Biden making a ‘mistake’ pulling out of Afghanistan, retired general says


U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is a “mistake” that could lead to a grim future for the Afghan people, says retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie.

“I respect his authority. He’s a compassionate man, but I think he’s made a mistake,” Leslie said Wednesday in an interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“My daughter fought in Afghanistan. I fought in Afghanistan. If you pull out too soon, until the conditions for an eventual sharing of power between the various warring elements are established, there’s a danger that my grandkids could go to Afghanistan,” Leslie told host Vassy Kapelos.

Biden announced Wednesday that all American troops will be pulled from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted America’s invasion.

NATO also announced Wednesday it would start withdrawing troops from the country by May 1.

“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is degraded … in Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the forever war,” said Biden.

The U.S. president pushed back at critics calling for a conditions-based agreement, telling Americans he has heard no good answers on just what conditions would be necessary to allow for troop withdrawal.

Biden delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw troops at the White House on Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters)

“So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year, two more years, 10 more years? Ten-, 20-, 30-billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent?” asked Biden.

The two-decade war has killed more than 2,400 U.S. troops, wounded more than 20,000 and cost as much as $1 trillion US.

“I’m not trying to second guess the president … but the danger is that resurgence of the Taliban and even more vicious elements is more likely with the Americans and the NATO troops departing then ever before,” said Leslie, who served as deputy commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan.

“The departure of the Americans will probably result in a relatively grim future for the Afghan people,” he added.

Canada joined the Americans in the war in Afghanistan in 2001, but wrapped up its combat role in 2011 before pulling its final troops from the country in 2014. 

In total, 158 Canadian troops died in the war and an estimated 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

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Stacey Abrams Is Making Money Off Election Bill Disinformation



Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) railed against Democrat activist Stacey Abrams for her response to the Georgia legislature’s recent passage of the Election Integrity Act, telling host Matthew Boyle on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday that Abrams was spreading untruths in order “to pad her bank account.”

Abrams excoriated the bill, SB 202, upon its passage Thursday, calling it an act of voter suppression and “Jim Crow 2.0,” but Kemp celebrated the bill as a means of expanding voter access and increasing security in the state’s election processes. The governor accused Abrams, who founded Fair Fight — a voter rights organization and fundraising giant — of intentionally spreading inaccurate information about the bill as a money-making scheme.

“Stacey Abrams is making a lot of money off of this,” Kemp told host Matthew Boyle. “She’s getting billionaires and other people and people that don’t even have a lot of money to give money to this cause, really saying things that are untruthful to pad her bank account.”

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Kemp also said President Joe Biden — who, like Abrams, criticized the bill as “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” — displayed a lack of awareness for the bill’s provisions, arguing Biden has failed to acknowledge strict voting measures in his own home state of Delaware and that Biden’s focus on Georgia’s new law allows the president to shift attention away from the growing southern border immigration crisis.

“I think Joe Biden’s so focused on Georgia’s election law even though he doesn’t know his own laws in his own state are more restricted than we are to take the focus away from the outrageous things that are happening on the border right now with kids being trafficked and people swarming across the border,” Kemp said.

The governor added, “I think that’s probably orchestrated probably not by him but his political minions that are serving in the White House now.”

One provision of the bill specifically gained attention after some voices, including Abrams’, suggested voters waiting in lines at polls were prohibited from having access to free water.

Kemp clarified, “Certainly any voter can bring water. They can bring food. They could order a Domino’s Pizza … while they’re standing in line, but we’re not going to allow a state representative or me as governor that’s on the ballot to go out and hand water, which has actually happened before in Georgia. We’re not going to let third party groups do that whether it’s Stacey Abrams’ group, the NRA [National Rifle Association], or anybody else. That would be inappropriate within 150 feet of a polling location, but you know if you get outside of that boundary, you can hold political signs up and you can do basically whatever you want. This is just making sure voters are not bothered or intimidated while they’re in line and voting.” He added that polling locations will be able to set up self-service water coolers for those waiting in line.

Abrams, dismissing the intent of the bill’s language, had written on social media, “They criminalize free water & food for those in line”:

Kemp described Abrams’ persistent attacks on the bill as a “scam and a racket.”

“And then you got Abrams that is making money on this,” he said. “It’s just a scam and a racket in many ways, and I’m just so thankful that you guys and a lot of other people like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post and the Washington Examiner and others that are simply putting the facts out there because you know even the Atlanta paper is putting editorials out there that are just factually not correct.”

Breitbart News Sunday broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 Sundays from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Write to Ashley Oliver at aoliver@breitbart.com.



