Saturday 27th of February 2021

a famous thong about thlippers...

op slipper....

I caught a rat once in one of the box traps made to catch snails…


I could not kill it. I am like Geoffrey in Dad’s Army who reveals he was a conscientious objector in WW1 to a befuddled Captain Mainwaring who tells Geoffrey to get out. By the end of the episode, one discovers that humble Geoffrey had become an unarmed medical orderly during WW1 — and had been given the Military Cross for having saved several soldiers in no-man’s land. Captain Mainwaring (self-appointed captain for being the manager of a piddly bank) always begrudging that he has no medals, not even one for occupation of Germany post-1918, was jealous but reasonably magnanimously made Geoffrey the medical officer of the platoon. Geoffrey had caught a mouse in a cake tin and could not come to term with killing it. This had made him decide to leave the platoon. I understand. I escaped compulsory military service by going to Africa and hide.

I saw the rat I had caught. I could see in his beautiful black eyes an extraordinary begging attitude for me to let him live. Killing in cold blood is hard. Even squashing a cockroach or a spider makes my ears pop. It’s a physical reaction. I will use some rat poison and non-volatile cockroach poisoned paste like the military uses bombing from 30,000 feet. It’s impersonal and hopefully effective. But killing mano a mano? My brain goes all electrical and my ears pop. My eyes water. Shame on me...

This of course is the subject of training soldiers to kill. Soldiers cannot be efficient if they have qualms about killing. There are of course rules and regulations that define “justified” killing and the areas can become very grey, even in war times. The recent episode of “our” soldiers in Afghanistan being bloodied is an eye opener.

But we should have been alert. A few years before, Wikileaks — bless Julian Assange — had released a film about this subject: “The Engineer” (2014).  It’s a documentary about killings in cold blood, in El Salvador. The engineer is an undertaker as well as a simple forensic investigator telling of his relationship with death and god, and trying to explain to grieving relatives how their beloved died (usually in an act of sadistic violence). Some of the interviews are chilling, such as a young kid telling having been asked, we suspect by murderers, to gouge the eyes of a person… There is also this young adolescent who learns to love killing people after his first revolting murder. 

Many (most) shows on TV and many (most) video games are about killings, murders and justice. Justice is served nearly 99.9 per cent in these fictitious stories, yet, in real life barely 25 per cent of crimes are ever solved — and often the police, the armies and the mercenaries prefer to “solve” the problem on the spot, rather than having to go through lengthy court cases from which a suspect would get "back on the street" very quickly. Shoot the bastards otherwise the courts would need another hundred years to deal with arguments and refinements of the laws. Often, the shooting of an unarmed person will be justified for a number of (fake and real) reasons, from resisting arrest to trying to escape.

This brings us back to "our” boys in Afghanistan. The CIA Fact Book seems not to exist anymore... Lucky, some websites have collected the original “Fact Book” before they disappeared from the CIA/US government sites. Here is a US CIA view of Afghanistan...:

Ahmad Shah DURRANI unified the Pashtun tribes and founded Afghanistan in 1747. The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919. A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war. The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels. A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, a US, Allied, and anti-Taliban Northern Alliance military action toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama BIN LADIN. The UN-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005. In December 2004, Hamid KARZAI became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December. Despite gains toward building a stable central government, a resurgent Taliban and continuing provincial instability - particularly in the south and the east - remain serious challenges for the Afghan Government.

34 provinces (welayat, singular - welayat); Badakhshan, Badghis, Baghlan, Balkh, Bamyan, Daykundi, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Nimroz, Nuristan, Paktika, Paktiya, Panjshir, Parwan, Samangan, Sar-e Pul, Takhar, Uruzgan, Wardak, Zabul

chief of state: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Ahmad Zia MASOOD; Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government; former King ZAHIR Shah held the honorific, "Father of the Country," and presided symbolically over certain occasions but lacked any governing authority; the honorific is not hereditary; King ZAHIR Shah died on 23 July 2007

head of government: President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004); First Vice President Ahmad Zia MASOOD; Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004)
cabinet: 25 ministers; note - under the new constitution, ministers are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly
elections: the president and two vice presidents are elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); if no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote in the first round of voting, the two candidates with the most votes will participate in a second round; a president can only be elected for two terms; election last held 20 August 2009 (next to be held in 2014)

election results: Hamid KARZAI reelected president; percent of vote - Hamid KARZAI 54.6%, Abdullah ABDULLAH 27.8%, Ramazan BASHARDOST 9.2%, Ashraf GHANI 2.7% (as reported by the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan on 16 September 2009)

note: On 19 October 2009, the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission declared that the discounted ballots cast for President Hamid KARZAI in the August election placed his total vote below 50%, prompting a 7 November runoff poll with Abdullah ABDULLAH

According to some reliable sources, all of this is “an illusion”. There is a vague unity in Afghanistan but the president is basically the president of Kabul, and of nowhere else, as most of the 34 provinces are independently run by their own rulers/kings/Muftis. Although the Taliban controls a large part of the country, it is said it control less than 15 per cent of the population. Negotiating with the Taliban is like the US officially negotiating with One Nation in Australia about the price of Kanbranean fishes. 

