Are we about to see another ‘Captains Call’ on Iraq?

Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) have expressed concern that the problem of ‘mission creep’ for our troops in Iraq, already in evidence, seems set to escalate, following the NZ Prime Minister John Key’s announcement of the deployment of 143 NZ defence personnel to Iraq.

“Mission creep has been happening since the decision mid-last year to deploy ADF forces to Iraq,” said AWPR President Paul Barratt, former Defence Department secretary. “In August-September 2014, within a matter of weeks, a humanitarian mission to drop relief supplies to fleeing civilians was transformed first into using transport aircraft to deliver arms and …

Are we again on the brink of further “Mission Creep” in Iraq?

In his 2015 State of the Union address President Obama noted that Iraq War No 3 (not his term) “will take time”, meaning there is no end in sight. But what is it that  will take time? What would be its end? Does anyone have any realistic idea about that given that a militant cancer is spreading throughout the Middle East?

The US has recently committed a further 3,000 troops to Iraq though officially their ‘combat roles’ are confined to air strikes in Iraq and Syria. It is not hard to envisage that before the US can reduce troop levels …

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 …

Letter to the Attorney-General

In Reply on behalf of the Attorney-General I presented the text of a letter of 18 June received from Mr Paul O’Sullivan, Chief of Staff to the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon. George Brandis QC.

Below is the text of my reply:


4 July 2014

Senator the Hon. George Brandis, QC Attorney-General Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Senator Brandis,

I refer to a letter of 18 June 2014 I have received from Mr Paul O’Sullivan, your Chief of Staff, writing on your behalf in response to my letter to you of 16 May.

In his letter Mr O’Sullivan states …

Another intervention in Iraq?

The Prime Minister is expressing a willingness to have elements of the Australian Defence Force join with the United States in another intervention in Iraq – notwithstanding that neither the shape of that intervention nor its objective is known.

We would argue that the fact that we are considering going back into Iraq makes it all the more obvious that we need to learn the lessons from the previous invasion, the disastrous nature of which is not only almost universally acknowledged but demonstrated by the fact that some claim a need to go back in.

There should be no further …

Reply from ALP National Secretariat

We have today received from the National Secretariat of the Australian Labor Party a reply to our letter of 13 August 2013 to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The full text is below:


23 August 2013

Mr Paul Barratt

President Iraq War Inquiry Group Inc

Suite 406, 1 Queens Road

Melbourne Vic 3004

Dear Mr Barratt

Thank you for your letter of 13 August regarding the Federal Labor Party’s policy on Iraq. As you know, the Howard Government’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was not supported by the Federal Labor Party in Opposition. That is why …

Letter to The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP

The Hon. Tony Abbott MP Leader of the Opposition Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Abbott I refer to my letter of 13 August seeking, on behalf of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, to ascertain the Liberal Party’s policy in the context of the current Federal Election campaign on several matters which are of central importance to our membership.

The latest developments in Syria, which have led once again to a situation in which we are awaiting for a definitive report from UN weapons inspectors while our major ally contemplates whether to intervene militarily, only serves to …

Letter to The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP

The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP c/- ALP National Secretariat Unit 5, 9 Sydney Avenue BARTON ACT 2600

Dear Mr Rudd

I refer to my letter of 13 August 2013 seeking, on behalf of the Campaign for an Iraq War Inquiry, to ascertain the Australian Labor Party’s policy in the context of the current Federal Election campaign on several matters which are of central importance to our membership.

In that connection, I write to commend the comments attributed to you in today’s edition of The Age, connection with recent developments in Syria, to the effect that we need to be mindful …

Max Walsh on our Presidential political style

Veteran political journalist Maximilian Walsh, commenting on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme that is all his own work and causing much angst within the Liberal Party, says in today’s Australian Financial Review (see here) that the increasingly presidential style of Australia’s leaders has changed the balance of power between the Prime Minister and the Government, allowing them to present policy to the cabinet as a fait accompli.

He is absolutely right, as we saw in the case of the decision to join in the invasion of Iraq. This is one of the many important reasons why …

Selling the Iraq War

In the course of reading and research for a paper I am writing in relation to the process by which Australia made the decision to participate in the Iraq War, I came upon an interesting paper by Chaim Kaufmann of Lehigh University, published in the MIT Belfer Centre’s prestigious journal International Security in 2004. It is a solid read but well repays the effort. Its central thesis is that in the case of the Iraq War, and perhaps more generally, the democratic “marketplace of ideas” failed to deal with “threat inflation” and manipulation of public opinion on the part of …