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

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 ( 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.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

On Line Opinion website runs Rudd story

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

Is Rudd the real McCoy on defence?

By Sasha Uzunov - Tuesday, 30 September 2008

In recent weeks we have witnessed the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, deliver sermons from the mount which have struck a chord with the defence community. Is the PM the long awaited Messiah, the Real McCoy?

First there was his government’s decision to award medals to the Long Tan heroes from the Vietnam War after a 42-year wait; then there was talk of changing the Nelson-Howard military doctrine on Afghanistan by allowing our infantry soldiers to take over the fighting from the Special Forces; and announcing that Australia had to strengthen its defence forces to counter an arms race in our Pacific-Asia region.....