Australia joins parade of war criminals en route to war conference

March 20, 2003. Mass anti-war action as Australian people reject U.S. imperialist aggression in Iraq alongside people around the world.

Angus Campbell, chief of Australian Imperial Defence Staff, is billed as a lead speaker by the NATO-sponsored, US-organized ‘Halifax’ Imperialist Insecurity Forum (HISF) now underway. He is to speak on a panel on the Plenary 5 pabel: “Go Canada! Middle Powers Show The Way.”[1] 

An official inquiry has just confirmed Australian soldiers were involved in the unlawful killing of dozens of Afghan civilians.

It found 25 special forces soldiers killed 39 civilians in practices known as “throwdowns” where concealable weapons were placed on the bodies of those killed in order to photograph evidence to justify the killings.

The “whistleblower”, David McBride, a former Army lawyer and major in Afghanistan recounted what he had witnessed up the chain of command and was ignored. He then gave his story and documents to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC reported the “Afghan Files” in July 2017.  “The documents also provide fresh details of some notorious incidents, including the severing of the hands of dead Taliban fighters by Australian troops,” the ABC reported.

McBride has been charged with five offences including theft of Commonwealth property and the unauthorised disclosure of material to journalists after leaking documents about the unlawful killings of unarmed civilians in Afghanistan to the ABC media. He faces life in prison. For its efforts, the ABC’s offices in Sydney were raided by Australian Federal Police (AFP) and copies of files were taken from newsroom computers.

As a reminder, Tim Anderson, an Australian academic, comments “as we consider these shocking war crimes committed by Australian forces, let’s not forget Australian Air Force participation in the massacre of more than 120 Syrian soldiers at Deir Ezzor in September 2016, to assist ISIS terrorists.”

According to NATO’s website, “NATO and Australia have been engaged in dialogue and cooperation since 2005. Australia is one of a range of countries beyond the Euro-Atlantic area – often referred to as ‘partners across the globe’ — with which NATO is strengthening relations.” The website further says that Australia “currently provides support for NATO-led defence capacity building efforts in Afghanistan and has committed to supporting the new NATO Mission Iraq.”

In 2006 Australia is slated to join NATO, known to the world’s people as North Atlantic Terrorist Organization. In 2011 it agreed to host a base for 2,100 U.S. Marines in Darwin on its northern coast as part of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.”[2]

Without even the fig leaf of a resolution from the UN Security Council, the Anglo-American occupation of Afghanistan from 2001 to date set a new low in all the norms of human conduct that now pervades international relations. It signalled one of the clearest markers of the terrible danger that confronts humanity.

Australia like Canada was invited to Afghanistan by the United States. The war in Afghanistan was officially launched to avenge the attacks of September 11, 2001. Until then, Afghanistan had lost its strategic importance for the NATO countries, once Soviet troops had withdrawn and the pro-Moscow government had collapsed. The deplorable conditions left throughout the country helped facilitate the Taliban’s takeover. Only after 9/11, was interest in Afghanistan rekindled, when that country returned into the focus of NATO, because of a jihadist group now calling itself “al Qaeda” – the same jihadists NATO countries collaborated with in the 1980s against Soviet troops. The offer by the Taliban to turn Bin Laden over for a trial in a third country was rejected.

Australia and Canada participated quite conspicuously, not only in the occupation of the country, but also in the efforts to firmly bind Afghanistan to the West. The war, which was supposed to last two weeks, has been going on for 19 years. Regardless of the withdrawal of some U.S. troops, it is planned to last as long as possible until the winner is decided, all the while fanning the flames of strategic confrontation among neighbouring countries, so as to cause the complete destruction of a security balance in South Asia and in the long run, an Armageddon in the region. 

NATO occupying troops operate with impunity on Afghan soil. During their occupation of Afghanistan, Canadian Forces under the command of Gen Rick Hillier were alleged to be involved in torture of Afghan. Hillier infamously vilified Afghans as “murderers and scumbags.” On June 22, 20o6 Montreal newspaper La Presse reported on unedited footage broadcast on France 2 television that showed Canadian soldiers kicking down Afghan civilian’’ doors, making death threats against Afghan people and bribing others to try to get information about the whereabouts of Taliban soldiers. This has been swept under the rug to date. Hillier was Chief of Defence Staff from 2005 to 2008 and is now Chancellor, Memorial University in Newfoundland.

