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 …

Media Release: AWPR welcomes parliamentary war powers bill

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) welcomes the Bill introduced to parliament today to reform the way in which Australians can be sent to war.  The issue of who should decide when the country goes to war has been of great concern to many Australians, especially since PM Howard made the disastrous decision that we would join the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a decision that implicates Australia in the ongoing humanitarian and political mess in the Middle East. Our involvement in the war has also exposed Australians to significantly greater risk of terrorist attack.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam’s introduction of …

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 …

War widow Kellie Merritt renews campaign for Iraq war inquiry after death of husband Paul Pardoel

War widow Kellie Merritt will make a personal appearance in Canberra to renew her criticism of the Iraq war in which her husband was killed and to support calls for an inquiry into John Howard’s decision to commit Australia to that conflict.

Her  husband, Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel, was killed in the crash of a Royal Air Force Hercules in Iraq in 2005 and is buried at Woden cemetery.

“This talk will be the first time that I’ve spoken personally and publicly in the context of bringing about an Iraq inquiry,” Ms Merritt said on Sunday.

“It’s a bit of …

Democracy is missing in action as we rush to war

For a society which believes that power flows from the people to the state rather than the reverse, the spectacle of prime ministers clinging to the ancient privileges of the sovereign to decide on matters of war and peace is both an anomaly and an anachronism. When it comes to the grave decision to commit Australian troops to war, our government needs to move with the times.

Within the space of three weeks in August and September, Tony Abbott, on his own authority, was able to take Australia from dropping biscuits and bottled water for fleeing Yazidi civilians to landing …

Is Australia right to send troops to Iraq to fight IS? Iraq war veterans and widows question whether their previous sacrifices were worth it.

Kellie Merritt became Australia’s first Iraq service widow nine years ago. Her husband Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel was killed when the British Hercules he was on crashed in Iraq in January 2005.

Paul spent 14 years with the Royal Australian Air Force but the family decided to move to the United Kingdom where Paul would fly with the Royal Air Force. It was a decision that would change their young family forever.

“A friend of mine walked into the house and she said ‘there’s been a crash’,” Kellie said.

“I decided that I would tell the children because they were …

Here We Go Again, by Paul Barratt

In this desperately complex situation, the nature and extent of Australian involvement is effectively in the hands of just three people—Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and Defence Minister David Johnston …

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

Australia’s stance in relation to this conflict has shifted so rapidly it is difficult to imagine that the decision making has been accompanied …

Taking the Fight to ISIL

With the decision by the Australian government to go to war in Iraq having gained momentum with the recent arrest of alleged terrorists at home, Professor Ramesh Thakur argues that the logic behind this decision may not be so intuitive.

So we are off to war in the Middle East, again; that graveyard of Western interventions for over a century, whether good intentioned or ill. Except no one dare call it war, for fear of stirring up some scary ghosts from recent history.

The military response to the Islamic State (IS) is unexceptionable in principle, given the group’s existential threat …

Kellie Merritt, Australia’s first Iraq widow, is an anti-war campaigner. Parliament should listen to her

Kellie Merritt can’t be dismissed as some sort of naïve peacenik for trying to put a brake on Australia’s apparently escalating involvement in American-led military operations in Iraq.

She is part of the campaign for an Iraq War inquiry which also includes a range of notable academics, and respected former defence and intelligence officials. The group lobbies federal parliament for an independent inquiry into the reasoning behind Australia’s participation in the 20 March 2003 Iraq invasion.

She is also the widow of Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel, the first Australian serviceman to be killed in that military operation.

The …

Iraq needs a local solution, not another intervention

Standing on an overhead bridge in Ramadi on Iraq’s main highway to Baghdad just over a year ago, I witnessed the extraordinary sight of about half a million people gathered — as they did every Friday — to peacefully protest the sectarian policies of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.

There were chants and speeches by local Sunni politicians and religious leaders, and from leaders of other provinces and sects across Iraq, including Shia clerics, but little response from Baghdad and virtually no western media coverage.

The protesters, led by tribal elders from the western Anbar province, resisted the call …