Media release: long-overdue Chilcot report due on Wednesday in UK, calls for similar process in Australia

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) will this week welcome the release of Sir John Chilcot’s long-delayed report on Britain’s involvement in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  The report will examine the way decisions were made, the actions taken, and the lessons to be learned.

Six years in preparation, it is based on interviews with more than 150 witnesses, some of whose statements were reduced to ‘gists’. Some of the 150 000 documents it uses had to be declassified, and others were restrained by ‘national security’ concerns.

Information already available indicates that Chilcot will reveal that Tony Blair’s decision for …

The silence is deafening

We learn belatedly that Prime Minister Abbott tried to persuade the Army to send to the MH17 crash site in Ukraine, were more like 3000, a full brigade!

In this long election campaign, the major parties are debating anything and everything that will affect votes. Everything, that is, except refugees, foreign policy, and – as if it is a minor matter – the war. Australians who haven’t been paying attention may well be unaware that we have military in Afghanistan (still), Iraq (again), and Syria. In spite of retired generals Peter Leahy and Peter Gration repeatedly questioning the strategy and …

The unasked or unanswered questions of this election

It is a democratic principle that debate is essential to good policy. Dispute has a refining effect on ideas.  Moreover, one of the purposes of an election campaign is to allow the public to understand where our government or potential government is taking us and what it will cost. There was a time when foreign and defence policy were central to the pre-election debates in Australia.  This was a time when party differences led discussion and, in the process, illuminated the issues for the electorate. Such scrutiny forced governments to be alert to public opinion regarding what they did and …

Iraq, Syria and the Middle East are absent in this Election yet a good part of our strategic forces have been engaged there for over a decade. Why?

In the Australian Financial Review on 26th May 2016, under the heading: “Shadow of long-forgotten Iraq falls over campaign”, the celebrated columnist, Laura Tingle, wrote that we seem to be “very busy observing an election campaign that day-to-day seems to be about nothing very much at all”. She noted that Australia remains one of few countries to not reflect on its involvement in Iraq.

Next month (July) the Report of Sir John Chilcot on the UK’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war will be released. Nothing like that is afoot here, or ever will be on present indications. …

Deployment of Special Forces | Letter to PM Turnbull

The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP Prime Minister Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Turnbull,

Deployment of Special Forces; War Powers

Further to my letter of 1 March 2016, to which I have not yet received a reply, the concerns of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) in relation to the process by which Australians are sent to fight overseas, far from being addressed by your government, appear to be increasingly urgent as we learn of a deeply worrying degree of secrecy surrounding our troop commitments. It is clear from recent comments attributed to Special Operations Commander Australia, Major-General Jeff …

What exactly is Australia’s policy in Syria?

Australia’s decision to join the United States bombing campaign in Syria was mired in deceit, disinformation and obfuscation from the outset.  When the Australian government announced in August 2015 that they were going to consider the legal ramifications involved before committing to a decision, they omitted two crucial facts.

The first fact was that the then Prime Minister Tony Abbott had already solicited an invitation from the Americans to join the bombing campaign.  The second omitted fact was that the legal opinion had been sought and obtained a year earlier.

In mid-September 2015, without any parliamentary debate (then or since) …

Anniversary of March 2003 Iraq Invasion: relevant lessons are still ignored.

Media Release

Anniversary of March 2003 Iraq Invasion Observed: Lessons Relevant for Syria and Elsewhere, But Still Ignored.

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is marking the anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and allied forces including Australians, by renewing its call for all Federal Parliamentarians to heed the lessons from that disastrous military episode.  (While the anniversary date is generally recognised as 20 March, AWPR notes the Australian people were misled on this as on much else, as our SAS troops were operating in Iraq from 18 March, 2003.)

The invasion, which was authorised neither by …

Letter to PM Turnbull: War Powers

The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP Prime Minister Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Turnbull,

War Powers: Authorisation of the Use of Military Force

I write on behalf of Australians for War Powers Reform, an Australian Registered Body which was established 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 membership includes former senior military officers, diplomats, defence officials, academics and members of relevant NGOs.

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

The case for war powers reform: aide-memoire

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 …

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

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 …