With the revanchist Trump, and Obama and Clinton daily fanning war drums against Russia and China, and continuous US drone assassinations, Australia has to move to an independent and peaceful foreign and defence policy.
See the IPAN resolutions below and my arguments focus on :
Close Pine Gap and give notice of closure of all US joint-facilities. OK the US moves our bases. The aim is a limiting of US first strike capacity; a limit on US drone assassinations (see below); a limit on space warfare with the closure of the most frightening of all the bases, North West Cape that is at the cutting edge of warfare — in space; and all this will boost nuclear disarmament.
Professor Des Ball “A senior strategic analyst has called for the Federal Government to rethink the Pine Gap communications facility, saying some of its work now is “ethically unacceptable”.
Des Ball played a key role warning against limited nuclear war and against US bases
“Professor Tanter warns Australia could become enmeshed in anti-satellite warfare. If there was a war between US and China over the South China Sea and US could not bring a fleet near the coast any more, “the first thing they want to do is blind other side’s satellites”.
We are providing the US with extra capacity to make that happen, says Prof Tanter.
“Do we really want to be implicated in that?”
More from Richard Tanter 2017
Paul Keating slams ALP Richard Marles on South-China Paul Keating has slammed Labor defence spokesman Richard Marles for saying that the government must authorise the military to determine freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to defend Australia’s interest and send a clear message to China. The former prime minister has also expressed concern that Labor is too compliant in its attitude towards US naval interests in the Pacific rather than adopting a more independent outlook that better balanced strategic and economic priorities.
“We always need to be ready to tell the Chinese, or the Americans, that a particular approach or action is not in Australia’s interests and that we won’t go along. That is, the assertion of our own interests.” Mr Keating said a “dangerous view seems to be coalescing that somehow a confrontation with China is looming and our problems all revolve around the South China Sea. They simply don’t”.
sea http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/paul-keating-lets-fly-at-labor-over-south-china-sea/news-story/f64662b0c95dc3e98f748644cc109e99 http://www.watoday.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-slams-labor-call-to-challenge-chinas-artificial-islands-20161011-grzxi4.html?deviceType=text
Stop Australian action in the South China Sea: See Philippines’ President and Defence chief tells US military to put on hold joint patrols, naval exercises http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-08/philippines-tells-us-no-joint-patrols-in-south-china-sea/7914852 IPAN comment: http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/pr-article/alp-falls-into-the-all-the-way-with-obama-trap/
Here is a report on the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea that prepares the way for war. Making a mockery of international law. Read here
Move Australia to “Armed Neutrality”
Establish a Peace Department;
Civil Defence infrastructure investment e.g. underground bunkers for Australian cities and areas that are nuclear targets; Pine Gap ‘spy base’ makes Australia a target. http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/pine-gap-spy-base-makes-australia-a-target-researcher-claims/news-story/c0253ee7e395e21900f53f8802e96c96
and funding for emergency war hospital care;
Phase out US Marines “On the Rotation of 2,500 US marines” http://usba.se/#/6/10/2016/78adc1115af0056b8c736ad6f761cf28
US Pacific Fleet and US air-force in Darwin and NT and war exercises scaled back and phased out;
Defund expensive overseas war purchases like the F35 and boost Australian-made Defence capabilities;
…as the US Empire declines https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/why-the-new-silk-roads-terrify-washington/
Campaigns are being developed from workshops of strong networks of peace groups – a few are referenced below.
New Pics of CIA Spy Base at Pine Gap, Australia
February 28, 2016 Rare glimpse at the secrets of Australia’s Pine Gap spy base
a. Professor Richard Tanter interviewed on Radio 3CR http://www.3cr.org.au/radioactive/episode-201602131000/pine-gap-investigation-i
More Radioactive reporting on Radio 3CR on Pine Gap
Radio 3CR recorded and interviewed: earlier
‘Today we will present part three of a recorded program from the IPAN Public Forum held at the Trades Hall Chambers on Wednesday 14 September 2016.
The Forum was organised by a coalition of several peace, anti-war and community groups. CICD is an affiliate of IPAN.’
react-text: 664 http://www.3cr.org.au/alternativenews
Please search through ClosePineGap website for reports
Here is the IPAN website http://www.ipan.org.au
Background from Richard Tanter on ABC radio LNL on Pine Gap
On Pine Gap: Nautilus Institute explores Alice Springs joint defence facility read here http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/inventions/pine-gap-nautilus-institute-explores-alice-springs-joint-defence-facility/news-story/4cb8906c915e2df71b61c0c24babc1c9
Denis Doherty Keep Space for Peace:at Pine Gap
b. What Really Happens at Pine Gap
“First, though, Pine Gap. It’s still run by the CIA, with 25-year agency veteran Tim Howell the current station chief. Every bit of information it collects is shared with the Australians there under deputy director Gary Thorpe, an IT specialist from the Australian Signals Directorate.”…
Pine Gap 2006 was “fundamentally transformed” into a “regional gateway” that blends information collected by ground-based electronic systems, satellites, aircraft and drones, interrogation reports, and human intelligence into product “accessible to war-fighters in real-time”.
Deeper integration with US operations in the Middle East is matched by closer involvement in the Western Pacific than at any time since pulling out of Vietnam, White told me. In the past five years we have planned for conflict in Korea, assigned an Australian general as deputy commander of US land forces in the Pacific, attached a frigate to US naval forces in Japan during a flare-up in the Senkaku islands dispute, and hosted a US marine task force in Darwin.
“These are terribly significant strategic steps that have been taken with very little strategic analysis, certainly with no public discussion, but I strongly suspect with very little serious analysis within government either,” White said. “We’re sliding into situations where we are sending to the United States through these activities a message that we are willing to support them in military operations in Asia against China, and I don’t think we are.
“My worry is not that we’ll end up accidentally finding ourselves sliding into a commitment to go to war with China.
Ian Curr: In defence of Australia? https://www.facebook.com/notes/ian-curr/in-defence-of-australia/670300473135361?notif_t=like_tagged¬if_id=1476221480451664
Drone attack ethically unacceptable
Here is a report from RedFlag, an activist on the Bus to Pine Gap
c. Here is a good report from CPA M-L http://www.cpaml.org/posting1.php?id=372
A brief presentation was made on behalf of IPAN’s national co-ordinating committee outlining a broad vision for an Independent and Peaceful Australia:(Extracts )
“We believe a people’s vision for an independent and peaceful Australia is the only viable and practical alternative to the present subservience and integration into US militarism.
“What would an independent and peaceful Australian foreign policy look like? We hope some of these points will inspire positive and unifying discussion and broadening the campaign for peace and independence.
1. Treaty with Australia’s First Nation People
2. Establish independent working relationships with countries, especially in our region, based on mutual respect, equality and national sovereignty.
Promote peaceful resolutions of conflict between countries through negotiations and diplomacy, see IPAN’s Statement on the South China Sea Territorial Dispute.
3. Extend aid programs in the region, including countries affected by devastations of climate change and military conflicts.
4. Assert our independence and sovreignty in our relationship with the US, and any other big power. The US is presently the most aggressive war-driven armed to the teeth power in the world and the main instigator of wars around the world.
5. Ensure the military and economic interests of big powers and multinational corporations do not override the welfare, safety and security of the Australian people and the environment;
6. Bring home Australian military forces from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and other parts of the world immediately (eg Philippines, Japan);
7. Remove foreign military bases and troops from Australia and withdraw from the US-Australia Alliance to secure genuine and lasting independence from big power dominance and our involvement in foreign wars;
8. Internationally, vigorously promote the banning and destruction of all nuclear weapons and stop the arms race;
9. The savings made from current expenditure on foreign wars and interoperability with the US global war machine will be re-directed to social and community services – more hospitals, doctors, nurses, teachers, schools, support for struggling farmers, people on disability, single parents and unemployment pensions, protection for the environment, and more;
10. Develop Australia’s self-reliant, self-defence industries and assert our independence from the US military apparatus. End military interoperability and integration into the US war machine. The technology presently used for offensive and aggressive warfare should be re-directed towards Australia’s self-defence and improving and securing people’s lives and the environment. Re-tooled, re-engineered and re-designed local manufacturing industries will provide jobs for workers in industries that build security and peace, not the profits of war.
11. Restructure armed forces for self-defence of Australia and civil emergencies;
12. Declare Australia an independent and peaceful country;
13. Close all refugee detention camps and implement efficient and speedy processing of asylum seekers;
14. Internationally, campaign to end wars and poverty and uphold self-determination and sovreignty of countries;
15. An independent foreign policy of Australia would embrace economic sovereignty, and fair and equal policies and trade between countries rather than the neo-liberal corporate policies”;
Each session was followed by brief questions to the panel members before the conference broke up into four workshops to pinpoint suggested actions and demands for the year ahead. The workshops considered four key areas;
• Nuclear weapons and Australia
• Foreign troops off Australian land – Close US bases
• Armed Neutrality – strategy for independence and peace?
• Building a broad movement for peace, justice and independence
At least a dozen or more suggestions were put forward from the workshops and these will be prioritised by the IPAN National Committee and circulated to the various affiliates for comment.
Greens Senator Ludlam and Senator Lee Rhiannon, the Federal Greens Senator for NSW made interesting speeches at the IPAN conference and here outside of Pine Gap
Scott Ludlam http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2016/10/01/greens-senator-investigate-those-who-led-us-into-the-iraq-war/
From Green Left Weekly peace activists at Pine Gap: https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/peace-activists-converge-close-pine-gap
d. Ian Curr’s good story on ‘Pine Gap 50 Years War’ telling of 3 peace protesters lamenting war at Pine Gap arrested but with the magistrate dismissing charges on a process point – did not get Senator Brandis AG authorization and we wait for this.
See as well ABC report on the protesters freed : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-29/pine-gap-protesters-freed-after-military-facility-break-in/7890734?site=darwin&program=
Tales of 2016 Pine Gap and songs of peace actions ‘swords into ploughshares.’ See here
Andy plays Ryan Harvey’s Its Bigger than a War:
It’s bigger than a war it’s the day to day
Capitalism’s price to pay
It’s a system based on murder and the packaging of fear
The swallowing of lies and the cranking of the gears
Andy Paine’s Insider Interview with the Pilgrims
Peace Pilgrims https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B34uy5F6ABDOU2d5SjZCNW8xWFU/view
Peace Pilgrim Margaret Pistorius https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh2MgKaCvFo
AT DAWN “PEACE PILGRIMS” ENTERED PINE GAP TO LAMENT THE HUMAN COST OF WAR
Posted by Cairns Peace by Peace | Sep 29, 2016 |
Margaret Pestorius with her viola. Image: Adam Ginger. Longtime Catholic, social worker and peace advocate Margaret Pestorius says ‘I am taking my viola to Pine Gap to play a song of lament for the dead of war. The viola is the perfect instrument for lamentation because it sings in the range of the human voice. I’ll play a lament with a young musician, guitarist Franz Dowling, who holds hope for the future.’
Please note that the dismissal of the charges is likely to be appealed in the Supreme Court in Darwin. Further support can be offered at https://www.gofundme.com/closepg
Money donated at this point will go to the Pilgrims for legal costs.
Please join peace actions http://peace-waca.nationbuilder.com
e. An Alice Springs News report of one interesting IPAN Conference speech on Pine Gap Peace protests by lawyer RUSSELL GOLDFLAM. It is good that the politics of defending peace protesters is discussed, as here in “The Pine Gap 4 won a spectacular but incomplete legal victory”.
Read here “ What have we learnt from past campaigns? Well, the biggest lesson, the hardest lesson, the elephant in the room really, is that we are now much further from closing Pine Gap than we were, or at least we thought we were, 30 years ago. Pine Gap is more entrenched, more embedded, more entangled, more powerful than ever. Our campaigns, colourful, imaginative, bold and passionate though they have been, have not yet succeeded. They have not galvanised public opinion, like the Save the Franklin campaign did in 1983, or like the asylum seekers and refugee support campaigns are doing now.
A second lesson is that the strength of the Australian anti-bases movement rises and falls on the fickle and capricious currents of global events: in 1988, the movement was riding high: 700 people had flocked to Alice Springs for the protests the previous year. Back then the Alice Springs Peace Group regularly attracted a crowd of 300 or 400 locals to a demo. Palm Sunday peace rallies in the big cities drew tens, even hundreds of thousands. A year later, the movement had virtually collapsed, along with the Berlin Wall and the fizzling out of the Cold War. Problem solved, many progressive Australians believed. Let’s move on.
The first Gulf War saw a mild revival, but then, in the aftermath of September 11, a flurry of radical anti-terrorism legislation was passed, the authorities sent us all fridge magnets with the alert but not alarmed number to call, and the peace movement was again pushed to the edges.
During the mass protests in the ’80s when there were over a hundred of us at a time on the wrong side of the fence, we must have posed a real threat to the security of the base, but we were all only ever charged with the minor offence of trespass. Things changed after September 11 2001.
In 2005, Jim Dowling, Adele Goldie, Bryan Law and Donna Mulhearn, with their conspicuous white overalls, conducted their ‘Citizens Inspection’ of Pine Gap. Although they didn’t pose a threat to the security of the base, they got charged with far more serious offences, the very first time the Defence (Special Undertakings ) Act had been used in the 53 years since its enactment to thwart any spies who might be lurking near the Monte Bello Islands, where the Brits were conducting top-secret nuclear tests at the time.
So the peace movement ebbs and flows. Which brings us to a third lesson: keep a weather eye out for those global currents and tides, and trim your sails accordingly. Be opportunistic and catch any lucky puffs of wind you encounter. But also, be strategic: be alert to the deeper shifting patterns.”
f. Raytheon operationally runs Pine Gap and
“Chief Executive Tom Kennedy said that he is seeing “a significant uptick” for “defense solutions across the board in multiple countries in the Middle East.” Noting that he had met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Kennedy said, “It’s all the turmoil they have going on, whether the turmoil’s occurring in Yemen, whether it’s with the Houthis, whether it’s occurring in Syria or Iraq, with ISIS.”
