Imagine you're an Australian army officer, on location as a war of resistance between an occupied people and a brutal occupying power rages around you. (I'm speaking here of the 1982-2000 war of resistance waged by the occupied Lebanese against the Israeli occupiers of their land.)
But here's the kicker:
You haven't the faintest as to what the hell is really going on around you. In fact, you probably think the occupying Israelis are the goodies, and you certainly think the resisting Lebanese are the baddies, or 'terrorists', as you and the Israelis routinely call them.
Just the right (captain's?) pick for a seat in federal parliament and a spot on its Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence & Security, right?
Meet Andrew Nikolic, MP (Bass, Tasmania).
Now check out the opening paragraphs of his opinion piece, which appeared in The Australian on February 16:
"The terrorist's answer was so matter-of-fact that its full meaning crept into my consciousness only gradually. It was September 1991 in South Lebanon and the captured terrorist leader responded calmly to my question about his team's mission. It was a mission they would never achieve after their small boat was seized by my United Nations colleagues. The boat was crammed with AK-47s, hand grenades, knives, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades.
"He said their mission was to land on the Israeli side of the border, near the beautiful town of Nahariya, and kill as many Jews as possible before they themselves were killed.
"When not working in South Lebanon as Team Leader of UN Mobile Team Zulu, I lived in Nahariya with my wife and two young daughters - a street away from the terrorists' planned landing point. I asked how his thee-man team would distinguish between Jews and overseas visitors. He confidently put that question in the hands of God.
"At the time I thought how lucky we were not to have such irrational, indiscriminate killers in Australia. Those days are gone." (Let's confront passports to terror)
What a pity young Andrew didn't get to discuss these matters with the Lebanese guy quoted below - but then his words would probably have gone way over Andrew's head:
"You look at it with a Western mentality. You regard it is barbaric and unjustified. We, on the other hand, see it as another means of war, but one which is also harmonious with our religion and beliefs. Take, for example, an Israeli warplane or, better still, the American and British air power in the Gulf War. They dropped tons of bombs on their targets. The goal of their mission and the outcome of their deeds was to kill and damage enemy positions just like us, except our enemy is Israel. The only difference is that they have at their disposal state-of-the-art and top-of-the-range means and weaponry to achieve their aims. We have the minimum basics, but that does not bother us because we know that if and when required we also have ourselves to sacrifice. They get medals and titles for their feats of bravery and victories. We, on the other hand, do not seek material rewards, but heavenly ones in the hereafter. But in truth there is no difference between their attacks and ours. Both of us have one thing in common - to annihilate the enemy. The rest is mere logistics and differences in techniques. Whether one attacks by planes or by car bombs the objective is the same. Who is to say that they are better or more civilised just because they use twentieth-century equipment? Who decides that it is more right or correct or even more acceptable to kill one's enemy by warplanes rather than by car bombs?" ('Hasan', quoted in Hezbollah: Born With a Vengeance, Hala Jaber, 1997, pp 92-3)
For more on Andrew Nikolic, try Bernard Keane's post at crikey.com.au: Andrew Nikolic's Middle Eastern vision provides something for everyone. Here's how it begins: "Following Andrew Nikolic's logic on the Middle East is quite a challenge but it seems he never saw a Middle Eastern country he didn't want to attack." I don't know why Keane neglected to tack on the words, 'except Israel', though.
Want more on clueless Australian soldiers with 'experience' in the Middle East? Of course you do! See my posts Onward Christian Soldiers (9/8/10), featuring Brigadier Jim Wallace; Mike Kelly's Mission Impossible (19/1/13), featuring Clanking Colonel Mike Kelly; and Operation Get Goldstone (4/10/09), featuring Major General Jim Molan.