103 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. I would also like to know what evidence J-D would accept to justify James’s stance on Syria. Maybe James is being too logical for J-D. I agree that Syria is being torn apart by foreign sponsored forces which have used the crudest of campaigns to blacken its government. I have watched the report by the witnesses to the June 2014 Syrian election and found their testimony very moving. Furthermore, they were the only external observers there; no-one else went, although invited. I find Australia’s latest ‘intervention’ in Syria profoundly disturbing. It is hard to think what could be more disturbing. Equally disturbing and illogical is the western press’s failure to expose what our great ally, Saudi Arabia is doing to Yemen; they are literally bombing it to oblivion, with US approval. So we have on the one hand a very unlikely tale of a ‘brutal dictator’ in Syria, who ‘must be removed’ and, on the other hand, the Saudi leader, who is behaving like a kind of Randall Flag (see Steven King’s the Stand) using American cluster bombs, each more amazing than the next to incinerate Yemen, who is our friend and Murdoch’s presumably: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruiKa1GQ9jo More like this on the same youtube page.

  2. Thank you, biancadog for your words of support and, also, for drawing our attention to the invasion of Yemen by the Saudi Arabian dictatorship that is being ignored by our ‘news’ media. What the Yemenis must be going through at the hands of bombardment by the Saudi Air Force and land forces,as shown on that video, must be horrific.

    Donald Oats wrote about Syria on September 12th, 2015 at 22:17 :

    … if ISIS hadn’t made a thing of goading the US and western countries by beheading their citizens, chances are the west would have been ignorant of ISIS until it had achieved its goal of an independent caliphate, …

    The reality is:

    America’s Phony War on the ISIS. Washington Recruits, Arms, Funds, Trains and Directs the “Islamic State” Terrorists (11/9/15) by Stephen Lendman | Global Research

    On September 10, 2014, Obama lied claiming his intent “to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL” – adding “these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States.”

    He wilfully misled the US public saying he “ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances…These strikes…helped save the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children.”

    Washington recruits, arms, funds, trains, and directs them the same way it used Mujahideen fighters in the 1980s against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan, as well as Al Qaeda and other likeminded takfiri groups today.

    They serve US imperial interests, used against independent governments Washington wants toppled – replaced by subservient puppet regimes. Terror bombing Iraqi and Syrian targets has nothing to do with degrading and defeating them – everything to do with destroying vital infrastructure in both countries, balkanizing them for easier control and ousting Assad.

    As shown above, ISIS was set up by the United States to fight against the Syrian government. In doing so, ISIS has also, conveniently for the United States, become a grotesque bogeyman to provide a pretext for the United States and its Australian vassal to invade Syria under the pretense of fighting ISIS. In reality, the goal of the invasion is to help ISIS, al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra front, etc. overthrow the democratically elected government of President Bashar al-Assad.

  3. Reuters report:

    Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann criticized Hungary for its handling of the refugee crisis in a German magazine interview published on Saturday, likening Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies to those used by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

    “Sticking refugees in trains and sending them somewhere completely different to where they think they’re going reminds us of the darkest chapter of our continent’s history,” Faymann told Der Spiegel in a reference to the Nazis’ deportations of Jews and others to concentration camps.

    On Sept. 3, migrants boarded a train in Budapest in the belief that they were heading to the border with Austria but the train was stopped some 35 km (22 miles) west of the capital in the town of Bicske, where Hungary has a camp for asylum seekers.

    Riot police forced some to disembark but others refused to leave the train, shouting “No camp, no camp!”

    Hitler’s Nazis occupied Hungary in 1944 after finding that their former World War Two ally was in secret peace talks with Washington and London and Hungarian authorities then helped them to deport hundreds of thousands of Jews.

    Many of the refugees and migrants now arriving in Hungary, an eastern outpost of Europe’s passport-free ‘Schengen area’, want to avoid being registered there for fear of being returned to Hungary later as they travel on to richer countries in western and northern Europe.

    Faymann said Orban was deliberately pursuing a politics of deterrence and added that he was acting “irresponsibly” by suggesting that every migrant was an economic refugee in pursuit of a better life.

    Some countries in eastern Europe, including Orban, have expressed concern about the large numbers of the refugees – many of them fleeing Syria’s civil war – being Muslim rather than Christian.

