Saturday 20th of April 2024

the war in a country called legalese...

legal eagles

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – and others in the Government – have made a number of contradictory statements about the legal basis for Australia to bomb Syria. Barrister James O'Neill reports.

ON 16 November 2015, I (James O'Neillpublished an article in New Matilda. The article had two main objectives. The first was a discussion of the legal bases upon which one state could attack another state. The second purpose was to provide an outline of my attempts to obtain a copy of the legal advice that the Australian Government said it would seek before announcing a decision on whether or not to join the United States bombing campaign in Syria. 

The content of that advice was of considerable interest. The majority of international lawyers doubted that Australia had any legal basis to intervene militarily in Syria. If the Government’s legal advisers had a different opinion, then that would represent a minority view and lawyers would have an interest in the basis of their legal reasoning.

The Australian Government had announced on 24 August 2015 that it would be seeking that legal advice. The clear inference was that no decision would be made pending receipt of that advice.

The request under the Freedom of Information Act was refused, but the schedule of relevant documents that were provided (but I was not allowed to see the actual documents) showed that the legal advice had been given to the Government on 24 September 2014 — 11 months before the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that the advice would be sought.


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meanwhile, our decorated hero starves children in yemen...


One of Australia's most decorated military soldiers, who is now serving as a senior advisor for the United Arab Emirates forces, is facing questions about his knowledge of civilian attacks in Yemen.

Key points:
  • Mike Hindmarsh now serves as senior adviser for UAE forces
  • The country has joined a coalition that declared war on rebels in Yemen
  • General Hindmarsh facing questions over knowledge of civilian attacks in country


Mike Hindmarsh commanded Australian forces in Iraq in 2008, where he also headed the elite and secretive SAS.

In 2010, the retired Major General was recruited by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to set up the country's first elite fighting force.

At the time, the UAE had never been involved in any significant military operations.

But that changed in March last year, when the country joined a Saudi-led coalition that declared war on rebels in Yemen.

The conflict has been devastating for the impoverished Yemeni people.

Last week a leaked United Nations memo said civilians have been targeted by air strikes in a "widespread and systematic" manner.

The UN said civilians were being deliberately starved as a war tactic, with 1.3 million Yemini children at risk of acute malnutrition this year.


Let's be clear here: The war on Yemen is illegal and waged like that in Syria by the USA and the Saudis sponsoring Al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits to defeat the Houthis who were being decimated by the previous Yemeni government. The Sunnis saw an opportunity to eliminate the Houthis once and for all.


“why should we?”...


Australia’s Legal Justification For Bombing ISIS In Syria Is Still Missing In Action

By  on November 16, 2015International Affairs

James O’Neill provides a simple guide to why our actions in the Middle East, once again, are illegal under international law.

In August of this year the then Abbott government made a number of statements indicating that they were planning to use Australian war planes to bomb ISIS targets in Syria.

The government has since confirmed bombing has commenced.

The legal basis upon which this policy rested is unclear. Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister then as now, said that the United States had set out the “legal basis” for bombing ISIS in a letter to the United Nations “some time ago.”

Ms Bishop did not specify what that “legal basis” was, although we know from other sources that the US in its letter to the Secretary General of the UN had invoked the provision in Article 51 of the UN Charter to go to the “collective self defence of Iraq” which was under threat from ISIS fighters crossing the border between Iraq and Syria.

The major problem with this argument is that the International Court of Justice has ruled on a number of occasions that to invoke the collective self-defence of another, the attacks in question must emanate from another State.

Whatever its pretensions, ISIS is not a State in any legal sense of the word.

Mr Abbott, with the apparent support of Ms Bishop, also referred to the border being “ungoverned space”. If they (ISIS) did not respect international borders said Mr Abbott, then “why should we?”

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Still missing... 6 months later... See toon at top... "Why should we not be as badass as ISIS?". Hum rhetorical questions since we could still be doing some illegal ops we don't know about... The government of Turnbullshit has gone quiet on this "war front" — too busy warring with the premiers with a badly concocted infantile tax package...


US legality of war...


