Late news in Australia reports Saddam Hussein may have been captured in Tikrit. To be confirmed later as more news comes to hand. Update The report is confirmed by US military Intelligence. Time.com has the story
An article by Joe Galloway places the Iraq/Vietnam wars in perspective. To me, Joe Galloway is believable as he reported the Vietnam War from the bush and not some comfortable hotel in Saigon. He was at the battle of Ia Drang, the basis for the movie We Were Soldiers Once, and Young and now he’s covering the present Iraqi situation as the head military correspondent and a sydicated columnist for Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Streams, in Texas knows Galloway personally and I’m indebted to him for the link. Galloway starts; First, let’s examine the big differences. They don’t fight to unify their homeland, but to regain a brutal minority’s power over an enslaved majority. They have no Ho Chi Minh to put a kindly and photogenic visage on their campaign. They don’t have a China or a Soviet Union to pump in weapons and ammunition and carry the ball for them in the United Nations and internationally They don’t have the sanctuaries that afforded easy shelter and protection for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. No Cambodia. No Laos. It’s the similarities that make you sit up an notice. Go read the article here. It’s not too long.
Letters in today’s press
Regardless of the issue of weapons of mass destruction, what a glorious moment in history to see some Iraqis welcome liberation and celebrate the downfall of another despot. What have the French, Simon Crean, Bob Brown and the mob who run Greenpeace got to say for themselves now? Hugh Steele, Mt Barker, SAand
Where is Senator Bob Brown? Where are the “millions” of dead Iraqi citizens he so confidentially predicted would eventuate? How does he explain the jubilation and gratification on the faces of the Iraqis for whom the age of tyranny and repression is coming to a close? Nathan Gillespie Norman Park, QldThis letter from RDM Cotgrove is worth quoting in full
Putting civilian deaths in context REFERENCES to the war in Iraq frequently use terms such as “carnage”, “massacre” and “slaughter” to describe the number of civilian casualties. Last Tuesday night’s SBS news bulletin quoted the official figure after 3 weeks of war as 600 civilian deaths. These casualty figures need to be put into perspective. The authoritative 2000 World Development Indicators published by The World Bank compares demographic statistics for 1980 with 1998, the latest year for accurate figures. The period spans the time after Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq following a military coup in 1979. During the 1980-1998 period Iraq was one of a very few countries in the world where the infant mortality Rate (IMR), the proportion of infants who die before reaching their first birthday, and the crude death rate (CDR), the proportion of the total population dying during the year, actually increased. For the world as a whole, IMR dropped from 80 per 1000 live births in 1980 to 54 per 1000 in 1998, and during the same period CDR dropped from 10 to 9 per 1000 population. In Middle Eastern and North African countries (the Arab world) the rates dropped from 95 to 45 and from 12 to 7 respectively. In 1980 Iraq, with a population of 13 million and a crude birth rate (CBR) of 41 per 1000 population, had rates of 80 and 9 respectively for the two indices. By 1998, when Iraq had a population of 22.3 million and a CBR of 32 per 1000, the rates had increased to 103 and 10 respectively. Had Iraq, by 1998, been able to reduce its IMR and CDR to those of other Arab countries, ignoring the fact that in 1980 it outperformed them by considerable margins, infant deaths would have been about 32,100 and total deaths 156,100. Instead, Iraq had the appalling statistics of 73,400 infant deaths and 223,000 total deaths. The despotic reign of Hussein could therefore be said to be responsible for an extra 41,300 Iraqi infant deaths and an extra 66,900 total Iraqi deaths in 1998 alone, than would have occurred had the country performed as well as its fellow Arab states in these crucial indices. And this, despite Iraq’s significantly better performance prior to Hussein’s grab for power. Against these statistics the civilian deaths of the current war, 600, pale into insignificance. Hyperbole gone mad? You betcha! R.D.M. Cotgrove University of TasmaniaThis from Rosemary Neill in the Australian’
THIS week, a Sydney council rejected a development application for a Muslim prayer centre, partly because it was not “in accordance with the shared beliefs, customs and values of the local community”. On the eve of Christmas, it seems that praying is an affront to community values if your holy verses, your God, are not the same as those of the Christian majority.Good One. Rosemary. Another way putting it is “On the eve of Christmas it appears it is an affront to murder thousands of innocent civilians because my god is better than yours”. Rosemary, it is an affront to think like Islamofacists and until we, as a nation, are convinced that the ordinary Muslims in Australia are definitely, 100%, dinky di, cross my heart against the terrorists then excuse us for being just a little concerned. Praying is not an affront to community values but inciting people to join the jihad is. Particularly when it comes from the pulpit of Muslim prayer centres here in Australia and in other countries populated by us hated infidels. Give us a break, Rosemary, the people are frightened and would gladly exchange your politically correct , warm and fuzzy, BA (Liberal Arts) writings for a little security.
