ANNETTE BROWNLIE. Keeping Australia out of US wars

Apr 7, 2017

It is time we, the people, asserted our sovereignty, took control of our foreign policies and reviewed the presence of U.S. bases and troops in Australia. It is time we started promoting genuine peace and security, human rights, a sustainable environment and our independence. 

How the political life of irony can travel – trans-century, trans-continent and with powerful instructive capacity! In 1796 George Washington, the first President of the United States, announced, ‘It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils…’. More than 320 years later, US strategic alliances sprawl around the world, entangling nations and people outside the US in destructive military actions that cannot truly serve their interests. Australia and Australian people are today trapped in such a treaty arrangement. It does not serve their interests; it does leave a trail of evils.

Australian politicians would do well to take George Washington’s anti-alliance words to heart. A chorus of concerned Australians is calling for an end to Australia’s military alliance with the US, which growing numbers of Australians recognise earns us more enemies than goodwill and operates as an ever larger drain on the nation’s public purse. We need point only to the Australian government’s acceptance of US communication bases in central and northwest Australia, which have a vital role in targeting for the illegal US drone attacks that have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen and Pakistan. As former drone operator Brandon Bryant opined in an open letter to Barack Obama, ‘We came to the realisation that the innocent civilians we were killing only fuelled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantánamo Bay’.

Paul Keating continues to voice criticism of successive Australian governments that have ‘rolled back into an easy accommodation with the foreign policy objectives of the US’. Clearly it’s strategically unwise to ‘roll back’ into easy accommodation with any nation, especially a nation so demonstrably beholden to its seemingly almighty military industrial complex as the US. The late Malcolm Fraser shared similar thoughts in his book Dangerous Allies, published only 9 months before he died.

Citizen concern in Australia congealed a few years back with establishment of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) comprising peace groups, trade unions, church organisations and individuals. IPAN campaigns for an independent and peaceful Australian foreign policy and has prepared a statement for publication nationwide. IPAN seeks to maximise signatures, including those of prominent Australians who support this call. Signatures so far include Julian Burnside (barrister), John Pilger, (journalist, author and film maker) David Bradbury (Australian documentary film maker), Greg Barns (Past President, Australian Lawyers Alliance), Jeannie Rea (National President, National Tertiary Education Union), Colin Long (Secretary, NTEU Victoria Branch), RMIT Adjunct Professor Peter Norden, Professor. Richard Tanter and Rob Stary (defence lawyer)

For those who’d like to add their names, and maybe also contribute to the cost of publication, details are at the end of this article. The statement reads:

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned with the growing threat of another major world war. We are alarmed that as a compliant ally of the U.S., Australia will be dragged into another U.S. provoked war with devastating consequences for people and the environment.

Australia hosts thousands of U.S. marines in Darwin and conducts joint military exercises in Qld. with tens of thousands of U.S. troops. Australia hosts the U.S. spy base at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, which contributes to the targeting of assassination drones and which gathers intelligence for use in wars. The North West Cape base in West Australia is heavily involved in preparations for space warfare. Australia is involved in U.S. wars and/or military build ups in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. In none of these wars has the invaded country been a threat to Australia or the Australian people. In international forums, Australia echoes U.S. policies opposing Nuclear Disarmament.

We believe Australia’s military alliance with the U.S., involving the complicity of successive Australian governments in U.S. global military agendas, undermines Australia’s peace, security and sovereignty.

We demand the Australian government stop spending millions of dollars of people’s taxes on U.S. wars, buying their offensive military equipment (eg. F35 Joint Strike Fighters and killer drones) and hosting marines in Darwin. We call on the government to re-direct public funds to public health, education, community services, developing sustainable manufacturing industries and protection of the environment.

It is time we, the people, asserted our sovereignty, took control of our foreign policies and reviewed the presence of U.S. bases and troops in Australia. It is time we started promoting genuine peace and security, human rights, a sustainable environment and our independence.

Annette Brownlie, Chairperson Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN)

To add your name to this public call for a new start for Australian foreign and defence policies, email [email protected]

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