________________________________________________________________________

 

When the Japanese Empire was defeated in 1945, their 35-year colonial rule over Korea ended. Since both the Soviets and the U.S had an interest in removing Japanese influence from Korea, they agreed to split the Peninsula between the two of them along the 38th parallel, creating both a North and South Korea.

In 1950, backed by an overwhelming advantage in numbers and strength, Communist North Korea invaded the South. Within three weeks, South Korea’s capital Seoul had been captured and over the next nine months the Korean Peoples Army (of North Korea) had conquered all but the coastal peninsula of Pusan. After a daring U.N forces landing at Inchon, led by U.S General Douglas MacArthur, the KPA was forced into retreat up to the 38th parallel. Despite threats of Chinese intervention if the U.N forces crossed the 38th parallel, the push continued. Soon after this, more than 80,000 Chinese troops stormed across the North Korean border and forced U.N forces into retreat.

Three years later, a stalemate prompted both the U.N forces and North Korea to sign an Armistice agreement that lasted from July 27, 1953 until March 11, 2013. This unprecedented move by North Korea was, some political analysts may argue, in response to the massive U.S-South Korean military drill, code-named Foal Eagle. The Foal Eagle field-training exercises, which lasted two months and involved more than 10,000 U.S troops, was seen as a ‘grave provocation’ by North Korea.

Since March of this year, North Korea not only ended all cross-border cooperation with South Korea (including the Kaesong joint-industrial complex established in 2002), but also instructed the KPA to make the necessary preparations for another major war. Such preparations include authorising preemptive action by field artillery units, the establishment of anti-tank barricades along its southern border and readying medium-range ballistic missiles for launch.

These developments have prompted both the United States military and the Peoples Liberation Army of China to mobilise certain assets to the region. In April, the U.S rushed missile defences to its strategic Pacific military base Guam, coinciding with China’s deployment of tanks and jets along the North Korean border.

On April 4, North Korea placed the first of what would come to be four transport erector launchers (TELs) on its east-coast. By April 21 all four launchers were in place with North Korea’s leadership warning that they may be fired at any time of the regime’s choosing. By May 2, both North and South Korea had withdrawn all of their workers from the Kaesong joint-industrial complex and formally ended all cross-border cooperation.

In the last week, South Korean military intelligence has detected signs of heightened KPA activity in the seaport city of Pyongan province in North Korean. Officials in the Blue House (the South Korean government’s executive office) and the Pentagon will be watching this closely, in context with Pyongyang’s promise of hostile military action.

That said, North Korea’s history of using rhetoric and physical brinkmanship to extract a PR victory in the form of a U.S-South Korean apology, offer of energy aid and/or strategic retreat isn’t uncommon. The difference this time, however, is that both the U.S and South Korea have unequivocally ruled out giving in to North Korea’s demands. In fact, both President Obama and President Park have explicitly threatened to punish North Korea with further sanctions and, if necessary, military action.

This marks an important strategic shift from the previous dynamic. The geopolitical dynamic, too, has changed dramatically. Japan, the Korean Peninsula’s former colonial master, has recently elected a conservative Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, who has been touted as a right-wing ‘hawk’. Prime Minister Abe has not only promised to end Japan’s Pacifist disposition and strengthen the military but has warned that his country will never be a ‘second-tier’ nation. This enigmatic statement has reinvigorated debate as to whether Abe intends to challenge China’s strategic supremacy in the far-east.

The relevance of this to events on the Korean Peninsula is that Japan, previously a quiet bystander in the conflict, has now thrust itself into the heart of the geopolitical brinkmanship by making aggressive statements (albeit for the purpose of self-defence).

The fact that North Korean medium and long-range missiles are in range of Japan’s biggest cities has forced Abe’s hand. Having to deal with frequent incursions into waters Japan claims by the PLAN (Peoples Liberation Army Navy), Abe is also faced with a new and inexperienced North Korean leader who has openly threatened to attack Tokyo and Okinawa. This essentially makes brings the number of active players in a potential Korean military conflict to five: North Korea, South Korea, the U.S, China and Japan.

