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Byron Shire
August 16, 2022

Who’s the best at invasion? The West!

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‘As I watch the bombs fall and people die for the ego attachment insanity of a nuclear backed he-man horse-riding caricature cowboy tin-pot el-presidento leader, I shy away from the television and radio, half in grief and half in self-preservation’. 

‘There are children dying in the streets and we seem powerless to stop it – raising our voices or adorning our letterhead with flags seems so pathetic, it is almost petty. 

‘Our marching in the street, our voiced concerns were struck down by the barking squawking of nationalism and racism and fear. They have won and I am sickened to my bones. 

‘Does any rational person actually believe the excuses being rendered for the invasion of this sovereign country? 

How many civilians will be murdered? Will there be war crimes trials? How can we allow them to remain on the Security Council?

‘What will this country look like when the invasion is over – win, lose or draw? 

‘Flattened. Tower block shells. Blood drenched. Traumatised. Refugees flood neighbours, next neighbours, and even dribble here. Will we house them and draw them to our national bosom? History will judge them for the marauding resource-hungry invaders they undoubtedly are. 

‘At their heart they do not care about democracy – this is an invasion for greed and power and domestic consumption in an effort to right some imaginary wrong. Who do you think you are Mr President – Winston Churchill? Damn you to Hell.’

David Heilpern is a retired NSW Magistrate having sat in regional and rural NSW for over 20 years. He is an Adjunct and Practice Professor at Southern Cross University, and is Director of “Drive Change” an organisation dedicated to law reform in the area of drug driving, with particular emphasis on prescribed cannabis patients.

Can you guess when I wrote these words? Why are they written in inverted commas and italics?

Answer: I wrote them in my diary on March 5, 2003, two days after the invasion commenced.

The country was Iraq, the President was Bush.

And, no – the pathetic excuses of hidden weapons of mass destruction were proved wrong – as we knew they would be. A smokescreen literally and figuratively, only marginally more sophisticated than Putin’s claims of Nazis and fascists in Ukraine.

And how many civilians were killed when the coalition of the willing invaded the sovereign country of Iraq? Well, the historians bicker – but around 500,000 – likely higher. The number in Ukraine, so far, is about one per cent of that. And let’s not forget the thousands of coalition soldiers killed, and tens of thousands who later suicided.

And for what?

A basket-case country then and a basket-case country now.

And which countries were the actual invaders in the coalition of the willing? Only four – United States, United Kingdom, Poland and (yep, you guessed it), Australia.

And make no bones, this was an invasion without Security Council approval and was thus unlawful.

And no, there were no war crimes trials because – well just because. This is the West, and we are like, immune somehow, and oil is oil, and besides, we won.

George Bush Jnr is almost a national treasure when he should be in a cell next to Putin. Howard and Blair could share sweeper duty. And of course, the USA and UK are both still on the (in)Security Council.

And yes, the refugees came from Iraq and we did not welcome them with open arms and equanimity. Not like the Ukrainians. But then we have always preferred our refugees European and Christian. Meh.

So let us not self-righteously call out the Russians as though we would not stoop to such murderous intent.

Less than 20 years ago, we were committing the same mortal sin.

The only possible difference is that Iraq was despotic, and Ukraine democratic. But since when does being a dictatorial sovereign country entitle invasion?

That’s a bit of international law that I must have missed.

Of course two wrongs don’t make a right, but I find the conservative side of politics and their mates in the media sickening in their hypocrisy.

All their tut tutting and finger waving just reeks.

To read John Howard brazenly call the Russian invasion ‘criminal’ made me want to throw my chair through the television.

It beggars belief.

And so I did throw my chair through the television. Sorry!

And not one journo called him out on that. Perhaps because so much of the mainstream media were cheerleaders for the invasion as well.

Topically, one of the loudest and clearest voices against the Iraq war and our involvement was Anthony Albanese. And who was he joined by – irony of ironies?

Prior to the invasion the Russian leader issued a press release widely reported: ‘President Vladimir Putin today called for a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi crisis and said a US military attack would have the “gravest consequences”.’

Of course, I condemn the Ukrainian invasion. It is appalling.

Every life lost is an utter tragedy. Bad Mad Vlad.

