Thursday, October 21, 2010

We must look for a War Crime Tribunal

We must look for a War Crime Tribunal

Further to An Open Submission to Australian Parliament re Deadly and Tragic Misadventure in Afghanistan, 9/11 Truth and America's "Global War on Terrorism": The Pretext to Wage War is Totally Fabricated, Submission to Australian Parliamentary Debate re Afghanistan, Can America stop an Israeli 'nuclear' 9/11?, USA Must Quit Afghanistan Now, Osama bin Laden! Guilty or Innocent?, Osama bin Laden to Slaughter the Arabs and Muslims, Afghanistan! A Graveyard of Western Prejudice and Bigotry?, Afghanistan! Another Ancient Crusade of Our Time!, Afghanistan to Dickensian England! What Do You Think About It? and Afghanistan is Good below should be included in the long overdue Parliamentary debate.

Please remember, silencing the truth and murdering the free speech won’t help anyone.

We must look for a War Crime Tribunal.

Shifting reasons for being at war

Scott Burchill

October 22, 2010

We invaded to get Osama bin Laden, ousting the Taliban was an afterthought.

"We went to Afghanistan to make sure it would never again be a safe haven for al-Qaeda."

- Prime Minister Julia Gillard, statement to Parliament, October 19, 2010

NO WE didn't. In early October 2001, shortly after the terrorist assaults which became known as 9/11, the United States demanded the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden, whom Washington suspected - but could not prove - had planned and financed them. The Bush administration claimed the Taliban was harbouring al-Qaeda's leaders.

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said he would consider the request, and asked Washington to pursue formal extradition proceedings with accompanying evidence of bin Laden's responsibility for the attacks - normal practice under international law.

No evidence was produced by Washington because, at the time, none was available. Nothing conclusive had appeared by June the following year, eight months after the bombing of Afghanistan had begun. Following the most intensive criminal investigation in history, the FBI was unable to definitively say who was responsible for 9/11, claiming it "believed" the attacks had been hatched in Afghanistan, and that planning had occurred in Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

The initial justification for the war, therefore, was the Taliban's "refusal" to hand over bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda officials, despite the absence of credible evidence upon which to secure an extradition. It was not to prevent Afghanistan remaining a safe haven for terrorists.

Washington's departure from international law was more notable given its own history of refusing to extradite or prosecute accused terrorists enjoying a safe haven on American soil. Two examples, of many, will suffice.

Haiti has repeatedly asked Washington to extradite Emmanuel Constant, leader of the paramilitary group FRAPH which murdered thousands of Haitians throughout the 1990s. Constant found a safe haven in New York City because the US refused to even respond to Haiti's request after it was presented with compelling evidence of his crimes.

Orlando Bosch, a former Cuban who found a safe haven in Florida, was charged with 30 acts of terrorism by the FBI dating to 1968, the most notorious being when he blew up a Cubana de Aviacion passenger plane in October 1976. All 73 passengers were killed. The Justice Department under George Bush snr supported his deportation, as requested by Havana. Bush not only ignored Cuba's extradition request, but granted Bosch a presidential pardon at the request of his son, Florida governor Jeb Bush.

International law may not have ruled the day, but hypocrisy and double standards certainly triumphed. Perhaps Haiti and Cuba should consider invading the United States on the same principle established by Washington in 2001.

Three weeks after the bombing of Afghanistan had commenced, the goals of the mission suddenly and significantly changed. Its pretext was retrospectively adjusted.

In what may have been an unintentional admission, then chief of British defence staff Admiral Michael Boyce declared that the "squeeze will carry on until the people of the country themselves recognise that this [bombing campaign] is going to go on until they get the leadership changed".

In other words, the West will continue to bomb you until you remove the Taliban from power, even though many of you have actually been trying to accomplish precisely this objective for a number of years, and we acknowledge you can't do it unaided anyway.

Unfortunately for the people of Afghanistan, Boyce was deceiving them. The bombing has continued for nine years after the Taliban was toppled from power.

It is worth noting that three weeks after the bombing began in October 2001, 1000 Afghan leaders met in Peshawar, Pakistan. All were committed to overthrowing the Taliban and all opposed US air raids. Their pleas were ignored by the West.

The invasion was not undertaken to remove the Taliban from power. That was an afterthought, added weeks after the campaign had begun. The shift of aims is crucial in explaining the subsequent confusion of mission goals and the failure to achieve anything approaching "success".

Nine years later, this shift has been largely forgotten. The conflict morphed into a war against the Taliban - to deny terrorists, who had left the country, a safe haven. Despite Julia Gillard's speech to Parliament this week, this was not the war's original justification.

Scott Burchill is a senior lecturer in international relations at Deakin University.

--- In, "Biplobi Faruque" wrote:

John Howard and this trigger happy criminal blackmailed us in this war in the first place.


We can't win the Afghan war: it's time to talk to the Taliban, Downer says


October 19, 2010

THE former foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says the original aim for invading Afghanistan has been achieved and a political settlement with the Taliban is the best way to effect a speedy withdrawal of Australian and international troops.

Writing in the Spectator Australia magazine on the eve of today's parliamentary debate on the nine-year war, Mr Downer says maintaining the status quo will achieve only incremental improvements in security and governance and outright military victory is ''impossible''.

Boosting troop numbers, a solution fleetingly proposed by the Coalition in recent weeks, would help, Mr Downer says, ''but it wouldn't make the Afghan government less corrupt and more competent and it wouldn't reduce the Taliban guerillas to nothing''.

Mr Downer was the foreign minister in the Howard government, which sent the troops to Afghanistan in support of the US after the terrorist attacks of September, 11, 2001.

He says the initial military aim of destroying al-Qaeda in Afghanistan has been achieved and ''now is the time for diplomacy and political negotiation''.

Mr Downer says the Taliban is part of the political environment in Afghanistan. He likens it to the IRA in Northern Ireland. The conflict there ended where the IRA's political arm, Sinn Fein, was made part of the political process.

Launching the debate in Parliament today, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, will reaffirm their respective commitments to the mission which is now defined as training Afghan security forces, a task that is expected to take another two to four years.

But backbenchers on both sides were preparing yesterday to speak out or at least question the endgame of a war that has cost 21 Australian lives.

The Liberal MP Mal Washer told the Herald yesterday that Afghanistan was ''a lost cause'' and it was unfair to train soldiers and police when there was no surety about who would end up governing the country.

A Labor MP who did not want to be named said many would use the debate to express concerns. ''It's a good opportunity to raise questions of when it's going to end and what we are achieving,'' the MP said.

Mr Downer says if and when a political compromise with the Taliban is negotiated, there would be a need for some US forces to remain to prevent al-Qaeda re-establishing itself