US soldier refuses to serve in ‘illegal Iraq war’

A US soldier has appeared at Congress, stating his refusal to serve in Iraq, citing grounds that the US military presence there “is unconstitutional and illegal.”

Sergeant Matthis Chiroux had already served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines before he was honorably discharged and placed in the reserves, which immunises him against any cheap shots that he is just a coward. As a reservist, he was due to be deployed next month in Iraq. He’s also showing further bravery by staying in the US and opening himself up to charges, rather than heading off to Canada or elsewhere.

Sgt Chiroux also stated

As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter servicemember’s stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors and crimes taking place in Iraq. For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me.

I hereby lawfully refuse to participate as I will surely be a party to war crimes. Furthermore, deployment in support of illegal war violates all of my core values as a human being, but in keeping with those values, I choose to remain in the United States to defend myself from charges brought by the Army if they so wish to pursue them. I refuse to participate in the occupation of Iraq.


Further to my recent post about the huge number of suicides amongst US service personnel returned from Iraq, this media report states

Some 300,000 of the 1.6 million US soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or both, an independent study showed last month.

Sgt Chiroux was speaking as part of testimonies, which were the first before Congress by Iraq veterans who have turned against the five-year-old war. Former army sergeant Kristofer Goldsmith told the landmark hearing of “lawless murders, looting and the abuse of countless Iraqis.”

I expected to find much more media coverage of this issue than seems to be online at the moment. Perhaps soldiers confirming atrocities being committed in Iraq as a matter of course is no longer ‘news’. Perhaps I’m naïve for still feeling shocked when I read such things, but I still think they are facts which should be spread widely amongst the general community.

You can read many more testimonies by former US soldiers who served in Iraq at the Iraq Veterans Against the War site.

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38 Comments

  1. That’s a good site Senator! Casey Porter for Prez.I now really do believe,about 70% that these wars The U.S.A. are always in is a depopulating process.All these Stop-Loss soldiers are a threat to the U.S.A. because they are young,can ask questions,and are basically alive.They threaten others who went through similar processes,as those who went through those processes threatened older types the same before them.That site really also depicts a American we all knew existed,people who dont believe a word they are told,and now are experiencing that which they dont believe anyway.They are also the type of human being,in other places,no-one would think they need fear,because they are so normal,and intelligent enough to know how to get on with human beings.I think the U.S.A. will try to kill even these soldiers,and Matthis as well.Whereas,I think they may have a border problem with Mexican Drug lord commandos trained to kill,by the also generous kill or be killed Military Industrial Complex that threatens anyone,anywhere that speaks out against it.The vacuous leadership we have in this country seems to like photo-oppurtunities shaking hands and joking with the war criminal.

  2. I wnder if this will be quietly buried- look how little actually happened as a result of Abu Ghraib etc, and the whole ‘rendering’ thing. Only recently a US soldier was found to have shot at a Koran for target practice. He apologised, the local military people apologised, gifts were given, but it wold be hard to eradicate something like that from the minds of the locals. I feel some compassion for military folks who are placed in that situation- they get mixed messages from all over the place. The bottom line for me is: they should not be there, since they are clearly trained for war, not peacebuilding, or if they are trained for that, they aren’t trained very well..

  3. Andrew Bartlett:

    Thanks for the links to that U.S. veterans’ website.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    The patriotic Americans testifying there are combat veterans who have seen what is really happening in Iraq.

    The ones ignoring their testimony are crooks and war profiteers whose loyalty to the U.S. is questionable; ones who need “rendering” to The Hague to face trial.

    America has a long and respected tradition of ex-soldiers speaking out when things were manifestly wrong.

    For example, John Kerry was a combat veteran angered at his soldiers being slaughtered for nothing. On returning to the U.S. he became a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War [VVAW] and decades later despite the vicious lying “swiftboat” attacks on him during his presidential campaign, he won the votes of many ordinary war veterans and their families, both Democrat AND Republican.

    Australia, in marked contrast, inherited British Empire traditions which, though outstandingly effective at preventing mutinies by Irish or Indian troops, had the downsides of crushing honest criticism of blatant stupidity, of preventing innovation and of encouraging mediocrity by promoting yes-men who don’t “rock the boat”.

