Australian War Crimes Report Means Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan

These are unforgivable atrocities which cry out to the heavens for vengeance. Nothing can undo them. Nothing can set them right, writes Caitlin Johnston.

Lt. Tyson Yew, from 2nd Platoon, 3rd Battalion (Para), the Royal Australian Regiment, leads his platoon on International Security Assistance Force mission foot patrol of the town of Tarin Kowt, Aug. 16, 2008. (ISAF photo Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Collins, U.S. Navy)

By Caitlin Johnstone

The much-anticipated report on potential war crimes by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan has been released, recommending 19 current or former soldiers be investigated for up to 39 murders.

Not combat kills. Not accidental kills. Not non-combatants killed by disputable decisions made in the heat of battle. Not civilians killed due to recklessness or carelessness on the part of Australian forces. Murders. Of non-combatants who died for no other reason than happening to live in a region the US power alliance has seen geo-strategic value in keeping militarily occupied for 19 years.

The information about atrocities perpetrated by Australian forces in Afghanistan has taken many years to emerge, was fought tooth and claw with [government] attacks on whistleblowers and journalists, and surely only touches on a tiny fraction of the war crimes which have been perpetrated and covered up with the investigation finding that “the criminal behaviour of a few was commenced, committed, continued and concealed at the patrol commander level”.

Achieving Their First Kill

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ADF Chief Angus Campbell describes a “self-centred warrior culture” in Australia’s Special Air Service which “was embraced and amplified by some experienced, charismatic and influential non-commissioned officers and their proteges, who sought to fuse military excellence with ego, elitism and entitlement,” leading to acts of horrific brutality.

“In this context it is alleged that some patrols took the law into their own hands: rules were broken, stories concocted, lies told and prisoners killed,” says Campbell.

“The Brereton report also found evidence that junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner to achieve their first kill, in a practice known as ‘blooding’,” SMH reports.

Troops “carried ‘throwdowns’ – foreign weapons and equipment such as pistols, small hand-held radios and grenades to be placed with the bodies of enemies killed in action for the purpose of taking photos,” reports SMH. “This practice eventually was used for the purpose of concealing deliberate unlawful killings.”

The Guardian’s Christopher Knaus writes the following:

One of the more disturbing alleged incidents canvassed in the documents released on Thursday comes from prior work by military sociologist Samantha Crompvoets, who had the job of examining special forces culture and began to hear disturbing allegations of war crimes.

One soldier told her: “Guys just had this blood lust. Psychos. Absolute psychos. And we bred them.”

She heard one allegation that two 14-year-old boys were stopped by SAS, who decided they might be Taliban sympathisers. Their throats were slit.

“The rest of the troop then had to ‘clean up the mess’ by finding others to help dispose of the bodies,” Crompvoets reported. “In the end, the bodies were bagged and thrown in a nearby river.”

Her work eventually triggered the Brereton report.

These are unforgivable atrocities which cry out to the heavens for vengeance. Nothing can undo them. Nothing can set them right. And any grown adult looking at the situation with clear eyes knows that nothing can be done to prevent them from continuing to happen going forward.

If you train teenagers to kill, deliberately warping their minds so as to normalize the entirely abnormal act of killing their fellow human beings, and then leave them to their own devices in an unfamiliar land full of unfamiliar people over whom they hold the power of life and death, these things will happen. They cannot but happen. They have happened many, many times in ways we will never know about, not just at the hands of Australian forces but of the entire occupying coalition.

Even Murdoch press could not downplay the story.

This is on top of the massive pile of corpses the US power alliance has already heaped upon Afghanistan by the Trump administration’s record-shattering bombing campaigns and corresponding civilian casualties, and by the nearly two full eight-year presidential administrations previous to it.

Afghanistan is a military occupation which we know for a fact we were deceived about from the very beginning and deceived into allowing to continue, every step of the way. Knowing that we were deceived into it and knowing what its grave consequences are, there is no excuse for it to continue.

There is no legitimacy in babbling about “power vacuums” and what political system Afghanistan will have after brutalizing that nation in the way that we have. At this point such arguments are like a rapist saying he can’t stop raping a woman because some other rapist might come along and rape her if he stops. The most depraved and murderous force in the nation, which has already been killing far more civilians than the Taliban and ISIS, has no business concerning itself with what might happen after it leaves.

