17 March, 2008

Australia 2020 Summit - What's missing?

Whether the gathering of Australia's supposedly best and brightest will be yet another dreary Canberra talk-fest or a history-making congress that maps out the future of Australia through wise and productive policies .... there is one thing missing:

No mention of the men and women who will have to carry out the policies and the actions of our government and who will defend us from aggression.

There is no mention in the agenda of how Australian Defence Force personnel can be recruited, trained, organized, supported, committed, retained and then returned to fulfilling civilian life. That is a serious [but not surprising] omission.

It is entirely consistent with other responses to the perils of living in a dangerous world - just pretend a problem doesn't exist and it will go away .... and then when it becomes obvious it problem hasn't gone away but has got far worse, try to cope by crisis management.

Instead of allowing a crisis to develop and then trying to manage it in a blind panic, let's try a rational approach for a change .... by putting the discussion of new policies involving the ADF on the agenda of this Summit.

[Oh yes - and all the best for St Patrick's Day too :-) ]


Since I put up this post a few days ago, Australian Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, has made a statement on the crisis in recruitment for the Australian Defence Force. A news item about it is on the ABC website at

Discrimination and vilification against war veterans and peacekeepers would have a wee bit to do with discouraging relatives and neighbours from joining up. The bureaucratic abuse and cheating of widows and wounded might have some bearing on it too.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the thousand best-and-brightest to consider this issue at the Australia 2020 Summit.

31 January, 2008

Kevin Rudd and Australian Veterans

The incompetent anti-veteran government of John Howard and his Liberals and Nationals coalition sycophants fell at the last election. Thank goodness. They were nothing but an insult to the conservative free-enterprise side of politics.

The new government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Australian Labor Party looks set to slash government spending, and, given the traditional hostility of the Labor Party towards war veterans, you can bet your proverbials that Veterans' Affairs will get high priority for the chopping block.

They might abolish the Department of Veterans' Affairs and associated bodies altogether and merge their facilities and services with those of Social Security. Or, they might privatize them - as was done with the Repatriation Hospitals and with War Service Home Loans; of course, if that did happen, I wonder if major Japanese finance institutions would be the new owners? Now there's a thought.

Reform and improvement of the whole veterans' affairs system so that it better serves the actual needs of veterans and their families just isn't on the cards at all. Even though improving the veterans' affairs system would reduce waste and so lead to hefty savings in that area.

One worrying thing is that slashing by stealth may have started already, not in places where there has been a huge waste of the taxpayers' money but by sneaky administrative means: cutting the pensions of veterans who are at the bottom of the system and incapable of defending themselves.

There are rumours - which I have no way of confirming and which I hope are wrong - that many [the usual figure spoken is four hundred] war veterans who have had their pensions cut or taken off them because they "failed to comply with medication regimes or doctors orders".

Does anyone - veterans, civil liberties people or anyone at all - have any reliable information to confirm or refute these stories?

09 January, 2008

Social Contract & Military Service

An old concept has turned up in discussion again; this time following the death of a good American soldier in the Iraq Conflict. It is the concept of the Social Contact that is implied in Military Service.

It is a social contract that is implied not just in voluntary military service; it is implied - in a slightly different way – in conscripted military service too. It is implied whether the service is within one's national borders or overseas. It is implied – in various ways and in varying degrees – whether one's service is in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Foreign Legion, Marines, Waffen-SS, MVD, FSB, WJ, Coast Guard , Insurgent Forces, Partisans, Gurkhas or a private security firm; it is implied wherever there is an organized armed force with a responsible system or chain of command and that has definable political objectives [which excludes bandit gangs, no matter how military they may appear]. It is implied regardless of rank – although Generals and other senior commanders do have additional onerous responsibilities that come with their position or rank.

In a grossly over-simplified way, the social contract goes something like this:

I will risk my life fighting for your cause [which is usually but not always, my cause too].

I will attack your Enemies where this is unavoidable and I will defend you against your Enemies where this is necessary.

In return, you will not attack nor abandon nor despise nor cheat me for having done so.

If I am injured in your conflict with your Enemies, you will not scorn me nor exacerbate my injuries nor prevent these injuries being ameliorated nor deprive me of whatever living I can then make nor rob me.

If I die in doing this service for you, you will not attack nor shun nor neglect nor ill-treat nor defraud my loved ones in their grief.


You will make clear to me exactly who your Enemies are and who are not your enemies. You will also tell me why these people – who themselves may be good decent people in normal circumstances – have become your Enemies.

I will do everything in my power to overcome your Enemies, to frustrate their schemes and, if it is at all possible, to deflect their hostile attention from you.

If there is no alternative but to do so – and your Enemies wilfully and repeatedly refuse to go away or change their hostility to you - I will strive to destroy them.

If you decide your Enemies are no longer your enemies, you will tell me by the swiftest possible means so that unnecessary suffering and destruction can be stopped abruptly – or even prevented.

You yourself will strive, in every possible way, to overcome your Enemies too. Furthermore, you will not make profit from my suffering or death by doing normal business with your Enemies, either directly or through third parties.