    Promoting the mediocre means that too many who got promoted in the ADF lack the confidence and other real leadership skills to deal well with grumbling in the ranks – arrogance, bullying, back-stabbing and depending on the mongrel dog-pack are no substitutes for leadership.

    This means that anyone who dares ask necessary questions or who opens their mouth at all is treated as a disloyal malcontent.

    Australia will never ever have an organization like the Americans’ IVAW.

    That’s not so good …. it means we have allowed ourselves to be intimidated by yes-men among the upper echelons of the ADF.

    It is our duty, as citizens, to listen to the concerns of our service personnel who take great risks on our behalf. And it is our duty to speak up for them when they are unfairly silenced.

  4. Good points. This stood out for me:

    Howard says American ammunition and armor both contained depleted uranium, which is radioactive. He believes depleted uranium is “the agent orange of this occupation,” and that the military is poisoning its soldiers, the people of Iraq, and the whole world with depleted uranium, because on impact, tiny particles go up into the atmosphere and spread over the entire planet.
    ———-
    An absolute disgrace. The loonies have certainly been let out of the asylum.

  5. I’m going with Lorikeet on this one. Good comment.

    I suspect the soldier will be told that he doesn’t know enough to make a judgement about the war’s legality and that wise men (and let’s not forget Condoleeza Rice) have made the choice for him.

  6. Must be a Censorship Brigade in Civvy Street,for those who once wore secondhand army shirts,and have thought about these matters as deeply as anyone else,can rightfully claim.

  7. Lorikeet:

    The Sad part about it is that soldiers dont have any say in where they go or what they do. Yes he can object but it wont stop him from being charged. The Nuremburg trials didnt accept that taking orders was a legimate excuse but as seen with Abu Graib etc you are always a looser in this military except if you are the likes of Rumsfield, or of a rank higher than a army captain. The only charges the only appear on the loseing side.

    Tony

  8. My 16-year-old son wants to become an officer in the armed services.

    I told him I was NEVER signing any papers for him to join up – but now I think my ex-husband probably will.

    I said I don’t want him to be blown away, or witness or perpetrate wartime horrors, especially not at a very young age.

    He says: “Don’t worry, Mum. I’ll just plan the strategy and send the cannon fodder in.” He hasn’t learnt these attitudes living with me. I heard the same from 18-year-old girls in my dance class.

    Perhaps he is trying to compete with a much older brother who is an IT security specialist with the Department of Defence. His recent achievements in loophole detection and closure have been so great that one day he may be solely responsible for saving us (and our allies) from foreign invaders.

    This is no exaggeration, but I cannot comment further on interests and moves afoot – even though they’re not national secrets.

    Perhaps we could ask Defence to lend him to the Australian Taxation Office for a while – could also do some good work there.

  9. Lorikeet:

    Plan the strategy and send the cannon fodder in ? If he joined he would be part of the cannon fodder for many years before or if that statement ever became a reality.
    Lower rank officers and non commissioned officers all make up what he terms as cannon fodder. (Unless he was in the air corp then he would be a target number).
    I’m all for young men joining the forces its great for discipline, which in todays society has been completely lost.

    Tony

  10. I may have mentioned this before,so forgive me if I’m repeating myself.My 3 sons were born during the 1960’s.I recall watching the news in the evening at my then in-law’s house about the war in Vietanm(didn’t have TV until 1969)& was horrified at what I saw.I declared many times that ‘they’d never get my boys to fight in their wars’ or words to that effect.My boys paternal grandfather always agreed with me by a smile or a wink or a ‘thumbs up’.He lost his leg in Tobruk in 1941?He never spoke of his experiences, never complained,even though he suffered to some extent every day for almost 60 yrs.
    He & his wife would take 3 kids in a small caravan to share their annual holidays with-they’d seen more of Australia before they were in their teens than I still have.My boys loved him dearly & he was living proof of hating wars & how & why other peoples’ sons(now daughters too)fight in them,although he never spelt it out!