Get Out

Get out of Afghanistan. Get the fuck out. Now. Not just Australia, but the entire murderous occupying coalition. It’s not your country and you’re making it worse. Get. The fuck. Out.

Do not concern yourself with what might happen when you leave. What will happen when you leave is that you will not be there murdering human beings. There are no “conditions” which need to be met first. You are the violent extremists in Afghanistan doing the killing and destroying. You are the terrorists. Leave.

There is no more destructive force on this earth than the tight alliance of nations loosely centralized around the United States which functions as a single empire on foreign policy. The only beneficial thing such a blood-soaked empire can do for the world is to cease its behavior and cease to exist. It is not the benevolent good guy staving off the bad guys, it is the bad guy, and its depravity must come to an end.

Let the world sort out its own affairs without the “help” of the psychopathic force which unleashes such horrors upon our species.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.   Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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20 comments for “Australian War Crimes Report Means Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan

  1. Andrew Stretton
    November 20, 2020 at 15:55

    I note with interest how the complicity of the general public and its profligate Western contemporary lifestyle, is missing in both the analysis and comments, in regard to all of this. America and Australia, just like Russia before them, have troops in Afghanistan because the Country is richly endowed with largely untapped mineral resources that are required for the continuance of the rabid economic growth needs of those Western contemporary lifestyles. Scapegoating troops, governments and or corporations is a popular and convenient media strategy that no doubt ‘sells’, but it fails to highlight the ‘demand side necessity’ and therefore complicity in these perverse military deployments. The Rare Earth minerals and other metals that exist in abundance in Afghanistan, will be critical for the so called ‘Renewable Revolution’ and the economic growth it promises, a revolution that will be embraced by conservatives as much as progressives in Western Nations, when the time is deemed right. In the interim, the resources needed for it must be secured, all whilst the Citizenry in each Country fighting over them, is kept happy in their vincible ignorance, the convenient belief that these wars are only about competing ideologies and the ‘evil’ people behind them…..

  2. November 20, 2020 at 01:54

    Australia as a whole, is just as guilty for the murder of these innocents as the individuals who pulled the trigger. I speak as a Vietnam Veteran myself, who has been in similar position myself. Australia has no business in Afghanistan, no business in Iraq, Syria or any other M.E. or Asian nation. We have not been attacked or threatened by any of these people. Sept 11 is a smoke screen, and was not conducted by the people alleged by the U.S. Government. Even IF it were true, (which to this point, has not been proven) Australia still has no business in these countries assisting in occupying them ILLEGALLY and murdering their citizens. Our head honcho of the military claims the Afghanis asked Australia for help, L.O.L. dunno what planet he’s been living on, I don’t recall any such event ever occurring. Though am open to any direction I can be pointed where such valid information resides. For our subservient sycophant behaviour to the Americans, our military has now been stained with the degradation of the U.S., our trading partner is withdrawing their support and trading opportunities, and it’s only a matter of time, before they perform a complete withdrawal and access their iron ore elsewhere. From that moment onward, Australia’s economy will be doomed, and we have no one to thank for that, but our traitors residing in Canberra. The Americans who they have been sucking up to big time, won’t be seen for dust, they’ll be far too busy sorting their own faeces riddle Govt and people to involve themselves in our affairs.

  3. Antiwar7
    November 20, 2020 at 00:41

    Do you mean the defenseless civilians we haven’t killed yet? Then let’s just occupy some more—maybe we’ll kill them, too. That’ll protect them from the Taliban.

  4. Moi
    November 19, 2020 at 22:48

    Australia cannot pretend to have any legitimate national interest in Afghanistan. The reason their military are there is purely to keep US oligarchs in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

  5. Barry
    November 19, 2020 at 20:44

    Caitlin again displays an unbalanced, hysterical attitude in this article, which readers would do well to bear in mind when reading this article. Previously she wrote an unbalanced article on an Australian issue.
    Can Consortium News which I strongly support, get another author who is not out of touch.
    Much of what she says is correct but she gives no credit to the Government or the Australian Defence Force for going through this terrible incitement of the relatively few military personnel who committed these crimes. What other country has been so open?
    I am proud that Australia can admit its mistakes like this.
    Caitlin’s argument that Australia should get out of Afghanistan are shrill and unconvincing. Does she ever think what happens to the defenceless civilians who are not religious extremists when the Taliban take over? There are copious stories attesting to this. Its not simple Caitlin.

