20 August, 2014

A letter to Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

21 August 2014

Dear Prime Minister
I understand that you share my disgust with beheadings. This is not difficult to agree upon. For me, the murder of another human being is unconscionable. I maintain this consistently and strive for solutions that do not require or minimize the use of violence.  It would be preferable to bring these offenders to trial at The Hague; rather than blow-up large tracts of Iraq. The Australian federal government has applied this principle selectively and this approach may be worsening the problem that it is trying to solve. The Attorney General is in the process of introducing new anti-terrorism laws, but Muslims are not the only people who can be extreme in their views and inflict violent acts on others. As Dr Anne Aly stated on ABC RN on Wednesday 20 August 2014, much of the appeal of groups like IS is through claims of victimhood and applying that logic in urging young men (mainly) to protect their community:

“Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action.” Anne Aly
As Dr Aly pointed out, this applies to Neo Nazis and white supremacists in similar ways. She said that Germany has effective programmes to address radicalisation issues. Please explore this.
There is a very intense problem in your approach to consultations with Muslims, Prime Minister, that you appear to be lecturing Muslim leaders, rather than attentively listening to them and drawing upon their experience with the intent of producing more effective and acceptable legislation. As we have heard, some of Melbourne's Muslim community-leaders have refused to meet you because of what they see as your hectoring tone and frankly a colonialist and assimilationist attitude. However, I remember a long list of political leaders, notably Brendan Nelson and Kim Beazley who took the approach a few years ago that Muslims, and only Muslims, should 'go back where they came from'. That insult stays with people for a long time when they feel threatened and when successful settlement depends on a confidence in making plans to stay where they are, building careers and families.
Your term, 'team Australia' is inherently coercive and exclusionary. It sounds like a re-play of those earlier times when unfortunate and hurtful things were said. It will result in social division. If you look at what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri, USA, that is somewhere this country should not go. A Prime Minister needs to be much less cavalier and more empathetic. Please practice attentive listening, it may bear better fruit.
I find it astonishing that the word Gaza barely passes your lips. I find it quite shocking that you and your Ministers have no comments to make on the military excesses committed by Israel and the unacceptably high civilian death and injury rate among the population of Gaza. I do have an understanding of Just War concepts and military necessity. The ruins of Gaza do not relate in any way to either Israeli defence or military necessity. What words will you have for the Muslim community to explain this callous apparent indifference to suffering?
If you are serious about protecting Australia from terrorist attacks, there are a number of courses of action you should initiate without too much delay. Whilst talking with Muslims, it is prudent to also talk even-handedly with Zionist leaders about the 400 or so young Australians going to Israel to join the IDF and, in Ben Zygier’s case, Mossad. There they learn to use military weapons in real situations to inflict terror against civilians. This is not only a military skill. They are not fighting another army that has attack helicopters and tanks like theirs. It is a traumatic experience, which has been described in some detail by former IDF soldiers. You are also aware that IDF soldiers on deployment routinely deface places of worship, both Muslim and Christian and leave the homes of Palestinians in a state of utter destruction and chaos. In short, young Australians who join the IDF learn to hate Palestinians and to act violently towards them. Their PTSD, bitterness and confusion can lead to societal problems like those you fear from Jihadi veterans.
In conclusion, a more even-handed policy toward Israel could contribute to a situation in which Muslim Australians would feel affinity with their/our government and not find our foreign policy so offensive and so alienating. Then we might persuade some Jihadis to stay home and keep the peace.
Please give this letter due consideration and do not allow a staff member to serve one of those dismissive replies. I want a serious reply from you because I care about this country and how we walk in the world. Please.

Willy Bach

“Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action.”

On the footer it says:
The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
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15 August, 2013

Were the wars against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq illegal? – for evidence in the trial of Graeme Dunstan.

                                                Were the wars against the peoples of 
                                                       Afghanistan and Iraq illegal?

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General:

Reported in Yew York Times, BBC, ABC (Australia), The Guardian
Lessons of Iraq war underscore importance of UN Charter - Annan

Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan
Julian Borger

Ramesh Thakur

The Iraq crisis and world order: Structural, institutional and normative challenges
Edited by Ramesh Thakur and Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu
Part V: International legal and doctrinal issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379
23 The war in Iraq as illegal and illegitimate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381
David Krieger (use this)
24 Legitimacy as an assessment of existing legal standards:
The case of the 2003 Iraq war . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397
Charlotte Ku
25 The multinational action in Iraq and international law . . . . . . . . . 413
Ruth Wedgwood
26 Iraq and the social logic of international security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 426
Jean-Marc Coicaud
27 Justifying the Iraq war as a humanitarian intervention:
The cure is worse than the disease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 444
Nicholas J. Wheeler and Justin Morris
28 The responsibility to protect and the war on Saddam
Hussein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 464
Ramesh Thakur
29 Post-war relations between occupying powers and the United
Nations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 479
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 479
Simon Chesterman

Alison Broinowski

Howard's War

Alison Broinowski

Call for an Iraq war inquiry

Why did we go to War with Iraq?

Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser
An illegal war, a divided world
By Margo Kingston
May 20, 2003

US TV station Democracy Now!
MONDAY, MAY 27, 2013 
Memorial Day Special: U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Return War Medals at NATO Summit
“...Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. "I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe." Scott Kimball, an Iraq war veteran, adds: "For all the servicemembers and veterans who are against these wars, you are not alone!"

Is War Against Iraq Legal Or Not? a Debate Between Roger Normand and Ruth Wedgewood
War against Iraq is "unequivocally illegal under the UN Charter and international law." That is the conclusion of a new report by the Center For Economic and Social Rights.
"It is the height of hypocrisy for the U.S. and U.K. to base war on Resolution 1441 when they are fully aware that France, Russia and China approved that resolution on explicit written condition that it could not be used by individual states to justify military action," said CESR Executive Director Roger Normand, who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq.
"This war violates every legal principle governing the resort to force. It clearly has little to do with disarmament, democracy, human rights, or even Saddam Hussein, and everything to do with oil and power."
The report warns that an illegal war in Iraq would threaten the pillars of collective security established after World War II to protect civilians from a recurrence of that unprecedented carnage.”

MARCH 21, 2013

WATCH: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young on Bush, Missing WMDs, Failed Medical Care


Particular War Crimes:

1. The Sanctions and 12 years of around the clock bombing were each war crimes in their own right:

Iraq Still Years From Seeing Sanctions Lifted
by Jason Ditz, June 18, 2013

Declassified Documents Point To US War Crimes In Iraq
By Stephen Gowans
© 2001 Steve Gowans

2. Fallujah: The use of egregious weapons, Depleted Uranium and White Phosphorus and resultant birth defects:
(see also Donna Mulhearn’s accounts)
Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault
• Defects in newborns 11 times higher than normal
• 'War contaminants' from 2004 attack could be cause
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 30 December 2010

The Children of Fallujah - the Hospital of Horrors 

Stillbirths, disabilities, deformities too distressing to describe - what lies behind the torments in Fallujah General Hospital?

by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani on 13-06-2013
A 2012 World Health Organization study on congenital birth defects in Iraq has still not been released to the public.

Fallujah children's 'genetic damage'
21 July 2010 

3. US Colonel James Steel and General David Petraeus – the use of Death Squads in Iraq (its link to ongoing sectarian violence in Iraq):
From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington's man behind brutal police squads
In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America's dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage

6 March 2013

How the US exported its 'dirty war' policy to Iraq – with fatal consequences
Using Latin American covert operations as a template for its Iraqi paramilitary proxies, the US once again lost the moral war

Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres
Exclusive: General David Petraeus and 'dirty wars' veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse 

6 March 2013

Searching for Steele
Broadcast: 02/04/2013
Reporter: Trevor Bormann (narrator)

Friday, March 22, 2013
BBC-Guardian Exposé Uses WikiLeaks to Link Iraq Torture Centers to U.S. Col. Steele & Gen. Petraeus

4. Abu Ghraib, Torture, Extraordinary Rendition (Australia implicated) see Rod Barton book:
The Weapons Detective
The Inside Story of Australia's Top Weapons Inspector

Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse

5. Orders to carry out 360 degree rotational fire – documented by US veterans, Ethan Mccord, Vince Emanuele and others (see Winter Soldier Hearings)
Soldier's Shocking Allegation: Troops Ordered to Engage in '360 Rotational Fire' Against Civilians
If even a fraction of former Bravo Company 2-16 soldier Ethan McCord's story is true, Congress must investigate.
June 21, 2010

6. Looting, Destruction, Theft of Cultural Heritage and National Treasures.

7.  Crimes by individual soldiers, often under orders, disrespect for Qurans, mutilation of corpses and massacres.

23 June, 2013

So, Abbott backs ongoing Afghan mission, does he?

First read this article, we really want to know what a government led by Tony Abbott would stand for. Unfortunately, this gives rise to a lot of anxiety. Abbott backs ongoing Afghan mission when Prime Minister Gillard's public statements were that Australia would withdraw and most sensible commentators have declared the mission a failure:

Abbott backs ongoing Afghan mission
·         AAP
·         JUNE 22, 2013 2:20PM

My comment:

Australian soldiers are just guns for hire in the new scenario described in the Herald article. They will be working for the USA, commanded by US commanders and sent to fight wars that are only in the interests of the US and its corporate appendages and nothing to do with protecting Australia. Yet these new covert wars for the 
remaining resources of the world will make new enemies for Australia and make this country much less safe. We will lose the respect and trust of our neighbours and further lose control of our own foreign policy.

