A common right-wing perception is that one either is, or is not, a member of David Hicks’ “cheer squad”. Chris Merritt, reviewing this book in the October 22 Australian, actually referred to a Hick’s “cheer squad”. Merritt lamented: “The whole appalling story of his treatment by the US military commission would be trotted out.” Trotted out? A clever way to admit that what Hick’s says is true, but at the same time trivialise the details. I am not sure what Hicks’ personal views have been on a number of issues, and not addressing them is perhaps a weakness of the book.
Open letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, cc Julian Assange, Wikileaks Anti-war activists salute Wikileaks’ courage and determination in exposing the lies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ruthlessness with which the biggest imperial power — the US — seeks to maintain its global dominance. We believe that Julian Assange and his colleagues’ unremitting efforts in shedding light on the truth about these wars provides vital and valid documents for anti-war and human rights activists in Australia and across the globe in the struggle against unjust wars and occupations.
Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange have made some powerful enemies. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accused Wikileaks of putting the world in danger and Australian PM Julia Gillard has said its activities are illegal. In the US, Wikileaks has been denounced as a terrorist organisation and there have been calls for Assange to be either prosecuted, kidnapped or simply assassinated.
A magistrate at the Geelong Magistrates Court dismissed the charges against nine peace activists on November 29. The activists had blocked the road to Swan Island Defence Training Facility in Queenscliff on June 16. The activists — Jessica Morrison, Julie Moyle, Trent Hawkins, Mitch Cherry, Tom Beattie, Shane Anderson, Dave Fagg, Ellen McNaught, Leesl Wegner — were charged with hindering police and obstructing a road. On June 16, the court dismissed charges against four activists who entered the base in March and shut off equipment.
• A secret, US-backed operation had started to remove enriched uranium spent fuel from a Pakistani nuclear reactor research facility. • The US, Israel and several Middle East countries collaborated to isolate and threaten Iran, and several European countries were revealed to be holding US-owned nuclear weapons on their soil.
The Israeli government agreed “in principle” on November 17 to withdraw from the northern part of Ghajar, a village in the occupied Golan Heights. The village was conquered by Israel in 1967, during the six-day war. In 2000, Ghajar was split in two. The northern part was to be controlled by Lebanon, the southern part by Israel. The southern part of Ghajar was deemed by the United Nations (UN) to be a part of the Golan Heights, Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
Tough talk by the warmongers at the November 20-21 NATO conference in Lisbon, Portugal, obscured the growing opposition in the US and Europe to the nine-year occupation of Afghanistan. Ten thousand people took to the streets of London on November 20 to protest the war. Angry at the British government’s recent cuts to services and pensions, many carried “Cut war not welfare” placards.
Afghan feminist and anti-war activist Malalai Joya urged 400 people at the University of Technology Sydney to get the Australian government to pull the troops out of her country. The Afghan people were capable of winning against the fundamentalist warlords, but not while Western occupying troops rehabilitated the Taliban, she said.
Remembrance Day, on November 11, was celebrated again this year in the Australian media with pictures of red poppies and flag-draped coffins and historic photos of Australian soldiers who gave “the ultimate sacrifice” from the human-made wasteland of Flanders to the stony deserts of Afghanistan. Paying tribute to the ten soldiers killed this year in the long war in Afghanistan, Governor-General Quentin Bryce said that Australians were good at remembering: “We seem to know what we ought to hold onto and what is best let go.”
The US has stepped up flights by pilotless drones and increased the deployment of special forces and CIA operatives in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen. The US military and CIA have been covertly operating in Yemen since at least 2002. The November 7 Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying that drones operating over Yemen now included Hellfire missile-equipped Predators. The article said that “up to 100” extra US “Special Operations force trainers” and an unspecified number of “additional CIA teams” were being deployed.