But as Jesus said (and when quoting the Bible my vote is always for the King James Version where the language is so beautiful):

‘Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye’.

Well, there are blinding beams galore on the international stage of sanctimony and piety when it comes to Ukraine.

David Heilpern is an author, a retired magistrate and practising lawyer.


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24 COMMENTS

  1. There are historians who blame Second World War on the Western treatment of Germany after the First World War.Perhaps they are right. Maybe the capitalist world was so bad that it deserved Adolf Hitler to sort things out.
    One can theorise about anything. especially from the safety of Australia protected by the Bad Americans. It is a pity local intellectuals know so little of the long history of Russian Imperialism.Russia/Soviet Union/Russia has been destroying lives of her neighbours for centuries.Ukrainian people were trying to join the relative prosperity and freedoms of European Union and escape mafia like Putin’s regime. Compering Ukraine to Iraq and Zelensky to Hussein or George Bush to Putin is a good way out of having to feel compassion and it justifies inaction. The innocent lives lost in Ukraine do not compensate for the human tragedy of the Iraqi people. They are both crimes. Vladimir Putin must rejoice that no one protests against his brutality in a place where 5 000 locals including myself protested against the the American invasion of Iraq.His intricate network of social media trolls centred around some genuine causes like:antiVax,anti 5G, Anti CSG have been established here for many years. Now it doses us with its very effective propaganda like the whataboutism David decided to follow and amplify.I t is very sad ,that supposedly freedom loving community quietly cheers on a genocidal maniac seeing him somehow as a deserving God’s punishment on the Evil West. Our hatred of America deafens our humanity.

    • I’m hearing you Sky, we better remember which side our bread is buttered on. There is no best but there are ideals and the freedom to strive for them.

    • Sky, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I must disagree with your suggestion of lacking compassion or justifying inaction. On the contrary, I though I made it clear (and if not, do so now) that I decry the suffering of the Ukrainian people and feel despair at their plight. I write, I speak out, I curse. I wish I could do more. What would you suggest?

      • Thank you David, there are both Ukrainian and Russian refugees among us. They need support against the tyranny that may come to our shores one day. They are bewildered by the attitudes of the local alternative community , who only want to talk about Iraq and Julian Assange, bur are not really interested in the complexity and drama of the situation on the ground.I do not suggest that we live in a perfect democracy or perfect anything. I do not suggest that you lack compassion. Most of the time I respect your views and strongly support them, especially with regards to Cannabis Laws. I also appreciated your stand on vaccination misinformation. I agree that Iraq and Afghanistan took away credibility from the US. However the aspiration of Eastern European for freedom from aggression and domination is not caused by American support and CIA instigation, but rather a painful experience of an unimaginable scale of atrocities which Russian regimes have inflicted on others and their own people for generations. One example is the starvation of millions of Ukrainians during Stalin times. Today, murders , rapes and faced deportations of hundreds of thousands of children are not an invention of the fake media. They are verifiable facts. Millions of refugees in Poland are not on vacations. There seem to be two narratives running: one mainstream media trying to put a pro Ukrainian spin and wishful thinking. For others there is social media, some of it even critical of Putin, but still smuggling Kremlin’s view of Russia just asserting its own right. Putin’s own words about Ukraine are enough to show his intentions. The actions of the formerly neutral Sweden and Finland in joining NATO should give us something to think about. For the Ukrainians, American support is just about the only hope of avoiding annihilation. I, for one, hope that the brave people of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia will overcome their oppressors. I also hope that the good people of Northern Rivers will not remain silent. I admire the stand of the indigenous man, who wrote to Germany before the Second World War protesting the prosecution of the Jews. He did not focus on the wrongs Hitler’s enemies , like Britain have inflicted on his own people, but rather felt empathy for the victims of the Nazi regime. We definitely have acknowledged our governments wrongdoings. This is what makes us , who we are and this is why I chose to live here, not in my former Communist Motherland. We also need to see that the fog of war is on both sides and factual up to date journalism would help. A peace rally with Love and a plea for Peace from Byron to both fighting parties would be a hippie thing to do.

        • I agree with all of that Sky, and cannot believe some of the pro-Russian justifying tripe that spews from some in our alternate community. Look at the commentary from Mac Nicholson and others below. And I can see that the USA is the key saviour for Ukraine right now, warts and all. Thank you for your thoughtful and thought provoking comment.