What this ultimately means is that the danger of miscalculation (previously existing only between the two Korea’s and the U.S) now includes Japan and China, both of whom are now involved in an increasingly unstable territorial dispute of their own. If a military-buildup ensues as a result of this regional power play, it will only serve to heighten the paranoia of all nation states involved.

This may now mean that the seemingly separate disputes between China and Japan and North and South Korea are no longer mutually exclusive. Japan, while taking steps to become a resurgent military power in the far-east, nonetheless falls under the U.S security umbrella. As for China, their senior leadership maintains that the Korean Peninsula is an area of strategic importance to its national security.

Should a war break out, this situation may very well bring all aforementioned five powers into direct conflict with each other; so the ultimate risk is not that North Korea tests a missile or conducts another nuclear test, but lies in how each of the five nation states (particularly China and Japan) respond to one another’s defensive moves on the regional chessboard.

 

 


______________________________________________________________

 

It was already official, but now it’s glaring at us: Labor voters want Rudd in and Gillard out, and the same goes with Liberal voters concerning Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott.

General support for both of these parties has collapsed dramatically since 2010, and in the Labor camp it has elevated Independents and the Greens to positions of power previously considered unthinkable. In fact, the only reason we still have a Labor government in power is because the Independents and the Greens threw their lot into a coalition of pure necessity.

As if it were the foreboding omen Julia Gillard had been dreading, the Greens walked out of this coalition yesterday.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott, despite having an overabundance of political ammo to fire at Julia Gillard, understands that the political climate in his camp today is as volatile as ever.

Why? Because the Liberal Party technically remains in the same boat as Labor; a stagnant party led by someone its voters would rather replace than keep.

So the question now is: do Labor and the Libs dump their respective leaders and install the visionary firebrands their voters have been craving?

Or do they keep the status-quo and guarantee the rise of a third political force that will one day trounce them in the polls?

Looking at the facts, this isn’t an unrealistic notion. Voter apathy is at a record level and the last election proved that Australians have no hesitation in voting for alternative candidates (i.e, Independents and the Greens) when the political landscape looks bland.

A fresh third party choice led by Kevin Rudd or Malcolm Turnbull would probably edge ahead of Labor and the Libs in an election.

Voters would perceive Gillard and Abbott to be power-drunk captains clinging on to their sinking ships. They would see no choice but to abandon ship, jump in their life boats and sail to the towering cruiser nearby, commandeered by a strong and capable captain.

Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott must understand that “for the good of the party” can also mean its long-term survival as well as its short-term interests.

If the aforementioned scenario doesn’t sit right with their nerves, both leaders must step down now and hand the rudder over to the men who, one day, may very well conquer them sailing under a different flag.


________________________________________________________________________

 

THE LAST TEN YEARS

 

last10years

 

 

Think back to the last time you tried looking into the future and imagining how things would be.

How accurate did your vision turn out to be?

We’re often taken by surprise how quickly things move and change in the modern world that we forget to notice patterns. This is relevant in almost every part of the world.

Take the U.S for example. In 2002, the U.S was one year into what appeared to be a successful campaign in Afghanistan. It had a robust economy, the unwavering respect of its allies and a clear direction.

Ten years on, America is bogged down, completely broke and is facing a geopolitical rebellion against its hegemony in the Middle East, South America and much of Europe.

Japan, too is a good example. In 2002, the Japanese were basking in the conciliatory politics of Prime Minister “Lion Heart” Koizumi, who diplomatically engaged with his country’s neigbours (even North Korea).

Ten years on, Shinzo Abe, Japan’s most prominent hawk, has been elected in a landslide. Abe not only wants to scrap the post-WW2 limitations on Japan’s military, he wants it to adopt an aggressive posture.

Indeed entire regions have transformed over the last decade. Europe has gone from having predominantly pro-U.S center-right leaders to having a worrying blend of far-right and radical left firebrands.

The governing Socialists in France, Greece and Italy sit on the far-left spectrum while Spain, Portugal and Britain are ruled by markedly conservative governments that tilt significantly right of center. Not surprisingly, each bloc has wildly varying philosophies as to how to economically manage the debt crisis crippling Europe.

While factors such as this (notwithstanding a resurgent Russia) can be highlighted as possible precursors to this transformation, it also has more to do with a grand pattern.