What will also happen is that there will no longer be a community of Australian veterans who are supported by the community and cared for by our government. We will breed a secret army with names like Soldier X. It will be a professional force that no one in Australia feels a connection with - professional only in advanced soldiering. Of course, they will come home with PTSD and other adjustment issues - but there will be little connection between them and the Australian community that did not approve their deployment and feel no ownership of the mission or the place where they secretly served a foreign entity.

We can be sure that Julia Gillard's government was already heading in this direction; Tony Abbott will accelerate this abandonment of all pretence of honour. Abbott will be like a Gillard on steroids. This will be a Work Choices military which goes to war for its clients, never retires and seamlessly moves on to G4S, the next iteration of Blackwater and somewhere in the Congo where there is a copper mine to defend from indigenous protesters. In short, Tony Abbott's military will be comprised of soldiers who are without moral scruple and have never sighted the Geneva Conventions. There will be no parades and no memorials; only extravagant mansions for a few who profited from corporate war-making and parked most of their gains in tax havens.

Pretty grim, eh!

01 March, 2013

Australian Defence White Paper 2013 – Submission from Stand Fast

F-35 in the clouds, very much the description we should give this unaffordable US Lockheed Martin war-plane, the Joint Strike Fighter which John Howard committed Australia to, in a process that violated routine procurement procedures. The only reason for Australia to need this level of power projection would be to enable Australia to fight global wars for dominance as a partner to the US. Do we scrap this shabby deal and manage to afford an education system or follow the USA?

See ABC TV Four Corners, 18 February 2013, REACH FOR THE SKY

Defence White Paper 2013 – Submission from Stand Fast

Stand Fast Veterans is a group of former military service-people who have committed themselves to a principled position against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on grounds that these wars were unjustified, in breach of international law, likely to inflict severe harm to the civilian populations of these sovereign nations and a needless risk to the lives and well-being of our fellow military brothers and sisters.

We maintain that war should not be entered into lightly. It must always be the final resort when no other course of action is left to our government. In the process of meeting these standards, all inter-state disputes should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for resolution. This is the function for which the UNSC was designed.
Only after this process is exhausted, the prospect of war can be discussed. It must be prosecuted only after rigorous scrutiny in the Parliament and in the public domain and must embody the kind of transparency and accountability that should be expected from a genuinely democratic nation. It must always be in the national interests of Australia and with the specific objective of defending the territory of Australia.

Secret wars carried out by proxy forces, mercenaries and special forces in secret and on the other side of the world do not meet this standard. If Australian resource extraction corporations require this sort of protection in order to operate in Africa or the Middle East we should examine closely their implementation of human rights, social and environmental codes of conduct, as in the Kimberley Process and the Equator Principles and the conventions of the United Nations. Resource exploitation without just recompense being given to indigenous communities generates conflict.

Ongoing issues for the Stand Fast group include the growing tendency for the Australian government to accede to the increasing list of requests for US military facilities in Australia. The US Marine base near Darwin and other bases under discussion and planning demonstrate a determination on the part of the Gillard government not to consult with the Australian people on the general direction of these developments. If this government could manage these developments without any public discussion they would.

These integrative plans demonstrate the expansion of interoperability of Australian forces with US forces that further co-opt Australian foreign policy into the web of US strategies that are designed to enhance US global dominance, not defend Australia. We are being locked into very ambitious and expensive procurements which are increasingly likely to bring us into conflict with China, our major trading partner and will undoubtedly offend regional neighbours in Asia and the Pacific.

Furthermore, fighting the USA’s wars does not ensure that Australia’s ally will come to our aid. Nor does it ensure that Australian views are listened to or acknowledged in Washington. We don’t get the much yearned for ‘seat at the table’ with rights to be consulted. There is, however, a very strong trend for Australian professional standards to descend to the level practised by the US forces. US forces’ routine Standard Operating Procedures include gross violations of Geneva Conventions; an absence of concern for the well-being of civilians; disrespect for the dead; the mistreatment of prisoners and the use of torture.

1. If this alliance with the US is regarded as an insurance policy, the premium is too high, the small print too small and the payout non-existent.

2. The procurement costs to buy the equipment required for the kind of inter-operable offensive force projection are way more expensive than what Australia would need just to defend our own continent. The argument of US special offers, spares and training are a form of entrapment and may be a false economy.

3. We should be very emphatic that the threshold on the decision to go to war must be kept at the highest level of rigour. War must be the last option, not the first. The decision must involve the Prime Minister, Cabinet and the entire Parliament, not the PM alone, and not in secret.

