Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Above: Wily Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum (left) pictured with Canadian journalist Scott Taylor in 2007. Dostum claims he can put together a 5,000 strong army and clean out the Taliban but is being stopped by NATO from doing so.

Australian freelance photo journalist Sasha Uzunov in local Afghan attire meets charismatic and unorthodox American woman Sarah Chayes who lives outside the wire in Kandahar, Afghanistan

On-Line Opinion - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


Out-'talibaning' the Taliban:
can the US ‘win’ in Afghanistan?
By Sasha Uzunov - 30 December 2008

The late David “Hack” Hackworth, the most decorated American soldier from the Korean and Vietnam Wars and a respected military critic, once said that to beat the guerrilla or insurgent you have to “out-g the g” or out-guerrilla the guerrilla! That is you have to use his tactics against him.

The United States - and by extension the “Free World” including Australia - now finds itself poised for a make or break year 2009 in the Afghanistan War. The Taliban has become resurgent in more than 50 per cent of the country. Some are claiming more than 70 per cent.

But can the US really win the war in Afghanistan? It depends how you define winning. It has been easy for commentators to compare the Vietnam War and Afghanistan - with the focus on beating an elusive enemy that comes and goes: the Viet Cong in Vietnam and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

With any counter-insurgency war, the key to winning is a two-pronged attack - political and military. That is removing the support for the insurgent or guerrilla from the people. The most obvious way from a political angle is to provide the local people with clean running water, sanitation, health, jobs and education and combat corruption within the government.

The sad truth is that much of the western aid in Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan, is not getting through. Canadian journalist Scott Taylor and I had the opportunity to see for ourselves, outside the wire in June 2008, that local schools did not have books or computers. Literacy is at the heart of weaning the locals from the need for the Taliban.

One brave woman, Sarah Chayse, a former American journalist, lives outside the comfortable NATO base or western style compounds in Kandahar. She has gained street credibility by running a simple soap factory that employs local men and woman. She is Afghanistan’s version of John Paul Vann, the famous American advisor from the Vietnam War. The Commander of Canadian Forces, Brigadier-General Denis Thompson even paid her visit while we were her guests earlier this year.

Moreover, at some point the Taliban will probably have to be brought to the negotiating table. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has left the door open for such a possibility.

Critics always point out that the US is not good at winning counter-insurgency war with Vietnam cited ad nauseam as the example; that US military doctrine is geared towards set piece battles with enormous fire power. The irony of all this is that US has the answers staring it right in the face. The Whitehouse and the Pentagon need only go back into the history pages, back into the time of the founding of the US in the late 18th century.

Rogers Rangers or Petraeus' Patriots

Rogers Rangers were a group of irregular colonial American soldiers recruited by the British in the late 1700s to fight the competing French Empire and Indians in North America. They were famous for using what has now become known as guerrilla tactics, ambushing, hit and run and so on. Later, some of these tactics were used by the Americans fighting for Independence against the British. Those ex-Rogers Rangers that remained loyal to the British Empire during the American War of Independence moved to Canada.

Both the United States and Canadian Armies claim the legacy of Rogers Rangers. The present day 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery (United States) and the Canadian The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) trace their roots back to Rogers Rangers.
Both countries are now fighting side by side in Afghanistan. The Canadians have taken many casualties, with a hundred soldiers killed already.

Perhaps the US military might want to re-create a 21st century version of Rogers’s Rangers and call it Petraeus’ Patriots, after the famous US Army General David Petraeus from the Iraq War known for thinking outside the box.

Another man who could help the US is an articulate and fighting Colonel, HR McMaster, who in 2005 was successful in counter-insurgency operations in Northern Iraq. I had the good fortune to meet Colonel McMaster in Tal Afar, Northern Iraq in 2005.

Perhaps promoting him to Brigadier-General and giving him a command in Afghanistan should be considered top priority by incoming US President Barak Obama

The US, Australia and Canada, have their Special Forces units operating in Afghanistan. The Commander of Australia’s Special Operations Command, Major General Tim McOwan has claimed during a recent media meet and greet and slide show in Canberra that the elite SASR (Special Air Service Regiment) and 4RAR (Commando) were beating the Taliban at its own game.

"In many instances your Special Forces soldiers are able to clandestinely capture these leaders without ever firing a shot. On one occasion the commandos infiltrated undetected into the heart of a Taliban safe haven to capture the Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in his bed," he said.

General McOwan has not revealed in great detail what tactics the SASR and Commandos are using but it does not take a genius to work out that the key to any operations is to remain unpredictable - the enemy not knowing where and when you will strike. Moreover, not leaving a signature, that is the enemy does not know how you will strike: will you enter (insert) the battle with helicopters, armoured vehicles or just walk in?

The Black Hawk down episode in Somalia in 1993 saw a band of militia with cheap but effective weapons, Kalashnikov assault rifles, RPG rocket launchers, bring down two very expensive American Black Hawk helicopters and inflict casualties on US Army Specials Forces (Green Berets, Delta Force and Rangers). The political result was President Clinton withdrew from the mission. The Somali militias had learnt when and where the US military would strike because it had become routine in its operations and left a “signature”.

In 2001 when the US invaded Afghanistan and successfully removed the Taliban from power, Green Berets joined forces with Northern Alliance rebels, namely ethnic Uzbek forces led by the wily General Abdul Rashid Dostum. One of the traditional ways they travelled into the battlefield was by horse because of the hostile terrain.

Irregular and radical tactics

As a suggestion, and if it has not been already been adopted, why not have a brigade or regiment (over 1,500 soldiers) of US Army Green Berets or Petraeus Patriots dressed as local Afghanis, full beards, using traditional weapons such Kalashnikovs and RPGs supplemented but not dominated by the high-tech gadgets that the US likes to use in warfare, hunt down the Taliban. Throw in some tracker dogs as well. We could have a contingent of Canadian Special Forces, JTF 2, along for the ride. They could be nicknamed Hilliers’ Harrassers, in honour of the hugely popular Canadian Defence Chief, General Ricky “The Big Cod” Hillier.

In 2,000 years no one, including the British or the Russians has been able to subdue Afghanistan. History is against the US. However, history can also find the answers.

Afghanistan is a nation made up of various ethnic groups, Pushtuns namely in the south, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras, the descendents of the Mongols, and two strands of Islam, Sunni and Shiite. Trying to keep Afghanistan, like multi-ethnic Iraq, as a central state is downright crazy. Some kind of federation should be considered, devolving power as a safety mechanism.