You will keep open channels of communication so that you could – if the opportunity arises and it is ultimately beneficial for our cause to do so – enter into negotiations for the end of fighting, suffering and destruction [whether that results in a win, a loss, a draw or whatever].

However, you will not betray me or my family merely because you have become tired or bored with the conflict or because you lack the courage to face up to the consequences of going into conflict with people you deemed to be your Enemies.

You will keep me regularly and truthfully informed [in the broadest terms and without revealing our side's plans or other secrets] about how the conflict is going – whether that be good or bad – so that my morale is not shattered by hearing the truth first from the lips of the Enemies. I will not be lied to. I will be given the truth so that even if things are going very badly, I can still be resolute in carrying out my duty to you and in so doing, preserve your honour as well as my own..


You will supply me with sufficient and suitable material in serviceable condition and in a timely manner.

I will use that material as best I can to overcome your Enemies.

You will supply me with the best material that can be obtained at the best price and not with the material that can get you the most lucrative kick-back from the supplier.


You will not make false promises of reward for my service nor will you steal from me any rewards or payments you have already given to me. If my only reward is the praise and respect of my fellow citizens then so be it. You will not condemn me nor humiliate me for having done my duty. If the treasure or other assets of your Enemies falls into our hands, you will not plunder it for your own selfish purposes but instead you will stand aside and allow it to be added to our own national treasury for the benefit of all the people of our nation.

There is probably a lot more in such a social contract – but you'll get the idea.

This is a social contract. It is definitely not a legal contract. It lacks some of the features of a regular legal contract. It is not an Enlistment Form nor an Employment Contract nor an Appointment nor any other document.

There is not a court of law in the whole wide world that could or would enforce such a social contract.

It is enforced under only one law: the pitiless, iron-hard Law Of Victory And Defeat – the law that determines whether a nation and its people survive or get annihilated.

07 January, 2008

Back .... and badder than ever!

Sorry folks.

Thought I had somehow locked myself out of my own blog. Tried everything and nothing worked. What was going on .... or not going on??

Anyway, quite recently, some software that had been giving me a lot of trouble was flung into orbit as a frisbee and replaced with "cheaper" and much better software designed for much the same job. Just for fun, I tried yet again to get into my own blog .... and "Open Sesame" at the first try .... so here I am again.

A lot has happened. The Howard regime fell in a somewhat dodgy election but thankfully it all happened without a fake state-of-emergency being called and without any violence at all. David Hicks has been returned to Australia. A long-overdue apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia is being planned; no sign of any apology yet from the former colonial power, Britain.

2008 looks like an exciting year .... so hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride. :-).

05 March, 2007

USMC honor

Yesterday, the news media in Australia carried a digraceful story of a high-ranking American political stooge and White House toady trying to use the Uniform Code of Military Justice to intimidate Major Michael Mori who had been appointed to defend an Australian detained at Guantanamo Bay, David Hicks..

Let's get a couple of things straight,

Firstly. ....

In my opinion, it is likely that many of the people held in Guantanomo Bay were up to no good when they were captured and the probably did not have our continued well-being as their first priority. Many of them are probably Baddies through-and-through.

It's also crystal clear that they should have been handled firmly and fairly and in strict adherence to both the letter and the spirit of the Geneva Convention. War is about victory or defeat - it's not about guaranteed employment to every weirdo, sociopath, drunk, bully, fanatic or sadist in the United States who fancies himself as an interrogator or as an "action-hero".

Secondly ....

Major Michael Mori is first and foremost a patriotic American. Never forget that. He has upheld the honour of his service. He has maintained the highest standards of the legal profession. He hasn't given 85% commitment, he hasn't given 99% commitment ..... he has given 110% and 120% commitment to his assigned duty.

David Hicks is lucky that Major Mori was assigned to defend him ..... and not to prosecute him because he would have been equally tenacious, vigorous and honourable as a Prosecutor!.

For Heaven's sake, Major Mori is a trained fighting man ..... so why all the hullabaloo when he gets up and fights vigorously to win? That's bloody ridiculous!! Australians admire a man who has the guts to "give it a go" and regular Americans admire a man with real fighting spirit too.

Washington, Farragut, Grant, Sheridan, Patton and Halsey would be proud to know that fine officers, such as Major Mori, who do not fear difficult tasks, still serve the people and the flag of the United States.

Of course there's a bit of shouting and shoving and swirling dust when free men and women speak their minds and stand up for what they believe ...... those of us who cherish liberty and impartial justice would not have it otherwise.


So what can be done?

1. Promote Major Mori straight to full Colonel. If the United States is to survive, it must have talented leaders ..... and Major Mori has demonstrated that he has that in full neasure.

2. Kick that high-ranking boofhead who tried to intimidate Major Mori straight out into civilian life and make him work for a living. Can't recall his name; an utterly forgettable coward. What sort of a gutless oaf would hide behind all the fine print of the Uniform Code of Military Justice instead of tackling Major Mori man-to-man if anything was said that offended his delicate ears? What a wimp! What a sorry excuse for an officer! Chuck him out before he disgraces the United States further.


