The last few years have shown the hypocrisy of the U.S. and allied governments reasoning for their involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of troops have died to set up puppet governments run by warlords and thugs no better than the tyrants they have replaced.

The only winners have been large multi-national companies who have made billions from the war and seek to gain more from Iraqi oil fields and a gas pipeline through Afghanistan. It is for the profits of a few that working class people risk death and injury fighting wars for U.S. Imperialism.

If you also support the struggle for Aboriginal rights see Fight for Aborignal Rights

Thursday, November 15, 2007

120 US war veteran suicides a week

Article from: Agence France-Presse

THE US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans
killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week, according to an
investigation by US television network CBS.

At least 6256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 - an average of 17
a day - the network reported, with veterans overall more than twice as
likely to take their own lives as the rest of the general population.

While the suicide rate among the general population was 8.9 per
100,000, the level among veterans was between 18.7 and 20.8 per 100,000.

That figure rose to 22.9 to 31.9 suicides per 100,000 among veterans
aged 20 to 24 - almost four times the non-veteran average for the age

"Those numbers clearly show an epidemic of mental health problems,''
CBS quoted veterans' rights advocate Paul Sullivan as saying.

CBS quoted the father of a 23-year-old soldier who shot himself in
2005 as saying the military did not want the true scale of the problem
to be known.

"Nobody wants to tally it up in the form of a government total,'' Mike
Bowman said.

"They don't want the true numbers of casualties to really be known.''

There are 25 million veterans in the United States, 1.6 million of
whom served in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to CBS.

"Not everyone comes home from the war wounded, but the bottom line is
nobody comes home unchanged,'' Paul Rieckhoff, a former Marine and
founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America said on CBS.

The network said it was the first time that a nationwide count of
veteran suicides had been conducted.

The tally was reached by collating suicide data from individual states
for both veterans and the general population from 1995.,21985,22762457-5005961,00.html

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An open letter to all activists who have served in any armed forces

The recent successful tour by Matt Howard from U.S. based group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has highlighted the extra weight that veterans and former military personnel can add to the anti-war movement in this country. IVAW’s key strategy, and one which assisted the anti-Vietnam War movement, is organising resistance within U.S. armed forces. The setting up in Australia of a group of former soldiers/guerrillas, sailors and air force personnel against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be an important step in building resistance to these wars within the ADF. You know through personal experience that the words and actions of former service personnel carry far more resonance with current serving members than the words and actions of 'civilians'. Such a group can also be an effective counter to the idea that the Government likes to portray, “If you’re against the war, you’re against the individual service people involved.”

A group like this will not appear spontaneously. It is up to veterans and former service personnel already organised through groups within the anti-war movement to make this happen. The question is; are there enough of us out there within activist groups to make this work?

If you are a veteran, or have served in the armed forces of any country, are already part of the anti-war movement in Australia and you think it is worthwhile to have such a group contact me at so I can find out who’s out there, where they are and how many of us there are.

Organised together I think we can add to and strengthen the anti-war movement.

Hamish Chitts
m) 0401 586 923
Former infantry soldier (Australian Army), INTERFET campaign and U.N. mission to East Timor veteran.
Brisbane, Qld.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Iraq Veterans Against the War tour speech

Speech delivered by Hamish Chitts

St Mary's Church, South Brisbane

11th August 2007

Early in 2003 a few months before the invasion of Iraq I was working in the intelligence cell of my infantry battalion in Darwin. I had been an infantry soldier in the Reserve and Regular army for 11 years and had seen active service in East Timor in 1999 and 2000 as part of INTERFET and the subsequent UN mission. I was relatively new to the job of intelligence and was still in close email contact with the people I'd done my int course with. We were all in similar roles around the country and basically at the lowest level of Australia's intelligence community.