4. The irregular deployment of special forces (SAS) without Parliament, to locations not disclosed to the public should cease. In particular, the removal of Australian forces from Afghanistan in 2014 should be all of Australia's soldiers, with no exceptions whatsoever.

5. The use of Australian forces to fight wars and other categories of lethal interventions designated as necessary by the USA and principally commanded by the USA, and not sanctioned by the UN Security Council, must not be routinised and must not be undertaken unless these are explicitly in the national interests of Australia in the view of Parliament and in public opinion. Importantly, the intelligence assessments and military advice must be sourced independently in Australia and Australian foreign policy must be independent of the USA and not beholden to Washington's whims. 

6. The process of decision making has to be world's best practice, not the way in which the Howard government decided to go to war against the people of Iraq. Telling the public that no final decision had been made whilst all the way through preparing to go to war was totally unacceptable for a democratic society and was an abuse of power. Pushing forward with war plans with no plan to divert the energy and resources into peace-making was equally deplorable and must not be repeated.

7. Contemporary wars have been managed as PR exercises in which news and analysis has been manipulated into propaganda. Real news about how the war is proceeding has been surrounded with deceit and secrecy. Furthermore, soldiers lives have been needlessly lost in pursuit of aims from the counterinsurgency warfare doctrine, a colonialist project of military occupation against the wishes of host populations, one in which Australia should not participate. It has nothing to do with defending Australia. In particular, the ADF must cease pretending to be aid workers. Australia's aid budget must be decoupled from military expenditure and security objectives. Furthermore, ADF personnel must not act in concert with private contractors. If they work together with allied forces they must remain under Australian command.

8. Governments have sought to erect smoke screens of feigned concern for the lost lives of soldiers in wars of aggression on behalf of the USA and have sought to milk the grief of military families in order to exploit this for PR which diverts the public from a genuine analysis of why the troops are deployed where they are.

9. Egregious weapons must not be used by, ordered into use, stockpiled or otherwise deployed by ADF personnel or ADF personnel acting in conjunction with allies. These include cluster munitions (banned by a treaty that Australia has signed and ratified - after a fashion), nuclear weapons, DIME, thermobaric weapons, anti-personnel mines, napalm, white phosphorus and depleted uranium weapons.

10. The US is deploying drones to Australian Cocos Islands. The RAAF is already using them, so some strict guidelines need to be drawn up.

Stand Fast
US forces in Australia: 2012

The “Joint Facilities” revisited – Desmond Ball, democratic debate on security, and the human interest, Richard Tanter
We can refer to the work of MAPW, mention Major General John Cantwell, Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating

Lodgement of Public Submissions to the Defence White Paper 2013
Interested parties are invited to make submissions to the 2013 Defence White Paper in accordance with the Media Statement from the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith on 13 December, and available at: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2012/12/13/minister-for-defence-consultation-process-for-the-general-public-for-the-2013-defence-white-paper/ 

Submissions can be lodged until close of business on 28 February 2013.

You may lodge one or more submissions (1) by completing the form and clicking the 'submit' button or (2) by posting your submission to:

Defence White Paper 2013
Russell Offices
Department of Defence
PO Box 7901

Please ring 1800 643 938 if you experience a technical difficulty in lodging your submission. We will respond to your inquiry no later than the next working day. 
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Submissions should not be longer than 1,500 words.
To assist individuals and organisations to lodge submissions, the following categories are provided as a guide:
1.Australia's Strategic Outlook, including the ongoing strategic shift to our region, the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Rim, particularly the shift of economic weight to our region.
2.The US re-balance to the Asia Pacific and Australia’s enhanced practical cooperation with the US pursuant to our 60 year old Alliance relationship.
3.The ADF’s operational drawdown from Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
4.Australia's Strategic Policy Approach: (a) Strategic Interests; (b) ADF's Principal Tasks; (c) Australia’s Military Strategy.
5.ADF Force Posture.
6.Policy and Posture in Our Neighbourhood.
7.Force Structure and Preparedness.
8.Defence Budget and Finances, including in the context of the ongoing adverse effects of the Global Financial Crisis, which have continued to have a significant impact on the global economy.
9.Defence Organisational Reform and Culture.
10.  Personnel.
11.  Science and Technology.
12.  Industry Policy and the Defence Materiel Organisation.
13.  Strategic Planning and White Paper Implementation.
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Submissions for which the individual lodging the submission has indicated permission to publish will be made available online.

Submissions will not be published if they promote a product or a service, contain offensive language, or the sentiments expressed are liable to offend or vilify sections of the Australian community.

Submissions that exceed the 1,500 word limit will also be excluded.

The Department of Defence reserves the right not to publish submissions deemed inappropriate for reasons other than those outlined above.

See submissions: