As Australian diplomats enjoyed their New York back-slapping orgy last Friday, a bunch of men vital to their United Nations Security Council victory that day entered a paved paddock outside Wagga Wagga.

The future of our nation, in more ways than one

They were the 50 members of 33 Platoon, Delta Company, who had just completed 12 weeks of training at Kapooka Army base. They were recruits about to become soldiers.

The diplomats congratulated themselves for a sophisticated five year, $24 million+ campaign to win Australia a two-year stint at the UN’s top table.

But they could not have even put Australia’s name on the ballot paper were it not for the likes of those men nervously marching out on the Kapooka parade ground.

Without soldiers of their kind, the New York campaigners would not have been able to boast of Australia’s participation in dozens of peace-keeping forces, or Australia’s good global citizen roles in the Solomon Islands and East Timor, or of our commitment to multi-lateral operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the enormous sacrifices involved.

Diplomatic talk without a military backup is just cocktail party chatter.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr should be proud of his team’s achievement and the two years ahead. Kapooka’s commandant, Lt CO Steven D’Arcy, no doubt was proud of this team, and the fact that the training would produce dividends for a lot longer than two years.

My nephew Francis was in Delta Company and as I watched him march out grim faced I recalled a theory held by Kim Beazley.

Mr Beazley once said ordinary soldiers were always complaining because they knew that somewhere, someone was spending billions of dollars on better ways to kill them.

I decided it wasn’t real smart to tell my sister this story as she watched her son, both hands up to her tense face. It was probably the timeless expression of mothers when they first realise their son or daughter has become a soldier.

The corporal who guided dozens of relatives and friends of the recruits to the low stands on one side of the parade grounds said Delta was awesome, and the toughest group in the base.

“There’s anger at Kapooka. There’s more in Delta,” he said. Awesome.

The trainers might have treated the recruits like sub-morons, but the Army isn’t silly. Parents and relatives are revered.

“You have given to the Australian Army great trust,” said the reviewing officer, as well as “your most precious possession”.

At lunch after the parade it was clear that just as recruits had come to Kapooka from all over Australia, so had their families for this occasion. One new soldier had 27 people arrive to watch his march out.

A young soldier saw his wife and baby for the first time in three months. Grandma held the child as the wife walked around with her soldier husband, rarely letting go of his hand.

Older members of one family spoke in thick accents and possibly were of Lebanese extraction. A son had signed up to die for his country if necessary. They couldn’t be more Australian.

Some 5000 soldiers are trained at Kapooka each year and go on to provide the backbone for our military force, whether in infantry, artillery, transport or elsewhere.

As we emerged from the lunch another company was marching past having spent two weeks in the scrub with little sleep, no comforts and moments of terror.

The Delta Company visitors applauded them.

The exhausted recruits were covered in camo paint and grime. They still looked like young boys.

Meanwhile, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard personally thanked Department of Foreign Affairs officials in Canberra for the UN success and Minister Carr entertained the New York crew, Delta company headed off to Wagga’s Victoria hotel.

The night was theirs to celebrate as they wished, as long as it ended at 9pm.

Comments close on this post at 8pm AEST

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    • acotrel says:

      05:21am | 22/10/12

      ‘Mr Beazley once said ordinary soldiers were always complaining because they knew that somewhere, someone was spending billions of dollars on better ways to kill them.’

      The question should be asked about whether, when our soldiers go to war shouldn’t they have the best weapons ? Australia should get its head straight, soldiers are not playing games when the real thing starts up. The obscenity occurs when young men develop weapns and other young men are conscripted to used them and cop the return fire.

    • yasemin says:

      06:48am | 22/10/12

      “Unless a nation’s life faces peril, war is murder”  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

    • PJ says:

      07:39am | 22/10/12

      Using Gillard Government Speak…..

      I WON a Flat White coffee and Muffin this morning!

      Yeah, I ordered it from the Barista, gave her $7 and I WON them.

      I’m so proud of this honour, to win a Flat white against stiff competition.

      Vote for me!

    • Fiddler says:

      08:10am | 22/10/12

      wo don’t get the best though. Our weapons are made by the lowest bidder and then we don’t spend the money upgrading/maintaining them.

      Of the 54 Abrams tanks we bought we are lucky to have twenty working at any time. Look at our navy, “fitted for, but not with” all the actual advanced weaponry that would give us the edge needed since we don’t have numbers. Our ADF looks great on paper and as a former serving officer I can say our people find the best ways to use what we have, but if we ever had to really depploy we would find we wouldn’t have much we could use.

    • Gregg says:

      09:46am | 22/10/12

      @acotrel
      ” Australia should get its head straight, soldiers are not playing games when the real thing starts up. The obscenity occurs .....”

      I know nothing much will ever be pleasurable to you but not everybody in Australia has such a crooked set on life and Australia generally has a reasonable outlook even if some governments do lose the plot with detail on a few issues.
      As for obscenities, you ought to take that mirror offer from Julia.

    • Mike says:

      09:48am | 22/10/12

      That question is rather simplistic and a little naive. If you’d don’t know why, then it’s impossible to start explaining why.

      If you do know why, then there’s no reason to explain any further.

    • PJ says:

      10:58am | 22/10/12

      Early lunch!!!

      In ‘Gillard Government speak’ I’m going out to WIN a sandwich and a coke.

      I do not expect tough competition from the Mighty Mighty European States of Finland and Luxembourg, so I should WIN my food in the sandwich shop pretty easily.

      Hope it doesn’t cost $40 million to buy, ops sorry I mean WIN!

    • AGHAST says:

      05:57am | 22/10/12

      Thank you Malcolm.For giving me pause to think of the real issues.Not about turning back the boats.Not about shallow frivolous Slipper.Or sad pathetic McDermot.Or any of a dozen"IMPORTANT"issues that clutter our lives these days.And a special thank you for the young men and women who stand up to be counted and their families who stand to support these fine young Australians.

