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Published: Tamil Justice

Link to article: http://tamiljustice.com/2009/10/24/rudds-indonsian-solution-is-craven/

Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia solution is craven. It is an abrogation of the ideals which built this nation. It is mean spirited. If we cannot offer protection to desperate people within the terms of International Treaties to which we are a signatory and which have been incorporated into Australian Law, we have fallen a long way.

Rudd’s decision will come to haunt him. He led us to believe that we could expect better, that this nation could be better. He has disappointed the people whose support he needs most – decent, fair-minded and balanced Australians.

He and the rest of us will rue the day he handed our near neighbour a club with which to beat us over the head when the relationship descends into one of its periodic lows.

As a young Australian officer serving in Greece in 1941, Jo Gullett observed, “Next morning Greek civilian refugees began to pass through our lines, heading south. Refugees is an impersonal word. These were people. It was the first time we had seen the direct effect of war on a civilian population. We had heard and read about it but that is not the same thing at all…Almost without exception they were exhausted…and we could not help wondering how they would survive away from their few olive and fruit trees, their goats, and their vegetable patches, on all of which they depended for subsistence. Yet they never reproached us…”

Jo Gullett went on to win the Military Cross in 1943. He became a member of The House of Representatives in 1946 and Ambassador to Greece in 1965. His father Sir Henry Gullett, former AIF Gunner and war correspondent became Minister for External Affairs in 1939 and was killed in an air crash in 1940.

Could we not see with Gullett’s eyes when we look upon Tamil’s, Afghans and other refugees seeking our compassion, understanding and support. They are appealing to our better nature or is it lost, have we become too selfish to notice, as Gullett did, their plight?

Bruce Haigh speaks to Sabra Lane for The World Today. In a piece titled ‘Tuckey’s terrorist claims vindicated’, Bruce questions if Tuckey is overestimating the threat:

Overestimating the threat?
The Australian Government has considered listing the Tamil Tigers as a banned terrorist group several times and has declined to do so without explaining why.

Bruce Haigh, a political commentator who has served as an Australian diplomat in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, also says the Tamil Tigers should not be classified as terrorists.

“What does Wilson [Tuckey] think they will do if granted the right to live in Australia? Blow up the local post office, police station or shock horror, a pub?” he asked.

“It should not come as a surprise to learn that there are former members of the LTTE living in Australia and that they are now engaged in one or other of the professions and raising successful children.”

Mr Haigh says there are also Sinhalese living in Australia, who were involved with military and security organisations in Sri Lanka, “the sole aim of which were to kill, sometimes through murder, members of the Tamil community”.

He says Australia sided with the Sri Lankan government in its civil war, subsequently viewing the Tamil Tigers as terrorists, but that it was a war in which terrorist tactics were used by both sides.

“Australia ended up supporting one side in a civil war when it should have been neutral and even handed,” he said.

“That does not mean that Australia should continue to demonise Tamils.

“Elements in the AFP [Federal Police] might like to hear Wilson in action on LTTE terrorists, but other intelligence agencies are more sanguine and circumspect in their analysis of the threat posed by former members of the LTTE stepping onto Australian soil.”

Published: Australian Financial Review

Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia solution is craven. It is an abrogation of the ideals which built this nation. It is mean spirited. If we cannot offer protection to desperate people within the terms of International Treaties to which we are a signatory and which have been incorporated into Australian Law, we have fallen a long way.
Rudd’s decision will come to haunt him. He led us to believe that we could expect better, that this nation could be better. He has disappointed the people whose support he needs most – decent, fair-minded and balanced Australians.

He and the rest of us will rue the day he handed our near neighbour a club with which to beat us over the head when the relationship descends into one of its periodic lows.

As a young Australian officer serving in Greece in 1941, Jo Gullett observed, “Next morning Greek civilian refugees began to pass through our lines, heading south. Refugees is an impersonal word. These were people. It was the first time we had seen the direct effect of war on a civilian population. We had heard and read about it but that is not the same thing at all…Almost without exception they were exhausted…and we could not help wondering how they would survive away from their few olive and fruit trees, their goats, and their vegetable patches, on all of which they depended for subsistence. Yet they never reproached us…”

Jo Gullett went on to win the Military Cross in 1943. He became a member of The House of Representatives in 1946 and Ambassador to Greece in 1965. His father Sir Henry Gullett, former AIF Gunner and war correspondent became Minister for External Affairs in 1939 and was killed in an air crash in 1940.

