The case for war powers reform: aide-memoire

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 3 March, 2016 | 1:00 am

Introductory statement by Australians for War Powers Reform, to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on 23 February 2015.

Who we are:

Australians for War Powers Reform includes among its members former senior military officers, diplomats, defence officials and academics. It is an Australian Registered Body which was incorporated in Victoria in 2012 to campaign, inter alia, for reform of the so-called ‘war powers’ – the power to deploy elements of the Australian Defence Force into armed international conflict.

Our proposal:

Our central proposition is that the Parliament should be involved in any decision to expose …

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Syria: options for Australian parliamentarians, and the need for debate.

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 23 February, 2016 | 1:32 pm

This paper is presented by Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) to stimulate discussion on non-military approaches to the problems in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. It is not exhaustive and does not represent agreement by all AWPR members on every detail. However AWPR members are agreed on the fact that these matters receive grossly inadequate debate in Australia, particularly in our parliament, and that they demand such debate from our elected representatives.

There is no political crisis in the world that cannot be made worse by external, including Western, military intervention, particularly in the Middle East. Much …

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Melissa Parke’s retirement from Parliament

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 25 January, 2016 | 5:50 pm

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is very sorry to hear the news that the Member for Fremantle, the Hon. Melissa Parke MP, will not be re-contesting her seat at the 2016 Federal Election.

Not only has she been a strong supporter of our campaign for war powers reform and for the establishment of an independent inquiry into the decision-making process that led to Australia’s participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq; we believe her first hand experience of UN peacekeeping operations and her work in the UN Headquarters and in Beirut, plus her experience as Minister for International Development …

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‘This is for Syria’

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 14 January, 2016 | 12:07 pm

In a New York bookshop a few years ago I heard a customer ask for Bibles. The assistant directed him, and he went to inspect them. ‘Hey Miss’, he then called, ‘Who’s they by?’

Good question. In spite of similar doubt about its authorship, the Koran in English translation has never been in such demand. One thing militant Islam has achieved in the last three decades is an outpouring in the West of commentaries on the religion, on Islamic terrorism, and on what drives young Muslims to join up for wars. Debates proliferate about the nature and purpose of jihad, …

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Where might the Middle East conflict be leading?

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 14 December, 2015 | 3:54 pm

What are we to make of the conflict at the heart of the Middle East at this stage and Australia’s continued participation in it? Is it the ‘Great Game’ being played out yet again, this time on a different level essentially with proxies? Or will the proxies give way to more direct action by what even by today’s standards we consider Great Powers, even if relative?

What is clear from an aerial view is that there are a host of minor conflicts on a new battle ground with the larger regional countries moving in to fill vacuums where they see …

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Syria from the Russian perspective

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 5 December, 2015 | 11:20 am

Syria is a hellish problem. Looking at it from the Russian perspective: they had no alternative but to attack ISIL because it threatens to spread lethally into their own southern Muslim underbelly – Russia is 10% Muslim and that includes Russia’s poorest and most mistrusted communities. And their ex-Soviet southern neighbours.

To attack ISIL they had to defend the far from perfect Assad regime, which meant also attacking Turkey-supported Islamic extremists (not ISIL) in the North of Syria, who present the most immediate serious military threat to Assad. This led in reply to the terrible Sinai act of terrorism, (and …

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The War Powers and Parliament

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 3 December, 2015 | 9:39 am

Those who believe that Parliament should have a clear role in the decision-making process in regard to the War Powers would have noted closely the proceedings of the mother Parliament in the Westminster system these past weeks.

The British Prime Minister while noting that the Prerogative Power enables the government,  following due process, to commit to war and war like actions, has asserted that reference to the parliament is an integral step in providing the political justification for such decisions. The purpose is to secure a political mandate and allow all relevant matters to be brought forward and discussed in …

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The most important decision

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 28 November, 2015 | 10:00 am

This letter from AWPR member Ernst Willheim was originally published in The Canberra Times on 27th November 2015:

If Tony Minchin is under the impression that the Australian Defence Force is on a permanent state of readiness  (War Moves Quickly, Canberra Times, letters, 24 November) he is mistaken. At a recent high level seminar at the Australian National University distinguished retired generals with extensive command and combat experience explained that major operational commitments require months of preparation. Only a very small pool of our defence forces is kept at a high level of readiness. The parliament can be called into…

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Audio: Little consolation from Australia for downed Russian jet

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 17 November, 2015 | 3:24 pm

Tony Kevin on The Wire

The 224 people who have died in the Russian Metrojet disaster in Egypt almost certainly have perished as a result of an ISIL bomb. Yet western intelligence does not appear to have been shared with Russia or Egypt. Our own government is yet to send so much as a condolence note with our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop maintaining that her interviews on talkback radio are enough. A dangerous rift in the anti-ISIL campaign countries could result.

http://www.warpowersreform.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/RussianJetTheWire9thNov2015LowRes.mp3

Produced by Roderick Chambers, 9th November 2015.

This audio was originally published here.…

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Britain opts out of bombing Syria

By: AWPR | Posted in: Blog | 8 November, 2015 | 10:51 pm

Britain’s decision not to join the US and its allies in bombing IS in Syria is good news, particularly but not only for Syrian civilians. Even though David Cameron didn’t mention the illegality of such an attack, he knows that the Commons would raise it in a Parliamentary debate, and that because of uncertainty about the purpose and outcome of bombing, the Tories would be likely to lose a vote, as they did in 2013.

There are two lessons in this for Australia. Our RAAF operations in Syria, whether inspired by Tony Abbott or President Obama, are illegal for the …

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