terrorists for that matter). One of our group, still recovering from the pleasure of meeting Assad last year, dared to refer to him as “wonderful”.

Despite all the contributors to this discussion claiming opposition to all US foreign interventions and regime-change wars and NATO support for extremists and tyrants, some simply cannot stomach such admiration for a man “who has killed civilians”, and no amount of argument or evidence will counter their belief that he has.

It is as though the very first events in the so-called uprising – the false-flag shootings in Dera’a – made an indelible mark on those who believed them, and believed the false story of “Assad’s brutal crackdown on protestors”. And as long as they believe this, the responsibility for Syria’s dead can be shifted and shared, and one day their alleged culprits will be brought to “justice” – in Western courts.

Perhaps there is no answer to this dispute, where even those who are potentially most sympathetic to the Syrian cause cannot be persuaded of its most essential character – that the Syrian army and its allies have fought a war of self-defence since the start; a “just war” which even the most anti-war of activists should accept as legitimate. So rather than pursue this hopeless quest, we should turn on the offensive.

Instead of denying claims that Assad used chemical weapons in Douma, in Khan Shaikoun, and in Ghouta we must demand evidence and proof that he did so, because there is none. We could follow the style of Vassily Nebenzia, expressed so well at the start of this UN session (embedded above) on the OPCW fraud, as he mocks the “highly likely” standard of proof Syria’s enemies pretend is sufficient as a casus belli.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

A Second Whistle Blown on the OPCW’s Doctored Report

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | December 3, 2019

Another whistleblower leak has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report on the alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, close to Damascus, on April 7 last year.

The first leak came from the Fact-Finding Mission’s engineering sub-group. After investigating the two sites where industrial gas cylinders were found in Douma and taking into account the possibility that the cylinders had been dropped from the air it concluded that there was a “higher probability” that both cylinders were placed at both sites by hand. This finding was entirely suppressed in the final report.

The engineering sub-group prepared its draft report “for internal review” between February 1-27, 2018. By March 1 the OPCW final report had been approved, published and released, indicating that the engineers’ findings had not been properly evaluated, if evaluated at all. In its final report the OPCW, referring to the findings of independent experts in mechanical engineering, ballistics and metallurgy, claimed that the structural damage had been caused at one location by an “impacting object” (i.e. the cylinder) and that at the second location the cylinder had passed through the ceiling, fallen to the floor and somehow bounced back up on to the bed where it was found.

None of this was even suggested by the engineers. Instead, the OPCW issued a falsified report intended to keep alive the accusation that the cylinders had been dropped by the Syrian Air Force.

Now there is a second leak, this time an internal email sent by a member of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on June 22, 2018, to Robert Fairweather, the British career diplomat who was at the time Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, and copied to his deputy, Aamir Shouket. The writer claims to have been the only FFM member to have read the redacted report before its release. He says it misrepresents the facts: “Some crucial facts that have remained in the redacted version have morphed into something quite different from what was originally drafted.”

The email says the final version statement that the team “has sufficent evidence to determine that chlorine or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical was likely released from the cylinders is highly misleading and not supported by the facts.” The writer states that the only evidence is that some samples collected at locations 2 and 4 (where the gas cylinders were found) had been in contact with one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom.

“Such chemicals,” he continues, “could include molecular chlorine, phosgene, cyanogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen chloride or sodium hypochlorite (the major element in household chlorine-based bleach.”  Purposely singling out chlorine as one of the possibilities was disingenuous and demonstrated “partiality” that negatively affected the final report’s credibility.

The writer says the final report’s reference to “high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples” overstates the draft report’s findings. “In most cases” these derivatives were present only in part per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace qualitiea.” In such microscopic quantities, detected inside apartment buildings, it would seem, although the writer only hints at the likelihood, that the chlorine trace elements could have come from household bleach stored in the kitchen or bathroom.

The writer notes that the original draft discussed in detail the inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms after the alleged attack as reported by witnesses and seen on video recordings.  This section of the draft, including the epidemiology, was removed from the final version in its entirety. As it was inextricably linked to the chemical agent as identified, the impact on the final report was “seriously negative.” The writer says the draft report was “modified” at the behest of the office of Director-General, a post held at the time by a Turkish diplomat, Ahmet Uzumcu.

The OPCW has made no attempt to deny the substance of these claims. After the engineers’ report made its way to Wikileaks its priority was to hunt down the leaker. Following the leaking of the recent email, the Director-General, Fernando Arias, simply defended the final report as it stood.

These two exposures are triply devastating for the OPCW.  Its Douma report is completely discredited but all its findings on the use of chemical weapons in Syria must now be regarded as suspect even by those who did not regard them as suspect in the first place. The same shadow hangs over all UN agencies that have relied on the OPCW for evidence, especially the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, an arm of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

This body is closely linked to the OPCW and while both mostly hide the sources of their information it is evident that where chemical weapons allegations have been made, the commission of inquiry has drawn on the OPCW.