Could we not see with Gullett’s eyes when we look upon Tamil’s, Afghans and other refugees seeking our compassion, understanding and support. They are appealing to our better nature or is it lost, have we become too selfish to notice, as Gullett did, their plight?

There may well be former members of the LTTE on vessels bringing asylum seekers to Australia. The LTTE were, after all, the fighting component of one side in a no holds barred civil war in Sri Lanka over the past 35 years.

It was a war in which terror was deployed by both sides, although there is something about state terror which is inherently more evil. I think it is the cold and calculating nature of state sponsored retribution which sees individuals disappear off busy streets and abducted from homes by people who are sworn to uphold the rule of law.

Wilson Tuckey has blown the dog whistle on LTTE terrorists arriving in Australia by boat. Wilson has reason to make a lot of noise, his parliamentary career has been less than a success, with his sacking by John Howard as a Minister a fair indication of his character and ability. He has not many runs on the board and his electorate are sick of him. He is well aware that he can expect some stiff competition at the next election. But Wilson’s views count for little with the exception of the Canberra parliamentary media, who, mostly bored to death, enjoy a stir from a colourful character, Barnaby Joyce included.

Elements in the AFP might like to hear Wilson in action on LTTE terrorists, they may have geed him up, but other intelligence agencies are more sanguine and circumspect in their analysis of the threat posed by former members of the LTTE stepping onto Australian soil. What does Wilson think they will do if granted the right to live in Australia? Blow up the local Post Office, Police Station or shock horror, a Pub.

It should not come as a surprise to learn that there are former members of the LTTE living in Australia and that they are now engaged in one or other of the professions and raising successful children. It should also come as no surprise that there are Sinhalese living in Australia who were involved with military and security organisations, the sole aim of which were to kill, sometimes through murder, members of the Tamil community.

Australia has sought good relations with all of its regional friends and neighbours which is a most commendable foreign policy objective. Problems arise however, when the plain talking that should form a part of friendship is not employed in the face of poor behaviour. Australia was able to castigate South Africa over the policy of apartheid but not Indonesia over abuse of human rights in East Timor and not Sri Lanka over the treatment of Tamils. Consequently Australia ended up supporting one side in a civil war, when it should have been neutral and even handed.

Unfortunately, although understandably, it is mostly easier for governments to conduct government to government relations than try and deal with the invariably bush based other side in a civil war.

That does not mean that Australia should continue to demonise Tamils. The Sri Lankan government monopolised the propaganda war that ran along with the military conflict.

Some media representatives and some elements of the Australian security community have chosen to listen to Sinhalese operative Rohan Gunaratna.

Employed by the Sri Lankan government in 1984, the year in which the civil war started, Gunaratna was involved in disruption activities being run against the Tamils. It would be surprising if he were not aware of the disappearances of Tamils off the streets. Born in 1961, his CV is sparse on detail until 1987. Some sources have him working for the Sri Lankan government at least to 1994.

In 1987 Gunaratna became a student in Finland, claiming to be a recipient of an untraceable Australian-Europe Award to study American-Australia diplomatic and security cooperation; an interesting topic to undertake from Finland.

The Sinhalese, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) organisation became active once again in 1987 targeting government institutions, police and army personnel involved in counter-insurgency activities. Indeed Gunaratna has written a book about the abortive Marxist/Nationalist uprising.

Following 9/11 Gunaratna shot to prominence, with some masterly promotion, as a self proclaimed terrorism expert which at that time there were very few.

He got into the ear of US based think tanks, including the Rand Corporation, mainstream intelligence organisations and officials of the Bush Administration. He also got into the ear of the AFP, although ASIO remained unconvinced both with his credentials and his message.

Gunaratna has made a name for himself peddling fear; he has little understanding of the causes of terrorism. He remains close to the government of Sri Lanka.

Gunaratna has claimed that members of the LTTE are on boats destined for Australia and recently apprehended in waters around Indonesia; he also claims that some of the boats are owned by the LTTE.

The Sri Lankan government has reason to be pleased with Gunaratna’s remarks, this and his former links to that government should give the Australian government pause when dealing with or taking his advice.

Published: Crikey.com.au

There may well be former members of the LTTE on vessels bringing asylum seekers to Australia. The LTTE were, after all, the fighting component of one side in a no-holds-barred civil war in Sri Lanka over the past 35 years.

It was a war in which terror was deployed by both sides, although there is something about state terror that is inherently more evil. I think it is the cold and calculating nature of state-sponsored retribution that sees individuals disappear off busy streets and abducted from homes by people who are sworn to uphold the rule of law.