      November 19, 2020 at 21:34

      We have several other authors that you can read. No one author defines this site. Other readers like Caitlin’s work.

    • James Wyss
      November 19, 2020 at 22:28

      If you have been following this, Barry, you know that this has been covered up for at !east 10 years and starts right down at the squaddie level and goes all the way to the top of the chain of command and into the political world. There is nothing here to be proud of. NOTHING! The video shows a cold-blooded murder and you’re proud that they finally disclosed a mere 39. What in the hell is the matter with you! Don’t take it out at Johnstone. Look in the mirror and berate him for a complete lack of mental acuity and understanding.

    • November 20, 2020 at 02:02

      Quote, ” what other country has been so open ?” Unquote. Is this for real ?? Clearly Barry has an axe to grind with Caitlin as he deliberatly ignores the FACT that it’s taken much time for these events to see the light of day, and worse, contrary to the claims made by him, the Australian authorities have done everything in their power to prevent these issues from ever seeing the light of day, even going so far as charging the Journalists working on this issue and raiding their offices. Yet Barry claims they have done everything to resolve this issue ???? L.O.L. Go Caitlin, support your work 100%. well done. As a veteran myself, I am very much aware of the pressures events such as this, impose on our serving people who do the right thing, whilst their officers turn a blind eye, or even assist in covering them up. There was a reason, for grenades being thrown in officers tents in my day in Vietnam. Clearly, things have not changed at all. Regarding the argument getting out of Afghanistan, Caitlin is dead right on this issue. Australia has as much business being in Afghanistan as we did in Vietnam, NONE at all.

    • VallejoD
      November 20, 2020 at 14:08

      The memory-holed Afghanistan Papers proved conclusively that the war was futile and our so-called leaders knew it almost two decades ago. And still this illegal, immoral, murderous, bankrupting war goes on and on and on.

      And you criticize Johnston as “hysterical “ for telling us to end it ???? REALLY???

  6. Mikael Andersson
    November 19, 2020 at 17:59

    Thanks Caitlin, I’ve waited 19 years for such an article.

    I believe that crimes committed by soldiers are directly attributable to their leaders. Their ultimate leaders are politicians. The ultimate politician is the Australian Prime Minister, and in this case the PM who put those murderers in that country. I believe that was John Howard. The failure of subsequent PMs to withdraw the murderers signifies complicity in my view. They had the opportunity to stop the murder and did not. Given many of the murderers are still enlisted multiple crimes must be very recent.

    I have read about a doctrine of ultimate responsibility that I understand was established at Nuremburg. Each of these smaller crimes is contained in a larger crime and the ultimate crime is the crime of aggression. As for as I know senior German and Japanese leaders were executed after WWII for such crimes. (a war of aggression …. is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole).

    I cannot grasp how John Howard is free today to enjoy his superannuated golden years, when he is directly accountable for these murders, including all those still covered up. Bush and Blair are free also.

    I believe that he should be named, arrested, tried and if found guilty imprisoned until he dies to ensure a powerful deterrent is provided to future PMs who might attack other countries to curry favour with the USA. Howard did this alone and should be held responsible alone. Of course he is guilty of similar and likely worse crimes in Iraq, where his aggression was based upon proven, outrageous, obscene lies. His ADF must be renamed the Australian Attack Force as it now starts wars.

    • November 20, 2020 at 02:04

      Mikael Andersson, Support every word you’ve written Mikael. Our P.M.’s need to be placed in the dock at the Hague.

  7. Robert Emmett
    November 19, 2020 at 14:54

    ‘Bout says it, CJ. Nothing binds the troops like collusion & complicity, top to bottom, in doing evil deeds. How long do you suppose before it seeps back like some hideous ooze to rot the heart of the perpetrating “homelands”? Take a look around. It’s already here.

  8. November 19, 2020 at 14:49

    Call it “vengeance” or call it “Justified Retribution” (which is the term I prefer and I’ve defined it with a poem), but I agree 100% and I’m crying out to the heavens… put forth by the author, who is rogue by the way.

