ABC News24 on killing Afghan civilians, Assad and ignoring indigenous lessons

Last night I was a guest on ABC TV News24’s The Drum to discuss issues of the day (video here).

Foreign issues were front and centre.

America’s Kill Team in Afghanistan – US troops murdering civilians for fun – is just the latest example of occupiers in inhospitable lands treating those they’re supposed to protect with contempt. It happened in Vietnam – calling Vietnamese gooks – and today in the Muslim world they’re named towelheads. Indeed, as I said, there are countless examples of American soldiers since 9/11 explaining – especially during the largely ignored Winter Soldier hearings in 2008 – what they did to Iraqis and Afghans; often dehumanising and smearing them.

Liberation, indeed.

In Syria, President Assad has tried to appease pro-democracy protesters by offering to “reform”. But Damascus isn’t a US client state so therefore far less able to be pressured by Washington. Furthermore, Israel would much rather Assad remain in power (Zionism always needs a bogeyman). I argued that anybody predicting the Middle East at the moment was a fool but it was clear real democracy in Syria would be most welcome. Of course, the West would create the Islamist monster to scare us all.

Finally, Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has called for a welfare to work plan that would force those on the lowest incomes to earn their keep. The issue here isn’t just that this is the easiest, tabloid-friendly policy – look, get those dole-bludgers to work! – but that it comes after similar plans were tried and failed in the Northern Territory intervention, a policy opposed by most indigenous leaders. I said that the best way to raise far more money by the state was to tax the rich on a much higher rate. They can afford it.

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