Wilson Tuckey has blown the dog whistle on LTTE terrorists arriving in Australia by boat. Tuckey has reason to make a lot of noise, his parliamentary career has been less than a success, with his sacking by John Howard as a minister a fair indication of his character and ability. He has not many runs on the board and his electorate is sick of him. He is well aware that he can expect some stiff competition at the next election. But Tuckey’s views count for little with the exception of the Canberra parliamentary media, who, mostly bored to death, enjoy a stir from a colourful character, Barnaby Joyce included.

Elements in the AFP might like to hear Tuckey in action on LTTE terrorists, they may have geed him up, but other intelligence agencies are more sanguine and circumspect in their analysis of the threat posed by former members of the LTTE stepping onto Australian soil. What does Tuckey think they will do if granted the right to live in Australia? Blow up the local post office, police station or shock horror, a pub.

It should not come as a surprise to learn that there are former members of the LTTE living in Australia and that they are now engaged in one or other of the professions and raising successful children. It should also come as no surprise that there are Sinhalese living in Australia who were involved with military and security organisations, the sole aim of which were to kill, sometimes through murder, members of the Tamil community.

Australia has sought good relations with all of its regional friends and neighbours, which is a most commendable foreign policy objective. Problems arise, however, when the plain talking that should form a part of friendship is not employed in the face of poor behaviour. Australia was able to castigate South Africa over the policy of apartheid but not Indonesia over abuse of human rights in East Timor and not Sri Lanka over the treatment of Tamils. Consequently Australia ended up supporting one side in a civil war, when it should have been neutral and even-handed.

Unfortunately, although understandably, it is mostly easier for governments to conduct government-to-government relations than try and deal with the invariably bush-based other side in a civil war.

That does not mean that Australia should continue to demonise Tamils. The Sri Lankan government monopolised the propaganda war that ran along with the military conflict.

Some media representatives and some elements of the Australian security community have chosen to listen to Sinhalese operative Rohan Gunaratna.

Employed by the Sri Lankan government in 1984, the year in which the civil war started, Gunaratna was involved in disruption activities being run against the Tamils. It would be surprising if he were not aware of the disappearances of Tamils off the streets. Born in 1961, his CV is sparse on detail until 1987. Some sources have him working for the Sri Lankan government at least to 1994.

In 1987, Gunaratna became a student in Finland, claiming to be a recipient of an untraceable Australian-Europe award to study American-Australia diplomatic and security co-operation; an interesting topic to undertake from Finland.

The Sinhalese, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) organisation became active again in 1987, targeting government institutions, police and army personnel involved in counter-insurgency activities. Indeed Gunaratna has written a book about the abortive Marxist/Nationalist uprising.

Following 9/11, Gunaratna shot to prominence, with some masterly promotion, as a self-proclaimed terrorism expert, of which at that time there were very few.

He got into the ear of US-based think-tanks, including the Rand Corporation, mainstream intelligence organisations and officials of the Bush Administration. He also got into the ear of the AFP, although ASIO remained unconvinced with his credentials and his message.

Gunaratna has made a name for himself peddling fear; he has little understanding of the causes of terrorism. He remains close to the government of Sri Lanka.

Gunaratna has claimed that members of the LTTE are on boats destined for Australia and recently apprehended in waters around Indonesia; he also claims that some of the boats are owned by the LTTE.

The Sri Lankan government has reason to be pleased with Gunaratna’s remarks, this and his former links to that government should give the Australian government pause when dealing with or taking his advice.

Published at ‘Crikey’ online.

Kevin Rudd has prevented 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers coming to Australia from Indonesia. The asylum seekers were already at sea when Kevin Rudd put in an urgent call to the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, requesting that the Indonesian Navy intercept the vessel and escort it back to Indonesia.

The people on the vessel are from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans are ethnic Tamils, suffering at the hands of the majority Sinhalese following the defeat of Tamil resistance in a civil war which has waxed and waned tragically for the past 26 years.

Around 300,000 Tamils are being held in camps controlled by the Sri Lankan Army under the most appalling conditions, including a shortage of food, medical supplies and adequate shelter. The old and very young are dying at the rate of several hundred a month. Who would not want to escape, particularly with conditions set to deteriorate with the onset of the monsoon season? This weather will also affect the ability of boats to undertake the voyage, so the pressure is on to complete the journey now, before the weather sets in.

