Edition 97 September 2022

Defending Australia or supporting warlike operations?

Editorial By Dr Alison Broinowski

The Defence Strategic Review, now under way, will be nothing but a shopping list for the ADF, if it fails to address the question of what the weapons and resources the military wants are actually for. Are they to defend Australia or to support American warlike operations? Cameron Leckie clearly details the options for Australia in his submission on behalf of AWPR. Fellow Committee members Bruce Haigh and Peter Hayes have expressed their opposition to AUKUS. We share and support their views.

Predictably, the Review will not tackle the much bigger issues of existential concern to us all: current threats of nuclear war, and the global consequences of climate heating. It will skirt around the risks posed by US determination to preserve its sole hegemony, and the dangers that creates in Ukraine and Taiwan, and by extension for Australia.

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Don’t mention the war powers: what’s behind Labor’s silence on inquiry?

Last year Labor committed to holding an inquiry into war powers reform. A hundred days into taking power, there is no indication of when the inquiry might happen.

Meanwhile, the Greens plan to reintroduce their long-running Defence Amendment (Parliamentary Approval of Overseas Service) bill into the Senate. If passed, the legislation would mandate that “service of members of the Defence Force beyond the territorial limits of Australia in warlike actions would require the approval of both houses of the parliament,” with exceptions for emergency situations.

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Stop AUKUS Petition tabled in Federal Parliament

A petition calling for the controversial AUKUS military pact to be cancelled has been presented to federal parliament.

With almost 27,000 signatures the document also calls on the government to halt plans to spend up to 170 billion dollars on nuclear submarines.

The petition was organised by the national peace group IPAN - the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, and was tabled in parliament this week by Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John.

Senator Steele-John said the AUKUS agreement would do nothing to reduce conflict in our region.

“The AUKUS pact escalates tensions in the Asia-Pacific and significantly increases the likelihood of nuclear arms proliferation among non-nuclear armed states."

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The curious case of Afghanistan’s frozen $7bn

After the violent return of the Taliban in mid August last year, the US government seized $7bn worth of assets that belonged to the Afghanistan Central Bank (DAB). The US government announced that it has frozen these funds in order to “keep them out of the hands of the Taliban and other malign actors”. The money is currently being held at the US Federal Reserve.

In February this year, President Biden proposed a controversial plan to compensate victims of 9/11 from this fund. The plan was to send $3.5bn of this money to Afghanistan for humanitarian assistance while an equal amount would be reserved for the victims of 9/11.
This proposal was met with huge outcry, not only from Afghans but also from the victims of 9/11 families. In an open letter, 80 family members urged the President not to use this money for them and instead send it to the people of Afghanistan.

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Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) Submission to the Defence Strategic Review

By Major Cameron Leckie (Retired)

Excerpt:The decision to go to war is the most important decision that any government can make. Australia’s current circumstances have resulted in a situation where Australia could find itself in a conflict with its largest trading partner without the government of the day having made a decision as to whether this furthers the national interest or otherwise. This position is intolerable for a democracy and presents the gravest of risks to Australia’s future security and prosperity. The enactment of war power legislation would reduce this risk significantly.

Read the submission


Articles of Note

AUKUS is the largest commitment to defence spending Australia has ever made — about $170 billion, according to the latest estimate from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. At a single stroke Morrison boxed Australia into a “forever” pact with the Anglosphere powers, blindsided France, and ambushed the Labor opposition. (Crikey)
Read the article
So far, in the 2022 election cycle, weapons firms have already donated $3.4 million to members of the House Armed Services Committee, according to an analysis by Open, an organization that tracks campaign spending and political influence. Weapons-making corporations also currently employ nearly 700 lobbyists, more than one for every member of Congress, while spending additional millions to support industry-friendly think tanks that regularly push higher Pentagon spending and a more hawkish foreign policy.
(Common Dreams)
Read the article
As I write this, the US Department of Defense is ramping up the militarization of my homeland – part of its $8bn scheme to relocate roughly 5,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam. In fact, ground has already been broken along the island’s beautiful northern coastline for a massive firing range complex. The complex – consisting of five live-fire training ranges and support facilities – is being built dangerously close to the island’s primary source of drinking water, the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer. (The Guardian)
Read the article
By the standards now rightly being applied to Vladimir Putin, the American and Australian leaders who brought devastation to Iraq and Afghanistan, George W Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard should arguably appear in the dock, subject to the presumption of innocence. Justice also demands a reasonable effort be made to bring them before a court. That hasn’t happened and won’t until the public demand justice. (Pearls & Irritations)
Read the article
A war with China really would be World War Three. Biden has told the world that he is not willing to fight that war for Ukraine, so why would the Chinese believe that he will fight it for Taiwan? Until he can articulate an unambiguous answer to that question, the Chinese will continue to become harder and harder to deter. And the risk will grow that if or when the Chinese attack, Biden will find that he has talked himself and his country into a war they cannot win and do not need to fight. (The Interpreter)
Read the article



Less than five minutes to make a change
Use our simple online system to email your local MP about war powers reform. It takes no time with our sample email text and "find your MP" tool. Our parliamentary representatives will respond by seeking to change the current laws if they know that it matters to the public. The more they hear from you, the more likely they are to advocate for this issue.

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