When WW1 broke out in 1914, it was following a protracted global recession, a stagnation in European diplomacy and the culmination of an intense arms race.

When WW2 broke out in 1939, the regional portrait wasn’t so different from when the previous great war sent millions of young men on to the battlefield.

Without suggesting directly that the world is on the verge of another ‘great war’, a strikingly similar pattern can be seen happening now.

According to some prominent financial analysts and trends forecasters, the global economy is looking down the barrel of another protracted recession for 2013. This is due, in part, to the U.S and European debt crises, however it has more to do with the subsequent political developments that follow a rotten economy.

History shows that when times are tough and the people are hurting economically, voters tend to adopt a more revolutionary voting behaviour. This in turn results in more revolutionary and radical policies, and most of the time, since radicals rather than pragmatists are elected, this doesn’t bode well for diplomatic harmony.

Voting aside, there have been physical upheavals as well. The Arab Spring saw dramatic changes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria with repercussions being seen in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan. It is clear that it is only a matter of time before these last three bastions of relative calm fall before a democracy-hungry youth tired of these iron-fisted monarchies.

But briefly returning to the polls, we can observe by recent elections in Greece, Israel, Egypt, Spain and Japan how the aforementioned ‘grant pattern’ is taking shape.

In Greece, the radical anti-EU Syriza Party emerged the biggest winner despite frantic attempts by outside powers (most notably Brussels) to keep the European Union’s dream alive.

In Israel, ultranationalists took power in the form of a Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition.

In Egypt, a civilian government led by an Islamic fundamentalist was elected for the first time, officially isolating Israel diplomatically in the region.

In Spain’s regional elections, separatists secured a majority vote in Catalonia, and in Japan, a right-wing hawk with ambitious designs for the military is now the Prime Minister.

It cannot be denied that these events signal a broad geopolitical U-turn. Perhaps most significantly, the above five events have occurred in the last year, so it goes without saying that the next ten will be intense.

 

 

THE NEXT TEN YEARS  

 

600-029042

 

 

Granted, it is ambitious to try and predict even one year into the future let alone ten, but here goes.

2023 begins with a historic summit between the newly formed Asian Union and North American Union, represented by the U.S and China, the respective Secretary-Generals.

India was present at the Asian Union’s side of the room, though as a dramatically weakened power. A popular revolution in 2017 saw the country descend into relative chaos, ultimately resulting in the secession of three major districts from the republic. Millions throughout India had grown tired of the culture of corruption that its leaders were cultivating, and had decided enough was enough.

One union that was absent at the summit was the European Union, which disbanded in 2016 after a long battle with a systemic political cancer. Its reliance on bureaucracy and its heavy-handed approach to the more debt-laden members of the bloc ultimately became its undoing. After the famous ‘Grexit’ of 2013, others swiftly followed suit. Spain in 2014, Portugal in 2015 and France the year after.

By the Summer of 2016, Germany and Italy jointly announced before a stunned global audience that the European dream was dead. The Germany of 2016 was more like anything than the one in the 1930s had been; disillusioned with its neighbours and forcefully taking matters into its own hands. Thankfully, the counter-balance of a powerful Russia kept her in check. As for Italy, it simply re-printed the Lira and went about business.

On the streets of Brussels, tourists would be greeted occasionally by the merchant trying to flog old Euro memorabilia. In many ways, it was very sad. In others, slightly amusing in an ironic way.

The United Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of China, both nationalist powers in Asia, sit at the table next to the only remaining communist state in Asia, Vietnam.

After the second Korean war, a monumental shift occurred across the continent. A sustained nationalist uprising in China led to the resignation of the entire Politburo, now at the mercy of over 2.2 billion Chinese. They had no appetite for the politics of Mao after tasting the appetizers of capitalism over the last 25 years. Adding to that,  the humiliating defeat of their closest ally, North Korea, and the winds of change that had already started blowing in Tibet and Taiwan with the election of pro-independence leaders.

The regime in Vietnam, while retaining communism as its official system of government was, understandably, very nervous.

America’s first female President is half way into her second term, having won a close race against the Tea Party, now a formidable political party in the United States. The Democratic Party firebrand has breathed new life into the economy through painful economic reforms and a diplomatic coup that saw 30 per cent of America’s debt forgiven by its biggest creditor, China.