The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, admitted to the House of Commons on 13 October that the British Government was aware that the extra-judicial killing of Tamils has taken place. Others claim that it is ongoing within and outside of the camps.

Australia has not sought humanitarian assistance for Tamils detained in the camps. The Sri Lankan government has denied access to international aid organisations whose protests at this, and the conditions inside the camps, has been muted. The international media has also been denied access in order that their witness will not generate criticism.

Dr Bob Birrell of Monash University says that the Tamils should wait to be processed by UNHCR, but UNHCR is not allowed access to the camps. And if placed in the same situation would he patiently wait to suffer illness and possibly die? I think not.

Australia has not sought access to the camps to process refugee claimants, which in any case is a process fraught with difficulty when conducted under the eyes of the military. In light of its own complacency and compliance Australia can hardly complain when desperate people take matters into their own hands.

When it comes to criticism we have seen how thin skinned Kevin Rudd is. Does this stem from a lack of confidence or courage? There is no way Kevin is going to lose the next election, so why does he let the opposition get away with the wedge on refugees? The issue is not an election winner or spoiler for either major party. Why can’t he get out on the front foot and put the facts relating to refugees fairly and squarely to the Australian people.

The opposition has no coherent, compassionate or long term policy with regard to the processing of desperate people and have indicated that they are still prepared to play with the lives of those most in need of protection. It does them no credit.

Most people arriving by boat are found to be refugees after due process. Illegal immigrants arriving by plane run into the tens of thousands each year, maybe 50,000. Some pay significant sums of money for illegal visas, some stay after arriving on valid visas. In addition refugees are being demonised in the face of some dreadful and corrupt student visa practices.

Kevin Rudd was quite right to castigate the egregious former minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, for seeking to claim that the Howard government had ‘success’ with respect to refugee policy, but if Kevin Rudd is to claim any sort of genuine humanitarian success, rather than narrow and cruel political success, he will need to ensure that he quickly processes those that he has sent back to Indonesia.

It is untrue to claim, as Professor Robert Manne of La Trobe University and the Opposition have done recently, that the slightly more humane approach of the Rudd government has led to an increase in refugees seeking to come to Australia by boat. There has been a worldwide increase in the number of people seeking refugee protection. A deterioration in security in Sri Lanka for Tamils and in Afghanistan have pushed people toward the safe haven of Australia.

For make no mistake sending these people back to Indonesia is to condemn them to a debilitating existence on top of the effect and memory of the horrors they sought to escape. They will be warehoused in Indonesia, a country which is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, for up to 10 years under conditions which will lead most to suffer mental deterioration. True they knew the risks they were running but to take those risks the situation they sought to escape must have been pretty bad. Just ask refugees already living in Australia, as I have, what the conditions were like in their ‘home’ countries that led them to undertake such dangerous risks.

The AFP, on behalf of the Australian Government, has entered into an unsustainable relationship with their Indonesian counterparts over the blocking of refugees coming to Australia via Indonesia. The Indonesian Police and Army are involved with and indeed in many instances control people smugglers. To the concern of the Indonesian Government both the Army and Police are involved in many corrupt money making activities in Indonesia. Deploying various strategies to counter the activities of their counterparts the AFP, in concert with other Australian agencies, has had some success in stopping the flow of boats. But money will not stop the flow and when the political relationship takes a dip, boats reappear on the water in order to make a point to Australia.

Three months ago the AFP, following a 2007 coroner’s report, made a somewhat overdue announcement that they would commence investigations into the death of five Australian journalists killed by Indonesian soldiers in the takeover of East Timor by Indonesian soldiers in 1975, with a view to prosecuting the soldiers involved.

The Indonesian military was not impressed and boats have been appearing on the horizon ever since.

Kevin Rudd has turned a boat back with the help of the Indonesian President, but will he be able to do that again? This intervention highlights the short term and ad hoc nature of the refugee policy that Kevin Rudd inherited from his predecessor. It is not sustainable and it is unnecessarily harsh.

As Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd should be careful not to feed hysteria, supported and promoted by the tabloid press and the Opposition, nor to endorse their xenophobia. People smugglers exist because of a tragic need, and referring to them as vermin and scum bags, betrays a surprising ignorance of the real world, it is un-Christian. It plays to the lowest common denominator in the Australian community.

Kevin Rudd should deploy diplomatic resources to bring pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to allow processing on shore.

How he now chooses to handle this humanitarian crisis will be a defining moment personally and politically.