As of January 2018, the commission reported on 34 “documented incidents” of chemical weapons use by various parties in Syria. It held the Syrian government responsible for 23 of them and, remarkably, did not hold the armed groups responsible even for one, despite the weight of evidence showing their preparation and use of such weapons over a long period of time.

The commission has made repeated accusations of chlorine barrel bombs being dropped by government forces. On the worst of the alleged chemical weapons attacks, on August 21, 2013, in the eastern Ghouta district just outside Damascus, it refers to sarin being used in a “well-planned indiscriminate attack targetting residential areas [and] causing mass casualties. The perpetrators likely had access to the Syrian military chemical weapons stockpile and expertise and equipment to manipulate large amounts of chemical weapons.”

This is such a travesty of the best evidence that no report by this body can be regarded as impartial, objective and neutral.   No chemical weapons or nerve agents were moved from Syrian stocks, according to the findings of renowned journalist Seymour Hersh. The best evidence, including a report by Hersh (‘The Red Line and the Rat Line,’ London Review of Books, April 17, 2014), suggests a staged attack by terrorist groups, including Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham, who at the time were being routed in a government offensive. The military would have had no reason to use chemical weapons: furthermore, the ‘attack’ was launched just as UN chemical weapons inspectors were arriving in the Syrian capital and it is not even remotely credible that the Syrian government would have authorized a chemical weapons attack at such a time.

Even the CIA warned Barack Obama that the Syrian government may not have been/probably was not responsible for the attack and that he was being lured into launching an air attack in Syria now that his self-declared ‘red line’ had been crossed. At the last moment, Obama backed off.

It remains possible that the victims of this ‘attack’ were killed for propaganda purposes. Certainly, no cruelty involving the takfiri groups, the most brutal people on the face of the planet, can be ruled out. Having used the occasion to blame the Syrian government, the media quickly moved on. The identities of the dead, many of them children, who they were, where they might have been buried – if in fact they had been killed and not just used as props – were immediately tossed into the memory hole. Eastern Ghouta remains one of the darkest unexplained episodes in the war on Syria.

The UN’s Syria commission of inquiry’s modus operandi is much the same as the OPCW’s. Witnesses are not identified; there is no indication of how their claims were substantiated; the countries outside Syria where many have been interviewed are not identified, although Turkey is clearly one; and where samples have had to be tested, the chain of custody is not transparent.

It is worth stepping back a little bit to consider early responses to the OPCW report on Douma. The Syrian government raised a number of questions, all of them fobbed off by the OPCW.  Russia entered the picture by arranging a press conference for alleged victims of the ‘attack’ at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague.  They included an 11-year-old boy, Hassan Diab, who said he did not know why he was suddenly hosed down in the hospital clinic, as shown in the White Helmets propaganda video.

All the witnesses dismissed claims of a chemical weapons attack. Seventeen countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the US) then put out a joint statement (April 26, 2018) expressing their full support for the OPCW report and dismissing the “so-called” information session at the Hague as a Russian propaganda exercise. Their statement claimed the authenticity of the information in the OPCW report was “unassailable.”

Russia followed up with a series of questions directed at the OPCW’s technical secretariat. It noted that the OPCW report did not mention that samples taken from Douma were “split” in the OPCW’s central laboratory in the Netherlands and not in the Syrian Arab republic. Fractions of samples were handed to Syria only after six months of insistent pressure (OPCW response: its terms of reference provided for Syria to be provided with samples “to the extent possible” but do not specify when or where samples should be ‘split’).

Russia also referred to the collection of 129 samples and their transfer to OPCW-designated laboratories. 31 were selected for the first round of analysis and an additional batch of 13 sent later. Of the 129 samples 39 were obtained from individuals living outside territory controlled by the Syrian army. Of 44 samples analyzed 33 were environmental and 11 biomedical: of the 44, 11 (four environmental and seven biomedical) were obtained from alleged witnesses.

As remarked by the Russian Federation, the OPCW report does not explain the circumstances in which these samples were obtained. Neither is there any information on the individuals from whom they were taken; neither is there any evidence demonstrating compliance with the chain of custody (OPCW response: there was respect for the chain of custody, without this being explained; the “standard methodology” in collecting samples was applied, without details being given.  It stressed the need for privacy and the protection of witness identities).

Russia observed that the samples were analyzed in two unnamed OPCW laboratories and on the evidence of techniques and results, it raised the question of whether the same laboratories had been used to investigate earlier ‘incidents’ involving the alleged use of chlorine. Of the 13 laboratories that had technical agreements with the OPCW, why were samples analyzed at only two, apparently the same two as used before?  Russia also observed that of the 33 environmental samples tested for chlorinated products, there was a match (bornyl chloride) in only one case.

