Here we go again: Tony Abbott’s Iraq adventure

The following is the text of a presentation by CIWI President Paul Barratt to the Sydney Chapter of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, on the evening of Tuesday 10 February 2015.


Here we go again.

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

Australia’s stance in relation to this conflict shifted so rapidly – from air-dropping humanitarian supplies to delivering arms and then positioning Special Forces on the …

A world of no-go zones?

As the population of our ‘global village’ grows to more than 7.22 billion and mega-cities multiply, the world’s wilderness withers, agricultural land shrinks, oceans become waste dumping grounds, and former industrial sites are reduced to polluted, decaying wastelands. The climate warms and sea levels rise. Humans have rendered many areas in the world no longer accessible for humans.

These areas are ‘no-go zones’, as the lawless streets of Boston were known in the 1980s. The same term applied to Redfern’s Block in the 1990s and parts of Birmingham in the noughties. It is true of Ferguson in the mid-2010s, and …

Parliament should decide on the deployment of armed force

Malcolm Fraser and Paul Barratt

In “Parliamentary Vote Would Dangerously Restrict Executive in War” (The Australian, 2 September) Russell Trood and Anthony Bergin assert that the idea of Parliament voting on decisions to go to war is poor public policy. None of the arguments they advance in support of this claim hold water.

The point is made that Governments need the capacity to react quickly to events. Quite so, but the occasions would be rare when the capacity of the ADF to deploy would be held up by Parliamentary process. Apart from the Ready Reaction Force at Townsville, most combat …

Ramesh Thakur on the Chutzpah of the Iraq War Neocons and Fellow Travellers

On 25 June 2014 Professor Ramesh Thakur of the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy contributed a piece on the above subject to the Australian Institute of International Affairs’ online journal Australian Outlook.

He begins:

Two years ago, Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu condemned the ‘immorality’ of the Iraq invasion: ‘in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague’. Like the …

Another intervention in Iraq?

The Prime Minister is expressing a willingness to have elements of the Australian Defence Force join with the United States in another intervention in Iraq – notwithstanding that neither the shape of that intervention nor its objective is known.

We would argue that the fact that we are considering going back into Iraq makes it all the more obvious that we need to learn the lessons from the previous invasion, the disastrous nature of which is not only almost universally acknowledged but demonstrated by the fact that some claim a need to go back in.

There should be no further …

Letter to the Prime Minister, 13 March

Below is the text of a letter sent to the Prime Minister on 13 March 2013, a few days ahead of the eleventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Similar letters were sent to all Members and Senators in the Federal Parliament.

We will keep you posted on any substantive replies we receive.

Letter begins

13 March 2014

The Hon. Tony Abbott MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Parliament House


Dear Mr Abbott,

As we approach another anniversary of the 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq I write to express my concern that, eleven years after Australia participated …

Open letter to the Prime Minister-elect


Below is the text of an open letter to the Prime Minister-elect, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, signed by me and a number of distinguished Australians who support CIWI’s cause, was published in today’s edition of The Age. The original may be viewed online at An open letter on war to the new PM.


Among the many big-picture items missing from Australia’s recent election campaign was foreign policy. While Australians were voting, the United States President was seeking US congressional and international approval to launch a punitive military action against the government of Syria, which would almost …

Sue Wareham on Syria

The following letter by Dr Sue Wareham, Vice-President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW), and Secretary, Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, was published in The Canberra Times, Saturday 31 August 2013.

Original may be viewed at Canberra Times letters for that day.

Those calling for the bombing of Syria as punishment for the use of chemical weapons in the country seem to think that Western missiles will make the place safer for its millions of civilians. Talk of brief military interventions, before weapons inspectors get a chance to report, sends chilling reminders of how leaders lied and rushed …

War Powers: Why not Parliamentary control?

In Feelings of déjà vu I noted that we were once again in a position where the US is poised to undertake a military strike without awaiting the report of the UN weapons inspectors and without UN authority.

Meanwhile, in Australia the nature and extent of our involvement, if any, will be in the hands of just three men – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister Bob Carr, and Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly, tipped to be Defence Minister in the event of an ALP victory on 7 September. As two of these gents are appointed on the recommendation …

Feelings of déjà vu

Events over the last 24 hours, in addition to eliciting that feeling of déjà vu, validate Iraq War Inquiry Group’s core positions in a most dramatic way.

Here we go again; the US is poised to undertake a military strike against Syria, and does not feel it needs to await the report of the UN weapons inspectors because, as John Kerry puts it, we can rely on our conscience and common sense. It will be without UN authority, but US/UK leaders insist it will be legal. It will be limited and proportionate, says David Cameron – aren’t they all? It …