Oh, by the way, we in Australia do have a regular and comprehensive legal system with roots that go back a few thousand years ....... and it is a legal system well experienced in dealing with crimes of violence, including terrorism and political assassination. It is a grievous unforgivable insult to Australia that the United States continued to hold David Hicks (apparently on nothing more than the whims of Mr Air-Guard-AWOL and three of his trans-Pacific sycophants).

He must be sent back to face OUR justice in Australia, whatever that may be.

12 February, 2007

social engineering and medical students

So we are expected to swallow the load of utter bollocks that there is no "social engineering" in the selection of medical students, are we?

If there is no "social engineering" then where the hell are all the Australian Viet-Nam War veterans who commenced studying Medicine in Australia AFTER Returning-from-Active-Service???????

Regardless of how many Returned Servicemen became doctors after the Second World War ...... there were only 2 [two] out of a cohort of 59 000 [fifty-nine thousand] identified as being ex-diggers who commenced study, graduated and became licenced to practice medicine in Australia after risking their lives in the Viet-Nam War ...... that's 1 in 29 500 ..... yet we are spun this nonsense that there is no "social engineering" in the selection of medical students.

There was certainly no lack of talent among Australian Viet-Nam War veterans - entry standards for the RAN, the RAAF and the ARA were exceptionally high; so high in fact that when National Service [= military conscription] was introduced, many university students failed to reach the minimum psychological and intellectual standard required for entry into the Army! Yet these war veterans were kept out of certain professions - such as Medicine - by very dodgy selection processes.

Many of these war veterans became registered nurses, ambulance paramedics and other health professionals so there was certainly no lack of ability to study difficult and ever-changing subjects and then to apply that knowledge successfully in their professional work; they dealt with emergency situations, conflicting priorities and complex ethical issues on a daily basis ...... yet only a token few were allowed to become doctors.

Read for youself the Letter-To-The-Editor in "The Weekend Australian" of 10~11 February 2007 by Bruce Robinson, Acting Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney

and journalist Janet Albrechtsen's blog and article in "The Australian" of 7 February 2007

Had Viet-Nam War veterans be allowed and encouraged to become doctors, many - if not most - would have gone to bush towns and Aboriginal communities so the shortage of doctors in rural and remote parts of Australia would not have reached the crisis we have today.

27 January, 2007

Australia Day knighthoods

Australians are lucky; we have three national days.

First, there is the quietest and most unofficial national day: Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day, it is the one day in the year when all Australians - regardless of their background - celebrate being Australians by doing all the things that define our nationality. It is also our unofficial Family Day; even for divorced families.

Then there is ANZAC Day, a day for solemn rememberance of those suffered and died, for our sakes, in war and in defence of the country. It is a day of mixed sadness and celebration for all Australians ...... and despite all the efforts of political and business interests to hijack the day for their own purposes and to enforce official control, it is a day that remains firmly in the hands of ordinary people and local communities (such was the effect on local communities of heavy Australian and New Zealander casualties in The Great War nine decades ago). In keeping with traditional Australian tolerance and a fair go, even former enemy who have migrated to Australia take part too .... and why not?.

And then there is the official national day, 26th January, Australia Day, which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet from England in 1788, a fleet made up of English "free settlers", military guards and "convicts" (petty law-breakers, English radicals, Irish and Scottish patriots and anyone else who annoyed the English aristocracy); their sudden arrival had a dramatic effect on Aboriginal Australians.

The government always issues an Honours List on Australia Day. It is the list of awards of the Order of Australia, and other awards, to those wonderful people who have done good work, often voluntary work, for their local community or for their nation or for humanity in general.

Sadly, along with all these well-deserved awards come outrageously undeserved awards to political and business buddy-pals - and everyone wonders why any scoundrel should get a prestigious award just for doing their grossly over-paid job or because they are in a mutual backscratching clique.

New Knighthoods were abolished in Australia a generation ago - but there are still old people wandering around with "Sir" or "Dame" stuck in front of their names.

I suggest we resurrect Knighthoods for really outstanding Australian ..... and here are my suggestions for 2007:

1. Terry Hicks. Father of Guantanamo Bay prisoner, David Hicks. No matter what his son did or did not do, Terry Hicks has shown himself a true knight - by his courage, his tenacity, his righteousness, his sense of duty and honour.
Terry Hicks has upheld the finest of Australian values in the face of all the nasty, dishonourable anti-Australia stunts by that miserable excuse for a prime minister and his gang of toadies.

2. Andrew Willkie and Lance Collins - who spoke honestly at a time when honesty was despised; who were patriotic at a time when Australia's political bosses were manifestly not so; who were professional in their conduct when others preferred to be crawlers and yes-men.


To balance these new knighthoods, lets's have .... say, Knavehoods or Dingo-Of-The-Year(=douche-bag).