RAYTHEON FACILITY IN ALICE SPRINGS BLOCKADED BY ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS
g. Conversion of arms manufacture to more socially useful products did not really make the debate. I remembered peace activists arguing the Lucas plan and we can put forward a modern manufacturing policy and strategy for conversion.…read here
h. International solidarity with peace activists from Guam and Okinawa at the IPAN conference and Pine Gap:
“Professor Kosuzu Abe, who addressed both the public forum in Alice Springs and the Conference, knows all too well the consequences of a nuclear war affecting the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the ongoing military presence in Japan.
“Military power is not the best provider of security for ordinary people. This is what the people of Okinawa have learned through the battle for their island. The installation of foreign military facilities on Okinawa has gone way too far. It is simply a form of colonisation and, as such, is unacceptable.” said Professor Abe.
“The US Military’s recent policy of the ‘Asia-Pacific Pivot’ does not ensure security at all. All it does is provide justification for the ‘other side’, in this case China, to increase its military readiness and intensify the conflict.” she said.
Professor Kosuzu Abe from the University of Ryukyus, Okinawa, told the forum about the many years of struggle and resistance of the people of Okinawa against the US military occupation of Japan’s southern island. This struggle had forced the US government to reduce the number of its troops stationed in Okinawa, with some transferred to Guam and others being shifted to new bases in the north of the island. Several organisations were active in opposing US war preparations and were cooperating for large mobilisations. As with Guam, the people of Okinawa were paying a high price for the US occupation, with stolen land and crimes of violence and abuse never brought to justice.
Professor Lisa Natividad from the University of Guam spoke of the continuing struggle of her people against the US military occupation of their island. More than 30% of the land area is taken over for US military storage and training purposes, with constant aircraft and helicopter movements day and night. Guam is a US colonial possession, but its citizens have limited voting and civil rights, and lesser government services than other holders of a US passport.
To make way for the recent transfer of troops from Okinawa onto Guam, more areas became restricted, denying people access to their lands, and whole villages were disrupted. This was in addition to the ‘normal’ level of harassment and abuse of continued US military occupation.
In spite of this, the people of Guam are not intimidated and are an important voice in the growth and development of anti-war and anti-imperialist unity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Report here http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?%2Fpr-article%2FActivists-from-Okinawa-and-Guam-join-IPAN-Con%2F
Learn about Guam. Here a news report America has since expanded its military presence in Guam, which is seen as key to protecting the superpower’s interests in Asia-Pacific.
The island is a vital part of the US “Pivot” to the region, forming a strategic triangle in conjunction with bases in Japan, Australia and Hawaii.
It’s known as “the tip of the spear” because of its proximity to potential conflict hot spots in Asia, including North Korea and the South China Sea. It has also been dubbed “America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier” and “Fortress Pacific”.
Guam’s picturesque north is home to the less picturesque Andersen Airforce Base. In the south is a naval base.
Steven Wolborsky, director of plans, told US military publication Stars and Stripes the island was home to around 19 million pounds (8.6 million kilograms) of explosives and continuous rotations of Global Hawk surveillance drones, B-52 bombers, fighter jets and 300 airmen.
“We have two 11,000-foot (3400-metre) concrete runways, both rebuilt within the last 10 years,” he said. “We have enough parking for more than 155 aircraft, with a robust in-ground refuelling infrastructure. And more
Quakers for Peace block Pine Gap road https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/quaker-grannies-blockade-road-pine-gap-breakfast-spread-dawn
Please link into World Beyond War http://worldbeyondwar.org
i. On drone strikes
1. A Alice Springs News http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2016/09/12/peace-president-dispatcher-of-drones-killing-innocent/ US Predator Drone.
2. Sanctioned Murder: Australia’s Role In Drone Strikes On Innocent Civilians Is Growing
By Michael Brull on October 8, 2016
“The Australian government takes part in the murder of people overseas. They help to murder people who are not engaged in hostilities, in countries we are not at war with, who have not been convicted of a crime.
Even worse, our leaders intend to expand our involvement, so that Australia takes part in its own extra-judicial executions.
We are presently involved in extra-judicial executions through Pine Gap. As reported at the ABC, the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is “jointly run by the Australian and United States governments”.
According to Professor Richard Tanter, it contributes targeting data to American drone operations, including assassinations. American drone operations are known to take place in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia, and presumably also in Iraq, Syria and Libya.”
“According to the chief of our defence force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, we hope to bomb those who aren’t “taking a direct and active part in hostilities”. Turnbull intends for the new laws, supported in principle by the ALP, to see us “joining with our coalition partners to target and kill a broader range of Daesh combatants – which is consistent with international law”.
That is, we can kill that strange breed of “combatant” who isn’t actually involved in combat.”
Read more here
11. I support US peace actions. Here, not mentioned, Australian operational and intelligence officers are involved at Pine Gap.
TESTING OBAMA’S TRANSPARENCY PLEDGE, GROUPS SEND LIST OF DRONE STRIKES TO INVESTIGATE
Alternative News – 23/10//2016 part two of an interview with the NSW Green Senator Lee Rhiannon at the IPAN Conference held in Alice Springs on 1 October 2016. You will also hear an interview Romina Beitseen had with Pat Ansell Dodds a native title holder of Alice Springs.
i. Melbourne University Students are protesting against Lockheed Martin http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/students-angry-about-missilemaker-lockheed-martins-lab-at-melbourne-university-20160926-grorqj.html
Many activists are upset that Kim Beazley is now on the Australian Board of Lockheed Martin
2. My story at Pine Gap is somewhat muted as I was recovering from shingles on my right head, fore-head. I did not travel on the Bus from Melbourne www.closepinegap.org and my dear Kathryn paid for me to travel and stay. I did not camp in the Peace camps outside of Pine Gap but stayed in Alice Springs. I was well enough on two occaisons on Friday and Sunday to go to the Pine Gap gates and listen and participate and I have posted photos.
Here is the letter we delivered to the CIA:
Call on Pine Gap to cease involvement in the deadly US drone assassination program and for the facility to be terminated as soon as possible. Following a well attended and successful anti-war conference held at Alice Springs on 1st October, 2016 the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) organised a peaceful protest involving a cavalcade of cars to the gates of the Joint Defence Facility –Pine Gap on Sunday 2nd October.
At the gates of the Joint Defence Facility-Pine Gap, the following letter was presented to a senior police officer for relay to the Chief of Station, Ms Amy Chaput. Previously, a request by letter to the Chief of the Station (an American) and to the Deputy Chief of the Station, (an Australian), to meet at an IPAN delegation at the gate for presentation of the letter, had been ignored. The protesters were met at the gate and heavily fenced entrance to Pine Gap, by 30 uniformed police plus two police on horses. The protesters had already been “frisked” by police some hundred metres down the road from the entrance.
In the absence of being able to meet an official for the Pine Gap facility, an IPAN representative and a representative of the local indigenous community, jointly presented the following letter to a senior policeman at the gate for relaying to the Pine Gap station.
TO THE CHIEF OF STATION JOINT DEFENCE FACILITY-PINE GAP
Ms Amy Chaput,
Following the well-attended and successful conference organised by the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) at Alice Springs this weekend, it was determined that:
1. The Pine Gap facility is a threat to the peace and security of the people of Australia and Alice Springs, in particular
2. The illegal drone assassination program perpetrated by the United States with the assistance of Pine Gap makes the Australian people complicit in this illegal activity
For these reasons, IPAN, on behalf of all concerned people of Australia, calls for the immediate cessation of this illegal drone program and the termination of the Pine Gap facilities as soon as possible.
Australia will then be a safer place for all of us.
Yours in peace, IPAN Co-ordinating Committee
PO Box 573, Coorparoo, Qld, 4151 For further details:Annette Brownlie: 0431 597 256 Nick Deane: 0420 526 929
After the IPAN conference, on the fine Saturday evening, we walked to the War Memorial at the top of the hill and here a wonderful lamentation against all wars, lead by the legendary Peace Bus protester Graeme Dunstan.
After carrying the banners down, we walked to the bank of the dry River Todd, and we all ate heartily very good food by cook Eli.
Please scroll through this PeaceBus website http://peacebus.com
I was able to meet old friends in this post and meet new Peace activists. I was most pleased at a packed room of 200 for the Public IPAN meeting and for very good presentations at the IPAN Conference and workshops – never enough time!.
Here I add from PeaceBus Graeme Dustan his reflections and thanks to the organisers.
“I have been rolling down the desert highways with my mind also rolling, rolling with reflections on the Alice Springs Peace Convergence, acknowledging how well we did well.
How in this time of secret government, lies and endless war, we stood truly together and showed courage in the face of tyranny, initiative and determination too, and we got noticed and came away a stronger peace movement because of it.
No central committee. Lots of coordinated independent actions. No centralised media. Lots of independent social media.
Most astonishing was the success of police liaison. A big success summed up by the observation that the cops were not afraid of us, nor were we of them.
Hear my gratitude to both the AFP and the NT Police for taking pride in protecting our right to protest.
So much gratitude to be said.
First up gratitude to Arrernte activist elder and recent Greens candidate, Vince Forrester, for welcoming us to his country with story telling and blessings and for standing among us.
Likewise gratitude to Chris Tomlins who stood tall and made the original call on behalf of the Arrernte for help to rid their land of the murder making at Pine Gap.
For this Chris was accused of breaching Arrernte protocol and acting without authority. But his warrior spirit proved strong. He endured the bad mouthing and he stood with us at the Pine Gap gate, more widely respected for his clear voice of dissent by Arrernte young and old.
Hear my gratitude for the Quaker Grannies – Helen Bayes, Dawn Joyce, Peri Coleman and Jo Valentine – for bearing witness for peace with such faith, grace and artfulness.
Hear my gratitude to Margie Pestorius and her team of Peace Pilgrims, who at the risk of jail and with great faith and determination, valiantly penetrated the Pine Gap security perimeter so that they might lament the war making at Pine Gap and pray for peace within sight of those murderous radomes.
Hear my gratitude to Jacob Grech and Eli, two protest camp elders, for giving the Disarm Camp grounded leadership and no-fuss amenity. From there came blockades and lock-ons galore, smart actions and smart media too.
Thanks to Annette Brownlie and the IPAN folk who laboured long to produce the IPAN conference and forum. It proved to be a peak peace movement event – it got information about the evil role of Pine Gap updated and spread far and wide.
Thanks to Jason Freddi and the assembled tribe at the Tribal Healing and Unity Camp on the Claypans. What magic camp fire nights and days we shared there.
Thanks to all the folk whom Bec and i met while preparing the way in Alice Springs for the Peace Convergence in the weeks before.
These include David and Sue Woods at Campfire of the Heart, Jason Quinn at the Sandbox, Jonathan Pillbrow, Alice’s peace organiser extraordinaire, and also the Council staff and the NT Police i dealt with negotiating the Lamentation on Anzac Hill and other events.
What a beautiful and deeply moving ceremony of lamentation for the sorrows of war was created there.
Blessings of the ancestors were surely upon us that night. Auspiciousness too.
Without the ancestors how could we have imagined that occupying war memorials with lamentations might become a path to peace.
For so many of the young people who participated, the Alice Springs Peace Convergence, what a life changing event it must have been. Regeneration.
May it be so.
May there be many more peace convergences and protest camps of such cohesion and bonding.
Avalon in February? Peacebus will be there.
Salute to the Big Spirit moving us!
Shirley Winton’s presentation of past union actions for peace.
“To various degrees unions have always campaigned against Australia’s involvement in imperialist wars. This is because it’s the ordinary people, workers and working people who are the cannon fodder in the imperial profiteers’ wars to capture resources and global spheres of dominance. It’s the ordinary people who in tens of thousands die or are left injured, homeless, living in poverty and hunger in devastated countries.
They are the so-called collateral damage, the new sanitized description of mass slaughter. And as we meet here today we are reminded of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the growing tensions in Asia-Pacific and East Europe.
“Unions also oppose wars because it’s the working people who pay a high price for these wars with peoples’ taxes diverted from social and community services, welfare, health and education and building a peaceful and sustainable world.
“Australia was colonised in 1788 by the British imperial invasion which violently dispossessed Australia’s First Nations people who have been the custodians and carers of this land for more than 40,000 years. The Indigenous people never relinquished their custody of this land and culture and their struggle continues today.
“The colonial authority enforced Britain’s own foreign and domestic policies on its new colony, Australia. The legacy of that colonial past continues today. The difference being the British have been replaced by the US, and the control over our foreign and defence policies is more subtle. The vestiges of this long dependency are still with us today in the form of the US-Australia alliance. The British flag has been replaced by the American flag.
“Australia’s national defence and foreign policies have echoed and unquestioningly supported these imperial powers’ global military interests and their wars. Successive Australian governments’ foreign and defence policies have been an extension of first the British and now US policies. We fought, and continue to fight, against countries that pose no threat to Australia’s security, peace and safety, and with whom Australia had never been in conflict or dispute – the British war in Sudan, the Boer War 1895, 1st WW, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria. Only in WW2 did Australian military forces serve the Australian people.
Today, the Australian government purchases most of the weaponry designed for offensive warfare from multinational arms manufacturers who stand to profit enormously from a world that’s in a perpetual state of conflict, mass slaughter, and preparations for more wars.
“Much of the recently acquired weaponry, hardware and arms procurement is from the US multinational arms manufacturers – Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Boeing, General Electric, etc. Australia is purchasing from the US, 75 F35 joint strike fighters war planes at a cost of $10 billion; and 12 Barracuda submarines from France (member of NATO), at a cost of $50 billion. This hardware is specifically designed and built for long range warfare, and is an important part of interoperability with US offensive military machine, not for the defence of Australia’s sovereignty. This is another price we pay for being in the US-Australia alliance.