When the politicians started rattling their sabers we discussed and questioned the reasons and motives for this new war. When Colin Powell gave his now infamous power point presentation to the UN Security Council to justify an invasion of Iraq we knew it for the farce that it was. We started sending around joke emails to each other about their reasons, the best being a take off of Powell's presentation with photos of plastic soldiers, toy trucks and rubber finger puppet monsters in somebody's sandpit. Our superiors soon clamped down on any dissent but the point is there was no failure of intelligence. Everyone knew there were no WMDs, everyone knew that Al Qaeda had no significant presence in Iraq. Osama bin Laden had previously and publicly denounced Saddam as a 'lesser Satan'. Career 'yes men' on large salaries agreed with their political masters knowing the worst they could face is having to resign with a big pay out and a nice job lined up for them in private industry. I decided I did not want to be a part of or contribute in any way to this nor did I want to risk my life again, especially for the sake of big business so put in my discharge.

Through its relatively small contingents and through being placed in lesser risk areas Australia has suffered few physical casualties in Iraq. But everyday there are Australian casualties that no sees or hears about. Through my own experiences and through those of my mates I can tell you no one who sees active service comes back the same.

Recent figures from America have shown that troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering 3 times more Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than their counterparts did on return from Vietnam.

But it doesn’t just effect those who’ve been directly involved, it effects their children and even their grandchildren. A survey of 2500 children and grandchildren of Australian Vietnam veterans has found 70% of children and 30% of grandchildren suffer psychiatric or psychological problems.

John Howard likes to have his photo taken with Australian troops. He likes to use the memory of the fallen to push his political career and his vile 'rich get richer' policies. He likes to use troops but he doesn't like them or care one bit about them if he did he wouldn't send them to war in Iraq and Afghanistan knowing full well the only thing they are risking their lives for is the profits of multi-nationals.

I admire the courage of Iraq Veterans Against the War and the excellent work they are doing in the U.S. More Australian soldiers and veterans need to know what they are doing and to organise, to dissent and to show the general public , by marching themselves, that challenging the war is not an attack on veterans or current serving soldiers. That is why I am a member of the Stop The War Collective and that is why I will be protesting the APEC conference in Sydney in September. There is a war on. A war the extremely rich few have declared on anyone who stands in the way of them making even more money. Whether a worker in a factory, an Aboriginal person in a remote community or a person in Iraq if you do not go along with what the elite want then they will try to sweep you aside or destroy you.

As soldiers in a Western so called democracy you are told you fight for freedom and democracy which couldn't be any further from the truth. You fight for big business and global monopolies. The true freedom fighters and defenders of democracy are the protesters, the activists and anyone who will stand up to the powerful few and demand a fair deal fro all.

Iraq War Veteran tour kicks off in Brisbane

By Ian Rintoul

"And in my heart, the chains falling apart
The wildness in my soul
And for once in life, for once in life I know

I'm not alone, for the mountains make our bones
With the oceans in our blood
Our feet planted, planted firmly in the mud"

From 'A Drop Of Water', Dana Lyons, 1991

These words echoed throughout St Marys, West End [Brisbane] this afternoon [11/8/07], as a young woman sang to the large gathering who had amassed to hear Iraq war veteran Mr Matt Howard speak.

Mr Howard, who served as a Corporal in the US Marine Corps, and is now an activist with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), was involved in the initial invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He made it clear at the outset that it is a mistake to say that if we had done it right, it would have been ok.

"That is not the case," he said.

"The tone was set at the outset."

Mr Howard drove a supply truck which carried food, water and equipment for tanks and palettes of humanitarian rations. When he crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq, he saw hungry children lining the streets. He opened the rations and handed them out. His Sergeant confronted him with his M-16 and said, "What the hell do you think you are doing?" He was ordered not to throw one more box of food out to one more starving child. He took the remaining rations all the way to Baghdad, and back again to Kuwait, without delivering one more ration to starving people. When he asked his Commanding Officer, in Kuwait, what he should do with the food, he was ordered to "F*cking bury it." He buried it.

Howard's Commander explained that he didn't want Iraqis to get the "wrong impression about why we were there".

"It was like that the whole way to Baghdad," said Mr Howard.

"We just destroyed the place for the hell of it."

