12 November 2014
Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,
Welcome to the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry bulletin, released this week in the wake of the 96th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Lest we forget.
As pointed out by Dr Alison Broinowski, for nearly four months, we heard repeatedly that Australia had been invited to send aircraft and special forces to Iraq, but details about it have been scarce.
Some of this looked briefly like it may become clearer, with reports this week that the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had talks with US President Obama in the sidelines of the APEC Summit which led to reports that 200 Australian troops have now arrived in Iraq. Increased troop numbers may also be on the cards, according to reports, though growing concerns over a lack of clear detail continues to plague the commitments. There are growing concerns over mission creep and analogies are being drawn with the build-up from 'advisers' and special forces to regular troop commitments which took place in the Vietnam War and the second Iraq War.
In addition, in recent weeks The Guardian published its own analysis of records of the Iraq war that were released into the public arena by the Wikileaks Iraq war logs. It is a valuable resource, on which you can read more below.
Through it all, the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry asks the question; what, rather than warfare, should Australia be doing in this time? Clearly, with ¾ Australians indicating they believe Parliament should make the decision to go to war (rather than simply the Executive or Prime Minister), a reform of our war powers seems necessary. We look for other views on this broader question, finding food for thought in a range of articles listed below.
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! Sign up to the mailing list here if you have been forwarded this email, or post this link to Facebook or Twitter to encourage others to sign up themselves.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: views on how to take action without committing to warfare.
'Neither war nor doing nothing': In a thought-provoking two-part blog, Jan Oberg, co-founder of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden outlines a pro-peace perspective on the present war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He notes:
“What the pro- and anti-war people have in common is a focus on war as such. We need to move that focus and ask: What are the alternatives to war and militarist pseudo solutions?”
Oberg offers his thoughts here (part A and part B), explaining that the posts offer:
“First some principles to stimulate another discourse, another way of thinking that is not militarist – and then some concrete proposals – 27 in all for your deliberation, discussion with friends and perhaps to share through your social and other media.”
In another revealing insight, Jonathan Powell outlines his views on “How to Talk with Terrorists”. Powell might know something about talking to ‘terrorists’*, having been chief of staff to Tony Blair 1997-2007. He writes:
“I am an unlikely peacenik. I grew up in a military family, and I was involved in the decisions on all of Tony Blair’s wars. I do not think that war is always wrong: sometimes it is necessary to stop a dictator, prevent massive human-rights abuses, or expel an invader. But I have also seen that in the modern world, civil wars are the greatest threat to humanitarian security. If you want to fight starvation, the spread of disease, and mass rape – or to help suffering children, whether child soldiers or the victims of war – then the most important thing you can do is to help end armed conflicts, which is why I have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to that goal.”
* He notes importantly, “I use the word ‘terrorist’ here for the sake of simplicity, but it isn’t a particularly useful term to define a group – terror is a tactic employed by governments, groups, and individuals.” Read more…
Tony Windsor in the Saturday Paper argued that “No debate before war is undemocratic”. In calling for parliamentary and civil society debate on going to war, Windsor observes:
“The call to arms to defend minority groups from genocide by the IS at the request of the Iraqi government when the Iraqis themselves have perpetrated genocide against the same minority group confuses people about the motives of some of the participants and the possible long-term implications. It also highlights the role of the UN in circumstances such as these and the need for a more definitive action plan when citizens in any country are butchered by armed forces.” Read more…
In an article in Eureka Street, Tony Kevin explores the new foreign policy tactics of the current government in Abbott's foreign policy flops.