“Instead of spending ordinary people’s taxes on services for the people – health, education, public infrastructure, welfare and community services, pensions for single parents, people with disabilities, the elderly, the unemployed, and protecting the environment – public funds are spent on servicing US foreign wars of aggression and the multinational arms manufacturers. This should be of great concern to unions and working people generally.
“The US Pivot into Asia-Pacific publicly announced by Obama in the Australian parliament will see 60% of US global military moved into our region. And who will carry the costs for the Pivot?
“After Obama and Clinton publicly announced the Pivot, to the loud applause and acclamation by the 2 main parliamentary parties, the US told the Australian government it wanted Australia to spend $2.3 billion on upgrading and building military infrastructure for stationing US marines in Darwin.
“Another cost of US-Australia alliance and its even deeper integration and inoperability into US military is the destruction of Australia’s “defence” manufacturing industries.
Australia’s “defence” industries are now being increasingly forced to import more expensive offensive hardware from mainly US multinational arms corporations. This imported weaponry is designed for offensive aggression and of which Australia has no need for the defence of our sovereignty, but is increasing the “defence” budget and destroying hundreds of jobs and livelihood for hundreds of workers in Australia.
“Over the past 10-15 years tens of thousands of jobs in the manufacturing industries have been lost as corporations shift production to low wage countries. Jobs and permanent work is the only livelihood and security the great majority working people have. In contrast, a government run and an independent self-defence manufacturing industry that builds military hardware for Australia’s self-defence is a viable and plausible alternative that can provide security for workers and Australia’s self-defence capabilities.
“A genuinely independent and peaceful Australia would develop government-run local manufacturing industries that would include the production of self-defence equipment, and build socially useful infrastructure to advance the needs of the people and the environment – extensive public transport, medical, scientific and educational research and development. These industries would provide socially useful jobs for workers in clean, sustainable industries that build security and peace, not wars. To support local manufacturing industries and jobs a policy of local procurement in self-defence industries should be implemented. This would entail using local materials and building locally manufactured patrol boats and planes, submarines and ships for local sea lanes and coastal defence, locally made uniforms and equipment.
“The US Pivot into Asia-Pacific also has an economic side called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement which advances the interests of global corporations over the interests of people and national sovereignty. The TPP has been strongly opposed by the union movement.
“There are many other costs of the US-Australia alliance to Australia’s working people and our national interest. Just to mention a few:
– Political sovereignty and independence – 1975, Pine Gap and Whitlam government
– Australia’s complicity in US murderous wars, drones, assassinations
– The war on terror and erosion of civil liberties and democratic rights”
“The main aim of the 1983 Australian women’s camp was to draw people’s attention to ‘the dangers of Pine Gap’ and to demand ‘termination of the lease in 1986’ by the Hawke Labor government.” … Read more
Lakers for Peace are most active http://www.quakers.org.au
From Disarm Jacob Grech an organiser after chaining himself in protest to Raytheon gates but for hours not arrested: What do you do to get arrested in Alice Springs? Jacob on Radio 3CR here http://www.3cr.org.au/solidaritybreakfast/episode-201609240730/handful-sand-i-union-conference-2016-i-close-pine-gap
Jacob again herehttp://www.3cr.org.au/radioactive/episode-201603261000/pine-gap-investigation-iii
Activists are from WILPF Please explore their international activities http://wilpf.org
Basewatch Darwin is a key organiser http://basewatch.org/#/
Hannah Middleton distributed a pamphlet “6 Reasons to Close Pine Gap” see reports and follow actions at IPAN NSW – http://ipan-nsw.org
A major group in IPAN and at the Conference and protesting are doctors against war. Please follow on the Medical Association for the Prevention of War . The Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) works for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of armed conflict. We promote peace through research, advocacy, peace education and partnerships. Please use our many resources on nuclear weapons, power and waste, peace and conflicts. https://www.mapw.org.au
Nick Deane is a key organiser from NSW https://independentaustralia.net/profile-on/nick-deane,303
NICK DEANE. Reflecting on Troubled Waters. South China Sea
Posted on 06/09/2016 by John Menadue
Visit Marrickville Peace Group
I am a Founding Member of the Graham F Smith Arts Peace Foundation in Adelaide. Please support
When having to say that Australia’s war-mongering with the US is as dangerous now as ever: one read is A Dangerous Diplomatic proposal:
As Middle East expert Patrick Cockburn points out, “The U.S. remains a superpower, but is no longer as powerful as it once was.” While it can overthrow regimes it doesn’t like, “It can’t replace what has been destroyed.”
Obama’s and Clinton’s and Power’s framework for diplomacy is a formula for a never- ending cycle of war and instability.” https://dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/a-dangerous-diplomatic-proposal/
Pilger on war mongering Clinton:http://johnpilger.com/articles/silencing-america-as-it-prepares-for-war
Five decades later, Israel’s brutal occupation is stronger than ever Antony Loewenstein
September 15, 2016
Up there Australia
Stand up and fight
For our independence
From USA might
Out with their bases
No more of their wars
Peace with all nations
When we’re out of their claws
Up there Australia
In there and fight
For our independence
From USA might
A mixture of cultures
Let’s walk hand in hand
Respecting the people
Who first walked this land
Up there Australia
In there and fight
For our independence
From USA might
Peace for the future
That’s what we believe
And sharing our country
With all those in need
THAT’S WHAT WE BELIEVE!!!
From David Perkins A 1973 protest song from “The Balls of Bob Menzies” WE DON’T WANT NO YANKEE BASES
(Tune: We Don’t Want Your Millions Mister)
I was wandering way out back,
On a bumpy old desert track
And there in the sun was a bloke with a gun
Who turned to me and said, ‘Hey Mack,
You’d better turn around
Or your body may never be found.
Uncle Sam owns this here land
And there’s much more here than sand.
Oh no, we don’t want no Yankee bases,
It’s outrageous to have these bases.
Oh no, we don’t want no Yankee bases,
No Yankee bases – so send them home.
I looked at him with scorn,
In his American uniform,
And then I swore
Till my throat was sore
And cursed the day he had ever been born.
‘Why don’t you go back home,
And leave our land alone,
Australia was a better place,
Before you showed your face!’
He said, ‘Now hang on mate,
The good we do
By protecting you
From a very undesirable fate.
We defend your land and seas
From the hordes of red Chinese.
Our military presence keeps you free
From a red catastrophe.’
But I said, ‘Now listen to me,
You own our industry.
You own our oil
And live on our toil
And legalise your robbery
By parliamentary talking-shops,
And gaols and courts and the cops,
You’re only here to guard your gold
And the profits that you stole!’
He looked with hate at me.
And waved his .303,
So I shot through
But I’m telling you
It’s time we set Australia free.
Let’s organise our might
Against the parasite,
And make the very first demand –
No bases on our land.
Anonymous song published in the ‘4 July Songsheet’ , 1973.]]>
Like Lawler’s play, Seymour’s was a competition winner, with its own prize being selection for performance at the very first Adelaide festival of the arts. The play contains no nudity, no violence, only a few expletives and very veiled references to sex, yet the festival’s board of governors reneged on a commitment to produce the play on the grounds that it might cause offence to Australia’s Returned Services League.
Only 15 years after the end of the second world war, the social heft of the veterans’ organisation was considerable; the RSL assumed a role for the Australian establishment as guardian of the myth of the heroic Australian “digger” – bronzed in masculinity, heroism unquestionable.
Although Australia’s theatre academics have since affirmed the dramatic triumph of Seymour’s play is exploiting a family conflict to expose a humanising vulnerability within the Anzac experience, at the time merely allowing two characters among five to challenge the Anzac myth was too much of an affront to the establishment world view.
The play had its first production as a “try-out” by the amateur Adelaide Theatre Group, but, no doubt due to its infamy, soon attracted a popular audience and became a success. Productions in Melbourne and Sydney followed, as did tours, as did a controversial reputation. On opening night in Sydney amid the very Anzac Day celebrations of which Hughie is so critical, police had to investigate a bomb threat at the theatre before the show could go on.
However, it’s not the exploration of Anzacery that has ensured the play’s popularity and productions of The One Day of the Year across the world, in translation, with the cultural imprimatur of a Penguin edition and numerous revivals.
Critic and academic Katherine Brisbane identifies its appeal even at the time of the first production as a “movement away from British gentility towards examination of the knotty working-class roots of Australian life”.
read the whole article here
2. One Day of the Year that changed writer Alan Seymour’s life by Marc McEvoy
ALAN SEYMOUR 1927-2015
Seeing drunken former soldiers brawling and vomiting outside pubs in Summer Hill on Anzac Day was a pivotal moment in Alan Seymour’s life. It was 1955 and the writer was on his way home to the Sydney suburb after watching the annual city march.
What struck him was not the alcohol abuse, because Seymour was no wowser, but the hollowness of the Anzac Day celebrations. It gave him the idea for The One Day of the Year, a play that would ultimately define his career as an author and playwright.
Written in 1958, when Seymour was 31, for an amateur playwriting competition, the play was also inspired by an article in the University of Sydney newspaper Honi Soit denouncing Anzac Day. On its release, The One Day of the Year created a public furore. It dramatised social inequality and anxieties about masculinity and national identity. Importantly, it challenged accepted notions about Australia’s most venerated commemoration.
In the play, Hughie, an idealistic student, sees Anzac Day as an excuse for drunken debauchery, which puts him in conflict with his xenophobic working-class father, Alf Cook. “I’m a bloody Australian, mate, and it’s because I’m a bloody Australian that I’m gettin’ on the grog,” cries Alf, a beer-swilling returned serviceman. “It’s Anzac Day this week, that’s my day, that’s the old Diggers’ day.”
The play was first performed on July 20, 1960, as an amateur production by the Adelaide Theatre Guild after being rejected, due to its supposed anti-military stance, by the Adelaide Festival of Arts.
Then, on Anzac Day 1961, during the dress rehearsal for its opening at Sydney’s Palace Theatre, in which a young Ron Haddrick played Alf, there was a bomb scare, forcing police to close the theatre for 24 hours. Seymour, who was gay and had also received death threats, was labelled a communist sympathiser and “un-Australian”.
A committed writer, he decided to join an exodus of Australian creative talent leaving for London in 1961. His gamble paid off. Within a few months, The One Day of the Year opened at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, in London.
Read more here
early post on Anzac http://chriswhiteonline.org/2013/04/on-anzac/
McQueen on Anzac http://chriswhiteonline.org/2014/04/mcqueen-on-anzac/
Peace Convergence 2014
WAGING PEACE the latest documentary by multi-award winning Australian filmmaker, David Bradbury, is a window into the passions and politics of the modern Australian peace movement.
Shot during the action-packed 2014 Canberra Peace Convergence at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, WAGING PEACE tracks a convoy of activists who set out to break the world record for the most protest actions on a single day. Featuring Senator Scott Ludlum, US Iraq War veteran Vince Emanuele (see below) and Bundjalung activist Vincent Duroux, the film concludes with the powerful, historically significant Frontier Wars March on Anzac Day.
Responding to the perfect storm of wars, climate change and the global surveillance state, today’s peace activists act with strategy and gusto; by targeting the industries and institutions which drive Australia’s complicity and challenging the deepest of our cultural assumptions about war and Australia’s history.
A window into the passions and politics of the modern Australian peace movement.
I with others helped create the world peace protest record. Direct Action world record attempt for the most anti-war protests was initiated by Melbourne group Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA).
Melbourne opening night of David Bradbury’s new film ‘Waging Peace’ was well received with Q and A.
Watch much of the film here
Now to ensure this film is viewed more widely.
Remembering the Frontier Wars
For background on the Peace Convergence
A Tragic Anniversary: Reflections on Iraq, Activism and Commitment
By Vincent Emanuele March 21, 2015
What does a vibrant anti-Empire movement look like on a local level?
What does it look like on a national scale?
What shape does it take on the international stage?
Should we approach state power? Should we have functioning chapters and regular meetings?
What groups can people participate in that aren’t connected with sectarian organizations or toxic politics?
Unfortunately, in the US, I think any meaningful discussions or organizing prospects around the issue of Empire will be postponed until Obama is out of office and a new President is elected.
I’ve watched the antiwar movement utterly disappear during my short time as an activist, and it’s been heartbreaking. Those experiences have made me realize that many people were more interested with party affiliations and personality politics than principled opposition to Empire.]]>
Read Tom’s philosophy at the end.
Update: State funeral http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-04/the-coffin-of-tom-uren-at-his-state-funeral/6069106
Illawarra Unity – Journal of the Illawarra Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, 7(1), 2007, 32-36. http://ro.uow.edu.au/unity/vol7/iss1/5
The following is the text of a talk delivered to the South Coast Branch (Thirroul) of Union Aid Abroad on 4 August 2007.
Tom Uren AO was born on 28 May 1921. His early life involved playing rugby league for Manly Warringah and a stint at professional boxing before going to war between 1939–45. In the early 1950s he joined the Australian Labor Party and was the Federal Member for Reid, in western Sydney, between 1958–1990. He was Minister for Urban and Regional Development in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975, responsible for setting up the Australian Heritage Commission and the National Estate and creating new national parks. He held the portfolios of local government and administrative services in the Hawke government from 1984 to 1987 and was a leading member of the ALP Left during his time in parliament. He was often referred to as ‘the conscience of Parliament’ and remains a strong advocate for world peace and the environment.
“I am pleased that I was invited to be here with you tonight, and I commend your organisation in building bridges of goodwill with workers in countries less fortunate then ours. Let me restate a brief quote I made in Melbourne in 1990, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of May Day:
‘Humanity which we love so much—I know many of you are fearful of using that word “love”—but our struggle is a commitment of love of our fellow humans. It inspired our people in their early struggle against oppression and exploitation’.
I am proud that your organisation has similar ideals. Peter Jennings said to me in his letter:
‘We are the overseas aid arm of the Australian Trade Union Movement. With the support of Australian unions and many individual union members we assist vocational skills training of men and women workers in developing countries as well as strengthening their trade union so that any job they get will be a decent job—paying just wages with reasonable conditions and safety standards’. So I am here in solidarity with all those ideals.