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Warrnambool school sorry for making boys stand in apology for ‘behaviours of their gender’


The principal of a Warrnambool secondary school says asking male students to stand “as a symbolic gesture of apology for the behaviours of their gender” at assembly was inappropriate.

Brauer College principal Jane Boyle apologised after conceding a discussion about sexual assault and harassment at a school assembly took an inappropriate turn.

Ms Boyle said in a statement that during a discussion about sexual assault, harassment, and respect for women and girls, boys were asked to stand “as a symbolic gesture of apology for the behaviours of their gender that have hurt or offended girls and women”.

The issue came to light after parents, unhappy with the way the assembly played out, aired their views on social media and contacted the school.

Some parents said their children had found the assembly confronting, while others backed the school’s attempt to address the topics of sexual harassment and assault with students.

It is understood a second assembly was held to address some of the concerns raised after Wednesday’s school gathering.

“Schools play an important role in the promotion of safety and respect of all students, and discussions in schools around respect towards women and girls are a key part of this work,” Ms Boyle said.

“This week, at a whole school assembly, Brauer College discussed the topic of respect for women and the importance of bystander behaviour and speaking up to report incidents of inappropriate behaviour.”

Tuesday’s assembly included the screening of a video message by Brisbane Boys’ College Captain Mason Black about being proactive in stopping incidents of sexual assault and harassment.

“Today, the school is contacting parents to explain the reasons behind the assembly and to ensure that any student who requires support is aware that it is available,” the statement said.

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Changes making it easier for sex assault victims to access their own files pass House of Representatives


Victims of sexual assault in Parliament House will now be able to access case files handed to an internal inquiry, after the government agreed to amend a new law.

Last week in the Senate the government passed exemptions to the Archives and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.

Those exemptions would have stopped anything handed from ministers’ offices and departments to an inquiry on sexual assault and harassment from being made publicly available via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

The inquiry, to be run by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, was proposed after several allegations of toxic behaviour towards women surfaced in Parliament House.

The House of Representatives passed an amendment on Thursday making it clear the exemptions will only apply to documents or submissions that are created specifically for the inquiry, so that staff who do not want to be publicly identified still feel comfortable coming forward.

Earlier this week, independent MP Zali Steggall warned that changes to privacy rules could see victims who took part in the Jenkins inquiry lose access to certain documents.

Brittany Higgins, who alleges she was raped by a colleague in a minister’s office in 2019, told the ABC she was concerned the additional clause would mean previous documents from her case, such as CCTV from outside the office, or a cleaners’ report the morning after her alleged assault, would no longer be available to her.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins speaks.
The amendments mean only certain material will be exempt from FOI laws, like submissions people do not want to be made public.(

AAP: David Moir

)

Ms Steggall proposed the amendment to the bill, which was then worked on by members from the government, the opposition and crossbenchers. It will need to go back to the Senate before being enacted.

Confidence review will be robust, fair

Ms Steggall told the ABC she welcomed the amendment.

“I am confident the independent review will be a robust, thorough and fair process. Particular thanks to Minister [Simon] Birmingham who has been collaborative with me in this process.”

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner told Senate estimates it was crucial to limit the number of people who could access the confidential information provided to her inquiry.

“The collection of the stories absolutely gives us a picture of systemic issues,” Ms Jenkins said.

“It is very much our normal practice …  where we have people who come to us [and] tell us their stories confidentially, [that they] have complete control over what and how they provide that. And we will use that only in a de-identified manner.” 

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Making Sense of Europe’s Military Engagement in Asia – The Diplomat


Europe is becoming increasingly visible in the Asian security scene, evidenced not least by the growing frequency of European naval deployments in the region. More European naval vessels are coming to Asia, a reflection of the stronger connectivity between Asia and Europe – meaning that what happens in Asia affects Europe more directly – and the heightening of European concerns about China over the past few years. This European naval engagement in Asia is marked by two phenomena, which are occurring simultaneously.

First, the U.K. and France, the two European countries that have maintained a consistent presence one way or another in Asian security, are stepping up their engagement. London is set to deploy HMS Queen Elizabeth, a brand new aircraft carrier, to the Indo-Pacific region for an extended period of time and a number of joint training and exercises with the navies in the region are envisaged. The fact that it will be a truly U.K.-U.S. joint carrier strike group (CSG) – joined by a U.S. Navy destroyer and U.S. Marines F-35s jet fighters – makes it even more strategically significant and Beijing more nervous. The level of media interest in this deployment in Japan is already quite high.

In the meantime, though attracting less attention, France has also stepped up its naval engagement, including by sending the nuclear-powered attack submarine FS Émeraude to the Western Pacific. The boat visited Guam, conducted Japan-U.S.-France joint anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training last December, and sailed through the South China Sea, something announced by the French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parley. FS Tonnerre, an amphibious assault vessel, is also coming to Asia as part of the Jeanne D’Arc 2021 mission, during which Japan-France-U.S. amphibious training, among other training and exercises, is planned.