I reckon the clear winners of 2007 Knavehoods have to be the Department of Defence officials who tried to cheat an injured Special Air Sevice Regiment soldier, Bill Kennedy, out of his entitlements by using rules that didn't exist!!! Anywhere else in Australia, you would go to jail for that sort of fraud against a fellow citizen!!!
No doubt these knaves are the same sort who tried to cheat Mrs Kylie Russell, the widow of SAS Sergeant Andrew Russell who was killed whilst On Active Service in Afghanistan. As well as Knavehoods for these boofheads, let's award them the Osama Bin Laden Helpers medal too.




08 January, 2007

America saved at last?

Over in the United States, Nancy Pelosi, a tough, intelligent, determined politician who was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth, has become boss-lady of their parliament. That puts her in straight line of succession to become President of the United States .... as soon as George W Bush and Dick Cheney are forced to resign or are arrested (and happily both).

Americans were happy to have an outstandingly competent president,
Richard Nixon, resign over fairly trivial matters, when compared with what the G W Bush regime has done and had failed to do, and be replaced by an upright skilled politician, Gerald Ford.

Americans nearly lost another outstandingly competent president, Bill Clinton, because a tiny bunch of peeping-toms and s**ually-frustrated perverts and fake holy-rollers where envious about what two consenting adults were said to have done in private - it was none of their d*mned business.

Yet these same Americans have allowed a couple of buffoons and incompetent crooks, absolute born-losers, to bring ruin and disgrace on their own country and well as imperil the entire West.

It's time for the American people to sack these two, before thousands more good Americans get killed because of their folly and their neglect -----
and to put a R E A L President in their place.

President Pelosi? Now that does sound good.

Great news. President-In-Waiting Pelosi has just visited Baghdad. All that is needed now is for those two resignations/impeachments/arrests to go ahead .... and that will happen as soon as enough Republican Senators and Congressmen put their loyalty to the United States of America ahead of their loyalty to a pair of scoundrels and born-losers.

25 December, 2006

Warning. Politically Incorrect

Notice. Warning. Alert. Caution. Beware.

The following statement may contain words and concepts which could cause offence to religious ratbags, terrorists, control-freaks, twittering dills and other vermin. If you are a member of any or all of the aforementioned groups please avert your eyes NOW and DO NOT read ANY further.




For everyone else, regardless of your religion, race or condition, or wherever you are, I wish you A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND PEACEFUL NEW YEAR.


11 December, 2006

Pinochet gone. Chi-Chi-Chi-Le-Le-Le.

Puppet president - murderer - thief - fraudster - torturer - thug - pal of Saddam Hussein (What? Don't tell me you forgot all about that cutting-edge artillery?) - the man who held Chile back for almost two decades - imitation soldier - failed national leader - incompetent bully - the devil who disgraced the Catholic Church - betrayer of Argentina .......

Thank God he has gone.

The ghosts of O'Higgins and San Martin must be rejoicing.

Satan can now reclaim his own ...... and may he rot forever in Hell.

09 December, 2006

Iraq truth endangers patriots

Those of us - Australian, British, American, Japanese, Estonian, Georgian, Bulgarian, Polish, Mongolian, whoever - who did our patriotic duty by offering good solid practical advise, wise counsel and constructive criticism when it became so tragically obvious that U.S. President George Bush and his clique did not have either the courage or the ability to defeat the terrorists and to pacify the insurgents should all rejoice now that the United States bipartisan Iraq Study Group Report has forced those in power to put their dangerous fantasies aside for the moment take a glance at the stark realities of what is really happening in Iraq. The Iraq Study Group Report shows a way forward that is an alternative to the whims and delusions of individual politicians.

There should be gratitude for those patriots who sounded the alarms and shouted the warnings ..... but the reality is that, in Australia and in the United States at least, there won't be. (The British, despite their loss of so many traditional liberties under Thatcher and because of the IRA and Islamist bombings, are still relatively tolerant of dissent).

Instead, the governments and their fanatical supporters in both countries will crack down on all those who tried to prevent or to alleviate the effects of the tragic series of follies, errors and blunders that got us into this mess.

They will never never never accept responsibility for their failures, their mistakes, their ignorance and their neglect .... but they will try to shift the blame elsewhere; it's always been the nature of such people to do so.

For instance, at the end of the First World War, those who went on to form the Nazi regime refused to accept the reality that their Kaiser Wilhelm II was incompetent, meddling and a bit loopy. They preferred the comfortable excuse of the "Stab In The Back" even though the German Army (and the KuK Austro-Hungarian Army too) was full of both Socialists and Jews who were dying in battle for their Fatherland whereas the advocates of peace actually came from right among their own social circle. They turned, with blind ferocity, on the Jews and the Socialists rather than face up to unpleasant reality and do anything practical to recover quickly from the effects of defeat and to get better results from the Versailles Peace Conference.

So hang on and get ready for deluge of lies, abuse, vilification, attacks, blame-shifting, misrepresentation and excuses from the greedy, the wilfully ignorant, the "arcade-game soldiers" and the incompetent who got us into Iraq and then "snatched defeat from the jaws of victory".