Pushtuns have their kinsmen living in neighbouring northern Pakistan. It comes as no great surprise that the Taliban, which draws its support from the Pushtuns, has safe heavens across the border in Pakistan. To revisit the Vietnam War, the communist North Vietnam used neighbouring Cambodia as part of its Ho Chi Minh trail as a supply line to the Viet Cong (Communist insurgent forces) in the South.

The US now has to also cut off the “Osama bin Laden Pass” connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A federal Afghanistan with the national army complemented by regional forces - and private armies run by warlords are a fact of life in Afghanistan today as they were centuries ago - would act as a counter to the Taliban.

In June 2008, Canadian journalist Scott Taylor and I were told by Dostum in Kabul, the Afghan capital that he could round up an army of 5,000 fighters and clean out the Taliban. Similarly, leader Pocha Khan Zadran said he could do the same in the East alongside the border with Pakistan.

Critics, pundits, defence experts, armchair generals, and the media constantly bombards us with the notion that we need to be able to think outside the box, and have a willingness to try something unorthodox. But it seems many of these groups are set in their ways.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Brisbane Courier Mail newspaper article, Australia


Holiday hypocrisy

by Sasha Uzunov
December 17, 2008 11:00pm

UNION protest at dropping the long weekend rankles with Vietnam War veterans stung by past anti-war action.

For some of Queensland's Vietnam veterans who watched this week as the Queensland Council of Unions jumped on the Anzac legend bandwagon to keep a public holiday next year, painful memories have been dredged up.

Anzac Day falls on a Saturday in 2009 and the Queensland Government will not be giving either the Friday before or Monday after in lieu of April 25 as a public holiday.

As one veteran quipped on a website: "After striking during the Vietnam War and withholding supplies destined for troops, the unions now want to benefit from their shame, I think not."
Keith Tennent, a Rockhampton veteran and editor of influential website,

www.theaussiedigger.com, added his thoughts on the issue by writing:

"Anzac Day is a day of solemn remembrance, not an excuse for a barbecue and a beer."

Not all trade unions are the same and cannot be blamed for the past actions of other unions. But you can understand Vietnam veterans' anger at the hypocrisy of those who opposed our involvement in the Vietnam War, and now all of a sudden are flag-waving super-patriots when it suits them.

Paul Ham, in his excellent book, Vietnam –The Australian War, reveals:

"In November 1969, the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation refused to load the Jeparit, the military supply ship that shuttled between Sydney and Vung Tau (Vietnam). This time the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) did nothing to restrain them . . . vital supplies were delayed. The postal unions urged their members to take industrial action."

A staunch supporter of the massive national anti-Vietnam War moratorium protests in 1970 was the Queensland Trades and Labor Council.

Bob Hawke was the ACTU president at the time of the fierce opposition to the Vietnam War. That didn't stop him, as prime minister, from basking in the limelight at the welcome-home parade for Vietnam veterans in 1987.

Now, having said all that, I understand that allowing an Anzac Day long weekend for many would be great.

We are constantly bombarded, by social scientists and other experts, with the fact that we Australians work longer hours than ever before and are dedicated to our careers.

We are made to feel guilty about not spending quality time with our family or loved ones because of work. Marriages and relationships are put under strain.

Doctors and psychologists warn us constantly of stress that could damage our physical and mental health because of over-work in trying to keep up with mortgage repayments and paying the bills.

Time off would be great, but is it really so bad if we miss one public holiday on a rare occasion when it falls on a weekend. It's not the end of the world, but missing an arm or a leg because of a war wound is close.

The Queensland Council of Unions needs to put things into perspective.

If we want to pay our respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in war then let us honour April 25, Anzac Day, on whatever day it falls.

Sasha Uzunov is a journalist who has worked in Iraq and Afghanistan and a former Australian soldier who served two tours of duty in East Timor.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Private Bruce Kingsbury VC - Kokoda WWII

Private Les Farren - Vietnam


Sasha Uzunov, a Reservoir freelance photo journalist and former Australian soldier who served in East Timor, says he wants to propose to Darebin City Council that they place a statue of one of Australia’s greatest World War II heroes Private Bruce Kingsbury VC at the Reservoir Cenotaph in Edwardes Street, Reservoir, Melbourne, Australia.

Sasha Uzunov spent 15 years campaigning for a memorial plaque for Victoria’s first National Serviceman (conscript) killed in Vietnam, Pte Leslie Farren of the northern Melbourne suburb Reservoir, (within Darebin City). Sasha was eventually successful and a plaque was placed at the Reservoir Cenotaph in 2006 amidst great fanfare by the Darebin Council and the media.

Private Kingsbury lived in the City of Darebin (covering the suburbs of Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir, Regent and Kingsbury).

See link: below:

Bruce Kingsbury VC (1918-42)

Bruce Kingsbury was born in Armadale in 1918. After working interstate for a while he joined his fathers real estate business in Northcote. Kingsbury lived in Gilbert Road in West Preston.

When the World War II broke out Kingsbury quickly enlisted. Sent to Palestine Kingsbury saw action in both Egypt and Syria. In 1942, Kingsbury’s unit, the 2/14th Battalion was posted to Port Moresby.

On 29th August 1942, the 2/14 was involved in heavy fighting on the Kokoda trail. Japanese attacks were successful in pushing back the Australians. With the Battalion Headquarters in danger of being overrun it was vital that a counter attack was made. Kingsbury’s unit had been severely handled by the Japanese so Kingsbury joined another platoon assigned to make the counter attack.

Charging the enemy, firing his machine gun from his hip, Kingsbury inflicted heavy causalities upon the Japanese defenders. Taken by surprise by his attack the Japanese defenders scattered and the Australians were able to regain a precious 100 yards of territory.

But the cost was high. Kingsbury was now about 15 yards in front of his colleagues. A Japanese sniper fired a single shot, killing Kingsbury, before fleeing into the jungle.

In sacrificing his life Kingsbury had saved the headquarters and prevented the Japanese from taking a decisive dominance in the battle for the Kokoda trail. Bruce Kingsbury is buried in the Kokoda War Cemetery.

Mr Pete Crockett - Secretary of The Kingsbury Society is seeking to have created by renowned local sculptor, Peter Corlett, a full-sized bronze statue of Bruce Kingsbury, to cost approximately $100,000 and to be located in Melbourne's City of Darebin.