Published: National Times Link to article: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/politics/the-tamils-are-fleeing-because-no-one-will-ease-their-plight-20091015-gz38.html?comments=36

Published: The Age Link to article: www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/

Kevin Rudd has prevented 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers coming to Australia from Indonesia. The asylum seekers were already at sea when the Prime Minister put in an urgent call to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono requesting that the Indonesian Navy intercept the vessel and escort it back to Indonesia.

The people on the vessel are ethnic Tamils, a group suffering at the hands of the majority Sinhalese following the defeat of Tamil resistance in a civil war that has waxed and waned tragically for the past 26 years.

About 300,000 Tamils are being held in camps controlled by the Sri Lankan Army under the most appalling conditions, including a shortage of food, medical supplies and adequate shelter. The old and very young are dying at the rate of several hundred a month. Who would not want to escape, particularly as conditions are set to deteriorate with the onset of the monsoon season? This weather will also affect the ability of boats to undertake the voyage, so the pressure is on to complete the journey soon.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted to the House of Commons on October 13 that the British Government was aware that the extrajudicial killing of Tamils has taken place. Others claim that it is continuing inside and outside of the camps.

Australia has not sought humanitarian assistance for Tamils detained in the camps. The Sri Lankan Government has denied access to international aid organisations whose protests against this, and the conditions inside the camps, has been muted. The international media has also been denied access so that their witness will not generate criticism.

Bob Birrell, of Monash University, says that the Tamils should wait to be processed by the UN’s refugee agency, but it is not allowed access to the camps. If placed in the same situation, would he patiently wait to suffer illness and possibly die?

Australia has not sought access to the camps to process refugee claimants, which in any case is a process fraught with difficulty when conducted under the eyes of the military. In light of its own complacency and compliance, Australia can hardly complain when desperate people take matters into their own hands.

When it comes to criticism, we have seen how thin-skinned Kevin Rudd is. Does this stem from a lack of confidence or courage? There is no way Rudd is going to lose the next election, so why does he let the Opposition get away with the wedge on refugees? The issue is not an election winner or spoiler for either major party. Why can’t he get out on the front foot and put the facts relating to refugees fairly and squarely to the Australian people?

The Opposition has no coherent, compassionate or long-term policy with regard to the processing of desperate people and has indicated that it is still prepared to play with the lives of those most in need of protection. It does them no credit.

Most people arriving by boat are found to be refugees after due process. Illegal immigrants arriving by plane run into the tens of thousands each year, maybe 50,000. Some pay large sums of money for illegal visas, some stay after arriving on valid visas. In addition, refugees are being demonised in the face of some dreadful and corrupt student visa practices.

Rudd was quite right to castigate the egregious former immigration minister Philip Ruddock for seeking to claim that the Howard government had ”success” with respect to refugee policy. But if Rudd is to claim any sort of genuine humanitarian success, rather than narrow and cruel political success, he will need to ensure that he quickly processes those that he has sent back to Indonesia.

It is untrue to claim, that the slightly more humane approach of the Rudd Government has led to an increase in refugees seeking to come to Australia by boat. There has been a worldwide increase in the number of people seeking refugee protection. A deterioration in security in Sri Lanka for Tamils and in Afghanistan have pushed people towards the safe haven of Australia.

Make no mistake – sending these people back to Indonesia is to condemn them to a debilitating existence on top of the effect and memory of the horrors they sought to escape. They will be warehoused in Indonesia, a country that is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, for up to 10 years under conditions that will lead most to suffer mental deterioration.

Published: ABC Unleashed

Link to article: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2714668.htm

Kevin Rudd has prevented 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers coming to Australia from Indonesia. The asylum seekers were already at sea when Kevin Rudd put in an urgent call to the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, requesting that the Indonesian Navy intercept the vessel and escort it back to Indonesia.

The people on the vessel are from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans are ethnic Tamils, suffering at the hands of the majority Sinhalese following the defeat of Tamil resistance in a civil war which has waxed and waned tragically for the past 26 years.

Around 300,000 Tamils are being held in camps controlled by the Sri Lankan Army under the most appalling conditions, including a shortage of food, medical supplies and adequate shelter. The old and very young are dying at the rate of several hundred a month. Who would not want to escape particularly with conditions set to deteriorate with the onset of the monsoon season? This weather will also affect the ability of boats to undertake the voyage, so the pressure is on to complete the journey before the weather sets in.

