By David McBride
I didn’t protest the Iraq war in 2003, I was one of those people that believed if our government was doing something then it must be ok. That’s why it hit me harder than most when I found out the protesters were right.
I am not a rebel that came to this game opposing our forces, but I can tell you from experience that the Afghanistan war was no better than the Iraq war.
It was better disguised, but it wasn’t any better – it was all a show to win domestic elections.
Instead of food and water we bought bombs, because bombs looked good on the 7:30 news. We dropped bombs on the wrong houses. We killed Afghan after Afghan. We created terrorists.
The terrible fact is that we were less popular in 2013 than when we were in 2002, because by then they could see we were liars and cheats. We said we believed in the rule of law, but we believed in the rule of money. We said we believed in human rights, and instead we set up Guantanamo Bay.
I doubt there will ever be any war crime trials
I went to Afghanistan with the Australian forces twice, once in 2011, and again in 2013 when I was attached to the Special Operations Command. It was during my time with Special Operations that I began to have concerns about what was going on within the command, and in the war more generally – that was also when I started to make internal complaints about what I was seeing.
It had become quite dystopian; it was clear the war was being run for the benefit of getting domestic votes. Meanwhile Australian soldiers were murdering people, claiming they had done something heroic, and no one up the chain was questioning it.
Even now the Brereton report has been published, I doubt there will ever be any war crime trials. What is happening is called the ‘playbook’, where they make a big fuss about something and then don’t do anything.
It happened in the UK after details of war crimes committed by the SAS were revealed, and despite the fuss that was made at the time there have been zero prosecutions since.
Twenty years from now the heroes will be those that stood with the whistleblowers
Nobody ever goes to trial except the truth teller.
That’s why Julian Assange, who also exposed the truth about the war, is still stuck in Belmarsh Prison, while none of the people he exposed have faced trial. The reason they hate Julian Assange is simply because he exposed the truth.
That’s why people like Bernard Collaery and Witness K, who also exposed the truth about our Government, are facing trials. That’s why I’m facing life in prison.
Someone recently told me that they had seen the movie ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’, and I think it won’t be long before there’s a similar movie about Australia at this time.
And twenty years from now when we look back on this period, its heroes will be those people that stood with the whistleblowers, attended protests, and held their governments accountable.
David McBride is currently facing fifty years in prison for his role revealing the Afghan Files, published by the ABC in 2017, which exposed crimes committed by Australian soliders in Afghanistan. He is a former Major and laywer within the Australian Defence Force. Follow him on twitter @MurdochCadell.
This article is based on a speech recently presented by David McBride at a protest in support of Julian Assange. Watch the full speech here.