    This young man who’s refusing to go back to Iraq is not unique.There’s been quite a few-some have ‘flown’to Canada and are awaiting news of their application for refugee status.Another has written a book about the horrors he either saw or was forced to participate in.(He was interviewed by Tony Jones,Lateline last yr)I’m reading a book at present called ‘American Torture’ by Michael Otterman,journalist.It’s about the use of torture from just after WW2 until now,including Vietnam,Abu Graib,Guantanamo Bay,etc.Most enlightening & very disturbing!He mentions David Hicks & Mamdouh Habib.In fact he starts the book with the experiences of Mamdouh Habib.It’s intersting,that just a few days ago,Major Moe formerly of Guantanamo has insisted,that David Hicks should never have been charged! Political reasons only!
    War is & has always been a sordid, horrific & dirty activity.Iraq was started on a lie & has continued thus-as was Vietnam!Who’s next? Iran?Venezuela?El Salvador?The US is desperate for’numbers’that they’ve changed the rules – criminals can now join up

  11. Naomi:

    I dont know if the Vietnam war was started that way. Certainly not in this country, where most young men signed up to give their life for this country and to protect their nation as did their fathers before them. Where they were prepared to sacrifice their well being(and lives) for the women and children of this nation. I had 2 brothers who fought there and I also volunteered but was too late. It was certainly uneasy times in those days with the communists pooring down amoungst us in Asia.(Where communists were even working in the oppositon office and in communcations with moscow). Where ALP members ralled and had crowds attack the young men coming home.. (Remember Jim Cairns ant John Halfpenny) Certainly not a proud time for this nation, and all the deserters who supported such actions.
    Yes corporate America may have been using it for business and the drug trade but I have no ill feelings and only praise for the brave young men who went there and will always have comtempt for the socialist sloths(cowards and communists) that attacked them on their homecoming. DLP’er and proud of it

    Tony

  12. Tony-this is not the forum, we are talking about Iraq, not Vietnam, but there are different points of view about what you say. What you are stating is mainly your (pro-war) opinion, and for example my Dad (flame-thrower unit, Borneo, WWII) and my Grandad (an Anzac & who was gassed in France) had strong anti opinions formed about war from the front line. I’m not saying you can’t have an opinion, but you seem to be unaware that facts and opinions are not the same thing.

    And I’m mildly incensed that you don’t think that a communist is allowed to work in the office of an MP … good grief, is that the ‘freedom’ you say your brothers fought for?

  13. Tony:

    You must be in your early 50s. I can’t imagine why you would be complaining about a huge mortgage – unless it belongs to your son or daughter.

    I don’t think my 16-year-old will be used for cannon fodder.

    If he is anything like his older brother, he will fly up the ladder so fast no one will see him for dust.

  14. Naomi Cartledge: “Iraq was started on a lie ….. as was Vietnam
    I figure you may be thinking of the Gulf of Tonkin incident of which I’d have thought Tony would be familiar.

    Apprentice: I’m not sure that Tony’s comments clearly reflected a “pro-war” position, though he certainly did indicate support for men (including his brothers) aspiring and fighting to protect their nation.

    Would your pacifism extend to a decision to not protect one’s nation?

    On your issue with who works in the office of an MP, I think Tony’s context may have been that of effectively having one’s enemy working against you within your own country (and indeed, in cahoots with the Australian Labor Party).

  15. APPRENTICE:

    At no time have I indicated or said I was pro-war. So I don’t know how you came to that conclusion. (Unless in your mind supporting your nation’s serviceman reflects that) I have never supported this IRAG conflict. I could see no point in attacking an ageing dictator with depleted forces and with no clear exit strategy after removing him. Besides the IRAQ issue should have been handled by the Europeans, it’s their region not ours. Having an Al Qaeda in the opposition office today or a Nazi in 1940’s, would be a good comparison with having a communist in there then .(I know in your opinion that would be okay) The old communism was socialism by force, today’s communists are in the Fabian Society where they believe in socialism by stealth. (The wolf with a sheepskin over it, is their symbol) They boast membership of famous politicians like Gough Whitlam, Jim Cairns, Paul Keating and today’s Julia Gillard. So we do accept them. Your comrades I assume.