“Unfortunately we are many years away from reaching that target of funding,” Mr Crockett said.
“Darebin Council had rejected a proposal to place a life-sized statute of Kingsbury VC outside the Preston Town Hall on the corner of High Street and Gower Streets, Preston.”

The Reservoir Cenotaph would be an ideal place for the Kingsbury monument, Sasha Uzunov said. But we would need to get permission from the Reservoir RSL, which administers the site. Hopefully we can get DVA to fund the project.


PETER CROCKETT - Secretary of The Kingsbury Society. To contact him call 0404 560 424
Email: bsk@alphalink.com.au

5RAR - Pte L.T. Farren memorial plaque / ceremony

Leslie Thomas Farren. Killed in Action, 10 June 1966

A First Angry Shot Remembered (The Melbourne Herald Sun, page 20)

by Sasha UzunovAugust 24, 2006 12:00am

Bank teller Les Farren did not live to hear Prime Minister John Howard's apology for the reception his mates received from a disillusioned public when they returned home from Vietnam.

This little-known soldier from the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir was the first Victorian National Serviceman to die in that controversial war.

But he will be remembered when his 86-year-old mother, Lillian Farren, unveils a plaque on Monday at the Reservoir Cenotaph.Forty years after his death, Mrs Farren still grieves for her son.

"It was awful to see Les go and never see him again", said Mrs Farren. "This way he will be remembered."

Les was always in the shadow of another Melbourne suburbs boy when he went to Vietnam. The 1960s Australian pop legend, Normie Rowe, was one of his schoolmates at the Northcote High School before they were called up for Vietnam.

Les, two years older than Normie, was quietly spoken and looking forward to being an accountant in the suburbs.Normie, in the era of Beatlemania, was being mobbed by screaming hysterical teenage girls and had the music world at his feet.

But Vietnam changed their lives. Pte Leslie Thomas Farren was conscripted in 1965 and posted to 10 Platoon, Delta Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Infantry Corps.

He was also a keen amateur photographer and the only son of Thomas and Lillian Farren.On June 10, 1966, while on patrol in South Vietnam, Pte Farren was severely wounded by Viet Cong mortar fire.

He was 19 days short of his 21st birthday. Cpl Frank Donovan was the army medic who tried to help Les."Les Farren actually died in my arms from massive lower body wounds," said Cpl Donovan. The extent of his wounds and loss of blood made survival impossible.

Trooper Norman J. Rowe got the call up in 1968 and went to Vietnam in 1969 with A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Armoured Corps.He survived but it almost ended his musical career.

I took an interest in Les Farren after reading about him in a newspaper more than 15 years ago.

I was surprised no one had acknowledged his service. Les was one of the unsung people who do
their duty without fuss or fanfare.Len Barlow, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia helped me to lobby Darebin Council for the commemorative plaque that will be unveiled by his mother.

To its credit, the council quickly approved the proposal. Les Farren has not been forgotten but it has taken too long to acknowledge his service.

Following the Prime Minister's words on Vietnam Veterans Day last Friday, the sacrifice of these veterans might now be better remembered.

Videos and photos of Private Leslie Farren (10 Platoon, D Company, 5 RAR) Memorial Plaque Ceremony First Victorian National Serviceman to be killed in Vietnam War on 10 June 1966. - MONDAY 28 August 2006, Reservoir Cenotaph, Reservoir, City of Darebin, Victoria.

Photographs of the Occasion

Mr Bob Elworthy, President of Australian Vietnam Veterans Association - Victorian Branch, chats to some 5RAR veterans at the Leslie Farren memorial plaque ceremony. VVAA - Vic Branch sponsored the plaque.

Mr Frank Donovan, then an Army Medic with 5RAR, who held Leslie Farren, as he died of his wounds, giving a speech. Next to him is Councillor Stanley Chiang, the Mayor of Darebin City Council, which lent his support behind the memorial.

Cr Stanley Chiang, lays a wreath at the Reservoir cenotaph

The last surviving next of kin, Mrs Lillian Farren, aged 86, unveils the plaque to her son. Cr Chiang is on hand to help.

The memorial plaque, kindly sponsored by the VVAA - Vic Branch, and with technical support from the Darebin City Council. The plaque inscription reads: "

In Memory of 3786921 Leslie Thomas Farren - First Victorian National Serviceman Killed in the Vietnam War, 10 June 1966. Sponsored by: VVAA - Vic Branch 28 August 2006

Sasha Uzunov, freelance photo journalist and East Timor veteran, who proposed the plaque.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Generals and Diggers saved the day in Timor

The fighting quality of the Aussie digger that saved the day in East Timor not Desk Warriors.
Private Carl "The Enforcer" Lloyd, Alpha Company, 4RAR, East Timor, 2001.
Photo by Sasha Uzunov.

On Line Opinion - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate.



by Sasha Uzunov

Influential Defence expert and former Fairfax journalist, Hugh White, has revealed that Australia’s involvement in East Timor succeeded because of the Indonesian military’s (TNI) reluctance to fight a full scale war; this is partly true.

"Interfet succeeded as well as it did largely because Habibie and the TNI allowed it to succeed," White said.

Interfet was the name of the 1999 Australian led mission to restore order after East Timor declared its independence from 24 years of harsh Indonesian occupation. BJ Habibie was the then President of Indonesia who permitted East Timor to hold a UN supervised referendum.

White, who was the deputy secretary (strategy and intelligence) in the Defence Department, and the mastermind behind the Interfet mission, fails to mention four big factors behind the success.

They are: the brilliant leadership of two Australian Army generals, Frank Hickling and Interfet Commander Peter Cosgrove, the calibre of the Special Forces, the SASR, and the ordinary digger when confronted by the pro-Indonesian militia groups.

There was a secret war in East Timor fought by Indonesian Special Forces: Kopassus. The objective was to inflict as many casualties on Australians and New Zealanders in the hope that their respective governments would withdraw.

The Howard government at the time deliberately used the Army’s elite Special Forces unit, SASR (Special Air Service Regiment), to do most of the fighting in East Timor: fighting which should have been performed by the infantry.

The political logic was that the public and media would accept SASR casualties rather than a 19-year-old infantryman, fresh out of home or from a small country town.

But political logic does not necessarily make good military sense and vice-versa. In East Timor the pro-Indonesian militia tried to inflict as many casualties as possible on our infantry units, including battalions made up of many reserve/part time soldiers, in the hope that Australia would withdraw.

White is quiet on the issue of throwing reservists into the deep end after the regular army had been gutted; it was only the quality of the ordinary Australian soldier which stopped a disaster from happening.

