Serious concerns arise from the manner of certain overseas engagements of Australian forces:
Firstly, that a Conservative elite is directing foreign policy and military engagements often against Australians’ democratic wishes;
Secondly, mindsets of errant soldiers in combat could hold that non-European civilians have lesser value and are acceptable ‘collateral damage’;
Thirdly, development of an incipient culture of non-accountability where possible crimes were not disclosed until incidents were raised by host governments or media leaks.
These issues are relevant as the Government reports that 46% of veterans experience mental disorders after discharge.
This writer posits that some cases could result from soldiers being trained to kill in wars not morally justified or following orders that didn’t assess means to avoid civilian fatalities.
This writer holds the highest regard for ADF personnel who risk their lives.
It doesn’t lessen their sacrifices that many analysts concluded Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War and Iraq Invasion was morally wrong.
Former PM, Kevin Rudd, argued that John Howard lied to the Public on the reasons for directing troops to invade Iraq and it was a ‘monstrous strategic mistake.’
The Allies’ invasion and occupation killed 600,000 Iraqis, displaced millions of refugees, and massively destroyed civil infrastructure.
Conservative leaders in Australia and the US disregarded the People’s democratic will and prosecuted the war.
600,000 Australians, including this writer, demonstrated against invasion plans and surveys showed a majority opposed the invasion.
Senator Andrew Wilke opined that Australian Iraqi war involvement caused the 2005 Bali Bombing that killed 20 people.
Lack of credible links between the 9/11 atrocity and US Congress authorising force against Iraq probably led to the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 88 Australians.
Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen – a persistent battler for veterans – in “Tucson Train” sings ”We fought hard over nothing/ We fought till nothing remained / I’ve carried that nothing for a long time.”
At the height of the Iraq War, he sang about ‘speculators’ who “made their money on the blood you shed.”
Australian leaders were often negligent in blindly following the US when its actions were blatantly wrong.
Australia is a multicultural society living amongst indigenous owners betwixt Pacific Islanders and Asian peoples.
Its values should respect differences, not based on an elite racial construct such as ‘supremacism’ which takes Roman imperial might as a model.
The Qur’an (49:13) informs that humanity is of similar standing and the noblest are the most pious.
Former Liberal Senator, Jim Molan, was Allied chief of operations fighting Iraqi Sunni patriots in Fallujah in 2004.
The civilian population was estimated at 30,000 to 50,000.
Alleged war crimes committed include use of white phosphorous against fighters, prohibited due to toxicity; use of thermobaric-high explosives to flatten houses on occupants including civilians, killing them by crushing and incineration; attacks on hospitals and ambulances forbidden under GC Article 8; and eye-witnessed killing of men under white flags and women and children in the streets.
Doran and Anderson’s 2016 legal assessment of ‘well-documented’ cases committed under Molan’s direct command believe he and senior government officials deserve prosecution for war crimes under Australian laws.
The Public awaits findings from the 3-year old inquiry led by NSW Judge Brereton into possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan.
Stories of Australian soldiers killing unarmed men and boys prompt concerns of a ‘drift of values.’
Many incidents were disclosed to Fairfax media and the ABC by whistle-blowers.
The Government must ensure that undisciplined killers within the Forces are prosecuted and ADF’s honour and integrity restored in line with Australian values of justice and the rule of law.