‘Halifax’ and Afghanistan

In 2009 Gen Hillier was a panelist at the first Halifax International Security Forum along with US Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates, the main speaker.

The HISF itself was inaugurated by Gates who arrived in his own plane, AirForce One style. Gates is a veteran expert in the dirty war and subversion. He was previously CIA director and incriminated in the criminal Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s.

In the opening session Defence Minister Peter MacKay, sounding like a yes man, stated, “We take great pride in knowing that Canadian’s contribution to transatlantic cooperation as a steadfast reliable friend and ally is recognised.” Gates lauded Canada as a “major contributor” to the Afghan war, for helping to “hold the line in the South before U.S. reinforcements arrived.” This followed the celebrated mini-surge that began in the latter days of the Bush administration, which was subsequently bolstered by Obama’s addition of another 20,000 troops. In line with the warmongering agenda of the conference, Hillier and U.S. Senator John McCain together advocated that “U.S. President Obama send in thousands more troops to establish security.”

In a panel discussion, Hillier avoided questions raised by a journalist of his personal responsibility for the alleged torture of prisoners under his command, as documented by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. He had told a Parliamentary committee the previous week that the process of turning over prisoners took “days, weeks or, in some cases, up to two months,” during which time nobody monitored what happened to the prisoners. He added that Canadian authorities also kept poor records making it almost impossible to trace transferred prisoners. According to Colvin, the Canadian military handed over six times more detainees than the British, and all of them were likely tortured while in Afghan custody. Members of the government denounced him as misinformed and a dupe of the Taliban.

Significantly, Gates further called in his speech on the Harper government to now play a greater role in “hemispheric security,” i.e., Fortress America.[] As part of the secret deal-making, MacKay and Gates signed an agreement on November 20 providing for the annual participation of U.S. Marines in the Nanook war games, beginning in 2010, in the name of “protecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic” – a peculiar concept of sovereignty! In parallel, that year Canada began to deploy warships to the Caribbean in the now annual “Op Caribbe” under control of US Southcom with the pretext of drug interdiction, established a military “hub” or base in Jamaica in 2011, and began working with the naval forces of Mexico in the Gomex exercises.

Former Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya speaks against the war at the rally in Halifax against the Halifax International Security Forum in November 2009.

Malalai Joya, a former Afghan parliamentarian and opponent of the occupation of her country, addressed the rally against the War Conference (pictured), and also spoke to a packed auditorium at Mount St. Vincent University that night. Ms Joya was refused entrance to the “security forum.”

Ms Joya said, “Democracy never comes by war, by fire of guns, by cluster bomb,” pointing out that thousands of innocent Afghan civilians were being killed on the ground by terrorists and warlords, and from the air, by the bombing of the NATO occupying forces.

“Many of the weapons and bombs used in Afghanistan, used against my people, are made in Canada,” Joya said to shouts of “shame” from the protesters.

“You have dropped two-thousand-pound large, Canadian-made bombs in my hometown which killed over 150 civilians, mainly women and children.”

War Criminals Are Not Welcome in Canada!!

From a Facebook post, November 19, 2020. This article was later published in TML Weekly, November 22, 2020

Notes

1.The panel included:

  • Artis Pabriks – Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence, Latvia
  • Harjit S. Sajjan – Minister of National Defence, Department of National Defence, Canada
  • Rachel Kleinfeld – Senior Fellow, Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Moderator – Lara Seligman, Pentagon Reporter, POLITICO

Along with Campbell, Australian participants included:

  • Rachel Durbin – Director, Future Force Lifecycle Engineering, Navy Capability Division, Royal Australian Navy. HISF Peace With Women Fellow 2019
  • Michelle McGuinness – Director General, Counter Proliferation and Terrorism, Defence Intelligence Organization
  • Rebecca Talbot  Chief of Staff, Supply Chain Branch, Australian Defence Force

The HISF also included General Mohammad Yasin Zia, Chief of Defense Staff, Afghan National Army.