    Tony

  16. Apprentice [13]

    So you’ve noticed that war veterans who have seen good men drown – own or enemy’s, it doesn’t matter – and who have seen people blown to bits …. hate war …. and detest those who cause wars but then avoid sharing the perils of war themselves.

    You said to Tony

    “ “ And I’m mildly incensed that you don’t think that a communist is allowed to work in the office of an MP … “ “

    The reason that touches such a raw nerve with some veterans of the Viet-Nam War is not right-wing extremism or anything ideological but rather because of very bitter personal experience.

    In 1974 [I think it was], the High Court decided that Communists could not be excluded from employment as senior public servants and the like.. Fair enough. We live in a democracy and under the rule of law …. and, like it or not, that’s what our lawfully-constituted court decided.

    Trouble is, that happened after the start of what became a quarter-century of unjust discrimination – by BOTH sides of politics – against war veterans in employment and in education …. regardless of their skill, talent, diligence, adaptability, training or experience. Yes, a lucky few did scramble over all the artificial barriers [I was one of the VERY FEW allowed to get a university degree] but the rest were condemned to menial work …. so their resentment against Communists being pampered and fast-tracked into high positions is, perhaps, understandable. [It is a matter that puzzled Vietnamese Communists years later too …. but that’s another story].

    Now, back to Sgt. Matthis Chiroux and all the other brave, patriotic American soldiers trying to save the United States by taking a firm stand against despotism and treachery ….

  17. Tony #12
    It was the Gulf of Tonkin!I watched a documentary a couple of yrs ago and a retired CIA person (Ray McGovern)stated,that they knew it was a lie,but nobody had the guts to tell the higher ups. Vietnam like Iraq was no threat to this country.War mongering bastards in govts always send other peoples’ sons & now daughters to fight in wars to make they & their mates rich/er.
    Then as now,the US soldiers jacked up about being in an illegal war,getting killed & maimed for nought.In short,they went on strike. This, coupled with the protests brought an end to the madness.3 million Vietnamese were killed,20,000 of them were killed by the CIA and other ‘intelligence gatherers’?
    Go to John McCain:Oil is only reason for US Wars in Middle East – It’s on YouTube – words out of his own mouth.(Something along the lines that Brendan Nelson said last year?or the year before?Howard shut him up pretty promptly as I recall!
    The only one who had the guts to tell it like it is!)
    And McCain’s standing for President of the US!Very scary! God help???

    Graham Bell – “Now, back to Sgt. Matthis Chiroux and all the other brave, patriotic American soldiers trying to save the United States by taking a firm stand against despotism and treachery ….” Well said!

  18. Lorikeet [9]:

    If your 16-year-old son believes everything he sees on TV ads and has his heart set on becoming an “Officer” – kindly ask him to go through each and every item on the forms and in the advertising material with a worldly-wise and cynical barrister – item by item.

    He may indeed get his heart’s desire and become an officer …. but I wonder how many other starry-eyed young Australians have rushed in – and ended up at the sharp end of an infantry battalion or doing minefield clearing in a field engineer squadron – with a rank somewhat less than that of “commissioned officer”?

    No, nothing so crude as “bait-and-switch”, of course, but the ADF is very very experienced in recruiting – and implied promises are worth whatever the market is willing to pay for them.

    It’s a hard cruel world so I myself would not sign anything the ADF put in front of me until I had it checked out thoroughly.

  19. Graham:

    I agree with you completely. I’ve told him to look beyond the financial incentive of the government helping to pay for a degree in Journalism.

    He could easily work with his older brother as a civilian in IT Security – even that I don’t like very much. Secure Defence facilities are a possible target.

    Unfortunately one of my 16-year-old’s best friends is an RAAF cadet, and my son’s father works as a civilian at Enoggera Barracks (Army).

    My son is also interested in joining the Army Reserve as a Medic. He wants to order cannon fodder about one minute, and heal the wounded the next.

    Fortunately he doesn’t finish high school for another 18 months, during which time I will try to frighten him with bigger things.

  20. Lorikeet [20}:

    Make no mistake, joining the Army Reserve carries with it the risk of been sent off to war anyway.

    However, Medical Corps in the Army Reserve is definitely a cut way above the rest – mainly because it does attract quite a few people who are so highly skilled in their own fields that they don’t have to resort to bullying and other mongrel-dog-pack behavior to cover up their own inadequacies and lack of confidence.