    • PJ says:

      07:43am | 22/10/12

      I hope Gillard Government cuts in the Defence Budget do not endanger their lives unnecessarily.

      Our Forces deserve all our thanks, especially as they manage to keep faith with a Government that would spend $530,000 to see if it should get rid of Anzac Day.

    • SASR wife says:

      06:09pm | 22/10/12

      PJ “endanger their lives unnecessarily” - are you serious?

      This govt and many like it have done nothing but waste the lives of these men and woman…because they can. They are numbers on a piece of paper and their families vote. They are nothing more than that.

      With all the sexism (especially against males) that this Govt has induced into policy (50% of board members MUST be woman, must have 50% female workforce, there is no longer 50% custody unless you fight very hard and spend all your money, and lets not forget removal of legislation to prosecute those who purger themselves in Family Court - which has been mainly women) can you even try to understand what it must mean for these men and women to go out ‘somewhere’ to be shot at and even die…for these same people who prejudice them because of their gender?

      Then they are not provided effective weaponry when they do go out of the wire.

      These men and women dont need to go anywhere outside of Australia to be ‘shot down’, this Govt is doing a fine job doing that already at home.

      What are these men and women really fighting for and risking their lives for? Its for those pencil pushers (in and out of Govt), couch potatoes who call them “baby killers” and those new age wannabes who just dont give a rats about them or anyone else.

      And my husband gets shot at for them.

    • Louise says:

      06:18am | 22/10/12

      Yes.  All that money spent on an temporary UNSC seat while, at home, the Gillard government slashes the Defence budget.  That’s what I had in mind while looking at the images of the PM shaking hands with our soldiers overseas.

      I guess we need them both but, as types go, give me a soldier over a diplomat - or a politician - any day.

    • Rosie says:

      07:16am | 22/10/12

      Louise I agree

      Yeah Big Deal - Rwanda received more votes than Australia. 148 to our 140. Australia has a good reputation internationally, good contributors according to Bob Carr. Pray tell me something about Rwanda as to why they received more votes than us????

    • jaz says:

      07:21am | 22/10/12

      then who would send the soldiers to war?

      I often wonder weather it is necessary for Australian society to engage in war for purely cultural reasons. What would Australia be if we didn’t have an Anzac legend or if the tens of thousands of young men had not died in war in the last one hundred years, Would we still have the reverence and respect for the military that we do? and how would that affect our national character?

    • fml says:

      07:35am | 22/10/12

      The $25 million for the security council seat wouldn’t have bought even half a jet fighter. But considering now we can use diplomatic efforts to avoid conflict instead of the ol’ shootem up the $25 million is a bargain.

    • Big Jay says:

      07:40am | 22/10/12

      @Louise - Ever heard the saying “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then all your problems look like nails”?

      Without diplomats (or even politicians, thought I’m not a big fan of them either) then suddenly you’re looking at a military solution to everything, a bit like the USA. If you think that is a good idea, I worry. Read up on military history or talk to some vet’s then see how good war is.

    • Big Jay says:

      07:47am | 22/10/12

      @Rosie - Rwanda suffered had a civil war, and a genocide occur in their country while the UN did nothing. They are still going the through the process of delivering justice and reconciliation (depending on the issue).

      I would be prepared to say they have a good idea of the cost of failure at the UN, and some good experience on peace-building etc.

      I have very little faith in the UN and security council but there is no need to bag out Rwanda.

    • PJ says:

      07:51am | 22/10/12

      Didnt the Africans hold the balance of power with the votes?

      Thats why we trippled ‘Aid’ to Africa, to “WIN’ the seat lol!

    • PJ says:

      07:53am | 22/10/12

      Erm ... Tge UN Security Council has sanctioned more invasions than it has prevented?!?!?

    • L. says:

      07:55am | 22/10/12

      “But considering now we can use diplomatic efforts to avoid conflict instead of the ol’ shootem up the $25 million is a bargain. “

      So your position is we couldn’t use diplomacy before we were offered a temp seat on the UNSC?

      Ummm.. No. I don’t buy that for a second.

    • Louise says:

      08:21am | 22/10/12

      @Big Jay, read my words.  I didn’t say “war is good” or that we should look at a “military solution to everything”.  I said “as types go” my sympathy lies with the soldier who puts his life on the line for the freedom we take for granted.

      Please don’t make assumptions about what I’ve read or who I’ve talked to - I base what I say on both of those things. To me, one unsung vet I know well is worth ten chattering Bob Carrs. That’s all.

    • Donny says:

      08:35am | 22/10/12

      @Louise - To me, one unsung vet I know well is worth ten chattering Bob Carrs.

      Spot on.

    • fml says:

      08:40am | 22/10/12

      “So your position is we couldn’t use diplomacy before we were offered a temp seat on the UNSC?”

      Ummm, no. It allows us to make decisions on behalf of members in our region and create internationally legally binding treatises. But of course, some people seem to think that any law outside of Australia is of no importance.

    • PJ says:

      08:59am | 22/10/12

      ha ha come on lets get real.

      Australia, along with the mighty Guatamala, will become the Puppets of one of the permanent members.

      We are probably only there for two reason; at the request of the US and to use membership to BIG NOTE the Gillard Government. “Look what we’ve Bought/Won yous…”

      The two year term means as an individual nation, in the pocket of one of the Big permanent members, WE wont be able to do anything much on our agenda.

    • Mike C says:

      09:03am | 22/10/12

      Rosie, Rwanda ran unopposed for the African seat on the council - there was no-one else for the general assembly to vote for. So 148 of the 193 countries voted for them, and the rest presumably abstained. In Australia’s case 140 voted for Australia but the others had two other countries to chose from..