It was General Frank Hickling’s foresight in 1998 as the Chief of Army that should be acknowledged. He issued his famous “back to basics” order that all Australian soldiers, regular and reserve, must sharpen their war fighting skills. He was concerned at the rundown of the Army.

Ironically, it was White and another defence expert, Paul Dibb, who were the prime movers in cutting back Army numbers in the late 1980s. Neither have ever served in uniform.

Respected Brigadier Jim Wallace, former Special Forces Commander, wrote in 2003:

"Unfortunately, Australian defence policy has been mainly wrong for the whole of this period. Even after we committed troops to East Timor, Professor Paul Dibb, the policy's chief architect, was standing in front of parliamentary committees vowing that Australia would not be conducting what he called "expeditionary" operations out of the region. This was despite a series of major UN deployments over many years to places as far a field as Rwanda and Somalia. Afghanistan and Iraq have hopefully now discredited this logic.

"At the same time, Dr Hugh White was arguing in initial drafts for the 2000 white paper to reduce the size of our army to about 19,000, on the basis that, like Professor Dibb, he didn't see the Government needing options for deployment out of the region, particularly for sending the army. The result has been an incredible demand on the dedication and professionalism of our special forces as they have again been thrown into the breach that our supposedly expert defence planners couldn't predict."

War is a serious business and it needs to be left to the professionals, not arm chair generals.


Howard fear for Diggers in Timor

John Lyons, November 03, 2008
The Australian newspaper

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Royal Australian Navy sailor. Photo: US Defense Department.


An American study into Gulf War Syndrome has found the illness is real, according to Australian veterans' news site...http://theaussiedigger.com/TheAussieDiggerForum/

But the issue here in Australia has been downplayed by politicians and some in the media, who see themselves as future government advisors and therefore do not want to rock the boat.

I was one of the first journalists to take a closer look at the political dimension to Australia's connection to Gulf War Syndrome...

In 2007, I put in a Freedom Of Information request for documents relating to Gulf War but the request was knocked back. At the time one prominent Australian journalist with ties to the ALP threatened to take legal action if I persisted in my investigation. He simply wanted to shutdown any scrutiny.

Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper -- 12 February, 2007
by Sasha Uzunov

OPPOSITION Leader Kevin Rudd has been flexing his political muscles over the Howard Government's involvement in Iraq War No 2.

But he seems to have forgotten that the Labor Party has unfinished business from Iraq War No. 1.Labor wants to pull out the Diggers from Iraq War No. 2, but it has not taken care of its responsibilities from the first war with Saddam Hussein.

Iraq War No. 1 started after the Iraqi dictator invaded Kuwait in 1990.

George Bush Sr was president of the United States and was quick to respond to the Iraq takeover.

So, too, was Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, who offered ships and sailors. Behind this decision was an ALP government wanting to score international recognition.

In his 1992 book The Gulf Commitment: The Australian Defence Force's First War, respected academic David M. Horner gives a behind-the-scenes look at the political scramble to get our sailors and a small contingent of Diggers into the Gulf.

The key players listed were prime minister Hawke, defence minister Robert Ray, foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans and two key advisers.

Professor Paul Dibb was deputy secretary of Defence and Hugh White was an international adviser to the prime minister.

Iraq War No. 1 was mercifully short. It was over by the next year, but the legacy is Gulf War Syndrome, which is a term used to cover a wide range of illnesses or conditions suffered by ADF personnel.

Illnesses include chronic fatigue, migraines, nerve damage, dizziness, nausea, skin rashes and ulcers.

American and British inquiries have found evidence to suggest Gulf War Syndrome has affected a substantial number of veterans.

But Australian authorities have refused to accept these findings.

A study headed by Associate Professor Malcolm Sim of Monash University in March, 2003, found veterans were likely to suffer from mental health and respiratory problems.

However, it could not positively link these conditions to Gulf War Syndrome.

The three-year study of 1400 veterans found they faced increased risks of nerve damage.
Australian governments of both political persuasions are reluctant to accept liability.

It took decades for (US) Vietnam War veterans to prove their case in the Agent Orange controversy. This was the name given to the defoliants sprayed over Vietnamese jungles in the 1960s. Agent Orange resulted in illnesses in American and Australian servicemen.

LABOR has been as eager as conservative governments to send Australians into conflict to gain international kudos.

When Paul Keating became prime minister after Bob Hawke, he and foreign affairs minister Gareth Evans were keen to gain international clout.

They sent a small number of Australian peacekeepers into the African hell of Rwanda.
Inadequate rules of engagement meant Australian soldiers were powerless to stop ethnic massacres.

Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan admitted Rwanda was a humanitarian disaster.

But the Australian Labor Party is still to admit its responsibility over Iraq War No. 1 and needs to do so before it can be taken seriously in its claims to have a responsible foreign policy over Iraq War No. 2.

The issue of Gulf War Syndrome remains a stain on ALP policy.

None of the key players has publicly expressed concern for veterans who might be suffering from it.

Nor, for that matter, have other senior Labor figures of the time, such as Brian Howe and Dr Neal Blewett.

They, too, remain silent on what was a major issue while they were federal MPs.

Yet Blewett was a vocal anti-Vietnam war activist in his youth and Howe has returned to his calling as a minister of religion.

Kevin Rudd, who professes to be a man of faith, needs to heal the wounds caused by Gulf War No. 1.

The Opposition Leader needs to clarify his position on sick Australian veterans from an earlier Iraq conflict.

SASHA UZUNOV is a freelance journalist who covered the second war in Iraq and served as an Australian soldier in East Timor

Link: http://theaussiedigger.com/TheAussieDiggerForum/ Forum (Mr Keith Tennent)

“The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that ’Gulf War illness’ is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time,” said the report, being released Monday by a panel of scientists and veterans. A copy was obtained by Cox Newspapers.

Webmaster's Commentary: http://whatreallyhappened.com/

The chemical poisoning of our own troops by the government and military supposed to protect them is nothing new (remember the enduring legacy of the defoliant Agent Orange to both the Vietnamese People and our Vets?)

But what we have here, through this definitive research, is the sure and certain reality that we've done it yet again.

The question is, what is the VA and the Federal Government going to do about it this time, to take care of these Vets and the families which love them?

Every Vet who has gone out there and put their life on the line, particularly those who have been injured (or chemically poisoned, as has happened here), should receive the same level of medical care that (US Vice President Dick) Cheney gets.

