I appeared tonight on ABCTV News24′s The Drum (video here), alongside Rowan Dean and Jacqueline Maley, talking about a range of political issues.
I argued that it was legitimate for pension funds to divest from organisations or companies that go against people’s morality such as big tobacco, the thuggish Murdoch empire or fossil fuels (quoting the 350.org campaign).
The Gillard government’s campaign against sexism and misogyny is a little rich, I said, if one actually looks at its policies towards women here and overseas, not least in a place like Afghanistan where we’re backing the worst kind of warlords. So women friendly.
When discussing Syria, it’s important to not over-simplify the conflict between “good” rebels and “bad” government as the situation is very complex. Undoubtedly the government is committing war crimes but the so-called opposition is often instituting a brutal form of sharia. Outside intervention is causing a disaster and President Assad may have life in him yet.
DRMs_Program_1001_512k (full video of the program)
Israeli cries of war against Gaza are building. I spoke last night on ABCTV News24′s The World discussing the growing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the mostly Palestinian civilians caught in the middle:
Reporters have been embedding with the US military (and other armies) for years, especially since 9/11. The results are usually pretty dismal, politically tone-deaf, pro-government and lacking criticism. Which is exactly how the military wants it.
Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post asked me to comment on this tradition (I appear around 22:34) and my previous appearances are here:
Last night I appeared on ABC TV News24′s The Drum (video here) discussing the last Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
The real challenge was counting how many times Israel was loved/praised/embraced/kissed during the 90 minute discussion (clue: 65432 times). I argued that it’s remarkable how little it is acknowledged that one nation, Israel, requires constant attention without any criticism. The Palestinians were essentially invisible but the “threat” from Iran was paramount. On Afghanistan, Iraq and drones, both men had very similar policies. It’s quite possible, however, that a Romney presidency will be more extreme because of the Bush era neo-cons around him, loving the smell of burning Muslim flesh in the morning. An outsider would regard both men as living in a parallel universe.
The guest was Avner Gvaryahu from Israeli group Breaking the Silence. It was fascinating hearing him talk about the reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the daily abuse of Palestinians. He’s here discussing a new book, Our Harsh Logic, a devastating portrait of Zionist criminality in the West Bank and Gaza.
The following event took place in Sydney at independent bookstore Gleebooks on 2 October with Sydney Peace Foundation head Stuart Rees chairing proceedings and journalist Peter Manning interrogating me. It was recorded and edited by Green Left TV’s Paul Benedek:
This month is the 11th anniversary of the Afghan war, a disastrous conflict that has achieved nothing more than destruction for Afghans and foreigners. Yesterday Sydney’s Stop the War Coalition held a rally to mark this anniversary as well as supporting Wikileaks and Julian Assange in their struggle to tell the truth about Afghanistan, via the Afghan War Logs. I was one of the speakers. Below are my remarks (speech begins at 23:21) and my notes:
- Since 2001 in Afghanistan, at least 2000 US soldiers have died.
- 2.4 million US soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Almost 100,000 US war veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were treated for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011 alone.
- Unknown numbers of Afghan civilians killed.
- Reality on ground in Afghanistan, little infrastructure, intense fighting, huge civilian casualties, empowering of warlords, Taliban emboldened, very few girls have been educated.
- This is the war we’re told by our leaders is worth fighting.
- Strong impression when I was in Afghanistan this year was sheer futility of it all, profound ignorance expressed of what the West was doing there and who we’re fighting.
- This is what WikiLeaks’ Afghan War Logs showed us, the secret war, the war our leaders don’t want us to see.
- Why I’ve supported Wikileaks since its inception, 6 years ago this month, in October 2006.
- Today Julian Assange is right to resist extradition to Sweden. He’s right to fear the US. He’s an “enemy of the state”, akin to an al-Qaeda terrorist or the Taliban insurgency.
- Today we’re all “enemies of the state”, defending an organisation that shames most media outlets. Too few journalists in my profession speak out in support of Wikileaks, preferring to mock Assange.
- Where’s the accountability of politicians or journalists who backed Afghan war and demonised WikiLeaks for daring to tell us the truth?
- 11 years of lies about Afghan war and we’ll be leaving the country in 2014 in a complete mess. We owe the Afghan people financial compensation for destroying their country.
- Australian government must support Assange in his search for justice and as citizens we must demand the end of the Afghan war now plus hold our elites responsible for launching it.
- WikiLeaks is model of collaborative journalism and civic democracy.
Last weekend I was honoured to launch in Sydney the wonderful new CD by musician Phil Monsour called Ghosts of Deir Yassin. It’s about Palestine, identity, memory and recognising the reality of Israeli behaviour in the Middle East. Folk music at its most moving. Here’s my introductory speech:
Last night I appeared on ABCTV News24′s The Drum (video here) talking about the current media feeding frenzy over broadcaster Alan Jones and his offensive remarks towards Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The amount of time and energy spent on this issue, I argued, was utterly disproportionate to the comment itself. It was crude and wrong but Jones has form.
Besides, the “outrage culture” that seems to enjoy finding something offensive every day only is getting worse. The fact that this story is lead item on every news bulletin for days in a row shows that our media companies and journalists would much rather blindly report a story that requires no real journalism and a lot of faux anger. If you don’t like Alan Jones, don’t listen to him and pressure his station’s advertisers. And then can we please get onto something more important? Calls to ban the man should be roundly rejected. It’s a free country where causing offence isn’t a crime and nor should it be.
The role of social media in the recent, tragic murder of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher was also discussed and what restrictions, if any, Facebook should face if people post information that could jeopardise a legal case.