    • nihonin says:

      12:00pm | 22/10/12

      ’ It allows us to make decisions on behalf of members in our region and create internationally legally binding treatises’

      fml, what if the ‘members in our region’ don’t agree with our decisions we’re supposedly making on their behalf.

    • JTZ says:

      12:24pm | 22/10/12

      @jaz maybe you didnt pay much attention at school. The Australians forces were needed in Europe. They held the line after Britains defeat in France. The Brits needed time to rebuild. They called upon those from Commenwealth countries and hundreds replied not just is Australia.

      Japan was sniffing at our borders in PNG and anyone who will say thier was not threat just look at the recently released information showing Japanese planes taking photos of WA coast line, Darwin bombings and the midget subs in Sydney harbour.

      Im sorry but words dont help much. Many ppl think Ghandi was the only one who got India its independence but he wasnt. The British didnt care about him starving himself or the scheme not to buy British products. The reason they made the deal with him (just look at the outcome) was because they feared the birth of more ppl like Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and the likes who took up arms against the British. One freedom fighter Uddam Singh sent shock waves accross Britian when he travelled thier and killed the man in charge of the masacre in Amristar.

    • fml says:

      12:32pm | 22/10/12

      nihonin,

      Well firstly, I assume it will always go to a vote. Then if there is disagreement thats when the international discourse comes in.

      Under Chapter Six of the Charter, “Pacific Settlement of Disputes”, the Security Council “may investigate any dispute, or any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute”. The Council may “recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment” if it determines that the situation might endanger international peace and security. These recommendations are not binding on UN members.

      Under Chapter Seven, the Council has broader power to decide what measures are to be taken in situations involving “threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, or acts of aggression”. In such situations, the Council is not limited to recommendations but may take action, including the use of armed force “to maintain or restore international peace and security”. This was the legal basis for UN armed action in Korea in 1950 during the Korean War and the use of coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 and Libya in 2011. Decisions taken under Chapter Seven, such as economic sanctions, are binding on UN members.

      If they disagree I am sure there is option to take it up with one of the permanent members. It is a democratic organisation after all.

    • nihonin says:

      12:43pm | 22/10/12

      ’ It is a democratic organisation after all.’

      For the right amount, anyone or ‘anything’ can be democratic.  wink

    • PJ says:

      02:06pm | 22/10/12

      How about this LIE:

      Julia Gillard: ’ We will use every cent from the Carbon tax to assist Australian households and Industry (with paying carbon pricing)

      BUT…...

      ‘Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax will be used to allow Australia to meet its share of a $100 billion-a-year United Nations fund to transfer wealth from rich countries to help undeveloped nations adapt to global warming. The Gillard Government is party to a UN agreement which Climate Change Minister Greg Combet entered into in December at a meeting in Cancun, Mexico, under which about 10 per cent of carbon taxes in developed nations will go into a Green Climate Fund’.

    • Suzanne says:

      06:46am | 22/10/12

      $24 million is what we are being told about, I bet its double or triple that in time, expenses, bribes, gifts.

      Its a complete waste of taxpayers money just to bolster the ego’s of Rudd, Gillard and Carr.

      Sp much waste from this Government and unaffordable speanding we need more cuts and taxes today

    • PJ says:

      08:53am | 22/10/12

      Some of the newspapers said $40 million, a couple $55 million for 2 years.

      We’ll never know the truth of it under Gillard Government. grin

    • Christian Real says:

      09:06am | 22/10/12

      PJ
      Like Tony Abbott,some of the newspapers tend to stretch the truth

    • Greg in Chengdu says:

      09:31am | 22/10/12

      @Christian unlike Julia who doesn’t stretch the truth, she tramples all over it then spits on it

    • James1 says:

      12:06pm | 22/10/12

      People, please, Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott are politicians.  Sometimes, they will say things that are less than true, although I can’t think of any examples lately from Mr Abbott.

      PJ, on the other hand, has lied on this very thread, saying that the government recently spent money trying to get rid of Anzac Day.  This did not happen.  As such, we can safely consider PJ to be as credible as Ms Gillard.

    • PJ says:

      01:26pm | 22/10/12

      “Its a complete waste of taxpayers money just to bolster the ego’s of Rudd, Gillard and Carr.”

      Exactly Suzanne

      When asked Carr said the reason for spending $40 million, tripling aid to Africa etc was for ‘Ego’.

      His very words. Ego. Our countries run by a bunch of Egotists.

      We cannot afford to be in the UN Security Council, even if it’s just to say ‘YES’ for America.

      Swan’s already hit us with $20 billion in cuts and he’s got to find another $100 Billion, so he can keep paying ‘Middle Class Vote Buying Welfare’ up to the election.

      We’ll never know the truth of it…

    • James1 says:

      02:56pm | 22/10/12

      “If the Gillard Government had not even considered the possibility of doing away with the traditional Anzac celebrations, why would they even ask a related question?”

      So you have shifted the goalposts from “getting rid of Anzac Day” to “doing away with traditional celebrations”, and from the government seeing if it should do this, to the government asking related questions.  Doesn’t make your original lie any more true.  Indeed, that is simply another attempt to lie, this time about what you wrote in the first place.  It is a strange attempt too, given that everyone can see your original contention.  Reminds me of certain promises made on the public record about taxes…

      Also I read Mr Bolt’s blog every day.  I read that one on the day it was posted, and it says nothing about doing away with Anzac Day, just that it was found that there are some risks involved, and that money was wasted finding this out.  In fact, neither of the articles you post say anything about getting rid of Anzac Day, or about getting rid of the traditional celebrations.  All they say is that these celebrations carry risks, as do all major celebrations, national, cultural or otherwise.

      I support your opposition to this government, PJ, but lying about things and making stuff up doesn’t help, you know.

    • Ex 35699 Korea 51-53 says:

      06:49am | 22/10/12

      Who’ll Come a’Waltzing Matilda with us?

    • yasemin says:

      07:00am | 22/10/12

      Another seat lost for peace in the U.N! Bob Carr’s excitement was really difficult to comprehend, shouldn’t we be rejoicing peace not war mongering. Worth watching but worthy of going to war for? He doesn’t have the slightest clue what his talking about ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PGmnz5Ow-o

    • jimbo says:

      07:03am | 22/10/12

      Yes Malcolm, soldiers suddenly become relevant and important when it becomes personal.
      Congratulations to each and every ony of them.

    • PeterM says:

      09:39am | 22/10/12

      Indeed Jimbo.  Now that the transformation has gotten through stage one, its time to learn about their new jobs.

    • Soldier says:

      06:29pm | 22/10/12

      This is sad but true, most people have no idea what the boys (and girls) are going through over there and when they get back, and most simply don’t care.

      That is until on the rare chance they get to know someone who serves and ask them what they think.

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:10am | 22/10/12

      They stand the wall so I don’t have to.  For that they have my respect and admiration.

      Perhaps they don’t do it for the right reasons sometimes, but the fact is they do it.

      By the way, if you’re referring to Lieutenant Colonel D’Arcy, I believe the proper way to abbreviate his rank is LTCOL.

    • Joel M-J says:

      08:06am | 22/10/12

      It’s always a little cringe worthy when journalists and arm chair generals in the media try to sound knowledgeable about military affairs and terminology.

    • Mahhrat says:

      08:57am | 22/10/12

      If you’re referring to me, I spent nearly 20 years working with the Department, including 9 with an Army unit.

      I believe the manual that states how such things are to be written is Joint Services Publication (Admin Series) 102 - Service Writing Standards.

      Of course, that was 4 years or so ago now, so it might have changed.  Given what I know of the ADO though, I rather doubt it.

    • Joel M-J says:

      09:26am | 22/10/12

      Referring to Malcolm’s incorrect abbreviation of Lieutenant Colonel.

    • MarkS says:

      12:25pm | 22/10/12

      I would have been quite happy with Lt. Col. even if not the approved abbreviation. At least it would have been clear what was meant.

    • Mark says:

      05:17pm | 22/10/12

      I’d be more concerned that LTCOL D’Arcy was referred to as the Commandant. He is not, he is the CO (Commanding Officer). The Commandant of ARTC is a different officer, with the rank of Colonel.

    • Old Voter says:

      07:12am | 22/10/12

      From what I see, Carr, Gillard, Shorten and quite a few others will do anything to get a little bit more publicity, it grieves me to hear of our Soldiers getting killed while these people strut around on the world stage talking about how good they are, while all the arms merchants are selling their weapons of human destruction, The U.N. and it’s coffee bar politics are a waste of our money.

    • Stephen T says:

      07:20am | 22/10/12

      @Malcolm: Thank you Malcolm, a well written and very timely article. 
      @acotrel: I don’t agree acotrel, the obscenity is that old opinionated men invariably start the wars.  Sadly its the young who have to pay the price of that opinion and get to die in them.

    • iansand says:

      07:53am | 22/10/12

      Relentless negativity is getting very boring.  Please stop.  To paraphrase Miss Sweetie Poo.

    • Stephen T says:

      08:29am | 22/10/12

      @iansand: Could you elaborate on the context of your statement, I can’t follow your meaning, what are you referring to?

    • iansand says:

      08:39am | 22/10/12

      Miss Sweetie Poo is a participant in the Ig Nobel Prize award ceremony.  Google her.

    • Stephen T says:

      09:30am | 22/10/12

      Thanks, got it, just a tad slow this morning.

    • Gino says:

      07:59am | 22/10/12

      Congratulations to the recruits of Delta Company on their achievement.

      It’s a pity that the Gillard Government doesn’t value their service enough to index their superannuation to the same level as they have done for the aged pension so that in their future these soldiers can look forward to seeing the buying power of their pension constantly reducing.

    • Richard says:

      10:02am | 22/10/12

      @Gino

      Agree totally and not only the current members of Delta Company but ALL Defence members past & present who receive retirement pay are watching it reduce in purchasing power day by day. Of course it comes down to cost according to the Govt (Bill Shorton) they are considering an increase to Newstart which would leave Defence retirement pay as the only payment indexed to CPI to the best of my knowledge

    • paulh says:

      08:03am | 22/10/12

      The money spent on the TEMP UN seat is unrelated to our defence force.The monies spent if you add the extra aid to numerous countries tops the $100MILLION mark NOT the $24 being mentioned. Yet we get a temp seat amongst a group of despotic rulers and countries whose human rights antics defy logic, where deaths are an everyday occurrance. A Temp seat that has NO vote, the veto is carried by the top 5. The UN is corrupt and past its sell by date, most of its agendas are left wing or were written so long ago they are out of date,take the UNHCR for example it was written in the 1950’s to assisst with refugees crossing neighbouring borders from war torn countries NOT for economic refugees crossing continents to get to Australia for welfare payments and free housing. Wake UP Australia

    • Maryanne says:

      08:08am | 22/10/12

      Thank you Malcolm for this piece, from a very proud ADF mother who has stood in all weathers to watch passing out parades, military award ceremonies and other events during which our serving ADF personnel are given justly deserved thanks and credit. A story from the inside: my daughter, an ADF soldier who served recently on Australian soil alongside visiting US troops and delegates, was taken aback when within a few minutes of appearing at an official function in her full uniform, was stopped and thanked by US soldiers and civilians (complete strangers) for ‘serving your country’. That was the first time she had ever heard anyone thank her for her commitment to our great nation. Sadly, she has never once been thanked by an Australian civilian for her military service. It would be nice if Australians could stop whining for a moment and pause to reflect on how many of our ADF personnel represent our country every moment of every day not only here but overseas, instead of taking the path of least resistance and cynically posturing about war and it’s perils. We should be pleased that these young people, in particular, have made a choice to get off their X-Box, toss out their almond-milk latte, cut their hair, have a shave, get out of bed before midday, smarten up and understand respect for self and other Australians.To those who wish to decry this: get off your high horse and think a little more deeply about what this type of commitment actually means for all of us. For all Australians.

