Edition 96 August 2022

AWPR Editorial - The Policy Change Moment

By Dr Alison Broinowski

The ALP Government’s first term presents us with more opportunities than Australia has had for years. Our interconnected opportunities are the three As: the ANZUS alliance, AUKUS, and AWPR.

This is the moment for policy change. Although Labor’s majority is slim, the ALP has strong polling support, and the Opposition is in disarray. We can promote the reform process in submissions to the Defence Posture Review, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, and the Committee on Treaties. We can back the anti-AUKUS campaign. We can encourage Independents, old and new, in both Houses, to support the reform process. We can join with other groups which support our aims, by building public pressure on politicians to take responsibility for how Australia goes to war, before it is too late. We can and are doing all this.

But the reasons to act now are not only Australian, but international.

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AUKUS: Is Australia normalising hyper-militarism?

By Dr Sue Wareham

Most of what passes for debate within political circles in Australia about a possible war between the US and China follows a standard pattern of “US good, China bad”.  Facts are cherry-picked to fit that narrative, and those commentators who raise any matters that suggest a course other than wholehearted support for the US alliance are at risk of being dismissed as Chinese Communist Party sympathisers.

Misleading or skewed information abounds.  However few recent statements from our leaders can match the scaremongering of Defence Minister Richard Marles on 11 June when he was addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

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What was the war in Afghanistan really about?  

One year on from the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Republicans and Democrats are fighting over an “investigation” into the pullout. Meanwhile ordinary Afghans are suffering spiraling rates of poverty and minimal international assistance is being provided.  In this guest post Amir Haidari challenges the official justification for the 20 year war.

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Calls for PM to Keep Promise Regarding War Powers Reform

With a bill calling for change on how our nation enters an overseas conflict back on the Senate agenda for debate, Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) are calling on the Albanese government to follow through on its preelection promise to act on the issue.

Labor promised 
in April last year that if elected, it would establish a parliamentary inquiry into whether the power to send troops to foreign theatres of war should be a matter for both houses of parliament to vote on, rather than left in the hands of the few.

As yet, there has been no confirmation that the inquiry will be going ahead, while Labor has previously asserted that the Greens bill “leaves too many unanswered questions and may have unforeseen and unintended consequences”.

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Articles & Videos of Note

After more than two decades of wars and interventions that have killed an estimated 387,000 noncombatants, the Department of Defense has finally unveiled a comprehensive plan for preventing, mitigating, and responding to civilian casualties. The 36-page Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan, written at the direction of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin — provides a blueprint for improving how the Pentagon addresses civilian harm. It also signals a more nuanced understanding that civilian harm extends beyond the deaths of innocents and may be far more connected with two decades of U.S. military defeats and stalemates than the Pentagon has previously admitted. (The Intercept)
Read the article
New research from the Australia Institute’s International & Security Affairs Program on Australian and Taiwanese views regarding China reveal a large and growing degree of fear of China and the prospect of war. The research reveals more Australians think that China will attack Australia than Taiwanese believe China will attack Taiwan. (The Australia Institute)
Watch the video
Amongst intellectuals and academics (and past Prime Ministers) informed opinion seems to be that AUKUS was decided upon abruptly and without the broad consultation one would anticipate for a decision of such extraordinary significance. Numerous writers have argued that it does not make good sense strategically or financially. A damning assessment of AUKUS has been made by Hugh White in his Quarterly Essay “Sleepwalk to War”. White’s position is particularly influential, owing to his past, close association with the Department of Defence as principal author of the 2000 Defence White Paper. (Pearls & Irritations)
Read the article
There are several areas of contention in the trans-Tasman relationship. One is Australia’s pursuit of nuclear-powered submarines, which clashes with New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance. Another lies in the two countries’ diverging approaches to autonomous weapons systems (AWS), colloquially known as “killer robots”. In general, AWS are considered “weapons systems that, once activated, can select and engage targets without further human intervention”. There is, however, no internationally agreed definition. (The Conversation)

Read the article
Keeping American troops in Syria has been a serious mistake that multiple administrations have failed to correct. The longer that U.S. forces illegally remain in that country, the more likely it is that one of these clashes will result in casualties that could have been avoided. (Responsible Statecraft)
Read the article


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