When US/Australian soldiers are sent to “compounds” and flush Taliban operatives, they have no way to know whether the people they shoot are actually Taliban. 99 per cent of Afghan families in the countryside have guns. For protection. It’s a fact of life. 

As well, even caught as prisoners, it is a duty for Afghan people, Taliban or not, to get rid of the “invaders” — the US and their lackeys… The soldiers “cannot trust” the prisoners...

You know the rest.

Australia should get out of there, but the Government is prisoner of its alliance with the USA, while allegedly our government has no clue about “what is the real Afghanistan".


No expert on killing rats...

blaming china...



This week, anonymous sources within the Trump administration told US media that China may have offered bounties to unnamed “non-state actors” in Afghanistan to attack US troops. The story comes months after this summer’s never verified claims by the New York Times and the Washington Post that Russia was offering similar payments.

On Thursday, Fox News doubled down on reporting by Axios from a day earlier suggesting that the US government has been working to declassify “uncorroborated intelligence” that China has offered cash rewards for the heads of US troops in Afghanistan. President Trump has reportedly been briefed on the matter, but has yet to comment publicly.

Beijing has blasted the claims, with a foreign ministry spokesperson characterising them as “fake news” designed to “smear China,” and suggesting that the allegations were a sign of just “how crazy some people have gone” to try to poison China-US relations. “We have never started a war with others, not to mention paying non-state actors to attack other countries,” the spokesperson stressed.

Return to Bounty Land

“Clearly there are some sections in the American defence and national security establishment which don’t agree with the Trump administration’s position on [Afghanistan], and particularly the principle stance to withdraw troops from Afghanistan,” Umer Karim, visiting fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, says about the fresh Afghanistan ‘bounty’ claims.

“First they used the bounty story based on entirely unreliable and dubious sources to do point scoring on Russia in an attempt to trigger debate again in favour of the need for American troops to stay in Afghanistan. Now they are again attempting to trigger the same debate by going after alleged Chinese spies working to destabilise Afghanistan,” the geopolitical analyst adds.

According to Karim, the “main theme” of the bounty claims is to equate any withdrawal of US forces from the 19-year-long Afghan quagmire to a “surrender” – to the Russians, the Chinese, or other regional actors.

In November, President Trump began a purge of the Pentagon, firing Defence Secretary Mark Esper, reportedly due to a disagreement about the need to bring troops home from Afghanistan. Esper’s successor, Christopher Miller, announced a timeline for reducing troop numbers in Afghanistan and Iraq shortly after, pulling thousands of personnel out of both countries, with a goal of having 2,500 troops in each country by 15 January 2021. The rest of the troops still in Afghanistan could be pulled out by May 2021, if the Taliban* lives up to its promise not to attack US forces. However, it’s not clear if the incoming Biden administration will try to halt and reverse the withdrawal process, with the China bounty stories, despite a lack of evidence, potentially giving the president-elect a good pretext to do so.

President Ghani met with Mr. Christopher C. Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense US. Both sides discussed the Afghan Peace process, the security situation in Afghanistan and in the region, and the continued support to Afghan Defense and Security Forces.

— Sediq Sediqqi (@SediqSediqqi) December 22, 2020“The timing of these stories also is important as they are intended to re-generate debate on the issue within the national security team of President-elect Biden eventually paving the way for re-visiting the current Afghan strategy of the Trump administration,” Karim explains.

Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, has indicated publicly that he would like to see the US keep troops in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, notwithstanding the US-Taliban peace deal, ostensibly to “prevent a resurgence of terrorism” and “to protect American interests and national security.”


Pouring Salt in US Wounds?

Hasan Abdullah, a political analyst, journalist, and expert on Islamic militancy, believes the bounty claims may be credible, even if the reporting by US media has been thin on hard facts and should be taken with more than a grain of salt.

“Is it in the interest of China to pay non-state actors to kill Americans? Considering what the US has been doing at different levels to contain China’s growth, one can understand China adding salt to US wounds as the Americans stand battered and bruised,” Abdullah says.

The political analyst points out that the US has essentially already admitted defeat in its nearly two decade-long campaign in Afghanistan, “sitting at the table” with the same Taliban it once described as “terrorists” but now views as a “major stakeholder” in the conflict.