Capt. Nathan Michael Smith, who is 28, is helping wage war on the Islamic State as an Army intelligence officer deployed in Kuwait. He is no conscientious objector. Yet he sued President Obama last week, making a persuasive case that the military campaign is illegal unless Congress explicitly authorizes it.

“When President Obama ordered airstrikes in Iraq in August 2014 and in Syria in September 2014, I was ready for action,” he wrote in a statement attached to the lawsuit. “In my opinion, the operation is justified both militarily and morally.” But as his suit makes clear, that does not make it legal.

Constitutional experts and some members of Congress have also challenged the Obama administration’s thin legal rationale for using military force in Iraq and Syria. The Federal District Court for the District of Columbia should allow the suit to move forward to force the White House and Congress to confront an important question both have irresponsibly skirted.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution requires that the president obtain “specific statutory authorization” soon after sending troops to war. Mr. Obama’s war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, was billed as a short-term humanitarian intervention when it began in August 2014. The president and senior administration officials repeatedly asserted that the United States would not be dragged back into a Middle East quagmire. The mission, they vowed, would not involve “troops on the ground.” Yet the Pentagon now has more than 4,000 troops in Iraq and 300 in Syria. Last week’s combat death of a member of the Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV, underscored that the conflict has escalated, drawing American troops to the front lines.

“We keep saying it’s supposed to be advising that we’re doing, and yet we’re losing one kid at a time,” Phyllis Holmes, Petty Officer Keating’s grandmother, told The Times.

Asked on Thursday about the lawsuit, the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said it raised “legitimate questions for every American to be asking.” The administration has repeatedly urged Congress to pass a war authorization for the war against the Islamic State. It currently relies on the authorization for the use of military force passed in 2001 for the explicit purpose of targeting the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, which paved the way for the invasion of Afghanistan.

“One thing is abundantly clear: Our men and women in uniform and our coalition partners are on the front lines of our war against ISIL, while Congress has remained on the sidelines,” the White House spokesman Ned Price said in an email


See toon at top...


UK legality of war...

Britain’s drone ‘kill list’ could leave politicians, pilots and intelligence personnel facing murder charges unless rules of engagement are quickly clarified, a parliamentary report has warned.

The joint committee on human rights warned on Tuesday that killing with drones outside warzones could lead to “criminal prosecution for murder or complicity in murder.

The report also warned that the widely-used term “targeted killing” sounded “uncomfortably close to assassination“ and took the view that the UK pursues an active policy “to use lethal force abroad outside armed conflict” under the banner of “counter-terrorism.

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a ridiculous costly designed "mistake"....

Australian aircraft were involved in a US-led coalition operation which killed dozens of Syrian soldiers who were apparently mistaken for Islamic State fighters, the Defence Department has confirmed.

Key points:
  • Dozens of Syrian soldiers dead in US-led strike
  • Defence Department says Australian jets were involved but would never intentionally target Syrian military
  • UN Security Council holds emergency meeting at Russia's request, US criticises "grandstanding"


Between 62 and 83 Syrian soldiers who had been fighting IS militants were reportedly killed in the air strikes around the Deir al-Zor military airport in Syria's east.

"Australian aircraft were among a number of international aircraft taking part in this Coalition operation," the Defence Department said in a statement.

"Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (IS). Defence offers its condolences to the families of any Syrian personnel killed or wounded in this incident."

The Russian military earlier said two F-16 and two A-10 jets that flew into Syrian airspace from neighbouring Iraq carried out the actual attack. Neither type is listed as being in operation with the RAAF.

The strikes came less than a week into a fragile ceasefire aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria's five-year civil war, as Russia accused what it termed "moderate rebels" of causing the truce to fail.

'Russia needs to stop cheap point-scoring': US

The US military and Australia's Defence Department said the attack was called off after Russia informed the coalition that Syrian military personnel and vehicles may have been hit.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in an emailed statement that Russian officials did not voice concerns earlier on Saturday when informed that coalition aircraft would be operating in the strike area.

The 15-member United Nations Security Council met after Russia demanded an emergency session to discuss the incident and accused the US-led coalition of jeopardising the Syria deal and helping Islamic State.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, chastised Russia for the move.