With the Ayatollah’s gone in Iran and much of the Middle East virtually under U.N occupation, some of America’s biggest burdens had been relieved, notably being dragged into wars it never wanted in the first place.

However, there was an elephant in the global room. Russia’s oil and gas giant Gazprom staged a corporate coup in 2021,  taking over several large energy competitors. The new Russian President, three years into his first term, wasted no time in reminding the West who held the keys to the Arctic’s (and Central Asia’s) massive natural resources.

That Russia achieved this without a war was, to many military analysts, inexplicable. However, the Putin Doctrine of 2012 ensured that Russia could muscle its way into just about any oil, gas and ore bonanza on earth. No one had the stomach for war after the Middle East conflagration in 2015.

Inexplicable too was how the chaotic political transitions in China and North Korea managed to avoid the destabilisation of those country’s respective nuclear arsenals. The art of diplomacy suggested that a persuasive word was said in the ear of some of the more rational figures within the old ranks.

In the Middle East, Jerusalem, contested between Arabs, Christians and Jews for thousands of years, was now an International City under the mandate of the United Nations. With most of the Arab armies, and the Israeli army, reduced to ruins through years of fighting following the outbreak of war in 2015, no one in the region was in a position to deny a multinational force entry into the lands decimated by the horrors of war.

Turkey emerged as the only in-fact regional power left, but had no objections to the U.N picking up the pieces.

The second Korean war, which began months after the Middle East conflagration in 2015, lasted less than a year (thanks to swift U.S and Japanese intervention). It had been North Korea which started the war, seeing its biggest ally and benefactor China in the throes of a nationalist revolution. The DPRK’s armies made swift advances following the horrific shelling of the DMZ and Seoul, but made it no further than the Nakdong River before being routed.

Japan, which had rediscovered the adrenaline of war laced with nationalist fervour at the onset of the Korean conflict, quickly lost its appetite and reinstated the Pacifist constitution the month after the guns fell silent.

Both wars ended in an eerie atmosphere of permanence. The world knew that they were both wars that had to be fought, and the world knew that they were both wars that would never be fought again. Not on that scale.

The ‘historic summit’ in 2023 opened on this note. Never again would these regions be subjected to such wars of unthinkable magnitude. The unlikely alliance between the U.S and China was perhaps the only thing that provided a big enough disincentive for the Russians to start a war; still, Russia had its eastern European and Eurasian military bloc back and no country or rival bloc in its right mind was going to provoke it.

It was, you could say, an uneasy peace, but one that all three powers respected must endure.

The North American Union and the Asian Union had another agenda at the summit. The creation of a new integrated economy, backed by the gold standard and enforced by a central bank in each union respectively. The first would be in the United States and the second in China. Each nation belonging to the union would have a seat on the board of the central bank and no decision would be passed without a majority vote.

Time would tell how this worked out, but it was certainly better than its predecessor chaos.


________________________________________________________________________

 

The recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 20 children and 7 adults was an event that, while deeply shocking, was also morbidly familiar.

The  school shooting, which took place on December 14, was the seventh to happen this year alone.

Amid the outpouring of grief for the victims and their families the issue of gun ownership rose once again, perhaps this time with a greater sense of urgency. Perhaps this was because it was one of the biggest death tolls in the history of shooting sprees in the U.S.

Perhaps it was because 20 out of the 27 victims were children.

Irrespective of how many have died (and will die), it all comes down to this following text:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The unyielding loyalty towards this right serves as a reminder that as long as the enshrined and sacred Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) exists, so will these kinds of massacres.

The keywords in the Amendment are “well regulated”, still, gunmen appear to act with impunity when it comes to unleashing terrible bloodshed within America’s communities.

An important question to ask is what use a civilian could possibly have for an automatic rifle? A hunter certainly has no use for this kind of weapon. A U.S Marine going ashore on enemy territory, yes. But not a hunter.

After the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 the Australian Government adopted the (successful) Gun Buy-Back Scheme. If there is any hope of such a scheme working in America it must first pass some prominent obstacles.