“As far as the role of the US media is concerned, despite frequent attempts of the Western media to try and claim moral high ground and promote itself as a champion of impartial journalism, there’s no denying that the Western mainstream media has been a cheerleader and legitimiser of America’s neocolonialist adventures all over the world,” Abdullah says. Accordingly, he believes, “one can understand the US using its media to try and shift the blame for its failures and defeat on others."

Peace Deal Loophole Could Keep Afghanistan Warzone Forever

In February 2020, the US and the Taliban signed a landmark peace deal in Doha, Qatar to facilitate the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, a Taliban pledge to prevent al-Qaeda* from operating in areas under Taliban control, and for peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government.

Abdullah Khan, the director of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, says that America’s bounty allegations aside, it’s the terms of the peace process that regional powers like Russia and China should be most concerned about.

“The US left a loophole in the Peace Agreement with the Taliban which can be seen as US ill intentions towards its adversaries in the region. The US Taliban peace agreement gives guarantees only to the US and its allies that Afghan soil will not be used against the US and its allies. It should have [said that] ‘the Afghan soil will not be used against other countries’, but that’s not the case,” Khan explains.

The geopolitical analyst fears that the loophole provides the US with the means to maintain influence in the region even after its withdrawal, and even to create instability in countries neighbouring Afghanistan, including China.

Washington, he stresses, “has not insisted much on the fate of foreign fighters in Afghanistan,” with terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad Union, the Imam Bukhari Brigade, and the Turkistan Islamic Party pledging allegiance to Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, and thus being “practically embedded” in the militant group. Furthermore, “foreign fighters are being concentrated gradually in the north and there are strong possibilities that the northern part [of Afghanistan] may become a launching pad for terrorism in the Xinjiang province of China.”

Tajikistan, where Russia has a military base which helps to shield northern Eurasia from terrorism and drug trafficking, “will also face troubles,” according to Khan.

Ultimately, the analyst warns that the main “question is whether the US is going to play another game in the region as it had [when it] armed and supported the Afghan Mujahideen against the USSR in the 1980s. In such a scenario, Afghanistan [would] become the hub of hidden fights between intelligence agencies of many countries, which may not let peace to prevail in the country.”

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what happened?...


War Crimes? What war crimes? Nothing to see here

By ALLAN BEHM | On 5 February 2021

Burying crimes under layers of legal process is tantamount to cover-up. And cover-ups destroy democracy. Just another one to add to the list of evidence showing the  Morrison government’s problem with accountability – ‘sports rorts’  and the bonanza for Liberal donors from the ‘Leppington Triangle’ land deal being just two examples. 

With the appointment of Mark Weinberg QC to lead the special investigation into war crimes allegations – up to 39 murders allegedly committed by 19 current and former special forces soldiers – the government has effectively smothered the issue.

It took more than a decade after the first alleged killings to produce a heavily redacted account of what transpired. Who’s to say that the Special Investigation won’t also take a decade before any criminal prosecution is concluded, particularly in a pandemic-constrained world?

In his report, Major General Paul Brereton, a senior Army Reserve officer who is also a judge of the NSW Court of Appeal, laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Non-Commissioned Officers who led operational patrols. He exonerated the military chain of command, with the astonishing justification that they did not know what was going on. And he absolved from any responsibility at all the Australian government, which made the decisions to commit the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to armed combat in Afghanistan.

As an all-volunteer force, the ADF is necessarily highly professional: without mass, we need advanced capabilities and the full suite of skills to operate them. For Australia, warfare cannot be the business of fools or felons. Commanders must always be in control, and, to meet their accountabilities and responsibilities, governments must always be fully aware of the ADF’s activities and their consequences. Ignorance within the chain of command and by ministers is totally unacceptable. Current ministers need to reassure themselves that these circumstances cannot reoccur.

War crimes are a serious stain on Australia’s image as a rule of law democracy that advocates and upholds international legal standards in the conduct of armed conflict. More than that, they represent a fundamental erosion of the integrity and reputation of the ADF as the trusted instrument of government strategic policy. If Australia cannot be trusted to carry out its international defence activities legally and honourably, and if the ADF cannot be trusted to carry out the government’s directions in full accord with the Laws of Armed Conflict, how can the electors who vote governments in (and out) trust either the government or the ADF?

Without full transparency and accountability, they can’t. Burying crimes under layers of legal process is tantamount to cover-up. And cover-ups destroy democracy which, as so many commentators  point out, is under threat everywhere.

This is why we need a Royal Commission into the war crimes allegations. Of course, the alleged perpetrators must be investigated, briefs of evidence assembled, charges laid if appropriate, trials conducted and sentences imposed where warranted. This is a massive undertaking, especially where the events occurred in a war zone, the local witnesses are non-English speaking non-combatants, the military witnesses are accustomed to operating in a cocoon of secrecy (and consequent unaccountability) and the investigators themselves are less experienced perhaps in conducting forensic analysis relating to homicide and murder across jurisdictions, languages and cultures.