Samples taken from location 4, where a gas cylinder was allegedly dropped from the air, showed the presence of the explosive trinitrotoluene, leading to the conclusion that the hole in the roof was made by an explosion and not by a cylinder falling through it (OPCW response: the Fact-Finding Mission did not select the labs and information about them is confidential. As there had been intense warfare for weeks around location four, the presence of explosive material in a broad range of samples was to be expected but this did not – in the OPCW view –  lead to the conclusion that an explosion caused the hole in the roof).

Russia pointed out that the FFM interviewed 39 people but did not interview the actual witnesses of the ‘incident’ inside the Douma hospital who appeared and were easily identifiable in the staged videos (OPCW response: the secretariat neither confirms nor denies whether it interviewed any of the witnesses presented by Russia at the OPCW headquarters “as any statement to that effect would be contrary to the witness protection principles applied by the secretariat”).

Russia also pointed out the contradictions in the report on the number of alleged dead. In one paragraph the FFM says it could not establish a precise figure for casualties which “some sources” said ranged between 70 and 500. Yet elsewhere “witnesses” give the number of dead as 43 (OPCW response: the specific figure of 43 was based on the evidence of “witnesses” who claimed to have seen bodies at different locations).

Russia also pointed out that no victims were found at locations 2 and 4, where the ventilation was good because of the holes in the roof/ceiling. Referring to location 2, it asked how could chlorine released in a small hole from a cylinder in a well-ventilated room on the fourth floor have had such a strong effect on people living on the first or second floors? (OPCW response: the FFM did not establish a correlation between the number of dead and the quantity of the toxic chemical. In order to establish such a correlation, factors unknown to the FFM – condition of the building, air circulation and so on – would have had to be taken into account.  It does not explain why this was not attempted and how it could reach its conclusions without taking these “unknown factors” into account).

Finally, Russia raised the question of the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. It referred to the lack of specific calculations in the OPCW report. The ‘experts’ who did the simulation did not indicate the drop height. The charts and diagrams indicated a drop height of 45-180 meters. However, Syrian Air Force helicopters do not fly at altitudes of less than 2000 meters when cruising over towns because they would come under small arms fire “at least” and would inevitably be shot down.

Furthermore, if the cylinders had been dropped from 2000 meters,  both the roof and the cylinders would have been more seriously damaged (OPCW response: there were no statements or assumptions in the FFM report on the use of helicopters or the use of other aircraft “or the height of the flight. The FFM did not base its modeling on the height from which the cylinders could have been dropped. “In accordance with its mandate,” the FFM did not comment on the possible altitude of aircraft.  The OPCW did not explain why these crucial factors were not taken into account).

In its conclusion, Russia said there was a “high probability” that the cylinders were placed manually at locations 2 and 4 and that the factual material in the OPCW report did not allow it to draw the conclusion that a toxic chemical had been used as a weapon. These conclusions have now been confirmed in the release of information deliberately suppressed by the OPCW secretariat.

As the leaked material proves, its report was doctored: by suppressing, ignoring or distorting the findings of its own investigators to make it appear that the Syrian government was responsible for the Douma ‘attack’ the OPCW can be justly accused of giving aid and comfort to terrorists and their White Helmet auxiliaries whom – the evidence overwhelmingly shows – set this staged ‘attack ’up.

Critical evidence ignored by the OPCW included the videoed discovery of an underground facility set up by Jaysh al Islam for the production of chemical weapons.   All the OPCW said was that the FFM inspectors paid on-site visits to the warehouse and “facility” suspected of producing chemical weapons and found no evidence of their manufacture.  There is no reference to the makeshift facility found underground and shown in several minutes of video evidence.

Since the release of the report, the three senior figures in the OPCW secretariat have moved/been moved on. The Director-General at the time, Hasan Uzumlu, a Turkish career diplomat, stepped out of the office in July 2018: Sir Robert Fairweather, a British career diplomat and Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW, was appointed the UK’s special representative to Sudan and South Sudan on March 11, 2019: his deputy, Aamir Shouket,  left the OPCW in August 2018, to return to Pakistan as Director-General of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe division. The governments which signed the statement that the evidence in the OPCW report was “unassailable” remain in place.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East.  His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

China rejects allegations of meddling in Australia affairs

Press TV – November 25, 2019

China says it has never been interested in meddling in the internal affairs of other countries amid claims that the Chinese Communist party sought to infiltrate Australia’s parliament.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing on Monday that some Australian media outlets had fabricated such allegations as China’s interference.

Some Australian politicians, organizations, and media, the official added, had “become seized with imaginary fears” on issues related to China.