The NRA’s die hard supporters often scoff at the prospect of removing the Second Amendment (albeit with a heavy heart). They have children too, but they also see the right to bear arms as a means to protect their children. It’s a necessary measure, they feel, to protect themselves and their children, and for the community to feel safe.

However, the government has already catered for this. For example, the point of having a police force is so communities can be protected without having to resort to vigilante mob rule. But does this mean increasing the presence of armed police across America?

The ultimate protector of the Second Amendment is the NRA and the Congress. The pro-gun lobby in the U.S government proudly stands by gun-owners, frequently citing the Second Amendment for justification.

However, in this frenzy of patriotic shortsightedness they miss a larger point.

20 children were shot and killed by a gunman on December 14.

But putting this aside, how would that Congress feel about the “right to bear arms” if one day those weapons are used against soldiers? This question may seem out of place in a sense, but still, in another sense it begs the question: at which point will it cross the line?

And an even more extreme example: how would Congress feel if one day those weapons are used against the government itself? It isn’t necessarily far-fetched.

U.S Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was gunned down at a rally last year. Thankfully she lived. This example, however, shows that the government can be victims too.

While that was a single act by one individual, the issue of automatic weapons being used on a larger scale in a more concentrated way cannot be ruled out.

History is littered with hundreds of examples of how governments can end up on the wrong side of a well-armed public, and this is especially relevant at a time when the United States is experiencing a deep systemic problem. It is not only an economic and governmental problem, it is a societal problem.

U.S President’s are markedly limited to what they can actually achieve in preventing school shootings. The president who takes the nation’s guns away is likely to pay a heavy price, and not just politically. Even so, something meaningful must be done, and before more innocent people die.

To the families and friends of all of the victims, it is about more than the politics of a historical document; it’s about guaranteeing that this never happens to anyone else’s children.

At this stage it is appropriate to reflect on the facts that support this portrait of the bigger picture.

  • There are approximately 311 million people in America.
  • 23 million of those Americans are out of work.
  • 46.2 million Americans live below the poverty line.
  • 80 percent of Americans do not trust the government
  • 82 million Americans are armed with a gun.

Call it what you will, but the facts speak for themselves. This worrying cocktail of economic distress and apathy has rendered the Second Amendment a bad genie, out of its bottle; uncontrollable and dangerous.

Barack Obama is in his second and final term. He is not facing re-election. He is not facing the prospect of being voted back in or out. Politically, he has nothing whatsoever to lose by doing what must be done.

Sometimes it takes an event so shocking to be the catalyst of greater change. Just as the 9/11 terror attacks justified changes to the First Amendment, deadlier school shootings will justify changes to the Second Amendment. This much is clear.

When such radical change will come is anyone’s guess, but it must be asked: how much longer can a historical text take priority over public safety and moral responsibility?

The Obama administration is now asking that background checks be carried out on those buying guns. To many of us here in Australia, the notion that background checks aren’t carried out on U.S gun-buyers might seem inexplicable.

What’s more inexplicable perhaps is that the Republican-dominated Congress has vowed to never let this legislation pass into law. In other words, they vehemently oppose background checks being carried out on gun-buyers. This is irrespective of whether the gun-buyer is a convicted felon, a possible terrorist or an individual who is criminally insane.

You would think that by not carrying out these checks it is making further massacres not just likely, but inevitable.

Australia’s gun legislation could be a model that the U.S Government might care to consider in light of this latest tragedy, as our government did after the Port Arthur tragedy.

Australia has had a history of copying the United States in many ways, not just out of our admiration for the American entrepreneurial spirit, but also because America leads by example.

Perhaps it is time for the Americans to take a leaf from our book.


_________________________________________________________________________________

 

In an article titled Russia to revive army bases in three oceans, published by Pravda in August of this year, a startling revelation was made.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in June, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin confirmed that on May 11, his country deployed strategic nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba for the first time since 1962.

“With the full consent of the Cuban leadership, on May 11 of this year, our country has not only resumed work in the electronic center of Lourdes, but also placed mobile strategic nuclear missiles on the island. The Americans did not want to do it the amicable way, now let them deal with this,” Putin said.

The context of Putin’s surprise statement (which reportedly stunned Journalists present at the summit) related to the U.S Government’s decision to go ahead with its controversial missile shield in Europe, despite an earlier promise to abandon the idea.