That they do not speaks volumes about our national priorities, and about the degree these people become disposable, once they have done their jobs on the battlefield.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



IN STEP: Victorian State Premier John Brumby (without hat) gives an eyes right salute to the eternal flame as he marches up the steps to the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, 11 November 2008...

The Premier has gone out of his way to make himself known as the Veterans' Premier...


CROSSES: Shrine of Remembrance forecourt. A newspaper photographer lines up a shot of a small child and its mother amongst the poppies and crosses, symbolising those who died in war.

STANDING TALL: An Army Chaplain stands tall, despite the heat and his age, probably in his 80s, to show the flag of the United States, Australia's ally in World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq and Afghanistan. He was offered a chair to sit down but wanted to stand to remember the fallen.

COSTLY PRICE: A plaque in St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, Swanston Street, Melbourne, shows the great cost of war. Three members from the Steele family were killed during World War I.


Photos by Sasha Uzunov, copyright 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008


Vietnam is part of the Anzac legend forged on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915.


Vietnam part of the ANZAC Legend forged at Gallipoli

ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

By Sasha Uzunov - posted Monday, 10 November 2008

Recent road works in Gallipoli have uncovered the remains of soldiers killed there in 1915 during World War I. Australians from all walks of life have expressed concern about our diggers’ last resting place being disturbed.

All of this tells us that the ANZAC legend has been embraced by nearly all of the community and is alive and well. But with Remembrance Day (November 11) tomorrow we need to include those from the Vietnam War as part of this legend, this ethos. It seems there are those who still make a “distinction” between Gallipoli and Vietnam, even though there are similarities.

The Gallipoli campaign, fought on the shores of Turkey and starting on April 25, 1915, involved Australian soldiers being sent to invade a foreign state, the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and ease the pressure on our then ally Russia.

The Vietnam War (1962-72), once again, saw Australia send troops to a foreign country to aid our allies, the United States and South Vietnam, then fighting off communist takeover from its northern counterpart.

However, prominent journalist Ray Martin, who veterans over the years have thanked for his enthusiasm and passion for keeping the ANZAC legend alive in the media, views the Vietnam conflict differently:

"Being a patriot, eulogising the ANZAC legend etc doesn't require anyone to volunteer to fight a senseless, immoral war. Even Peter Cosgrove [then Chief of the Defence Forces] has acknowledged that Vietnam was wrong.

"I support every one of our troops who put their lives on the line. But that doesn't require everyone else to sign up, every time Canberra decides to go to war.

"Being a patriot doesn't mean you blindly accept what the pollies [politicians] want."

Now compare this to the introduction to Ray’s story for 60 Minutes about Gallipoli (April 21, 2001):

Eight thousand, seven hundred and nine Aussie soldiers were killed at Gallipoli, but now 10 times that number of Aussie tourists make their pilgrimage each year. Most of them are about the same age as the soldiers who died there.

As Ray Martin reports, it's a phenomenon, almost a rite of passage - young Australians in search of our history, and perhaps in search of themselves.

The tone is reverential for Gallipoli but not for Vietnam. Why this disconnect? The circumstances are almost the same except that Vietnam was a counter-insurgency war and shown on television.

If commentators praise Gallipoli but condemn Vietnam is that not a contradiction? If you condemn Vietnam should you not criticise Gallipoli?

The Gallipoli campaign was fought more than 93 years ago and there are no more veterans still alive. Vietnam, on the other hand, is still a tangible, living memory for the men of Ray Martin’s generation who came to young adulthood in the mid 1960s.

The way I see it, if you support the ANZAC legend and Gallipoli, you need to support the Vietnam War. The two are connected.

Victorian Premier John Premier said on Vietnam Veteran Day (August 18, 2008) at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance that it was time that Vietnam was accepted as part of the ANZAC legend.

Perhaps Ray should pay attention to Premier Brumby’s sentiments on Remembrance Day, November 11.

Another politician in the news over Gallipoli is Paul John Keating, Australia’s Prime Minister from 1991-96. He has been at it again. Letting go with recent comments at a book launch that would guarantee media exposure. His latest outburst is about the relevance of visiting Gallipoli.

Funny that during Keating’s prime ministership his criticism of Gallipoli was mute.

How could we forget Keating’s moving comments about the Unknown Soldier, brought back from the World War I French battlefield to finally rest in Canberra, in 1993?

"We do not know this Australian's name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, or precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances - whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was."

Then again during his time in office he sent Australian troops to Somalia, Cambodia and Rwanda in an attempt to act tough on the international stage.

Since leaving politics not once has he expressed any concern for the soldiers he sent into combat. We know that the Rwanda mission in 1994 was flawed from the beginning, with inadequate rules of engagement for our troops caught in the genocide between two rival ethnic groups in the heart of Africa. No wonder that some who returned from that hell hole suffer from PTSD, having been forced to witness massacres.

Nor can we forget Keating’s cynical political use of the Kokoda Track battle from World War II. However, Keating did lose a relative during World War II, as did a large number of Australians.
Keating, who was born in 1944, did not volunteer to fight in Vietnam but using the ANZAC legend or for that matter sending others into combat for political gain is nothing new. The unfortunate thing is that there are many in the Australian media who refuse to scrutinise our leaders and experts.

They are, in effect, letting these people off the hook. This will continue because some commentators see themselves as future government advisors or spin doctors on big fat salaries. It is not in their interests to rock the boat.


Sunday, November 09, 2008



By Sasha Uzunov

Channel 9 television personality and Collingwood Football club president, Eddie McGuire, has come up with an idea to solve youth violence on our streets--send the young offenders into the Australian Army.

In theory it sounds like a good idea but it would help to promote the idea in the media if Eddie joined the Australian Army as well.

Eddie could be commissioned as a Captain or Major in the Australian Army Public Relations Service (AAPRS); he could do a 6 month tour of duty in Afghanistan in the field running a defence media crew. AAPRS recruits media professionals, many aged in their 40s and 50s, straight from civilian life. They are given an 8 week, officers “knife and fork” course in military etiquette at the Royal Military College in Duntroon, Canberra.

One of Eddie’s former Channel 9 colleagues, news reporter Chris Hill, did a stint in APPRS.

We will be putting this proposal to Eddie to see what his response is?

However, some veterans groups do not like the idea. Mr Keith Tennent, who runs the influential veterans news website, http://www.theaussiedigger.com/ wrote:

“The Australian Defence Force is not a day care centre, it is not as child minding centre it is not a juvenile delinquent centre and it is not a nursery.

