Kilcullen, who has been an advisor to former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as well as retired US army general David Petraeus, launched his latest book, ‘Blood Year’, in Melbourne on Wednesday 17 February 2016.
The following formed the basis of two questions an ‘Australians for Reconciliation in Syria’ representative put to Mr Kilcullen at the book launch.
- Who would you align with if you were Syrian?
Australian soldiers in Syria in WW1 had sworn allegiance to the King of England.
After the war, Greater Syria was divided up between France and Britain. The aspirations of the local people were ignored. When Syria finally achieved independence, the CIA orchestrated its first successful coup there, which ushered in years of instability. For the past 100 years, many heroes in Syria have died fighting for Syria’s independence from foreign interference.
Syria is a secular society that guarantees equality among people of the many different faith groups. The Muslim Eid festivals as well as Christmas and Easter are national holidays. Women gained the vote in 1949. There are no religious police in secular Syria, so women have the same basic freedoms and equalities as men. Education is free so children can study toward a better future for themselves and their country. Before the war, Syria was a country going places.
A responsibility of Australian citizens is to defend Australia should the need arise. Presumably, Syrian citizens have the same responsibility.
So today, Syrians have two basic choices:
- Like Australians, they can support their army, which is composed of men and women from every faith background, with a majority of soldiers being Sunni Muslims, reflecting the demographic makeup of the country. (The Syrian Minister of Defence is Sunni Muslim, as are most government ministers.)
- They can support armed groups fighting the Syrian Army. Insurgents are backed by some of Syria’s traditional enemies, eg France, Britain, Israel and the US. At different times these armed groups cooperate. For example, 20 different armed groups (including the Islamic State and Free Syrian Army groups) were involved in a massacre of villagers in Latakia in August 2013. Around 200 civilians were killed and just as many were reportedly abducted, mostly women and children.
Question: If you could take off your cultural blinkers and put yourself in the shoes of a Syrian man or woman, who would you support and why?
Images taken in Syria before the so-called ‘Arab Spring’
- What do you propose should guide us in the 21st century?
On 21 August 2013, there was an alleged chemical weapons attack on an area controlled by insurgents in Damascus. According to the US State Department, nearly 1,500 people were killed, many of them children. The attack almost triggered US-led military strikes against Syria.
However, various experts have challenged the official US government claim. They include MIT Professor Ted Postol and former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd; Dr Denis O’Brien, a US pharmacologist; investigative journalists Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry; Turkish opposition MPs; and former US intelligence officers and soldiers, including Ann Wright, a retired US colonel and State Department official who is now an anti-war activist.
According to their research,
- anti-government armed groups were more than likely responsible for the attack;
- it was a false flag meant to trigger US-led military action against Syria;
- the sarin used in the ‘attack’ came via Turkey;
- children who were presented as victims were most likely children abducted from villagers in Latakia just a couple of weeks before.
The fact that the above is not discussed in our media illustrates that there is little room for in-depth investigation, honesty or courage in the public arena when it comes to discussing Syria. The tragedy of Syria illustrates the conflict between the information masters and the information victims.
Question: In WW1, Anzacs swore allegiance to the King of England. 100 years later, a queen or king of England couldn’t unite Australians because we come from such diverse backgrounds. However, honesty, courage and common values of decency could. Your allegiance appears to be with forces within the US and their project for ‘a New Middle East’. It’s a project dependent on ‘constructive chaos’; in other words, the bringing of more death, terror and destruction to people in the Middle East.
If love and common human values that have been expressed in all the great religions and philosophies over millennia do not guide and unite us, what do you propose should?
Below: Images of Syrians on Syrian TV since the beginning of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’