    Australia stands condemned (and correctly likened to Nazis) by our treatment of refugees.

    There are many reasons we need to stop doing this, such as simple decency or self-interest.

  4. Speaking of the “N” word and all things farcist:

    Australian Border Force officials have secretly transported an Iraqi man to the Christmas Island detention centre despite a Melbourne magistrate granting the man bail while he awaits trial on drugs charges.

    The man, who has lived in Australia on a humanitarian visa since 1998, was reporting to police as part of his bail conditions when he was detained by officers from Australia’s new paramilitary immigration agency. His family and lawyer were not told he had been taken to the offshore camp.

    The decision to incarcerate the man on Christmas Island comes after Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton was given the power in December to unilaterally deport suspected and convicted criminals following sweeping changes to the Migration Act.

    Minister Dutton and his newly formed paramilitary agency, the Australian Border Force, have used the powers to detain 366 people in the past eight months.

    In May, he announced the high-security Christmas Island facility would be used to house criminals who were “on a pathway to exiting our country”. …

    This is ridiculous.

  5. @James

    There are/were no good reasons for Australia to go to war against Syria in 2015, Iraq in 2003 or 1990, Afghanistan in 2001, or Vietnam in 1965. That does not constitute a good reason for trusting your sources. You still have given no good reason to trust your sources.

  6. @biancadog

    You want me to give a justification, not for my position, but for somebody else’s position? That makes no sense. People who make that kind of challenge are giving away the weakness of their position.

    Maybe James is being too logical for J-D.

    Maybe you don’t understand logic.

  7. J-D,

    You’re entitled to your own opinion, but, as I said before:


    When you give an example of what you would consider valid evidence contrary to the evidence I have given above, this debate can proceed.

  8. J-D, I think you need to go to a troll sandpit. You are just recycling the same non-sequiteurs here and wasting peoples’ energy. You have given no good reasons for Australia’s intervention in any Middle Eastern country you have mentioned.

  9. @biancadog

    I did not give any good reasons for Australian military intervention in any Middle Eastern country because there are no good reasons for Australian military intervention in any Middle Eastern country. Are you trying to have an argument with somebody who thinks there are good reasons for Australian military intervention in Middle Eastern countries? because that person is not me. Don’t confuse what I’m writing with what you imagine I’m writing. Obviously it’s much easier to win an argument if you get to decide the other side’s position as well as your own, but it’s cheating. My position here is not ‘Australia should intervene militarily in the Middle East’. My position here is ‘James has given no good reasons to trust his sources’. You haven’t either.

  10. @James

    And that goes for you too. You don’t get to decide what position I’m taking. If you want to discuss other sources of information apart from the ones I you have cited and I have questioned, you are free to do that, but it doesn’t affect my position, because my position has nothing to do with the validity or otherwise of any other source of information. I’m not going to try to give evidence for some other position just because you imagine it’s my position. My position is just this: ‘James has given no good reasons to trust his sources’. My evidence for that consists of your comments so far, none of which contains any good reasons for trusting your sources. You may have good reasons, bad reasons, or no reasons at all for the other things you have written, but when it comes to my question ‘Why do you trust those sources?’ you have not yet given any good answer.

  11. You don’t get to decide what position I’m taking.

    I reckon he does.

    He posts some comments with links to sources, you come along questioning the sources – impliedly questioning their trustworthiness without explicitly doing so – and want him to explain to you why he trusts those sources.

    When he responds you judge that as not a “good answer”.

    You explicitly, when directly asked to identify the sources you don’t trust and say why, refuse to reveal any position on the sources or their trustworthiness.

    IMO he has every right to presume or deduce your position.

  12. If anyone wants a good laugh. I mean a really good laugh, have a look at this opinionating from Fairfax on Corbyn’s (massive popular) win in the Labour leadership election.

    The whole thing needs to be read to get the full effect of the out-of-touch-ness of the ALP machine, but the tone is:

    Make no mistake, Corbyn’s win is a disaster for Labour in Britain. Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have declared him unelectable. The unanimous view of political professionals and everyday Britons I spoke to this week is that Labour will now spend a very long time in opposition.

    The arrogant, pompous, farcist clown who wrote this is someone called Nicholas Reece. His bio at the end of the column explains a lot:

    Nicholas Reece is a principal fellow at Melbourne University, a former Victorian secretary of the Labor Party and policy adviser to Julia Gillard, Steve Bracks and John Brumby.