2.The “Pivot to Asia” developed in 2012 was a new military strategy of the Obama administration, in which Joe Biden was vice-president, that targeted China both militarily by moving 60 per cent of U.S. Naval forces to the Western Pacific and economically with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) designed to isolate China from its neighbours, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In parallel, this entailed reduction of U.S. forces in the Middle East and the expansion of drone warfare and the use of proxy forces. Also directly related to the U.S. pivot to Asia is arms sales such as a new missile system in Asia, joint war games and interoperability of U.S. militaries and those of such countries as Japan (which is still under U.S. military occupation), Australia and India, in which the Canadian Forces are involved. To this end, Obama made two trips to India, the first U.S. President to visit India more than once. The U.S. Asia-Pacific Strategy is also aimed at the containment and control of other major powers such as Germany. The four powers of U.S., India, Japan and Australia are now referred to as the quadrilateral or “Quad.” Concerns over their intentions and the securization of the Indian Ocean have sprung up like mushrooms all across East and Southeast Asia.

In October 2020 The Washington Times reported that “the [Trump] administration recently floated the idea of developing the group [Quad] into an ‘Asian NATO’.” The Deputy Secretary of State of the United States suggested that the Quad could eventually become a NATO type alliance in Asia; at an virtual Indo-US Forum he said Quad was not “an alliance on the postwar model” but a grouping “along shared security and geopolitical goals.” The Quad also draws comparisons by Asian commentators to NATO. While the comparisons are divided, China negatively portrays the Quad as a precursor to a militarised Asian NATO.

Gavan McCormack, emeritus professor of the Australian National University in Canberra, writes:

“With the announcement that the naval forces of all four Quad states (the Maritime Self-Defence Force in Japan’s case) were to meet for the first time for war games (“Malabar 2020”) in the Indian Ocean in November 2020, the China containment project was certainly not to be ignored, even if India’s membership of the Quad is surely different in character from that of the two US client states of Japan and Australia, and it remains to be seen to what extent it will engage in NATO-like military alliance under United States direction.” (For a discussion, see Gavan McCormack, “Japan, Australia, and the Rejigging of Asia-Pacific Alliances,” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Volume 18, Issue 22, Number.

3..This followed after a year of inflammatory statements about Russian intentions in the Arctic, which were initiated by the Harper government immediately after 2008 August War. In that conflict, George invaded Ossetia on the same day as the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics incited by the U.S.and was thoroughly defeated. Earlier, in April 2008, both Georgia and Ukraine’s membership in NATO championed by the U.S., Canada and the UK had been blocked by Germany and France at the Bucharest Summit of NATO.

Postscript

On Monday, November 23, 2010 the Toronto Star revealed that “Retired Gen. Rick Hillier has been enlisted to chair the province’s new task force on the vaccine,” referring to the Ford government in Ontario.

“This is a military operation in the sense that the moment the vaccine hits our warehouses we want it deployed where it is most needed,” a senior government official said November 23. The appointment is rationalized on the basis that “Hillier’s expertise overseeing large and complicated operations will be required due to the storage challenges surrounding vaccines that must be kept at very low temperatures before being dispensed.” The Toronto Star heroized Hillier. “The outspoken Hillier was always popular with Canadians troops because of his morale-boosting ability to slash through bureaucratic red tape to secure modernized equipment for the forces.” Earlier this year, the Ontario and Quebec governments accepted the Department of National Defence’s proposal to be integrated into the public health system, in which it deployed several thousand troops into longterm residential care facilities. Using the pandemic to expand the role of the military in public life is an important preoccupation of the NATO bloc, as discussed at the Halifax International Security Forum over the weekend.

 

— WEBINAR —

FRIDAY NOV. 20, 2020 7:30 pm (AST)

To participate:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82134843237…

Passcode : 669926

— RALLY —

SATURDAY NOV. 21, 2020 3 pm

Halifax Peace & Freedom Park (formerly Cornwallis Park) Hollis & South Sts

noharbourforwar@hotmail.com

 

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