CIWI Bulletin #5
6 March 2014
Dear members, supporters, readers and well-wishers,
Welcome to the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry bulletin. We encourage your input or suggestions for future editions.
In this edition:
-Broinowskis argue for an inquiry
-Loewenstein on Howard’s role in Iraq
-US credibility problem on Ukraine
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Broinowskis argue for an inquiry
CIWI members and former diplomats Alison and Richard Broinowski recently published an article in the Spectator making the case for an inquiry into Iraq:
"Australia must be one of the most inquired-into countries in the world. If 40 Australians died and more were injured as a result of government policy, as happened in Afghanistan, people would demand a royal commission. In government, Rudd and Gillard set up dozens of inquiries. Abbott has begun to do the same, with an inquiry into four deaths of tradesmen installing pink batts as well as a royal commission into union corruption. Why are the consequences of a war any different? Why, having invested so much in Iraq, do our leaders take no responsibility and our media pay so little attention?
"[…] If Australians want to break the succession of expeditionary, pre-emptive and counter-productive wars, we should demand the truth about why we invaded Iraq, insist that the war powers held by the prime minister are changed, and require those who initiate wars to be answerable for their actions. Unless we do, Australia cannot move on from Iraq."
Loewenstein on Howard’s role in Iraq
CIWI rated a mention in Antony Loewenstein’s article entitled “Could John Howard be citizen-arrested for his role in the Iraq war?” in the Guardian last week:
"To this day, Iraqis are enduring insecurity, violence, kidnapping, sexual violence, extremism and terrorism. The legacy of the conflict is absolutely devastating. And yet the politicians who took America, Britain and Australia into the conflict work and play openly.
"Howard, who led Australia into Iraq in 2003, remains a free man, lecturing around the world. He was given an award at Tel Aviv University this year for his “unwavering, courageous advocacy of the state of Israel spanning decades”, is often quoted in the media, and gave a talk at Sydney’s Lowy Institute in 2013 defending the morality of removing Hussein from power.
"No apologies, no mea culpas and no serious questions followed. The vast bulk of the political elite prefers to ignore what transpired in 2003, and there are no serious calls to hold Howard accountable for alleged breaches of international law in joining George W Bush’s operation (Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry is a notable exception).
"[…] A campaign to hold Howard to account wouldn’t be a stunt. It would be a serious attempt to keep the most devastating war in a generation in the public arena by reminding those most implicated that there is a price to be paid if such actions are ever repeated again.
"A full public inquiry into the Iraq war, including the war powers used by Howard to take Australia into a conflict opposed by a great number of Australian people, is required."
Eugene Robinson has expressed scepticism in the Washington Post about American moralising on Ukraine:
US credibility problem on Ukraine
"Is it just me, or does the rhetoric about the crisis in Ukraine sound as if all of Washington is suffering from amnesia? We’re supposed to be shocked — shocked! — that a great military power would cook up a pretext to invade a smaller, weaker nation? I’m sorry, but has everyone forgotten the unfortunate events in Iraq a few years ago?
"My sentiments, to be clear, are with the legitimate Ukrainian government, not with the neo-imperialist regime in Russia. But the United States, frankly, has limited standing to insist on absolute respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states.
"Before Iraq there was Afghanistan, there was the Persian Gulf War, there was Panama, there was Grenada. And even as we condemn Moscow for its outrageous aggression, we reserve the right to fire deadly missiles into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and who knows where else."
John Aziz makes a good point about the purpose of international law in The Week:
"Yes, the U.S. would be in a much better position to criticize Putin if the U.S. hadn't invaded Iraq. And yes, the U.S. and its allies' violations of international law last decade may have emboldened other regimes like Putin's to violate it.
"[…] Of course, after Iraq and Crimea, a lot of people will be left with the impression that this is just two blocs arguing in favor of international law whenever it suits their interest and foreign policy objectives — and ignoring it whenever it doesn't.
"So it is essential that the Western leaders trumpeting the virtues of international law today not be exposed as hypocrites ignoring it tomorrow. Otherwise, we are in danger of turning international law into a rhetorical convenience."
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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.