Accused are cowards, not part of a ‘warrior culture’

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Accused are cowards, not part of a ‘warrior culture’

The true Aussie heroes of Afghanistan: Braden Chapman, Dusty Miller and other unnamed whistleblowers. The Brereton Report into sickening war crimes committed by Australian special forces soldiers shows that we need to take a good, hard look at the values we reward in this country.
The Victoria Cross should be awarded to those who have shown enormous moral courage and true bravery by speaking out about war crimes committed by their fellow soldiers, despite being shunned, ostracised and threatened. They have lived with the moral damage of being witness to casual murder.

The ‘‘kill count’’ was rewarded by higher command – and so the sickening and cowardly executions of innocent Afghans and prisoners of war became routine. Please do not call that a ‘‘warrior culture’’. There is nothing brave about shooting a prisoner or an unarmed civilian. They are the true cowards.
Nicky Tyndale-Biscoe, Ascot Vale

When will the Afghans be compensated?

I watched Australian Defence Force chief, General Angus Campbell, trying to explain what had happened in Afghanistan, and how the accused and their families will now need support (7.30 Report, 19/11). I then read that Kerry Stokes has vowed through a spokesman to help members of the SAS who were accused of war crimes (The Age, 20/11). I wondered where were the real victims of these alleged murderous actions.

It seems the Afghan victims and their families have been sidelined in an effort to protect the reputation of our defence personnel. No doubt the federal government will follow through with its undertaking to provide compensation to the Afghan families, but how much and how soon? Or will this have to wait until various court cases are finalised, which some suggest could be years.
Bruce MacKenzie, Kingsville

Weren’t we there to befriend and support?

When Australia joined in the war in Afghanistan, we never asked ourselves why we were there and then sought an honest answer to that question. Does the redacted portion of Justice Paul Brereton’s report deal with the political decision to enter the war as a nation, which was done on a captain’s call? At the time and later, Australians at large were told that we were there to befriend and support Afghanistan, build schools and chase out foreign insurgents.
John Marks, Werribee

Support for the Afghans who are in Australia

I am deeply appreciative of The Age’s reporting into war crimes perpetrated by special forces soldiers. However, I was disturbed that at the bottom of your articles, details for services which support current or former ADF members, or a relative, were included, and none which support people who have been victims of military violence.

While there is no doubt that many involved in the defence forces have been traumatised by war, the atrocities committed have been most keenly felt by Afghan people. I encourage those Afghans who are in Australia, and others who feel traumatised by the accounts of military violence, to seek support from organisations such as the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.
Jessie Richardson, Richmond

How could the higher ranks not have known?

In any military organisation the culture starts at the top and is passed down. To believe that warrant officers, lieutenants, captains, majors and lieutenant colonels did not realise that there was a disturbing, illegal behaviour amongst the other ranks is ludicrous. These senior ranks are trained managers and if they did not know what was going on they should not have been in the job.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

Wrong time to spend money on war memorial

That excessive and wasteful $500million upgrade to the Australian War Memorial is looking even more inappropriate. It is a time for a rethink on this, Scott Morrison.
Cynthia Humphreys, Toorak


My lessons in killing

Congratulations, Cathy Wilcox, on being named the political cartoonist of the year by the Museum of Australian Democracy (The Age, 20/11). Your four-part cartoon yesterday, on how soldiers are trained, could not have put it better. As an ex-technical clerk of The Royal Army Ordinance Corps in England, even I, a lowly clerk, was taught how to attack, kill and disembowel an enemy with a rifle and a bayonet.
Barry Austin, Mooroolbark

Teaching young boys …

Bravo, Wilcox, for your cartoon which brilliantly sums up the armed forces’ disgrace in Afghanistan. But all of society must bear some responsibility for the aggressive, macho attitudes that are encouraged in boys. I wonder how many youngsters will receive toy guns, swords and other weapons for Christmas.
Edna Russell, Ocean Grove

…to do the dirty work

More than 500,000 of our Australian citizens marched against military involvement in the Middle East. The young, fit, aspiring and impressionable men sent to do the dirty work in Afghanistan and Iraq are now the fall guys for the real war criminals who drove this incredibly costly debacle: George W.Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair and John Howard.
John Poppins, Mount Waverley

Reforming the culture

It is no wonder our young soldiers returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder if they were subjected to murdering helpless Afghans while they were on duty overseas. The details on 7.30 were shocking in the extreme. How can that culture now be reformed?
Elaine O’Shannessy, Buxton

How to create monsters

Why are we surprised that when we ask our sons, nephews and brothers to do monstrous things, some of them turn into monsters?
Andrew Johnston, Kallista

Tarred by association

Apart from the Brereton report’s horrific findings, one of its more disturbing aspects is that the alleged perpetrators are allowed the protection of anonymity. This places the whole of the SAS under a cloud. It is bad enough to know that such a toxic culture existed without unfairly extending it by implication to all honourable and decent members of the force. Simply reforming and rebranding the regiment may satisfy the Defence Force, but it sends the wrong message to the public.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Learn to say ‘no’ to US

It comes as no surprise to learn about the atrocities committed in Afghanistan, given the war-mongering history of this country’s leaders. When will Australia spawn a party and leader who has the intellect and courage to say to the United States: Enough is enough. We have followed it to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan – with what result? War crimes, thousands of Australians killed and wounded, carnage wreaked upon the innocent and their cultures decimated.

