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The Bulletin for Australians for War Powers Reform.
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Welcome to the War Powers Reform Bulletin #40.

 
Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is marking the anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and allied forces including Australians, by renewing its call for all Federal Parliamentarians to heed the lessons from that disastrous military episode.  (While the anniversary date is generally recognised as 20 March, AWPR notes the Australian people were misled on this as on much else, as our SAS troops were operating in Iraq from 18 March, 2003.)

The invasion, which was authorised neither by the UN Security Council nor, regarding Australian participation, by the Governor-General as required by the Constitution. It destroyed the lives of millions of innocent people in the Middle East and led directly to the creation of ISIS and the tragic outflow of refugees from Syria that neighbouring states and Europe now face. The current situation in the Middle East is such a mess that further Western military intervention is fraught with difficult and danger.

AWPR has sent all Federal Parliamentarians a discussion paper, “Syria: Options for Australian parliamentarians, and the need for debate” which sets out some non-military options for responding to the crisis in Syria – options that might, if implemented, reduce rather than escalate the level of violence.

AWPR members are also concerned at the possibility of Australian support for further military action against Libya, an option that was not excluded by Foreign Affairs Minister Bishop on 2 February.  As in Iraq, the 2011 US-led intervention there left a disastrous and unstable aftermath. 

AWPR President Paul Barratt AO said, “If tough questions had been asked in Parliament in 2003, Australia’s role at that time might have been very different, and the Australian people more secure now as a result.  We urge different and smarter approaches to the problems of terrorism and extreme ideologies there and elsewhere.”

The organisation urges Parliamentary debate of any proposed responses to the crises erupting throughout the Middle East, and the development of coherent strategies rather than knee-jerk support for US actions; the latter has increased rather than reduced Australians’ security. 



In relation to decisions for military action, the letter to Parliamentarians states, “For as long as Parliament is excluded from examining any proposal to send Australian forces into international armed conflict, many of the pressing questions that such a proposal raises will remain unanswered.

This text was disseminated as a media release on Friday 18th March, and can be viewed or shared online here.
He won't see a jail cell. But Blair (and his Iraq war conspirators) should be barred from public life.
- Max Hastings

Almost seven years since the Chilcot Inquiry was set up to establish why Britain joined the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, its findings have still not been published.

The mishandling of the investigation has become a scandal in its own right, with the guilty men permitted to sustain almost infinite delays. Read on.

The five foreign policy questions every candidate should be asked.
- Trevor Timm

"We are currently engaged in an indefinite war with Isis spanning multiple countries which many legal experts across the political spectrum consider illegal – yet the presidential candidates are almost never asked about why congress has not authorized the military action like the constitution requires." Read on.

New resources


Please see the "blog" section of our website for all of our recent work, including the Aide-Memoire on the case for war powers reform. This was presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence last month, and is a fantastic summary of the campaign, the counter arguments and what we are and are not proposing.

"To sum up, we propose that the deployment of the ADF into international armed conflict be subject to debate and authorisation by Parliament before being formally signed off by the Governor-General in Council.

We acknowledge that there are important implementation issues to be considered, but we believe that it is not beyond the capacity of our sophisticated polity and our Parliamentary draughtspeople to transfer this general proposition into effective and workable legislation.

We would be joining a significant number of liberal democracies in establishing such a system.

We believe that if this is not done, the circumstances which gave rise to our problematic deployments to Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq will persist.

Whatever is decided in that regard, we suggest there is an urgent need to ensure that all armed military deployments are triggered by an order from the Governor-General to the CDF.

More broadly, there is very strong bi-partisan support for a global rules-based order. If we are going to continue to urge others to accept such an order, we must too – starting with the 1928 Treaty of Paris and the 1945 UN Charter."

Read on.

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