  13. Apparently having an actual ‘opposition’ in a democracy means not only that it can’t operate but much, much worse (from the UK ‘Independent’):

    Jeremy Corbyn is a “threat to national security”, David Cameron has claimed.

    The Prime Minister said the mild-mannered Islington MP, who was elected Labour leader yesterday, would undermine the UK’s defences.

    The push is part of a new strategy by the Conservatives to define the new Labour leader with their own terms early on.

    Yesterday Defence Secretary Michael Fallon criticised Mr Corbyn’s foreign policy, highlighting his commitment to nuclear disarmament.

    “Labour are now a serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security and your family’s security,” he said.

    The soiling-of-the-trousers at the highest levels makes we small minions of subjects smile pleasantly.

    Teh, heh, heh.

  14. I’ve just been searching and can’t find any results anywhere indicating that anyone from the ALP has congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his election to leader of UK Labour.

    Very ungracious – and yet completely predictable.

  15. @Megan

    I agree. Typical arrogant attitude of the modern neoliberal apparatchik.

    “After all, the strongest argument against democratic reform of the ALP (or indeed the Liberal Party) was that it would mean the party members would elect left-wing (or for the Liberals, right-wing) leaders who are popular with the rank-and-file but who do not appeal to the mainstream. On the face it, this nightmare now appears to have played out for Labour in Britain.”

    The writer is against democracy in the party. The writer implies a democratic party will be out of step with the electorate and that two internally democratic parties, representing the two wings of politics, will also be out of step with the electorate if they are both internally democratic. It’s a strange assertion.

    This is classic “born-to-rule” arrogance. Only “we” the political establishment (the professional politicians and officials) know what the people want and need. We will tell them what they need and want and they should obey.

    They shouldn’t “fret” (his word) about inequality and globalization. So you know, the next time you see a homeless person tell them “now don’t you fret about lack of food and shelter, it doesn’t matter”.

    The insolent, farcist, arrogant tone of it all is almost beyond words to describe. How dare the people tell “the establishment” that they, the people, want changes. How dare the people rock the establishment’s boat; you know the current set-up that gives the establishment all the money and all the power.

  16. Thank you, Megan on September 13th, 2015 at 20:59, … September 13th, 2015 at 21:41, …

    We haven’t had Labor leaders in Australia comparable to Jeremy Corbyn since Gough and Don Donstan. In February last year on SBS Dateline, whislteblower Christopher Boyce (aka ‘The Falcon’) explained why.

    Retired ADF General blasts ‘strategically dumb’ move to bomb IS in Syria

    The former head of the Australian Defence Force, Retired General Peter Gration, has signed an open letter to the Prime Minister opposing bombing raids in Syria. The open letter suggests bombing IS targets could strengthen the organisation and divide the Australian community, while increasing refugees and civilian casualties.

    Transcript of Interview by David Mark originally published on ABC World Today, here on 4 September 2015:

  17. Ikon #69, yes totally arrogant and out of touch.

    It reminded me of this episode of Clarke & Dawe where “Scott Morisson” says:

    “Now we’ve got 20 million people calling for change, there’s a word for that you know”.

    BRIAN: “Yes, it’s called ‘democracy'”.

    SM: “No, it’s called ‘bullying'”.

  18. @James

    Christopher Boyce reports what (he says) CIA agents told him about the activities of the CIA. CIA agents are not trustworthy sources of information about the activities of the CIA; to rely on anything they say on that subject would be a mistake.

  19. @J-D

    Whether or not we can agree with everything that Christopher Boyce says, we now know a lot more about the removal of the Whitlam government in 1975 and subsequent Australian history because of his revelations.

  20. @James

    No, we don’t. Christopher Boyce has not provided any greater knowledge about Australian history, because what he says on that subject all comes from reports of what (he says) CIA agents told him about the activities of the CIA, and it’s a mistake to rely on those. If CIA agents say that the CIA was involved in the removal of the Whitlam government, it’s a mistake to take their word for it; if CIA agents say that the CIA was not involved in the removal of the Whitlam government, it’s a mistake to take their word for it. If you want to find out anything about what the CIA has or has not done, you need better sources of information than CIA agents.