    • Dan says:

      10:00am | 22/10/12

      Thank you Maryanne for being one of the few to actually get the point of this column. I too have watched two of my children pass out of their recruit training and I understand fully what you and Malcom are saying. It’s about pride in the achievements of our children who do what they have to do regardless of the politics and the politicians.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      01:04pm | 22/10/12

      Wouldn’t get to hung up on it.

      My mum has been a nurse in Intensive Care for the last 20 years and no one has stopped her and said thankyou either.

      I’d rather be like Australia than America and make a huge song and dance about it.

    • Gronk says:

      04:23pm | 22/10/12

      @Simonfromlakema
      I have been both a soldier (medic) and a nurse. I’d prefer to see people thank the serving members for their service. In the military, t’s a whole different attitude to serving others.
      And I’d like to add my congratulations to the newest soldiers in the ARA.

    • John Fitzpatrick says:

      08:23am | 22/10/12

      Thank you Mr Farr. I’m sure many of us share your sentiment- you have eloquently articulated it for us.

    • Ellery Hickson says:

      08:24am | 22/10/12

      Don’t you just wish The Telegraph would put such a good article like this on it’s front page and not a photo of the PM falling over.

    • chuck says:

      08:27am | 22/10/12

      The only people rubbing their hand with glee (poli’s not withstanding) are our legion of parasites who seek to gain extended careers and enhanced FFP’s supporting this ludicrous “world body”.

    • NESLIHAN KUROSAWA says:

      08:38am | 22/10/12

      Hi Malcolm,

      Going to war may not prove an answer to all our problems in the world we are being faced with right now.  However when we look back on our past and all the sacrifices our great grand fathers made to keep our nations free and untouched by all the dangers of so called enemies, it gives us all those very patriotic feelings once again!  You may read about it in history books and get a chance to watch non stop news about a war far away from our shores, on media networks. However for me personally visiting a place like Gallipoli, in Canakkale touches something more deep and personal in most of us!  And we do realize that a lot of sacrifices were made equally on both sides as well as the fact that a lot of our ancestors have died for a great cause, right?  That is if we can actually call it that.  This particular story may vary from one person to another a great deal.

      Hopefully there will not be any more wars in our future and we will all live in peace and harmony!  Well may be in an ideal world.  Also the role of the United Nations Security Council is a very delicate and important one.  It is more about intervening and stopping more unnecessary blood shed in certain parts of the world.  Deep down in our hearts no body really wants to be part of another war anytime soon.  So how do we all make sure that there are peaceful resolutions on hand before resorting to or ending up in a meaningless war, that is if we can call it that.  I think by using our heads before an unnecessary show of aggression and violence. Kind regards.

    • michael; says:

      08:43am | 22/10/12

      ahhh Kapooka hasn’t changed a bit, nor the end of course celebrations at the Vic Hotel. If so much is entrusted to the soldier (responsibility of duty, forgoing the comforts civilians take for granted, to do the right thing regardless of the consequences, defend Australia, her people and way of life with their lives) can anyone please explain why the Government has basically halved the defence budget?

    • Aussie Wazza says:

      08:46am | 22/10/12

      The monkeys are now running the zoo.

      Trying to show our ‘love’, we, the keepers gave them the keys.

      Putting a bilby in the cage now won’t make a difference in the end.

    • Robin says:

      08:59am | 22/10/12

      Does Australia suffer from the cult of the Dead Soldier? Gallipoli the sacred birthplace, RSL’s and war memorials the places of worship and ANZAC Day the holy holiday? The pollys and generals the sombre clergy? Coming from a country where none of this is prominent it all seems a bit creepy - the cult kept alive by continual involvement in unnecessary wars.

    • Expat Ozzie says:

      10:44am | 22/10/12

      Robin: ANZAC day is about remembering the true cost of war and to never allow the memories of the horrors of war to fade. Misguided politics has lead Oz into the recent wars not ANZAC day.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      09:10am | 22/10/12

      The only people who will actually benefot from this charade are our politicians for we can guarantee that Gillard will select one of her mates, or someone like Kevin Rudd whom she would dearly love to get out of the Parliament & out of her hair, to take on this highly paid, luxury sinecure in 2014. There will be a whole host of Union heavies, Public Servants to whom she is indebted who will be queueing up to be appointed to the new positions which will result. A brand new office to be staffed, a new luxury apartment for each & every one of the dozens of staff & hangers-on the new occupant of the seat will be provided with - even if she/he doesn’t actually need them.
      My guess is that Gillard will “Reward” Kevin Rudd with the job. He’s been a thorn in her side ever since she played the major role in his political assassination.
      Maxine McKew we are told has some pretty accurate accusations levelled against this worst ever Australian PM.about her part in the overthorw of Kevin Rudd. Gillard is nothing if not supremely ambitious. Right from the start she was determined, no matter what it took, to become PM. She sort of succeeded but her victory was indeed a very, very hollow one. The Voters told her just how hollow it was when they cancelled out Kevin Rudd’s 18-seat Majority. Gillard had to do deals with the Independents, deals she breaks without a backward glance, to become PM.
      The next big problem for Gillard is, should she offer that $24 million-plus seat on that absurd UN Security Council to Kevin Rudd, Peter Slipper, Craig Thomson or any other ALP MP there would have to be bye-election and that , if all the polls are right, would spell the end of what passes for the Federal Government of Australia under Julia Gillard & her own political existence!
      That is something which, though acceptable to the vast majority of female & male voters, would be anathema to Gillard

    • youdy beaudy says:

      09:33am | 22/10/12

      Soldiers these days are paid to be soldiers so they have a choice of whether they join up or not. It is seen as a career like any other. They choose to be talked to by the Officer class like crap and treated like crap. Sure we need soldiers to defend the country but if we had to go to war all of the young would stand and fight out of the civilians as well as we did in the past.