This calls to mind the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when Russia deployed nuclear missiles to Cuba (which is a mere 140 kilometers from the U.S mainland) in response to American missiles being deployed in Turkey.

That crisis was diffused when President Kennedy used a diplomatic back-channel (organised through his brother, Bobby Kennedy) to tell the Soviet premier Krushchev that America would remove its missiles from Turkey if Russia removed its missiles from Cuba. Thankfully, Krushchev accepted Kennedy’s offer and averted global thermonuclear war.

However, we now have a case of history repeating.

 

WHAT CAN AMERICA DO?

 

The question is how Barack Obama – now in his second and final term – chooses to deal with this direct challenge. So far, nothing has even been said about it. Then again, what could be said about it?

It was America that reneged on its agreement with Russia by putting strategic missiles in Europe, so to publicly announce a crisis over Russian missiles in Cuba would seem blatantly hypocritical.

Moreover, what can America realistically do about it militarily?

The answer to that throws up a myriad of apocalyptic scenarios that even Binyamin Netanayahu and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would shiver just thinking about.

The Cold War as we knew it from 1945-1991 is over. Geopolitical rivalry between the United States and Russia since then has been more akin to a game of chess than anything else.

In Syria we’re seeing Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s biggest arms client in the Middle East, now encircle what’s left of a NATO-backed proxy army calling itself the Free Syrian Army.

In Ukraine we’re seeing Russia’s man Viktor Yankukovych consolidating power while the Western-leaning politicians there cry foul.

In Georgia, new president Bidzina Ivanishvili is already being painted as a pro-Russian patsy by the crestfallen opposition.

Today, America’s military options against a power like Russia are limited by economic, strategic and political complexities. America remains a superpower, but with one arm tied behind its back.

Despite being ridiculed and laughed at for being old-fashioned on foreign affairs, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney was strongly attuned to the Russian threat.

Romney not only opposed the massive budget cuts to the U.S military but wanted to increase spending by up to $2 trillion. While his critics asked “What On Earth For?” most people knew why in their gut.

While the U.S has been juggling an economy on life-support with an 11-year military quagmire in Afghanistan, Russia has initiated a massive military buildup, bankrolled by its strangle-hold over Central Asia’s vast oil and gas resources.

So what can America and Barack Obama do about Russian missiles in Cuba? Give Mr Putin a call like Kennedy did to Krushchev in 1962 and strike a deal.

 

HOW AND WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?

 

For the first time in nearly a century, America is facing a period of global stagnation in its geopolitical influence. The Arab Spring can be added to the aforementioned examples as evidence of this. Russia placing its missiles back in Cuba is a culmination of sorts that relates to a deeper underlying problem with hegemony.

To be fair, it has nothing to do with Obama’s leadership or the decisions he has made whilst in office. The President is doing all he can.

The Euro-American hegemony has long been based on its ability to monopolise the global economy. That may have been true since the 1600s, but it is not true in the 21st century.

Manufacturing and energy demand (and production) have been experiencing a gradual drift from West to East. The rise of China in particular plays a significant part in this. When China began opening up its market to the world 30 years ago it created a billion consumers, a manufacturing powerhouse where foreign companies could exploit cheap labor and a competitive financial market.

Meanwhile, jobs that otherwise would have stayed in the United States, Britain, Germany and France began moving offshore to China, buoying an economy that has been experiencing double-digit GDP growth.

So while the Euro-American hegemony (if we can still call it that) figures out how to fix this problem without reverting to 1930s-style protectionism, the East exercises increased confidence in both economic and military behaviour.

Getting back to the Russian missiles in Cuba, this can certainly be argued as an example of that kind of confidence.

Vladimir Putin, like Nikita Krushchev, understands brinkmanship. The decision to put nuclear missiles back in Cuba illustrates a time of geopolitical advantage for Russia, and this is the reason why such a decision could not have been made at any other time in the past 50 years.


______________________________________________________________


Each ANZAC Day, we pause to remember a military disaster that took the lives of 120,000 men, 8,500 of whom were Australian Diggers. 2,721 New Zealanders died fighting alongside us, as true brothers in arms.