The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, admitted to the House of Commons on 13 October that the British Government was aware that the extra judicial killing of Tamils has taken place. Others claim that it is ongoing within and outside of the camps.

Australia has not sought humanitarian assistance for Tamils detained in the camps. The Sri Lankan government has denied access to international aid organisations whose protests at this, and the conditions inside the camps, has been muted. The international media has also been denied access in order that their witness will not generate criticism.

Dr. Bob Birrell of Monash University says that the Tamils should wait to be processed by UNHCR, but UNHCR is not allowed access to the camps. And if placed in the same situation would he patiently wait to suffer illness and possibly die, I think not.

Australia has not sought access to the camps to process refugee claimants, which in any case is a process fraught with difficulty when conducted under the eyes of the military. In light of its own complacency and compliance Australia can hardly complain when desperate people take matters into their own hands.

When it comes to criticism we have seen how thin skinned Kevin Rudd is. Does this stem from a lack of confidence or courage? There is no way Kevin is going to lose the next election, so why does he let the opposition get away with the wedge on refugees? The issue is not an election winner or spoiler for either major party. Why can’t he get out on the front foot and put the facts relating to refugees fairly and squarely to the Australian people.

The opposition has no coherent, compassionate or long term policy with regard to the processing of desperate people and have indicated that they are still prepared to play with the lives of those most in need of protection. It does them no credit.

Most people arriving by boat are found to be refugees after due process. Illegal immigrants arriving by plane run into the tens of thousands each year, maybe 50,000. Some pay significant sums of money for illegal visas, some stay after arriving on valid visas. In addition refugees are being demonised in the face of some dreadful and corrupt student visa practices.

Kevin Rudd was quite right to castigate the egregious former minister for Immigration, Philip Ruddock, for seeking to claim that the Howard government had ‘success’ with respect to refugee policy, but if Kevin Rudd is to claim any sort of genuine humanitarian success, rather than narrow and cruel political success, he will need to ensure that he quickly processes those that he has sent back to Indonesia.

It is untrue to claim, as Professor Robert Manne of La Trobe University and the Opposition have done recently, that the slightly more humane approach of the Rudd government has led to an increase in refugees seeking to come to Australia by boat. There has been a worldwide increase in the number of people seeking refugee protection. A deterioration in security in Sri Lanka for Tamils and in Afghanistan have pushed people toward the safe haven of Australia.

For make no mistake sending these people back to Indonesia is to condemn them to a debilitating existence on top of the effect and memory of the horrors they sought to escape. They will be warehoused in Indonesia, a country which is not a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, for up to 10 years under conditions which will lead most to suffer mental deterioration. True they knew the risks they were running but to take those risks the situation they sought to escape must have been pretty bad. Just ask refugees already living in Australia, as I have, what the conditions were like in their ‘home’ countries that led them to undertake such dangerous risks.

The AFP, on behalf of the Australian Government, has entered into an unsustainable relationship with their Indonesian counterparts over the blocking of refugees coming to Australia via Indonesia. The Indonesian Police and Army are involved with and indeed in many instances control people smugglers. To the concern of the Indonesian Government both the Army and Police are involved in many corrupt money making activities in Indonesia. Deploying various strategies to counter the activities of their counterparts the AFP, in concert with other Australian agencies, has had some success in stopping the flow of boats. But money will not stop the flow and when the political relationship takes a dip, boats reappear on the water in order to make a point to Australia.

Three months ago the AFP, following a 2007 coroner’s report, made a somewhat overdue announcement that they would commence investigations into the death of five Australian journalists killed by Indonesian soldiers in the takeover of East Timor by Indonesian soldiers in 1975, with a view to prosecuting the soldiers involved.

The Indonesian military was not impressed and boats have been appearing on the horizon ever since.

Kevin Rudd has turned a boat back with the help of the Indonesian President, but will he be able to do that again? This intervention highlights the short term and ad hoc nature of the refugee policy that Kevin Rudd inherited from his predecessor. It is not sustainable and it is unnecessarily harsh.

As Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd should be careful not to feed hysteria, supported and promoted by the tabloid press and the Opposition, nor to endorse their xenophobia. People smugglers exist because of a tragic need, and referring to them as vermin and scum bags, betrays a surprising ignorance of the real world, it is un-Christian. It plays to the lowest common denominator in the Australian community.

Kevin Rudd should deploy diplomatic resources to bring pressure on the government of Sri Lanka to allow processing on shore.

How he now chooses to handle this humanitarian crisis will be a defining moment personally and politically.