26 November, 2006

Long Tan, John Howard and Vietnam Veterans

Australia has been run by the Liberal-National Party Coalition under Prime Minister John Howard for the past decade. Despite it's name and its marketing, the Liberal Party in Australia has become anything but liberal. In recent years, it has alarmed decent citizens by trampling over our centuries-old traditional rights, protections, responsibilities and liberties - all on the flimsy pretexts of fighting evil and the enemies (both real and imagined) of Mr G.W.Bush.

Anyone opposing what the Howard government has done to Australia is condemned as a "Howard Hater". Gerard Henderson's Weekly Column of 7th March 2006 gives a polite description of "Howard Haters"

During his recent trip to Viet-Nam for the APEC meeting, John Howard visited Long Tan, near Vung-Tau, where there was a battle between Australian and Viet-Cong forces way back in 1966; he also visited a Vietnamese war cemetery.

Nothing wrong with that. 40 years on, it is appropriate for an Australian Prime Minister, wishing to cement good relations with a rising economic power in South East Asia, to visit both sites.

However, what disgusted me was the crocodile tear John Howard shed over the shameful way Australia's Viet-Nam War veterans have been treated in their own country.

What!!! Him???

A politician bunging on a mournful face during a photo-opportunity at an old battleground is one thing ..... but trying to spin-doctor him into someone concerned about Australian Viet-Nam War veterans goes way beyond the bounds of tolerance and credibility.

Wasn't John Howard the former Young Liberals boss who sailed into Parliament on a tsunami of fear that Australia was in grave danger of being taken over by The Communist Menace?

Wasn't John Howard the federal Treasurer during the Fraser government, where he had the power and the opportunity every day to remove all the financial penalties against war veterans trying to re-establish themselves in civilian life ..... and yet chose not to do so?

For instance, why hasn't John Howard come clean about what happened to resettlement loans for war veterans to start their own small businesses?

John Howard was a member of Fraser's Cabinet; he could have taken decisive action to stamp out the virulent anti-veteran discrimination in employment and in education .... so why didn't he?

In the decade since John Howard became Prime Minister, he has been portrayed as the great patriot wrapped in the national flag and passed off as the nicest pal of war veterans ...... and thanks to the image manipulating expertise of spin-doctors, I wonder how many gullible members of the public have the impression that Howard himself had military service (he did not!) ....... whereas he and his cronies have an ongoing disgraceful track record of failing Australia's war veterans and their families.

Visiting an old battlefield was fine .... Using that visit to deceive the public was not so fine.

No, I'm not a "Howard Hater" ...... it's just that I have much more respect for Nigel Nog and Charley Cong ..... they only tried to drive us out of their country, that's all ....

29 October, 2006

Children of Politicians not in Military

For many, many years now, whenever I mentioned the moral cowardice of politicians and other urgers in sending everyone else off to war but avoiding military service themselves, I copped a torrent of vilification

..... much of it from war heroes, men with distinguished military service..

Again, whenever I mentioned the Defence force (=armed forces) lacked the children of outspoken politicians, prominent public servants (=civil servants) and other well-known identities ..... [and yes, I am aware that a few such, like the son of Colonel and Senator Newman, have had military service] ..... I copped abuse and scorn

.... much of it from war heroes, men with distinguished military service ....

Yesterday, one of Australia's major newspapers, "THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN" October 28~29, 2006. page 7, columns 1 & 2., "No pollies' children in military", Roy Eccleston reported that retired Admiral Chris Barrie has asked whether the nation's politicians are more comfortable sending other people's children to war than their own.

I roared laughing when I read the last sentence of that article " The Prime Minister's office had no response to Admiral Barrie's comments". ...... and now, a day and a half since that edition of the newspaper hit the streets, there has still been no comment from all the "wardroom warriors" and "mess heroes" who had cracks at me about this over the years. Ha..ha..ha..

Anyway, .... WELCOME ABOARD, ADMIRAL .....

22 October, 2006

Hungary .... October-November 1956

It is now fifty years since the Hungarian Uprising.

And what an uprising it was ..... the great hopes and the bare-handed courage of the Hungarian people stood in stark contrast to the timidity and moral cowardice of urgers in The West and to the ruthlessness of the Soviet authorities.

We can all celebrate the bravery of the Hungarian people fifty years ago. They will go down in history and be an inspiration for generations to come.

15 October, 2006

Why Howard will ditch War Veterans

Of course he will ...... Why wouldn't he?

Despite all the dedication and the skill shown by the Australian troops themselves in Iraq, Australia's involvement in Iraq is becoming more and more unpopular with ordinary Australians. The public were well aware that going into a war without post-war plans (other than to make Bush and all the other scalliwags rich on "cheap oil") was an idiotic thing to do, regardless of how bad Saddam Hussein was. Howard and his mob have been the most enthusiastic supporters of Bush and his military gambles and follies.

No matter how justified the overthrow of the so-called "Taliban" regime in Afghanistan may have been, the way in which Howard's mob got us into - and keeps us in - Afghanistan is also becoming unpopular.

Our military involvement in Timor Leste and in Solomon Islands should have been a dream run for any politician but both are turning into political nightmares.

Then, to compound their troubles, there are all the scandals involving the Australian Defence Force and the Defence Department that have popped onto public view despite all the spin-doctoring, all the intimidation and lies and all the attempts at cover-up.