"Russia really needs to stop the cheap point-scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them," Ms Power said.

When asked if the incident spelled the end of the Syria deal between Moscow and Washington, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "This is a very big question mark."

"I would be very interested to see how Washington is going to react. If what Ambassador Power has done today is any indication of their possible reaction then we are in serious trouble," Mr Churkin said.

Russia says attack helped Islamic State

Russia said the attacks, which allowed Islamic State fighters to briefly overrun a Syrian army position near Deir al-Zor, were evidence that the US was helping the jihadist militants.

"We are reaching a really terrifying conclusion for the whole world —that the White House is defending Islamic State. Now there can be no doubts about that," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.

"Warplanes from the international anti-jihadist coalition carried out four air strikes today against Syrian forces surrounded by IS in the Deir Ezzor air base," a Russian army statement said.

"Sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and a hundred others were injured in these strikes.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group gave a toll of 83 soldiers killed, and said the strikes were US-led coalition raids.


RIDICULOUS.... TIME FOR THE AUSSIES TO BAIL OUT OF THIS AMERICAN CREATED SHIT... "Mistakes" of this calibre cannot happen without some head rolling, including the Australian Minister for defence. The Russians are correct. 


See also: blind ...

a conversation between Daesh terrorists and US military...

The Syrian intelligence possesses an audio recording of conversation between Daesh terrorists and US military prior to the Washington-led coalition's airstrikes on the government troops near Deir ez-Zor on September 17, the speaker of the People's Council of Syria said Monday.

"The Syrian Army intercepted a conversation between the Americans and Daesh before the air raid on Deir ez-Zor", Hadiya Khalaf Abbas said as quoted by the Al Mayadeen broadcaster. US warplanes hit Syrian government troops near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on September 17, leaving 62 military personnel killed and a hundred wounded. The Pentagon said initially that the airstrike was a mistake and targeted Daesh militants. The head of the Syrian parliament, added during her visit to Iran that after the coalition's airstrikes on the government troops US military directed terrorists' attack on the Syrian army.

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power loosing power...

RT asked former US diplomat Jim Jatras if it’s surprising a leading American diplomat would be concerned about the channel’s coverage.

“I think she doesn’t like RT because they report the news that the so-called mainstream media in the US - which are essentially stenographers for the White House and the State Department - don’t cover. As far as her accusing the Russians and saying “you can’t be for peace as long as you support…” What? The government that is defending its own territory? How much can you be for peace, human rights, and democracy if you’re supporting jihadist terrorist who cut people’s heads off?” he said.

Daniel Patrick Welch, writer and political analyst, commenting on Power’s rhetoric, said the US is scared.

“They are scared because they don’t want RT - which has a sizable readership and viewership - to get the truth across to as many people as possible. They rely on planted stories; they rely on this one man operation, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – just some guy living in an apartment in London. They are spreading the same clips that they have used, that they have discredited. This thing about the airstrike on a convoy, which the UN itself backed down and said it probably wasn’t an airstrike. Yet, the New York Times, which is in their corner, goes on to continue to blame the Russians,” Welch said.


"mistake" with no apology...

The US military has formally admitted fault in a major September airstrike in eastern Syria that killed at least 15 fighters loyal to the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad.

US Central Command (Centcom), which both conducted and investigated the 17 September strike, said the attack stemmed from a “good faith” mistake that led targeters to believe the Syrian fighters, whom Centcom said did not wear uniforms, were Islamic State (Isis) militants. 

British, Australian and Danish warplanes also participated in the attack and released their weapons on the mistaken target, according to US air force Brig Gen Richard Coe, the investigating officer. 

Coe stopped short of apologizing to the Syrian government, saying such a statement was beyond the purview of his six-week investigation. 

The strikes occurred in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, where the US bombs Isis fighters and positions almost every day, and where known regime loyalists are relatively few. Due to the lack of observable insignia, Centcom would not say definitively that it had killed Syrian soldiers.