          • If we stop sending weapons into a war zone, the Russians will win, the war will end, and people will stop dying. It’s that simple.

  2. Thanks, David, for your wise and condemnatory words. We are encouraged to forget those parts of our past that are inglorious and so we repeat them; we learn nothing. Violence aboard a submarine or space station is unthinkable and yet we persist in tolerating war on our spaceship Earth and continue to live with the very real threat of nuclear war.

  3. Bingo David.

    Propaganda is a tool used and abused by all. We in the west are in no position to throw stones.

    The lack of questioning on topic from our domestic media and those formerly known as journalists, is a little too similar to state owned media in non-democratic countries.

    The truth is usually the first casualty of war and most who support one side or the other in this particular conflict, are simply parroting what they have heard on the news and are inadvertently cheering on WW3.

    Peace man!

  4. Nailed it again, David.
    And now we are siding with the US of A in its trade war with China, supporting the re-arming of Japan, and spending our ‘hard-earned’ borrowings on useless submarines.
    What has China ever done to us other than buy our beef, nuts, coal and iron ore and sell us a lot of useless crap?

  5. Oh Yes ! And …the history of European peaceful conciliation
    and dispute resolution over the last thouand years is an example to us all. Niether the English nor the Dutch,Spanish,Portugese,German nor indeed the Italians would dream of invasion and rule by conquest !
    I believe the invasion of the “willing” in Iraq, slaughtered 70,000 in the first fifteen minutes ( despite the greatest World Wide protests in history ) and, that war criminal Howard is still at large ,but they are making an example Asange , who published the incontrovertible proof of his and our guilt.
    Putin is a barstard,George Bush, Howard , Ronny Raygun and yes Sky, I personally hate them all the way back to Ben Franklin. The suffering perpetrated in the ‘cold war ‘is indefensable, on both sides and Democracy is a wonderful theory and has been just about as successfully inplemented as that other equally wonderful theory of Marx’s Communism.
    I take as my motto what was imparted to me by the survivors of Gallipolli ” Never let the barstards send you to war” . I survived being a conscientious objector to the vietnam invasion and I know war is wrong , war industry is evil and I will not forgive Australia’s participation.
    Cheers, G”)

  6. Mostly I agree with you, however like most leftists in the West, you seem to think that in order to make your point you have to equate Putin to Bush – bad Vlad.
    Yes, Putin is a quasi dictator in one sense however he enjoys a massive approval rating in his own country but no, Ukraine is not and was never an innocent player, but rather a country who suffered a US backed coup of its then democratically elected government in 2014. The perspective is furthermore needed in accepting that the Ukraine government has ever since been beholden to the Azov (read neo nazi) arm of the military and have been the perpertrators of war crimes on ethnic Russian civilians ever since, culminating in an estimated 14,000 deaths from artillary shelling.
    Obviously, the plight of Russian civilians in the Donbass was not Putin’s sole motive in invading but that, and the threat of NATO expanding to its frontier in conflict with the Minsk agreement was all the excuse he needed – Putin actually had far more justification for his invasion than did tge US in invading or attacking Iraq, Libya or Syria.
    Of course, we all should know that the real motive for this US provoked proxy war culminating in the Russian invasion is really about control of Ukraine’s vast wealth in resources and the Ukraine people have become exploitable victims of their wealth having been in the hands of successive inept and criminally corrupt governments beholden to outside powers.
    Chevron, by the way, was the first to benefit from the 2014 coup being granted vast fracking rights within weeks of the fall of the pro Russian democratically elected government.
    Yes, good points about the West’s nauseating hypocrisy but more perspective needed.

  7. This is a very good article although lacking in balance. The article exposes a truth that for the most part has been buried by the media. However much more should have been written about the invasion of Ukraine . The article implies that the invasion of Ukraine can be understood, although not legitimised, in the context of the invasion of Iraq. This is not so as those in power are expected to have learnt lessons from the past. Although the man in the street was, and continues to be, rendered voiceless and powerless there was a tremendous out cry against the Iraq invasion by journalists, academics and numerous others with a voice and influence. Finally it should be said that is refreshing to read a factual article by the author rather than one of introspection and self reflection. This article stimulates very serious thought.