    For Heaven’s sake, if this along with everything else there now just gets swept under the carpet and washed under the rug……then what the hell does that tell you if you haven’t figured it out already? May the Gods and Goddesses help us who are crying out to the heavens because apparently nobody gives a flying flip about the innocent, or at least most just don’t seem to care. Makes me laugh about the hypocrisy and irony when see I folks protesting outside clinics trying to tell others how to live. Some choices are hard and some are easy.

    Hard to believe these individual soldiers made such a WRONG choice because it was an easy choice, but to be honest, it comes as no surprise. War and hate makes you crazy and makes you do the bidding of others who chuckle from their imaginary perches! The wind blows hard up there and sometimes trees get toppled if you get my gist.

    The innocent deserve to be defended – not murdered for Christ’s sake and it seems as if Western Culture has forgotten this hook, line, and sinker. Pathetic and sick, sick, sick……….Give me a moment please, I’m going to throw up.

    Not complaining, just saying

  9. Anne
    November 19, 2020 at 13:07

    Caitlin couldn’t agree more. But the US – MICIMATT – has NO intention of leaving: they truly (?!?) believe they have every, every right to occupy this country – just as they presume to have every right to occupy Iraq and that part of Syria they have stolen. And in the latter two cases neither government nor pro-Syrian Syrians want them there. The Iraqis have made that clear (not that you would know that if you only listened to NPR, the BBC WS).

    Not only is the background “cause” the “training” on those video games, but there is also now the fact (since 1973 here in the US) that the military is purely mercenary (and I do not only mean the Prince owned company). There is no draft/enlistment. During WWI and WWII – the militaries of the US/UK/et al were “filled” with enlistees/draftees. And not a few refused to shoot and kill their opponents (or what were considered so, country and situation depending). Those in WWI who so refused were often shot to death by their so-called superiors; during WWII (this happened in Italy for sure) US/UK enlisted fired into the air – not at people…

    Mercenaries – whether in the national military uniform or one belonging to a murder machine company – frequently sign up those who are more than willing to kill – in other circumstances they would be considered psychotic. They LIKE killing people (and other animals).

    • November 20, 2020 at 02:08

      Anne, Quote, ” But the US – MICIMATT – has NO intention of leaving: they truly (?!?) believe they have every, every right to occupy this country – just as they presume to have every right to occupy Iraq and that part of Syria they have stolen. And in the latter two cases neither government nor pro-Syrian Syrians want them there. The Iraqis have made that clear (not that you would know that if you only listened to NPR, the BBC WS).” Unquote.
      It is not just the U.S. who believes this, the Australian Government AND a large proportion of it’s citizenry also believe this. You only need to read the posts posted on sites such as this to come to that conclusion. The World really is entering a very dark place, and the lessons of the past seem to be totally ignored.

  10. November 19, 2020 at 12:16

    Now it is not only moment to get out this fucking war but also to recognise a man who did everything to stop us from behaving like swines – his name is JULIAN ASSANGE !

    • Anna
      November 19, 2020 at 15:05

      The mega war profiteers hate Assange with their guts. The dishonorable justice system in the UK revealed itself as a pliable tool in the hands of war profiteers. There should be a nationwide condemnation of Emma and James Arbuthnot for their criminal treatment of the honest and courageous journalist Julian Assange who is the most prominent political prisoner of our generation.

  11. bob browning
    November 19, 2020 at 10:43

    Thanks CN for spreading this info. Thank the stars that some people in the US vassal state of Australia still have a conscience. It will be interesting to see how US media spin this, if they mention it at all.

      November 19, 2020 at 12:32

      The New York Times covered it. hXXps://

    • Mikael Andersson
      November 19, 2020 at 18:11

      Here in Australia Scott Morrison is running for his fox-hole like an Olympic sprinter. The military aristocracy from the War Minister down is reciting the standard rubric of “rogue” elements, non-commissioned officers, definitely nobody above lieutenant, “bad apples”, and a blitz by their allies in the corporate media about how Australian soldiers are the Goodies who work to halt mass atrocities, protect civilians and rebuild fragile states. Standard operating procedure. The ABC has published quite a few facts, no doubt because they are traitors and should be abolished. Lest we forget, and the best way never to forget is never to know.

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