In short, British and French operational deployments of their naval vessels to Asia are becoming more substantial and serious, and the vessels are taking part in more high-end training and exercises in the region.

Second, in addition to the U.K. and France, a remarkable new phenomenon is the growing number of other European countries that are becoming more engaged in Asian security or that of the Indo-Pacific more broadly. Germany came up with new Indo-Pacific policy guidelines in September 2020 and is now planning to send a frigate to Asia later in 2021. The Netherlands also released its Indo-Pacific guideline in November 2020 and the country is set to join the U.K. (U.K.-U.S.) CSG, although this has yet to be finalized.

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While in Northeast Asia, the German frigate is also going to join the international efforts to implement the UN sanctions against North Korea – monitoring “ship-to-ship transfers.” Canada, Australia and New Zealand as well as the U.K. and France have been participating in this mission since 2018.

Tokyo has always welcomed European engagement in Asia’s security. Amid the deterioration of the security environment surrounding the country, Japan needs more partners sharing its fundamental values and interests for the purpose of upholding international principles such as freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts and opposing unfounded claims and the change of the status quo by coercion. In advancing the vision of free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), Tokyo has reached out to Europe in addition to deepening cooperation with Australia, India and others in the region.

In military terms, this means complementing the Japan-U.S. alliance or creating “an additional layer of security above and beyond that provided by the United States,” as succinctly argued by James Rogers. Tokyo has no illusion about the role the U.K., France or other European powers could play in hard security terms in Asia – Europe is by no means expected to replace the role of the United States. Nor will Europe’s naval presence, intermittent at best, change the balance of power in Asia. Moreover, Tokyo will continue to wonder about the sustainability of European engagement in the region, given limited assets and resources.

Yet there are two important roles that Europe could play. First, what is important is Europe’s capability to plug-in to U.S. activities in the region, particularly those in the context of the Japan-U.S. alliance and Japan-U.S.-Australia cooperation. The facts that the British aircraft carrier comes to Asia with the Americans and that Japan-France-U.S. exercises have been taking place can, therefore, be seen as perfectly in line with this “plug-in” concept.

Nonetheless, what Washington expects Europe to do in military terms in Asia has often been ambiguous. While the U.S. has assisted with British and French deployments, there is skepticism in the U.S. about Europe’s military role in Asia. “Better to have Europe play to its strengths in the Euro-Atlantic area rather than to vainly try to project meaningful military power to the Asia-Pacific,” argues Elbridge Colby. The Biden administration needs to come up with a clear idea as to what military role it expects Europe to play in Asia.

Second, even short of affecting the military balance in the region, European naval deployments could still send a strong strategic message to Beijing and Europe seems more willing to do this. Beijing does not like to see more countries residing outside the region getting involved in Asia, including the South China Sea.

Yet, Tokyo faces three major challenges before it can make full use of Europe’s military engagement in Asia. First, Japan does not seem to have a coherent strategy regarding its security and defense cooperation with Europe. The short-, medium- and long-term goals Tokyo wants to achieve and the assets and resources it could allocate to cooperation with Europe remain unclear. As a result of this lack of strategy, Tokyo tends to be reactive – more or less responding to what the U.K. or France propose – rather than putting forward its own initiatives, sometimes leaving the British and French counterparts wondering what Japan wants to do.

Second, related to the above, the direction of Japan’s security and defense policy does not seem to be clear either. While Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has expressed his commitment to strengthen the alliance with the U.S., his stance vis-à-vis other security relationships, including those with Europe, has yet to be fully known. The lack of strong political leadership in this regard affects the scale and substance of join training and exercises with Europe.

Third, Tokyo needs to avoid to be seen as a demandeur asking European engagement in Asia. The other side of the same coin is Japan’s engagement in areas where Europe has more immediate interest, including Europe itself and its neighboring areas like Africa and the Western Balkans. Helping others is the surest way to get help when in need.

TSURUOKA Michito is an associate professor at Keio University, Japan.



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Streaming highlights March 19-25: Making Their Mark, Ghost Of The Mountain & Persona




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Wayne Carey analyses the chances of Collingwood Magpies making finals footy and what it means for coach Nathan Buckley


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The forward-line also remains a concern. Mason Cox has grown on me. There’s a role there for him, providing a target and a level of predictability for those around him. But, he’ll never be a Tom Lynch, Tom Hawkins or Jeremy Cameron.

If they’re relying on Cox as their key target – particularly with De Goey spending more time in the midfield – then I think the Pies are in trouble.