The United States Administration is said to be giving close consideration to its role in Afghanistan. The US military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is calling for an extra 40,000 troops, while President Obama considers his options, a process that is said will take several weeks.

There are NATO and Australian troops in Afghanistan. There has been no mention of a joint planning meeting, so presumably these allies will be informed of the eventual US decision and will be required to put up or shut up.

Presumably if the United States decides to pull out, all the allies will pull out and if the United States decides to increase troop numbers and stay the allies will stay.

The lack of input and involvement with the weighty policy issues the US is grappling with throws into stark relief the role of the allies as the Emperors fig leaf.

Naturally the US military will argue for increased troop numbers in order to tame the Taliban, they are not the most imaginative think tank in the Western World. Their solution was the same in Vietnam and in any case it seems like the best face saving device around, in fact the only face saving device.

When occupying and attempting to pacify the trouble-some tribes of Afghanistan in the 1980’s, the Russians came up with the same solution, that is, until it all became too much and they left the Afghan Army to do the job and they left Afghanistan. And that seemed like a good idea except that the Afghan Army sold itself off in bits and pieces to various war lords.

The British had a very British solution, they drew a line on a map and along that line they built forts and all those Pathans on the Afghan side were bad and those on the Indian side were unruly but damned good fighters with the right leadership and not bad at polo either.

Afghan friends say the occupying troops are increasingly being viewed in the same light as the Russians, there continued presence is counter-productive and assists recruitment for the war lords and Taliban.
The US military rigid, conventional and closed wish to see Afghanistan in isolation; crush the Taliban and Afghanistan will have a good chance to build infrastructure and democracy. If only the dynamics of Afghanistan were so simple.

The dominant Pathans live on both sides of a porous colonial border. They have no interest in having an equal relationship with the Hazara, Tadzhik and Uzbek peoples, all of whom the Pathans or Pashtuns regard as having been put in Afghanistan to work for them. Conflict will form part of the fabric of Afghanistan for as long as these racial tensions remain unresolved.

Then there is poverty, opium, religious ideology, family feuds, village feuds, tribal feuds, and neighbours interfering for strategic, economic and religious reasons.

Nothing can be resolved in Afghanistan without changing the nature and role of the Pakistan Army and the intelligence services. In other words Afghanistan extends deep inside Pakistan and the United States and its allies have to date demonstrated few workable strategies to deal with this.

Vice President Joe Biden has called for a ‘Pakistan First’ policy to take some heat off the President who, in the few indications he has given, has demonstrated unease at the prospect of increasing US troop numbers in Afghanistan. Biden proposes to attack, what he terms, al Qaida targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas with drones and Special Forces, while backing Pakistan’s efforts to curb and control the Taliban. In the meantime attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan would be put on the back burner.

It is a proposal which has no place in the real world. For the US to step up attacks into Pakistan’s tribal areas would be to substantially boost recruits for the Taliban, particularly if women and children were to be killed as they have been in Afghanistan. The proposal also ignores national sensitivities.

Pakistan’s recent military incursion into Swat in pursuit of the Taliban was for US and Western consumption. If they were serious they would clean up Karachi and the unholy alliances and arrangements between the Taliban and drug barons and levels of corruption that see officials and politicians drawn into the web.

The US would also need to infiltrate and undermine the agenda of the ISI and other intelligence agencies which conduct programs they see as being in the national interest, some of which involve support for the Taliban.

Senior Republicans argue that the US must crush the Taliban in order to deny safe haven to al Qaeda but there is little evidence to suggest that al Qaeda still has a major presence in Afghanistan and with many friends around the world including within Pakistan, Osama bin Laden could be anywhere from a five star hotel in Dubai to a compound in Spain.

The United States is chasing its tail. It should first seriously address some fundamental issues such as applying real pressure on Israel over settlements, thoughtful and caring support for the Palestinians, a reappraisal of support for the corrupt and chauvinistic Saudi Royal Family and a lessening of pressure on Iran which might further help undermine the grip of the mullahs. Barak Obama has shown encouraging signs of going down that path.

These issues are at the heart of opposition to the United States and most recently led to the arrest of a home grown terrorist cell in the US.

Policy makers in Australia need to ask, what is it that they hope to achieve from the Australian military presence in Afghanistan? Is it just support for the US/Australia alliance or is Australia seriously engaged in a fight against international terrorism? If it is the latter then it needs to be explained how this commitment is achieving that and in what way does it impact positively in the short and long term on the lives of Australians? And this is not intended to goad the AFP into conjuring up confected baddies from the ranks of the misguided and dispossessed.

