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[Watch this space for: Pentagon and Petroleum, The Media is only as Liberal as the Corporations Who Own Them, Wash Down With, and Recalcify]


Sunday, November 24, 2002


Unlike any warblogger that I care to think of, Brian Deegan has actually lost someone to terrorism. He lost his son, Joshua, in the Bali attack. He wrote the following letter to The Australian, a national newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch. It's a compelling and moving piece, with Mr Deegan showing, just five weeks after the death of his son, what is really meant by the term, "moral clarity".

I AM writing to you in relation to my late son Joshua, a beautiful young boy aged 22, who along with scores of other beautiful Australians died on the island paradise called Bali five short weeks ago.

Joshua has three siblings and, until October 12, they had always looked to me to perform one very basic parental duty – protect them. Until then, I always thought I could, but now I wonder.

Prime Minister, I ask you, not just as our nation's leader but as a father to answer some of my questions.

Why did our children die and why have many others been sickeningly maimed? Was it because we, as a nation, have pursued a role in the US-led war on terror that we cannot possibly fulfil?

Since the tragedy of September 11, your words to the world have worried me. All too often, in the eyes of the world media, you have been our nation's unconditional supporter of President George W. Bush and US policy in the Middle East. Indeed, your Government's foreign policies indicate a preparedness for war. But are we and can we ever really be prepared?

Of course, as a country full of decent compassionate people, we have a duty to stand up for the oppressed, vis-a-vis the Timorese people. But surely we must stand in these uncertain times shoulder to shoulder – not just all the way with the USA – with all countries under the one banner of the UN. But let's not lead with a proverbial glass jaw.

I know that you and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer refused all offers to visit the makeshift morgue set up in Bali – understandably with good cause. But in a way it is a pity, for the sight may have helped you in determining our future path.

To what extent was your Government aware of imminent danger to our citizens prior to October 12? After all, the US was reportedly well aware and it apparently alerted your Government. But your Government did not make my son aware.

Why is your Government torturing certain citizens of our country by allowing armed invasions upon their private properties – all in the name of national security?

After September 11, the US Government opened itself up to examination. The purpose was to determine who, if any, had made mistakes in the lead-up to that dreadful day in New York and Washington. What does your Government propose to do in this regard?

Does your Government intend to rehabilitate all those young children who are injured and psychologically damaged? I was dismayed when one of my son's best friends told me the other day that people told him that it was now four weeks and he should be "getting over it".

To those people, I pose this question: What part of "it" do you expect these kids to get over by now? They have returned from a war zone where people have attempted to murder them by the foulest of means. They have seen their best friends or relatives blown apart and then incinerated. They have been physically injured themselves. I repeat, what part should they be getting over?

As far as I'm aware, neither you nor I nor many people between our age groups have ever been remotely close to war. But it seems to me to be terribly unfair that it is men of our ages that pick the fights and then expect boys of my son's age to conduct the battle. Time and again countries send into battle children whose sense of adventure overshadows and totally clouds any sense of mortality.

I have forgiven those uneducated people who, with fear in their hearts, have murdered my boy for a paltry $10. But I will never forgive educated people who cause the death of another child as a result of belligerent policy.

For the sake of the remainder of my family, for the sake of your children and for the sake of all Australia's children, please think hard before you take us down a track from which we can never back out.
Brian Deegan
Adelaide, SA

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