    The risks in a Medical Corps unit are not the same as those in a submarine or a gunship helicopter or an SAS squadron but they are still very real. Some feel that an enemy could use the white roundel with the red cross in it as an aiming mark …. fortunately, the 1948 amendment to the Geneva Convention allows Medical personnel to take up arms in defence of themselves and their patients so nowadays staying alive depends on much more than the niceness of the enemy.

    Don’t worry, it is pretty normal for a young lad to take risks and to seek adventure. [Was a young lad myself once. :-) ] Just make sure that nobody exploits that full-blooded enthusiasm and spirit for their own benefit and for no benefit whatsoever for him.

  21. Tony, you were, I presume, pro- the Vietnam war, because you say you volunteered but in vain. My Dad and Grandad were also anti- that war, along with me. I didn’t believe at the time that Australia would be overrun by communists from the north, and history has borne out this opinion of mine and many others. Given the miniscule numbers of communist party members ever (in Australia at the time or since) I feel your fears are clearly seen to be wrongly founded.

    There was a time in the early 20th century when Catholics were excluded from higher positions in society and the Public Service (outside NSW at certain times) on the grounds that they answered not to their bosses nor thier own consciences but the malignant influence of Rome.

    These things go in waves. There was a time when German Jews fleeing Hitler were interned in Australia in a camp with captured Nazis, presumably on the grounds that all Germans are the same, despite the fact that we were supposedly on the side of the persecuted.

    Later Hanson and Howard tapped into the credulous and uninformed. Judging from the kindness and community-spiritedness of the only half-dozen communists I’ve ever know, we could all learn a lesson from them, rather than slander their patriotism.

    When the Vietnam veterans came home, the ALP branch I was a member of tried to get them admittance to the RSL, in the teeth of opposition from the stuffed shirts running the show.

    Beware of painting all members of any particular group with the one brush, Tony – it is usually not that simple.

  22. Ken: A “spot on” reflection of brush usage!

    Apprentice: When you refer to the miniscule numbers of communist party members ever (in Australia at the time or since)”, I note a reference that their membership had fallen to 5000 odd in the 60’s (when the total population was under half what it is now).

    Given the relatively small take up of party membership generally, and to give that miniscule number some context, perhaps someone might advise how many members in another minority party, let’s say, the Democrats.

  23. Apprentice:

    Some of the ideas espoused by Communists are good, but the whole system falls down when humans take charge.

    I think it is reasonable to intern Germans during a war with Germany. Some could be Nazi spies. It’s better to be safe than sorry – far better to be criticised than to have one’s country taken over, with much worse things ensuing.

    After 9/11, my son wanted all of the Muslim workers to be redeployed to somewhere outside of the building, in case one of them was a spy. Our nation was on a red alert, and he became rather jumpy.

  24. Apprentice [22]:

    Appreciate your point-of-view but ….

    The Viet-Nam War caused a quite a lot of damage to the Communist bloc[s] but the permanent irreparable fractures it created were temporarily held together by the unity of purpose in preventing an American victory in South Viet-Nam and in overthrowing colonialism in Africa [well, sort of].

    Orthodox academics ridicule the Domino Theory but with the exception of Laos and Cambodia – and lately, Nepal – no countries in the Asia-Pacific region became Communist after the Viet-Nam War …. and that included Australia. There was good enough reason to fear a Communist take-over of Australia – though the likelihood of that actually happening was very low – however, the way that threat was handled inside Australia was bizarre, muddled and counter-productive …. the blunders of the Communists themselves, not anything done by Menzies’ clones, is what saved Australia from Communism.

    My own experience of committed Communists in Australia was, in general, they were decent hard-working reliable people. I could hold an intelligent [if at times robust] conversation with them because they were, without exception, very well informed [though how they used that knowledge was quite another thing].

    Communist sympathizers and hangers-on, in marked contrast, were – in my own experience – often fickle, vicious, bigoted and pig-ignorant [and it seemed that the more education they had, the more ignorant they became!]. It was impossible to have a rational conversation on political or social issues without them rapidly lapsing into slogan-chanting, personal abuse and similar anti-thinking activity. My contact with Communist sympathizers gave me insights into the mob mentality that must have prevailed in Nazi Germany or in Spain during The Inquisition.

