Bulletin for the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry
and Australians for War Powers Reform.

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Señor Codo: Iraq pre war protest #7


11 December 2014

Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,

Welcome to the Bulletin of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry and Australians for War Powers Reform.

This is our final Bulletin for the year. It has been a year of global shifts, seeing a re-engagement of Western military forces in Iraq and the Middle East. Currently it is estimated that 600 Australian forces are deployed in Iraq.  We have witnessed a concerted and complex propaganda campaign to highlight the extreme tactics of Isis in Syria and Iraq. Most recently there have been revelations of the extreme torture techniques employed by the US CIA in the years following 911. 
In this Bulletin we share:
  • a message from our campaign President, Paul Barratt
  • our recent engagements in Federal Parliament
  • items from the US, including links about the ‘torture report’ released in the US this week
  • items from the UK, including the pending Chilcot Inquiry
  • reports on the situation of refugees from Iraq
  • and opinion pieces of interest from around the globe.
We look forward to your feedback, which you can provide to us directly.

Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry
PS: Your help to strengthen the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry and our project, Australians for War Powers Reform, is always appreciated. Please forward this Bulletin to friends, colleagues or relatives you think may be interested!
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A message from Paul Barratt

This being our last Bulletin for the year, we here at CIWI/AWPR take this opportunity to thank all of our members, supporters and subscribers for their support throughout the year.
As the year draws to a close Australia finds itself engaged once again in a military adventure in Iraq, the decision for which was taken by the Executive, with no proper debate and no adequate disclosure to the Parliament regarding the basis for the decision or what we are hoping to achieve. Both the Australian public and the men and women of the ADF deserve better than this, and our focus for 2015 will be a strenuous effort to make the case for the ‘war powers’ – the power to commit the ADF to international armed conflict – to be shifted from the Executive to the Parliament, where greater discipline can be brought to the process.
To achieve the required impact we need to strengthen our financial resources, and we would ask you all to consider making a donation to our fighting fund.

Contributions can be made either by:
payable to: ‘Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry’, and forwarded to the Hon Treasurer (Andrew Farran), c/- PO Box 7389, BEAUMARIS, Vic. 3193; or 

DIRECT DEPOSIT: Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry bank account at NAB’s 300 Collins Street Branch:   BSB 083-054   A/c No: 14-992-1270.*
* If you contribute funds by direct deposit or electronic transfer, please send an email to us directly giving your name, address and amount credited so that we may send you a receipt.
With thanks for your support through 2014,
Paul Barratt
Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry.

…from the USA and beyond…


War could last years: Kerry

The US has reportedly carried out close to 1,000 airstrikes across Iraq and Syria so far. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated that the air war in Iraq will continue for ‘for as long as it takes to prevail’. In reviewing with NATO countries the progress of the war, Kerry stated,

"Our commitment will be measured most likely in years."
Read more…
Reports that ‘dozens of civilians’ may have been killed in US-led air strikes have prompted the Pentagon to state that there are no plans to offer compensation, which ‘marks a significant departure from recent conflicts, in which payments have regularly been made to those affected by U.S. military actions’ according to a report in the Foreign Policy. In the same report, they note that the Australian Defence Force have stated they “will not release information that could be distorted and used against Australia in [Islamic State] propaganda.” The article also asks the vital question, ‘where does an air war leave civilians when 12 countries fly by 12 different rule books? ‘
Read more…
Meanwhile debate continues about the effectiveness of the air strikes and the need for on-the-ground forces, with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad asserting in an interview in the French publication Paris Match that the aerial strikes are ‘merely cosmetic’. He states,

Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction.”
Read more…

‘Torture report’ released in the US this week

The US Senate Intelligence Committee has released the long-expected report into torture used by the CIA in the years following the attacks on the USA in 2001. The summary alone is 500 pages, with the full report expected to be 6,700 pages.

According to the chair of the Committee, Senator Feinstein, over 6 million pages of reports and documents were reviewed to investigate the events, and the conclusion is decisive:

"coercive interrogation techniques did not produce vital and otherwise unavailable intelligence that the CIA has claimed."  

You can download the summary report (500 pages) here.

US law on torture and the UN’s 1984 Torture Convention form some of the legal frameworks relating to this story, and the Human Rights Law Centre has further resources.

This is a fast developing story and much analysis is expected in coming weeks.

