Edition 99 November 2022

Heading for another Cold War?

Editorial By Dr Alison Broinowski

As Parliament sat for the last time this year, a lot was going on in Canberra and in our region. The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister met with their counterparts in Phnom Penh, Bali, and Bangkok, keeping up some pressure on China while seeking opportunities to improve relations after six years of mutual distance.

But Defence Minister Richard Marles continued to multiply our weapons orders and to increase solidarity with Japan, all directed against China. As well, ADF personnel are to work in the UK ‘training’ Ukrainian military, and are ‘interchangeable’ with the US in our region. Australia may yet be sliding towards war, if not against Russia, then against China.

This seems to put Australian leaders out of step with President Biden, who (according to Chinese reports) told President Xi in Bali that the US doesn’t seek a new cold war...

Read more
AWPR Webinar Tonight (30 Nov 6pm AEDT)

Tickets are still available for our webinar "Australia and the so called "China threat", hosted by Quentin Dempster and featuring Michael Sainsbury (Crikey, Michael West Media) and Hugh White (ANU) Full details and free tickets HERE
War Powers Inquiry - Most submissions favour reform
The overwhelming majority of submissions to the current inquiry into war powers favour significant change to the current decision-making process.

A total of 80 submissions have now been lodged with the joint parliamentary inquiry into international armed conflict decision making.

The inquiry was announced in late September and accepted written submissions up until November 18.

Only one submission opposes any change to the current system which gives the prime minister and the executive sole control over going to war overseas. All other MPs and Senators currently have no say. That submission was put forward by Dr Anthony Bergin, who is a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Another submission suggested that if reform goes ahead, it should only allow a vote in the House or Representatives and exclude the Senate. That submission was written by the Australian Defence Association.

Two other submissions argued for the establishment of a special multi-party conflict advisory group to advise the government prior to any decision to join a conflict.

All the other submissions – 76 in total – favour broader reform.

Several high-profile organisations and experts made submissions to the inquiry including The Australia Institute, International law expert Professor Ben Saul, Professor George Williams, Andrew Wilkie MP, and Civil Liberties Australia.

Some of the submissions suggested that future war decisions should be made by parliament and allow each MP a conscience vote, thus avoiding a vote purely along party lines.

The inquiry will now hold a series of public hearings in coming weeks. It is due to report its findings by February 2023.
You can read all the submissions to the inquiry here.
See also: Linda Reynolds challenged over ‘lives at risk’ claim (Media Release)
Landmark “Citizen-led” report presented to Parliament
A new report produced by the national peace group IPAN has been tabled in parliament, following a two year “people’s inquiry”, investigating alternatives to our current defence and foreign policies.
Entitled “Charting our own course” the report highlights 283 submissions from organisations and individuals, many of whom are deeply concerned about the growing spectre of war in our region.
The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) says Australia’s current foreign policy stance is flawed and potentially dangerous.
“Never before has the need been so urgent to ‘stand on our own two feet’ and ‘chart our own course’ in foreign policy independent of the United States”, said IPANs Dr Vince Scappatura.
Dr Scappatura is also very critical of the AUKUS military pact which was initiated by the Morrison government and enjoys support from the Albanese government: “It seems abundantly clear that the AUKUS arrangement is not for the defence of Australia but for preparations for launching aggression against China in support of maintaining United States’ dominance in the Asia-Pacific region”,
IPAN has also expressed alarm about the increasing number of U.S. marines stationed in Darwin and the decision to allow up to six U.S. B-52 long range bombers capable of carrying a nuclear payload, to be stationed in the NT.
AWPR President Dr Alison Broinowski contributed to the IPAN report as the editor of the chapter on foreign policy.
The Charting our own course report was tabled in Parliament by Senator David Shoebridge on November 24.
The full IPAN report can be found here
See also:
AWPR: Defence and Diplomacy - Priorities for the Federal Government

Phillip Adams looks at War Powers Reform

On November 14 the popular Phillip Adams program Late Night Live on ABC Radio interviewed AWPR president Alison Broinowski and the former Defence Chief Chris Barrie about how Australia goes to war and the current parliamentary inquiry.

You can listen back to this in-depth discussion HERE
Articles of Note

If the US Defense Department can’t get its books straight, how can it be trusted with a budget of more than $800 billion per year?  “I would not say that we flunked,” said Defense Department Comptroller Mike McCord His office did note that the Pentagon only managed to account for 39 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. (Responsible Statecraft)
Read this article
Anthony Albanese’s government has retained Scott Morrison’s special adviser on naval shipbuilding at a cost of about $9,000 for each day he works. Despite a budget edict to reduce reliance on external consultants, a letter obtained by Guardian Australia shows the new government has decided to keep paying former US navy secretary Donald Winter for advice. (The Guardian)
Read this article
As the United States’ relationship to Saudi Arabia shifts, a group of congressional Democrats led by Reps. Ilhan Omar and Joaquin Castro is pushing to re-establish oversight of atrocities committed during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. Progressive Democrats have rebuked the administration’s decision to continue selling weapons to the kingdom, which many see as direct support for the atrocities being inflicted on the Yemeni people. (The Intercept)
Read this article
What does it mean to "stand with Ukraine", the commitment we hear frequently as the brutal assault on that country continues? If it means to share the sense of outrage at the ongoing crimes committed against the Ukrainian people by Putin's troops, then few would disagree with that position. But if it means simply pouring in more weapons - a strategy that Australia appears to be supporting, now with military training as well - then the case is far more complex. (Canberra Times)
Read this article
From Canberra’s point of view, the best-case scenario in Asia has always looked roughly the same: a world in which Australia directs an endless flow of exports to China from behind a wall of American steel. It was when that wall started showing signs of weakening that the Coalition led us on a deliberate turn towards talking up China as an enemy, in an effort to catalyse a more determined American-led containment effort. (The Guardian)
Read this article

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