“They constantly fabricate cases of so-called Chinese spies infiltrating Australia.”

“However bizarre the story, lies are still lies in the end, whatever new guise they wear.”

The allegations, first aired by local network Nine, claim that a suspected Chinese espionage ring approached a Chinese-Australian man to run as a member of parliament.

The channel report alleged that Chinese operatives offered one million dollars to Liberal party member Nick Zhao to run for federal parliament in the Melbourne suburban seat of Chisholm, now held by Hong Kong-born Liberal lawmaker Gladys Liu.

Zhao was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room after he reportedly approached the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) to discuss the plot.

On Sunday, Australia’s 60 Minutes program and affiliated newspapers said a suspected Chinese espionage ring had offered money to pay for a Melbourne luxury car dealer to run for a seat in the federal parliament.

The ASIO said it was investigating an alleged plot by China to install an agent in the parliament.

Following the report on Sunday, the ASIO director general, Mike Burgess, said the domestic spy agency “was previously aware of matters that were reported today, and has been actively investigating them.”

Describing the alleged plot as “deeply disturbing and troubling,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was determined to protect Australians from foreign interference and had bolstered laws to strengthen the powers of intelligence agencies.

However, he said he would not draw conclusions on an alleged Chinese plot.

The episode involving China and Australia comes at a time of friction between the West and Beijing.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently minced no words when he lashed out at the United States over Washington’s one-sided approach to world politics and its adversarial attitude towards Beijing.

“It (the US) has already become the world’s biggest destabilizing factor,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited the top diplomat as saying on the sidelines of a Group of 20 ministerial meeting in the city of Nagoya in southern Japan on Saturday.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 4 Comments

Australian legislator uncovers Bureau of Meteorology fiddling with temperature records to hype warming

By Thomas Lifson | American Thinker | October 26, 2019

If global warming is real and a threat to the world, why do people keeping temperature records keep “adjusting” or “rectifying” the data to make it look like warming is increasing?

From Down Under, a member of the federal House of Representatives named Craig Kelly — a member of the Liberal Party, which is conservative — has caught that nation’s Bureau of Meteorology altering graphs showing the number of very hot days so as to obscure the fact that 1952 had more of them than recent years and adding a newly “discovered” hot day to a more recent year to make it appear that they are increasing.

I quote and use graphics from his Facebook account:

Not only did the Bureau’s graph showing the year 1952 as having the highest ‘number of very hot days’ (and the year 2011 with the lowest number) disappear down a memory hole — but a new ‘rectified’ graph has appeared in another section of their website.

And surprise, surprise — the year 1952 no longer has the highest ‘number of very hot days’. The old graph recorded 21 very hot days in 1952, while the new ‘rectified’ graph shows only 16 very hot days.

Further, for the year 2011 — which embarrassingly for Alarmists previously had the lowest ‘number of very hot days’ going back to 1910 — the Bureau has skilfully been able to find another very hot day for 2011, (I wonder where it was hiding ?) so that year no longer holds the lowest record !

As Orwell foretold in the novel 1984:

”There were the vast repositories where the corrected documents were stored, and the hidden furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who co-ordinated the whole effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified, and the other rubbed out of existence.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

Has climate change jumped the shark?

Climate Discussion Nexus | October 23, 2019

You might not think so, with time running out for deniers (again) except perhaps as psychiatric patients. But there are signs of fatigue with it in the political system. In Australia, a senior Labour figure has caused turmoil in his party by suggesting they not run in the next election on the hugely ambitious plans that cost them the last one. And when CNN and the New York Times sponsored the 4th, 3-hour debate among contenders for the Democratic nomination, the moderators didn’t ask a single question about climate and the candidates didn’t make it an issue. You might think it’s because everyone agrees. But what if it’s because nobody has anything useful to suggest and most people secretly don’t care?

Voters claim to be anti-global-warming, of course. But as we learned including from the Yellow Vest upheaval in France, and Canadians’ views on carbon taxes, and any number of similar issues in other countries, citizens aren’t willing to pay any significant price to take action against greenhouse gases, suggesting they don’t really think there’s a problem.

Except when all-in politicians push the agenda too far. For instance deep blue California’s governor is now in big political trouble over high gas prices and unreliable power. And remember, high prices for less available energy is a feature not a bug of the climate alarmist movement, soothing talk of wind power notwithstanding.

The problem isn’t really the cost of alternative energy, because except by accident politicians are not willing to raise the price of energy to levels that would discourage its use. There was some kerfuffle over a study finding that green energy policies cost Britain £9 billion per year, or £340 per household. But while an increase in energy bills means hardship to the poor, Britain is rich, and most households may resent the extra cost but are not unable to pay it. The problem is how much more it’s going to cost to try to get renewables up from their current trivial share… or what happens when you just can’t. (Wind farms, like solar farms, have thus far been cherry-picking sites.) On which politicians have little to say that is not both stale and unconvincing.

