Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Latte-sippers on-side with our military – bogans and pollies off-side

Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-07-05

It turns out that the latte-sippers, worried about legal niceties, have been thinking along the same lines as our military – while the jingoistic politicians and bogans who claim to back our soldiers are instead forcing our military to do the wrong thing.

Those legal and ethical niceties about those our soldiers capture that have worried our brass include the practice that means if a single US private (4th class) is alone in an entire brigade of Australian soldiers, and any opponents are captured, it is the US, not Australia, that does the capturing.

As detailed in "Australian POW policies risk: top secret papers" (The Age, 2011-07-04) and "Revealed: Defence confusion over POWs" (ABC, 2011-07-04), show that the military brass were worried about not merely the legality of their operations, but indeed, whether it was principled:

Confidential Defence documents reveal that Australia’s policies on handling prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2003 were so contrived that they ran the risk of being neither ethical nor in line with international law.
The risk was starkly outlined in a top-secret memo from former chief of the Defence Force, Admiral Chris Barrie, to defence minister Robert Hill in February 2002, which warned that Australia’s prisoner arrangement "may not fully satisfy Australia’s legal obligations and in any event will not be viewed as promising a respect for the rule of law".

– The Age

And what does Mike Kelly, now a politician but previously Australia’s top military lawyer in Iraq, have to say about responsibility for prisoners we capture?

He says the country that captures prisoners of war retains a responsibility over their welfare.


So, lefties (and principled righties), accused of being latte-sipping intellectual elites, accused of undermining our military, accused of being pro-terrorist, copping all the mud Andrew Bolt and other Limited News propagandists can throw, are, probably because they are the intellectual elites, capable of working through these kinds of correctly, or have a better intuitive feel for them, than the bogan jingoistic rah-rah brigade can understand, or the politicians want the public to understand.

Are we beginning to see a pattern here?  Opinions on the actual existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?  Legal and ethical requirements of and for military action?  Hell… what about the environment, privatization of state assets, welfare funding…?

Now, will we see Murdoch’s Limited News pundits, and the jingoistic race-to-the-bottom politicians, and the bogan-minded majority, pointing out the latte-sippers were right?  No.

Maybe it’s the latte-sipping types, of both small-l-liberal and lefty persuasion, that people should be listening to.  The politicians know this.  They are not (all) stupid.  They just don’t want the public to think.

See Also:

  • "Military resented Howard" – Sydney Morning Herald 2011-07-03

    Former Prime Minister John Howard’s 2001 decision to use the armed forces to turn away boatloads of asylum seekers was resented by sailors and soldiers who had to carry out his orders, retired senior military officers have revealed.

    But 10 years later, some are speaking out. They reveal that one of the most popular decisions taken by a federal government was resented by many who had to put the prime minister’s words into effect.


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