      As far as Beasley goes. Well this is the bloke who ran along with Howard and introduced, and couldn’t go fast enough’ to pass a bill which will allow our soldiers to shoot down civilians if there is civil unrest. Now, he lost me when he did that. A totally useless politician as regards to that. This disgusting show of arrogance towards the Australian public will never be forgotten by some. Also allowing the CIA to be able to tap Australian civilians phones and whatever else they can tap into from America without our choice.

      Yes, we can crow the ole Australian crow but people in this country don’t even have a decent constitution or a bill of rights for their peoples, so, the megadoths that think they are the new Kings can rule well over us all.

      As far as the killing business. Well, that goes with the territory with any Army because if you go and war over others you have to realize that by invading their lands you become the enemy and as you are going to kill them and their civilians who are innocent, as we did in Iraq, then they are going to kill you, and they see you as the invading enemy. It depends on which side of the fence you sit on. We think that we are the righteous ones and they probably think the same. How many millions died in Iraq, Iraqis that is, women children, men, probably half a million, something we can be proud of when we are building ourselves up as the saviours of the universe with our mates the Yanks. Yes, truly something to be proud of.

      My Grandfather fought in two world wars stationed in Gaza, my Uncles also, in the pacific, new guinea, one uncle tortured by the Japs. When they came home the Government did nothing for them. My Grandfather died eventually of war injuries, one uncle had his life ruined by his torture with the Japs. These are the soldiers who did it hard and it is them that created our freedoms we have today and their warfare was disgusting and terrible and the arm chair generals sat back and gave them as cannon fodder to the enemy.

      The young soldiers who serve today should reflect on that sometimes and let’s hope for their sake and their families sakes that they are treated better than the Diggers of the past, who also fought and fought hard to give us freedom.

    • DutyFirst says:

      10:30am | 22/10/12

      You never served yet lecture current serving soldiers on how they should think? LOL talk about delusion champ

    • JTZ says:

      12:31pm | 22/10/12

      @DutyFirst. This guy would be the first one complaining about it. Here is a question for you lad. How much is someones life worth to allow you to have the freedom to comment on thepunch.

      I am a former serving RAAF and I know accross the board morale will be even lower now as the forces are forced to cut more.

    • DutyFirst says:

      02:18pm | 22/10/12

      How many school girls have Aussie diggers shot for wanting an education? How many parties have been shot up for playing music? These are the kind of scum we are fighting. And yes, that is something we can be proud of.

    • St. Michael says:

      02:44pm | 22/10/12

      @ DutyFirst: you can be proud of it, in the way that everyone’s proud of servicemen who went to Gallipoli and made the best of a bad situation.

      It doesn’t change the fact that Gallipoli was redolent with very, very stupid military mistakes that should not have been made—the archetypical highlight of which was Battle of the Nek, also known as Godley’s Abbatoir.

      Fighting unwinnable battles, as we are and have always been doing in Afghanistan, is honour before reason.

    • Lyn says:

      09:39am | 22/10/12

      I too Malcom watched my 18 year old son pass out at Kapooka in June. I too am tense with worry about what will happen to my youngest child. But I have seen him grow from a boy to a man in less than a year. His maturity and sense of achievement in what he is doing is amazing. He now is stronger, confident and more mature than a lot of 18 year olds. I am very proud of him but I still dread the thought of him being deployed. But as a parent I have to be proud that I raised him to make his own decisions about his life and to stand by those choices and to give it his all. No mother could ask for more.

    • Maryanne says:

      01:04pm | 22/10/12

      Well said Lynn & Dan. As I said above, parents ‘get it’. To see your child grow up, stand high with confidence, achieve a special type of maturity which sets them apart from some of their civilian peers, understand respect & belonging, learn valuable skills & life lessons, understand the importance of ‘us’ not ‘me’, value the gifts we have in Australia - this is gold to a parent knowing we’ve helped raise a young Australian with the right values. I also have worn our uniform and am proud to have done so, not because of war, but because of peace. I try to put my fear aside because this is where my daughter wants to be. I have to respect her choices.  We are lucky that as a nation, our young people still have those.

    • Ray says:

      09:43am | 22/10/12

      A nice article. Wars are win by the ordinary soldier led by capable senior officers. The opposite is also true that poorly led and poorly trained soldiers will often lose battles.  Your nephew has joined a proud new extended family of military colleagues and friends. We should praise, not denigrate our military servicemen and women. “Duty First”.

    • TheRealDave says:

      09:58am | 22/10/12

      Nice write up Malcolm. We usually only ‘give a shit’ about the average Digger when one of three things happen:

      1) Its ANZAC Day - you bewdy! A day off!
      2) One of them is killed - sadly like today
      3) One of them does something stupid

      Its only when you have a personal connection to the ADF does someone actually ‘give a shit’ outside those times. Well, unless you are one of those anti-military conspiracy theory tossers.