The hardcore believe that if voters are not willing to pay high carbon taxes and otherwise do without the conveniences of modern life, they are short-sighted idiots and democracy itself must give way in this climate emergency. Meanwhile most voters are happy just to virtue-signal, if only to avoid fights with their grade-schoolers trained to correct their pronunciation of Thunberg (it’s Toon-BUIY not THUN-berg). But they simply aren’t convinced that it’s the end of the winter and the world as we know it because out their window things are going pretty much as they always have. And since politicians are repeating implausible mantras about what’s supposedly happening and how to fix it painlessly, a lot of them just tune it out and go about their business.

Passionate opposition to climate change coupled with timid or nonexistent proposals to fight it must inevitably become a stale punchline.

October 23, 2019 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | 1 Comment

Australian media stages front-page ‘blackout’ to protest against govt clampdown on press freedom

RT | October 21, 2019

In a rare show of unity, all major news outlets in Australia have staged a mass protest against increasingly draconian secrecy laws passed by the government, which are infringing on press freedom and the public’s right to know.

Rivals News Corp Australia and Nine, among others, printed front pages which showed blacked-out, ‘redacted’ text emblazoned with red stamps that read “secret.”

The protest was organized by the Right to Know Coalition, with the support of numerous TV, radio, newspaper and digital outlets.

Collectively, the press are arguing against national security laws which are stifling the freedom of the press and, in doing so, creating a “culture of secrecy” in Australia wherein freedom of information requests relating to even the most trivial government affairs are being denied. Some 60 laws relating to secrecy have been passed in the past two decades.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson warned that “Australia is at risk of becoming the world’s most secretive democracy.” The Australian media argue the government is trying to penalize whistleblowing, criminalize journalism, and infringe upon the public’s right to know.

The protest comes after a series of high-profile raids on the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the home of a News Corp Australia journalist following the publication of articles detailing alleged war crimes and domestic spying carried out by the government.

Three journalists may face prosecution following the raids for their part in the whistleblower articles’ publication.

During these press investigations, it was revealed that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service had bugged the offices of Timor-Leste officials during a multimillion-dollar resource negotiation in 2004.

Meanwhile, Australian Tax Office whistleblower Richard Boyle is facing up to 161 years in prison for revealing abuse of powers by the Australian tax authority apparatus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that while press freedom was important, it is still subject to the rule of law, adding that “no one was above the law.”

“That includes me, or any journalist, or anyone else.”

A press freedom inquiry is under way, the findings of which will be revealed in parliament next year. The media are fighting for the right to challenge government applications for warrants against journalists, while calling for freedom of information and defamation law reform, and the introduction of special protections for journalists and public sector whistleblowers.

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | | 2 Comments

‘The Falcon Lands: CIA Interference in Australian Politics (2014)

21st Century Wire

Did the CIA interfere in 1970s Australian politics? Former US intelligence operative and convicted spy, Christopher Boyce, tells his story to Australia’s Dateline program. Boyce’s intervention was made famous by Hollywood’s theatrical release of The Falcon and the Snowman. Boyce reveals covert US ‘regime change’ operations in Australia which would eventually remove the Labour Prime Minister from power, as Washington sought to protect its key intelligence gathering facilities located Down Under. Watch:

Presented by Mark Davis
Producers: SBS Dateline (2014)

October 6, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Trump-Zelensky-Ukraine: What is really going on here?

By Tony Kevin | OffGuardian | October 2, 2019

I have over several days reflected on the official White House record of the Trump-Zelensky conversation on Ukraine-US relations on 25 July 2019, a conversation held soon after Zelensky’s confirmed election victory, and declassified by Trump’s presidential order of 24 September 2019.

I have also been reflecting on the more recent Democratic Party decision to explore possibilities for impeachment of Trump, a decision fortified by the so-called ‘CIA whistleblower’ and his/her rather unimpressive revelations.

Here is my hypothesis of what may be going on here. As always, it is a complex mixture of domestic US politics, and Trump’s and Zelensky’s foreign policy goals. And a footnote follows on Downer.

Let’s start with the foreign policy goals.  Both Trump and Zelensky are operating in highly constrained and threatening foreign policy environments at home. At the time of their phone call, Trump still had the warmonger Bolton to deal with inside the house: and even now he is still under the watchful scrutiny of the Russophobe imperial state figure of his Secretary of State Pompeo, closely though undeclaredly linked to the Washington imperial party on Ukraine-Russia as on other East-West issues.