    Wonder how history will judge those for and against the war in Iraq?

  25. Graham Bell:

    I have spoken with my teenage son again regarding his intention to become an officer in the armed services.

    It seems most of the influence is coming from his friend who has been an Air Force Cadet for some years. The boy’s father has been in the Air Force and is now a civilian still connected with the armed services.

    When I tried to tell my son that his friend’s parents were influencing him in that direction, he said they were nice people and wouldn’t do that.

    So I tried explaining it another way. I have taken my son with me to dance lessons, encouraged him to play the viola and tennis, join a debating team, help smaller children with their reading, participate in the community and help out with first aid.

    His friend has had the Air Force pumped down his throat ever since he was born. Now he wants to be a Fighter Jet Pilot, an extremely dangerous activity.

    Let’s hope he got the idea.

  26. I am a bit confused at the level of anti-American rhetoric considering that Australia is almost more than any other country other than the UK and Canada always in complete alliance with all of the worst foregin policy decisions of the United States.

    Pine Gap is used to spy illegally on private citizens; America is now shifting all its okinawa/pacific/gaum military operations to Australia, and the Howard and Rudd administrations have dropped their pants for the US with the most economically disasterous free trade agreement. Australian farmers get fewer benefits from the Federal goverment than any other western industrianized country.

    The war in Iraq is illegal, and it is your right to critisize but look into a mirror before laying it out on Australia so much. My only point is I feel Australia should clean up its own back yard before it criticizes the evil empire of the USA so much.

  27. There are Communist Parties in France and Italy. Italy has also an Anarchist Party. .
    For some reasons, it would be unheard of in our democracy to allow an “Anarchist Party”.
    Well, the communist states would not allow one, either.

    Tito’s Yugoslavia was different to Albania or Laos. Israel’s kibutzes were much different to the Soviet kolhozes. (collective farms).

    In communist countries education was free and of high standards. So all the diplomas were respected. Universities were free and open to everybody. Holidays were heavily subsidised by the governments. And the important part was that people did not have to beg for work, producing totally senseless lenghty resumes, and undergoing idiotic interviews only to learn that yet another crony got a job. People were employed according to their qualifications. Crime rate was low. There were no homeless people.
    The state terror and national security paranoia were frightening, though..

    But it looks now that concentration camps become common regardless of the political system.

    As not everything was bad in the communism, countries like Sweden or Norway tried successfuly to have a ‘mixed system’. So is China.

    National security is what the government tells us it is.
    Australians were fighting in the Boer’s War although there was no threat to national security. I fully understand Tobruk, the Kokoda and fighting Japs but how we were trying to defend Australia in Gallipoli it is a bit of a mystery. We were helping the English in New Zealand to fight Maori, and we are trying to ‘introduce democracy’ into Iraq and now, there is a possibility that we will try to teach Iran a lesson or two.
    And as to Vietnam.. Americans were all confused on which side they fought; just in case, they left the whole country to communism..

  28. Zen:

    If communist governments are so great, why do the ordinary people want to get rid of them?

    I guess you must be against freedom of speech, assembly and religious beliefs.

    I don’t think Australia needs to find an excuse to stop dictators such as Hitler from ruling the world. If you don’t watch your mate’s back, he won’t watch yours. Then national security is weakened.

    This is still a Commonwealth country, and I would like it to stay that way, thanks.

  29. Lorikeet
    I never said that communism was great.
    Hitler was NOT a communist. He was vegetarian. And, he had a lot of support form the West (and western banks). So did Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, Taliban, etc.