“The ADF is a very large group of men and women, enlisted to defend the Nation. They don't have the time or the inclination to sort out drug infested criminals, thugs, ratbags and idiots. Everybody knows most criminals [70% or higher] commit their offences because of their drug and/or alcohol habits. In fact a Police Officer friend said to me last month that she would be out of a job if drugs and alcohol were outlawed.

“It is the responsibility of parents to raise their children and inculcate in them high principle, manners [yes manners] and ethics. This responsibility also falls in part to school teachers, who are either hamstrung in how they can discipline children by a politically correct, silly system OR the school teachers simply don't care or don't know about discipline because they had their irresponsible characters former in the same mad system.

“Let parents take full responsibility for their children and let the ADF get on with training to defend the Nation.”


Friday, October 31, 2008


Keating was eager to send Australian troops to Rwanda, Africa in 1994
but there was no criticism of Gallipoli back then. (Photo courtesy of Ken Pedler)

By Sasha Uzunov

Paul John Keating, Australia’s Prime Minister from 1991-96, has been at it again. --letting go with comments that would guarantee media exposure. His latest outburst is about the relevance of visiting Gallipoli.

Funny that during Keating’s Prime Ministership his criticism of Gallipoli was mute. But then again during his time in office he sent Australian troops to Somalia, Cambodia and Rwanda in an attempt to act tough on the international stage.

Since leaving politics not once has he expressed any concern for the soldiers he sent into combat. We know that the Rwanda mission in 1994 was flawed from the beginning with inadequate rules of engagement for our troops caught in genocide between two rival ethnic groups in the heart of Africa. No wonder that some who returned from that hell hole suffer from PTSD, being forced to witness massacres.

Nor could we forget Keating’s moving comments about the Unknown Soldier, brought back from the WWI French battlefield to finally rest in Canberra, in 1993:

“We do not know this Australian's name and we never will. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, or precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia he had made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances - whether he was from the city or the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved. If he had children we do not know who they are. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this Australian was.”

Nor can we forget Keating’s cynical political use of the Kokoda Track battle from World War II. However, Keating did lose a relative during WWII, as did a large number of Australians.

Keating, who was born in 1944, did not volunteer to fight in Vietnam but using the Anzac legend or that matter sending others into combat for political gain is nothing new. The unfortunate thing is that there are many in the Australian media who refuse to scrutinise our leaders and experts.

They are in effect letting these people off the hook. This will continue because some commentators see themselves as future government advisors or spin doctors on big fat salaries. It is not in their interest to rock the boat.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


Colonel Iron Mike Kelly, Australian Army Lawyer then serving in Iraq, talked about his heroics in Africa but ignores Timor hero living in his electorate. ADF photo.

When we get to Africa we gonna get it on, 'cause we don't get along!
Float Like a Butterfly and Sting Like a Bee
Army Lawyer fights off Somali Warlord


By Sasha Uzunov

Colonel “Iron Mike” Kelly, the Federal MP for Eden-Monaro, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support in the Rudd Goverment, is ignoring an Australian Army hero living in his electorate who was involved in combat in East Timor.

In what would make Boxing legend Muhammed Ali proud, the good Colonel, an Army Lawyer turned politician, had his own rumble in the jungle with a Somali warlord.

But the Colonel, in the lead up to his election to Federal Parliament last year, has regaled the media with his own heroics as an Army Legal Officer in Somalia in 1993.

And it sounds something straight out of the hit US TV shows JAG or maybe CSI: New York!

Iron Mike Kelly told the Canberra Times newspaper about his struggle with a Somali warlord:

“The court erupted into mayhem as a berserk Gutaale launched at his nemesis and the pair became embroiled in a life or death wrestling match.

“As storm clouds brewed in the night sky, the melee spilled out into the street, where a large crowd of Gutaale's cronies, keeping an eye of the proceedings, had gathered.

“The two Australians present fixed bayonets to attempt to restore order.

Dr Kelly described the scene vividly.

"Gutaale basically had a death grip on me and my shirt and webbing were getting torn.

"The crowd was getting worked up and it was raining heavily it was like a scene from a bad movie," he said.

"He had a good grip on me and it was all looking pretty untidy."

“With the crowd set to riot, the two Australians were assisted when a group of engineers arrived.
“A bruised Gutaale was handcuffed and Major Kelly personally wrestled him along the muddy roadway to his place of execution. The murderer was handed over to the police.

“Within minutes he was dead.”

(source: Somalia to Eden-Monaro: How Mike Kelly fought a murderous warlord all the way to a firing squad by MICK TOAL 20/10/2007 )

Corporal Kevin "Bambi" Campbell (standing): East Timor hero living
in Colonel Iron Mike Kelly's electorate and being ignored.
Photo by Sasha Uzunov copyright 2001

In contrast to Colonel Kelly’s heroics, ex-Australian Army Corporal Kevin “Bambi” Campbell lives in seclusion in Eden, NSW. On 14 June 2001 his 8-man patrol was attacked by militia in East Timor.

Source: The Eden Magnet newspaper (Fairfax / Rural press), Eden, New South Wales http://eden.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/unsung-hero/808795.aspx

He was nominated for a Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) for brave leadership under fire but for reasons unknown the award was never made. Independently of the Australian honors and awards system, Corporal Campbell received a United Nations Commanders Commendation Certificate.

Corporal Campbell had also served in the elite SASR before going to East Timor.

Colonel Kelly, who in his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, oversees Defence honors and awards, has in the past ruled out re-opening the file on Corporal Campbell’s DSM nomination.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


ABC TV rejects FOI request for information on man who "sold the Iraq War"

On-Line Opinion - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

28 October, 2008


by Sasha Uzunov

There are moves to have ex-politicians banned from sitting on the board of the ABC, in an attempt to de-politicise and maintain the independence and integrity of Australia’s public broadcaster.

But the ABC has some internal unfinished business it needs to take care of: an issue it has deliberately swept under the carpet for the past five years in the hope that the public will forget the life and death of controversial ABC TV cameraman Paul Moran.

Last year the ABC rejected a Freedom of Information request for access to the personnel file of the late Paul Moran, a cameraman accused of having links to the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Moran, 39, was killed on March 22, 2003 by a car bomb while covering the war in Northern Iraq for ABC TV. He was an Adelaide-raised freelance cameraman who worked on and off for the ABC as well as US public relations firm Rendon, which had ties to the CIA and the Bush Administration.

