July 31, 2006

Australian "Red Cards" And US War Crimes

Via Juan Cole, an important story in The Australian:
AUSTRALIA intervened to stop key US military strikes against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, fearing they might constitute a war crime.

Major General Maurie McNarn, then a brigadier and commander of Australian forces in Iraq, on several occasions played a "red card" against the American plans, which included hits on individuals. His objections drew anger from some senior US military figures.

In one instance, Major General McNarn vetoed a US plan to drop a range of huge non-precision bombs on Baghdad, causing one angry US Air Force general to call the Australian a "pencil dick".

However, US military command accepted Major General McNarn's objection and the US plans were scrapped.

The revelation of how Australia actively and successfully used its veto power in the 2003 invasion of Iraq is contained in a new book on the US-Australian alliance, The Partnership, by The Weekend Australian's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan...

Australia also argued for the US to try to involve the UN as much as possible after the war. However, in a frank conversation with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on April 1, 2003, US President George W.Bush said the US would get the blame for destroying Iraq and he did not want others coming to rebuild it.

"The UN can't manage a damn thing," Mr Bush told Mr Downer, recalling his visit to Kosovo, where the President found the UN personnel to be "a bunch of drunks".
So we helped perpetrate a few war crimes, but - hey! - we are still good guys coz we blocked a few more. And of course, there's the customary flag-waving sign-off at the end of all Australian military-related stories:
[Bush] expressed unqualified admiration for the "brave, skilled fighters" of Australia's elite SAS.
Whoo hoo! Principled war criminals rock!

Meanwhile, the Australian military is ignoring claims by an Afghan parliamentarian that Australian and US soldiers killed his brother-in-law and injured his wife and two children by firing on their car:
Mr Khaliq maintained that US and Australian forces, in a convoy, fired from the top of a hill on his family's car as it was travelling to the Kandahar hospital in southern Afghanistan. Mr Khaliq was not in the car at the time and the account came from his nephew, who was wounded in the incident.

Mr Khaliq said when his wife and children took cover in a ditch beside the road, the US and Australian forces kept firing. He alleged that the soldiers came up to the scene but even when they saw his wounded wife and children, they did not assist them.
Sounds a lot like that scene from Syriana, doesn't it? The US Military has at least had the decency to issue their standard premature "We Are Not Guilty" verdict after investigating themselves yet again.


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