Green Left Weekly's $250,000 Fighting Fund: Obama/Rudd — how many kids did you kill today?

February 28, 2009

Do you think this headline is too harsh? Do we still need to give these politicians time to act the way many hoped they would?

The parents of the innocent children being killed every week by US air strikes or Australian dawn raids on desperate and dusty villages in Afghanistan wouldn't think so. Just more "collateral damage"? Are we going to buy that?

Are we going to buy PM Kevin Rudd and US President Barack Obama's claim that this is the "good war"? Or do we agree with Pakistani-born writer Tariq Ali's blunt assessment: "Imperialism may have acquired a human face, but has to be judged on its actions."?

Put yourself in the shoes of a parent who has just lost their young children at the hands of an occupying army.

Hold onto this feeling while deciding whether or not it is time to see whose side these two politicians are on.

People choose sides and take the consequences. Two weeks ago, I visited a military prison in Manila to meet several rebel Filipino army officers detained for the last three years for alleged mutiny — potentially a shooting offence, if they are convicted.

"I admit we decided to side with the people against the illegitimate and corrupt government", one of these rebels explained with the quiet firmness of deep conviction. "But I did not commit any crime because the constitution of the Philippines says that the armed forces have the duty to defend the people, though this government is trying to remove this from the constitution."

Every country's constitution should have such a duty enshrined in it. But whether it is there on paper or not, every soldier has the moral right to refuse to be used as an instrument to oppress people. And as the endless reports of more and more civilian deaths and injuries emerge from Afghanistan, perhaps we will see a repeat of what happened in the US occupation army in Vietnam: the growth of "GI resistance", the refusal to obey wrong orders and even soldiers shooting their officers.

Green Left Weekly is going to live up to its reputation as a weapon for the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement. We promise to tell the uncomfortable truth about Afghanistan and Iraq. We promise to bring the massacres out of the obscure columns to which the mainstream press has slyly banished them.

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