Palm Sunday refugee rally address: Australia’s wars of choice create refugees

Text of an address to Rural Australians for Refugees in Armidale, NSW by Paul Barratt, President, Australians for War Powers Reform Palm Sunday Refugee Rally, 25 March 2018

 

Good morning ladies and gentlemen

My remarks this morning are directed not so much to how we treat refugees who come to our shores seeking help, but how so many of them come to be refugees in the first place. This is appropriate because many people have become refugees as a result of wars in which we have participated, such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Most Australians would be …

Why an Iraq War Inquiry is more necessary than ever

US air strike on a suspected insurgent hideout at the edge of Fallujah, Iraq, 8 Nov 2004. Image: US Marine Corps via Wikimedia Commons

A flurry of activity was caused by last month’s comments by Greens parliamentarians Adam Bandt and Richard Di Natale over Liberal Senator Jim Molan. The ostensible reason for the attack on Molan was his sharing of two videos originating from a neo-Nazi far right group in the United Kingdom. Bandt, who later withdrew his remarks, called Molan a “coward” and said that Molan should be prosecuted for his service in the Iraq war. In the Senate, …

The Media, the Iraq War, and Fallujah

Rupert Murdoch and his newly appointed head of Fox News, former Republican adviser Roger Ailes, 1996

The Australian media continues to fail us badly over its coverage of the Middle East wars, terrorism, and the ongoing disaster of ISIS. That failure began with the invasion of Iraq. Unlike important overseas media, no Australian media has admitted to or apologised for its failure in the coverage of the Iraq war and its consequences. As is often the case, our media was embedded in the ADF in support of Coalition policy. The political class sticks together. News Corp media has been most …

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un: There’s More to Foreign Policy Than The Art of the Deal

Much of the success of US foreign policy in the period following the end of the Second World War can be attributed to the transformational approach taken by Washington, which put in place an institutional architecture that enabled the era of globalization that has defined the modern period. But the world is now saddled with a US president whose transactional approach to diplomacy — honed by years of doing real-estate deals — combined with a temperament that often puts himself at the centre of all things, holds serious risks in dealing with threats such as those posed by North Korea, …

Howard’s War: a continuation of politics by other means

Paul Barratt AO

President, Australians for War Powers Reform

Notes for Public Seminar at Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus, 26 April 2017

In March 2003 Prime Minister John Howard triggered Australian participation in the US-led invasion of Iraq. The invasion was illegal under international law, and Australian participation in it was not authorised by the Governor-General as required by the Australian Constitution. There was no strategy, no end-state that the Australian Government wished the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to achieve: the Government’s reasons for participating were political, not military. This presentation will argue that we must reform the way we …

What are we doing in Syria?

The alacrity with which the Prime Minister came out in support of the Trump Administration’s launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles against an air force base in Syria is a sharp reminder, for those who have been paying attention, of how easily we slide into international armed conflict, with no adequate statement of strategic intent, and no informed debate in Parliament.

Australia is once more embarked upon a military adventure in the Middle East, again at the behest of the United States, again without a clear definition of what the aims are or what we might hope to achieve, and as …

The hideous Syrian tragedy

Our armed forces have been deployed abroad opportunistically, even cynically, for decades. This must be avoided in future if they are to serve Australia’s true defence interests in future.  

With the hideous Syrian conflict now entering its 7th year, and the Iraqi conflict very much longer, it is more than time to question the role of the ADF in these conflicts. There is a large measure of cynicism in the government’s approach to the deployments of the armed forces and security generally. The problem with this approach is that deceit catches up. Going back to the Vietnam War, and since …

Australia’s unprecedented decision to snub nuclear talks is irresponsible

Australia is about to do something unprecedented in the conduct of our international relations.

We are about to boycott major UN multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. On March 27 in New York, negotiations will commence on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, following a strongly supported resolution passed in the General Assembly last December – with 123 nations in favour, 38 against and 16 abstentions – for “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

The UN resolution and the forthcoming negotiations are the result of intense government and civil society action in recent years that …

Freedom of Information Request: deployments 2014-2017

FOI Coordinator, GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001

Dear Coordinator,

On behalf of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) I hereby submit a request for documents and for information held in electronic form by the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act 1982.

I request access to documents relating to deployments of Australian troops, military assistance or any other form of military support in Iraq in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and in Syria in 2015, 2016, …

Our Foreign Policy White Paper Submission

Our submission to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

The members of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) are Australian citizens with an interest in how, why, and with what results Australia goes to war. Our members have long experience in government, defence, higher education, law, and medicine, and the group has produced several publications in consultation with the public, provided them to MPs and Senators, and briefed them on the contents.

Originating as the Iraq War Inquiry Group in 2012, we became the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry in 2014, and have continued our work as AWPR from 2015. …