Responses to Rand Paul’s calls

In our last Bulletin we noted Rand Paul was calling for a declaration of war. Critics such as Jacob G. Hornberger of The Future of Freedom Foundation and groups such as and CodePink have firmly rebutted his call.

Read more…also here…

…from the UK:

Chilcot Inquiry: release draws closer

Reports in recent weeks of former Prime Minister Tony Blair being granted access to the findings of the long running Chilcot Inquiry suggest that the report will be released shortly in the UK. In the UK “anyone criticised in public inquiries is entitled to see and challenge extracts related to them before publication”, according to protocols developed in the 1970s.

According to Robert Fox in The Week in mid-November, there are concerns that the US will insist on redacting (ie inking out) text within the final report relating to the Conversations between US President Bush and PM Tony Blair, as well as potentially cabinet meetings around decisions to go to war. The report is estimated to have cost around £10 million and Fox asserts that,

The Chilcot Inquiry has, by many accounts, already unearthed glaring evidence of government mismanagement and worse. Chilcot should steal himself and publish all he knows, whatever Britain's exceptional allies might think and say. It is a duty he owes the public.’
Read more…

Tony Blair won ‘global legacy award’

The controversial decision by charity group Save the Children to award former PM Tony Blair the ‘global legacy award’ for his work against poverty received a recent flurry of press. Responses from a wide range of people angered by the granting of the award were reported on, and within days, over 120,000 people had signed a petition to revoke the award.

Over 200 staff of the organisation itself noted in an internal letter their strong opposition to Mr Blair receiving the award. According to reports the letter states,

“We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values. Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision.”
Read more…
Parliament House Canberra | Stage 88 | Sam Ilic

CIWI and AWPR engagements in Federal Parliament

CIWI delegations met recently with three of the Federal parliamentarians who strongly support our cause, and had very productive discussions about how to progress the issue of war powers within the parliament.  It won’t be easy of course, but it’s an issue that won’t go away, especially as Australia is lagging behind other democratic countries in giving parliament its proper role in the momentous decision of going into international armed combat. 

Andrew Wilkie (Independent, Denison, Tas) undertook to send the recent Roy Morgan poll that we commissioned (that showed ¾ Australians want any decision for ADF involvement in armed combat to be authorised by Parliament) to every federal MP and senator with a brief letter outlining why this is a necessary reform. 

We met also with Scott Ludlam (Greens Senator, WA, who has twice introduced a defence amendment bill to Parliament) and with Melissa Parke (ALP, Fremantle, WA).  Both indicated ongoing strong interest in the war powers issue.

Senator Ludlam suggested a seminar or similar event, possibly at ANU, early next year, to include parliamentarians and the best thinkers we can find on the issue of war powers, including military people, to talk about what sort of bill or other changes are needed.

CIWI will be refining our strategy very early in 2015, generally using the name of our project Australians for War Powers Reform more, and continuing to work with supportive parliamentarians. 
The image above shows details of Northern Iraq’s Internally displaced people. Reproduced from The Guardian

Iraq’s refugee crisis

According to reports in the Guardian, over two million Iraqis have been displaced by Isis fighting with nearly half having fled to safety in Kurdistan. Reports from the region detail how the massive movement has created enormous problems for the region’s resources and created a humanitarian crisis. In August the United Nations was forced to designate the situation as a level-three emergency, the highest classification of a humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations refugee agency in Australia has launched an appeal to support Iraq’s refugees as the harsh winter sets in across the region. They note,

“Temperatures in the region range from 5 to -16 degrees in winter – Iraqi families have fled with few possessions and no provision for the harsh winter ahead.”

Please consider making a donation today to help the displaced people of Iraq.
Read more

Opinion pieces from around the globe

Simon Heffer in the American Review writes a detailed article on the British decision to go to war in 2003 and what lessons should be learned in ‘Lessons of Operation Iraqi Freedom’.

Paul Pillar writes an interesting opinion about the ‘The Damaging Myth About "Winning" the Iraq War’ in the blog In The National Interest.

Tom Engelhardt writes in the blog of about the past and present engagements of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, speculating on the possibility of an ‘Iraq War 4.0?’

And finally, we draw your attention to the report of the Oxford Research Group titled ‘Towards the recording of every civilian casualty’. This report notes that current global recording of casualties in conflict is inadequate, and sets out the arguments and methods to strengthen casualty recordings globally. 


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The views expressed in this bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc). Readers should note that the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry (Inc) seeks a diversity of views and opinions in order to identify common ground.
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