A year after the invasion, Mr Howard said the situation in Iraq was "infinitely worse", with no electricity (the whole country running on generators for only a few hours a day), no sewerage, and hospitals becoming morgues.

"We were told Iraq was a third world country, but we turned it into a third world country."

Mr Howard said that the war in Iraq is not going to end through a political process and that the only way it will end is if the soldiers "put down their weapons and say no".

"The Democrats are not going to end the war. Since they've taken power, they continue to give Bush all the funding he asks for," he said.

Mr Howard pointed out the inconsistencies of contractors being paid $300,000 a year as opposed to US soldiers, who are receiving $20,000. (He later said that there are as many contractors in Iraq as US troops, and that contractors are "acting like cowboys", shooting people in broad daylight in the middle of the street).

And, when the only mission for US troops is to drive around in a Humvee all day waiting to be blown up by an IED.

"Without that, we don't have a mission to be there," he said. "We are told that our mission is 'Troop Protection' but that is no mission at all."

Mr Howard was joined by Mr Hamish Chitts, a former Australian infantry soldier who served in East Timor (1999-2000), and in the intelligence services.

Mr Chitts said that at the time of Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, "We knew it was a farce."

Mr Chitts said that he and his colleagues exchanged joke e-mails parodying the WMD presentation, until their superiors clamped down.

"It was obvious. Everyone knew there were no WMDs," he said.

Having decided he didn't want to participate or risk his life for big buisness, Mr Chitts put in his discharge.

He went on to say that in his experience, no-one who sees active service comes back the same, and that soldiers are suffering three times as much post traumatic stress disorder as those who served in the Vietnam war.

"We are told we fight for freedom and democracy, but this couldn't be further from the truth," he said.

During the question and answer session, a gentleman in the audience who said he worked in the oil and gas industry asked, "What is the true reason for the American nation making this huge investment in occupying Iraq?"

"To truly understand this war you have to understand energy," he said.

Mr Howard said, "Everyone is dreaming if they think the US will ever get out of Iraq."

He explained that 'Operation Crown Jewel' (to secure the Ramadi oil field) was very explicitly his battalion's first objective when they invaded Iraq in 2003, which they accomplished.

And as for the troubles between the Shias and the Sunnis?

"Sectarian violence is being fuelled by our presence," said Mr Howard. He was quite clear that CIA "Black-Ops" were at work, and pointed out that these two groups had happily co-existed, side by side, for 1,400 years before the invasion.

He expressed empathy for the Iraqis resisting the occupation.

"What the hell would you do if people invaded your country? There's no way Americans would stand for an occupying presence," he said.

Mr Howard said that he understands what the Iraqi resistance are fighting for, and explained that his own progression from warrior to peace activist had been difficult.

"Violence begets violence," he said.


Monday, April 2, 2007

The Ground Truth film introduction

Speech by Hamish Chitts delivered at Red Cinema

Sat. March 31

People have said that if there were more Australian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan that this would shake the general public into a greater questioning of these wars, this may be true. But I put it to you that there are Australian casualties everyday that no one sees or hears about.

Through my own experiences as a former infantry soldier and combat veteran and through those of my mates I can tell you no one who sees active service comes back the same.

Recent figures from America have shown that troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering 3 times more Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than their counterparts did on return from Vietnam.

But it doesn’t just effect those who’ve been directly involved, it effects their children and even their grandchildren. A survey of 2500 children and grandchildren of Australian Vietnam veterans has found 70% of children and 30% of grandchildren suffer psychiatric or psychological problems.

This movie is about soldiers telling their own stories, so when someone accuses you of not supporting our troops you can pass on some of the things you’ll see tonight. There are many reasons to stop these wars of greed, here is just one of them.

The Ground Truth.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Speak out for Hicks

Hamish Chitts, Brisbane

About 50 people gathered in Brisbane Square on 2nd March to demand the release of David Hicks from his unlawful detention in Guantanamo Bay. Many more people paused on their way home to sign petitions and listen to speakers organised by Birsbane's Stop The War Collective as part of an ongoing series of public speak outs against Hicks' wrongful imprisonment.

