Time to judge our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Somme Villers-Bretonneux Australian National War Memorial. Photo: Alamy (via Fairfax)

Reports of alleged breaches of the laws of war by Australian special forces in Afghanistan have drawn attention again to the length of the war itself and its apparent ultimate futility.

A feature of commentary on these breaches is how their severity increases the longer troops are in sustained combat, as they become shrouded in the ‘fog of war’ where the legal commitment assumes a certain relativity and the morality of the commitment becomes frayed – as does the ANZAC ideal of 100 years ago.

“Legal ambiguity at the …

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 …

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 …

Launch: “How Does Australia Go To War?”

MEDIA  RELEASE

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

As concern spreads in Australia about what our latest military intervention in Iraq is for and where it will end, Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is targeting MPs and Senators with a call to change the way our troops are sent to war.

All Federal parliamentarians will receive a book of short essays, “How Does Australia Go To War?”, on the political, military, legal and ethical implications of Australia’s current practice. It points out that in Australia – and in only a few other democracies – the prime minister can decide to commit …

Kellie Merritt on Australian participation in foreign wars

On the eve of Anzac Day CIWI Committee Member Kellie Merritt, widow of Flight Lt. Paul Pardoel, Australia’s first serviceman to be killed in Iraq during the military operations that began with the March 2003 invasion, gave a powerful presentation at The War to End All Wars: our responsibility to those who died and their families, an event at Deakin Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne hosted by the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW).

To get the full impact of this presentation you can view it on YouTube.

The full text is below:

Begins

My name is Kellie …

Our 2015 fundraising appeal for the new AWPR book

Today Australians for War Powers Reform launched a fundraising appeal through the crowd sourcing website pozible. The appeal is to enable us to produce and distribute to all members of Federal Parliament​ a new booklet for the campaign, edited by Dr Alison Broinowski and with contributions from a range of authors. our new booklet “HOW DOES AUSTRALIA GO TO WAR?” puts the government’s war powers under the microscope. The publication offers a diverse range of views from Australian experts in foreign affairs, defence, and law. With a foreword by the late Hon Malcolm Fraser, it examines the history of …

Describing ISIL as a “Death Cult” is a ploy to dumb us down.

Prime Minister Abbott’s constant reference to ISIL as a “Death Cult” is a gross over-simplification of a complex conflict in the Arab world. It is intended to exploit the gullibility of a great many Australians who take little interest in and have little understanding of that part of the world as they do not see it as affecting their personal interests, let alone that of the nation.

By deepening Australia’s military involvement in Iraq – which demonstrates that this government has learnt nothing from recent history – Australia is aligning with one dubious side over others in what is clearly …

Creepy Mission

So to no-one’s surprise, the Prime Minister says we are now in the ‘next phase’ of the fight against whatever it’s called. ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh, you name it, has recently become a ‘death cult which is reaching out to us here in this country’. So the Martin Place siege proves the death cult is here among us, and hence that we are defending Australia.

In fact, it is an opportunistic minority Sunni assault on the Shia government of Iraq, a country divided in three by ancient religious differences and modern power politics.

What interest has Australia (or New Zealand) …

Media release: No Clear Mission – No SOFA?

MEDIA RELEASE

WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH, 2015

No clear mission – no SOFA?

Following Prime Minister Abbott’s announcement of additional troops for Iraq, Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) have expressed serious concern at the lack of clearly articulated goals that will be met by the deployments.   While the PM has denied any ‘mission creep’, this is exactly what is happening, with our role in Iraq having evolved significantly since August-September last year.

AWPR President and former Defence Department head Paul Barratt said,

“Step by step Australia is being drawn into a vicious sectarian war of enormous complexity, with no apparent …