|Picture courtesy The Guardian|
I don’t know which is worse - the behaviour of some ADF cowboy/s who flew a flag with a swastika in Afghanistan, or the pile-on from the media in response. I'm not entirely sure which is the lesser of these two evils.
The appearance of that symbol on an ADF vehicle is pathetic. Some developmentally challenged juvenile/s who ended up in uniform in an operational theatre was responsible. The episode was childish.
He/they were obviously sprung, and you’d assume given a well deserved boot up the backside/s,
There are always drop-kicks who collect Nazi memorabilia because they think it looks cool. They have no knowledge of history, possibly because they can't read or can't be bothered. Clearly, a few of these have ended up in the ADF.
Perhaps the ADF needs to screen its recruits more carefully, if idiots like this end up in the ranks. My understanding is that this screening is a work in progress.
Certainly, thousands of diggers (including my late father) fought against the tyranny symbolised by this flag, and many died in the process.
But I doubt that the drop-kick who attached the flag to the vehicle had any appreciation of that history, or any understanding of the proud traditions of the service he was part of. He probably wouldn't know his arse from his elbow.
However, the incident has been blown out of all proportion. The media is adept at employing imagery, and they had a very striking image available, so they used it.
My recollection of National Service are that there were always a few of these two-bob lairs (as my dad would have called them) in every unit. They were thick, usually all mouth and trousers and typically went to water at the first sign of trouble..
They were best ignored, or avoided. Anyone stupid enough to fly a Nazi flag has obviously no thought for anyone or anything besides his own juvenile obsessions and would have been a bad risk in a contact.
So let’s not draw any more attention to stupidity. The chorus of outrage about the fact that this episode is being condemned is also ridiculous. To hear that commandos are somehow excused from disciplined behaviour, is, to put it simply, crap. They are/were subject to the same code of conduct as everyone else in the ADF.
The other frequent defense is that we need ruthless tough individuals to keep us safe, and that excuses all manner of things. In the first place, I doubt that what the ADF did in Afghanistan "kept us safe". Perhaps it's kept some Afghans safe and improved their quality of life - if so, that's great, but we were never under existential threat from the Taliban.
To believe that we have to reduce our behaviour to the level of that of our most brutal enemies to effectivelly fight tyranny has never been part of our national ethos, and I hope it never is.
In the meantime, let’s ease off on the cries of outrage. It doesn't help the morale of the majority of ADF personnel who aren't, like the perpetrators, as thick as two short planks.
The other issues relating to Afghanistan that are under investigation at the moment are of much greater consequence.
One of the strongest impressions I was left with after returning to Vietnam a couple of times was the respect the locals in Phouc Tuy maintain for Australians.
That respect is an absolute consequence of the behaviour of the diggers who fought there all those years ago.