      I hope you stick with it Malcolm, I’m guessing you were down there to see a family member march out with his new slouch hat proudly on his head. I hope it gives you a bit more of a personal connection with the ADF and encourages more writing from you on the subject. They deserve it.

    • K^2 says:

      10:48am | 22/10/12

      @TheRealDave - “Its only when you have a personal connection to the ADF does someone actually ‘give a shit’ outside those times. Well, unless you are one of those anti-military conspiracy theory tossers.”

      Not true - in fact those “tossers” you talk about care more about the lives of your precious soldiers, and also the civilians of “collateral” damage than you do.  They want no one to go to war, which unfortunately in reality is a problem because we always have people with power trying to grab more power (or those with little power trying to climb over the bodies of those they conquer for more power).  Humans are disgusting at it.  We are seriously blood thirsty.  And this kind of statement “one of those anti-military conspiracy theory tossers” verifies that. 

      I have no problem with a “defence force” but a defence force is for defence…nothing more, not a war of aggression on foreign soil.  The only times our diggers should be packed off are at times like the recent east timor conflict when they protect those unable to defend themselves.

      My biggest problem is with the occult mockery which honestly there is no way you would ever see unless you study those things.  Unfortunately people with calcified world views like yours get all uppity and need to call anyone that doesn’t think like them “nutters” and lump them into some kind of conspiracy theory (because this is how you bring the mental wanderer back into the fold).

    • Joel M-J says:

      11:07am | 22/10/12

      I want to agree with you K2, but honestly, you really do sound like a nutter.

      So I’m not going to.

    • K^2 says:

      11:39am | 22/10/12

      @Joel - troll fail.  Your comment was highly productive in a discussion <sarcasm> well done chief.  I think what you just did was an unprovoked, needless, baseless personal attack that did nothing other than attempt to vilify me.

      Was that from your pop-psychology degree, is it your professional medical opinion?  Lets hear your amazing insight into my “nutter”-ness, really lets hear what you got as evidence….shoot tiger.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:49am | 22/10/12

      +1 to K^2.

      When the hell is the ADF and its overcompensating coterie of fans going to realise those of us who (a) oppose pointless wars like Afghanistan or (b) want to criticise systematic stupidity in the high command decisions and military bureaucracy are not necessarily against the military?

      I want a strong, effective defence force for Australia.  I want it to win the wars it’s sent to fight.  I want it to win them as quickly as possible so Malcolm Farr’s relatives can come home in airplane seats to be met by their families at the airport.  I would much rather that than them coming home in wooden boxes to be met at the airport by politicians who care more about the votes it wins them to be photographed with a coffin than the poor bastard who’s in that coffin.

    • Joel M-J says:

      12:32pm | 22/10/12

      @K2 “Troll Fail”. Really? It seemed to work on you. That last paragraph seemed particularly worked up.

      smile

      If you want to talk Defence, lets talk Defence.

      Forward Defence is where you take the fight to the enemy over seas, so as to deny them the ability to bring the fight to Australia. That enemy in this century so far, has almost always been a non-state actor engaging us with a-symmetrical tactics and strategies. Unfortunately for us, these strategies are proving to be quite effective. However, they are implementing these methods at a geographical location and time of our choosing (ie Afghanistan). This is preferably to say… the streets of Sydney.

      By engaging them there, we prevent the possibility of having to fight them here.

      Before you get a bit more ridiculous in you lack of insight into military affairs, know that I am not implying that they would attack us in a conventional invasion. But a plane flying into parliament house, or a car bomb going off outside the RBA… that is how the enemy wishes to take the fight to us. Forward Defense prevents this, by keeping them focused on their own home front, and denying them mobility and a base of operations to coordinate. That is why we assisted the Solomon Islands against state failure (failed states have a tendency to become terrorist safe havens) and that is why we are engaged in Afghanistan (a state that hosted these enemies).

    • K^2 says:

      01:01pm | 22/10/12

      @Joel MJ .
      Dogmatism -
      The unwillingness to even consider the opponent’s argument. The assumption that even when many, perhaps millions, of other people believe otherwise, only you can be correct.  This is closely related to the Either/Or fallacy as it’s based on the usually false assumption that competing theories or perspectives cannot co-exist within single systems.  The assumption that those who disagree with you are “biased”, while you are “objective”.

      More broadly, the over application of a theory at the expense of discussing the actual issue, specific incidence or evidence at hand; the assertion that one’s position is so correct that one should not even examine the evidence to the contrary.

      Either/Or or Black/White, False Dilemma, or Excluded Middle Fallacy
      This fallacy simply paints an issue as one between two extremes with no possible room for middle ground or nuance or compromise.  It is closely related to the straw man fallacy, which essentially paints one side, instead of both, as so extreme no can agree with it.

    • fml says:

      01:20pm | 22/10/12

      Joel,

      If that is why we are in Afghanistan and the type of warfare you describe is modern warfare, why are we in Iraq?

    • Joel M-J says:

      01:22pm | 22/10/12

      @K2 - “Dogmatism -
      The unwillingness to even consider the opponent’s argument. The assumption that even when many, perhaps millions, of other people believe otherwise, only you can be correct. “

      Now you are just being hypocritical.

    • K^2 says:

      01:29pm | 22/10/12

      No Joel - the “attack is the best form of defence” is a logical fallacy and insists that “forward defence” (or what is actually attack) is the only option. 

      It’s not.  There is middle ground.

    • Joel M-J says:

      01:38pm | 22/10/12

      @fml

      Personally I didn’t agree with the Iraq war. The Howard Government used justifications based on the theory of Forward Defense. However, in my opinion, the justification was somewhat misplaced.

      Iraq wasn’t really what you’d call a major player in tangible support for organisations like Al Qaeda. For myself, it would have only been legitimate if Iraq was in fact a blatant supporter.