I was elected to the federal parliament by the Australian people 49 years ago. I have always tried to meet the ideals that Peter set out in his letter. I have written two books on my life – Straight Left, published in 1994/1995 and gone into four prints, and more recently I co-authored a book, The Fight: a portrait of a Labor man who never grew up, with Martin Flanagan, whose father served with me on the Burma/Thai Railway during the war. Excuse me for talking about the evolutionary development of my life, but my war experience had a great influence on me.
There are many people and experiences that have nurtured my life. But my experience serving under Weary Dunlop has had a lifelong and lasting experience on me. We were at a place called Hintock Road Camp or, as Weary called it, Hintock “Mountain” Camp. “Weary” is a name of respect. He would tax our officers and medical orderlies and the men who went out to work would be paid a small wage.
We would contribute most of it into a central fund. Weary would then send some of our people out into the jungle to trade with the Thai and Chinese traders for food and drugs for our sick and needy. In our camp the strong looked after the weak; the young looked after the old; the fit looked after the sick. We collectivised a great proportion of our income.
Just as the wet season set in a group of about 400 British camped near us for shelter. They had tents. The officers took the best tents, the NCOs the next best and the ordinary soldiers got the dregs. Within six weeks only about 50 of them marched out—the rest died of dysentery or cholera. In the mornings when we would walk out to work, their corpses would be lying in the mud as we passed them. Only a creek separated our two camps. On the one side the survival of the fittest – the law of the jungle – prevailed, and on the other side the collective spirit under Weary Dunlop. That spirit has always remained with me.
Our book The Fight is a message of hope. It doesn’t deal with personalities – it is more directed towards philosophy and looking towards a positive future. Among my contributions I wrote an essay entitled ‘Let’s look to the future’.
I have served the Labor Party, the Labour Movement and our Australian people for over 50 years. I have faith in our tomorrows. We have some remarkable young federal members of parliament, particularly the young women of our movement. What has worried me for a number of years from both sides of politics is the lack of compassion and commitment for ordinary people. Governments fail to give public leadership and commit themselves to the long term planning of our country and our planet.
No federal government since the Whitlam government has made a major financial commitment to our states to strengthen and enhance the social and physical infrastructure of our major cities and regions. Yet each year the federal government determines the net immigration intake into our country. They then leave it to the states, local governments and the market to cope with the population intake.
On our environment, the Howard government’s failure to ratify the Kyoto Agreement was a grave mistake, considering the world climate change situation, the greenhouse effect and the water and soil problems in Australia.
The Murray–Darling catchment, which affects the three eastern states and South Australia, is a region which is the food basket for our people but also for millions of people on our planet. In my view, it is a greater priority than our defence program. I have always supported a rational defence program, but this issue surpasses that commitment. On the protection of our native forests, we should cease issuing wood chipping export licences and progressively phase out existing ones.
I advocate the creation of an Independent Environment Authority which should have the independence of the Reserve Bank and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In regards to defence—Australia’s policy should be orientated to our region. We should not be in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should be committed to the Asian and Pacific Region. North Korea is a greater problem for us than Iraq; particularly the problems it creates with Japan.
I want to make some comments on Iraq and an experience I had in Sydney on 16 February 2003. It was an anti Iraq war rally in Hyde Park. What affected me was the patience and tolerance of those still waiting to march. Many could not hear what the speakers were saying. They were there to oppose violence. They were opposed to war being a solution to international conflict and the killing of ordinary people. They knew that over half of Iraq’s population is under 15 years of age. I am sure what occurred in Sydney was not only duplicated in other Australian cities, but also in cities and towns around the world. We who marched knew John Howard or George Bush would not heed our message, but some of the nations in the United Nations Security Council may have been influenced by ordinary people’s commitment against war in Iraq. Of course Bush and Howard did ignore our demonstrations – not only ours but those throughout the world. But the United Nations Security Council refused to authorise a motion which would allow military action to be taken to invade Iraq.
In the words of Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, “it is an illegal war”.
In my view the United States invasion of Iraq is the most disastrous and tragic foreign policy decision made by an American Government since the end of World War II.
They ignored wiser counsel, even from within their own conservative ranks in the United States, and even within the Republican Party. I wrote letters both before and after the invasion. Some were published in The Australian. I predicted that Iraq will become a quagmire. What an understatement that has turned out to be!
As a member of the Coalition of the Willing in the military invasion of Iraq, the Howard Government should share the responsibility of the chaos that has been created in Iraq. Since that invasion, over 700,000 Iraqi civilians have perished, four million Iraqis have been displaced, including two million refugees. Over 3,600 United States forces have been killed and more than 48,000 have been wounded since the invasion of 19 March 2003. I haven’t included the British death and casualty figures as well as those of the other nations involved. Australia, by good fortune or good luck, has lost very few. To date the cost financially to Australia is $1,650 million.
Ultimately the Shiites will be the victors if Iraq remains a single country. They represent over 60 per cent of the population of Iraq, and that is only if the so called democratic elections are held. There are some elements in the United States who believe that Iraq should become three countries. The Kurds control the north (which is oil rich), the Shiites in the South (which is also oil rich) and the Sunnies based around Baghdad (but have no known oil resources). We will need good, experienced diplomacy to avoid wider conflict. We will need to evolve a greater tolerance and understanding to work with the dominating forces in Iraq and Iran.
Through the so call democratic elections they will control, and exert influence over, the region which possesses the greatest oil reserves on our planet.
One thing I am sure of: violence and military conflict will not solve our problems.
I am also sure there are many Australian people who resent involving us in an illegal war and Howard going all the way with George W. Bush.
In conclusion, in September 2005 I was speaking to a group of young Japanese at Macquarie University in Sydney. During the period of dialogue, one young Japanese student asked “Mr Uren, what is your philosophy?”
I quoted the principles I lived by during my parliamentary life.”
When I returned home I set it out on paper, as follows.
Tom Uren’s Philosophy
• The strong should look after the weak.
• The young look after the not so young.
• The fit look after the sick.
• We should collectivise a substantial portion of our
income to help protect our sick, needy and our people.
• We need to seek a more tolerant world.
• We should defend human and civil rights, wherever they
• Oppose violence, on a personal, national and
• Oppose war as a solution to international problems.
• Protect, enhance and rehabilitate our environment. If we
destroy it we are destroying a part of ourselves.
• Recognise we are inter-related to one another.
Australians should recognise we are a part of our
• Why is it that in times of crisis we need each other?
• Why in normal times can’t we be more collective?
• We should build friendship and understanding between
people and nations.
Andy Alcock sent me the above and post his tribute below. Andy passed it on from Ron Witton, and photo.
2. From: Andy Alcock [email@example.com] Tuesday, 27 January 2015
VALE: TOM UREN – A COURAGEOUS CHAMPION POLITICIAN FOR JUSTICE & HUMAN RIGHTS
Tom Uren was one of the greatest politicians Australia ever had.
I first came across him at Vietnam rallies when I lived in Sydney in the early 1970s. He was a very powerful speaker – eloquent, articulate, persuasive, rational and warm.
Tom was very sincere, totally opposed to human rights abuses committed against all people and strongly on the side of those who suffered tyranny. This is why he supported the Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians, the East Timorese and the West Papuans.
Yes, he was a supporter of left and progressive politics. To him, this meant following the politics of social justice, human rights, equality for
all, fairness between nations and caring for the environment.
At a time when most of the ALP had sold out the East Timorese, he was one of a few who supported the liberation struggle of our former, valiant WW2 allies. Others in that group, of course, included Richie Gun and Ken Fry.
Because of his strong support, CIET (SA) – now AETFA SA, asked Tom to officially open the “East Timor, Australia and the Region Conference”.
This conference was an international one and it was organised by CIET SA and held at Adelaide University in 1979. Tom made a great contribution.
Frequently, he spoke out about what was happening in Timor and always gave support to activists working in solidarity with the East Timorese.
I see that Bill Shorten has described Tom as a giant in the ALP, which is true. But, I also remember being at an East Timor Activists Conference in the early 1980s as the right was becoming far more dominant in the ALP. At a party organised by Tom to which he invited conference delegates, I remarked to an ALP staffer that he must be very proud working with people like Tom Uren. His response was that Tom was a fool for supporting East Timor and that he was working with others in the ALP to get rid of old fools like him!
Is it any wonder that the East Timorese got very little support from the ALP leadership during their struggle?
It was rather ironic that towards the end of their struggle, it was Laurie Brereton, a key figure in the NSW right of the ALP who turned around the Party’s policy on this issue. Sadly, this did not follow through and when the ALP took office in 2007, there was no support from ALP MPs to reverse the “Liberal” Party’s policy to refuse to recognise the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in relation to Timor-Leste – although Australia recognises the UNCLOS principle with NZ and the Solomons. This has resulted in Australia taking a lot of the oil and gas from Timor-Leste’s half of the Timor Sea.
Tom Uren always stood for human decency in relations between people and was totally opposed to racism.
Even though he was a victim of the Japanese military during WW2, he did not harbour anti Japanese sentiments. Tom had been captured in West Timor and sent to work on the infamous Thai Burma railway as a POW and later he worked in a slave camp in Japan not far from Nagasaki, where he saw the atomic bombing of Nagasaki from a distance.
During the official recognition of the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2, I saw Tom being interviewed at Hellfire Pass, a part of the railway in Thailand.
The interviewer asked him what the conditions were like. Tom’s reply was that it was like hell on earth.
“We were expected to pick and shovel through solid rock to make this cutting. We worked long hours on extremely meagre rations. Many of the men were extremely sick. A huge number had dysentery and they were literally shitting their lives away. There was virtually no medication for the sick. I saw men on many occasions drop dead while they were on the job.”
The interviewer then asked Tom what he though about Japanese people because of his experiences. His answer was: I hated every last one of them and I would not have cared if they had been all wiped out!”
He was then asked if he still had the same attitude. His answer was a definite “No!” Tom then went on to say that, “Í did not keep that opinion for long.
Later, I was transferred to a slave camp in Japan. There I met Japanese political prisoners. These people had the courage to oppose Japanese fascism on its own grounds. They were very courageous people. They were my brothers. They were my comrades. Many people who harbour ill-will to all Japanese people because of WW2 do not understand one important fact. And that is that during WW2, we were not fighting the Japanese people, we were fighting Japanese fascism and there is a great difference.”
His analysis of the conflict between Australia and Japan avoided the racism against all Japanese that the Bruce Ruxton’s analysis embraced.
Because of his experiences during WW2, Tom became a devoted peace activist and was opposed to nuclear weapons and the nuclear industry.
His quest for social justice led him to be a strong advocate for socialism.
Tom Uren was a giant physically, but a gentle one. He was also a boxer, but more importantly, he used his strength and energy to fight for a fairer and
Farewell, Comrade Tom. You will never be forgotten.’
Andrew (Andy) Alcock Information Officer
Australia East Timor Association SA Inc
As Secretary of the SA May Day Committee, I invited Tom Uren to march in Adelaide and be our speaker. With John Scott, Ron Barklay, Brian Mowbray and his wife.
3. Timor Leste Government Vale Tom Uren received special recognition for his solidarity. Díli, January 28, 2015
It was with deep sadness that the Government of Timor-Leste heard of the passing of the Honorable Tom Uren AC on the 26th of January 2015. On behalf of the Government, the Prime Minister, H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, presents heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
Tom Uren is held in high regard in Timor-Leste as a man of dignity and courage.
As deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party he gave his attention to the cause of the Timorese people when very few in the Australian political spectrum were prepared to raise their voice in advocacy. His determination led to the adoption of a resolution in favor of self-determination at the ALP Conference in 1977 and contributed to the 1977 US Congressional Hearings into Timor-Leste. He constantly supported Timorese asylum seekers and, with his fellow World War II veterans Paddy Kenneally and Gordon Hart, was patron of the Australian East Timor Association of NSW [AETA-NSW]. Tom spoke powerfully many times over the years of struggle about what was happening in Timor-Leste and consistently gave support to Australian activists working in solidarity with the Timorese people.
Tom’s experience as a prisoner of war after being captured in West Timor in 1942 forever shaped his life. Although it could have left him with bitterness, instead it led to a steadfast conviction about the value of mutual support and collective action. He endorsed Martin Luther King’s words that “Hate distorts the personality and scars the soul. It is more injurious to the hater that the hated.”
After the war he never forgot his fellow prisoners of war and worked for them his whole life. It seemed to the Timorese friends he made over the years that his experience of suffering and injustice drew him in close to the suffering and injustice experienced by the Timorese people.
On the 1st of July 2013 Tom Uren was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste Medal by the President of Timor-Leste, H.E. Taur Matan Ruak, in a ceremony in Canberra. The medal was accepted by his son, Mick. The Order of Timor-Leste Medal is an award of prestige and dignity presented to those to have significantly contributed to the benefit of Timor-Leste, the Timorese or Mankind. In the case of Tom Uren, through a life well lived, he contributed to the benefit of all three. Timor-Leste will always be grateful for his contribution and character.
In an interview given in 1996 Tom was asked how he would like to be remembered.
He said “as a person of goodwill, a giver, a fighter for peace.”
This is forever how Timor-Leste will remember Tom Uren, as someone who made a difference in the history of our nation through an extraordinary life as a person of goodwill, a giver and a fighter for peace.
4. ABC report
Vale Tom Uren – a warrior for a fair go for people and the environment. Here is an interview with Martin Flanagan who knew him well.
Tom Uren was “a giver, a fighter . . . an old bull”. He was a “man who wasn’t scared to tell another man he loved him.” He wasn’t a man of theory so much as a man whose teacher was life. He got his socialist politics from the time when he was on the Thai Burma Railway with Weary Dunlop:
Please post your memories.]]>
1. Withdraw Australian military from Iraq conflict
From Peter Murphy.