Zelensky is similarly constrained and threatened in Kiev by the anti-Russian fanaticism that has been indoctrinated in large sections of the Ukrainian population by decades of nationalist, often neo-Nazi, Russophobe propaganda.

It is a tribute to the instinctive good sense of the Ukrainian electorate that Zelensky was able to defeat in the polls the discredited NATO stooge Poroshenko so comprehensively and decisively. The maturity of this vote gives me renewed hope for Ukraine. But there is a long way to go still towards political normalisation and economic recovery there.

Zelensky is smart enough to see that his country must achieve a normalisation of relations with Russia, but knows that he cannot yet say this openly. Putin wants this also, very much. But both men know it will take a very long time after the accumulated bitter grievances on both sides over recent decades, and especially since the lethal and destructive civil war on Eastern Ukraine that was begun by Poroshenko in April 2014 – no doubt on American advice.

This war has had terrible human consequences: loss of life, wounded and disabled casualties, destroyed communities, massive forced refugee outflows. Neither side can get over this easily or quickly.

The reciprocal prisoner release on 7 September was an essential symbolic action. Putin’s release of the navy crews who took part in the provocative and foolish Ukrainian raid on the Kerch Strait bridge a year ago was a key part of building Ukrainian confidence and trust in Zelensky’s leadership.

Russophobes in the West are in consternation at new green shoots of possible hope for progress towards Kiev-Moscow normalisation under the Normandy diplomacy format.

They are desperate to derail this hope, by proposing impossible conditions for normalisation: in particular that any self-determination elections for Donbass (while remaining within  sovereign Ukraine) could only be held under an ‘internationally supervised’ election and with ‘international peacekeepers’ in charge.

See for example this recent piece by a European analyst, Gustav Gressel. East Ukrainians rightly see such a formula as a sure recipe for US infiltration and black regime change operations in Donbass. So it will not happen.

As I interpret the Trump-Zelensky conversation, both leaders were cautiously but in a friendly way exploring the boundaries of what might be possible for each of them as presidents to revisit the troubled history of the past few years. I see nothing dishonourable or intimidating in this conversation. Trump critics are reading into it only what they want to read.

Here I turn to the US domestic politics aspect.

Trump is still bitterly opposed by the US imperial state represented by people like Biden, Clinton, Bolton and McFaul  (and increasingly, I suspect, by Obama), but also the FBI-CIA national security dissident faction represented by people like Brennan, Comey and Clapper. These people have learned nothing from the embarrassing failure of the Mueller investigation to prove the false Russiagate allegations.

They are keen still to bring Trump down by whatever possible means.

They see the threat to the credibility of their cause if Trump and Zelensky should together succeed in finding evidence of Ukrainian underpinnings of the 2016-17 Russiagate conspiracy against Trump. They are desperate to have a last bash at Trump before he might finally expose any such improprieties, through evidence from Ukraine (or, for that matter, Australia – see below).

They were powerful enough in the Democratic Party to finally overcome the experienced Nancy Pelosi’s prudent and well-founded resistance to their plans. She knows that this impeachment process could destroy any Democratic Party hopes for power next year.

But these fanatics are ready to go for broke, in their rage and despair against Trump. The ‘CIA whistleblower’, whoever he or she may be, is their last desperate throw.

The pathetic, compromised figure of Joe Biden, with his damning Ukrainian nationalist connections, is their unlikely standard-bearer. Elizabeth Warren is a possible backstop.

For these folk, either Sanders or Gabbard would be a disaster as a candidate – because neither shares the imperial agenda, and both are morally strong enough to resist it.

Nancy Pelosi and Tulsi Gabbard know the realities. I suspect Bernie Sanders does too, but is awaiting his moment to speak out on this.

The US liberal print media led by the New York Times and Washington Post, and more sympathetic networks like MSNBC and CNN, are trying to keep the impeachment fire alive. Other networks like FoxNews are standing back from it more sceptically.

I predict – analytically – that Trump will survive this latest impeachment wave and come out even stronger for the 2020 election as a result. His indignant base will be energised to vote in strategically important numbers sufficient to regain for him the US presidency for four more years.

This is good news for prospects for peace between Ukraine and Russia, however problematical it may be in other areas of the world diplomatic arena (and I am no supporter of Trump).

But I do not expect early miracles in Ukraine, rather a slow normalisation and contact-building process between these two closely related nations.

* * *

And a late footnote on Trump, Morrison and Downer: with exquisite timing, Trump has now put the acid on Morrison to give his Attorney-General Barr access to Australian intelligence files on Downer’s alleged attempt to collect intelligence from, and possibly incriminate, George Papadopoulos in their alleged wine rooms encounter in London, while Downer was still Australian High Commissioner.

It would seem, according to the allegations, that Downer was trying to collect intelligence to support the Russiagate allegations against Trump.

