The streaker’s defence

It takes a particular kind of courage for people in public life to admit that they got something wrong, even after their error is publicly obvious. All three leaders who planned and executed the 2003 invasion of Iraq said at the time that they would take ultimate responsibility for the war, but none of them did. For ten years, neither George W. Bush, Tony Blair, nor John Howard has said they were wrong, let alone admitted that life for many Iraqis is nastier and shorter than before the 2003 invasion.

Their claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons didn’t stand up in …

What price humanitarian war?

Justification for war in Iraq was tenuous in 2003. A decade later it is even more so, writes war widow KELLIE MERRITT.

With her parents-in-law Margaret (2nd R) and John Pardoel (R) looking on, Kellie Pardoel (2nd L) is held by her father Maurie Merritt (L) as the remains of her husband Paul Pardoel arrive in Canberra, 31 March 2005, after the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flight lieutenant was killed in an unexplained air crash in Iraq while on service with the RAAF. Photo: AFP

I did what I did. It’s all on the public record and I feel …

A Fitting Codicil To A Century Of War

Military spending and mythology in Australia have taken on a life of their own. We need an Iraq War inquiry and a more realistic view of the last century of war, writes Jake Lynch

A large chunk of humanity tumbled into World War I just over a hundred years ago. Now it’s consigned to be yet another centenary, clearly visible in backward view as an opportunity for commemoration.

Expect the first significant stirrings around the end of June, which in 1914 saw the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. The diplomatic crisis his assassination triggered led …

Price of Iraq war too great to repeat

Photo: Jason South

At the Nuremberg Tribunals in 1946, the crime of aggression was judged to be not only an international crime but ”the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

Nearly six decades later, on March 18, 2003, then Coalition prime minister John Howard announced the commitment of Australian Defence Force troops to the invasion of Iraq.

The invasion was not authorised by the United Nations Security Council, and nor was it an act of self-defence for Australia. The majority of international lawyers believe it …

Watching as Iraq crumbled

Ten years ago in Baghdad, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, I sat with my Iraqi friend in his photo store. I was his last customer, he said; the bombs would begin tomorrow. And then he began to quietly weep.

We sat in silence for several minutes before he spoke again: ‘We don’t know our future now, we have no idea what will happen.’ It was this uncertainty that raised his anxiety, having no idea how it would all turn out. Indeed nobody knew. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I whispered, and wept quietly with him.

Then he held out …

Australia’s ten wasted years of war

Ten years after the first bombs fell on Iraq, three facts seem indisputable. First, the reasons given by the leaders of the USA, Britain and Australia to justify the war were inadequate. Second, thousands died in the conflict, many of them civilians, including children. Third, the perpetrators have largely escaped any form of accounting.

The leaders of the countries that headed the ‘coalition of the willing’ pleaded that they did not have the wisdom of hindsight. This is either self-delusion or more of the propaganda that suggests their way was the only way.

Supporters of the war misleadingly argued that …

For democracy’s sake, let’s talk about our war in Iraq

An inquiry would help us avoid repeating mistakes made 10 years ago.

Natasha Stott-Despoja addresses an anti-war demonstration in Swanston street on February 14, 2003. Photo: Shannon Morris

The largest anti-war demonstrations in Australian history began 10 years ago today – February 14, 2003.

Millions of people protested worldwide, in about 800 cities – including in Australia, Britain, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Syria, India, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and even McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

In Melbourne more than 100,000 people protested. They clogged Swanston Street for more than three hours, stretching all the …

Iraq war, what was it good for? Absolutely nothing

Chris Smith (Letters, August 21) asks why we still need to question why we went to war to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

If the reasons for the invasion were those he lists in his letter – not the threat of Saddam’s ”weapons of mass destruction” – then the answer to his question is obvious: how can the leaders of the US, Britain and Australia take their citizens to war on a lie, destroy a country, kill tens of thousands and lose thousands of their own and depart office without suffering so much as a rebuke from the institutions (parliament, judiciary and …

St Patrick’s Church

The Catholic Church wishes to appeal against the listing of St Patrick’s Church on the ACT Heritage Register (”Debate over heritage value of St Patrick’s”, August 17, p6) because it wishes to use the realised profits from the land for other redevelopment.

Monsignor John Woods is reported saying that ”there are mechanisms in the Planning and Development ACT where the archdiocese could argue that the economic values of the site were greater than the heritage values”.

If such mechanisms were in place or perceived to be in place due to purposeful misinterpretation of words, the heritage of all of Canberra …

Two decades of super profits not enough

I DON’T know whether to laugh or cry when I hear Tatts claim that it has been treated ”unconscionably” by the Victorian government (”$1bn hinges on one word”, The Age, 17/8). Tatts and Tabcorp raked in billions over the 20 years of the duopoly they held in Victoria. Most of this came from the pockets of vulnerable people, leaving a trail of crime, broken homes and mental illness in its wake.

Further, the killing they made was far more than the government ever expected they would make. A National Competition Policy review in 2000 found that both companies were extracting …