Prime Minister Abbott’s decision to join in the delivery of weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq is a cynical political decision, without foundation in law, and bound to magnify the disaster of Howard’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The idea that the Australian military would be running guns from Albania into Erbil is a huge surprise to the Australian people, underlining another major democratic failure by the arrogant Abbott government.
The Australian anti-war movement was completely correct in 2003 and should now condemn the Abbott government’s action, call for its cancellation, a parliamentary debate and for the Australian people to mobilise now to stop this intervention and to prevent it expanding any further.
The Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has failed to grasp the situation and lamely supported the foolish move from Prime Minister Abbott. The labour movement needs to urgently correct this situation.
IS burst on the scene this year when the northern and western provinces of Iraq finally rose up against al-Maliki. A viable Iraqi nationalist Shia and Sunni alliance has emerged to displace the Iranian dominated Shia but Obama’s strategy is aimed at suppressing it, and Abbott is making the Australian people support this profoundly stupid policy.
Abbott’s claims to humanitarian motivations in Iraq don’t wash when he could find no words for over two thousand Palestinian civilians, including 500 children, killed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza. Not to mention Abbott’s lack of concern for civilian casualties in the current civil war in South Sudan, or the ravages of the Lord’s Army and other militias in Uganda and Kenya and Nigeria.
As it was in 2003, it is for the Iraqi people to determine their future without outside interference.
This latest escapade in Iraq demonstrates that the Australian foreign affairs, intelligence and military command, as well as the political party elites, no longer work within the framework of international law. This elite is really a danger to democracy and peaceful resolution of conflicts and needs an urgent and massive shakeup.
Fraser on why Parliament has to debate war http://iraqwarinquiry.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/parliament-should-decide-on-deployment.html?spref=fb
2. “The last thing Australia needs is a holy war”
says spokesperson Nick Deane for the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN).
“Our Federal Government should reject completely any consideration of sending our airforce personnel to drop bombs on Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, or sending our troops or SAS into combat in those countries. We know now only too well the inevitable civilian casualties from such actions.”
“The humanitarian emergency we see unfolding in Iraq and Syria is a direct result of the disastrous policies of military intervention which the US has followed in the Middle East for more than 10 years”, says Mr Deane. “Up until now Australian Governments of both political persuasions have abjectly followed a US lead. It is time we showed an independent approach in our foreign policy.”
Mr Deane went on, “A Humanitarian disaster requires a humanitarian response, not bombs and missiles.”
IPAN is a network of over 50 peace organisations from every State in Australia, and represents the voices of many thousands of everyday Australians.
“We call on the Australian Government to reject this military madness, and play a positive and proactive peace-making role in international affairs. An important step in that process is for all Australian politicians to agree to calls for the Australian parliament to have oversight of any Australian Government commitment to foreign military engagements.”
Nick Deane Marrickville, NSW 0420 526 929
1. Promote an independent Australian foreign policy that builds peace and nonviolent resolutions of conflict in our region;
2. Oppose the establishment of foreign military bases and the deployment of foreign troops and military in Australia and the Asia-Pacific;
3. Provide information, analysis and opportunities for NGOs, unions, churches and community groups to participate in decision-making on Australia’s peace and security options;
4. Build links with peoples and organisations in the Asia-Pacific campaigning for peace and against military bases and troops in the region.
Please distribute this PETITION
To the Honorable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled,
The petition of the undersigned shows that:-
• Australia faces no military threat from any other nation nor has there been any increase in such a threat for many years. No nation in the region or the world is capable of launching a military invasion of Australia, apart from our ally the US.
• However, there is a danger of an ‘arms race’ in the Western Pacific – exemplified by the United States’ so-called military ‘pivot’ to the region.
• Australia may be contributing to this process, through plans to increase government expenditure in all areas of defence, especially in the acquisition of such offensive, military hardware as the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Meanwhile, other, civilian programs are facing severe reductions in expenditure.
• Australia currently spends $29.3billion per year on defence, and, by buying 10% of all US arms exports, is the seventh largest importer of major arms in the world.
Your petitioners ask that the Senate:-
Ensure that that there is no increase in Australia’s military spending, thereby indicating our peaceful intentions to all our neighbours and releasing funds to be spent in more beneficial areas.
NAME SUBURB SIGNATURE
3. Australia progresses in its plans to purchase a fleet of sophisticated P-8 Poseidon planes that specialise in anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike. The planes would be pivotal in any war against China in the South China or East China Seas.
Asio knows what will raise the terror threat level: sending Australia to war
4. Top intelligence analyst slams Pine Gap’s role in American drone strikes
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 13/08/2014
Reporter: Dylan Welch
The joint US-Australian defence base at Pine Gap is accused of helping direct American drone strikes leading to Australia’s leading intelligence expert to call its work ‘ethically unacceptable’.
CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: For almost half a century, the joint US-Australian defence base at Pine Gap has lurked on the edge of our consciousness in the Northern Territory desert, mostly accepted, but largely mysterious.
The little we know is that it scoops up secrets from satellites that watch nuclear weapons stockpiles and spy on foreign governments.
But now there are claims it has a new role in the post 9-11 world, directing American drone strikes that have killed thousands of militants and civilians over the last five years.
And that has led Australia’s pre-eminent intelligence expert and former cheerleader for the site to brand some of its work “ethically unacceptable”.
Dylan Welch reports.
DYLAN WELCH, REPORTER: With a few small steps and some gladhanding, the US launched its latest charm offensive designed to further strengthen military co-operation between Australia and the United States.
CHUCK HAGEL, US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I very much appreciate the opportunity to renew our friendship and be together again. And I’m particularly pleased to be back in Australia.
DYLAN WELCH: Deep in Australia’s Outback and shrouded in secrecy lies the base that’s been at the centre of that relationship for decades.
Pine Gap is the jewel in the crown of US-Australian intelligence sharing, detecting nuclear weapons and intercepting communications around the globe. For a decade, it’s also been involved in the US drone program, which has killed thousands of militants and some civilians in countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.
Now Australia’s pre-eminent intelligence expert says Pine Gap’s role has gone too far.
DES BALL, STRATEGIC & DEFENCE STUDIES CENTRE, ANU: I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past. We’re now linked in to this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused and Pine Gap is a key node in that whole network, that war machine, if you want to use that term, which is doing things which are very, very difficult, I think, as an Australian, to justify.
DYLAN WELCH: Pine Gap has intrigued outsiders ever since it was set up by the US and Australian governments and began operating in 1970.
It’s managed partly by America’s CIA and National Security Agency and controls US spy satellites orbiting around the globe.
MALE VOICEOVER (archive footage): High above the Earth, the spy satellites can monitor everything. Missile silos, ship movements, aircraft, radar, electronic signals – nothing escapes their antennae or their lenses.
DYLAN WELCH: Pine Gap has always been controversial. In the 1980s, anti-nuclear protestors converged on the desert site to demand the closure of the base.
20 years later, demonstrators campaigning against the Iraq War descended on the base again.
It was Des Ball who revealed Pine Gap’s existence in 1969, and over decades, has kept a close watch on its activities. In 1987, he argued Pine Gap’s monitoring of Soviet weapons development was crucial to keeping a check on the arms race.
DES BALL (archive footage, 1987): Since that monitoring function is quite critical to most of the kind of arms control agreements which are in force between the United States and Soviet Union, you wouldn’t have those arms control agreements without Pine Gap.
DYLAN WELCH: Former US intelligence analyst David Rosenberg worked at Pine Gap for 18 years. He wrote Inside Pine Gap, which remains the only insider’s description of the base.
DAVID ROSENBERG, US INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, PINE GAP (1990-2008): I believe that Pine Gap is very vital to Australia. It collects intelligence that may not be accessible from very many other sources. Sometimes Pine Gap is a sole source of collection of some intelligence and that of course can be used to safeguard our troops, to safeguard our people here in Australia and in the United States and our allies as well.
DYLAN WELCH: Following the al-Qaeda attacks of 2001, Pine Gap’s role changed as its focus switched from monitoring nuclear proliferation to countering terrorism and Des Ball grew increasingly concerned.
DES BALL: We’re entering – we’ve already entered into a new phase of warfare where intelligence and unmanned vehicles of various sorts – under the water, killer satellites in space, battlefield, being fed from intelligence sources like Pine Gap, still one of the two biggest stations of the sort in the world, and we’re thoroughly embedded into it.
DYLAN WELCH: In November, 2001, the US launched its first armed Predator drone as part of the hunt for al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. It marked the beginning of a new era.
DES BALL: It’s now information warfare, it’s now using data directly from censors, the satellites up above, down to Pine Gap, but directly to the shooters.
DYLAN WELCH: Rosenberg left Pine Gap in 2008. Soon after, the new Obama administration ordered a major escalation in the use of drone strikes.
DAVID ROSENBERG: If the US military could make use of whatever assets it has in place to help the drone program, then the US military will of course do that. Whatever signals Pine Gap can collect that could be of use to the governments would certainly be passed on.
DYLAN WELCH: After decades of watching and supporting Pine Gap, Ball finds its key role in the drone program deeply concerning.
DES BALL: The drone program puts some of these dilemmas on a plate in front of you. You have to start confronting this conflation of intelligence and operations. I don’t know how many terrorists have been killed either by drones, but I would not be surprised if the total number of children exceeds the total number of terrorists.
DYLAN WELCH: And Des Ball fears support of lethal US operations is becoming a steadily increasing part of what Pine Gap does.
DES BALL: If they were really to change the balance around so that Pine Gap basically became a war-fighting machine rather than an intelligence collector, then I think we all have to have second thoughts.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Dylan Welch reporting.
5. British scientists secretly used Australian population to test for radiation contamination after nuclear tests at Maralinga
–COLIN JAMES, THE ADVERTISER, AUGUST 29, 2014 9:00PM
BRITISH scientists secretly used the Australian population to test for radiation contamination after the nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, a new book confirms.
Its author, Frank Walker, has obtained the minutes of a top secret meeting in England where the UK Atomic Energy Research Establishment approved a program to determine the long-term effects of the tests on Australia and its citizens.
In his book, Maralinga, Walker details how the meeting at Harwell on May 24, 1957, decided to first obtain soil samples from pasture regions near Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to check for fallout from the nine nuclear bombs detonated at Maralinga and the Monte Bello Islands, off WA.
The second phase was to test vegetation, particularly grass and cabbage, and milk for the presence of the radioactive isotope, Strontium-90, a fission by-product of nuclear explosions.
The meeting was chaired by Professor Ernest Titterton, the nuclear scientist who oversaw the British nuclear tests in Australia.
According to the document obtained by Walker, Professor Titterton told the meeting he wanted to collect animal bones “to see if Strontium-90 is getting into domestic animals”.
The meeting decided to take bone samples from 12 sheep stations along a 800km path of fallout tracked by Royal Australian Air Force planes which flew into the mushroom clouds following each nuclear explosion at Maralinga.
The document found by author Frank Walker detailing the nuclear testing program on the Australian population. Source: British National Archives
Professor Titterton told the meeting that the final phase of the testing would be to determine if Strontium-90 was being absorbed by the Australian population.
“We have to find out if Strontium-90 is entering the food chain and getting into humans,” says the document, which has the file number DEFE 16/608.
The scientists then agreed to start testing the bones of dead Australian infants and children for radiation contamination.
“As many bones as possible are to be obtained,” says DEFE 16/608.
“The bones should be femurs. The required weight is 20-50 grams wet bone, subsequently ashed to provide samples of weight not less than two grams. The date of birth, age at death and locality of origin are to be reported.”
Professor Titterton said the bones would be crushed into a powder and sent to the UK for analysis along with the soil, animal samples and vegetation collected from the Australian testing sites.
The document found by author Frank Walker detailing the nuclear testing program on the Australian population. Source: British National Archives
As The Advertiser has previously reported, hundreds of bones were subsequently collected from the bodies of 21,830 dead babies, infants, children, teenagers and young adults across Australia without the knowledge of their parents.
The Strontium-90 testing program in Australia was the longest of its kind in the world, finally ending in 1978.
In September, 2001, following an extensive investigation by The Advertiser, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency revealed it had kept ash samples from bones collected from hospitals in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne.
In a report to the then federal health minister, Michael Wooldridge, the agency said it had detected varying levels of Strontium-90 in all Australian capital cities.
The document found by author Frank Walker detailing the nuclear testing program on the Australian population. Source: British National Archives
6. Friday 29 August 2014 marked the 15th anniversary of East Timor’s historic vote for independence, but Timor’s ongoing struggle to become a true sovereign nation – complete with sea boundaries – continues.
The Timor Sea Justice Campaign’s spokesperson in Melbourne, Tom Clarke, said the tremendous goodwill generated by Australia’s peace-keeping mission in East Timor following the ballot in 1999 had since been jeopardised by Australia’s bullish approach to contested oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.
“It’s a bit like stepping up to chase away a school-yard bully, only to steal the victim’s lunch money yourself,” said Mr Clarke.
Australia has consistently refused to establish permanent maritime boundaries with East Timor in accordance with international law.
“Rather than simply drawing a line half way between the two coastlines as international law prescribes, Australia has chosen to short-change East Timor out of billions of dollars through dubious gas and oil treaties,” said Mr Clarke.
For many East Timorese the Timor Sea dispute is inherently tied up with their independence struggle.
“Here we are fifteen years after their decisive vote for independence, yet when the Timorese look at a map of their nation there are no lines to indicate its maritime boundaries,” said Mr Clarke.
Beyond symbolism, the prolonged dispute has also trapped approximately $40 billion of government revenue – out of reach of the second poorest nation in Asia as it grapples with grave health challenges.
Mr Clarke said that if Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, wants to preserve the perceived legacy of his political mentor, former PM John Howard, he needs to finish the job in East Timor by establishing permanent maritime boundaries.
