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Crikey says: danger for AFP in Ukraine, armed or unarmed

Abbott’s culture war hits the road. Is air travel getting less safe? Ben Sandilands looks at the odds of a crash. Julia and the party faithful at Combet book launch. The Business Council’s new-found love of socialism. Palmer’s wrangling in Queensland could help Newman. The mystery of the lost dictaphone: ethical questions for journalists in Vic. Don’t mention the war at Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Lewski class action. And media is fukt: the view from NPR’s Bob Garfield.

A group of unarmed Australian police officers has entered a war zone to secure the crash site of MH17. The contingent, which is part of a joint Dutch-Australian mission, was forced to turn back from the site this morning due to fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops, according to the ABC’s Stephen McDonell.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in Kiev, holding talks with the Ukraine President to allow the officers to carry guns. “Part of that is to have the right, should it ever be necessary, to bring arms into the country for self-defence,” Bishop said this morning, stressing that Australia’s presence in the country remained a “humanitarian mission”.

As in the aftermath of the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 88 Australians, it is right that Australia provide expertise in the form of Australian Federal Police officers to assist with identifying the perpetrators of a violent act that killed dozens of Australians. But sending unarmed police officers into an active war zone is a reckless act that could lead to more Australian deaths. Going in with guns, even if they are used for self-defence, is arguably even more so.

Such neutral visitors, attending at the behest of their governments, may make tempting human shields or kidnap targets, particularly for irregular forces of the kind opposing the Ukrainian government, to say nothing of the possibility for further tragic accidents, which are all too common in war zones.

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    ….. but think of the headlines?

  • 2
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Abbott & Bishop have performed too much breast beating about “bringing home” our dead nationals.

    What is the value of such an exercise when so many risks are involved? And is there any benefit to mourning families to take receipt of a broken partly-decomposed body - or limb or part of a body - as a final memory of someone they loved. I don’t claim to have an answer to the last question but it’s worth pondering.

  • 3
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    The act of attempting to physically enter the crash zone puts political pressure on Putin. They could chill out in their London Hotels and Putin would laugh, we’d join the weak willed Europeans and the Australian dead would continue to rot in the summer heat.

    If we can’t get into the zone, it’s not our fault and making that point is important. Especially for the bereaved. Zut is clearly not one of the bereaved and neither is klewso.

    But Abbott can’t do anything right in the parallel universe that is Crikey so I’m not surprised at your editorial line.

  • 4
    zut alors
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    David Hand, much depends on one’s attitude to death. Some people do not put sentiment into bereavement of a physical body - I am in that category hence the protracted negotiations and interminable reporting of this tragic crash site leave me bemused.

  • 5
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Well Zut,
    Abbott, who can never win over anything in Crikey, is trying to head off the alternative Crikey editorial that goes something like, “Australian bodies rotting in Ukraine and Tony doesn’t care”, which would then be enthusiastically endorsed by you and others here as yet more proof of Abbott’s evilness.

    There’s a geopolitical struggle going on here and it’s over Putin’s efforts to stop Ukraine shifting towards Europe. MH17 has come down in the middle of it and this has drawn the Australian government into it.

    They’re doing a great job aren’t they.

  • 6
    klewso
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Don’t assume too much neither from my opinion (formed over years) of the depths of Abbott’s political opportunism nor on the basis of the divergence of my politics from yours.

  • 7
    Iskandar
    Posted Tuesday, 29 July 2014 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Abbott is of course engaging in the compulsory grandstanding required of a PM when something awful like this happens, but Julie Bishop just keeps showing that she’s brain-dead. Sending armed personel into a war zone means they join in the war. Who will they shoot at in the course of defending themselves, the Kiev junta forces or the defenders of the DPR? And imagine the flak should some almost inevitably get killed.

    Bishop doesn’t seem to grasp that the crash site was secured by DPR forces, who already did much of the gruesome work of collecting the dead, putting them in refrigerated rail cars, and expediting their transport to Amsterdam. Malaysian authorities had the good sense to negotiate with DPR authorities for transfer of the black boxes, but our Julie works with the collapsing government of a failing state that not only does not control the crash site, but is ramping up military activities in the area, preventing investigators from going in. Really, the woman should resign from politics and open a hair-dressing shop in Claremont.

    David Hand, I agree there is a geopolitical struggle going on, but Mr Putin is not the instigator. He is taking careful necessary steps to defend his nation from the encroachment from the West of the US/NATO alliance who are following a long-standing script of “containing” Russia that dates back to 1945 at least by infiltrating and exploiting ethnic, cultural and political faultlines in countries along Russia’s borders. It’s Mr Putin’s restraint under extreme provocation that I find amazing. But overall, the pattern is very like the one that led to the Vietnam War. Let’s see if any lessons are remembered from that debacle.

  • 8
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 30 July 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The Grand old Abbott of York” or “the Abbott of Bray”?
    He went from ‘waring the Tzar’ to saying Vlad is a good bloke within 24hrs and since then has been Credled to STFU and do what he did to get into office, repeat a 3 word slogan.

  • 9
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 30 July 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    ..as well as “warning the Tzar”.

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