11 Jun. 2007

Every Single Person In The Australian Armed Forces Is A Wanker

Australia's total foreign aid budget (including all the fake stuff) is around $3.2 billion. The Australian Navy is now debating whether to purchase three air warfare destroyers for between $6 billion and $8 billion PLUS two large amphibious ships for about $2 billion.
The amphibious ships will be the largest in Asia - larger than anything that China, Japan or India presently has.
Whoo hoo! USA NUMBER ONE! Err, ... sorry, I mean AUSTRALIA, of course!

If you venture beyond the intro, this article by Paul Dibb, a former secretary-general of the Department of Defence, is really quite bizarre. For example:
Having the best naval capabilities in our region is an important reflection of our national strength.
Who thinks like that? People who eagerly follow stories about "defence", I guess. People who like throwing sentences like this into their BBQ conversations:
It might also be worth equipping them with the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missile, which would give Australia a very long-range strike weapon.
Yeah, mate. Sure. Whatever. Most of us can't be arsed with such nonsense, however many taxpayer dollars are thrown away on it.

Dibb says there is a big debate going on about how many missile "cells" the navy might need to handle "any credible regional contingency", though he doesn't spell out exactly what such a "contingency" might involve. Attacks from outer space, perhaps? An eruption of demon spawn from Hades? A US invasion of Indonesia, more likely.

Dibb says the Australian Army is very suspicious of the Navy's plan for "large amphibious ships", because that could mean the Navy is secretly planning to create "a mini version of the US Marines, subordinate to US war-fighting doctrine". Is the Aussie Army just jealous coz an Aussie Marines unit might knock their famous SAS boys off the front pages? Don't our various Armed Forces even plan this sort of multi-billion dollar spending spree shit in unison?

Then Dibb talks about "the public reasons" for these mammoth navy purchases, hinting at the unacknowledged "back-room reasons" for the deal. He devotes the final three paras to a discussion of who might get the contract to build the ships. Now there's your real story, right there, folks. Talk about burying the lede!

In other military news today:

- ABC's Four Corners produces documents which "appear to contradict the Federal Government's claim that it never knew Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib had been sent to Egypt for interrogation". Former CIA and FBI agents say it is "impossible" that ASIO did not OK the rendition and torture of Habib.

- More than 11,000 UK soldiers have gone AWOL since the Iraq war began. The Ministry of Defence says these are great numbers, declining actually, and nearly all related to a few minor domestic spats with the missus. Now go away.

- How many US military bases do you think there are in Iraq? Would you believe 250 (yes, I know the graphic above was a giveaway). Don't worry, they are not "permanent". Neither are the 53 US bases still in South Korea. And don't the locals love them! So what do ordinary Iraqis think about the latest US plans for a "South Korean style" permanent presence in their country? Nobody has bothered to ask them!
In story after story, U.S. reporters were quick to seek comment from White House officials and to "balance" those comments with quotes from congressional Democrats and from analysts at various D.C. think tanks who are critical of the administration. They talked to foreign policy and military experts, historians and even Korea experts.

But here's the rub: None of the reporters we read bothered to pick up a phone and call Baghdad to get reactions from, well, actual Iraqis.

So we did -- we called Iraqi lawmakers from different parties representing the country's different ethnic and sectarian groups, and found that, without exception, just hearing that there were official whispers in Washington about plans for a decades-long U.S. troop presence in their country shocked and awed them, and not in a good way...