Even getting rid of that troublesome priest, Archbishop Peter Hollingsworth, as Governor-General and replacing him with a genuine Army Major-General hasn't helped a bit.


All in all, the excursions into military adventures by Prime Minister John Howard and his cronies, which started out so wonderfully, are now going horribly wrong. Only the feeble-minded and utterly gullible believe we are safer now because of Bush and Howard's failures.

Long before official reports were leaked and British and American officers spoke the truth about the real situation, ordinary Australians were well aware that there was a worsening credibility gap between what Howard's mob and the news media were saying and what was happening in the real world.

This set of problems, which would have been a challenge for a political leader who had actual experience of war and personal familiarity with military affairs, was exacerbated by the lack of military service of Howard and his cronies and their consequent dilettante approach to complex military and geopolitical issues; relying on the advice of experts is not enough if you don't comprehend what that expert advice really means out in the dusty noisy real world.

Since what started out as a terrific vote-winner has turned into something that will not only lose votes but put an end to the so-called Liberal Party itself. Military adventures are now seen as a LOSER! and the further Howard and his cronies distance themselves from them, the better will seem their electoral prospects.

Get ready for an abrupt change in political stance.

My guess is that Prime Minister John Howard and his cronies will unwrap themselves from the Australian flag so fast that they'll get carpet-burns.

Then get ready for rapid distancing of themselves from their bestest buddies - Bush, Cheney and that gang. Australia won't downgrade its relations with the United States of course but I'll bet the Chinese Ambassador will get fed up with being pestered day-in day-out by China's newest truest nicest pals.


So where do war veterans fit into all this?

Once more, they will become highly unfashionable.

And, given the so-called Liberal Party's disgraceful track record of spite and neglect, attacks on war veterans and on their entitlements will start up again.

War veterans - hitherto very useful for bolstering the prestige of Howard and his cronies - will again be seen as something to do with political failure.

It does not matter that the war veterans themselves had nothing to do with the political decisions that sent them to war; it is the perceived connection that is important even though such a perception is irrational.

For example. just look at the way the so-called Liberal Party, the supposed Anti-Communist political party, betrayed and cheated and maligned the Australian war veterans who had actually risked their lives in combat against real Communists.

They've got the template; they'll use it again.

Totally and Permanently Incapacitated war pensioners had better get ready for a whole truckload of lurid stories in the news media, especially on the shock-horror TV shows, exposing TPI "malingerers" who have "obviously nothing wrong with them"and who are "as fit as a fiddle". The inference being that everyone on a Veterans Affairs pension is an out-and-out bludger and deserves nothing.

Of course .... if you want to put an alternative point of view then buy yourself a TV station.

Naturally ..... if you want fairness and justice then be prepared to squander millions in legal actions that drag on for decades (for instance, look at the monsterous injustices committed against the survivors of the sinking of HMAS Voyager).

Not only would this help Howard and his cronies to shift blame for their own blunders and to distance themselves from perceived failure ..... but by turning many of the public against war veterans it will be so much easier to slash the entitlements of war veterans and their families, perhaps easier to abolish outright even more of these entitlements.

And , of course, the lack of unity of purpose among ex-service organizations as well as their ingrained fear of "rocking the boat" and of causing an undignified fuss would make the double-crossing of veterans so much easier to carry out.

As for the righteous expectation that no government would ever dare do anything so nasty to those whose lives were permanently harmed whilst serving their country, think again. Does anyone seriously expect ruthless political operators to be grateful or honest or kind?

Get ready, too, for valiant old Diggers, true war heroes, to be replaced in the news media by more convenient subjects for the Prime Minister's photo-opportunities.

It's sad ..... but again, the Bad will triumph and the Good will be vanquished.

14 October, 2006

North Korean Army - a modern-day Honve'dse'g in the East Asia grand strategy?

History does not repeat itself .... but there are patterns that do seem to recur.

What if we are all sitting on the brink of a cataclysm, such as faced the world in the summer of 1914?

If that is so then a coming together of unlikely forces is possible.

And taking that further, could the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army soon mobilize so as to protect and further China's interests? Perhaps then, a comparison might be made with the highly efficient, well armed German Army under Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Being strong enough and ready to fight a war alone is good but having well armed allies standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you is even better.

So, stretching the 1914 analogy further, it would be useful to China to have the Koreans as allies, with the ROK Army being like the Austro-Hungarian Empire's Landwehr and the DPRK Army like the Honve'dse'g.

And just for the hell of it, the Japanese Self Defence Force might be equated with the army of old Bulgaria or Roumania in this analogy.

(Of course the analogy falls apart when we look for a modern-day equivalent of the old Ottoman Empire ....... or does it?)

17 September, 2006

More of Australia's Heritage at risk

Over the years, I've had the good fortune to visit some of the world's great museums - the Smithsonian in Washington, the British Museum in London,
the National Palace Museum near Taipei and so on.