Scott Morrison, who is crawling over broken glass to sign a new military treaty with Japan, ignores the history of Japanese atrocities committed against Australian prisoners of war. In true war-mongering spirit, he again aligns Australia with the US and now Japan, knowing there is a potential for a war with China. Many of our native species have become extinct. Why not lemmings?
Trevor Monti, Williamstown

Standing up to China

Nothing quite encapsulates the disdain towards Australia on the part of the Chinese regime than that expressed by its Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian (The Age, 19/11). Is it really so surprising to him that we should have the temerity to want to find answers to a pandemic that began in China and has had disastrous consequences for the whole world? I urge the Andrews government to reconsider Victoria’s involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative. Why do business with those who hold us and other nations in such contempt?
Jane Grano, Blackburn

Locals will pay the price

I understand that pushing workers back into the CBD will help businesses there, but aren’t we robbing Peter to pay Paul? While working from home, we have been giving our coffee and takeaway food business to our local shops. Their business will decline when we return to the office in the city.
Chrissie Schubert,Windsor

Crown’s dirty cash

At last, a vindication for the long-term gambling reform activists, Tim Costello and Andrew Wilkie, and, more recently, whistleblower Jenny, as a result of the inquiry into Crown Resorts (The Age, 19/11). Evidence of many irregularities has been revealed including money-laundering, child sexual exploitation and dodgy visas for high rollers to come to Australia to gamble. Thankfully, the NSW gambling regulator has blocked the opening of Crown Resorts’ Sydney casino next month until the inquiry into its licence is completed next year. The outcome will be interesting.
June Roberts, Eaglemont

Power of Crown’s money

The Victorian government has jumped in to rescue Crown casino, stating that its licence will not be suspended in Melbourne (ABC, 19/11). ‘‘There is a sacred trust when it comes to these licences and they need to be complied with,’’ Daniel Andrews said.

Sacred trust? Are you kidding, Premier? With Crown casino donating $35,000 to Victorian Labor and $30,000 to the Victorian Liberals in 2018/2019, we know at which table the politicians worship. Meanwhile, serial bleater Michael O’Brien proclaims that the Victoria Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation was ‘‘asleep at the wheel’’.
Leonie Ashton, Maribyrnong

Make use of old railway

Re the Suburban Rail Loop (The Age, 17/11): The Outer Circle Railway was designed and built under the instruction of Sir Thomas Bent, who later became premier, in the late 19th century. A significant portion of the railway remains as a reserve from Hughesdale to Fairfield stations. It would make sense to use this land and save million of tunnelling dollars for the same cross city railway.
James Parton, Clarinda

Isolate, but remotely

How can we truly isolate those with a very infectious virus by placing them in the centre of a large, busy city? It has been shown that only one small error can start transmission through transport, medical, retail and social systems. Perhaps the 19th and 20th century administrators better understood the meaning of strict isolation. Quarantine buildings and their on-site staff were in areas of true separation from the general community.

The success of antibiotics has also made us complacent about bacterial infection. Already, there are bacteria which have become resistant to known antibiotics. People with such infections also need a form of isolation to prevent spread. Remote quarantine stations need to be established. The cost would be minimal compared with the human and economic stress such epidemics impose.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills

Humane and effective

It is welcome news that a predator-proof fence will be built at Wilson’s Promontory (The Age, 18/11). Fences are the most humane, long-term way to protect native animals and their habitats from human-introduced animals such as foxes, deer and cats. They eliminate the need to use cruel poisons and mass shootings to protect native animals. Erecting fences in vulnerable areas could also provide people with practical work skills and introduce them to the joy of working outdoors for a worthwhile cause.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

A man of many denials

Was Rupert Murdoch too clever when he set up a double negative by denying he is a climate science denier (The Age, 20/11)? His media outlets prove he supports denial of facts. His influence on the government’s climate inaction is evident.
Peter Logan, South Melbourne


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


I have no words.
Barbara Abell, Essendon

Angus Campbell. Hero.
Paul Burchill, Carlton

There should only be one rule of war: no wars.
Andy Wain, Rosebud

If they’re jailed, may it be in Afghanistan with surviving family members as their warders.
Doug Clark, Hampton

Wilcox, you’ve done it again (20/11). Your cartoon on war nails it.
Liz Riordan, Newtown

The US

I’m looking forward to Trump’s return to reality TV – on The Biggest Loser.
Bill Gray, Albert Park

Hang in there, Mr Biden. Pope Francis will be 84 next month and Rupert is … 89.
Peter Angelovski, Hoppers Crossing

Memo to Donald Trump and Pete Evans: snake oil has a use-by date.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton


SA needs people with expertise on COVID-19. Let’s send them O’Brien. He knows everything.
Mick Hussey, Beaconsfield

I guess we’ll hear from O’Brien how draconian SA’s lockdown is.
Bruce McQualter, Richmond

When will the SA Premier announce an inquiry into their hotel quarantine failure?
Denis Liubinas, Blairgowrie

Melburnians feast on double doughnuts while our Adelaide cousins nibble humble pie.
Don Phillips, Fitzroy


Murdoch is a climate change-denier denier.
Jonathan Morris, Clifton Hill

So I should spend some of my savings to fund my retirement (20/11). Gee, what a radical idea.
Lindsay Zoch, East Melbourne

A $50 billion rail loop that buses service but no airport-rail link. Where are the government’s priorities?
Doug Springall, Yarragon

Re our anthem. Why not do as Spain has done? Just music and no words.
John Simmonds, Collingwood

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