Tuesday, June 02, 2020

When the CIA took part in overthrowing the prime minister of Australia

MINT PRESS NEWS has a really important article by John Pilger:

The Australian High Court has ruled that correspondence between the Queen and the Governor-General of Australia, her viceroy in the former British colony, is no longer “personal” and the property of Buckingham Palace. Why does this matter?
Secret letters written in 1975 by the Queen and her man in Canberra, Sir John Kerr, can now be released by the National Archives. On November 11, 1975, Kerr infamously sacked the reformist government of prime minister Gough Whitlam, and delivered Australia into the hands of the United States.
Today, Australia is a vassal state bar none: its politics, intelligence agencies, military and much of its media are integrated into Washington’s “sphere of dominance” and war plans. In Donald Trump’s current provocations of China, the U.S. bases in Australia are described as the “tip of the spear”.
There is an historical amnesia among Australia’s polite society about the catastrophic events of 1975. An Anglo-American coup overthrew a democratically elected ally in a demeaning scandal in which sections of the Australian elite colluded. This is largely unmentionable. The stamina and achievement of the Australian historian Jenny Hocking in forcing the High Court’s decision are exceptional.

Gough Whitlam was driven from government on Remembrance Day, 1975. When he died six years ago, his achievements were recognized, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. The truth of the coup against him, it was hoped, would be buried with him.
During the Whitlam years, 1972-75, Australia briefly achieved independence and became intolerably progressive. Politically, it was an astonishing period. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”.
The last Australian troops were ordered home from their mercenary service to the American assault on Vietnam. Whitlam’s ministers publicly condemned US barbarities as “mass murder” and the crimes of “maniacs”. The Nixon administration was corrupt, said the Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Cairns, and called for a boycott of American trade.  In response, Australian dockers refused to unload American ships.
Whitlam moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement and called for a Zone of Peace in the Indian ocean, which the US and Britain opposed. He demanded France cease its nuclear testing in the Pacific. In the UN, Australia spoke up for the Palestinians. Refugees fleeing the CIA-engineered coup in Chile were welcomed into Australia: an irony I know that Whitlam later savored.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor Party, Gough Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm”.

Bevan Ramsden (GREEN LEFT) wrote the following in 2019:

When Whitlam learned that Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) personnel were working as proxies of the CIA in Chile to help destabilise the socialist government of Salvador Allende, he demanded they be recalled home. At least some of the spies ignored the order.
Whitlam later instructed ASIO to terminate all communications with the CIA. Again, his order was ignored by then ASIO chief Peter Barbour.
Matters came to a head in 1975 when Whitlam dismissed the heads of ASIO and Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), the latter because of his involvement in secretly assisting CIA operations in East Timor during Indonesia’s 1975 invasion. 
In November of that year, the Australian Financial Review reported former CIA officer Richard Stallings had been channelling funds to National Party leader Doug Anthony. 
The accusation was not new. 
In his 1974 book Looking at the Liberals, journalist Ray Aitchison said the CIA offered the Liberal and National parties unlimited funding to help them defeat Labor in the 1974 elections, a claim later confirmed by Marchetti and The Sun, the now defunct afternoon companion to the Sydney Morning Herald.
When Whitlam publicly attacked Stallings and insisted on a list of CIA operatives in Australia, as well as an investigation into activities in Pine Gap, alarm bells sounded at CIA headquarters.
The same was true inside Australia’s military and intelligence sector. 
On November 6, 1975, the head of the defence department reportedly met with Governor General John Kerr, and declared the situation to be “the greatest risk to the nation’s security there has ever been”. 

Another senior defence official met with Kerr two days later and briefed him about CIA allegations that Whitlam was jeopardising the security of US bases in Australia. That same day, the CIA informed the ASIO station chief in Washington that all intelligence links with Australia would be cut off unless a satisfactory explanation was given regarding Whitlam’s behaviour. 

And in 2014, John Pilger wrote:

The Americans and British worked together. In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain's MI6 was operating against his government. "The Brits were actually decoding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office," he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, "We knew MI6 was bugging cabinet meetings for the Americans." In the 1980s, senior CIA officers revealed that the “Whitlam problem" had been discussed “with urgency" by the CIA's director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield. A deputy director of the CIA said: "[governor-general of Australia, Sir John Kerr] did what he was told to do."
On 11 November—the day Whitlam was to inform parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia—he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal "reserve powers," Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The "Whitlam problem" was solved, and Australian politics never recovered, nor the nation its true independence.

Okay, music.  First, I hope you already read Elaine's post Friday "5 great tracks from Alanis Morissette" -- it was a strong overview of Alanis' career.  Second, there were some music posts yesterday:

  • Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

    Tuesday, June 2, 2020.  Covid and ISIS continue in Iraq. 

    Sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder at the stupidity.  For example, Rafael Noboa Y Rivera shows up at THE DAILY BEAST to tell you "I'm an Iraq Veteran.  The Cops Are Treating Citizens Like They're Under Occupation."  I'm not questioning the police violence.  It's taking place.  It's documented in video after video of the protests.  I am asking what the hell Rafael is thinking?  This is how you acted in your tour in Iraq?  Or this is what you saw?  You already sold out everyone in 2008, veterans, remember?  You sold out your fellow veterans who, sadly, were willing to be sold out.  Barack Obama didn't want the big protest that veterans were threatening.  He was going to meet with veterans.  Rivera was part of that 'deal' that wasn't.  Barack never met with them, he just strung them along to avoid the headlines of ''Veterans Protest Barack."

    Now Rafael shows up, as Americans are disgusted to see the way protesters are being attacked by the police, to tell us this is what he, the Iraq Veteran, saw under occupation?

    If so, you really need to apologize to the Iraqi people.  And you need to stop acting like what took place there was in any way okay because it wasn't.  Your use of it to make an analogy demonstrates that it was not okay.

    On the protests, here's Margaret Kimberley (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) speaking to Australia's SKY NEWS.

    Violence continues in Iraq.  MENAFM notes, "According to the Iraqi military, two soldiers and two Islamic State (IS) militants were murdered on Monday, June 1st in an airstrike and a bomb attack in the Iraqi provinces of Nineveh and Diyala."  And, KURDISTAN 24 notes, "on Sunday, terrorists killed two members of the Iraqi federal police and the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and wounded six others, according to local media reports and a PMF statement."

    You may remember that it was just last week when we were laughing at the Iraqi military spokesperson who was insisting ISIS had been "vanquished" and was no longer a problem in Iraq.

    There are many problems in Iraq.  That includes the coronavirus.

    Iraq reimposed total lockdowns over the weekend following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
    After meeting with his COVID-19 task force on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government decided to institute a nationwide curfew until June 6, 2020.
    “The joint meeting underscored the importance of all citizens continuing to follow official health advice and physical distancing guidelines, and to comply with the curfew to keep themselves, their families and communities safe,” the government said in a press release announcing the restrictions.
    Under the latest guidelines, only supermarkets, bakeries and pharmacies are allowed to remain open. These businesses cannot have more than five people in them at a time, and both employees and customers must wear masks. Some ministries will be closed, people must wear masks when outside and the closure of Iraq’s airports to commercial flights will continue until June 6. Restaurants will be allowed to deliver, according to the release.
    The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi-Kurdistan also began a full lockdown today with similar restrictions until June 6, according to a KRG Department of Foreign Relations tweet.

    MEED notes Iraq has 6,868 confirmed cases of Covid-19, there have been 215 deaths and there have been 3,275 who have recovered.  On the recovered, we'll note this report.

    One way Americans can inhabit this crossroads in the weeks and months to come is by reading Iraqi occupation literature — that is, literature by Iraqis about life between 2003 to 2011, when the U.S.-led Coalition Forces occupied the country. Over the last decade, a number of brilliant fiction and nonfiction books about the occupation have become available in English. Two that stand out among this emerging subgenre are “The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq” by the award-winning Arabic writer and filmmaker Hassan Blasim and “Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq” by the anonymous Iraqi software engineer-turned-blogger Riverbend. Others include “The Corpse Washer” by Sinan Antoon, “Frankenstein in Baghdad” by Ahmed Saadaw, “The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq” by Dunya Mikhail, and “Baghdad Noir” edited by Samuel Shimon.
    These works challenge readers to share in the experience of being occupied. Just three months ago, this experience might have been considered a subject for only niche academic audiences or, worse, written off as the plight of an unlucky pocket of the globe. But the demanding isolation of social distancing, deepening precarity caused by the shutdown of all “nonessential” sectors, and seemingly imminent threat of infection and illness have made these narratives relatable to a wider American public. The idea of being confined, indefinitely, to one shelter was inconceivable for many of us prior to the coronavirus. During the first two weeks of the shutdown, my students, who were forcibly dispersed across four continents in a matter of days, began each virtual meeting by noting how surreal and dystopian it all felt. As one New Jersey-native put it, “It’s like we’re in a ‘Black Mirror’ episode, right?”
    It’s also the first time since the Vietnam War that the U.S. public has been confronted with so many dead bodies, and so many lives that cannot be fully grieved. The drone footage from New York’s Hart Island, where hundreds of unclaimed corpses are being buried in mass graves, crystallizes this phenomenon. It’s also a dilemma shaping our daily lives in less spectacular ways: health care workers broadcasting a patient’s final moments via FaceTime, essential employees beginning their shift after a brief announcement about a coworker passing, reporters updating listeners and viewers with the latest death toll.
    While this is new ground for many Americans, it’s old ground for many Iraqis. The mortality rate in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion was about 5.5 people per 1,000 per year and rose to 19.8 deaths per 1,000 in the year 2006. That same year, the rate of violence rose by 51 percent in just three months, with an estimated 5,000 deaths per month. The country’s medical facilities struggled to cope with the influx of bodies and the lack of capacity in their morgues, and families hired civilians to search dumps, river banks and morgues for the bodies of missing relatives.