Ross Daniels, Senior Human Rights Lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, told those gathered that the United States and Australian governments claim to be bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq but their treatment of David Hicks and others at Guantanamo Bay contradicts their commitment to these values. Daniels cited a list of concerns the Australian Lawyers Association has published which calls the treatment of Hicks unfair, unjust, a breech of the Geneva Convention, a breech of human rights and a basic disregard for international principles of law. He urged people to hound the Howard Government to respond to these concerns.

The Democrats Andrew Bartlet said the Howard Government has let people's rights and freedoms be grossly undermined. He warned that the Australian Government is willing to sacrifice people for its own ends and that if they can do it with Hicks they can do it with others. Bartlet called on people to keep the pressure up on all political parties and to keep voicing their concerns with the treatment of Hicks.

Socialist Alliance Senate candidate and leading Murri activist Sam Watson noted that the Australian Government had totally suspended Hicks' rights in order to serve the corrupt interests of the Bush administration. "Howard only has one agenda and that is to retain power." Watson argued that we all have a responsibility to stand up and confront Howard and demand Hicks' release.

Lee Rush whose son Scott is facing the death penalty for his involvement with the Bali 9 expressed his sympathies to Hicks' father Terry and to the rest of his family. Rush tried to protect his son by letting the Federal police know about the planned smuggling of drugs. Instead of taking action to prevent this crime Australian Federal police merely told Indonesian police about it. Rush accused the Federal police of sentencing his son to death by assisting Indonesian police.

Mark Gillespie from Brisbane's Stop The War Collective told the crowd that the Australian government has a history of and will continue to put diplomatic relationships before the rights of its citizens. They constantly lie to people and their actions internationally have nothing to with freedom or democracy. Gillespie explained while Donald Rumsfeld described Guantanamo detainees as "the most dangerous, best trained, vicious killers on Earth" they couldn't even charge Hicks with attempted murder. Instead they have charged him with providing material support for terrorism. Gillespie argued that if anyone has provided material support to terrorism it is the United States who during Israel's recent attacks on Lebanon supplied cluster bombs which Israel dropped on towns all over Southern Lebanon.
The Stop The War Collective is organising Brisbane's March 17 anti war rally and march which will hear a range of speakers including Terry Hicks. Friday's speak out for Hicks was part of an ongoing series which occur every few weeks in Brisbane Square.

Monday, February 26, 2007

War on Terror update

Hamish Chitts, Brisbane

Occupation fomenting violence

US politicians and military leaders actually thought the Iraqi people would welcome them with open arms in something akin to the scenes of liberation in France near the end of WWII. Their nice quick war has turned into a disaster when their occupation met solid resistance.

Around 60 000 civilians have been killed since the invasion and the rate of civilians dying as a result of military actions has steadily increased with the increase US and coalition casualty rates.

U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq reported at 3,155, British military 132 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 19; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, one death each.

The idea that the occupation is necessary to prevent Iraq from descending into violent anarchy and sectarian civil war is a sick joke. The occupation is deliberately creating such an outcome.

US meddling in Iraq politics actively supports some factions with military muscle causing those not supported to retain their weapons. They will even play factions off against each other for their own ends.

Last October, the head of the British Army, General Richard Dannatt, told the Daily Mail that Britain should withdraw its troops from Iraq “soon”, as their continued presence helped foment violence.

Those generals who wouldn’t sign on to a military escalation have been ditched. General John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East and a vocal opponent of the surge option, is being eased into retirement. So is General George Casey, Jr., the top commander in Baghdad. He slapped down administration plans the week before Christmas by noting, “Additional troops have to be for a purpose,” then reversed course and backed the escalation, “eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase” (LA Times, December 23, 2006). But it was too little to save his post.

Living standards

Policies, which reflect U.S. free-market priorities, dismantled state-run enterprises that employed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and ended subsidies once received by individuals and families. They presented Iraqis with wrenching change, leading to high unemployment and frustration.