    • Thanks Hilary for your comments, which are greatly appreciated. Alas, only 800 words mean that it is hard to get the balance quite right. I agree completely with you that much more should have been written about the invasion of Ukraine, and I kind of thought that I would “trick” the reader into thinking that I was writing about Ukraine in the first few paragraphs and thus provide balance. A few people have since pointed out that more ought to have been written about the horrors of Ukraine, and I agree, particularly the rapes, executions, and show trials of prisoners of war.

      • “…more ought to have been written about the horrors of Ukraine, and I agree, particularly the rapes, executions, and show trials of prisoners of war.”

        From by both sides but alas, we are conditioned (via carefully crafted reporting) to think otherwise.

        There are no saints in this battle.

  8. Talking about a smokescreen. The US invested massively in the Ukraine, well knowing that it will lead to an escalation with Russia. Nato’s promise to not expand east was broken several times. The stock market in the US went up month before Russia attacked the Ukraine, all the arms manufacturers waiting with glee. US state secretary said in a wire tapped telefon conversation about the looming war and the consequences for Europe: Fuck the EU. Not that that makes Putin likeable or the invasion justified, to make that clear. But war is business for the USA and after Afghanistan they needed another outlet . By the way: the same research facilities as in Wuhan were installed in the Ukraine,
    also admitted by State Secretary Nuland. And Biden and his Son are on the payroll of the biggest oil and gas company in the Ukraine. David is right about the invasion: Nato and the west are good at it (even if it is in this case the set up of it all)

  9. David, 100%

    Honest Johnny Howard knows all about ‘criminal’ stuff.
    The Spying and Lying in relation to Timor Leste and the Iraq War will go down as Honest John’s / Australia’s lowest moments on the international stage in recent times

  10. No -body ever wins a war! The only ‘winner’ is the military industrial complex whose economic trajectory thrills old living white ‘dead soul-less’ men! All War exemplified by mankind reveals how totally un-evolved human consciousness remains!
    The greatest tragedy remains. Innocent children who teach us so much about the wonders of life..DIE..eco-systems of Mother Earth collapse and gutless politicians, old white men cannot bear to hear the TRUTH of their actions..and in-actions. They stroke the weapons of War, they control the narratives of “civiliization” and life goes on breathing in the same destructive desperate tensions. Assange suffers for holding up the mirror. A life of permanent Resistance seems to be the only human weapon against the lure of madness. And that takes permanent effort but is worth it . No to all War! No to the Military Industrial Complex..Yes to Resistance. Thank you David for deep sharing.

  11. David, thank you for speaking of the crimes of our past.
    Please accept the thoughts of a layman.
    Not long ago Prince Charles uttered the words ‘you will own nothing and you will be happy’.
    This truly exposed the agenda of the global elites.
    One world government, everything would be owned by corporations, those corporations would be owned by one corporation.
    Housing, land, money, media, food production, food distribution, medical care, oil, gas, everything would be owned by the elites.
    With the corona virus rampant, world bank being controlled by Washington, countries that step out of line bombed back to the stone age, corporate media blatantly lying day after day and almost every aspect of an individual’s life now in the hands of the elites, it is not hard to see that the great reset was about to happen.
    But first, China had to be put in it’s place financially.
    Russia would be the first to fall. That was the plan but it has all backfired.
    Putin with his superior batsmanship has has defended his wicket with every strike. 70 years of ‘Russia is bad’ publications is not going to stop him destroying the hopes of the elites with their great reset.
    Washington was the instigator of this war, not Putin.
    The West has lost the war on the ground.
    The West has lost the financial war.
    There will be an end of the US endless wars.
    A multi world government is now in the making.
    Time will tell if my theory is correct.
    Cheers.

  12. Thanks David and the Echo for printing it. It is often missed; the bloodless US backed coup in Ukraine in 2014., but less bloodless Chile , Panama, Libya, Nicaragua, just a few. And to compare Ukraine to just Iraq; there is also Afghanistan, Pakistan (drone strikes) , Syria, Libya, and Yemen. All these places have had serious US military intervention for the sole purpose of safe guarding and expanding US interest.

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