Palm Sunday refugee rally address: Australia’s wars of choice create refugees

Text of an address to Rural Australians for Refugees in Armidale, NSW by Paul Barratt, President, Australians for War Powers Reform Palm Sunday Refugee Rally, 25 March 2018

 

Good morning ladies and gentlemen

My remarks this morning are directed not so much to how we treat refugees who come to our shores seeking help, but how so many of them come to be refugees in the first place. This is appropriate because many people have become refugees as a result of wars in which we have participated, such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Most Australians would be …

Why an Iraq War Inquiry is more necessary than ever

US air strike on a suspected insurgent hideout at the edge of Fallujah, Iraq, 8 Nov 2004. Image: US Marine Corps via Wikimedia Commons

A flurry of activity was caused by last month’s comments by Greens parliamentarians Adam Bandt and Richard Di Natale over Liberal Senator Jim Molan. The ostensible reason for the attack on Molan was his sharing of two videos originating from a neo-Nazi far right group in the United Kingdom. Bandt, who later withdrew his remarks, called Molan a “coward” and said that Molan should be prosecuted for his service in the Iraq war. In the Senate, …

Defence Department says international law is ‘challenged’

RAAF Super Hornet aircrew on return to Australia from the Middle East last January    Image from The Australian

 

Today’s (2 March 2018) analysis by Chris Ray in The Australian explains Australia’s withdrawal of RAAF Super Hornets from Syria early this year, but not the continuing presence of the air-to-air refuelling aircraft and an E7-A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, and associated personnel.

Nor does it explain why the ARF and Special Forces are still needed on the ground in Iraq, if IS has been defeated, as the Iraqi Prime Minister says.

It doesn’t offer an alternative …

The Media, the Iraq War, and Fallujah

Rupert Murdoch and his newly appointed head of Fox News, former Republican adviser Roger Ailes, 1996

The Australian media continues to fail us badly over its coverage of the Middle East wars, terrorism, and the ongoing disaster of ISIS. That failure began with the invasion of Iraq. Unlike important overseas media, no Australian media has admitted to or apologised for its failure in the coverage of the Iraq war and its consequences. As is often the case, our media was embedded in the ADF in support of Coalition policy. The political class sticks together. News Corp media has been most …

Our Agreeable Illusion Ends

Hugh White, ‘Without America. Australia in the new Asia,’ Quarterly Essay 68, Melbourne: Black Inc. 2017

For years Hugh White has contributed knowledgeably to Australia’s defence and foreign policies, while deploring the prevailing feebleness of our public debate about them. With almost no public debate, Australia has for sixteen years been spending $95 million per day on fighting unnecessary wars in distant countries. Having had no independent inquiry into them, it remains a mystery how Australia can avoid similarly counterproductive wars in the future.

Professor White continues to credit the United States with maintaining peace and stability in Asia …

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un: There’s More to Foreign Policy Than The Art of the Deal

Much of the success of US foreign policy in the period following the end of the Second World War can be attributed to the transformational approach taken by Washington, which put in place an institutional architecture that enabled the era of globalization that has defined the modern period. But the world is now saddled with a US president whose transactional approach to diplomacy — honed by years of doing real-estate deals — combined with a temperament that often puts himself at the centre of all things, holds serious risks in dealing with threats such as those posed by North Korea, …

Australian complicity in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria: A matter of time

An RAAF FA-18 refuelling over Iraq in March 2017. Image courtesy of US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made it clear that he will be no less aggressive than his predecessor Tony Abbott. “Our job is to protect Australia from all threats,” Mr Turnbull has said. “Right now, as you know, our Air Force is operating in the Middle East killing terrorists.” Back in September 2016 Mr Turnbull announced that Australian laws would be overhauled to allow the Australian Defence Force to target more Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq and Syria. The …

Parliament split on going to war: Remember 2003?

As calls increase for reform of the flawed process by which Australian troops can be sent to war, and in particular for parliamentary debate and vote before ADF deployments to armed conflict, some standard arguments against such decision-making by parliament continue to be offered. They remain unconvincing. The latest articulation of these arguments was made on 30 June 2017 by Dr Anthony Bergin during his lecture entitled “Parliament and national security: Challenges and opportunities,” in the Senate Occasional Lecture Series.

Pleasingly, Dr Bergin acknowledged that parliamentarians are under-utilised in matters of national security, and he contributed useful ideas, especially …

Howard’s War: a continuation of politics by other means

Paul Barratt AO

President, Australians for War Powers Reform

Notes for Public Seminar at Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus, 26 April 2017

In March 2003 Prime Minister John Howard triggered Australian participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq. The invasion was illegal under international law, and Australian participation in it was not authorised by the Governor-General as required by the Australian Constitution. There was no strategy, no end-state that the Australian Government wished the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to achieve: the Government’s reasons for participating were political, not military. This presentation will argue that we must reform the way we …

What are we doing in Syria?

The alacrity with which the Prime Minister came out in support of the Trump Administration’s launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles against an air force base in Syria is a sharp reminder, for those who have been paying attention, of how easily we slide into international armed conflict, with no adequate statement of strategic intent, and no informed debate in Parliament.

Australia is once more embarked upon a military adventure in the Middle East, again at the behest of the United States, again without a clear definition of what the aims are or what we might hope to achieve, and as …