Still it’s not personnel that concerns me the most. This group is still talented enough to challenge the best teams, but not the way they’ve been playing recently.

In the final year of his contract, ‘Bucks’ has dealt with this type of pressure before.

Heading into 2018, he probably faced more scrutiny than anyone in the history of the game. A champion of the biggest club in the land, in the era of social media and saturation coverage.

At that stage, the knock on the Pies was ball movement. It was often slow and easy to shut down off half-back and they were beaten in their opening two games.

Barometer: The Pies won five of the six matches in which Jordan De Goey kicked at least one goal in 2020.Credit:Getty Images

It wasn’t until a win on the road against Adelaide in round four that you could really tell what they were trying to do with ball in hand. There was dash and daring and control all at the same time.

‘Bucks’ seemed to change the sentiment around Collingwood too, from a team most opposition supporters despised to one many admired.

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It was a happy place to be, and you could tell he’d developed a deep connection with his players. As we know they rode that momentum within a kick of a premiership.

Despite only narrowly losing the preliminary final to GWS in 2019, a match they went in red hot favourites, by then there were already some worrying signs. In the end that scoreline probably flattered them.

Leading into that finals series the Pies biggest problem was again ball movement, and in turn the ability to kick goals. Albeit in the wet, they simply couldn’t score against the Giants until they threw caution to the wind and their opponents froze a little.

Last year, a trademark, backs-to-the-wall elimination final win over West Coast papered over the same cracks. Either the Pies slipped into some bad habits, or the opposition had worked them out. We all understand that the opposition doesn’t just let you play the way you want to play.

But again last year the Pies were the lowest scoring team to play finals by some margin.

Jeremy Howe, with his intercept play and elite kicking should help them in transition and, who knows, so too might the man-on-the-mark rule. So often that corridor kick is blocked, and the Pies have been forced down the line. More than many other teams the new rule might help them.

But that remains to be seen.

Against Richmond in the pre-season series there were some familiar problems. They managed only three goals to half-time, and they only really looked dangerous once the Tigers had taken their foot off the pedal.

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It’s why I have no problem with De Goey spending more time in the midfield.

In an ideal world he probably spends more time forward, but if the ball movement is what it has been then it wouldn’t matter if Royce Hart, Jonathan Brown and Tony Lockett were in that forward line.

With poor ball movement De Goey is wasted inside 50, so the Pies are right to inject him into the centre square more often.

Overall, Collingwood is in danger of entering footy’s no-man’s land: enough top-end talent that they’ll never struggle but perhaps not enough to overcome those ball movement deficiencies.

The greatest risk is to take no risk at all.

For Buckley, finals footy is a must to secure his future because ultimately the buck does stop with him.

Can the Pies be brave enough to push more players forward of the ball in a bid to score more efficiently and, clearly by doing so, be more vulnerable defensively? In round one last year they smashed the Dogs, with that more daring style of footy.

On pre-season form, Luke Beveridge’s men should turn the tables but the Magpies have proved people wrong before. Can they do it again?

Carey’s tip: Bulldogs by 18 points. Click here for round one teams and expert tips.

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Making Their Mark, Amazon’s AFL documentary, offers genuine insight into the faults and fears of modern professional athletes


The first thing we learn is that AFL players and coaches like to say f***. A lot.

It won’t take you long into the first episode of Amazon’s new seven-part fly-on-the-wall AFL documentary, titled Making Their Mark, to fill up your daily quota of f-bombs.

It’s a common trait of this booming genre of sports doco, partially because producers identify that some colourful language is an easy way to sell the uncensored, gritty vibe they are looking for, and partially just because people at footy clubs swear a bit.

But this series, unlike many of its heavily stage-managed and conspicuously dramatised contemporaries, succeeds in going beyond that surface level ruggedness. There is genuine insight to be taken from Making Their Mark.

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The glimpses inside the day-to-day life of a professional football club are alluring, and there’s no doubt some of the show’s best scenes are set inside team meetings and half-time rallies, but what quickly becomes clear is that for these young men and their families, there is more to the game than the game itself.

Making Their Mark gets its depth from the talent it follows. It’s a credit to the series’ creators that each of its subjects is different from the other, but all are facing a kind of shared adversity through their own individual lenses.

If you’ve read anything about Making Their Mark to this point, it has likely been about GWS captain Stephen Coniglio, one of the four players the series followed throughout the 2020 season along with Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew and Richmond leaders Damien Hardwick, Peggy O’Neal and Brendan Gale.

Coniglio’s story is one of a man thrust into leadership before his time, one still struggling to find himself in a role that demands complete self-assuredness and honesty. Coniglio spends the season fighting against the rising tide of pressure before he breaks and is unceremoniously dropped from the team by coach Leon Cameron.