Are US objectives realistic? Can they be achieved? At what cost and over what period of time? Is the Australian commitment making a positive contribution? Are we getting value for money? Is it vital to our national interest to be putting the lives of young Australians on the line over Afghanistan?

Link to article: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2706820.htm

The United States Administration is said to be giving close consideration to its role in Afghanistan. The US military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is calling for an extra 40,000 troops, while President Obama considers his options, a process that is said will take several weeks.

There are NATO and Australian troops in Afghanistan. There has been no mention of a joint planning meeting, so presumably these allies will be informed of the eventual US decision and will be required to put up or shut up.

Presumably if the United States decides to pull out, all the allies will pull out and if the United States decides to increase troop numbers and stay the allies will stay.

The lack of input and involvement with the weighty policy issues the US is grappling with throws into stark relief the role of the allies as the Emperors fig leaf.

Naturally the US military will argue for increased troop numbers in order to tame the Taliban, they are not the most imaginative think tank in the Western World. Their solution was the same in Vietnam and in any case it seems like the best face saving device around, in fact the only face saving device.

When occupying and attempting to pacify the trouble-some tribes of Afghanistan in the 1980’s, the Russians came up with the same solution, that is, until it all became too much and they left the Afghan Army to do the job and they left Afghanistan. And that seemed like a good idea except that the Afghan Army sold itself off in bits and pieces to various war lords.

The British had a very British solution, they drew a line on a map and along that line they built forts and all those Pathans on the Afghan side were bad and those on the Indian side were unruly but damned good fighters with the right leadership and not bad at polo either.

Afghan friends say the occupying troops are increasingly being viewed in the same light as the Russians, there continued presence is counter-productive and assists recruitment for the war lords and Taliban.
The US military rigid, conventional and closed wish to see Afghanistan in isolation; crush the Taliban and Afghanistan will have a good chance to build infrastructure and democracy. If only the dynamics of Afghanistan were so simple.

The dominant Pathans live on both sides of a porous colonial border. They have no interest in having an equal relationship with the Hazara, Tadzhik and Uzbek peoples, all of whom the Pathans or Pashtuns regard as having been put in Afghanistan to work for them. Conflict will form part of the fabric of Afghanistan for as long as these racial tensions remain unresolved.

Then there is poverty, opium, religious ideology, family feuds, village feuds, tribal feuds, and neighbours interfering for strategic, economic and religious reasons.

Nothing can be resolved in Afghanistan without changing the nature and role of the Pakistan Army and the intelligence services. In other words Afghanistan extends deep inside Pakistan and the United States and its allies have to date demonstrated few strategies to deal with this in light of the current US strategy toward Afghanistan.

Senior Republicans argue that the US must crush the Taliban in order to deny safe haven to Al Qaeda but there is little evidence to suggest that Al Qaeda still has a major presence in Afghanistan and with many friends around the world including within Pakistan, Osama bin Laden could be anywhere from a five star hotel in Dubai to a compound in Spain.

The United States is chasing its tail. First seriously address some fundamental issues such as real pressure on Israel over settlements, thoughtful and caring support for the Palestinians, a reappraisal of support for the corrupt and chauvinistic Saudi Royal Family and a lessening of pressure on Iran which might further undermine the grip of the mullahs. Barak Obama has shown encouraging signs of going down that path.

These issues are at the heart of opposition to the United States and most recently led to the arrest of a home grown terrorist cell in the US.

Policy makers in Australia need to ask, what is it that they hope to achieve from the Australian military presence in Afghanistan? Is it just support for the US/Australia alliance or is Australia seriously engaged in a fight against international terrorism? If it is the latter then it needs to be explained how this commitment is achieving that and in what way does it impact positively in the short and long term on the lives of Australians? And this is not intended to goad the AFP into conjuring up confected baddies from the ranks of the misguided and dispossessed.

Are US objectives realistic? Can they be achieved? At what cost and over what period of time? Is the Australian commitment making a positive contribution? Are we getting value for money? Is there a down side and if so what is it?

Is it vital to our national interest to be putting the lives of young Australians on the line over Afghanistan? And if this commitment is in the national interest why are we hiding away the long term injured, when what we should be doing is looking after them as a nation.

And why are acts of bravery hidden away? What sort of paranoia has gripped Defence and our politicians in the name of the war on terror?