Thursday, November 19, 2020

Today by Paddy Manning


‘Blooding’ Australia
The Brereton inquiry exposes unlawful killings by our special forces in Afghanistan

Image of Australian Defence Force chief Angus Campbell

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Campbell. Image via ABC News

Australian Defence Force chief Angus Campbell has apologised to the people of Australia and Afghanistan after the release of a heavily redacted version of Justice Paul Brereton’s Afghanistan Inquiry Report. The report finds credible evidence that some 25 special forces soldiers were involved in the unlawful killing of 39 prisoner, injured or non-combatant Afghanis in at least 23 separate incidents, including summary executions and a practice known as “blooding”, in which “junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner, in order to achieve the soldier’s first kill”. So-called “throwdowns” (weapons or devices) were planted to support claims that the killings were justified. General Campbell described the conduct as “appalling” and damaging to the ADF’s “moral authority as a military force”. Ahead of the release of the report, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani overnight to express his “deepest sorrow over the misconduct by some Australian troops”, and told him that future investigations into the allegations would ensure justice. Today, General Campbell said he accepted all of the inspector-general’s findings and a plan was being developed to put his 143 recommendations into action. In a statement, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said accountability would be the cornerstone of the Defence department’s response to the report. Shadow defence minister Richard Marles and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus called on the government to accept all of the report’s recommendations and backed the creation of the Office of the Special Investigator to oversee the investigations following this report. “It is now appropriate that it is allowed to do its work free of any prejudice or political interference,” they said.

At a press conference this afternoon, Marles said it was not a day for politics, and he went back to the reasons for Australia’s involvement in the Afghanistan war – after almost 20 years, our country’s longest. “Our objective was to deny Afghanistan as a base for international terrorism,” said Marles. “We should never forget that Australians lost their lives on September 11. We should never forget that the organisation which perpetrated the Bali bombings utilised training camps in Afghanistan. This objective was achieved. From there, Australia stood in that group of nations which were willing to give help to a country which sought assistance as Afghanistan did.”

At General Campbell’s press conference in Canberra, investigative journalist Chris Masters brought up the same history, asking what had been achieved, given that Afghanistan was still largely in ruin and negotiations were underway with the Taliban. Campbell replied: “Chris, if I ask my people and our veterans, there is a great deal of pride in what was achieved, and I think it is important to think about this from the point of view of seeking to give the Afghani people … and the government of the day an opportunity to find their path forward, and that is what we did. I think that is a good and honourable thing. What they are now doing is entering into a process of negotiation to seek to end the wars that have ravaged their country for many, many years, and I wish them the very best in that process.” 

Justice Brereton also recommended no action be taken against key individuals who helped bring the war crimes to light. Independent crossbench senator Rex Patrick has urged the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to drop charges against former military lawyer David McBride – who blew the whistle on the conduct of Australia’s special forces – describing him as a hero. McBride’s lawyer, Mark Davis, said it was unfathomable that his client was facing jail. “Since 2014 David McBride was alerting Defence to the central matter that has now been highlighted by Justice Brereton – the culture of impunity that was created and overseen by army command. He exposed this at great cost to his career and reputation, and is now facing a jail cell for doing what he saw as his proper duty.” 


“China has benefited from our natural resources exports and we have benefited from its manufacturing imports. We need to keep that strong relationship with China going. It is mutually advantageous for both of us.”

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe calls for the Australia–China relationship to get back on track, following Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s offer of renewed engagement on Wednesday.

“We do not deny climate change; we’re not deniers.”

Rupert Murdoch makes his first public comments about the August resignation from the News Corp board of his son James, who cited concerns about the company’s editorial direction.

Why is Australia deporting this man?
Mojtaba is 29 years old. He’s lived in Australia for nearly a decade, but last year he was placed into detention. Since then, he hasn’t been able to see his wife and young son. Today, Abdul Hekmat on how Mojtaba’s life has been shaped by Australia’s immigration policies.

7%

The official unemployment rate for October, up 0.1 percentage points since September, in stronger-than-expected figures showing the participation rising and underemployment falling.

“The microeconomic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s (with the aid of beneficial macroeconomic reform) laid the foundations for the past 30 years of economic prosperity. Part of the success of these policies was to move the economy away from one where special interests distorted the flow of resources to one where competition played a much greater role. The result was an end to Australia’s relative income decline and nearly 30 years of continuous growth that outpaced most other advanced economies (including all of the G7).”

A Productivity Commission paper warns against a return to the “Fortress Australia” policies of tariffs, wage arbitration and government monopolies over key industries.

The list
 

“Opening with the 1979 election of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, and running until 1990, the liberally adapted narrative is haphazard and sometimes shallow. The arrival of Thatcher, played with a raspy voice and unwavering self-belief by Gillian Anderson, and the 1981 marriage of Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) to the Queen’s heir, Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), are meant to present famous contrasts to Olivia Colman’s now middle-aged monarch. Instead, none of the three women come into sharp focus, and their lives are reduced to a collection of incidents, most of which are merely milked for their tidy symbolism.”

“When Cilka’s Journey was published in October 2019, it was not greeted with the same general goodwill that had been extended to Morris’s previous book. By this time, The Tattooist of Auschwitz had sold 3 million copies. Yet despite that book’s enormous financial success, a series of reviews had expressed considerable scepticism. The Auschwitz Memorial itself published a statement, saying it was ‘almost devoid of any value as a document’.”

Being unique doesn’t preclude one from being streamable, the word on every major-label executive’s lips. In fact, Benee seems to be something of a holy grail: on Spotify alone, she has some 700 million streams. She’s highly placed on many of the service’s most popular playlists, including ‘Chill Hits’, ‘Good Vibes’ and ‘Chill Vibes’, and has four songs on ‘Lorem’, a mixed-genre playlist marketed with a quirky, mannered video soundtracked by Benee’s single ‘Snail’.”

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is the author of Body Count: How Climate Change Is Killing Us, Inside the Greens and Born To Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull.

 

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