      The Howard government took this thing called Forward Defense a bit too far. They argued that Forward Defense can extend to appeasing major allies - In this case, the United States. The theory went that by assisting the U.S in Iraq, they will be more inclined to assist us in any future conundrums we may have in our own region.

      I think this was a bit of a misappropriation of the theory. Even if it wasn’t, it’s my belief the U.S would assist us in our own region regardless of whether we went to Iraq.

    • Joel M-J says:

      01:46pm | 22/10/12

      @K2,

      You are suggesting that attack is not an option at all. I’d agree with you if there was no cause for provocation. But in Afghanistan there certainly was, and continues to be so in bordering countries like Pakistan.

      For you to completely rule out Forward Defence, you are essentially denying the existence of this ‘middle ground’ as well. You say I’m black and white. If that is true, then I think you must be also. You will deny that though, because as you stated before, Dogmatism is the unwillingness to even consider an opponents argument.

    • K^2 says:

      02:20pm | 22/10/12

      @Joel - Ad Hominem.
      Fiat Veritas

    • Joel M-J says:

      03:03pm | 22/10/12

      Yes yes, calling you a nutter was Ad Hominem.

      Pointing out that your own arguments about Dogmatism is counter intuitive to your over all argument is not however.

      P.s why should I be afraid? Is that some kind of veiled Latin threat?

      I’m not a psychologist or a Medical Doctor, as you rightly pointed out, but with that kind of talk, I might very well be correct regardless.

    • Joel M-J says:

      03:12pm | 22/10/12

      Correction - I translated Veritas as Veritus.

      Veritus = Fearing
      Veritas = Truth.

      For a moment there, I thought I’d made a cyber enemy, Anonymous hacker style. Phew.

      Be Truthful you say? Dude, what you really want is for me to embrace your ‘‘truth”. As far as I am concerned, that is no truth at all. Your entire argument is based off of the (rather ad hominem now that I think about it) rhetoric that because I don’t agree with you, I must be completely unreasonable and dogmatic in my own beliefs. Ridiculous!

    • K^2 says:

      04:44pm | 22/10/12

      @Joel - I tried not to respond with attack (or forward defence) to your initial comment.  I have to admit it was pretty difficult.

      I think you may have misunderstood my intent.  I simply ask you to open your mind to other options.  I do not believe that forward defence is a good option as it leads to a slippery slope, the whole afghan/iraq thing was a “pre-emptive strike” to use the words of Bush himself.  This assumes that they were going to strike to begin with, and quite frankly there was just too much cover-up and not enough evidence to foot a war based on “imminent threat” which was the argument used.  In fact there were high placed whistleblowers saying the contrary and the evidence had been falsified - which of course played out during the war.  Sure, I can see that in certain cases, with enough evidence, and the right condition its better to defend aggressively but the current war was not one of them (and you also kind of agreed to this point in one of your answers).

      I am not particularly anti military.  I would love a world where people dont feel the need to pick up guns but I know this is utopian and unrealistic sadly.  I carry an item on me for self defence, but this item is only ever used if someone were to grab me, not on someone looking like they might kinda grab me, or I’d be in prison. 

      I don’t want any of our boys or girls in uniform to die for wars based on lies for foreign interest.  Theres no hard evidence we were under any threat, and if anything probably gave more fuel to the ‘cause’ of those that actually did want to harm us.  theres no hard evidence this “forward defence” is actually working or having a positive effect at all.

      Joel you sound like you are probably a soldier, and its tough to question things which you hold personal, but even more important if you are a soldier.  People like me that say “bring our boys home” are not just utopian peacenicks sticking flowers in the end of rifles, we care about you we also think “live and let live” is a pretty good pretense, and the only way to have that happen is to live it.  As soon as someone invades or attacks us here we have the right to defend ourselves and I would probably also then help man the walls.

      fiat veritas means “truth - let it be done” roughly translated.  sort of the same as saying ‘the truth will out’ it just has a way of coming out eventually…what I mean by that is, doesnt matter what we argue here - truth will out eventually.

    • Joel M-J says:

      05:29pm | 22/10/12

      That’s a nice way of looking at it K2. I definitely see a few merits in your most recent post that I can respect, if not quite agree with. You’re quite right, I don’t believe the Iraq war was legitimate, for the exact reasons you have given. Afghanistan is some what different. There is hard evidence that Al Qaeda trained and based themselves there, and that the Taliban was sympathetic to their cause. September 11 was a lesson to the West, that the presence of terrorist safe havens like Afghanistan could not be ignored without consequence, like it had previously been. This was something that has been reinforced by subsequent terror attacks around the world since then.

      I think I get what you are trying to communicate now, and can appreciate the sentiment.

      P.s good to know about the Latin translation. You learn something new everyday.

    • Samantha says:

      11:17am | 22/10/12

      Malcolm,

      I appreciate your article as the well-written piece that it is intended to be.  I don’t think I disagree with any of what you have written.

      I am well aware of what the Army says about its soldiers; my ex is a current serving member and I must admit, the respect that the Army has of its soldiers is second to none.  The government looking after the Defence Force, however, cannot have the same said of them.

    • Richard says:

      06:01pm | 22/10/12

      Samantha The respect shown to the serving members ADF is very high however the lack of respect shown to retired ADF members is also very high. A lot of us seem to be portrayed as wingers when it comes to our retirement pay. To remind people our retirement pay (pension) was paid for , it is not a gift as some people seem to think it is.

    • BruceS says:

      12:29pm | 22/10/12

      Thank you Malcom, for an informative, accurate and above all, honest article. There is a great deal of hostility and ignorance that surrounds the Australian Defence Force, which I hope you will honestly seek to rectify from now on.

 

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