  21. J-D on September 14th, 2015 at 19:51,

    So, why do you think the producers of Dateline decided to broadcast that program on 18 Feb 2014, if nothing on that Christopher Boyce said can be believed?

  22. If CIA agents say that the CIA was involved in the removal of the Whitlam government, it’s a mistake to take their word for it; if CIA agents say that the CIA was not involved in the removal of the Whitlam government, it’s a mistake to take their word for it.

    No, not really. I don’t have time to unpack this fully because I have work to get to, but the two aren’t symmetric.

    People don’t lie randomly, they lie in a manner that benefits them. It’s of benefit to not be seen as involved in wrongdoing, so claims “I was not involved in wrongdoing” convey no information, but there’s very little benefit from being falsely believed to be involved in wrongdoing, so claims “I did wrong things” are much less likely to be lies.

    Like I said, I’ve got work to go to; this is an edited highlights version. But it’s pretty important, and something I’m surprised you didn’t know.

  23. @Collin Street

    Here’s an edited highlights version of my response (I too could expand on this subject).

    There are a variety of reasons why people might make statements when they know those statements are not true, or when they don’t know whether the statements are true, or when they think the statements are true but they’re not: in this particular instance, one strong possibility is braggadocio.

  24. @James

    [From Monday Message Board]

    Much of the ‘discussion’ which has occurred above is not discussion I sought or wanted.

    I have to assume that the comments you posted are comments you wanted to post, or else you wouldn’t have posted them. It seems most likely that you mean that the comments I posted are comments you did not want me to post. I did not know that when I was posting them, but even if I had, I would not have refrained from posting my comments just because you did not want me to post them; that’s not a good enough reason.

    I intend to do whatever I can to stop things getting worse, hopefully with your help.

    I am curious about what kinds of actions you think will help to stop things getting worse — I don’t mean just actions by you, I mean actions by anybody.

  25. Information is a very powerful thing to confront disinformation.

    So powerful in fact that it can stop wars.

    Spreading truth (particularly at a time when untruth and obfuscation are the tools of warmongers) is a noble thing.

    I listened last night, at a dinner given to Philip Gibbs on his return from the front, to the most impressive and moving description from him of what the war in the West really means, that I have heard. Even an audience of hardened politicians and journalists were strongly affected. If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know, and can’t know. The correspondents don’t write and the censorship wouldn’t pass the truth. What they do send is not the war, but just a pretty picture of the war with everybody doing gallant deeds.

    British PM David Lloyd George to C.P. Scott the owner of ‘The Guardian’, December 1917.

  26. @Megan

    In general, spreading information is good and spreading disinformation is bad. That makes it important to distinguish between them (which is important anyway). So it’s generally a good idea to consider, when one hears or reads a report about events, whether it’s likely to be true: how would the person who is the source of the report know? how much confidence should be placed in the reliability of the source? If you tell me something and don’t identify your source, I might wonder what your source is and how much confidence I can place in a report knowing only that you have passed it on. If you tell me something and do identify your source, I may be able to check the report at your source, but then I might wonder how much your source is to be trusted, what reasons you might have for trusting it, and where that source got its information from — the source for the source. In either case I might wonder whether the report can be cross-checked with reports from other sources, and if reports from different sources disagree I might wonder how to resolve the uncertainty that results from the disagreement of sources.

    That’s why I ask questions of those kinds, even though they seem to irritate you.

  27. @Megan,

    I read Philip Gibbs’ account of his experiences as a war correspondent decades ago. Whilst I am unable to confirm this with any searches, I believe the title was “Despatches”. I read it uncritically at the time, but I recall it being a sanitised account of that awful and pointless slaughter as your own citation confirms.

    Whoever was right or wrong at the outbreak of the war, there was no justification for the bloody slaughters of Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele, the Nivelle Offensives, … with all and all the mass infantry attacks through barbed wire and mud against machine guns and artillery. In 1917, after the failed Nivelle offensive, French soldiers mutinied. They told their commanders they would defend their lines but not attack. Had this sensible policy been adopted by both sides early in the conflict, perhaps after the Christmas truce of 1914, the toll toll of the First World War would have only been a small fraction of the ten million who died in combat.

    Had the British learned the truth that David Lloyd George and Philip Gibbs had concealed from them, they would have made their government stop the slaughter.