Walkely Award winning Australian journalist, Mr Colin James, of the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper, was the first to break the story about Moran’s shadowy past when he attended Moran’s wake in Adelaide.

He talked to relatives who revealed that Moran had a James Bond other life.

“For a freelance cameraman, Moran sure had some incredible access to US State Department officials in Washington,” Mr James said. “How many freelancers get to play games of social tennis with US diplomats?”

Moran had worked for Rendon for over a decade in places like the Middle East and Kosovo, pushing US government spin while doing freelance work for the ABC TV as a combat cameraman.

On November 17, 2005 prominent American journalist, academic and former US Navy intelligence analyst James Bamford wrote in the influential American magazine Rolling Stone a detailed account of Moran’s work with Rendon and its link to the CIA and its selling of the Iraq War to the US public.

The controversy surrounding Moran stems from his exclusive story about an Iraqi defector who had knowledge about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program. A Rendon colleague gave him the scoop which turned out to be false, but was a pretext for the US invasion of Iraq, according to Bamford.

The Australian cameraman also helped to set up a television station for the Iraqi National Congress (INC). The INC was established by the US as an opposition group to the Saddam Hussein regime.

In January 2003 I was hired as a photographer for Canadian war reporter Scott Taylor (http://www.espritdecorps.ca/) and we tracked down Mr Gaan Latis, who was recruited by the INC to become a member of a US trained exile army à la Bay of Pigs.

US advisors had set up a training camp at the Taszar Army base in Kaposvar, Hungary. Each new recruit was paid US$3,000. But the plan failed when there were not enough suitable candidates. We went to the army base in Kaposvar and were stopped at the front gate and were threatened with having our cameras confiscated.

I had a front page photo of the Taszar base published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen (January 24, 2003), and Esprit de Corp Magazine (February 2003) along with Taylor’s revelations of the exile Iraqi Army in training.

For five years I have been following the Moran story and attempted to gain access to information from the ABC.

Ms Joan McKain, the ABC’s FOI Coordinator, in a letter dated July 10, 2007, rejected my request for Moran’s personnel file under Section 41 (1) of the FOI Act.

The Act spells out that any documents affecting personal privacy are considered exempt if their disclosure under this Act would involve the unreasonable disclosure of personal information about any person (including a deceased person).

Instead, Ms McKain released a different document, a draft reply from then ABC TV News boss, Mr Max Uechtritz, given to ABC program Media Watch, dated April 14, 2003, about Paul Moran.

Mr Uechtritz, in his reply to ABC program Media Watch aired on April 14, 2003, wrote: “The ABC is not in the habit of following up Adelaide Advertiser stories.”

The Media Watch program had chastised the ABC and Uechtritz: “The story was followed up by some parts of the media, but not by the ABC. It should have been.” (Death in Bagdad, April 14, 2003 episode).

The irony of all this is Mr Uechtritz complained to The Age newspaper on June 30, 2003 about freedom of speech after coming under attack from the then Communications Minister, Senator Richard Alston, for alleged biased reporting by the ABC over the Iraq war.

“It is the duty of independent journalists in a robust democracy to question everything, “Mr Uechtritz wrote. “The senator seems to think the media's duty in time of war is to fall meekly into line with the government of the day.”

But it appears this does not apply to journalists scrutinising Paul Moran!

In 2006 the ABC’s then Managing Director, Mr Russell Balding, was approached and asked if he would launch an internal inquiry into the Moran allegations. Mr Shane Wells, his spokesman, said there would be no comment.

The ABC needs to shake off the public perception that it is a closed society and a law onto itself. Australia’s taxpayers need to have a national public broadcaster with no skeletons still rattling in the closet.


Other On Line Opinion articles by Sasha Uzunov

» A superpower by default? - October 13, 2008
» Is Rudd the real McCoy on defence? - September 30, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008


Australia's Leader on the War on Terror won't discuss his lack of war service in Vietnam (1962-72)

Still waiting for a reply…after 15 months...
ASIO Spy boss wont reveal why he didn’t volunteer to fight in Vietnam…

By Sasha Uzunov

Mr Paul O’Sullivan, Director General of Australia’s internal spy agency, ASIO, and one of the Leaders in the War on Terror has refused to respond to questions put to him over a year ago as to why he did not volunteer to fight in Vietnam during the 1960s.

Mr Sullivan, was asked in a letter dated 20 July 2007:

“Mr O’Sullivan, as Director General of ASIO, you are one of the leaders in the War against Terrorism. Looking at your impressive resume in the publication of Who’s Who in Australia, there is no mention of you having served our nation in the military or police or security services but in Foreign Affairs.

“Sir, according to the entry it says you were born in 1948. Could you explain why you did not volunteer to fight in the War against Communism in South Vietnam (1962-72)? You may have missed out on the National Service scheme but could have joined the Australia Regular Army, Navy or Air force.

“I look forward to your response.”

As yet Australia’s Leader on the War of Terror has not been forthcoming about his lack of war service unlike his then boss, Attorney General Phillip Ruddock, who responded to the same questions within a couple of months.

Mr O’Sullivan was born on 3 February 1948 and missed out on the selective National Service Ballot then in operation from 1964-72 for all 20 year old Australian males. However, he could have still joined the Regular Army.

The ASIO boss joined Foreign Affairs in 1971 as a diplomat and eventually ended up a Security Advisor to then Prime Minister John Howard. He became Director General of ASIO on 21 July 2005.


Thursday, October 23, 2008


Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon. Photo: ADF

by Sasha Uzunov
copyright 2008
The Taliban must be rubbing their hands with glee at the news that our Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, keeps on changing his mind about the war in Afghanistan. Months ago it was a tough talking Minister, now it is a politician who believes the war is unwinnable and negotiations with the Taliban must be started.

Fine idea but why weaken your negotiating position and place Australian troops under increased threat from a confident Taliban. What's wrong with keeping your cards close to your chest?

Pity our brave Australian soldiers who are putting their lives on the line; they must be thinking their efforts are in vain, especially when they are now being jerked around with their pay.

Why does this have overtones of defeatism ala Vietnam 1971-72 just before the US and Australian pullout...when soldiers were still fighting and dying.

In July 2008, during a visit to Washington Fitzgibbon said: "What does winning the war in Afghanistan mean from my perspective? It means winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, proving to them that what we're offering as a construct, as a government construct, as an economy, as a model, is better than what the Taliban or any other group can offer them."

