Independent Andrew Wilkie won the Tasmanian seat of Denison at the recent federal elections. Previously, the seat had been held by Duncan Kerr for 23 years and was considered a safe Labor seat. Wilkie came to prominence in 2003 when he resigned from his job at the Office of National Assessments in public protest against the then Liberal/National Coalition government's decision to invade Iraq. The invasion was based on the claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a claim that later proved false.
On July 21, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published an interview with Donald Perera, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Israel. Perera, the former Sri Lankan Air Force commander and Chief of Defence Staff, thanked Israel profusely for its support in the fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
“We won. It’s over, America. We brought democracy to Iraq.” Those were the words of a soldier from the 4th Stryker Brigade, supposedly among the last US combat soldiers to leave Iraq, quoted in the August 20 www.DailyMail.co.uk two weeks ahead of President Barack Obama’s August 31 deadline for withdrawal. The Obama administration is claiming the withdrawal of combat soldiers represents a new day for the country. “Politics, not war, has broken out in Iraq”, US Vice-President Joe Biden told an August 23 convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, www.CSMonitor.com said that day.
The Obama administration seems to believe that the president has the authority to order the assassination of anyone, including US citizens, if they meet certain as-yet-undisclosed criteria. One US citizen, accused terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, has been widely reported to be on a US government “kill list” — making him just one of several US citizens the government is reportedly trying to kill without charge or trial.
August 19 marked 91 years since Afghanistan gained its freedom from the British Empire, following three bloody wars of independence. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a video statement to mark the occasion. It’s worth watching, if only to appreciate the new Empire’s irony-laden platitudes. In her greetings of “friendship”, Clinton wished Afghans a “happy and safe Independence Day”. She said: “On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I want to congratulate the people of Afghanistan on 91 years of independence.
On July 26, Wikileaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday in Ireland and Basra in Iraq, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name.
The death of Lance-Corporal Jared Mackinney in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan on August 25 brought the death toll of Australian soldiers to 21 — 10 of whom have died since June. Mackinney was the third Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan in four days. Defence minister Senator John Faulkner defensively admitted at a media conference the same day that Australians are increasingly questioning the near nine-year old war.
Thousands of people took part in a demonstration and formed a human chain in the main avenues and plazas of Caracas on August 7. This action, initiated and promoted by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), was a show of support for peace in the Latin American region and friendly relations between the peoples of Colombia and Venezuela.
On August 13, nine leading British medical experts wrote an open letter to the Times calling for an inquiry into the alleged suicide of whistleblower Dr David Kelly in July 2003. The 59-year-old scientist, the world’s leading expert in biological and chemical weapons, died shortly after being exposed as the source of a leak to the BBC suggesting that the British government had deliberately “sexed up” military intelligence about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.
The cover of the August 9 edition edition of Time magazine featured a shocking picture of Bibi Aisha, a young woman whose nose and ears had been cut off. The photo was accompanied by the headline: “What happens if we leave Afghanistan”. However, what happened to Aisha took place in Afghanistan under Western occupation. In return for allowing Time to publish her photo, Aisha was flown to the US for reconstructive surgery. However, although Time ensured her mutilated face was seen worldwide, they appear less keen for her voice to be heard.