Stephen Coniglio was dropped by GWS midway through the 2020 season.(

Supplied: Amazon Prime

)

Coniglio is the youngest of the show’s focal points, and his fall hits the hardest. At 26 years old during the 2020 season, it quickly becomes clear he lacks the support network at the club to flourish as a rookie leader, and his and the team’s form suffers for it.

But it’s also worth noting Coniglio’s response to the news of his omission. He is heartbroken, obviously, and speaks honestly about feelings of embarrassment and of having let the team down. But the only time he cries on camera after being dropped is when a producer informs him teammate and friend Heath Shaw had spoken to Cameron in support of Coniglio, standing up for the captain to the coach.

It’s a touching and telling moment, but it’s also the clearest demonstration of Making Their Mark’s strongest theme — connection.

It’s what Coniglio was trying to achieve with his misguided Leap of Faith ritual at the start of the season. It’s why Dew spent 18 hours on an exercise bike alongside injured rookie Matt Rowell as they rode up a virtual Mt Everest. It’s what the West Coast Eagles’ prayer group was trying to cultivate in the moments before each game.

The Sloanes and ‘positive grieving’

Rory Sloane, who is often held up in the series as the antitheses of Coniglio — an experienced, confident leader of men whose character and tenacity leads a young team to gradual improvement — joins his wife Belinda in speaking honestly about their son Leo, who was stillborn in 2018.

The Sloanes have been open about their loss in the past, but Rory’s reflection on how he learned to “grieve in a positive way” is a true highlight of the series.

Rory Sloane holds his son, who is wearing an Adelaide jersey, while speaking to his wife Belinda
Rory and Belinda Sloane, here with son Sonny, spoke openly about their stillborn son Leo.(

Supplied: Amazon Prime

)

Rory and Belinda are still connected to Leo, in ways both tangible and not, and it’s impossible to not be inspired listening to them speak about turning their tragedy into hope and eventually light. On a much smaller scale, it’s the same ethos Rory brings through the doors at Adelaide every day, and it’s why he’s such an accomplished leader and impressive person. 

Making Their Mark also suggests pretty strongly that sense of connection is what led Richmond to the 2020 premiership.

Throughout the Tigers’ dynasty, the club’s camaraderie and togetherness has often been held up as a factor as important to its success as talent and tactics. This series gives us the clearest look yet at what that actually means.

It’s an incomplete picture, granted, but the pieces are still there. It starts at training, where Hardwick is seen forcefully instructing his players to smile more, and extends to mid-week team meetings, where the question-and-answer between coach and players flows far more naturally than at any other club the show portrays.

Then it manifests on game day, where the extent of Hardwick’s instructions rarely go beyond “play a Richmond style of game” and “do it for the man in that jumper, and in the jumper beside you”. Making Their Mark is rarely concerned with the tactical fluctuations that make teams great: here, it’s all about the people and the bond they share.

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Facing footy without family

Carlton’s Eddie Betts becomes an interesting case study within that. Here’s a player of whom so much is expected, on the field but especially off it, as a regular victim of and tireless warrior against racism.

At the end of the series, after a disappointing year of injuries and fluctuating form, Betts crystallises his internal dilemmas in his exit meeting with Carlton’s coaches. He admits to suffering a crisis of confidence, of trying to be too much for too many people and of not taking the time to be open and honest about himself and his own personal battles.

Tellingly, he says the only person he feels he can open up to is his wife. Is it any surprise that Betts’s form suffered during the months he was stuck in a Gold Coast hub, miles away from his family, forced to face his many obstacles alone?

The early episodes show Betts as lively as we would expect, playing with his kids and stressing as his young daughter climbs higher on a piece of playground equipment than self-confessed “Safety Dad” feels comfortable with. The Betts at the end of the series, who needs a moment to compose himself in a hallway before fronting up to coach David Teague, feels like a completely different person.

Eddie Betts sits on the ground and hugs three of his small children. Everyone is very happy
Eddie Betts struggled while away from his family in 2020.(

Supplied: Amazon Prime

)

It’s not hard to imagine just how many players suffered in the same way in 2020, and while the sections that centre on the Eagles and Nic Naitanui don’t dwell on the family aspect too much — by way of Naitanui being one of the few senior Eagles not to be married with children — it’s the subtext of the team’s trials and tribulations in their own Gold Coast hub.

As West Coast bowed out of finals early and none of the other featured teams even qualified, the last episode of the series becomes a celebration of Richmond, but it’s still those same themes of unity and love and care that dominate.

Sure, Dustin Martin is a freak of nature, but it’s the shots of him, Hardwick and Trent Cotchin joking on the Gabba the day before the grand final that resonate more than watching those four incredible goals yet again.

Above all, Making Their Mark is about relationships. Between friends, family, bosses, colleagues and contemporaries. How they can inspire and how they can cripple, but how they are more essential in modern sport and life than ever.

We already knew that footy players swear. The biggest thing we learned from this documentary is that their most basic need is the same as ours — love.

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Four-sided friendship is history in the making


But events moved so fast over the intervening two years that that not only did the Quad leaders meet by video link on Saturday, they also announced an immediate initiative to provide an extra 1 billion doses of COVID vaccine to needy nations and a four-part, longer-term work agenda. The Quad, said Modi, had “come of age – it will now remain an important pillar of stability in the region.”

Only one man could have achieved this transformation of the geopolitics of the Indopacific region, from ocean foam to a Coalition spanning two oceans in two years. Xi Jinping, China’s dictator.

“They are only there because of China,” says the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s director, Peter Jennings. “Well done, Beijing.”

Illustration: Andrew Dyson.Credit:The Age

The vaccines outcome was “a stunning coup” in the words of Mike Green, an American Asia expert who served in the George W. Bush White House. Supplying an extra billion doses for nations of South-East Asia by the end of 2022 addresses their most urgent need. It gives the Quad a constructive first mission. And it pits the group against China in a game of vaccine geopolitics.

For the US, this is a big change from Trump’s “America First” mantra. “If we have to compete, at least millions of Asians and others in developing nations will benefit from it,” former US diplomat Bob Manning reflected.

The summit, says Mike Green, “should also silence the many critics of this grouping of countries”.

Green explains in the journal Foreign Policy that it had long been “en vogue for so-called realists to pooh-pooh the Quad as ideologically driven and overly provocative towards China. But then Chinese President Xi Jinping began bullying everyone.“

“With Washington’s credibility waning and its options limited, the Biden team just played its one high-value card to the greatest possible effect.”

So what next? The Australian military strategist Hugh White, one of the sceptics who’d thought the Quad would come to naught, concedes that he was wrong: “I don’t think you can call the first summit an insignificant event.”

However: “We are right to see China as a risk to Australia diplomatically and even strategically. So great idea, guys, but it’s not going to work.” For two main reasons.

First, because he thinks it’s too late. “This sounds like melodrama, but the South China Sea has been the Berlin of this new cold war,” he tells me. “The Soviets started to press the West at Berlin, and the West pressed back. In the end, the West convinced the Soviets they were willing to fight a nuclear war to stop them taking Berlin.“

But when Beijing started grabbing South China Sea territories from its neighbours starting with the Philippines, the US and its allies let them: “The Philippines said, do you mind if we borrow the Seventh Fleet for the weekend, and the US said ‘no’. China won”.

So Berlin has already been taken in the contemporary cold war? “They have taken a few suburbs at any rate,” says White.

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Second, White argues that the Quad nations lack the will needed to halt China’s next steps. “Their joint statement showed just how nervous they were about declaring their purpose – the word China wasn’t mentioned.

“I’m pessimistic because what’s required will be very much like what was used to contain the Soviet Union. There has to be a very clear conviction to make it clear to Beijing that an attempt to change the status quo will be met with force.“

The Quad nations are too ambivalent, says White: “We all want to contain China, but none of us want to damage our relationship with China”, hoping for more trade and investment with Beijing as well as co-operation on climate change and other matters.

But just as the sceptics wrote off the Quad prematurely in the past, might they be repeating their mistake? China’s aggression forged the Quad. Further aggression from Xi could harden the Quad. History is in the making.

Peter Hartcher is international editor.

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Hypocritical PM is making a mockery of due process


Let’s face it, few believe that the PM and A-G haven’t read, or don’t know the content of, the dossier relating to the alleged rape in 1988. Their lack of curiosity is implausible. – Bruce Guthrie, Cowra

Our Prime Minister refers to “the mob”. Does he not know that the mob he refers to are the people of Australia? It is we, the people of Australia, who employ him and his fellow parliamentarians. – Michelle McDonald, Lilyfield

Broken system is failing to deliver justice

Amanda Vanstone (“Political witch-hunt is not justice”, March 8) says the criminal justice system “is being destroyed”. She says it’s ironic that “people saying they want justice are, in fact, undermining the judicial system”. Rather, I’d say instead there is an irony in Vanstone’s acknowledgement that the system is in fact broken, when she noted that as a sexual assault victim “your past, your use of alcohol, drugs and psychiatrists are all paraded out in court.” Why should a victim’s past with regards to any of these have any relevance aside from on the dates of assault, where they may reflect a victim having a changed mental state to the point of an inability to consent. After all, as Vanstone would have us remember, “evidence, not opinion” is what enables the administration of justice. To Vanstone I say: We need to rebuild the system, not maintain a system that is failing its duty to administer true justice. – Amelia Pitney, Pymble

