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:


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