The report found Iraq’s damaged infrastructure to be the single largest factor in creating poor living conditions. It found that 85 percent of households lacked a stable source of electricity, with weekly and even daily outages, cutting into other basic needs. Nearly 70 percent of households struggled with disposing of garbage, and more than 40 percent were deprived of healthy sanitation facilities.

Among health concerns, deprivation levels were seen as a factor in undernourishment. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are 1.6 million Iraqis displaced inside the country, including 425,000 who fled their homes after the bombing of the Samarra shrine in February 2006 unleashed a wave of sectarian violence.

In the face of larger and increasing more organised resistance occupying forces are no longer focusing on Victory but the consequences of defeat.

Howard on the weekend: "My argument is that if there is a coalition defeat in Iraq the terrorists will be emboldened, American authority will be weakened, and that will have consequences for all of us and most particularly for us."

The issue of credibility was so central to America's Vietnam policy that tens of thousands of Americans died in the pursuit not of victory, but of saving face. They died because American leaders believed then -- as the Bush administration apparently believes now -- that defeat would have uncontrollable consequences. But the wiser voices inside the Johnson administration were arguing as early as the mid-1960s that the costs of defeat were manageable.

The last couple of weeks have shown cracks forming in the original coalition of the willing.

Mounting opposition to the war in countries participating in the occupation has put pressure on the governments involved. The recent electoral victories of the democrats in the US senate should be seen as a vote against the war and George W Bush rather than any surge in popularity of the Democrats.

Under extreme public pressure on February 21 British PM Tony Blair announced that his government would withdraw 1600 troops from Iraq in coming months.

At the same time as Blair made his troop reduction announcement, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that his country’s 460 ground troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by August. Like the Australian “battle group” in Iraq, these Danish troops rely on the British occupation force for air, medical, artillery and other tactical support.

Hidden casualties

Colonel Tony Cotton, director of mental health and psychology at the ADF, concedes that 10 per cent of the 1200 servicemen and women who underwent compulsory psychological screenings after their recent return from Iraq, required "immediate follow-up support". The "returned to Australia psychological screenings" (R-TAPS) examine such things as trauma exposure and mental distress. "Certainly we have no indication of PTSD or acute stress disorders that we're seeing from them," says Cotton. "Certainly not in the short term." The symptoms of post-traumatic stress - emotional hypertension, acute anxiety, sadness and guilt - can sometimes take months, perhaps years, to manifest.


Total number of Coalition forces in Afghanistan: About 18,000

Britain is increasing its troop numbers and Australia is talking about doing the same. There is great pressure on NATO countries from the over stretched US to increase their troop commitments and to place more of their forces in southern Afghanistan where fighting has been the fiercest. Both Taliban and the western backed warlord government are talking about a big Spring offensive in the south which with our Autumn starting in the next couple of days is far off.

UNOCAL has been trying to build the north-south pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean for several decades. In 1998, the California-based UNOCAL, which held 46.5 percent stakes in Central Asia Gas (CentGas), a consortium that planned an ambitious gas pipeline across Afghanistan, withdrew in frustration after several fruitless years. The pipeline was to stretch 1,271 km from Turkmenistan's Dauletabad fields to Multan in Pakistan at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion. An additional $600 million would have brought the pipeline to energy-hungry India.

UNOCAL cut off its earlier agreement with the Taliban in 1998 when it became clear that the Taliban could not control all of Afghanistan and provide a stable political environment for a north-south pipeline construction project. It was likely at this juncture that a new "war against terrorism" ploy was conceived by the Standard Oil-influenced U.S. government. The "war against terrorism" in Afghanistan has come to a hiatus, with war-lords once again ruling the country, and the Bush administration has put their own man, Karzai, in power to control Afghanistan. Karzai was a top adviser to UNOCAL during the negotiations with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The war on terror – the home front

As demonstrated by David Hicks and Jack Thomas the price of this so called war on terror is not just being paid by people in savage far off lands. The fear of mythical threats are allowing capitalist governments to curtail the rights and freedoms of its people. Control orders and military tribunals are the most visible of a raft of legislation giving free democratic western governments greater control over their citizens.