The rules Vanstone holds dear have been subjected to amendments to embrace changes in, amongst other things, societal conditions. The greatest of these is the emergence of women. Addressing the allegations of a now dead woman, Vanstone argues that, “we’ve come very close to treating allegations as facts, to allow managed public opinion to take the place of a fair trial in court … people saying they want justice are in fact undermining the judicial system.” Or, Ms Vanstone, are they are heralding a new era of law where the quiet voice is heard over the clamouring of a male-dominated legal system and Parliament? – Annette Johnson, Brighton Le Sands

I wonder whether Vanstone would be so vocal in defence if the Attorney-General was a Labor minister. The rest of us just want to be assured that Porter is fit to hold high office. – Susan Connelly, Lakemba

There is a “nasty smell of politics” surrounding the allegations against Porter and the proposed independent inquiry, but not quite as Vanstone means. Under the guise of defending justice and “a system of rules”, Vanstone, as usual, showcases her deep political bias by intimating that Porter’s accuser would have been an unreliable witness in court. To add to this hurtful, unpleasant tone, she further suggests that the woman in question may have committed suicide because “she just couldn’t face the rigours of a criminal trial”. Not only is a nasty smell apparent in Vanstone’s article, it also leaves one with very bad taste! – Ross A Butler, Rodd Point

Wow, Leunig (Letters, March 8)! That is a vitriolic and extreme reaction to the media finally giving some time and space to women’s and girls’ voices and experiences. I guess it is what we should expect from rocking the boat. Speak a little louder, sisters! – Fiona Cameron, Summer Hill

If the identity of the alleged rapist of the now deceased South Australian woman was Joe Blow from Bondi Junction, we would be none the wiser that this sad tale might have ever happened. Leunig and Vanstone are correct that this unprecedented news event is all about Christian Porter – and not the poor, unfortunate victim of an alleged crime, or justice for her. – Peter Bower, Naremburn

Like Susan Newman (Letters, March 8), I too am so horrified I must speak out. My horror, however, is directed at the attitudes espoused by Ms Newman; attitudes which perpetuate the myth that women must act as guardians to protect men from their sexual urges. Where is the plea to young men to “stand up for yourselves” and not drink to excess? Where is the exhortation that a woman, drunk or sober, should not be assaulted? Attitudes such as Ms Newman’s do nothing to help eradicate our society’s rape culture, which suggests that men are powerless against their own base inclinations. – Toni Fatherley, Taree

Susan Newman (Letters, March 8), surely the aim is that women have the same right as men to make bad decisions without being assaulted? – Phil Armour, Yass

Gamblers’ digital wallet an empty threat

The lobby group representing clubs and hotels is being disingenuous in its push for a digital wallet (“Clubs dig for digital wallet as dirty cash is exposed”, March 8), knowing full well that voluntary use of a digital wallet will address neither money laundering nor problem gambling. I think it’s a national disgrace, more so that NSW should be second only to Nevada as the state with the most poker machines in the world. – Jack Dikian, Mosman

The NSW Liquor & Gambling Authority’s central monitoring of the state’s poker machines has unsurprisingly revealed substantial amounts of suspicious criminal activity: aka money laundering. But what have the Coalition government, Labor and the liquor and gambling authority ever seriously done about these reports? Digital wallets? Seriously? With both major parties reliant on federal and/or state political donations from the powerful alcohol/gambling lobby and a well-worn revolving door between political/industry jobs, the spectre of regulatory capture and possible systemic corruption looms ominously upon the horizon. – Tony Brown, Newcastle

Build for all

Meriton’s development Pagewood Green envisages 4000 units, of which just 45 are dedicated to affordable housing (“Next-door council objects to impact of Triguboff towers”, March 8). Outrageous! Development approval should be dependent on any residential plan of more than 20 units allocating one in every 20 for social use. – Sarah Seldon, Northbridge

Status quo must go

Jan Kent opines (Letters, March 8) that the day of reckoning approaches “to hold them all to account at the ballot box”. If only that were true. The Liberal/National Coalition government has ascended to the summit of venality previously occupied by the former Labor government. At neither state nor federal levels are there any competent, or at least viable, alternatives. The Labor-Liberal/Coalition flip-flop is hopeless and no longer serves us well. Perhaps what is needed is a major recalibration of the whole process. New Zealand has shown that this is possible. – Graham Cochrane, Balmain