“We made an unintentional, regrettable error, based on several factors in the targeting process,” Coe told reporters on Tuesday, who said he found “no intent to target Syrian [government] forces”.

Coe’s investigators were unable to access the scene of the strike, a few kilometers north of the Deir ez-Zor airfield, and the Russian military – which is supporting Assad’s campaign against Isis and rebel opposition forces – did not participate in the inquiry. 

An initial report on the incident by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights suggested that 83 people had been killed. Coe said that on the basis of contemporaneous video evidence and interviews, he could only definitively determine 15 dead regime loyalists, but added that the death toll was likely to be higher.

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Meanwhile, joining the chorus of black kettles against black pots:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the Turkish Army entered Syria to end the rule of President Bashar Assad, whom he accused of terrorism and causing the deaths of thousands.

“We entered [Syria] to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the Turkish president said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul, as quoted by Hurriyet daily.

Erdogan said that Turkey has no territorial claims in Syria, but instead wants to hand over power to the Syrian population, adding that Ankara is seeking to restore “justice.”

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Enforcing regime change is illegal

manufacturing legalese...

DOCUMENTS produced under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws by the Department of Defence confirm that Australia was caught off guard when the permanent representative of the Syrian Arab Republic wrote to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 17 September 2015. In that missive, the Syrian representative singled out Australia, the United Kingdom and France for taking military measures against the Syrian Arab Republic and asserting that our reading of Article 51 was “blatantly inconsistent” with the Charter and UNSC resolutions.

On 9 September 2015, the Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, Gillian Bird, had written to the President of the United Nations Security Council claiming that:

Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations recognises the inherent right of the states to act in individual or collective self defence where an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations. States must be able to act in self-defence when the government of the state where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent attacks originating from its territory. 

The Government of Syria has, by its failure to constrain attacks upon Iraqi territory originating from ISIL bases within Syria, demonstrated that it is unwilling or unable to prevent those attacks.

Not one journalist in the country – although I’m happy to stand corrected – asked either the prime minister, the foreign minister, the attorney-general or the defence minister to explain how the Government of Syria was "unwilling or unable" to prevent attacks.

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See toon at top...

getting dicey...


Australia has temporarily halted air operations over Syria after the United States downed a Syrian military jet that dropped bombs near US-led Coalition fighters in western Raqqa.

The suspension comes amid increasing tension between the US and Russia, with Russian officials describing the incident as a dangerous escalation.

A Defence spokesman has told the ABC force protection was regularly reviewed and combat missions were continuing over Iraq.

"Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course," a spokesman said.

A written statement from the US coalition in Iraq said a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near soldiers from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The shoot-down was near Tabqah — a Syrian town in an area that has been a week-long focus of fighting against Islamic State group militants by the SDF, as they surround the city of Raqqa and attempt to retake it.

The US military statement said it acted in "collective self-defence" of its partner forces and the US did not seek a fight with the Syrian Government or its Russian supporters.

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The US in the "collective self-defence of its partner forces", is actually protecting terrorists. The "partner forces" (the Syrian Democratic Forces) are terrorists in Syria, financed by the Gulf states, who are aligned with Al Qaeda and other pseudo-IS forces, without being full-blown. The US wants to destabilise the Syrian government by any means, including shooting down Syrian planes that are bombing terrorists. This has led the "very patient" Russians to say in a very discreet manner that the gloves are off and cannot assume protection of air-spaces for the US and coalition planes including Australian F16.

It's time to bring our troops back home. They should never have been send there in the first place. See toon at top.


an illegal US warfare...

I mentioned the illegality of U.S. actions in Syria in an earlier post, but I wanted to say a bit more on that point. There has never been a Congressional vote authorizing U.S. military operations in Syria against anyone, and there has been scant debate over any of the goals that the U.S. claims to be pursuing there. The U.S. launches attacks inside Syria with no legal authority from the U.N. or Congress, and it strains credulity that any of these operations have anything to do with individual or collective self-defense. The U.S. wages war in Syria simply because it can.