Morrison is now between a rock and a hard place. He cannot reject Trump’s request outright. (As Australian Labor figures are thoughtlessly urging him to do). But nor can he pursue Trump’s request enthusiastically enough to expose any alleged anti-Trump secret activities of Australian intelligence agencies, who were under pressure at the time from visiting figures in the US FBI and intelligence world – Comey, Clapper and Brennan – to help them build the Russiagate case against Trump in the first year of his presidency.

A Five-Eyes operational dilemma indeed, that will test Morrison’s loyalties.

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Evaluate the Evidence of Contrarians – Scientifically

By Jennifer Marohasy | September 21, 2019

FUNDAMENTAL to the scientific method is the assumption that reality exists independently of our belief systems; that there is such a thing as evidence, and that it matters.

There seems to be general agreement on this point from both the left and right sides of Australian politics.

Indeed, in an article in The Weekend Australian newspaper (page 18) written by Graham Lloyd entitled ‘No place in debate for contrarian hijackers’, Misha Ketchell who is the editor of the influential academic publication The Conversation is quoted claiming to care so much about the evidence that the opinions of ‘sceptics’ must be excluded.

But this begs the question: how do we define scepticism, and on what basis do we discount the opinion of a so-called sceptic?

If their opinions are at complete odds with the evidence: then wouldn’t it be more useful to show this? To use them, and their wrong claims, to explain the truth within the theory of human-caused global warming?

It is claimed that sceptics like myself have an undue and powerful political influence, repeatedly successfully thwarting attempts to implement necessary public policy change.

Indeed, if my arguments are so devoid of evidence, this should be easily proven. Except that the skills scores from my rainfall forecasts, when compared with reality, are far superior to anything forecast by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

There has always been a role in science for models and predictions — that can be objectively tested against reality/the evidence —- so the predictions of sceptics could be juxtaposed against predictions from the consensus.

Another way of finding universal truths is through simple observation. If we have catastrophic sea level rise, for example, then this should be evident when we visit the beach, or somewhere like Sydney Harbour. It should be evident in our coastal landscapes. I explained some of this in a recent talk I gave at the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club that the Institute of Public Affairs had filmed and that is now available on YouTube.

Given science is about real world phenomena, it should not be that difficult for Misha Ketchell to test the evidence repeatedly being put forward by particular individuals, like myself, against what comes to pass in the real world — what is observed.

But instead of relying on such simple tests of the truth — in my rainfall forecasts or in a coastal landscape or at a coral reef — those in authority, and who edit important journals and websites, have decided that I should be banned.

As Graham Lloyd explains on page 18 of today’s Weekend Australian, I’m listed, in, of all places, the journal Nature as a dangerous dissident who must be shunned, and denied, because, it is claimed, that I misrepresent the evidence. That so many of us are actively de-platformed is only just now being acknowledged, and I am grateful that it has today been explained in The Weekend Australian.

The conspiracy against me dates to at least 2008 when Bryant MacFie gifted $350,000 to the University of Queensland (UQ) in a donation facilitated by the Institute of Public Affairs to pay for environmental research scholarships. After I set all of this up, the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (FASTS) intervened and told the Law and Agricultural facilities that if the program was to go ahead it must be without me … because as someone sceptical of global warming I lacked integrity.

I was replaced by Richard Burns, as the team leader. And more recently, in January just this year, after another strategic intervention perhaps involving the Bureau this time, I was removed as team leader from a project with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

The University of Queensland program did go ahead without me back in 2008.

I moved to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. The Blue Mountains is, of course, a great place for bush walking, which is a great way to reconnect with the natural world. It is in nature that we find evidence for the universal truths that exist independently of any and everything Misha Ketchell, and other such Australian opinion leaders, choose to publish — or not.

So, while I have repeatedly tried to escape to nature, it draws me back to science … as a method for transcending the chatter now everywhere in our scientific institutions and their publications.

I have kept showing that David Jones and Blair Trewin at the Bureau of Meteorology keep changing the temperature record, and more recently that the journal Nature publishes incorrect information from David Wachenfeld, the chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, as detailed in the article that follows.

Science is a method, science is never settled. We must therefore always be open-minded, tolerant and ready to be proven wrong. But history will eventually show that it is Misha Ketchell who is wrong and that this editor is not using a reasonable, or in any way evidence-based, criteria for deciding what should be published. This is so very wrong and so very harmful to science, democracy and the capacity of other opinion leaders and academics to evaluate the evidence which is so necessary if they are to get to the truth in such matters as climate change.

****************

The following article was published in The Weekend Australian on 7th September 2019.

Coral death knell exaggerated, says rebel quality assurance survey

The death of inshore corals near Bowen had been greatly exaggerated, according to the findings of a rebel quality assurance survey by reef-science outsiders Peter Ridd and Jennifer Marohasy.

