How an honest man made the ‘insiders’ prick their own bubble
This week, after avoiding the subject in Parliamentary debate for NINE years thanks to a convenient ‘bipartisan consensus’ comprising the Labor Party and the Liberal/National Coalition, Australia’s national Parliament at long last debated the War in Afghanistan.
Adam Bandt, Greens MP for Melbourne
The debate is taking place only because The Greens called for it – and in Australia’s post-election hung Parliament were able to demand it as a condition for keeping the Gillard Labor Government in power. The Greens deserve thanks and praise for insisting on this debate. As it proceeded, a lot more Australians probably gained better understanding about why the duopoly of war-supporting major parties have been so anxious to avoid open debate about Afghanistan until now.
The Parliamentary debate itself has had its moments, but in general brings to mind Dr Johnson’s famous quip about a dog walking on hind legs: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all”.
When Australians use the word ‘war’ in this case, we’re not using the term in a traditional way. Australia hasn’t declared war on Afghanistan. Instead, we have troops stationed in Afghanistan who face a growing home-grown insurgency, which is increasingly challenging the military occupation imposed by the USA and its ‘allies’.
A truly rational Parliament – a Parliament concerned about factual accuracy – might therefore call this a debate about Australia’s ongoing military occupation. Instead of that, politicians and journalists call it ‘war’ – frequently softening the pitch with Orwellian Newspeak, such as Australia’s ‘presence’ in Afghanistan, our ‘commitment’, ‘engagement’ and ‘involvement’.
It all sounds so romantic…
Since we’re now debating a long-running imposed military occupation, an obvious first question normal people might ask is how it began in the first place? Why and how did Australian troops first get ‘involved’ in the military occupation of Afghanistan?
It’s the question that really lies at the heart of the debate. If we can understand that history we may be able to unravel it. At the very least, it would provide necessary clarity about what caused the mess we find ourselves in.
Andrew Wilkie: Independent MP for Denison
Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, fostering genuine understanding of the origins of the occupation was most certainly NOT on the Parliamentary agenda this week.
No-one who spoke in the Parliamentary debate has been willing to probe that sordid history critically. Greens member Adam Bandt and Independent Andrew Wilkie spoke with passion against continuing the occupation, but both of them, in their speeches, accepted without question the official version of the events that led to the invasion of Afghanistan by a US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ in 2001.
The Australian Greens have no real excuse for this. Don’t they talk to counterparts in the USA?
After all, the 2008 US Greens Presidential candidate Cynthia MacKinney has been prominent in demanding the truth about 9-11 from very early days (2002). She can be considered one of the US 9-11 Truth movement’s most heroic founder-members. Yet apparently a realistic and honest appraisal of the events of September 11th 2001 hasn’t percolated through into the leadership of the Australian Greens. I really don’t know why. No-one I’ve spoken or corresponded with in the Australian Greens has been willing to discuss the issue.
Anyhow, the week was starting to look like it was going reasonably well for both sides of the War Party, who between them comprise 90+% of the Parliament. It was looking good for the Capital circle Commentariat too, who’ve been doing a poor job sustaining public support for the Afghanistan ‘engagement’ – but who have been exceptionally successful in keeping discussion about the mysterious origins of the Afghanistan invasion out of the mainstream discourse.
Enter Kevin Bracken…
Many Australians outside the State of Victoria may never have heard of Kevin Bracken until this week. Bracken is not in Parliament. He’s a prominent trade unionist – Victorian branch Secretary of the Maritime Workers of Australia and currently the elected President of the Victorian Trades Hall. When he entered public debate this week, Bracken spoke for himself – not the organisations he represents.
Yet it is Mr Bracken’s words – not Prime Minister Gillard or opposition leader Tony Abbott, nor even the Greens Adam Bandt or Independent MP Andrew Wilkie – that have reverberated around the nation, causing quite a stir in the process. The politicians made widely anticipated set-piece speeches. Bracken shifted the paradigm.
Kevin Bracken is a large man who has evidently learnt the art of speaking on radio with a calm and gentle voice. On Wednesday morning he called Radio 774 ABC in Melbourne and spoke to radio host Jon Faine. Bracken raised doubts about the official version of events concerning 9-11, called for a fresh inquiry and politely offered to debate Mr Faine on the subject.
Jon Faine’s on-air response was so arrogant, rude, patronising and dismissive that he may have helped convert a few Melburnians to 9-11 scepticism there and then. But what might easily have been a local storm in a teacup, remembered only by a few local listeners and spotted only by aficionados of 9-11 Truth in Australia, quickly became a national issue. This happened because Australia’s paid Commentariat and political elite broke their own self-imposed rule on the subject of 9-11, a rule that’s served them so well for so long.
For once, they followed up on the story…
Faine’s brief ‘conversation with Mr Bracken – and his subsequent attempt to bully the Secretary of Trades Hall into disowning President Bracken – was posted on the ABC Radio 774 website. But other journalists picked up on the story too. Steve Lieberman of Sydney’s Radio 2UE did a vicious scripted hit-piece, still available online.
Even then the incident might not have amounted to much, but Josh Frydenberg, the newly elected MP for Kooyong, decided to ask his first Parliamentary question on this very subject:
Josh Frydenberg M
“My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the comment of Kevin Bracken, President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council and member of the Port Melbourne branch of the Labor Party that, in relation to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001:
“I believe the official story is a conspiracy theory that does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.”
If the Prime Minister finds these comments as offensive as most right-thinking Australians, what action will the Prime Minister take to discipline Mr Bracken and send a message to others that such remarks are unacceptable?
Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded defensively:
“…obviously, I do not agree with the remarks. Obviously, they are stupid and wrong. I think the member was in the House yesterday when I gave my Prime Minister’s statement on Afghanistan. I would refer him to that. That is my view, obviously. It is the view of the Labor Party. If the member wants to research our policy that goes through our national conferences and other places he will find it outlines our view about the conflict in Afghanistan and why Australia is there. As the member would probably be aware, the Labor Party is a large organisation. People join it as individuals. We do not dictate what people think, and neither does the Liberal Party, in my understanding”
Bracken’s question and the PM’s response immediately became a national story, covered on national radio and TV and widely reported in the newspapers from the afternoon of October 20th onwards. Most of the reporting was highly negative about Mr Bracken and gave great prominence to Julia Gillard’s assertion that his remarks were “stupid and wrong”. Even so, the genie was out of the bottle.
One of the first newspapers to cover the story was the Herald Sun. It’s article Trades Hall president Kevin Bracken stands by his 9/11 conspiracy followed the established pattern of highlighting the dismissive remarks of Gillard and other established political leaders. But unlike other mainstream media articles on this subject, the Sun Herald opened the article to (moderated) comments from the public and also ran an online opinion poll.
Sun-Herald Opinion Poll: Kevin Bracken's views on 9-11
Only the Herald itself knows how many comments it received. More than 300 were published on the day the article was initially published (2oth October). By today (22nd October), the total number of published comments is 513 – indicating exceptional public interest. Many comments are well-informed and very supportive of Mr Bracken. The opinion poll which poses the question “Do you think Kevin Bracken’s comments were reasonable?” is currently running 63%-37% in favour.
The Australian public is learning that we are better informed about 9-11 than the mainstream media and political elite purport to be – and certainly far more interested in the truth. That’s a valuable new understanding.
Not content with getting the ball rolling, on the morning of Thursday 21st October Kevin Bracken called Jon Faine’s radio program again (Unionist demands right of reply over 9-11 conspiracy backlash). Reluctantly, Faine took the call. Once again, he attempted to ridicule Mr Bracken. Once again, Bracken kept his cool and calmly reiterated the challenge of a public debate. Faine tried to argue Bracken’s views are extremist and unworthy of debating. Bracken responded that public opinion seemed to be a lot less sure about that. He managed, once again, to come through to listeners as the voice of reason. Score 2 to Kevin Bracken!
Australia’s mass media still maintains a united front about 9-11, insisting there is “nothing to debate”. Even independents such as Crikey.com joined in the ridicule. It’s main hit piece – ‘Village idiot’ union head won’t give up on 9/11 conspiracy – was wisely kept behind its subscriber-only wall, where the rest of us can’t get at it to comment
But a distrustful public is tasting its own ability to see through an orchestrated charade. Comments on Twitter, by my estimate, were running marginally against Bracken and his views yesterday – but debate via social media is doubtless bringing new converts every hour to the simple proposition that the official story about 9-11 is not credible and a new inquiry is necessary.
No wonder Julia Gillard – and her predecessors Kevin Rudd and John Howard – never wanted a public debate about Afghanistan!
It’s worth recalling that when Prime Minister Howard first sent troops to Afghanistan in late 2001, he did so at a time when a Federal election had been called and Government was in caretaker mode.
Magistrate Pat O’Shane said back then that to do so was probably unlawful under the constitution. The main opposition party of the day – the ALP under Kim Beazley – never complained about that abuse of executive power by Howard. It was an instance of the sordid two-party consensus that has prevailed for so much of the last decade on matters surrounding war and ‘national security’. (The consensus did not extend to Labor support for the invasion of Iraq, to the credit of post-Beazley ALP leaders Simon Crean and Mark Latham).
I mention that, because it seems not only was Australia’s participation in the invasion of Afghanistan illegal under international law and a gross abuse of the ANZUS Treaty; it may have been unlawful under the terms of the Australian constitution too. Small wonder there was no major party enthusiasm for Parliamentary debate about Afghanistan at the time!
But the most important issue – and the issue that won’t go away – is whether 9-11 was really perpetrated by ‘Al Qaeda’ as alleged.
If not, the Islamic faith and Muslims throughout the world have been subjected to a modern variant of the ‘Blood Libels’ of yesteryear. Since 9-11, Muslims have been routinely subjected to sniggers, sneers, unpleasant comments about their religion and worse – much worse. Vilification continues through to the present day.
If, in reality, Muslim extremists did not commit the terrorist atrocity of 9-11 (and there are similar doubts surrounding the official versions of the July 7th 2005 London bombings and other key ‘trigger events’), then it is necessary to consider who framed them, how and why.
Jon Faine greets Israeli PR supremo Mark Regev: two smiling Melburnians having a pleasant encounter
This week, the two most outspoken critics of Mr Bracken and his views have been Jon Faine and Josh Frydenberg MP. Both happen to be Jewish.
If I was their advisor, I’d suggest they do not henceforth play a prominent role in demanding that views critical of the official 9-11 narrative are excluded from mainstream discourse. Not a good look. It makes it seem rather too much like an ideological war waged by Jews against Muslims. Doubtless that’s not the case – but perceptions matter.
All of us – Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Shinto, Pagan, Zoroastrian, Secularists and the rest – must share this wonderful planet. We should all treat other’s views with respect and be guided by an honest search for the truth. That’s the only way forward – unless one group of people seriously wish to try lording it over the rest.
Such an agenda would prompt ever-increasing resistance and suffer eventual defeat.
Supremacist ideologies, in whatever form, have no place in humanity’s future.