It’s a super rort

As correspondent Barry O’Connell points out; superannuation is a long-term plan (Letters, March 8). There is no instant gratification. I am sure that the wealthy politicians who are campaigning for workers to access their super savings now are au fait with all the tax deductibility advantages. These benefits are available to everyone in the know or who will be in a situation to have extra funds to utilise the benefit. Superannuation and all its perks definitely benefit those with money. – Bernadette Scadden, Earlwood

Very old school ties

Returning to the “Class of 1980” (Letters, March 8). When, in 1981, I arrived in Australia from Scotland to take up a post as a junior doctor in the then new Westmead Hospital, some of my Australian colleagues were particularly interested in where I lived, what sort of car I drove and where I had gone to school. I failed the first two questions; I lived in Parramatta and I drove a $1000 second-hand Valiant. On the subject of my education, however, I did somewhat better. I was able to tell them I went to Inverness Royal Academy (founded by royal charter in 1792). As far as my medical education was concerned, they learnt that I went to the University of Aberdeen, which had been teaching medicine since its foundation in 1494. We never discussed that again. – David MacKintosh, Berkeley Vale

Helen Wright (Letters, March 8), I remember before 1960 applying for a position as an articled clerk with a small city law firm. I, too, was asked “where did you go to school?” . I later found out the real reason for this question. If I went to a public school, it was a good bet I was not of a certain religious faith. I went to a public school and got the position. – Geoffrey Williamson, Woollahra

Wright’s story reminded me of my introduction to my chosen career. In 1971, at the Melbourne University School of Architecture, I was one of the 10 young women out of 100 freshers being welcomed into the course with a speech by the Dean. His advice for progressing through the profession? “Marry the boss’ daughter.” Almost needless to say that I eventually hit the glass ceiling. – Phyllis Agam, Vincentia

Back in the 1950’s, having left the great but now closed North Sydney Technical High School, all I wanted to be was a jackeroo. I door-knocked at all of the great traditional pastoral companies – Dalgety, AML & F, Winchombe Carson, Pitt Sons, Country Producers – and the first question I was asked at every interview was, “which school did you go to?“. My public school response resulted in a hasty exit and disillusionment as to why this precluded me from employment in my chosen career. By other means I went on to have a successful career in the wool industry. It is interesting to note that over the decades, all of those great pastoral company names have fallen by the wayside. – Tony Blake, Gunnedah

Gus Plater’s lament about the sole public school representative in a team of aspiring lawyers (Letters, March 6-7) caused me to reflect on the observation of a university vice-chancellor some 36 years ago: “The person on either side of you will not be here in three years.” Those words were truly prophetic and from observation, those two-thirds were overwhelmingly from private schools.
Sometimes, the universe demonstrates a little balance. – Wayne Eade, Mudgee

Pay gap nothing new

I am 84 years old and am shocked , but not surprised, to read that nothing has changed since I was a young high school teacher 60 years ago (“Pay equity ‘fatigue’ stalling pace of change”, March 8). I realised then that the young men, with whom I had studied and who had not received higher grades, were receiving considerably higher wages. Surely it is time for this to be addressed in all sectors. – Susie Klein, Bellevue Hill

Say what?

Regarding being corrected on pronunciation, many years ago a senior manager in the CBA put me right when I said that a person was being “obstropoulos”. (Wasn’t that Greek for angry? Apparently not.) He said “you mean obstreperous?“. I appreciated his correcting me for my ignorance. And have never forgotten it. – Stewart Copper, Maroubra

Losing streak

So far this year, an under-strength India beat us in the Test match series, New Zealand beat us in the netball and T20, and the Waratahs haven’t won a game. I can’t see any relief in the coming months as I follow Manly in the NRL. – John Truman, St Leonards

Write priority

International Women’s Day, and letters from women outnumber those from men by 23 to 7 (Letters, March 8). Is this a record? Also, 17 of the 30 are about men behaving badly. Is this also a record? I’m asking for a friend. – Steve Cornelius, Brookvale

Real data, fake news

I’m very disappointed by the latest COVID-19 vaccination data (“The first real-world data for COVID vaccines is in – and it’s really good news”, smh.com.au, March 7). It seems that in spite of what I read on Facebook, I won’t be transmuting into a lizard overlord after all. – Glenn Wood, Bardon (QLD)

The digital view

Online comment from the story that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Push for federal budget to have a female focus
From Jamieson Lee: I’m university educated with two young kids (4 and 2). I’ve started my own business like a lot of women I know because it’s impossible to get a decent part-time job (paying more than $20 an hour) that fits in with family commitments. The system doesn’t support women so we are creating our own

  • To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email letters@smh.com.au. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.

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