Following is the text of a letter to the editor of The Canberra Times written by IWIG Secretary Dr Sue Wareham on the occasion of the death of Major-General Alan Stretton AO, CBE, and published today:
It is astonishing and deeply regrettable that Major-General Alan Stretton’s death has not even been mentioned in Parliament. (”Parliament overlooked cyclone Tracy hero Stretton”, November 9, p1). He truly was a hero in the aftermath of Darwin’s 1974 disaster, being named Australian of the Year the following year.
However, Stretton’s views would not all have found favour in the corridors of power, especially those on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 2006 he wrote: ”From the start, our involvement in Iraq has been a military and political catastrophe”, and that it would have long-lasting consequences for peace and security.
He referred scathingly to the lack of United Nations’ authority for the war, the fact that it was based on falsehoods, and its role in increasing terrorism.
Many senior Australians have called for an inquiry into the process by which this country became involved in that war, to learn for the future how we can ensure we never repeat the mistakes made then. No decision to go to war should be made on the basis of lies, by a powerful leader with no parliamentary approval. Dictatorships operate like that, not democracies.
There is little doubt that Stretton would support such an inquiry. Perhaps he could be honoured by a serious consideration of the proposal, rather than the perfunctory dismissal it has received by our leaders thus far.
Dr Sue Wareham, Cook
Read the Canberra Times letters column for today here.