War widow Kellie Merritt will make a personal appearance in Canberra to renew her criticism of the Iraq war in which her husband was killed and to support calls for an inquiry into John Howard’s decision to commit Australia to that conflict.
Her husband, Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel, was killed in the crash of a Royal Air Force Hercules in Iraq in 2005 and is buried at Woden cemetery.
“This talk will be the first time that I’ve spoken personally and publicly in the context of bringing about an Iraq inquiry,” Ms Merritt said on Sunday.
“It’s a bit of a coming out for me – it’ll be 10 years that Paul died, in January next year.
“It’s taken a long time for me to make sense of his loss and find something constructive and meaningful.”
Ms Merritt says questions about the purpose and objectives of the Iraq war are uncomfortable for her.
Kellie Merritt and her husband Paul Pardoel, who was killed in Iraq in 2005.
“I end up with the conclusion that we invaded Iraq for no reason, that the fall-back reason has backfired (especially for the Iraqi people) and that my husband did not die for any tangible purpose,” she will say at a symposium on Tuesday at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.
“This leads me to question the nature of the contract between the military and our government.
“Conventional democratic wisdom holds that it is disastrous for the military to second guess our democratically elected government’s decisions.
“This makes it all the more important that our government exercises its decision-making processes with caution, transparency and a sense of accountability.”
Ms Merritt hopes her speech will serve as an incentive for peace.
“So this presumably means I am a pacifist – it is hardly surprising, my kids have grown up without their father, due to war,” she says.
“I am under no illusions about my contribution to this discussion … My currency, I suppose, is to serve as an up-close and intimate diagram of personal loss – the reminder that speaking about war in euphemistic language, or with bravado, or with optimism, is the domain of the naive and the foolhardy.
“I worry that the notion of the grieving widow is almost a romantic one … But when the ceremonies were all ov