But the work of the Special Investigator does not go to the heart of the issue, because the war crimes represent systemic failures in decision and command, not just moral failure on the part of a few ‘bad apples’. When wars become purposeless, soldiers lack purpose and direction. They will fill the void, especially when repeated deployments and heightened exposures reduce moral sensibility.

It is the job of the chain of command to ensure that soldiers are not left to their own devices, just as it is the job of government to ensure that the chain of command is both able to do its job and actually does its job. It is simply not good enough to go after the perpetrators when they are themselves symptomatic of a more serious and more dangerous systemic failure.

We should recall that it took two Royal Commissions to get to the bottom of the systemic issues that led to the ‘Voyager incident’ in 1964 – the Royal Australian Navy’s biggest peacetime disaster. Owing to cover-ups, the first Royal Commission led to a miscarriage of justice. In conducting a Royal Commission into war crimes, the government would not just be addressing the fundamental causation factors that resulted in criminal acts. It would be acting in the national interest, and in its own interest as the ultimate custodian of legality and probity.

Such a Royal Commission is not dependent on the Special Investigator’s work for its raison d’être. Care must be taken to ensure that the Terms of Reference commissioning a Royal Commission do not overshadow the Special Investigator or compromise his inquiries. Indeed, it needs to be quite separate from the Special Investigator, since Major General Brereton’s review of the circumstances that generated the war crimes allegations is sufficiently robust to justify the root and branch evaluation of the systemic failures of which the war crimes are symptomatic.

To restore the ADF’s national reputation, and Australia’s international reputation, the Royal Commission should be convened without delay.

The Australia Institute published a detailed discussion paper on Major General Brereton’s war crimes report here.


Allan Behm 

Allan Behm heads the International and Security Affairs Program at The Australia Institute, Canberra


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ah, those war crimes...


A shocking internal report, based on statements from witnesses, documents, and photos, described extrajudicial killings and a general “toxic warrior culture” within the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) and threatens to undermine the country's international collaboration.

Accounts of murder, execution of prisoners of war, and torture committed by Australian elite soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq have spurred the Danish military to reconsider its collaboration with the Australian unit.

The shocking 531-page report issued by the Australian Defence Forces in November 2020 based on statements from 423 witnesses, 20,000 documents, and 25,000 photos described a “toxic warrior culture” within the Special Air Service (SAS) and may have repercussions for the country's international collaboration. The report also included recommendations to remedy the situation.

Among others, the Huntsman and Frogman Corps, the Danish counterpart of the Australian unit in question, will review joint drills planned for 2021, Major General Peter Boysen of the Special Forces Command in Aalborg told Danish Radio. Boysen specifically pledged to “look between the seams” at the collaboration initiatives with the Australians. “When you get such a report, you have to see what kind of collaboration you have”, Boysen said.

According to Boysen, Australia has terrain and climate similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan and is therefore extremely suitable for training desert warriors. In addition, there is an overlap in equipment and procedures between the Australian and Danish forces, which makes collaboration even more welcome.

However, the major general also stressed that the military is in the process of investigating whether Danish special forces had been on joint missions with the Australians in Afghanistan during the period when the alleged crimes took place. The Australians operated, among other places, in the provinces of Kandahar and Uruzgan, which are next to the Danish areas of responsibility in Helmand province.

At present, 25 current and former Australian soldiers are under police investigation, suspected of complicity in at least 39 killings. According to the report, the crimes were committed against unarmed prisoners and innocent civilians for a number of years until the withdrawal in 2016. If the civilian police investigation leads to prosecution for war crimes, long prison sentences await.

“However, there is nothing to suggest that we were with the Australians”, Boysen said. “I have a very hard time seeing that something similar can happen in a Danish unit”, Peter Boysen. “Our culture is unique, I think. We have a tradition of speaking out when one thinks something is wrong. But you can never say never. You have to be aware of the danger signals”, he said.


Boysen also emphasised that the recommendations listed in the Australian report will be implemented in Denmark as well, with the exception of the obligation to install helmet cameras, which captured some of the crimes by the Australian soldiers.

“I believe more in education. If you can tinker with planting weapons and radios, then you can also tinker with those cameras”, Boysen said.

The Huntsman Corps is composed of around 150 highly trained soldiers with special expertise in counter-terrorism, demolitions, parachuting, combat swimming, infiltration, sabotage, reconnaissance, and more.

The 150-strong Frogman Corps' primary role is reconnaissance, but it is also tasked with assaulting enemy ships, sabotage of fixed installations, advanced force, and maritime anti-terrorism issues. It also performs special operations work on land, including anti-terrorism and anti-criminal work. Both of them have taken part in NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.



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