“If Tony Abbott wants to not only save John Howard’s legacy, but to build on it, he simply needs to give East Timor a fair go. This issue isn’t about charity – it’s simply about what East Timor is legally entitled to,” said Mr Clarke.
Mr Clarke urged the Prime Minister to resubmit Australia to the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea – both of which Australia preemptively withdrew from in 2002 – to demonstrate he’s ready to negotiate in good faith.
“It’s hard to take seriously any of the legal arguments put forward by the Australian Government whilst it refuses to submit to the independent umpire. So this would be a key step in getting fresh negotiations off on the right track,” said Mr Clarke.
A fair go for East Timor. Timor Sea Justice Campaign
The TSJC is comprised of concerned Australians of various ages, backgrounds and political persuasions who all want our Government to give East Timor a fair go. Specifically, we’re calling for the establishment of permanent maritime boundaries in accordance with current international law.
For further information and comments:
Tom Clarke on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0422 545 763 http://www.timorseajustice.com/timor-sea-justice-campaign-news
7. October 4-11, 2014 Keep Space for Peace Week International Week of Protest to
Stop the Militarization of Space
Stop Drones Surveillance & Killing
No Missile Defense
No to NATO Expansion
End Corporate Domination of Foreign/Military Policy
Convert the Military Industrial Complex
8. Mission creep is a one-way escalator to Iraq War III.
“A total of nearly 1,000 U.S troops are in Iraq and U.S. aircraft have mounted at least 70 airstrikes on Islamic State military assets since Obama authorized the bombing campaign less than two weeks ago.”
“The mission for U.S. troops in Iraq to help Kurdish and Iraqi security forces in their fight against Islamic militants remains limited for now, but may **expand** after Iraqi leaders form a new government, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.” (MilitaryTimes.com 8/19/14)
Follow US Labor Against War http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org
9. Book now for APHEDA Melbourne Gaza appeal 11th september
10 From Crikey
So, to be clear about what the Australian government is doing in Iraq, we will be providing arms not to the government of that country, but to a breakaway province whose forces include a terrorist group, the PPK, proscribed under our anti-terror legislation since 2005. As that proscription notes:
“The precise strength of the PKK is not known; however, it is widely believed the group numbers approximately four to five thousand militants, the majority of whom are based in northern Iraq.”
The proscription lists a large number of PKK murders and attacks in Turkey since 2010 alone. Under Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code, it is a crime to provide support to groups like PKK. That is what the Abbott government is now doing, albeit under the fig leaf that the weapons supplied will only be used by the Kurdish regional government forces. In fact, the PKK is central to the fight against Islamic State militants that we have now joined. It’s only a matter of days since the US media was lauding the role of the PKK in the battle against IS, with battle-hardened PKK soldiers — or are they more correctly called terrorists? — providing critical support for the Kurdish peshmerga both in operating alongside them and operating as special forces units behind IS lines. The president of the Kurdistan Regional Government actually visited a PKK camp recently to acknowledge their efforts.
The idea that somehow we’re not helping a proscribed terrorist organisation is thus, given the on-the-ground reality, laughable. And as past experience shows, arming terrorist groups because they are momentarily fighting someone we’re opposed to has a horrible way of coming back to hurt us.
That’s just one of the many absurdities and contradictions in the government’s decision — without debate — to rejoin the war in Iraq. The government itself has proposed laws prohibiting people from travelling to Iraq to fight for non-government forces, as it aids a regional government aiming to split away from the government of Iraq. IS, of course, are fighting a government in Syria condemned by Australia and other Western governments (and anyone with any sense of decency) that only months ago we were debating bombing. And the Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that there would be no Australian combat troops involved. As Crikey noted last week, air strikes and support for air strikes are very likely to mean SAS troops being involved — something since confirmed. There will be Australian boots on the ground in Iraq, regardless of what the Prime Minister says.
“The only likely consequence of the decision of the Abbott government is to make Australians less safe …”
And remember, IS is being bankrolled by patrons in our allies in the War on Terror, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.
How does this serve Australia’s national interest? That explanation was absent from the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday beyond motherhood words about “beheadings” — we await the government’s condemnation of the chop-happy Saudi government — and “a humanitarian catastrophe” and “security nightmare for the people of the region and for the wider world”.
In fact there is no evidence that IS represents any sort of “security nightmare” outside Iraq and Syria. If a group like IS can represent a “security nightmare” to Western governments, it suggests our police, intelligence agencies and armed forces are operating at an astonishing level of incompetence. The website Foreign Policy on the weekend tried to hype the IS threat by running a story about a “terror laptop of doom” that featured plans to “weaponize bubonic plague”. The story was picked up by right-wing sites like Breitbart and Fox in the US, The Times and The Telegraph in the UK and Andrew Bolt here, all presumably unaware that bubonic plague can be treated with topical antibiotic cream from your local chemist.
The problem with the other justification, of a humanitarian catastrophe, is the selectivity motivating the intervention. Where was the intervention against Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group of equal savagery to IS, in Nigeria? Where’s the second intervention in Libya, where Islamic militants, directed from London (despite the UK government hyping the threat is IS) took over Tripoli? Where’s the intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where UN efforts to end a decades-long civil war are hopelessly inadequate, or in Gaza, where hundreds of children can be killed by Israel with the US preventing any international action? Or (ignoring that it’s simply the case that Africans don’t really matter to Westerners) do humanitarian catastrophes only warrant intervention if they are somehow connected to Western security interests? That might be a plausible, hard-nosed approach in a world of limited resources, but relies on making the case that IS is a serious threat to Australian security beyond the Australians we let go over and join in the fight.
In fact the only likely consequence of the decision of the Abbott government is to make Australians less safe, just as our previous intervention in Iraq made Australians less safe. Then again, that can be used to justify further extensions of the government’s anti-terrorism powers and further increase the budgets of our security agencies, so no great loss from the government’s point of view. Let’s just hope that the time-honoured tradition of the War on Terror doesn’t play out yet again and we find ourselves under attack from the very groups we supported.
29th July statement. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA will receive $1 million to assist in emergency relief and the reconstruction of project work. Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA has been working in the West Bank and Gaza for 25 years with partner organisation, the MA’AN Development Centre.
The conflict, now in its third week, has so far claimed the lives of more than 1000 Palestinians and 42 Israelis of whom two are Israeli civilians. It is estimated that around three-quarters of the Palestinian casualties are civilians. Approximately one-third of the 6,233 Palestinians injured are children. More than 215,000 people in the Gaza Strip cannot return to their homes because of the danger of military attacks.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA condemns the firing of missiles, rockets and bombs by any party against civilian populations. The indiscriminate attacks on Gaza have seen hundreds of children killed, schools and hospitals being destroyed.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA extends its condolences to Hasan Ziaded, a member of MA’AN’s General Assembly and former member of the Board of Directors, who lost six family members including his mother and three brothers, when his house was bombed last week. Further condolences are extended to our MA’AN staff member whose brother has been killed, and to the 12 staff members displaced due to destruction of their homes.
The destruction of the El Wafa Hospital is condemned. The El-Wafa Hospital is a rehabilitation hospital for people with serious physical disabilities, especially spinal cord injuries. The hospital was attacked by airstrikes on 11 July, followed by shelling on 18 July and then destroyed on 23 July from missile attacks. El-Wafa Hospital had received $640,000 from members of Australia’s Islamic community and community groups via Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA in 2009. APHEDA has also supported the hospital by sending medical experts from Australia to provide extra support and training to staff.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA supports ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow’s call for “an immediate ceasefire and urgent humanitarian assistance to Gaza, followed by renewed international pressure to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and a negotiated settlement to respect the 1967 borders between Israel and a Palestinian state. The world cannot allow the injustice to continue, nor can it accept the prospect of yet more violence causing the deaths of innocent civilians”.
Angelo Gavrielatos, Chairperson Kate Lee, Executive Officerhttp://www.apheda.org.au/news/1406593295_10352.html
On 14 July 2014, the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 176 million workers around the globe, issued a call for an immediate ceasefire in the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza. The ITUC expressed its full support for the UN Security Council resolution calling for “de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.”
Please show your support for the ITUC call: http://www.labourstart.org/go/gaza
Did you know that Israel wants the gas offshore from Gaza.
If Israel is so keen on levelling Hamas it is essentially because the faction has categorically refused to discuss an energy sharing agreement whereby Israel would have access to Gaza’s gas resources.
Union resolution. That this meeting of the Victorian Trades Hall Executive:
Condemns Israel’s latest horrific assault on the people of Palestine, which has resulted in over 600 deaths in the past three weeks — the overwhelming majority of the dead being civilians, and many of them children.
We reiterate previous policy supporting a strategy of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against the state of Israel, similar to actions designed to isolate the former Apartheid regime of South Africa.
We supports the peaceful community protests called in solidarity with the people of Palestine, to be held on Saturday 26 July at 1pm, and Friday 1 August at 5pm, outside the State Library in Swanston St.
We urge affiliates to support these protests through attendance, publicity, and other means.
Further resolutions from Unionists supporting Palestine
From Robert Frisk on Israel’s impunity http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/eight-hundred-dead-palestinians-but-israel-has-impunity-9629726.html
25 points on Gaza
The suppression of Palestinian resistance is crucial to the success of the Israeli experiment. But there is a corollary, which is a cyclical interaction between Israeli colonialism and US militarism. As Bashir Abu-Manneh explains, there is a relationship between American imperialism and Zionist policies. American policymakers believe that an alliance with Israel helps the US control the Middle East. So the United States enables Israeli colonialism and occupation, which in turn creates contexts for further US interventions in the region that can be used to try to deepen American hegemony.
He points out, furthermore, that the “United States has been determining major economic and political outcomes” in the region since at least 1967, and that Israel plays a “crucial role in their realization. In Israel-Palestine, this has meant that force and colonial peace have alternated as main instruments of policy.” Yet all the while the main objective remains “a constant: Jewish supremacy in Palestine — as much land as possible, as few Palestinians as possible.”
From the Lancet doctors internationally condemn slaughter
Appeal to stop the war https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAx_TwBI8Bo
How Israel hides the facts http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/israelgaza-conflict-the-secret-report-that-helps-israelis-to-hide-facts-9630765.html
Petition on war crimes
We the citizens of the world demand that Benjamin Netanyahu as person and Israel as the apartheid state is put on trial along with all the evidences that prove it to be a country responsible for terrible war crimes against humanity and people of Palestine in general.
Why should Israel be put on trial?
1. At the time of writing this, Benjamin Netanyahu is responsible for killing over 1000 civilians. Many of those are children, women and people with absolutely no affiliation with any group of any sort. They have been wiped off the map as if they were totally insignificant people with no right to live.
2. Israel has been bombing public places, schools, family homes, religious places and has sunk to the lowest level and recently attacked children hospitals.
3. They used White Phosphorus in 2009 and have used it again in 2014. They air-burst white phosphorus in 155mm artillery shells in and near populated areas. Each air-burst shell spreads 116 burning white phosphorus wedges in a radius extending up to 125 meters from the blast point. White phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning at up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius) until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When white phosphorus comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns.
4. The establishment of settlements by an occupying power in occupied territory violates international humanitarian law which is the body of law governing situations of armed conflict and military occupation. Yet Israel is expanding it’s settlements and will obviously take over the Gaza area as no Palestinian will come back since they have no place to call home.
5. Israel’s apartheid setup where they have check-posts, blockades, and have taken every right from the Palestinians so they can’t even breath without having an Israeli soldier on their back. This has to stop and it’s nothing less than being a perfect definition of an apartheid settler state.
We demand that Israel is put on trial for war-crimes and Benjamin Netanyahu is held responsible for the deaths of all innocent people of Palestine along with being the reason for thousands of families being destroyed mentally and physically to the extent that they will never recover again.
Mr. President, if you are unable to do this based on other evidence that you can get from Human Rights Watch, UN, journalists, and doctors in Gaza, I feel you are letting down billions of people worldwide by letting a criminal get away with it.
Sydney meeting WHAT IS HAPPENING IN GAZA? WHY? AND WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Monday August 4th 6-7pm Old Geology Lecture Theatre, Edgworth David Building, Sydney University
Associate Professor Peter Slezak is a founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, and a member of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. APAN works with MPs and officials, from both government and opposition, in Canberra, to rally support in Australia for Palestinian rights and freedoms. They have been promoting a statement, now signed by 30 MPs, about the current crisis, which says: “The international community including Australia has a vital responsibility to put pressure on Israel to end its current military attack on Gaza and broker a solution of justice and peace”.
Alma Torlakovic is an activist with the National Tertiary Education Union and a member of Sydney Staff for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Shamikh Badra is a political activist from Gaza who is studying for a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies degree at the University of Sydney.
Associate Professor Jake Lynch is Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Recently, he won a court case against an Israeli law centre, Shurat HaDin, to uphold his right to boycott institutional links between the University of Sydney and Israeli universities.
Suzanne Asad is an activist with Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Sydney. She took part in the successful campaign for the Student Representative Council to endorse the academic boycott of Israel.
We enjoyed and urge you to attend Renegade Theatre, in association with The Trades Hall Literary Institute, and Ben Fuller’s first rate production of ‘Oh What a Lovely War’, the legendary anti-war musical play first created by Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop in 1963. My mother a theatre Director knew Joan Littlewood and was influenced for her Australian work.
The show that shook Britain.
The controversy still rages. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/10604911/Oh-What-a-Lovely-War-Why-the-battle-still-rages.html
The production takes place in The New Ballroom of the Trades Hall Building in Melbourne, a site of historic significance, where the anti-conscription movement assembled during World War I. The audience on entering Trades Hall are shown a plaque of the WW1 people’s vote against conscription.
The cast of activists and skilled performers do justice to the depth and complexity of Littlewood’s script. The play’s high level political commentary is delivered at a fast pace with intelligence and wit. And yet the themes are clearly communicated for a wide audience.
The show opens with Pierrot clowns performing Mel Brooks-esque slapstick comedy, complete with audience interaction. The cast remain in Pierrot costumes throughout the show – including on the battlefield and at highfalutin international presidential dinner dances.