    We judge systems by personal experience and knowledge of history.
    South Australian Government introduced laws limiting ‘freedom of assembly’ , Communist Party is banned in this country, and I would not like to be a Muslim, particularly a woman with a chador, in Australia. We have compulsory voting.
    As to the freedeom of speech, we already have laws confusing freedom of speech with defamation. ‘Moderators’ are everywhere.
    A friend of mine was sacked from ABC as a journalist for not ‘toeing the line’.
    I do not believe an ideal system of democracy exists – the Soviet Block was called ‘democratic republics’.
    We are a Commonwealth country but an English guy was deported (early in the morning in his pyjamas and slippers on) for ‘breach of visa condition’, later found to be a mistake. And Vivian Alvarez…

    However, there is no comparison between Australia and any of communist countries. But introducing detention centres for totally innocent people and babies has definitely damaged our idea of democracy.
    Self-indulgence has never helped progressing. We have to improve our education standards in order to compete with other countries and survive. We have to improve security of our kids and safety in our streets.
    And sorry to say, Lorikeet, democracy is ‘equal representation in the parliament’ – and we have a long way to go as some lobby groups are mightier than voters.
    All I am saying is, we have to watch and be careful not to sink into a social paranoia, where a father, just recently, was charged for taking photos of his daughter playing netball. And an elderly man was dragged off his wheelchair and forced through a security device at the airport although he could not walk

  30. Zen: The Communist Party is not banned in this country.

    Democracy and “equal representation in the parliament” has nothing to do with giving every whacko or lobby group a say.

    From a quick search, I think the father to whom you refer was “charged” by a sporting club (for taking photos of his daughter playing netball). To my knowledge, still not a crime (and whoever “charged”, still a kneejerk policy/reaction if ever there was one).

    On social paranoia:
    Australians: let us quiver with fear, so that only a “good” government can legislate ad nauseum to save us from the shadowy dangers that lurk behind every corner and at every meal table, and under every bed.

  31. Zen:

    I didn’t say that Hitler was a communist either, but he might as well have been.

    To my knowledge, no political party or religion is banned here in Australia. Can we say the same of communist countries, whose totalitarianism is both the political system and the religion?

  32. Hitler was not a communist. Communism means that the means of production belong to the government.There were heaps of private enterprises in Germany (weapons industry and Ruhr ans Sahr industries, subsidised by the banks- just an example).
    Communism is a totalitarian system (total state control) and as such is not, and cannot be counted among democracies.

    Andrew Bartett
    10 top ‘communist jokes’ – 40- 50 years of age, boring as they are, are as good as morning after chips. They are all passe. And the things have changed.
    At present, a Muscovite drives a car, an inhabitant of Canberra can only dream of; . Russians pay a flat rate tax of 17% and pay very small interest rates. Russians nowadays are not the Soviets we know , and this SHOULD worry us. The communist Soviets were not an economic threat to the West. Nowadays Moscow is. I would be the last person on the planet to support communism or the Soviets. Half of my family perished because of the Red Army. The Red Army has never been accused of any atrocities, genocide or war crimes. We, refugees, were trying to alert the West in the 40’s, when the great Western leaders (Churchill and Roosvelt) sold for a song half of Europe to the communists in Yalta. It particularly affected countries like i.e. Poland the most loyal ally of the West during the war. Please, learn history of the WWII.
    22 thousand Polish army officers, loyal to the West, were murdered by the Soviets in the forests of Katyn.(Russia)
    At present, in still communist Russia, religions are not banned, the east orthodox religion has nearly a state status.

    And the best current joke is that a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Nelson Mandela is still on the terrorist list of the USA.
    Just wondering how did he get on the list, in the first place?.

    The discussion of political systems is not ‘out of topic’. Our soldiers should be well aware of what they are fighting for. Howard?

  33. I think Howard had our soldiers fighting in IRAQ to ensure ongoing protection by the USA, since we live on an island surrounded by water.

  34. I was going to put this one on the Afghanistan thread, but it’s closed.

    Yesterday, Kevin Rudd did the National Press Club address regarding the current economic/financial problem.

    At the end, a journalist asked 2 questions about Afghanistan. Kevin Rudd said he didn’t want to send any further defence personnel over there, in a voice and manner that seemed both confident and sincere.

    In answer to the second question, he said he was happy with our work there doing something that also involved the Dutch. As he was speaking, he kept staring at his papers and couldn’t look either the journalist or the TV camera in the eye.

    His body language was completely at odds with the words coming out of his mouth, leading me to believe that he has been forced into agreeing to something he doesn’t want any part in.

    Maybe someone knows what it is ???

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