Today, we remember those who fought and died for a greater good. When WW1 broke out in 1914, both we and the Turks were forced into war through out alliances with greater powers; ours with the British Empire, and the Turks with Germany. Churchill chose an attack to reopen the Dardanelles, and with that decision we ultimately landed at Gallipoli.

That was on 25 April. Two years later, on October 31, our Diggers would fight – and win – what could be argued as one of the greatest military victories in history: the Battle of Beersheba, in which 500 Aussie horsemen belonging to the 4th Light Horse Brigade charged 6000 yards of open terrain towards waiting Turkish soldiers, who numbered 5,000.

An extract from Col Stinger’s book “800 Horsemen” shares a glimpse of this triumph:

The Light Horsemen charged magnificently across the dusty plains, so fast that the Turkish guns could not keep pace with them. As they leapt the trenches laced with machine gun bullets, a magnificent cheer went up from the British ranks, even some of the Turks stood and applauded, such was the magnificence of the feat. Although hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned they charged on. Beersheba – the gateway to Jerusalem, fell that day, not to the Crusaders, not to the British, German or US Armies – but to the Australian Light Horsemen!

As the closing sentence cares to emphasise, modern Israel can technically owe its liberation from the hands of the Ottoman Empire to those 800 fearless men on horseback; but above all else, this victory should echo in the hearts and minds of Australians everywhere.

The solemn tribute to those who bravely fell at Gallipoli reminds us of how human courage and sacrifice should never be forgotten.

Beersheba should remind us of how that same courage, when put up against overwhelming odds, can sometimes turn into the greatest of triumphs.


______________________________________________________________

On March 28, 2012 an online article appeared in the publication Bloomberg reporting that Saudi Arabia, which ranks above North Korea in human rights abuses, is about to launch an “ambitious” nuclear program.

This announcement, which strangely received no considerable mention in mainstream press, was made at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.

Quoting Hashim Abdullah Yamani, the president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the decision was “in line with its strategic objectives to diversify its energy sources.” That is the exact same reason Iran has given to Western powers to explain its civilian nuclear program, but to no avail.

Part of the West’s logic for wanting to deny Iran a nuclear program of its own is that it they cannot be sure that it won’t be used for military purposes (specifically, making nuclear weapons). This suspicion is despite prior and ongoing U.N inspections that have shown no evidence that such a program exists or is in the making.

When Iraq was invaded over this suspicion and later found to have no ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ suspicions fell on the U.S administration and its allies. The reason for that turning of tables was that the stagnating global economy needed cheaper oil and had conveniently found it through war (although over one million perished as a result).

Since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 the global economy (particularly Europe and the U.S) is stagnating again, and suddenly the urgency to prevent Iran from using Weapons of Mass Destruction has become markedly more intense. This is beside the fact that Iran was supposedly only ‘a few years away’ from having a nuclear bomb seventeen years ago in 1995.

However, if we are to ignore the fact that no nuclear weapons program exists in Iran and focus our attention on stopping human rights abusing dictators in the Arab world from acquiring the means to produce a nuclear weapon, we should start with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, unlike Iran, is a Kingdom ruled entirely by its strict monarchy. Saudi Arabia, unlike Iran, severely oppresses women (Iran lets women vote and drive), and Saudi Arabia, unlike Iran, is more likely to use a nuclear program for military purposes than Iran. Why? Well they’ve already admitted that they will.

Using a theoretical Iranian nuclear program to declare an intention to build nuclear weapons is as good as saying “I’m going to go and buy a shotgun if my neighbour gets one.” Simply through making the statement, the Saudi Prince let the cat out of the bag.

One interesting thing to note is that the Iranian government recently cited that it is a ‘great sin’ under Islam to produce nuclear weapons, however the Saudis – who host the most sacred of sites in the Islamic world (the Kaaba) – apparently don’t feel as strongly as Iran do about nuclear weapons being forbidden.

Predictably, the U.S and its allies have voiced no concerns about this oppressive Middle Eastern regime (which has voiced interest in building the bomb) launching a nuclear program. Instead, they’re preferring to focus on the more democratic of the two, and what’s more, one that considers building the bomb as forbidden by Islam.

 




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.