  28. @James

    Just today I learnt that nearly 100,000 Vietnamese (as subjects of the Imperial colony of French Indochina) were conscripted to fight for France in WWI.

    About 30,000 of them died, mostly in the Somme. Right beside, and defending, the soldiers of the nations who would kill millions of their brothers and sisters just a few decades later. That includes Australians. They helped us (as subjects of Imperial Britain fighting a war for the Empire) and later we helped kill them in their millions.

    By then we were killing them for standing up to the new iteration of the Empire (the US having taken over from the French) and demanding independence and sovereignty.

    It’s weird.

  29. > In general, spreading information is good and spreading disinformation is bad.

    If by “generally” you mean, ooh, 80% or a bit less, it only takes three “generallies” [A is generally B, b is generally C, C is generally D so A is generally D] to turn your final conclusion into a fifty-fifty bet.

  30. @James

    The withdrawal from a war of one of the combatant nations is not enough to bring it to an end. You’d need the same process to take place in all combatant nations.

  31. J-D

    I never said that one side should have ceased fighting and not the other. Please read my
    previous post again :

    … In 1917, after the failed Nivelle Offensive, French soldiers mutinied. They told their commanders they would defend their lines but not attack. Had this sensible policy been adopted by both sides early in the conflict … the toll of the First World War would have only been a small fraction of the ten million who died in combat.

    @Megan

    I meant to add that the mutiny of 1917 was crushed and General Petain had 40-62 of the mutineers shot, according to Wikipedia.

  32. @James

    You wrote (and I quote your exact words):

    Had the British learned the truth that David Lloyd George and Philip Gibbs had concealed from them, they would have made their government stop the slaughter.

    It was those exact words that prompted my response; however, I framed my response not as a specific comment on that one specific instance but as an observation with a more general applicability. As a general observation, do you disagree with it?

  33. Given that barely 21 years after the slaughter ended in 1918 an even more terrible global war, in which 60 million died, began, what do you think was achieved by the sacrifice of all those soldiers at Gallipoli, Verdun, the Somme, Passchendaele, the Nivelle Offensives and in the bloody battles of 1918?

  34. J-D,

    Your “general observation” is the kind of justification that the leaders of all the belligerent nations gave for continuing the slaughter of the First World War. You have still not responded to the following:

    In 1917, after the failed Nivelle offensive, French soldiers mutinied. They told their commanders they would defend their lines but not attack. Had this sensible policy been adopted by both sides early in the conflict, perhaps after the Christmas truce of 1914, the toll toll of the First World War would have only been a small fraction of the ten million who died in combat

  35. @James

    They told their commanders they would defend their lines but not attack. Had this sensible policy been adopted by both sides early in the conflict, perhaps after the Christmas truce of 1914, the toll toll of the First World War would have only been a small fraction of the ten million who died in combat

    If every country adopts the policy ‘defend our lines but do not attack’, then there will probably be no wars; any few there are will be short and cause little damage.

    More specifically, if all belligerents in the First World War had adopted this policy at the end of 1914, the death toll would have been greatly reduced; and, what’s more, if all belligerents in the First World War had adopted this policy in the middle of 1914, the war could never even have started.

    None of this affects the observation I made earlier to which you object so strongly — I don’t know why exactly; you haven’t alleged that it’s false.

  36. @James

    Is that question directed to me? I don’t fully understand its meaning, and in order to explore my partial understanding and response would take a lengthy essay, too long to post as a comment here. Is there any chance you could rephrase it in a way that would make your meaning clearer to me?

    Or perhaps you could just explain why you want to ask me this question?

  37. Amusing parody of Catholic Repugs on climate change coinciding with Pope Francis visit to US.

    HT DeSmogBlog

  38. @J-D wrote:

    None of this affects the observation I made earlier to which you object so strongly …

    Is this:

    “The withdrawal from a war of one of the combatant nations is not enough to bring it to an end. You’d need the same process to take place in all combatant nations.”

    … your observation?

    If it is not, I am unable to work out what the “observation [you] made earlier” is. Can you please restate that observation?

  39. @J-D

    If every country adopts the policy ‘defend our lines but do not attack’, then there will probably be no wars; any few there are will be short and cause little damage.

    I don’t think that’s q

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