The idea of conveying a hard hitting anti-war message while wearing clown suits sounded risky to me. Would it be too obscure? Would it come across as surreal and abstracted from reality? Would the audience consist of five old white guys? Are the members of Renegade Theatre a bit nutty? It quickly became apparent that, just as writer Joan Littlewood expected her audiences to be smart enough to get it, director Ben Fuller is not actually taking such a risk – he knows that it works. The cast pull it off to a T.
The play is a history lesson in war-time decision making processes. The truths of war are revealed as blood-thirsty field marshal Douglas Haig refuses to acknowledge the atrocities of war. He is happy to lose hundreds of thousands of troops if it means driving the enemy into the ground. A jovial grouse shooting expedition highlights the vested economic interests behind the scenes of the slaughter. One hundred years on, little has changed.
A French mutineer, war deserters and a Christmas day drinking session with Jerry and Tommy (German and British troops) in No Man’s Land depict the bravery and humanism of the working class when soldiers refuse to follow orders.
The play’s musical director Jonathan Harvey does an amazing job on the tunes. Ben Fuller has cast professional performers – including Paul Dawber who plays the all powerful Haig. The women in the show sing spectacularly. Dianne Algate’s rendition of I’ll make a man of you is top notch. A certain chain-smoking Renegade Activist MC still had his voice perfectly intact after three straight nights of yelling, singing and screaming at new army recruits.
Littlewood said of the original production that she wanted people to leave the theatre laughing at the “vulgarity of war”. But in the final scenes of the show, quiet sobs can be heard in Trades Hall’s New Ballroom as the audience reflects on the sadness of senseless death. Renegade Theatre does a great job of adapting a complex and sophisticated play into an entertaining, energetic, tear-jerking show. A must see.
The company brings together members of the activist community with the theatre community to voice our ongoing disgust at our own and other imperialist governments responsible for the ongoing involvement of nations in wars such as the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, as well as other conflicts around the world.
The show is one that is held close to the hearts of many around the left, including the director, Ben Fuller, who recreated the play with fellow students and staff while studying Musical Theatre at WAAPA in 1998. Ben had been looking for an opportunity to stage the show again since then. Trades Hall Building Caretaker and activist Jacob Grech, who had spoken to Ben numerous times over the past few years about the idea, arranged for the production to be endorsed by the Trades Hall Council as part of the 100th anniversary of this terrible event.
As a member of IPAN, Independent and Peaceful Australian Network, I believe the choice of this musical is important in raising the question of peace and to challenge our ruling class’s dominant ANZACery propaganda.
As well, in an earlier era Labor governments at Commonwealth and State levels financed a highly regarded Art and Working Life programme to support community theatre and with the unions (cancelled). This production, now opened in Melbourne, would be recognised and assisted to continue seasons and tour interstate and regionally. As this is not happening…Book now!
Peace groups say no new military intervention into Iraq. Statement issued by IPAN – Independent and Peaceful Australia Network June 24, 2014
Anti-war and peace groups from across the nation are uniting to urge the Australian government not to involve itself in any further military action in Iraq.
The groups insist that Australia should resist any pressure it might be under to follow the US’s lead – in the way that it did in 2003.
Chomsky on a brief history of US foreign policy http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175863/
Nick Deane, acting as spokesperson for the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network said:
“The invasion of Iraq by the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in 2003 was, at best, a terrible mistake and quite possibly a war crime. The US, Britain and Australia colluded in the lie that Saddam Hussein possessed and was about to use ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Iraq posed no threat to the invaders.”
The invasion and the years of occupation that followed destabilised the country and exacerbated existing sectarian divisions. It was the prime cause of the sectarian violence that we see in Iraq today.
Iraqis have been paying with their lives ever since the invasion. In addition to the current violence, a generation has been born with an unacceptably high percentage of severe birth defects for which no-one has been held to account.
No effort has been made to clean up the pollution and lethal waste left behind by military operations. Other consequences include the deaths and displacement of millions of civilians; the privatization of the country’s resources and the installation of a puppet government.
As political leaders at the time, Tony Blair, George Bush and John Howard have yet to be brought to account. Meanwhile Blair, at least, is again calling for Western intervention.
We must not allow our nation to repeat the mistakes of 2003. We have no business interfering. If we were to intervene or join others in intervening, we would only be making a bad situation even worse.”
Peace groups in Australia agree with the statement from US war veterans which said in part:
“When the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, the formerly secular country was destabilized. The United States and the Department of Defense intentionally created and agitated sectarian divisions that would not have otherwise existed. The result of this is what we see today, and Iraqi civilians are paying for it.”
Nick Deane continued:
“Far from installing democracy, the invasion in 2003 simply replaced one brutal and repressive regime with another one, more conciliatory to the West.
“The peoples of Iraq must be allowed to settle their disputes free of outside, military intervention. Self-determination is absolutely necessary for, and fundamental to, any lasting solutions.
“The events of 2003, and their horrific consequences for the people of Iraq, also illustrate the need for an independent Australian foreign policy, which would not support military intervention. Instead, it could send engineers and others to assist in the physical re-construction of the country. Australia would best contribute to peace in the world by first asserting itself as truly independent.”
Also from Stop War Coalition
From Medical Association for the Prevention of War. There is growing concern from MAPW members and the community that Australia may commit defence personnel to what may become a third invasion of Iraq. MAPW, in partnership with the Public Health Association Australia, has issued a statement on the situation and is calling on the government to support the provision of humanitarian aid to Iraq and not to follow the USA blindly, but to act in the best interests of finding a peaceful solution to the current situation. If you could write a letter to the Editor of your newspaper of choice, to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and the Minister for the Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop and your local Member of Parliament, outlining how you feel about the situation, it would be a great help. It is so important that our political representatives know how we feel about the situation in Iraq.
Today MAPW President, Dr Jenny Grounds and Michael Moore, CEO of Public Health Association of Australia, released a media statement outlining their concerns regarding the worsening security situation in Iraq. The statement calls on the government of Australia to pursue a peaceful solution to the current conflict in Iraq and not to commit Australia troops to fight before a full and proper debate of parliament has taken place. Read the full statement below.
Statement on the worsening security situation in Iraq by, Dr Jenny Grounds, President, MAPW & Mr. Michael Moore, CEO, PHAA
The current situation in Iraq is critical. Already at least half a million people have fled their homes in the current push by ISIS to take over the major cities of Iraq’s North. We can anticipate worsening of the humanitarian crisis in the region, including spread of disease, mental health issues and physical trauma on a scale which will totally overwhelm UN and other aid organisations.
The destabilization in Iraq which is rapidly unfolding should not come as a surprise. Even before 2003, there were warnings of just such an eventuality as a result of the illegal invasion in that year by the British-U.S.-Australia coalition, an invasion that was opposed by millions of people in those countries. The U.S. imposed a top-down democratic process, and installed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has proved to be an ineffective leader.
Since that time, there have been calls for an inquiry in Australia into the decision-making process that led to Australia’s involvement in that catastrophic war.
Many groups and individuals, including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, have also expressed great concern about our increasing fusion with the United States military including and specifically the Asia Pacific Pivot
Now Prime Minister Abbott is repeating the mistake made by Prime Minister Howard in 2003 by promising our forces to support the United States in whatever action they decide to take in response to the Iraq crisis. Our government clearly has not learned from Australia’s past mistakes.
Many key questions remain unanswered, such as: How can “the enemy” be attacked without intensifying the risks to civilians? How would further military action help bring peace and stability to Iraq and the region, when it has thus far merely intensified hatreds? What form would Australian involvement take and how would “success” be defined? What would be the likely humanitarian impact and what plans does Australia have to alleviate the suffering? What impact would Australian involvement have on our own security? What plan does Australia have for reconstruction in Iraq? Would military action be legal?
MAPW calls on the Australian government to:
· provide maximal humanitarian aid to support the increasing numbers of refugees who are seeking to escape the violence
· Refrain from committing Australian forces to further military action against Iraq without the most rigorous examination and debate in parliament, and without the approval of parliament
· encourage and allow the United Nations to perform its proper role in this crisis,
· initiate a Royal Commission into the processes that led to and our involvement in the 2003 Iraq invasion, and
· support the passage of a new War Powers Bill to ensure proper parliamentary debate and approval before any current or future decision to send the Australian Defence Forces to war.
Parliament should decide if we go to war, not Tony Abbott says Adam Bandt MP
Green Party Federal MP, Adam Bandt, is proposing to put a Bill in front of parliament to change current “War Powers” legislation to ensure that a debate and vote in Parliament takes place prior to any troops being deployed by Australia. MAPW has no political affiliations and does not actively support any political parties. MAPW does however support a change to the current situation where the Prime Minister alone can make such an important decision. MAPW and the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (CIWI) have been campaigning for such a change to legislation.
Paul Barratt sets out the case for an inquiry in to the Iraq War
Paul Barratt is a former Secretary of the Department of Defence and former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs And Trade. Paul discusses his involvement in a the campaign calling for an enquiry into Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war, how the Australian government should approach the current situation in Iraq and whether the ISIS atrocities are a consequence of the 2003 invasion.
Andrew Wilkie calls for a Royal Commission in to the Iraq war, not more troops
In Federal Parliament this week Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, called on the government to instigate a Royal Commission into the Iraq War and not to send troops to Iraq in response to the current and worsening security situation. To watch Mr Wilkie’s speech to parliament click here
Iraq crisis – created by Bush and Blair and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia says Robert Fisk
Long time Middle East correspondent and author, Robert Fisk, has written a number of articles in the last few weeks. Fisk highlights the role of Saudi Arabia in Iraq and the rise of ISIS.
Neo-cons naive dream to liberate Iraq explodes into nightmare
Journalist and former presenter of Media Watch Jonathon Holmes writes,”It’s easy to see clearly in hindsight. But sometimes it’s worth looking back at what people foresaw. The current crisis in Iraq displays more starkly than ever the wilful blindness of the architects of America’s invasion of Iraq in March 2003”.
Crikey says: Tony Blair’s deluded Middle East manifesto (Crikey editorial in full below)
One can only be impressed at the scale of the man’s delusion: on the weekend, Tony Blair issued a manifesto nearly 3000 words long calling not merely for a new intervention in Iraq but for intervention in Syria — and indeed more widely in the Middle East.
Blair insists we need “a plan for the Middle East and for dealing with the extremism world-wide that comes out of it”. His one-time press secretary, Alastair Campbell, even tweeted the link, bringing an enjoyably 2002 feel to things — can a sexed-up intelligence dossier be far away?
The essay is part desperate attempt to salvage Blair’s own shattered reputation and part rallying cry for neoconservatives to revive the project of Western intervention in the Middle East.
Blair asserts that the collapse of Iraq is nothing to do with the illegal war that he and George W. Bush orchestrated — at best he will allow that the invasion exacerbated ethnic tensions in that country, something neither the British nor the Americans evidently considered before using confected claims about weapons of mass destruction to remove Saddam Hussein.
This call for a repetition of the Iraq debacle coincides with increasing pressure in the UK for the long-delayed release of the Chilcott Inquiry report into the circumstances that led the UK into Iraq under Blair. The British, at least, have undertaken a serious process of examining the disaster that was the Iraq War and why the UK participated. It is a process that Australia has never undertaken — despite Labor’s commendable and public opposition to our participation.
Thus we find ourselves once again debating intervention in Iraq, when Australians haven’t even been told the truth about why we joined that intervention a decade ago. Ends
Former British MP and current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has referred to Tony Blair as “mad” after reading Blair’s open letter. Boris Johnson also refers to the Iraq war as a “tragic mistake”.
The propaganda war in Iraq
Writing for the UK Independent, Patrick Cockburn shines a light on the propaganda war taking place in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. A timely reminder of how the media influences how war is interpreted by the community. To read Patrick’s article please click
Please support the union campaign for peace not war.
NO Iraq War Replay
Adopted by USLAW US Labor Against War Steering Committee, June 25, 2014
A majority of working people opposed the Iraq War and participated in the eight year struggle to end it. We felt great relief when the last troops departed Iraq in 2011.
U.S. Labor Against the War opposes any U.S. military intervention in Iraq, whether that be with weapons, drones, missiles, bombs or troops, including Special Forces “advisors”. At the same time, we abhor the sectarian violence that is wracking the country, and are appalled at the humanitarian crisis that deepens by the day in Iraq.
Can sectarian divisions in Iraq be overcome? One need look no further than the Iraqi labor movement, which has operated since the demise of the Hussein regime on the basis of non-sectarian solidarity and mutual respect. Unions in Iraq welcome all workers as members without regard to their religious, ethnic and cultural identity or national origin. When unions and other civil society organizations are allowed to operate free of government interference and repression, the wounds of sectarian division can begin to heal.
USLAW agrees with Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Iraqi Workers and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI), who recently said:
“The working class in Iraq is the common force that exists across the county, from the north of Kurdistan to the furthest points south. It is this force whose very existence and survival depends on the eradication of discrimination and the unification of the Iraqi people. This is the only force that can end fragmentation and division.
“We reject US intervention and … also stand firmly against the brazen meddling of Iran.
“We stand against the intervention of Gulf regimes and their funding of armed groups, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“We reject Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian and reactionary policies.
“We also reject armed terrorist gangs and militias’ control of Mosul and other cities. We agree with and support the demands of people in these cities against discrimination and sectarianism.
“Finally, we reject the interference of the religious institution and its call for indiscriminate warfare.”*
USLAW recommits itself to defend and act in solidarity with the Iraqi working class and labor movement in its quest for a non-sectarian, tolerant, egalitarian, democratic and prosperous Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors and at peace with itself.
There can be no military resolution to the conflict in Iraq and intervention of the U.S. will only add to the suffering while prolonging the hostilities. The conflict will end when Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians negotiate a durable just power-sharing arrangement that promotes mutual respect and tolerance rather than sectarian division and enmity. There is no role for the U.S. in those negotiations. U.S. involvement should be limited to providing generous humanitarian aid and reparations for the destruction wrought by U.S. military operations.