Obama expanded the war on ISIS into Syria over two years ago, and the U.S. was arming the opposition for at least more than a year before that. The U.S. has been a party to the war in Syria in one form or another for more than four years, but the underlying assumption that it is in our interest to take part in this war has not been seriously questioned by most members of Congress. The president had no authority to take the U.S. to war in Syria, and the current president still has no such authority. We are so accustomed to illegal warfare that we barely notice that the policy has never really been up for debate and has never been put to a vote. If this illegal warfare eventually leads us into a larger conflict, we will finally notice, but by then it will be too late.

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collateral non-damage...

However, this still begs the question: What are the capabilities of the bombs being used?

Any air strikes in the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood place civilians in the middle of the blast zone.

Following the catastrophic air strike in this neighbourhood on 17 March 2017, the United Nations said publicly that: 

ISIL’s strategy of using children, men and women to shield themselves from attack is cowardly and disgraceful. It breaches the most basic standards of human dignity and morality. Under international humanitarian law, the use of human shields amounts to a war crime.

The conduct of air strikes on ISIL locations in such an environment, particularly given the clear indications that ISIL is using large numbers of civilians as human shields at such locations, may potentially have a lethal and disproportionate impact on civilians.

News reports quote Mosul Jadida residents referring to three homes that had taken direct hits from air strikes, others that had been damaged by debris and shelling and other buildings and houses that were bombed with ISIS forces and/or snipers being on the rooftops.

Australian mission reports describe the targets as "BLDG" or "SNIPER IN BLDG" with bombs noted to go "high order" — which is to say complete burning or initiative of the explosive occurs at its maximum velocity.

Following the devastating Mosul Jadida air strike on 17 March 2017, the Australian Defence Force stated:

'While there are no specific allegations against Australian aircraft, Australia will fully support the coalition-led (Operation Inherent Resolve) investigation into these allegations.'

Marise Payne has no idea what happened in Mosul. She either wont answer the question or cant. I strongly suspect its the latter. Just say so

— Phillip Lodge (@phlogga) April 19, 2017

This may well be true, but given their guidance by GPS coordinates, the ADF must know with a very high degree of specificity the other targets our bombs have hit and exactly when they hit.

In response to the FOI request, the Department of Defence stated that no documents pertaining to "the outcomes of military and civilian casualties" or "describing, recording investigations of and assessing the circumstances of Australian involvement in civilian casualty incidents related to air strikes in the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood" were identified.

Even though the documents may not exist, how credible is it for our government to continue to maintain that we have avoided civilian casualties if we have participated in the bombing of populated areas where civilians are being used as human shields by ISIS and bombed buildings with the object of killing snipers?

The carefully phrased exculpatory statement by Defence Minister Payne, when considered in light of the information available to the defence force, gives the lie to any inference that Australian bombs have not caused civilian casualties.

The precise capability of the bombs that were dropped on the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood remains unknown.

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See toon at top...

all's quiet on the L-R political front...


Amnesty International has identified a pattern of attacks by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition backing them that violates international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes, writes Kellie Tranter.

IN RESPONSE to criticisms from Amnesty International that Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition military forces carried out “disproportionate” and unlawful attacks to take back Mosul, a senior British commander, Major General Rupert Jones, said recently that it was "naive" to think a city such as Mosul, with a population of 1.75 million, could be liberated without any civilian casualties while fighting an enemy that “lacks all humanity”.

That pragmatic approach is what our government would have us accept in relation to our involvement in Iraq until now.

In a move calculated to minimise public and media interest – and hence impact – at midnight on 29 September 2017 (immediately before the Labour Day long weekend and Saturday’s AFL grand final) the Australian Defence Force quietly released details of its involvement in two fatal incidents this year in Mosul: one on March 30 and another on June 7. Amnesty International Australia rightly criticised the timing of the announcement.

On 30 September 2017, Fairfax Media reported on this incident, stating that the

... first error occurred as coalition forces supporting the Iraqi army on the ground were moving through west Mosul clearing the territory street-by-street when they identified enemy fighters about 300 metres away. 

Chief of Joint Operations Vice-Admiral David Johnston said the group was "positively identified as a group of Daesh fighters, and based on that information, an airstrike was authorised and tragically, seven civilians were unintentionally killed or injured in that strike".

