> Australian elite SAS commandos deployed to Afghanistan shoot adolescents, farmers and other noncombatants to practice their “first kill” called “blooding.”
> The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) investigated alleged war crimes committed by British forces in Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, for British war crimes in Afghanistan, said cases were closed without continuing investigation.
> Der Spiegel published photos of US army soldiers posing with bodies of Afghans as trophies for sport.
Australia, UK, US wars kill, but there’s hope
Mario Ferdinand Pasion
December 6, 2020
Where are our “protectors” of human rights… former associate justice Antonio Carpio, former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, Maria Ressa of Rappler, Professors Richard Heydarian and Jay Batongbacal, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and other “nationalists” when Western countries are at issue?
Last week, investigations confirmed that it had been a practice over the years for Australian elite SAS commandos deployed to Afghanistan to “protect the civilians” in the country but who, on orders of their superiors, shoot adolescents, farmers and other noncombatants to practice their “first kill” called “blooding.” The victims were helpless and in noncombat situations; weapons were planted to simulate threat; and the stories were covered up for years. Body parts were collected, including prosthetics used for drinking vessels. There was a raid on the office of the national broadcaster who first raised the issue, and an attempt to prosecute the journalist who wrote the article. In this recent report, 39 Afghans were established as unlawfully killed over 10 years, as researched by the four-year investigation of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, with an unnamed number for other types of cases.
This created a mini-firestorm, and again, as a Chinese official critiqued the incidents through a tweet with a digital picture. Prime Minister Morrison demanded an apology, under pressure from media and Member of Parliament Andrew Hastie, who said the tweet was “calculated, deliberate and designed to undermine the political and social cohesion of our country.” What about Western funding, training of violent protesters, exposed in photos and videos in Hong Kong, Thailand, Venezuela, etc.? Alan Jones, a reporter, accused the prime minister of giving China an opening to attack the special forces. Hua Chun Ying of the Foreign Ministry and others responded by pointing out that, shouldn’t the target of criticism be more the brutal actions, rather than the tweet? After all, top Australian officials have been constantly criticizing China on its internal affairs, which do not include invasions or brutalities.
Recent months saw Australia constantly attacking China for the latter’s security policy in Hong Kong and the alleged Uighur re-education, and demanding further investigation of the coronavirus as being of Chinese origin. Australia has recruited countries to join as well as sent military frigates to join the United States in the South China Sea and banned Huawei, among others. China accounts for 33 percent of Australian exports, growing from $60 billion in 2015 to $103 billion in 2019, but have decreased in 2020 — although still much higher than years ago. Australian exporters are complaining that lobster exports of $750 million were delayed, restrictions were added on beef, tariffs raised on barley and wine, standards made stricter on other items, affecting some several billion dollars of products so far, with fears that this could increase and include reductions in tourism and education, which are major earners for the Australian economy.
Allegations of UK abuses were more extensive, but investigation results have not been made available. Philip Alston, the former UN Special Rapporteur on executions, said, “I have no doubt that overall, many of the allegations of innocent people being killed are justified…” In Iraq, the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), which investigated alleged war crimes committed by British forces in Iraq, and Operation Northmoor, for British war crimes in Afghanistan, said cases were closed without continuing investigation, some on the basis that some bribery was involved in the obtaining of information. Don’t British intelligence or the CIA or even their embassies pay for information? Of course, paid information must be vetted for false news, but shouldn’t cases of brutality and murders be investigated? In some cases that were dropped because the events allegedly did not take place, the supposed witnesses denied that they were witnesses.
While the US constantly claims to champion human rights and international criminal justice, it refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of any body, including the International Criminal Court, over US persons, military, and under the Trump administration has threatened to arrest investigators of cases involving US personnel. The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan under the guise of “protecting the Muslim women.” Al Jazeera’s Sahar writes: “There was no ongoing armed threat against the US by the time of the invasion, the Security Council did not meet in time to sanction it, Afghanistan was not an aggressor nation, harboring [Osama] bin Laden did not warrant a military intervention, and the Taliban was actually open to negotiate.” (The Taliban actually reached a deal a few days ago with the Afghan government.) That US Army soldiers killed Afghan civilians for sport was reported and drew international outrage when Der Spiegel published photos of soldiers posing with bodies of Afghans as trophies. There have been few arrests and even fewer convictions, mostly with greatly reduced sentences, for human rights violations whether internationally, or domestically in the US.
To be fair, for perspective, the culture of the military in all parts of the world will have excesses, and the ritual of a first kill does appear in militarist or hunter cultures, and war has unusual stresses. We should together work to upgrade to be more civilized and humane, applying more justice and lessening the violence in our disputes. The “macho” attitude of killing is cultivated in the Western military imaging as glamorous, elite — and this is not very different from the more barbaric cultures or periods in the world, and yet many Western countries and their followers preach human rights and justice, then do extensive cover-ups and media-managed storylines, which the more gullible peoples, incentivized “think tanks” and groups follow.
There is hope for a better world. Australia has openness to adjusting its leadership. Its military chief, Gen. Angus Campbell, said the military has unreservedly apologized to the Afghan people, admitted to a culture of excessive competitiveness, a failure of high command, and that the incidents could not be “described as being in the heat of battle.” Prime Minister Morrison had phoned Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani to express his sorrow. Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said the incidents mentioned in the report were “unforgivable” but publication itself was “an important step toward justice.”
The US has voted for a less combative leader. Japan has also restarted building bridges. All of which show a movement toward more common ground.
China has stated and shown in its various actions, with the US and others, that it is in most cases ready to move toward more mutuality of interest, i.e., forgiving loans, reducing interests; donating sharing technologies and information; moving toward liberalized access, investments, more imports and purchases; even while adjustments still need to be made.
Much of which is little publicized by Western or Philippine media, like the loan forgiveness of over $100 million to the North Rail project or the 2-4 perfect percent interest offered on major infrastructure loans supporting our Build, Build, Build program — which is lower than the other multilateral institutions — or the multibillion-dollar steel mills in Mindanao. Core areas are difficult to give up, but for now there are many areas that can be adjusted by all sides.
Over time and circumstance, history has shown that many things previously fixed become flexible, especially when trust and mutuality are established. This cannot happen in a milieu of constantly escalating attacks, impositions, taunts, adversarial approaches that the Trump administration used and tried to pull other countries into its orbit. The hawks in the US are still trying to corner the Biden administration into this hostile positioning, but hopefully new approaches can be tried. The US, China and the more developed nations have to help the less developed world rise into more productivity, and join as partners in our world ecosystems, not just in an efficient-market-transaction economy but one of deeper commonality with humanity and the nature around us.
Mario Ferdinand Pasion is a political analyst, director of economic alliance Phil-Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Strategic Studies, and the chairman of Nat-Fil (Nationalist Filipinos Against Foreign Intervention).
New Worlds by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute) aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities and attempt for common good, culture and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (email@example.com).
**Also published in: https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/12/06/opinion/columnists/australia-uk-us-wars-kill-but-theres-hope/805701/