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Question David Kilcullen's war message: Letter to Geraldine Doogue from Susan Dirgham, AMRIS

In Geraldine Doogue's interview with war strategist David Kilcullen on ABC's Saturday Extra (Blood Year, 23 May 2015), there was every sign that Ms Doogue accepted his point of view without question despite his being someone who works closely with the deadly U.S. war machine in Iraq and the region. Yes, Kilcullen is an ‘expert’ in that he has spent time in the ME and he has studied terrorism. He is eloquent. He is personable. He is an Aussie: he seems calm and reasonable. But in his work for the U.S. military, what truths does he omit, what ‘facts’ does he invent?

27 May 2015

Dear Geraldine,

In your interview with war strategist David Kilcullen on ABC's Saturday Extra (Blood Year, 23 May 2015), there was every sign that you accepted his point of view without question despite his being someone who works closely with the deadly U.S. war machine in Iraq and the region.

Yes, Kilcullen is an ‘expert’ in that he has spent time in the ME and he has studied terrorism. He is eloquent. He is personable. He is an Aussie: he seems calm and reasonable. But in his work for the U.S. military, what truths does he omit, what ‘facts’ does he invent?

Can he represent the aspirations of Iraqi and Syrian people who want their countries to be united, stable, peaceful, prosperous and free of foreign interference?

Or do their aspirations inevitably clash with powerful interests in the United States? Would Kilcullen’s work with the U.S. and Australian armies compromise him in the eyes of most Iraqis and Syrians?

The fact that David Kilcullen can put on his CV, “In 2003, I did not support the war in Iraq” would be irrelevant to most Iraqis since he has effectively supported the American war machine ever since.

In 1991, American war planes strafed or bombed one to two thousand Iraqi military vehicles on a 60-mile stretch of highway. They killed thousands of retreating Iraqi soldiers returning from the disastrous war in Kuwait. It was dubbed the “Highway of Death” and memories of it would be etched in the brains of Iraqis. One U.S. pilot is quoted as saying, “It was like shooting fish in a barrel”.

The fact that the people of Iraq and the region have no reason to honour the United States is a no-brainer.
As a spokesperson for the ME war plans of the American Administration, David Kilcullen will not, cannot, present events through the eyes of the ordinary people of Iraq or Syria, the people who are traumatised, terrified, maimed and killed. In Australia, those who stand up with strong and eloquent voices against war, sectarianism and division are not given a chance to challenge his views.

But who will present their stories and hopes and dreams to the Australian public? Unless we seek them out, we are diminished.

One hundred years ago, the Anzacs swore allegiance to their ‘Lord the King’ and so it was the Imperial plans of Britain they fought for. Today, in Australia, particularly in the media, there seems to be an unwritten, unspoken allegiance to the Imperial plans of the United States.

The Middle East was a world away in 1915. Today, there are many Australians who have an allegiance to one side or another in the wars there. The blood lost there is mourned here. The hatreds simmering there are simmering here, within our own communities.

It is not the time for allegiances to empires or caliphates. To be supreme, both must seek to divide, destroy and brutally kill. Instead, it is the time for pursuing our most precious of human values and for seeking the truth. Only by doing so can hatred, wars and terror be stopped.

How often must we be reminded that ‘No man is an island’?

The charm and sophistry of David Kilcullen, and his reliance on sectarian terms to describe the war in Iraq, are not a substitute for the voices of the people of Iraq and Syria who live in a hell the United States and its allies have engineered.

Iraqi and Syrian people who want to end the terror and war have spokespeople. Let’s not imagine they are unsophisticated natives. Let’s not ignore them. Let’s learn about their lives and hear their voices.

In a video interview in early 2014, Monsignor Jacques Behnan Hindo, Archbishop for Syriac Catholics stated,

There is always fear. There is always anxiety. We live with the same anxieties. We are waiting for salvation. Unfortunately Geneva (2 conference) has not yielded anything yet. And, even more unfortunately, the United States, France, yes, France – and England do nothing except add poison to things …by aiding these opposing … these factions, more than half of which have come from outside (Syria). And when one comes from outside (Syria), he/she does not want what is good for Syrians but rather massacring them. And then they want to declare an Islamic State. And we as Christians cannot accept that. I am not a masochist. I do not accept to get flogged. I cannot accept these people, purely and simply. And when I hear Kerry or Fabius, these people who take their fake humanitarian sentiment, I ask myself: “What are they doing?”…

(A political solution) is always possible. However, the first thing that must happen is for these terrorists to leave. This is an essential condition. And when they are out, we Syrians can come to an agreement. We had already several towns where the Army entered because residents had had enough, and they expelled the foreigners that were in their town. And now they live much more quietly. In our region, it is the same thing … in all the cities and villages of the north. Yes, there are people who oppose (the state). I myself am not that much for the government. However, when I compare what awaits me with these people to what I have today, I say to myself: “I am doing very well today.” And I wouldn’t want to put Fabius in my place... when these people come and occupy the country. I do not want to see Fabius, Kerry, or the others. But they are not supposed to understand that they will never be here. That is why they are screwing around. Excuse my expression. They are screwing all Syrians. I wrote a letter to Obama and I told him that, in his name Barack, there is the word Baraka (blessing). However, when he sent all his fleet, it was to declare war. It was a curse! Between a curse and a blessing, there is a huge difference.

(Question: Are you able to maintain hope?) I am, even physically, very optimistic. And then I always have the hope of Christ. I always believe that even Christ on the Cross had the light of resurrection behind him. Therefore it will come. The torment and the fear might extend for a while, but it will be over. And we shall live. I have a lot of hope. That’s why I tell my people not to immigrate, because we can turn our region, our country, into another Switzerland. There is absolutely everything to make it happen. There is intelligence, money, land… everything. Therefore nothing is missing in order to live a life much better than before, in 2 or 5 years from now.

Sami Ramadani, a political exile from Sadam Hussein’s regime wrote in The Guardian in June 2014,

The most serious sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq's modern history followed the 2003 US-led occupation, which faced massive popular opposition and resistance. The US had its own divide-and-rule policy, promoting Iraqi organisations founded on religion, ethnicity, nationality or sect rather than politics. Many senior officers in the newly formed Iraqi army came from these organisations and Saddam's army. This was exacerbated three years ago, when sectarian groups in Syria were backed by the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Geraldine, I implore you to challenge your guests, challenge your listeners, and search for other points of view besides those that only serve to indirectly promote more war and more terror in the Middle East.

Saturday Extra no longer allows comments to be submitted to its online page. All old comments have been removed. It is unfortunate Saturday Extra does not welcome dissenting voices from the community. I have created a page online with all my emails and letters to you as well as comments I submitted to your webpage. I will include this message above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Susan
National Coordinator of "Australians for Musslaha (Reconciliation) in Syria"

CC: some of your colleagues in the ABC

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