The latest deaths took to ‘X’ the number of soldiers killed by hostile fire since May 1, when Mr Bush announced an end to major combat operations. That is ‘Y’ more than were killed during the six week military campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. Is any one else getting sick and tired of this template? Fill in the figures to denigrate the soldiers service or to make Bush/Howard/The Great Satan etc look bad. How about: So far in the war against terror, in the Iraq theatre alone, 288 Coalition soldiers have paid the supreme sacrifice so journalists and editors are free to use their deaths to take cheap shots at Bush/Howard/The Great Satan. Update: From reader Kev Metcalf; Alternatively – “So far in the war against terror, in the Iraq theatre alone, 288 Coalition soldiers have paid the supreme sacrifice so that, on averge, x number (currently 33450) of Iraqis, could not only live, but live in relative peace and freedom”.
The Washington Post reports the US Senate has voted to limit US aid to Malaysia. The Senate voted yesterday to restrict military aid to Malaysia in response to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s assertion that Jews control the world through their influence over major powers. No link available without divulging your age and country so I’ve quoted the relative paragraphs in full Voting without dissent, the Senate amended its foreign aid spending bill for next year to make aid to Malaysia contingent on a determination by the secretary of state that Malaysia’s government “supports and promotes religious freedoms, including tolerance for people of the Jewish faith.” The secretary could waive any restrictions for national security reasons. The amount of money involved, $1.2 million for military training, is relatively small but constitutes the bill’s entire amount for Malaysia, Senate aides said. Mahathir, scheduled to retire this week after 22 years as prime minister, triggered an international outcry earlier this month when he told an Islamic conference that “Jews rule this world by proxy” and urged Muslim nations to unite to avoid being “defeated by a few million Jews.” His remarks were “dangerously wrong” and “play directly into the hands . . . of radical Islamic extremists,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the Senate yesterday. “This is not an issue of free speech. . . . His anti-Semitic remarks lend credence and legitimacy to the hateful messages of local terrorists [who] seek to sow mayhem throughout the region.” Fair enough.
