I started reading Mike Carlton’s latest screed and got as far as Malcolm Fraser’s tweet:
If any other country went to war killing as many civilians, women and children, it would be named a war crime.
Fraser is very selective in his condemnation of war crimes. In the last week we’re seen an atrocious war crime being committed in the Ukraine – a civilian aircraft was shot out of the sky. To be sure, this is probably an accident, a case of mistaken identity, so it’s war crime and not (also) an act of terrorism. I don’t know if Fraser has condemned the events surrounding MH17 but what of other similar incidents?
In 1978-79 Fraser was prime minister of Australia and engaged in resolving the Zimbabwean conflict.
Soon after Flight 825 took off, a group of ZIPRA guerrillas scored a direct hit on its starboard wing with a Soviet-made Strela 2 surface-to-air infrared homing missile, critically damaging the aircraft and forcing an emergency landing. An attempted belly landing in a cotton field just west of Karoi was foiled by an unseen ditch, which caused the plane to cartwheel and break up. Of the 52 passengers and four crew, 38 died in this crash; the insurgents then approached the wreckage, rounded up the 10 survivors they could see and massacred them with automatic gunfire. Three passengers survived by hiding in the surrounding bush, while a further five lived because they had gone to look for water before the guerrillas arrived.
A civilian aircraft was deliberately shot down and the survivors massacred.
Air Rhodesia Flight 827 … was shot down on 12 February 1979 by Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) guerrillas using a Strela 2 missile soon after take-off. The circumstances were very similar to that of Air Rhodesia Flight 825 five months earlier.
Maybe Fraser was appalled by these war crimes and acts of terrorism. Perhaps not.
IT is hard to know exactly how much responsibility Malcolm Fraser bears for the installation of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, but it is generally agreed that he played an important role.
Fraser’s 1987 biographer Philip Ayres wrote: “The centrality of Fraser’s part in the process leading to Zimbabwe’s independence is indisputable. All the major African figures involved affirm it.”
The long and short of it is that Fraser is no position to be lecturing anyone on war crimes.