The roots of the present crisis in Iraq can be traced to the U.S. occupation. While the neocons dominated the U.S. foreign policy establishment, an overwhelming bipartisan Congressional majority voted to authorize the Iraq War. The neocons now seek to deflect responsibility for the consequences of their policies by pointing to “age old religious sectarian schisms,” but there had been no violent conflict between Shiites and Sunnis until the U.S. occupied Iraq. George Bush sent Paul Bremer to Iraq to set up the occupation authority. He pursued a ‘divide and rule’ policy that pitted Shia against Sunni against Kurds to create and exploit social, economic, tribal, cultural and religious differences. The present crisis is the bitter fruit of that near-decade long military intervention. The crisis in Iraq has a “made in America” stamp all over it.
The very same figures who took us into the Iraq War are today calling for U.S. military intervention again in light of growing sectarian violence that threatens to plunge Iraq into civil war.
They blame militant jihadists and depict the unfolding conflict as a “takeover” by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) bent on establishing a caliphate in which their extreme interpretation of Sharia law will prevail across what are now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.
But ISIS’s military success has been possible only because it enjoys the support of disaffected Sunnis, former members of the Ba’ath Party and others who have been marginalized and ruthlessly repressed by the autocratic corrupt U.S.-installed al Maliki regime.
U.S. missiles, bombs, drones and Special Forces ‘advisors’ will do nothing to resolve the conflict in Iraq but will rekindle Iraqi hatred of the U.S. and entangle the U.S. once again in the internal affairs of Iraq. It will put American troops in harm’s way and inevitably lead to more U.S. casualties. Three hundred U.S. advisors can not accomplish what 165,000 U.S. troops could not.
We call on USLAW affiliates, the American labor movement and its social allies to demand NO U.S. military intervention in Iraq. Build America, don’t destroy Iraq. Create jobs here not refugees and casualties there. Respect Iraqi sovereignty and the right of Iraqi people to self-determination.
Campaign to pressure Abbott to back off buying the F35s. Education, health and housing before war.
John Howard as Prime Minister signed Australia up to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter development program in a secret deal with the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin in a Washington hotel ten years ago. This was a pre-production, undeveloped, “off the plans” purchase. More than 10 years later the F35 is still in a development stage. (Source, ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ program (4Cnrs) Mon 18th Feb 2013)
The cost of each aircraft has quadrupled since initial estimates and is currently about $160million. However the purchase deal includes a servicing factor of at least twice that amount over the lifetime of the aircraft. The total cost of the 100 aircraft Australia intends to buy would be in the order of $48billion – and could be even higher.
The F35 Joint Strike Fighter is the biggest weapons purchase in our history.
Other countries (Canada, Netherlands) that had agreed to purchase it are now re-considering. Italy has already cut its order.
The concept of the F35 is unparalleled in complexity and performance ambition – which has led to major, expensive post-production corrections. Costs have escalated and the situation is compounded by the threat of buyer dropouts. Delivery date is unknown.
The F35 appears to be unsuitable for Australia’s defence. However, it definitely ties us in very closely with the US’s military/armaments system. This close relationship with the US military makes us more likely to become involved with US-led adventures and wars.
The costs of the F35 are open ended upwards. Meanwhile, funding for social capital, such as education, hospitals, transport infrastructure etc. is threatened in a downward spiral. Australia needs to support domestic growth and development instead of being drawn into the black hole of the uncontrollable defence hardware spending represented by the intended purchase.
The whole matter puts Australia in an unwinnable situation.
Rather, stories about the past are pressed into service to buttress the needs of each class and imperium.
Nowhere is this practice more blatant than in the reinvention of ANZAC since the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Turkey on 25 April 1915. The propaganda sought to weaken opposition to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Legend is being promoted to oil us into whichever conflict the US war-machine turns to next.
The ALP grabbed the opportunity of the 1990 anniversary to paper over the wounds that Indigenous Australians and their supporters had inflicted on Hawkie’s ‘consensus’ when we rained on the 1988 bi-centennial parade. From then on, all governments have thrown money at the War Memorial and into marketing ANZAC-ery. Every other cultural institution has suffered annual two-percent cuts, misnamed ‘efficiency dividends’.
Keating promoted Kokoda to get away from the Brits and to put us more firmly into the US orbit. The 30-second roll-over of film clips of Australian forces fighting from 1914 to 2014 leaves people wondering whether the ANZACs fought at Kokoda. Surveys have shown that even the backpackers who hoof it to Gallipoli know little more about ANZAC day than that it is when Essendon plays Collingwood.
Despite all the money that has been poured into celebrating slaughter, the level of information can never be under-estimated. In countering the propaganda, activists cannot afford to take anything for granted. However, people are likely to be turned off if we hit them over the head with a barrage of facts. Posing innocent questions casts doubt over larger false assumptions.
For instance, how many members of parliament know
– that the ‘I’ in AIF stands for Imperial, not Infantry?
– that an Imperial Japanese cruiser escorted the ANZACs to the Middle-East?
– that Russia was ‘our side’ in both world wars?
By raising what seem like trivial pursuits, we set people thinking about what else we need to ask. Such questioning opens the window to the suspicion that there is a lot that we are not being told.
Central to the ANZAC invasion of Canakkale was a scheme by Churchill to supply the Czarist regime through warm-water ports. The aim was to make sure that reverses on the Eastern front did not provoke another revolution against Czardom. That had happened in 1905 after its defeat by Japan. Thus, the Dardanelles campaign was aimed against the Russian people. Churchill’s fear was well grounded as 1917 proved. To reverse the Bolshevik revolution, the Allies demonstrated their commitment to ‘self-determination’ by sending armies of intervention into the Baltic and Siberia from 1919 to 1924. As at the Dardanelles, the imperialists were driven into the sea.
To win the history wars for the workers, we need to promote positive stories from the war years. Nothing will be gained from standing on the sidelines throwing rocks. Our aim is to change peoples’ minds, not to assert our moral superiority. There is no place for a local up-date of the Pharisee’s prayer: ‘thank you god for not making me like other Australians’.
The most potent line of advance is through the two conscription plebiscites. Majorities of our people twice voted NO against conscription for overseas service.
Those choices blocked a more overt dictatorship by the compradors. Our liberties were won at home, not on the Western Front.
Along with the defeat of the Ban-the-Reds bill in 1951, the anti-conscription victories are the most important achievements for us to absorb. Each of the three is many times more significant for Australia’s polity than was the 1688 counter-revolution in Britain that Pyne rabbits on about for the national curriculum.
Each region has its own left-wing diggers. VC winner Hugo Throssell who came home a socialist and anti-war activist. So did fellow West Australian Bert Facey, as he retold in A Fortunate Life. And so did the last Anzac, Tasmanian Alec Campbell, who acted as bodyguard for railways union militant Bill Morrow in the 1930s.
What we need is not a set of counter-assertions. Students are turned off by being shouted at. Instead, we can the enfilade the official stance by posing questions. Hence, instead of telling students to write essays about Simpson as an industrial militant, we can kill two lies with one question: had Simpson survived Canakkale, how would he have voted on conscription in October 1916? That question becomes a reminder that the closer the troops were to the front, the more they voted NO.
Grizzling about the lavish funding of pro-war propaganda won’t cut through to the attitudes of the ninety-nine percent. One practical step from the ACT Branch of the Society for the Study of Labour History is an essay competition to bring attention to the war on the home front. Other groups and activists should approach their local schools to see what is possible. (Teachers will find lots of useful material on the honesthistory website.)
Since 2012, a band of Aborigines from the Tent Embassy has led settler supporters behind the official 11am march up Canberra’s ANZAC Parade. The marchers carry placards documenting the ‘Frontier Wars’. The crowd applauds the contingent.
The War Memorial is now anxious to bring the indigenous inside the official marquee. So, it stage-manages a ceremony to honour the indigenous who served – after decades of neglect. RSL clubs had long refused to admit them. One matter on which consensus is unlikely to be reached before the war celebrations wind-down in 2020 is how to deal with the ‘Frontier Wars’.
We must support the erection of a memorial to the warriors. But that installation can have no place among memorials celebrating the invaders’ side of the frontier. How many indigenes want to be tied to the settler troops sent against the Maori in the 1860s?
War and peace are class questions. Every war memorial is a monument to how working people from every country were used to advance the needs of monopolising capitals. We have to reclaim those statues and lists of names for our class as sites of conflict.
We also need to appreciate why some workers could embrace ANZAC Day as ‘the one day of the year’.
Alan Seymour’s 1962 play of that name ends with the father cornered into admitting that ANZAC Day is the only time when anything he has done is given any public acknowledgment. His work receives no recognition. This explanation for his chest-beating is an indictment against the destructiveness of capitalism, second to the slaughter itself. See as well my experience
We can extend Alan Seymour’s insight.
ANZAC-ery is reducing the notion of serving the people to war service. The hour-by-hour service to the well-being of communities from nurses and teachers is marginalised.
The choice of yet another general as governor-general reinforces the lie that men with guns embody what it means to be Australian – never forgetting the mining magnates and stock-exchange jobbers whose interests those guns protect.”
Humphrey McQueen is a Canberra based historian. Search on this blog for other articles.
The ANZAC question is to be discussed at the IPAN Convergence. Details
IPAN National Peace Conference 2014 Canberra
Tuesday 22nd April 9:00am – 5:00pm Unions ACT, 189 Flemington Rd., Mitchell.
The Independent Peaceful Australia Network IPAN is a network of organisations from all regions of Australia who are united by our support for an independent Australian foreign policy based on peaceful resolution of conflicts.
· The US military has massively increased its presence with American Bases, Marines, Navy and Aircraft in Australia for build-up against China. Criticise Australian foreign policy on the “US pivot” to the Asia Pacific and Australian involvement in US intelligence operations and the “deep state”.
· Examine the environmental issues for peace movements. What impact does our military spending and activities have on Global Warming? Is terrorism really our biggest security risk?
· Question the costs of the US-Australian military alliance. Abbott’s purchase of 86 F35s at $90 million each, and new Drones and more defence spending means less for working people. Could less Defence money, spent elsewhere increase our security?
· Australia and US data gathering Edward Snowden’s leaks reveal Australia is embedded deep into the US Surveillance System. Do the costs of this outweigh the benefits? What does it mean for Australian civil rights? How can we repair relations with our neighbours?
· Responses of the peace movement to the Abbott Government promotion of a 4-year celebration of the World War I centenary? Was the conscription debate and ultimate defeat in Australia during world war one more telling of our national character than the invasion of Turkey in 1915?
Speakers include: Dr Michael McKinley, ANU; Vince Emmanuele, US Iraq War Veteran; Justin Tutty, Basewatch, Darwin; Dr Alison Broinowski, Campaign for Iraq War Inquiry; Dr Marty Branagan, Lecturer in Peace Studies; Kim Sattler, Secretary, Unions ACT; Dr David Stephens, Secretary, Honest History, ACT; Dr Sue Wareham, Medical Association for the Prevention of War Vice President
Workshops. Poster session – a chance for you to present your ideas in written and graphic form to others. Chair people : Dr Jenny Grounds, MAPW Medical Association Prevention of War; Humphrey McQueen, Australian historian.
Please contact Annette Brownlie, 0431 597 256 for Registration. Please email to: email@example.com or: IPAN, c/o PO Box 573, Coorparoo, Qld 4151. IPAN Victoria, Chris White, 0418830297
IPAN website: http://www.ipan.org.au
Canberra Peace Convergence. Activities: contact Graeme Dunstan, Peacebus.com 0407951688. Wednesday 23rd. Meet for general open space Peace discussions at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, 1, King Edward Terrace, Barton. Thursday 24th April planning for peace direct actions. Special US guest Vince Emanuele from Iraq Veterans Against the War.
8pm Remembering war. Seeking peace. Contact Janet Salisbury 0416 167 280. Friday 25th April 11am. Lest We Forget the “Frontier Wars” during ANZAC day. 2pm Treaty Signing Ceremony.
Debunking the Anzac myth starts with the stories we tell our children.
An illustrated book about the battlefield’s real legacy encourages young Australians to contemplate the futility of war by Paul Daley, Guardian.
John Schumann has turned his classic anti-war song I Was Only Nineteen, into an illustrated children’s book. Another generation of young Australians will read the book, hopefully seek out the 1983 song that Schumann performed with Redgum, and contemplate the deeper resonances of war.
‘A century ago we got it wrong. We sent thousands of young Australians on a military operation that was barely more than a disaster. It’s right that a hundred years later we should feel strongly about that. But have we got our remembrance right? What lessons haven’t we learned about war, and what might be the cost of our Anzac obsession?’
Defence analyst and former army officer James Brown believes that Australia is expending too much time, money and emotion on the Anzac legend, and that today’s soldiers are suffering for it.
“Anzac’s Long Shadow The Cost of Our National Obsession” 2014 by: James Brown
Vividly evoking the war in Afghanistan, Brown reveals the experience of the modern soldier. He looks closely at the companies and clubs that trade on the Anzac story. He shows that Australians spend a lot more time looking after dead warriors than those who are alive. We focus on a cult of remembrance, instead of understanding a new world of soldiering and strategy. And we make it impossible to criticise the Australian Defence Force, even when it makes the same mistakes over and over. None of this is good for our soldiers or our ability to deal with a changing world. With respect and passion, Brown shines a new light on Anzac’s long shadow and calls for change.
The looming centenary of the landing at Gallipoli is a reminder of unfinished business between settler and Indigenous Australia after a decade of incomplete reconciliation, writes Henry Reynolds in this extract from his new book. See more at: http://inside.org.au/forgotten-war/
Pyne wants more ANZAC in schools
FOR AN INDEPENDENT AND PEACEFUL AUSTRALIA