Under the headline Brown blind to immoral reality Janet Albrechtsen continues to place Brown under a micriscope. Here is a tale of two Australians. The first is Special Air Service trooper Andrew Russell. The second is Australian Greens senator Bob Brown. They are a study in contrasts – duty v self-indulgence, the ultimate commitment to country v cavalier grandstanding. Russell died in Afghanistan protecting us from terrorists. Brown parades around on the fringe of politics trying to free two men who trained with al-Qa’ida. Russell will be remembered as a brave soldier, Brown as the epitome of the power without responsibility that defines fringe politics. Brown’s wearing of a photo of Hicks and Habib at his infamous day in the House further implicates him in dreamtime. The two enemy terrorists have been incarcerated for about two years now at the Guantanamo Bay resort for those who want to kill us westerners because we are and he feels they should be released. Well it ain’t going to happen. Janet says; Here are the facts so far. Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 by the Northern Alliance. He was schooled by al-Qa’ida in four terrorist specialisations – weapons training, casing, surveillance and ambush training. Before that he trained with the Kosovo Liberation Army and before fighting in the Balkans he was a member of a Kashmiri terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Toiba, also believed to have links with al-Qa’ida. Hicks has form. He did not hop aboard some Lonely Planet tour for adventurous under-30s. and on Habib; According to intelligence sources, as bad as Hicks’s record looks, Habib’s is worse. The Habib family claims that he was in Pakistan looking for schools for his children. But a spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told The Australian that Habib was in fact training with al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan before September 11. And even Habib’s wife concedes that Habib tried to raise funds from Sydney’s Muslim community for Omar Abdel Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. Yet Brown wants Habib and Hicks returned to Australia, knowing that no Australian law will keep these men off the streets. Why is it that the Left support these fools. Are they going to quote another freedom; Freedom of Association? Freedom to serve with associates that are trying to kill Australians like Andrew Russel. Remember these two were fighting with the Taliban, that group that beheaded women for adultry defined as looking at another man. What is it with the Greens? There are no freedoms that justify these sort of actions. There is no way to rationalize signing up to kill your countrymen. At the moment a vote for the Greens is a vote for the terrorists. Go that way if you must but remember when you do vote for them It’s not a vote for conservation, it’s a vote against everything that the 95% of Australians holds dear.
I find this article in todays Courier Mail (Brisbane) somewhat alarming. I hope I’m not the only person to find the last sentence a contradiction AUSTRALIAN Federal Police were investigating the capture of an alleged former Taliban army general who slipped into Thailand with an Australian passport, AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty revealed today. Thailand’s Sunday Nation newspaper said the man, identified only as Montegoro, was stopped by police in Nonthaburi province near Bangkok. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) denied the man, an Australian citizen who came from Afghanistan as a refugee in the 1980s, posed any security concerns. He’s a Taliban General entering Thailand on an Australian passport and he doesn’t pose any security concerns. Are DFAT aware the war against terror hasn’t been won yet? The same paper has an article headed Al-Qaeda threats for Oz A VOICE purported to be that of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has taken specific aim at Australia in a new set of threats broadcast by Arabic television station Al-Jazeera. Lets see now. Doesn’t Osama have some connection with the Taliban? Isn’t there an APEC conference in Thailand this week with mobs of world leaders pontificating? Poses no security alarm….mmm. And how come he’s still an Australian citizen? I wonder how many German and Japanese Generals had Australian citizenship during World War Two?
Mmmm. I’m not convinced. Todays Australian has this article that smells of cannonisation. Hey, I’d love to think that our local Moslem fundamentalists are different from the overseas variety but in my opinion the jury is still out. Australia’s leading radical Islamic cleric has revealed he was told of a planned terrorist attack in Australia only months before the Sydney Olympic Games. Sheik Mohammed Omran, the Melbourne-based leader of the fundamentalist Ahl Sunnah wal Jama’ah Association, claims he advised against a plot to bomb targets in Australia in 2000 and threatened to go to the police. Threatened to go to the police? An old friend of mine phoned a week or two ago and told me of a conversation he had with a young aborigine that started with the predictable ‘got a smoke, mate’ and finished with a statement by the young bloke about people of middle east appearance approaching aborigines in North Queensland looking for malcontents and others to recruit to their evil cause. My friend, coincidently of dark appearance thought he should talk to the police. I agreed emphatically. Of course you should…NOW!. The police took him serious and a four hour interview ensued. (if there is any outcome that can be made public I’ll mention it here later) That’s what one does when you hear of people talking about terrorism – not just threaten. Disable the bastards if you can and call 000 straight away. In interviews with The Weekend Australian, Sheik Omran’s followers said they would go to him ahead of ASIO if they suspected one of their group was planning a terrorist act. Wrong. On his current form Sheik Omran would only threaten to tell the police and time wasted threatening and responding could have fatal consequences. I can’t help thinking the article is an attempt to make the Shiek appear responsible and anti-terrorist. Sheik Omran says he does not support terrorism and claims he is a force for peace within Australia’s fundamentalist Muslim community. But he admits to knowing many people who have been jailed for terrorist activities around the world. These include his long-time friend Abu Qutadar, the suspected head of al-Qa’ida in Europe, who is under arrest in Britain, and Bashir, who is serving a jail sentence in Indonesia. Sheik Omran was recently named in Spanish court documents as having links with the suspected leader of al-Qa’ida in Spain, Abu Dahdah – claims which the sheik has denied. Watch him!
