A week after the alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, the British journalist Robert Fisk walked the streets of this Syrian town in which fundamentalist Jihadists had recently been overpowered by government forces.
Fisk interviewed a doctor named Assim Rahaibani, who had been in the underground clinic when the ‘gassing’ victims were treated.
Rahaibani told Fisk that those videos of children being hosed down and given oxygen were real but that people were gasping for air because they live in dirt tunnels under buildings pulverised by bombs, and the air was more deadly that day because of ‘wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm’.
Whether it was gas or the toxic dusts of war, this was an event, among probably a million events since this war began, that killed people, most of them not guilty of anything but trying to survive. And this event was used to ignite a burst of outrage among people watching their screens in the US, UK, France, Australia and other countries whose leaders claim that Syria’s government led by Bashar al Assad is exceptionally evil in the way it fights war.
And so Trump, May and Macron launched missiles to blow up buildings they say house chemical weapons. It seems they tipped off the Russians to lower the chances of triggering retaliatory missiles.
Inflaming outrage among citizens of nations closest to the USA, and scaring the governments of nations who aren’t, sent the price of stocks in US weapon-makers Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, and Boeing, into the smoke-filled stratosphere.
Ratheon charges US taxpayers $1.8 million for each Tomahawk missile, the newest of which are extremely accurate and can be fired from beyond the range of most countries’ air defence systems.
Just ten years ago missile strikes like this risked war planes being shot down and pilots captured, leading to huge diplomatic and intelligence ‘issues’. The new technology means the only heat they feel is hot air from those of us who are crazy enough to demand an end to war-fighting.
Anzac Day commemorates the Aussie and Kiwi troops who were obliged to fight for the British Empire against the German one, from 1914 till 1918. This war over who-could-win-a-war left 17 million people killed in battle zones, including at least 60,000 Australians, and as many again who died of war wounds after the armistice.
Anzac forces – 30,000 of them – were stuck on a beach cliff at Gallipoli, Turkey, for eight months, under fire, in a botched attack planned by British navy commander Winston Churchill, who thought he had friends in Turkey who might support Britain. In fact, they had already signed a secret deal with Germany, and half the Anzacs lost their lives – for what?
The core battles of World War I came after Gallipoli, when literally millions of young men from opposing countries were stuck in trenches in fields of France and were expected to leap out and run at each other shooting rifles until everyone in that charge was dead. Then do it again.
A breakthrough came when a major-general in the British forces, who was an engineer, proved that distracting the other team by attacking their trenches with planes and tanks before going man-to-man was far more effective, and saved lives by the shipload.
This officer was unusual not just for thinking outside the box but also for being a colonial – Australian – and Jewish. Top British toffs were obliged to overlook these negatives and get their King George (Kaiser Wilhelm’s first cousin – yep, aristocracy is insane) to knight the engineer right on the battlefield in France, making him Sir John Monash.
After the war, despite being dissed by our official war historian as ‘a pushy Jew’ and by Rupert Murdoch’s father Keith because he couldn’t manipulate him, Monash created the Victorian State Electricity Commission, a successfully grand enterprise until it was privatised by the coffee-addled Liberal premier Jeff Kennett.
Monash also organised the building of the iconic Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. It is at the heart of Anzac Day solemnity, which celebrates appalling carnage set up by British supremacists.
We Australians have added our own injury to that British insult by promoting an idea that the nightmare of Gallipoli, above all else, made our nation. This may be because we have not looked hard enough to find what has made our nation, or because we don’t believe we’ve really made it yet.
All of which suggests we could help make our nation better if we got over this worship of a travesty by using a day or a year to re-evaluate who screwed whom across the 230 years since the first British mob came here – and who stood up for a fair go for everyone, including the mob who were here for 60,000 years before the new mob came.
Everyone who went to war should be acknowledged, and so should people who had the courage to not go on principle, and those who fought from the 1950s through to today against the many American wars on poor nations seeking independence from, well, rich Americans.
n Phillip Frazer pisses into the wind on www.coorabellridge.com.