    [. . .]

    One of those features is the trope of Iraq’s occupied civilians as ghosts, jinnis (supernatural spirits in Arabic mythology), or divided subjects — liminal figures existing at the threshold between life and death, waking and dreaming, human and non-human, here and there. “Baghdad Burning” opens about five months after the American invasion with the pseudonymous author resolving to blog about daily life under the occupation because, as she writes, “I guess I’ve got nothing to lose.” She quickly distinguishes herself from the “third world” Muslim women of the Western imagination. A university-educated engineer with a music collection ranging from Britney Spears to Nirvana, the 24-year-old had a budding career and busy social life prior to May 2003. She was free to move — solo and hijabless — around the city as she pleased. All that changed with the occupation.
    Riverbend chronicles the shift from her pre- to post-invasion life in details that are equal parts humorous and harrowing, raw and cerebral. She notes how the American troops carry out conventional forms of combat: killing, wounding and torturing Iraqi people. (Abu Ghraib, she affirms, was a watershed moment). But more often, she attends to the military’s more abstract and indirect engagement with those living in Baghdad. The occupying troops ravage the country’s infrastructure — electricity, water, gas and other basic services are constant problems — and they spread themselves everywhere in order to control and reconstruct the city. They also conduct patrols and raids that operate along the same logic as terrorism: surprise, chaos, asymmetry and mistrust. These strategies seem to facilitate the Islamic State’s domination and violence, a phenomenon that Riverbend highlights in her interrogative about the sounds that wake her at night: “What can it be? A burglar? A gang of looters? An attack? A bomb? Or maybe just an American midnight raid.”
    “Baghdad Burning” also gives readers a window into the psychological and social effects of the occupation. This form of militarism makes Riverbend and other Iraqis feel like they exist in an alternate reality, outside recognizable social and structural forms, like politics and time. When Donald Rumsfeld visits the country in September 2003, Riverbend observes how he moves through Baghdad “safe in the middle of all his bodyguards.” Rumsfeld’s movement is a particularly cruel and distressing element of the occupation for Riverbend, whose own mobility had become radically restricted (by that point, she couldn’t leave home without a head covering and male relative). “It’s awful to see him strutting all over the place … like he’s here to add insult to injury … you know, just in case anyone forgets we’re in an occupied country.” The young Baghdadi woman’s experience of the perverse and unassailable distance between herself and the U.S. Secretary of Defense typifies the occupier-occupied relationship in “Baghdad Burning,” a dynamic that leads Riverbend to the hopeless feeling that “everything now belongs to someone else … I can’t see the future at this point.”

    Last month, UNAMI noted a survey:

    This month the Government of Iraq with the support of UNFPA and UNICEF, unveiled the results of its National Adolescent and Youth Survey.
    The survey was the first of its kind in over a decade, with the last survey taking place in 2009. Its aim is to enable the Iraq Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to develop adolescent and youth-centered policies based on what adolescents and youth see as priorities.
    The launch took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the participation of the Minister of Planning, Dr Nouri Al-Dulaimi, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Ahmed Taleb, the Deputy UN Special Representative for Iraq and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms Marta Ruedas, along with UNFPA Representative, Dr Oluremi Sogunro and UNICEF Representative, Ms Hamida Lasseko.
    “Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can only live out their full potential if they have skills, health and choices in life and most importantly, an adequate system that meets their inspirations,” explained Ms Marta Ruedas.
    Iraqis between the ages of 10 and 30 were asked about a range of key thematic issues affecting their lives, including health, education and civic engagement. According to the survey, 39% expressed worry about their future financial security and employment prospects. With over a quarter of Iraqis between the ages of 15 and 30 jobless, Iraq is one of the countries with the highest youth unemployment rates in the region.
    “The results show that young people have a clear understanding of citizenship, political and social life and livelihoods as well as their rights and obligations. The survey will be the basis for a clear and transparent process to put together youth-based policies,” said the Minister Taleb.

    Iraq is a country with a young population.  The median age is 20.  By contrast, in the United States it's 38 years-old.  The youth have taken to the streets because of the corruption, because of the lack of jobs, because of issues with diplomas (including hiring issue), because of a government that does not serve the people.

    Mustafa al-Kadhim only became the prime minister on May 7th.  But this is not supposed to be a four year term.  That's the point Ayad Allawi was making when he Tweeted the following on May 26th:

    No public tribunal has yet been formed to try protestors’ killers; and neither have martyrs’ families, those wounded and made handicapped been compensated. In addition, there must be a fixed date for fair and early elections; a new electoral law; and an independent commission.


    The following sites updated: