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Day to Day Politics. ”Am I anti-American?”

Tuesday 31 November

1 I have a family member who is convinced that I am anti-American. I am not of course. I have a lot of American friends on Facebook. I love their music. Jazz in particular, and of course some of their sport.

I dislike their gun laws and their foreign policy but at the same time understand the difficulty in being the world’s policeman. I once admired their political system for its bi-partisanship until a bad actor stuffed it up and gave it over to religion. Yes, there is much I like and dislike.

Consider this:

The following list illustrates the force the USA uses in other countries in order to further its own interests.

Greece 1947-49.

Puerto Rico 1950.

Iran 1953 installed the Shah.

Guatemala 1954 after US Business nationalized.

Vietnam.

Laos.

Cuba 1961 invasion, to prevent the canal being nationalized.

Indonesia 1965. CIA assisted coup.

Dominican Republic 1965-66, troops land to secure election result.

Chile 1973, CIA overthrow of Allende.

Angola 1976-92.

CIA assists South Africa rebels.

El Salvador 1981-92.

Nicaragua 1981-90, aid to the Contras.

Grenada 1983-84, phoney excuse to invade to rescue students.

Libya 1986, air strikes to help topple the government.

Panama 1989, 2000 killed in canal protection.

Haiti 1994, blockade and troops to prop up Aristide.

Sudan 1998, bombed a pharmaceutical factory. The illegal war in Iraq.

Afghanistan.

Yes, the USA is often unfairly placed in the position of world policeman but we should understand that it would always place its own interests above all other considerations.

2 Many years ago it was considered unfashionable, once defeated, to utter advice to incumbent PMs or indeed, governments. Today it is commonplace. Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Rudd, Gillard and now Abbott often offer gratuitous advice about anything that takes their fancy. Yes, it is a free country and everyone is entitled to a view. But is it wise? The only one in my view who offers sound advice on policy is Keating. You might disagree, of course.

3 Why is it, unlike his predecessor, does the Prime Minister not refer to Asylum Seekers as illegals? Perhaps he knows the law.

4 World leaders and country representatives at the Paris climate talks would do well to remember that they are faced with a decision of universal consequence. None more serious in world history.

For more than 20 years the world has been struggling to tackle a collective problem that costs a huge amount to solve but immeasurably, unthinkably more to leave unattended. The talks are not about saving capitalism but the future of our home.

5 Australia’s budget deficit to blow out by additional $38bn by 2019 according to Deloitte Access Economics. They blame the Chinese economy, and the Senate. I’ll bet the Coalition blames Labor.

6 Some good news. Australia has signed-up to a multi-billion dollar global innovation plan that will require it to double the government’s investment in clean energy research and development over the next five years.

Australia joins 18 other countries – including the US, China and India – as part of the clean technology push to be launched at the Paris climate summit.

7 Some bad but unsurprising news. There’s a revolt with the National deniers urging Turnbull not to sign a United Nations treaty pushing to speed up the removal of fossil fuel subsidies.

8 This is an extract from a piece by Sid Hickman in On Line Opinion 25 Nov. 30, 15

“The lack of any substantial membership base is becoming a real weakness. The funding situation looks bad, with unions in trouble and business losing interest as the prospect of an ALP government in the next decade disappears. Some state branches are very weak and getting weaker. In WA the extreme left unions dominate the Party, as seen in recent preselection nonsense, because they have money and all other forces are struggling.

After two decades of fretting about membership and union domination, and reports written by ‘wise elders’, nothing of significance has been achieved. The problem is a lack of leadership. The Party needs a new political direction, new structures and new power relationships. Someone must stand up and convincingly redefine why the ALP exists now and why it should still be here in twenty years’ time. That would mean overturning the rather primitive religious and economic beliefs of some key powerbrokers so don’t hold your breath waiting”.

9 Morgan Poll yesterday has Labor on 44% and the Coalition on 56%.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it”.

 

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30 comments

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  1. darrel nay

    Thanks John,

    Your chronology paints a simple picture. Personally, I am concerned that the same people who prosecute the wars are funding the Paris junket. Is anyone else concerned about the fact that the biggest funders of the Paris meeting are big oil companies?

    Cheers

  2. Terry2

    Well, if nothing else at least we dodged a bullet in 2015 !

    In what must be a psychologists’ wet dream, Peter Hartcher in the SMH has revealed the complex and troubling relationship that existed between the former PM and his Chief of Staff :http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2015/Shirtfronted/PartTwoPeta.html

    We will probably never really understand the dynamics of the Abbott/Credlin relationship but one thing we do know is that it wasn’t good for Australia and quite likely Rupert Murdoch was right when, in January, he called for Credlin to resign in the interests of the country and failing that for Abbott to sack her. Remember these tweets from Murdoch :

    “Abbott again. Tough to write, but if he won’t replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign,”

    “Forget fairness. This change only way to recover team work and achieve so much possible for Australia,”

    “Leading involves cruel choices.”

    I don’t usually agree with Rupert’s view on life but on this he may have been spot on.

  3. donwreford

    Keating clever but like all politicians feathered his own nest and put our money in the basket of international money gambling and removed tariffs whether this was a benefit to our country is debatable surprising Keating is top dog? I believe Whitlam for all his supposed faults was and is the greatest prime minister Australia has had and will have had, what Lord has missed out on America is the subversive organization of the CIA, it is pretty mundane review of American and Australian politics but will give credit for the summary list of violations of countries of American violence.

  4. John Lord

    Donwreford. The purpose of my daily posts is to promote discussion on a variety of topics. Going into an extended view on each would negate this. Thanks for your remarks.

  5. Sen Nearly Ile

    A good set. lord.
    My dad left anti-menzies/churchill and came home, having added anti-yanks.
    He was convinced that Japan would not invade and macarther was a crock of …. who ran from the phillipines. Needless to say, your reasons and a myriad of ‘happenings’ have re-inforced my dad’s ‘indoctrination’.
    World leaders are aware how the whites got rich, how they maintain their lifestyle and how energy is the only way to catch up. If that requires the same sources the whites used then we will have a fight for it.
    Your 8 is tragic because malc has a pig-iron bob persona, with a menzian capacity to lie sincerely and a skill, in two horse contests, at backing both horses.
    Does telling the truth require a thought of consequences more than telling a lie?
    Was the rabbott’s lies justified because the truth would abort his ends?

  6. Matthew Oborne

    I think Rupert made it more difficult, had Tony booted Peta after Rupert told him too would have made him look like a total puppet.

  7. Roswell

    It’s easy to guess that Peta’s stranglehold on him might have been his downfall. Plus his incompetence. And his stupidity.

  8. Geoff Andrews

    If Tony & Peta had have been Labor, Jones, Bolt & Murdoch would have been able to hint, imply, then assert that there was some weird sexual “thing” going on.
    After all, he has form.

  9. Zathras

    The invasion of Granada was left off the list, where Cubans were helping build an airport runway for international tourism. Their bulldozers were shot up by invading paratroopers while “liberating” US students from an agricultural college they were freely attending nearby.

    It’s not who you are, it’s the things that you do that are judged, and rightly so.

  10. John Driggers

    I’m a Yankee transplant to Australia and a regular AIMN reader. While I generally agree with your observations that the USA will use other countries for their own ends, I’m a bit lost as to why you think that’s somehow unique. Every country does it and Australia, to the extent of its ability, is particularly egregious. I’d have thought that saying ‘the United States, like all other countries….’ would have been more even handed. [Note: I am NOT advocating that ‘everyone is doing it’ is any defense for bad behavior]

    And in looking at your list, one item seemed particularly overstated: 2000 deaths in Panama.

    From Wikipedia: According to official Pentagon figures, 516 Panamanians were killed during the invasion; however, an internal U.S. Army memo estimated the number at 1,000.

    The UN estimated 500 deaths, whereas Americas Watch found that around 300 civilians died. President Guillermo Endara said that “less than 600 Panamanians” died during the entire invasion.

    The U.S. Southern Command, then based on Quarry Heights in Panama, estimated the number of Panamanian military dead at 205, lower than its original estimate of 314.

    I was born in Coco Solo, Panama and was there for several weeks immediately prior to the invasion.

    I saw first-hand the situation in the country and it’s rapid deterioration. I was there when the Panamanian army chased the US ambassador through the streets of the city with armed vehicles, forcing him to seek immediate protection at the US Army facility at Quarry Heights because he could not get safely back to the embassy.

    A few days later this happened:

    A U.S. Navy lieutenant was beaten and his wife was roughed up and sexually threatened by Panamanian soldiers late Saturday after they witnessed the fatal shooting of another American military officer in Panama City.

    The shooting came closely on the heels of a declaration Friday by Noriega’s rubber-stamp legislature that Panama is “in a state of war” with the United States, but it did not appear to U.S. policy-makers that the killers were acting under orders. Administration officials instead characterized the incident as part of a steady escalation in the harassment of Americans in Panama over the past two years.

    The shooting victim and three other American military officers were fired upon as they drove away from a confrontation with soldiers at a checkpoint near the headquarters of Noriega’s Panama Defense Forces. A second officer was “grazed.”

    After witnessing the shooting, an unidentified U.S. Navy lieutenant and his wife were detained for four hours by Panamanian soldiers. The officer was “repeatedly beaten and kicked in the groin and head” and threatened with death if he did not disclose the nature of his duties in Panama.

    While her husband was being interrogated, the officer’s wife was harassed and “sexually threatened” by Panamanian soldiers.

    The officer’s wife was slammed against a wall with such force that her head was cut. After standing at the wall for half an hour with her arms above her head, she collapsed onto the floor.

    The first car with the shooting victim and three other American military officers, dressed in civilian clothes, had been driving to a popular downtown Panama City restaurant Saturday night when they made a wrong turn and were halted by soldiers at the checkpoint. A crowd of five soldiers and about 40 bystanders swarmed the Americans’ car when it arrived at the checkpoint.

    The men received no answer when they inquired in Spanish why they were not being permitted to pass through the checkpoint, according to the Pentagon. Instead, the soldiers’ rifles were loaded and aimed at the Americans.

    When the Panamanian soldiers grabbed at the Americans through the windows of their car and bystanders started chanting anti-American slogans the U.S. military officers “felt they were in a threatening situation” and drove off.

    The checkpoint guards responded by firing their Soviet-made AK-47s directly at the passengers in the fleeing vehicle, not at their tires. The Americans drove directly to nearby Gorgas Hospital, a U.S. Defense Department facility, where the victim died about 15 minutes after being admitted for treatment.

    The Navy lieutenant and his wife witnessed the shooting because their car had been halted at the same checkpoint shortly before the four American soldiers arrived. The couple had become lost while driving home from a restaurant, according to the Pentagon.

    After the shooting they were immediately taken to a nearby Panamanian Defense Forces office, blindfolded with masking tape and driven to another location for interrogation. The lieutenant believed the questioning took place at Panamanian Defense Forces headquarters.

    After the interrogation and beating ended, the couple were released about three blocks away from PDF headquarters.

    There’s lots more to the Panama story, and much of it does not reflect well on the United States. But when you overstate information like casualty counts without even doing the most basic of Google checks, your credibility suffers. And I read a lot of criticism on AIMN of Australian politicians overstating ‘facts.’

    First stone and all that……

  11. Zathras

    Oops, Grenada was there after all. Still, the Pax Americana strategy is in full swing now and a country that is addicted to war caries on.

  12. John Lord

    John Driggers. Thanks for your comprehensive comments. I have had that information in my procession for a number of years. I assumed it was factual. Perhaps I should have included a disclaimer of sorts. As I have previously pointed out the daily post is primarily to promote discussion. Again my apologies and thanks for your contribution.

  13. Steve

    “Yes, the USA is often unfairly placed in the position of world policeman….”,
    make no mistake they are self appointed ,it’s the only way they can control political and monetry tides. I am anti-American , never used to be but one does not tolerate bullies on any scale. Few features such as their sciences and geography are about the only appealing qualities they can offer , the rest is a very complex quagmire ; which is exactly how they want it.
    Alas it seems likely I will be anti-Australian as well ………
    What’s Fiji like these days?

  14. John Driggers

    Zathras posted onDecember 1, 2015 at 11:37 am
    The invasion of Granada was left off the list, where Cubans were helping build an airport runway for international tourism. Their bulldozers were shot up by invading paratroopers while “liberating” US students from an agricultural college they were freely attending nearby.

    It’s not who you are, it’s the things that you do that are judged, and rightly so.
    ==================================================
    Well said, but note the following. The devil is ALWAYS in the details.
    Out of context observations are…well, out of context.
    ==================================================

    Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1974. The leftist New Jewel Movement, which was seen favorably by much of the Grenadian population, seized power in a coup in 1979, suspending the constitution.

    On 16 October 1983, a party faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Coard seized power.

    Bishop, the Prime Minister, was placed under house arrest.

    Mass protests against the action led to Bishop’s escaping detention and reasserting his authority as the head of the government. Bishop was eventually captured and murdered along with several government officials loyal to him.

    The army under Hudson Austin then stepped in and formed a military council to rule the country.

    The (Queen-appointed) governor-general, Paul Scoon, was placed under house arrest. The army announced a four-day total curfew where anyone seen on the streets would be subject to summary execution.

    The US invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by democratic elections in 1984.

    The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day. For many Grenadians, the Grenada Revolution died with Bishop and so they gave thanks when the US rescued them from the faction which killed Bishop.

  15. mars08

    I don’t know if I’m “anti-American”. The term can have so many meanings…

    But, I suspect that I lean very much in that direction.

    I trace the disrespect I feel towards the USA to one factor… it’s putative democracy. I consider all the actions and policies in the above article to be the responsibility of the American people. I maintain (maybe unfairly) that the American presidents who authorised those actions were elected with theinformed consent of the American people. For decade after decade, the American people have condoned their government’s actions.

    Like I said, maybe I’m being unfair…

  16. John Driggers

    @John Lord,

    No worries and please keep the daily posts provocative. It’s only through the clash of ideas and thoughts, and digging deeper to get to the core of things, that we can learn and grow. You’ve opened my eyes on a number of topics.

    Cheers JD

  17. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    I reckon you left out some ‘American interventions’ in other countries, John. Particularly the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) would deserve a mention as it seemed to provide a template for many of their subsequent actions.
    A Primer on America’s Forgotten “Nasty Little War”: An Interview with Gregg Jones
    http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/151026

    I’m pretty sure you could add more American wars or conflicts http://www.historyguy.com/american_military_history.html but that is a fairly important one, I think.
    These are important too… https://theintercept.com/drone-papers/ and https://theintercept.com/2015/10/21/stealth-expansion-of-secret-us-drone-base-in-africa/

    I wouldn’t rely on wikipedia for casualty figures.

  18. John Driggers

    Chris,

    If your comment was addressed to J. Lord, I don’t think he made any claim that the list was exhaustive–merely notable examples.

    If your comment was addressed to me, I fail to get your first point. I clearly acknowledged that the United States is often a bad actor and acts in its national self interest. I only pointed out that a fair and rational accounting would point out that all countries do it. The tone of the original post (and yours) is that somehow, the USA is alone in acting that way. I also acknowledged that just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.

    The take-away is it’s irrational to ‘hate’ one country for behaviour that all countries engage in. Tis more even handed to dislike the behaviour, no matter who does it and confront it in your own country when you can, where you can make a difference.

    For instance, in my case, my move to Australia was motivated in substantial part by an effort to not participate in the society of a Bush-led country and use my vote from afar. Howard seemed tame by comparison. But then we got Abbott….Sigh.

    As to the Wikipedia figures–it was low-hanging fruit and they quoted and footnoted several sources–all with substantially lower death figures than John’s post.

    What do you rely on for your figures on the death toll in Panama? Certainly, “I wouldn’t rely on wikipedia for casualty figures” brings nothing useful to the discussion as I’d guess most people familiar with Wikipedia know that unsubstantiated claims abound on it for lots of topics. But, in this case, multiple sources were cited (I guess you didn’t go back to the wikipedia post). And they were all substantially lower than John Lord’s figure.

    But I take your observation under advisement and offer you this in lieu of Wikipedia and point you specifically to the sentence in the first paragraph which reads:

    “Thorough investigations by several human rights groups found no evidence to support allegations of thousands dead.”

    “What’s the Truth on Panama Casualties?,” Oct. 16: There has been no attempt on the part of the US government to hide the reporting of Panamanian fatalities as a result of Operation Just Cause. Also, there is no basis to allegations of 4,000 or more deaths. Thorough investigations by several human rights groups found no evidence to support allegations of thousands dead. On Jan. 11, 1990, US Southern Command in conjunction with Panama’s Institute of Legal Medicine provided an estimate of 202 Panamanian civilian fatalities as a result of Operation Just Cause. The 202 figure was based on visits to each major US and Panamanian hospital and clinic. This figure was released publicly on Jan. 11 and briefed to humanitarian and relief organizations.

    At the same time, Southern Command officials provided an estimate of 314 military fatalities as a result of Operation Just Cause. The 314 figure was the operational commander’s estimate and was based on data reported by units involved in combat operations.

    Since Jan. 11, all queries regarding death figures have been referred to Panama’s Institute of Legal Medicine, which provides information regarding Panamanian deaths associated with Operation Just Cause. The accounts are based on recovered remains. In a letter dated June 26, 1990 (which was widely publicized in the Panamanian media), the Institute stated that it had identified 63 military and 157 civilian remains. Another 47 bodies were not identified. In addition to these 267 confirmed fatalities, the Institute holds 93 unresolved reports of missing persons. Since some of the 47 unidentified remains could account for some of the missing persons, the Institute’s figures suggest a range of between 267 and a maximum of 360 possible deaths (military and civilian).

    Cheers JD

  19. margcal

    I agree with Steve – the “self”-appointed sheriff of the world. Yes, I know that people say “Why doesn’t the US do something?” but that seems more like a Pavlovian thing to me.

    Mars08 – I suspect the average voting US citizen is as informed as the average voting Australian citizen. And that’s no compliment!
    I believe that voters in both countries are manipulated (very well indeed) by the moneyed sector, big business, call it what you will. Plus very well financed lobby groups. I think not quite as bad in Australia with the lobby groups but more than bad enough.
    In the case of the US, it would be interesting to see the outcome if people took the right to vote seriously and actually voted.
    I might be deluding myself but I like to think that at least some Auatralians make a bit of an attempt to be informed seeing as they have to vote.

    Finally – I’d count myself as anti-American and wholeheartedly condemn our governments over the years for being the lapdogs that they are. I think “Yanks go home” is as appropriate now as it’s ever been. How many of these US interventions have produced good outcomes?

  20. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    John Driggers It was to John Lord (and anyone) except the last bit about wikipedia casualty figures….which I see was you saying that. Wikipedia and casualty figures relating to American actions are notoriously unreliable (even when human rights orgs endorse them – especially unnamed ones).
    The point ? Not that John Lord’s list was not comprehensive but that the US has been doing those sorts of things for longer….and more often than that list. The Philippines is part of our region. The US has been committing war crimes for more than a hundred years with impunity (and lying about them). The two history links are sites made by Americans……What is not to get ?
    Americans(government employees) are not willing to be subject to the laws expected of the rest of the world.

    On Panama History Guy says:
    American Military Casualties: 23 killed; 325 wounded

    Panamanian Military Casualties: 205 killed; 1,236 captured by U.S. forces

    Panamanian Civilian Casualties: Exact number is unknown, but range anywhere from 200 to 4,0000

    Which is very plausible.
    http://www.historyguy.com/warfiles/us_invasion_of_panama_warfile.htm

  21. Zathras

    My recollection of Grenada included Reagan standing in front of satellite images of an airstrip solemnly saying :”we got there – just in time”.

    At the same time, a puzzled journalist was broadcasting in person from next to that college asking why satellites were necessary – he was broadcasting freely and later described the international tenders that had been called to help build that landing strip to handle wide-bodied passenger planes for tourists.

    Despite the local political machinations it was a sinister military event intended for muscle-flexing domestic reasons and was also celebrated in America as their first successful post-Vietnam military incursion of another country, their previous Lebanon adventure being deemed a failure. Even Thatcher urged Reagan not to interfere but the invasion had already begun.

    America virtually abandoned the place afterward (their 2007 $40million World Cup Cricket Stadium was paid for by China) but it gave the US the confidence to move onto further adventures in Nicaragua and Central America.

    They have been involved in numerous regime changes, including several democratically elected ones and also provided support for repressive dictatorial ones – the legacy of such policies we are seeing today.

  22. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Number 6. is not such good news with the continued policy of closing the Clean Energy Financing Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency….
    “6 Some good news. Australia has signed-up to a multi-billion dollar global innovation plan that will require it to double the government’s investment in clean energy research and development over the next five years.”
    I think it sounds more like a privatization of publicly funded research http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-01/australian-biofuels-sector-projected-to-double/6989174
    …And will be used to justify the importation of more ‘environmentally dangerous’ weed species into our environment. https://invasives.org.au/files/2014/02/isc_biofuels_revised_march08.pdf Such as Jatropha
    …And the alteration of existing weeds….
    “”We found there is a substantial weed risk from new pasture varieties and that was because most of the varieties that are being developed for release are already well-known as environmental weeds,” says Driscoll. ” http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/11/04/4120713.htm

  23. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Algae grown in poor quality water would be the way to go (to a greater degree) Researchers develop blue-green algae power cells that generate carbon-negative electricity http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-28/researchers-develop-algae-battery/6983488
    And harvesting plantation mallee ‘tops’ (leaving the roots to re-grow and store carbon and energy) on marginal land.

  24. John Lord

    Thanks for all your comments. What we know is only surpassed by what we don’t.

  25. Andy

    Could we include Australia in 1975 in the list of US interventions?

  26. JeffJL

    “Cuba 1961 invasion, to prevent the canal being nationalized.”

    typo?

  27. PC

    The virtues of the Aristocratic hero: Beauty, wealth, status, honour- That’s what made an ancient Greek a hero. But these heroes ignored the problems of society and the desperate needs of ordinary people and these “heroes” even pursued their “honour” to the detriment of their real self interest. These pathetic human beings who the ancient Greeks would have called “heroes” exist today, and they are known throughout the world as Americans.

  28. Michael Lacey

    Divide And Conquer! There’s a reason that’s a well-worn catch phrase: it’s hundreds of years old. Create chaos, give you a diversion war! Reduce and diminish your choices if you divert from the official choices you are discredited and made feel ridiculous (Hegel dialectic)! Gough Whitlam did that when he diverted from the official choices, they brought him down! Iran was brought down in 1952 when they diverted from the official choices, I could spend ages giving examples. To stop the average person today from thinking about too many choices they gave you easy money or rather debt strengthened with insecurity and fear and competition to keep you submissive and quite! As Donald Sutherland said Watch the Hunger Games that gives you an impression of what the West is becoming. Why worry about Communism Global unfettered capitalism will do it better!

  29. jimhaz

    “Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer calls on DFAT to raise travel warning to US in the wake of the latest shooting”

    What a great idea! Maybe it should be suggested to an assumed progressive like Justin Trudea.

  30. cj

    The phrase “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” really comes to life among half-educated Aussies with a chip on their shoulder for the US. What PC writes is pure bigotry. Pathetic human beings? You could say the very same things about Australians given the criteria. It must make you feel good to shout insults from a distance.

    And Whitlam removed by the CIA? You pony-tailed tossers need to let go of this. It’s pure fantasy. Perhaps the only more galling thing coming out of a morally superior Ocker is condemnation for Vietnam, a conflict in which Australia practically goaded the US into. It’s amazing how so many of you are completely unaware of your own hypocrisy.

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