Since I am interested in Military History, I have visited, among many others, the Imperial War Museum in London, the Junshi Baowuguan in Beijing, the Heersgesichtlichen Museums im Arsenal in Vienna, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and the Yasukuni Jinja in Tokyo ((b.t.w., many of my own family members fought against the Japanese Empire; I had no qualms at all about going there)) .

Each of these museums has impressive budgets, outstanding buildings, researchers and curatorial staff of the highest calibre and, of course, the support of eminent and influential people (for example: the Friends of IWM
in London, Forum Viribus Unitis in Vienna).

Right over at the other end of the spectrum from these great museums are the community or unit museums, run on a shoestring budget by hard-working volunteers. They are museums that have usually started with a few people donating or loaning books, artifacts and memorabilia which they feel should not be lost forever and which they feel would interest a rising generation. More often than not, these collections are housed in old buildings; far from perfect conitions for conserving such collections but it is whatever housing for them that the local enthusiasts can afford.

Such a public-spirited group is the
Central Queensland Military & Artifacts Museum,
Bolsover Street, Rockhampton, Queensland 4700, Australia.

This small group has done a mighty job in bringing together an excellent collection for the public to see. Some of the collection was donated by the families of deceased service personnel, entrusted to the Museum by loved ones who knew that what was donated would be handled with care and respect. Some of the collection was rescued from garage sales and second-hand shops by dedicated members who selflessly used their own time, effort, money and fuel over several years to search for items to add to the collection. Display cabinets have been scrounged, recycled, repaired or whatever and filled with all sorts of irreplacable memorabilia. Models and dioramas have been created out of the most unlikely raw materials.

Although the main themes of this community museum are military, naval and air force, the displays are non-judgemental; neither war veterans nor anti-war activists alike would be offended at all by the displays. The memorabilia of former enemy are treated with as much respect as those of our own armed forces or those of our allies and neighbours. No political points are made, no ideology is promoted or despised - where items of wartime propaganda are displayed, they are done so without comment and simply show what things were said in those days. War and military service are not glorified or belittled; they are simply presented as things that have affected the lives of ordinary people.

All in all, this is an excellent community museum and a fine example of how a community's heritage can be saved.

The whole community too has appreciated the efforts of this small band of volunteers: When a Petition was given quite limited circulation for the acquisition of the historic and no longer used wooden barracks of the renowned 42 Battalion from the Department of Defence as a new home for the Museum, there were not dozens or even hundreds of signatories, there were THOUSANDS! Such is the respect these volunteers have earned.

Now this Museum, this priceless collection and these volunteers face a grave problem.

The Central Queensland Military & Artifacts Museum has been temporarily housed in the old Capricornia Electricity Commission office building ..... the building has been sold. The commercial reality is that they must move out very very soon!

Moving into the 42 Battalion barracks in Archer Park is the optimal solution ..... but a major problem has emerged: Over $ 400 000 (AUD = about $ 300 000 USD) in mandatory/compulsory repairs and associated costs is a bit beyond the resources of a small band of volunteers committed to preserving Australia's heritage.

Another solution might be having the Department of Defence donate the use of two of its steel buildings in the Weston Street Depot, Rockhampton, for the use of this military museum but non-military decision makers down in Canberra might fear a terrorist attack or have other compelling reasons and so they might prevent this happening in time. Yet another solution might be to make the repair of the historic 42 Battalion Barracks a week-long exercise (=manoeuvre) for an Australian Army Engineer squadron .......

What can you do to help this band of volunteers? I'm sure all suggestions (and donations too) would be welcome.

07 September, 2006

Moderation and dissent

Dissent is very welcome here. We cannot learn by refusing to listen to those whose views differ from our own.

I have just started this blog ......
Over the years I have made some rather nasty enemies and I have had my fingers burnt before. So, for the time being, until I gain confidence in dealing with real problems (as opposed to mere abuse) in this format, moderation will have to stay a little longer. The sooner I can get rid of moderation the better.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused by this to anyone who makes honest comment in good faith.

03 September, 2006

Australian Aborigines - justice and hope

I was going to write a long wordy piece about how we all would benefit from Aboriginal Reconcilliation .... but then I was upstaged .... and I'm glad I was upstaged .... because it was by NSW MP Linda Burney who presented the 7th Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture which was broadcast on ABC Radio National's "Awaye" program on Friday 1st September 2006.

You can find it at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/awaye/stories/2006/1721722.htm

There's a Transcript there or you can download the Podcast.

Brilliant. Anything I could have said would have been trivial by comparison .... so I urge you to read it or listen to it.

30 August, 2006

Farewell Don Chipp, a great Australian

A great Australian has gone.

I never met him face-to-face but he restored my faith in democracy as a real political force.

Don Chipp was a loyal member of the Liberal Party (Australia's major "conservative" and "pro-big-business" party); he became the Minister (= Secretary) for the Navy and later Customs Minister. Then, when his loyalty was repayed with treachery (nothing new for the Liberal Party) instead of skulking away to lick his wounds he struck back by resigning from the Liberal Party and forming a real alternative party, the Australian Democrats.

Don Chipp had a beneficial influence on Australian politics way beyond the mere number of votes and seats the Australian Democrats have won over the years. He inspired thousands of Australians to become engaged with the political process - no matter how imperfect that process may be - and to follow his example and ...... "Keep the bastards honest!"

Don Chipp will join the gallery of great Australians: Sister Kenny, Simpson and his donkey, "Weary" Dunlop, Henry Lawson, Bill Harney, Albert Namatjira, ....... Thousands of school students will write essays about him.

We are all the poorer for his passing.

27 August, 2006

Hill-Billies and Intelligence

The film (= movie) "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" is listed among my favorites. It was one that probably outraged some people but seemed to be a rare sympathetic portrayal of a section of American society usually held up to ridicule. The hero was shown to be clever, resourceful, dynamic, honourable, honest (well, almost), well-groomed .... and very lucky!

Many of us, outside the United States, grew up with the old Hollywood stereotype of Hill-Billies: lazy, deliberately ignorant, singing loudly but not particularly well, illiterate, racist, always drunk on illegal spirits (= moonshine), incestuous, dishonest, following all manner of weird fundamentalist cults and all-in-all rather stupid ....... not a very nice picture at all.

During my service with the Australian Regular Army in the Viet-Nam War, I had to spend several weeks in a U.S. Army camp, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of Yanks, among whom were quite a few Hill-Billies. There were indeed a few Hill-Billy soldiers whose interests did not go much beyond booze, fast cars, slow women and not much else above the belt but these were very much in the minority. The rest of the Hill-Billies seemed quite intelligent, perceptive, full of curiosity, brave, hard working, neat and tidy, open-minded, progressive, utterly reliable, interested in classical music and in serious literature, keen to use their GI Bill Of Rights to go to College, friendly to all regardless of race, with a good sense of duty and and a good sense of humour.

Years later, passing through a few "Hill-Billy" states in the United States, the rural poverty in some parts was obvious but I just didn't see anyone with two heads, unshoed, swigging whiskey out of rough jars; nor did I notice any child-brides with a herd of kids, dilapidated houses, rusty rifles or any signs of laziness and stupidity. There were houses kept in good repair with hard work and no money; there were vehicles still running well but years and years past their trade-in date. But not a stereotypical Hill-Billy in sight, not even one.

So ..... just what is the origin of this very unfair and nasty stereotype of Hill-Billies? What is its purpose? Why does it persist? Why aren't, say, Cajuns or residents of Brooklyn or members of specific Native American first-nations subjected to similar negative stereotyping? Is it anything to do with the Civil War of 140 years ago? Is there something shameful way back in history about which everybody knows but nobody speaks?

Just wondering, that's all.

26 August, 2006

Death Penalty for David Hicks?

Today, it was revealed that the Australian, David Hicks, who has been held, in contravention of international laws and conventions, at the notorious Bush Regime prison at Guantanamo Bay for several years, may face the death penalty.

He is an Australian and if he has a case to answer for his actions, then he must face justice in Australian courts; if he has no case to answer, then he must be set free immediately ..... no ifs, uts or maybes.

The excuse trotted out by the Australian federal Attorney-General for leaving David Hicks in the hands of the Americans is that he cannot be charged under Australian law ..... and leaving it up to the imagination of the dull, the stupid and the gullible to see David Hicks blowing up country dunnies all over the place if he was released from American custody. Yeah, right; you can just see that happening, can't you.

My own feeling, and that of many others, is that if David Hicks was charged with anything at all then he could be charged under Australian laws such as the Crimes [Foreign Incursions and Recruitment] Act but if he could be so charged then decency and compassion would call for such charges to be not laid or, if laid, immediately dropped. He has already endured American politically-ordered torture .... that is punishment enough for whatever he might have done. And we have neither seen nor heard any credible evidence that he has done anything wrong except to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The ordinary American public .... and especially Republicans .... had better get it through their heads right now that if David Hicks is a terrrorist then he is OUR G*d-d*mn m*tha-f*kkin terrrorist and WE will deal with him according to OUR laws so they had better start moving very smartly to have him returned to Australia and IN GOOD HEALTH too.

The David Hicks case has shown, in absolutely crystal-clear terms, the real contempt America has for Australia. There is nothing in the long history of friendly contact between the United States and Australia that has caused such widespread grass-roots loathing for everything American here in Australia that this case has. The news media can churn out as much propaganda as they like about how Australians would be happy if David Hicks were executed; such beat-up stories and faked surveys would be no more credible than any Communist propaganda.

The Americans are either with us on the side of justice and truth ...... or they are on the other side. It's their choice.

Hello. My initial post

After all sorts of delays, here is my first attempt at a blog.

I shall call in a few times each fortnight (= 2 weeks) to see if anyone has had anything to say so don't expect an instant response. After all, I grew up in an age when letters took a few days to arrive and a few more days for the reply to get back.

Be as robust as you like with any of your comments .... but ..... it would be better if you attacked the standpoint of somebody you disagreed with rather than the person themselves.

Taking an unpopular standpoint is fine (even if it is a standpoint that infuriates me) ...... but incitements to commit acts of violence will not be tolerated.

That said, if you wish to leave a comment, please do so.