Here's @markgkenny's piece Aussie forces involved in 2 serious intel failures resulting in killed/injured civilians

— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) September 29, 2017


We’ve been told that no Australian aircraft were involved in the airstrike, but we did have people who were involved in the target approval process, which 

'... involves a six-step checklist where, if each threshold question is able to be answered, the legal approval for an airstrike can proceed quickly.’

The incident was "self-referred" to Operation Inherent Resolve for review.

Chief of Joint Operations Vice-Admiral David Johnston said this review came to the conclusion

"... that based on the information that was available to those involved in the strike, it was reasonable to believe the target was a valid military objective ... and that the people involved in the strike, acted in accordance with our laws of armed conflict and our rules of engagement.”

Ironically, on 14 March 2017, 15 days before this fatal incident, a story aired on the ABC 7.30 raised questions about the Australian Defence Force's tracking of suspected civilian casualties from air strikes.

In that report, Australia was described as one of the least transparent military coalition members and, in a response to an FOI request I issued, Defence confirmed that it

'... does not specifically collect authoritative (and therefore accurate) data on enemy and/or civilian casualties in either Iraq or Syria and certainly does not track such statistics.'

Questions raised over #ADF's tracking of suspected civilian casualties from air strikes. #abc730 @Sophiemcneill

— abc730 (@abc730) March 15, 2017


On 1 May, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the Minister of Defence calling for the Government to improve the transparency of its operations and strike reporting. On the very next day, the ADF announced it would start to publish fortnightly reports on air strikes it carries out in Syria and Iraq. Unfortunately, it was found that those reports only described in general terms the location and targets. on 22 May 2017, Human Rights Watch called for the fortnightly reports also to detail instances in which Defence have investigated reports of civilian casualties, the outcome of these investigations and to what extent compensatory or punitive actions have been taken. So far, these calls have gone unheeded.

The concerns expressed by Human Rights Watch clearly are warranted when one examines the ADF report published on 20 June 2017 concerning Operation OKRA – ADF Airstrikes for the period 2-15 June 2017. This period covers the second fatal incident on 7 June 2017.

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Read from top....


services still on offer...

The Royal Australian Air Force is withdrawing its jets from anti-terrorist missions in Iraq and Syria, shifting its focus to “support” and provide “counter-terrorism services” to the Iraqi Security Forces.


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on a soap box at a street corner...


One afternoon a few short years ago, as my 85 year old peace activist friend John and I stood outside our library holding signs to protest this Military Industrial Empire, a lady from Germany came up to us. She complimented us on our activism and made a cogent point: ”You Americans have so much to be angry with concerning this government and its phony wars. You have but two of you standing out here each week. If this was Germany and my country did what yours has done, there would be literally a thousand people out here with you.” Well, it seems that my fellow citizens have become too comfortable living in this feudal society. Psychologists refer to this kind of mindset as that of enabling. How many Apple Annies must there be on the street corners of our nation before we all get wise?

PA Farruggio
April 2018


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And this goes for Australia too. Read from top.

M.A.S.H. we knew that...

Question: What is Australia's longest running war? If your response was Afghanistan, you are sadly wrong. Despite nearly two decades involved there, that's not it.

The answer is our near 70-year conflict with North Korea.

Despite most of the fighting ending with the signing of an armistice back in July 1953, officially Australia is still at war with the country.

Mike Kelly is an historian with the Australian War Memorial. 

"All arms of the Australian services served in Korea," he tells me in the Korean war exhibition at the memorial. 

"Of about 17,000 men and women in total serving in the Army, Navy and Air Force, 340 were killed, including 43 [who went missing]."

And while many Australians have no idea about that vicious conflict, fewer still are aware of our continuing obligations. 

"If anything untoward did happen and North Korea crossed the border, we are still obligated to assist the republic of Korea," Mr Kelly explains.

I ask: "So, officially we're still at war with North Korea?"

"Very much, it's not at peace," he says bluntly.


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Read about the imbecile warmongers from top