"First of all, we're going to need more troops, substantially more troops - a sort of a surge, if you like."

In Washington, our Defence Minister was also beating his chest defiantly as he talked tough on the international stage about the war in Afghanistan. But somehow the sales pitch now has a hollow ring to it and we have heard all before.

He also said that Australians were willing to accept casualties in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Now, the Minister has echoed the recent comments made by a British Army Brigadier, Mark Carleton-Smith, that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. "

As I have always said, there is a significant difference between discussing the situation in Afghanistan with moderates and negotiating with extremists, and surely success will only come if we are all working with those who share our same vision for peace and stability in Afghanistan," Fitzgibbon said.
Moreover, if the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable then why call for more troops?

Surely after 7 years of war would have made the politicians realise that the answer to “winning” in Afghanistan is a political one, not a military one. It does not matter how many troops you send.

In the past decade the previous Howard Government and the current one have been telling us about how important the war on terror is and how we should be fighting the bad guys overseas to stop them from coming to Australia.

That’s fine but how do you reconcile that media message with the fact that those leading the war on terror, including the current Defence Minister, keeps changing his mind… One minute he is confident, next he is not.

The reality is Joel Fitzgibbon is out of his league in the Defence portfolio and lacks proper judgement. Remember the mate he brought with him on a plane trip to Afghanistan earlier this year.

Prime Minister Rudd, sir, it is all about credibility. The war in Afghanistan is serious business; we have already lost 6 diggers with the possibility of losing more. This is not a laughing matter. We either stay and fight or we begin to withdraw.


Monday, October 13, 2008



ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

A superpower by default?

By Sasha Uzunov - posted Monday, 13 October 2008

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently warned about an arms race in the Asia Pacific region with China the country to watch. But he may have missed out on one key player “bigger” than China: Russia.

With the Wall Street financial crisis, and the US overstretched on two fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan, has Russia become a world superpower by default? Let us take note, that it is also parked in our Asia-Pacific neighbourhood.

Russia starts in Europe and stretches all the way to the Pacific coast. Its Pacific Ocean Fleet (Tikho-okeanski flot) is based at the city of Vladivostok. The Russian empire ran for centuries and in 1917 transformed into the Soviet Union before falling apart in 1991 with the collapse of communism. As a consequence, many new nations obtained their independence, Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and so on.

From 1948 to 1989, the Soviet Union and the West, that is the United States, Western Europe and Australia, were engaged in an indirect war - known as the Cold War - over ideological control of the world. Wars by proxy were fought in Korea, Vietnam and so on.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union had nuclear warheads pointed at each other during this tense time. Both the US and Russia still have those nuclear weapons.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia had been in steep economic decline and its society in meltdown. But the economic turnaround came with oil and gas money and a ruthless President, now Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.

What does this all mean for Australia’s strategic planners? It means you take Russia seriously. It also means we need to identify what Russia’s strategic goals are in the Asia-Pacific region.

Alarm bells rang when in August of this year during the Beijing Olympics, Russian forces invaded neighbouring Georgia to protect the South Ossetian ethnic group from Georgian persecution.

Georgia recently applied to become a member of NATO a military alliance ironically founded during the Cold War, as a counter to Soviet expansion. Was the Russian thrust into Georgia a simple test to see if NATO would defend it from being attacked? Well, the Russians discovered that NATO and US troops were not forthcoming when it came to upholding Georgia’s sovereignty.

You could say, Prime Minister Putin, like a good chess player, made the perfect move. In fact, if you want to understand Russian thinking, the game of chess is highly appropriate as opposed to the card game of high risk poker, so popular in the west.

Putin during his reign has used the wealth generated by the oil and gas exports to reinvigorate his armed forces. He has also waged a ruthless war to crush Muslim Chechen separatists from breaking away from Federal Russia.

But what drives Russia to play such an important part on the world stage? An excellent examination of this issue is the documentary, For God, Tsar and the Fatherland (2007). The film centres around Mikhail Morozov, former Soviet Army paratrooper turned man of god, who runs a centre for troubled souls. He is a man of influence within Russia’s political elite.

He tells his followers:

“Being Russian means belonging to God’s anointed Tsar … There is no such thing as democracy; there is only hierarchy and hierarchical behaviour …”

Watching Australian 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett “confront” a Russian soldier on Georgian soil was humorous because of the fact that the soldier could not care less about the camera being shoved in his face. Perhaps that sums up Russia’s attitude towards the west.

As Mikhail Morozov tells his followers:

“But Satan, the enemy of mankind always needs to stir things up with ideas of paradise on earth … that stuff about freedom, brotherhood and equality …”

Russia has weathered a decade long decline; its people are used to hardships and its military has not been burnt out fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has millions of conscripts to man its armed forces, unlike the US which has a professional volunteer military with limited number of replacements for those killed, wounded or seriously injured.

The US has spent trillions on the war on terror coupled with the Wall Street meltdown and may need to take a rest from being the international policeman.

It looks as though the Russians are in a good position.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


Above: Photo taken October 8, 2008, after the recent attack on the Matthew Flinders monument.

Photos by Sasha Uzunov, copyright 2008.

Below: The attack on the statue on 30 August 2008 and the subsequent clean-up, 2 September 2008.

A statue of famed British Naval explorer Matthew Flinders has been vandalised again. The prominent Melburne monument is a magnet for vandals operating in the central business district (CBD).

The monument was defaced back in September and prompt action from Melbourne City Council ensured it was cleaned up.

A Victoria Police station is just around the corner but that does not seem to deter the vandals.

Photo taken: Wednesday 8 October 2008.

Previous stories:
2 September 2008
Vandalised monument given a clean

Good news. The statue of Naval explorer Matthew Flinders in Melbourne, reported as being vandalised, has been given a clean by the local authorities.

Photo taken at 12.20pm, Tuesday 2 September 2008.



Photo taken: Saturday 30 August 2008 at 11.30am, Swanston Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

A prominent Melbourne city monument, the Matthew Flinders statue, has been vandalised late last week right under the noses of Victoria Police.

The statue is situated outside St Paul's Cathedral on Swanston Street and around just around the corner is a Victoria Police station in Flinders Lane.

Matthew Flinders was a famous British naval explorer (1774-1814) who became the first European to circumnavigate Australia in 1803.

The vandals left a possible calling card or clue by daubing the figure "3047" a possible reference to a suburb in Melbourne, which is Broadmeadows !
All Photos copyright Sasha Uzunov 2008.