Defence Department says international law is ‘challenged’

RAAF Super Hornet aircrew on return to Australia from the Middle East last January    Image from The Australian

 

Today’s (2 March 2018) analysis by Chris Ray in The Australian explains Australia’s withdrawal of RAAF Super Hornets from Syria early this year, but not the continuing presence of the air-to-air refuelling aircraft and an E7-A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft, and associated personnel.

Nor does it explain why the ARF and Special Forces are still needed on the ground in Iraq, if IS has been defeated, as the Iraqi Prime Minister says.

It doesn’t offer an alternative …

Our Agreeable Illusion Ends

Hugh White, ‘Without America. Australia in the new Asia,’ Quarterly Essay 68, Melbourne: Black Inc. 2017

For years Hugh White has contributed knowledgeably to Australia’s defence and foreign policies, while deploring the prevailing feebleness of our public debate about them. With almost no public debate, Australia has for sixteen years been spending $95 million per day on fighting unnecessary wars in distant countries. Having had no independent inquiry into them, it remains a mystery how Australia can avoid similarly counterproductive wars in the future.

Professor White continues to credit the United States with maintaining peace and stability in Asia …

Australian complicity in civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria: A matter of time

An RAAF FA-18 refuelling over Iraq in March 2017. Image courtesy of US Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made it clear that he will be no less aggressive than his predecessor Tony Abbott. “Our job is to protect Australia from all threats,” Mr Turnbull has said. “Right now, as you know, our Air Force is operating in the Middle East killing terrorists.” Back in September 2016 Mr Turnbull announced that Australian laws would be overhauled to allow the Australian Defence Force to target more Islamic State (IS) fighters in Iraq and Syria. The …

Containing China – and Australia

Observers have for several years been noticing that Australia is an increasingly militaristic society. The incremental militarisation of Australian policy goes much further than our current re-deployment in the Middle East. Little by little, our humanitarian programs have been militarised (to ensure delivery of aid), our aid programs have been securitised (to protect aid workers), Federal police have been deployed abroad (to work with other countries against corruption, drug trafficking and people smuggling), and Special Forces ‘training’ Iraqi troops carry diplomatic passports (to get around their status problem with the Iraq government).

National Security has become the new growth industry …

ANZUS minus NZ, again?

Tony Abbott’s visit to New Zealand on 26 February was carefully coordinated with John Key’s announcement of a Kiwi military deployment to Iraq. At 143 ‘combat-trainers’ it wasn’t as large as the 3500 troops the Australian Prime Minister had proposed on 21 February. But for a while it seemed the New Zealanders had upstaged us by having the agreement of the Baghdad government to their presence on the ground.

Now we discover that the NZ Foreign Minister Murray McCully has gone to Iraq, just as Julie Bishop did in October 2014, to try to secure a Status of Forces …

Creepy Mission

So to no-one’s surprise, the Prime Minister says we are now in the ‘next phase’ of the fight against whatever it’s called. ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh, you name it, has recently become a ‘death cult which is reaching out to us here in this country’. So the Martin Place siege proves the death cult is here among us, and hence that we are defending Australia.

In fact, it is an opportunistic minority Sunni assault on the Shia government of Iraq, a country divided in three by ancient religious differences and modern power politics.

What interest has Australia (or New Zealand) …

A world of no-go zones?

As the population of our ‘global village’ grows to more than 7.22 billion and mega-cities multiply, the world’s wilderness withers, agricultural land shrinks, oceans become waste dumping grounds, and former industrial sites are reduced to polluted, decaying wastelands. The climate warms and sea levels rise. Humans have rendered many areas in the world no longer accessible for humans.

These areas are ‘no-go zones’, as the lawless streets of Boston were known in the 1980s. The same term applied to Redfern’s Block in the 1990s and parts of Birmingham in the noughties. It is true of Ferguson in the mid-2010s, and …

SAS troops ready, willing but uninvited, so it appears

For months, Australia has been gearing up for another war in Iraq. But when, apart from some RAAF participation in bombing raids, is it going to happen? Where are the SAS troops who were sent in September and what are they doing? We now learn from Vice-Admiral David Johnston that the commandos will fly into Baghdad within a week. If it was so urgent to attack militants in Iraq, why the long delay?

It’s worth recalling the brief history of Gulf War III.

Cheated of an attack on Syria late last year by the British Parliament’s refusal to go along …

Don’t mention the war

It’s time for a serious inquiry into our invasion of Iraq

 

For months before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq the American, British and Australian governments were hard at work manipulating intelligence to create several illusions. Saddam Hussein was falsely portrayed as one of the architects of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001; he was said to have developed an arsenal of poison gas and chemical weapons to use against neighbouring countries and for terrorists to use elsewhere; and it was claimed he had resumed his programme to develop nuclear weapons.

The Coalition …

The streaker’s defence

It takes a particular kind of courage for people in public life to admit that they got something wrong, even after their error is publicly obvious. All three leaders who planned and executed the 2003 invasion of Iraq said at the time that they would take ultimate responsibility for the war, but none of them did. For ten years, neither George W. Bush, Tony Blair, nor John Howard has said they were wrong, let alone admitted that life for many Iraqis is nastier and shorter than before the 2003 invasion.

Their claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons didn’t stand up in …