A tiny Scottish island distillery has been under observation by US agents. The agency had been monitoring the distillery plant and noticed one of the web cams were faulty. They reported that fact to the company! They said they had been monitoring our webcams because the process of making something very innocuous and pleasant is close to making weapons of mass destruction, apparently,” Mr Reynier said. The story sounds a bit iffy to me and one you would take with a grain of salt. Why, for example did the agency feel they had to put the distillery under observation to see if they were procucing WMD. Why didn’t they just front the company and ask to see the invoices for chemicals? It’s in Scotland after all, not Iraq. On a lighter note, Mr Reynier, the MD, abbrogates his responsibilities by using the word ‘innocuous’ to describe his company’s product. Having been a bagpiper for many a long year I can tell you whiskey destroys and you only have to go to a Highland gathering to see it’s ‘mass destruction’ capabilities. Anyway, just so you know I’m not making it up, check the article out here Update: This from an alert reader (see comments) The Bruichladdich Distillery in Scotland has decided to cooperate with the authorities and has provided the WMD inspectors with their own link. Scroll down to find it.
Debate about Kopassus being trained by Australian Special Forces brings out a lot of opinion based on less than serious knowledge. The Australian has an article on the matter in todays issue For those who think training them is stupid when we may have to fight them one day I would point out one fact. If we train them and later have to fight them then it will be a huge advantage. We will know before-hand how they will react to any given situation. Kevin Rudd claims we should be training police only in counter terrorist work; But Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd, who has just returned from Indonesia, said Australia had an alternative to working with Kopassus. He said the US Government, which had concerns about Kopassus’s involvement in the killing of US citizens in Papua last year, was building a counter-terrorism capacity within the Indonesian national police. He said it was devoting $45 million to developing a 300-strong counter-terrorism unit within the police force. “The (Australian Federal Police) has developed an excellent relationship with the Indonesian national police and it is the police that Australia should also be developing its counter-terrorism ties with,” he said. Kevin misses the point. In a society like Australia the roles of police and the military in counter terrorism are clearly defined. There is a role for both and it is based on overall role. The Army with its weapon and equipment inventory lend itself to resolving hostage/terrorist situations when all else has failed. They are in fact, the logical step after the police have failed with their less powerful inventory and negotiating skills. The Army are not known for negotiating but are known for reaching ascendency very quickly once the situation has degenerated to a do-or-die scenario. If we are to help Indonesia combat terrorism on the road to an acceptable democracy then we only have our standards as a guide. With that in mind it would be natural for Australian senior ADF/Polce officers to train both the Indon Police and Kopassus. I actually don’t think Kevin misses the point but he is politically obligated to have an alternative to whatever the Government suggests. The report mentions that; ….senior Australian military officials, including army chief Peter Leahy and special forces chief Duncan Lewis, have also visited Indonesia since June in a bid to smooth the way for a resumption of ties. I would point out that as well as being a respected Special Forces Officer and commander, Gen Duncan Lewis is also, like myself, a graduate of the RAAF Language School. When he negotiates it will be with the strength of being profficient in Bahasa Indonesia. Be assured, we in the military have been taking ABRI, and particularly Kopassus, very seriously since the late 50s early 60s.