I write in response to the many letters regarding the alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, including the one from Colonel Gough (Letters, November 20).
Without condoning this behaviour, I am in full agreement that to fully judge these soldiers, one must walk in their boots to understand the environment into which they were sent. Australian troops had been killed by bomb-carrying women and children, roadside IEDs and other means. It was very hard for them to know who was a friend and who was the enemy.
I have been a veterans' advocate for many years and have heard many stories that are too awful to repeat in this forum.
One of my clients was an SAS soldier who had completed multiple tours in Iraq and then Afghanistan. He was diagnosed as PTSD during this period, but was still deployed again as a reservist to the area.
Yes, he was a volunteer, but surely the High Command of the Australian Army must take some responsibility for his and obviously other soldiers' welfare especially their mental state, prior to deployment.
As an epilogue to my story, DVA refused to grant him a T and PI pension because their psychiatrist claimed he could be cured. He left my office and I never heard of him again. I don't know if he is just another statistic.
These are the men and women we send into harm's way, and who suffer from the traumas of war forever, as has been the case for most of our history.
Dave Jeffrey, Farrer
Derek Gough (Letters, November 20) wrote of the complex nature of asymmetrical warfare in a distant, and very different, foreign country where the enemy wears "peasant garb".
The blunt truth is that every Australian should absolutely condemn conduct that constitutes war crime as reported in the Brereton Inquiry report.
Cold-blooded, premeditated torture and murder of civilians (including children) is unacceptable in any circumstances. It is morally wrong. It is illegal in international law. It defeats the stated purpose of being engaged in the first place.
The only "servicemen" who should be commended are those who have the courage and integrity to report their murderous comrades.
There is always a place for individual accountability. But this begs the bigger question of what we were doing there in the first place. It is again another of a line of military adventures instigated by politicians (without recourse to Parliament), all in accord with our alliance with the United States and its belligerent, global "pax Americana" operating since the end of World War I. When will we stop paying the premium in blood, money and human misery for increasingly dubious insurance when we have the sounder option of armed neutrality?
David Perkins, Reid
Editorial on the money
Your editorial "ADF's legacy of murder, torture and lies", November 20, p54) was spot on.
It beggars belief that the top brass didn't know of the heinous acts committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Years back the then defence minister Brendon Nelson was indignant and dismissive of any suggestions of wrongdoing by these individuals.
The old cliche that truth is the first casualty in war rings true on a number of levels.
G Gillespie, Scullin
Lay off David McBride
Despite all the evidence of horrendous atrocities in the Afghanistan war, so far only one person is facing criminal charges.
That person is David McBride, the man who risked so much to bring those dark secrets into the light. Without him the Brereton Inquiry would not have happened. He deserves our thanks and support.
Dropping the charges would be a start.
Tony Judge, Woolgoolga, NSW
In his last days in the bunker, Hitler railed against his armed forces for failing to deliver victory. He also blamed the German people for being unworthy of his leadership.
Accordingly, whatever happened to them was their own fault. Remind you of anyone recently?
George Beaton, Greenway
On Friday ("South Australia goes quiet for lockdown", November 20, p.21), you reported the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall, as saying: "The lessons of surging infections in Victoria ... have been learnt." Really? "All hotel quarantine workers will now be tested weekly". If the Victorian lessons had been learnt, wouldn't they have already been testing their workers?
And why only weekly? I'm no expert in diseases but I would have thought a seven-day gap was long enough for someone to catch the disease and spread it into the wider community before weekly testing uncovered the infection. Wouldn't daily testing be safer?
On the same page, you quote South Australia's police commissioner, Grant Stevens, saying that there was an unreasonable expectation quarantine workers wouldn't have lives outside their job. "Give these people a break," he said, defending their right to have a second job.
Is that the approach South Australia took when it closed its borders to Victorians, or when it imposed a 14-day quarantine period on those returning from overseas? No, those people had to make sacrifices in their lives for the safety of the broader community.
Shouldn't the same approach apply to hotel quarantine workers who are the weakest link between the highly at risk quarantined and the highly vulnerable general community?
Greg Pinder, Charnwood
Warden was right
For once, I find my self agreeing with Ian Warden ("US election result a vote for truth", Panorama, November 14). His assessment of what truth, fact and lies mean in this post-truth/post-fact environment should give us all pause for thought.
With the prevalence and influence of social and print media, internet and politics, it is difficult to distil what is credible and reliable. We seem to trust what we consider basic, known facts, but given the social media/internet world in which we conduct our personal and business lives, who really knows?
And where do our philosophical allegiances lie in determining what and who we believe and how we make our decisions? Add to that, the decline in our respect for and trust in our politicians and political and media institutions. We can be overwhelmed by it all; but let us not fall into a dangerous complacency, for the sake for democracy and society's mental health. "Res ipsa loquitur" (let the facts speak for themselves).
Angela Kueter-Luks, Bruce
Get it right
Please can we have a postal service fit for this 21st century? Please can we go back to five-day-per-week delivery? Please can ACT letters not be sent to Sydney for sorting?
A card posted in Rivett last Thursday morning was at the Sydney West Letter Facility at 19.02 on Friday and not delivered to Kaleen until Wednesday afternoon.
According to the internet one can walk from Rivett to Kaleen in four hours.
This "service" is unacceptable. It needs reviewing now, not in June 2021.
Judith Ballard, Kaleen
What is going on?
I just read a report on the Commonwealth Integrity Commission legislation making it easier for politicians to hide their bad acts. Is the name of this commission an oxymoron? People need to be able to see that their elected officials are acting with integrity (or not) and for the good of the people (or not). Reducing public scrutiny and accountability is not what good governance or the free press is about in this country. How dare politicians try to legislate against scrutiny. We need an integrity commission that will serve the people, not the powerful elected.
Linda Freasier, Deakin
Cristina Talacko ("Conservatives have a proud legacy on the environment. We need to do more," canberratimes.com.au, November 19) said "The conservative side of Australian politics has a wonderful environmental history to celebrate".
She admitted the Howard government's Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act did not mention climate change, and that "we live in a hotter, more unpredictable climate, with increased risk of devastating natural disasters". Her only reference to reducing greenhouse emissions was to note her little-known organisation "advocates for decarbonisation." Under the Howard government's Kyoto Protocol commitments, the average Australian caused almost 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2012. If the rest of the world had matched our emissions, global warming would already have exceeded the Paris Agreement's limit of two degrees.
Australians do indeed need to do more. More, that is, to persuade the rest of the world to avoid following our example on emissions.
Leon Arundell, Downer
To the point
The moral authority, integrity and willingness to accept accountability that was shown by Angus Campbell on Thursday was in stark contrast to that not shown by so many other leaders in our society in recent times.
P Dean, Bywong, NSW
"Australia is angry. If you make Australia the enemy, Australia will be the enemy," said no Australian government official ever. With (genuine) respect to overseas diplomats, mutually beneficial outcomes arise when you treat others as you would like to be treated. Non-emotive language is an easy and worthwhile place to start a constructive dialogue.
John Howarth, Weston
How fitting that one of the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia 2020 ("True Blue added to Sounds of Australia", 18 November, p15) contains the central basis of the PM's Ministerial Standards in a line from the Masters Apprentices song "Because I Love You" ... "do what you want to do".
John Gillies, Lyneham
Doug Hurst (Letters, 19 November) suggests the ALP's climate and energy plans would lead to "JobKiller". If he had an open mind he would know Australia faces exactly the opposite. Sticking with coal and gas over a transition to a world leadership position on renewables is what will cost jobs for future generations of young Australians.
Keith Hill, Tumut, NSW
TIME TO CLEAN UP
I think we should learn from the past. Before any decision is made to lock down or close a border authorities should distribute free toilet paper to residents so they celebrate with joy and happiness.
Mokhles k Sidden, Strathfield
TRUMP IS WRONG
Whose interest is Trump serving by blocking Biden's coronavirus team from coordinating with the White House coronavirus taskforce to better equip them to address the pandemic raging across the country? It's not the American people. Trump's leadership has been about Trump's narcissism and megalomania.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, Sydney
THE TRULY DODGY
I don't suppose there's any chance of merciless police raids on assorted federal and state ministerial offices, you know - the ones distributing community and sports grants, instituting robodebt, buying over-priced land, and shredding all documents in relation to such matters?
Alex Mattea, Sydney, NSW
Re: "Yoshi and ScoMo" ("Pivotal moment for Australia-Japan relations", November 19, p20).
How puerile. Another example of Scott Morrison's inept performance on the international stage.
Maureen Cummuskey, Hackett
The only thing panic-buyers have to fear is panic-buying itself.
M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
Are those who wear masks with an Australian flag design, literally lickspittles?
Eric Hunter, Cook
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