The shallow reef flats of Stone Island have played a key role in divisions over the health of the – inshore Great Barrier Reef and the impact of run-off from agriculture.
Dr Ridd was disciplined for attempting to blow the whistle on the widespread use of before and after pictures taken a century apart near Stone Island that suggested coral cover had disappeared.

A follow-up paper by Queensland University reef scientist Tara Clark, co-authored by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chief scientist David Wachenfeld, confirmed the coral loss.

Despite winning his unfair dismissal case against JCU and being yesterday awarded more than $1.2m by the Federal Court, Dr Ridd effectively has been dismissed as a crank by other scientists.

An expert scientific panel last month accused him of spreading scientific misinformation like pro- tobacco lobbyists and anti-vaccination campaigners.

But Dr Ridd and Dr Marohasy have spent the past two weeks documenting the corals around Stone Island, which they found were still very much alive. … continue

September 29, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Australia Furthers Its Cooperation With NATO

By Ramona Wadi | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 29, 2019

In 2001, Australia became involved in the US “war on terror”, coined by former US President George W Bush as the pretext for invading Afghanistan. The rationale behind Australia’s decision was the ANZUS Treaty – a non-binding security between Australia, New Zealand and the US purportedly in line with the principles of the UN Charter.

Despite the treaty relating to possible attacks on either party in the Pacific, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard invoked Article VI to justify Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, which states, “This treaty does not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations or the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Since 2001, Australia has maintained a presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. Adopting US rhetoric on security and terrorism, the Australian Defence Ministry described its presence in Afghanistan thus: “Our fundamental objective in Afghanistan is to combat a clear threat from international terrorism to both international security and our own national security. Australia cannot afford, and Australians cannot afford, to let Afghanistan once again become a safe haven and training ground for terrorist organisations.”

Needless to say, the war on terror accomplished a continuation of the terrorism fomented by the US in its plans to permanently destabilise the region. Following its involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia has also cooperated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) since 2005, thus prioritising security discourse at a national level.

In 2012, the Australia-NATO Joint Political Declaration established the foundations for cooperation and strategy – in other words, the prolongation of intervention abroad upon pretexts of security. The document recognises Australia as “one of the leading contributors to the NATO-led ISA mission in Afghanistan, which works under a UN Security Council mandate.”

Additionally, the declaration whitewashes foreign intervention through security concerns: “We understand the need to manage effectively risks and threats to our mutual interest, such as political instability from failed states, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and cyber-attacks.” This statement has been reflected in the recent partnership agreement signed by NATO and Australia earlier this month.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described Australia’s role as “helping us to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.” Days later, US President Donald Trump spoke about US presence in Afghanistan as a purported deterrent to prevent the country from becoming “a laboratory for terror.”

Far from deterring terrorism, international involvement in Afghanistan has created networks of terror which cannot be dissociated from foreign intervention. Dismantling terrorism in a failed state created by foreign intervention is the pretext for prolonged international presence.

Australia’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as a non-NATO member has been one of the most prominent and reportedly in relation to training missions, although it was also involved in capturing and detaining alleged terror suspects.

As early as 2003 while working in close cooperation with the US, Australia not only was knowledgeable about the torture and abuse meted out at Abu Ghraib in Iraq – it was also a participant. Documents reveal that Australia’s representative at Abu Ghraib, officer and military lawyer George O’Kane, blocked the International Committee of the Red Cross access to detainees undergoing torture sessions. The Australian Government’s response to the revelations refuted responsibility, stating that the techniques applied against detainees were in concordance with the Geneva Conventions.

Australia was also one of the countries, among them NATO members and allies, participating in the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) extraordinary rendition program, which involved the transfer of individuals suspected of terrorism to secret US detention and torture centres.

Speaking about the recently agreed framework, Stoltenberg highlighted Australia’s cooperation with NATO as focusing on preventing terrorism. “Training local forces is the best thing we can do in fighting terrorism; helping countries to stabilise their own countries.”

False premises instigated the war on terror. Maintaining it requires the regurgitation of past, dangerous lies. The West’s appropriation of what constitutes “individual liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law” has fomented perpetual war and subjugation to imperialist powers.

In the words of Australian Defence Minister as to the level of involvement of Australia in the region, “what we’re doing at the moment is assessing the ask from the United States, assessing what other allies are doing and how they’re considering this.” A simple statement that shows the Australian government has no consideration for the countries invaded by NATO, the mutating violence, dispossession of people and permanent instability. Neither, for that matter, will Australia assess its own involvement in terms of the human rights violations it helped to propagate. Dropping bombs in Iraq? Australia seems to have no problem with furthering an oppressive legacy.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment