Go to the
JustPeace Campaign Page
The Axis of Deceit Speaking Tour
August 24 -29, 2005
Why New Zealand shouldn’t be Bush and Howard’s ally
Wednesday August 24, 8 p.m.
Trades Hall, 147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn
Friday August 26, 7:30 p.m.
St John’s Hall, cnr Dixon and Willis Sts
Monday August 29, 7:30 p.m.
Oxford Terrace Baptist Church Lounge
cnr Oxford Tce and Madras St
- Aussie Anti-War Hero To Tour New Zealand.
- A Legend In His Own (Gone By) Lunchtime.
Andrew Wilkie, the Australian intelligence analyst who blew the whistle on the John Howard Government’s dishonest justifications of the Iraq War, will undertake a speaking tour of New Zealand next week.
The Green Party is bringing Mr Wilkie to New Zealand to explain why this country shouldn’t become Bush and Howard’s ally in the War on Terror.
“With Don Brash’s prevaricating over our nuclear-free stance and whether National would have joined the War in Iraq, foreign affairs has become an important campaign issue,” Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said.
“Mr Wilkie is a respected intelligence expert, who will provide compelling reasons why Kiwis should be very nervous about political parties like National who are advocating that New Zealand cuddle up to George Bush and John Howard.”
Mr Wilkie was a senior intelligence analyst in Australia’s Office of National Assessments in 2002 and early 2003, dealing with the intelligence being gathered on Iraq, and providing reports to the government. He resigned from the ONA in March 2003 and went public with his concerns that John Howard’s government was manipulating and distorting the intelligence for political reasons.
He stands by the assertions he made at the time – that Iraq did not pose a serious enough threat to justify a war, that too many things could go wrong, and that it was bad policy to resort to force so long as alternative options remained.
Read more about Andrew Wilkie below, and a speech and an article by him. Come to his talks for a unique, insider’s perspective on how the US influences policy Down Under.
If you haven’t yet discovered the frogblog on the Green website –
– check it out for up-to-the- minute commentary on the news of the day. On August 11 Frog was reflecting on whether Don Brash is serious about scrapping NZ’s nuke-free status, as follows:
“I’ve been wondering for a while whether Don Brash personally believes New Zealand should scrap our nuclear-free status. I’m wondering no longer. The Herald’s John Armstrong, who is paid to know such things, writes this morning:
”National insists it has no intention of changing the law. Yet, in its next breath, it says it will not do so without holding a referendum, begging the question of why it is mentioning referendums if it is not planning to amend the law.
Three pivotal figures – leader Don Brash, deputy Gerry Brownlee and foreign affairs spokesman Lockwood Smith – personally favour ending the ban on nuclear propulsion. It is not clear whether that is the majority opinion of the National caucus.”
“Well, if Brash, Brownlee and Smith back a change to our nuclear-free status, then you can be sure that it’ll happen under a National-led Government. It may not happen by lunchtime, but it will happen.
“However, I’m not sure the real debate should be the status quo versus amending our nuclear-free legislation. Shouldn’t we actually be debating ways we can spread our nuclear-free message? Shouldn’t we be ambassadors for being nuclear-free at every opportunity by, for example, pushing hard for nuclear non-proliferation and restrictions on nuclear power at international fora? The United States was concerned about the “New Zealand disease” spreading. Maybe we should be trying to be more virulent.”
- Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch – Come And Hear Andrew Wilkie
- Wellington Only
- Rest Of NZ
– details above.
– be at Unity Books, 57 Willis St, between 10:30 – 11:30 a.m on Saturday August 27 to meet Andrew and have your copy of his book, Axis of Deceit, signed. (Copies available for sale.)
– if you can’t get to hear Andrew in person, look and listen out for the media coverage, and read his book, Axis of Deceit. It is a fascinating account of how someone who was first a loyal army officer and then an intelligence analyst came to realise that his role of serving and protecting the Australian people was being made a mockery of, and Australian lives were being endangered, for political ends. He resigned from the Office of National Assessments in March 2003 so that he could be free to speak out against the lack of good reasons for attacking Iraq, and why and how ONA’s work was being manipulated for political reasons. His book tells the story of his resignation, within the context of Australia’s ideological and operational subservience to American interests.
- The Dangers Of Being Too Close Too Bush
- Occupied Iraq – Two Years On.
was the issue Andrew Wilkie was asked to address in his key note speech to the ‘Now We The People’ conference in Melbourne on July 30. The full question was “Challenging the neo-liberal danger – What are the challenges we face under the next term of the Coalition Government tightly aligned to the Bush administration? Focus on social services, human rights, the environment and military policies under a neo-liberal government.” Here’s what he said:
”Less than 10 minutes to talk about national security policy. Not much time, but all that’s needed to state the blinding obvious – that the Australian government has failed, and continues to fail, in its fundamental responsibility to safeguard Australians and Australia’s national interests.
And the main reason for this, the simple reason why the government has lost control of our national security, is that the government generally, and Prime Minister John Howard specifically, is obsessed to the point of blindness with the lunatic administration of US President George W. Bush.
This infatuation contaminates almost everything to do with our security and foreign relations. At home in particular the mood is increasingly hysterical as the government, assisted enthusiastically at every turn by Murdoch’s media odd-balls, feed us more and more of that extraordinary American invention, the so-called war on terror. Don’t mind that the very idea of a war on an operational technique is nonsensical from the start; or that the war’s 11 September 2001 New York origin was an understandable extremist response to US Middle East policy, in particular the unnecessarily massive and long-term US military presence in Saudi Arabia.
But Australia’s ride on the war on terror is just the start of it, because the deep policy corruption brought about by Canberra’s fawning approach to Washington has now got into just about everything.
At the most fundamental level, Australia’s policy-making process is closely tuned to US national interests and desires. In effect, the Australian government sometimes relegates Canberra policy departments to second fiddle, preferring instead to let the big decisions be made in Washington. Sure we haven’t outsourced everything but, like a good child looking to its mother, any serious disobedience is not risked lightly.
That is why we are in Iraq. That is why we are heading back to Afghanistan. That is why we don’t care much about Africa. That is why we think the way we do about North Korea. And that is exactly why we are careering toward perilous choices over China as our ideological obsession with the US becomes more apparently at odds with our long-term economic interests.
As a consequence our armoury and force structure is being slowly but surely skewed towards heavier, more expensive and sophisticated forces better suited to expeditionary coalition manoeuvres than local defensive operations or UN assignments further afield. Hence we are buying bigger armoured vehicles, larger amphibious warfare ships, air warfare vessels and highly sophisticated fighter aircraft.
I’m definitely not saying that we should do away with our defence force or run it down so that our soldiers are endangered. Shutting it down is unrealistic for now; especially so long as incompetent politicians so regularly create the circumstances where the unfortunate use of force is called for, for instance in East Timor. What I am saying is that our troops should be structured and equipped for the defence of Australia and appropriate multi-lateral operations. No more, no less. And that is a long way from the style of armed force which our government, and others like Labour Party Opposition Leader Kim Beasley, tend to get so excited about.
Unnecessary defence expenditure obviously costs a huge amount of money, money which just as obviously could be spent on more pressing problems. For example, the Defence Department’s annual miss-spends and under-spends, accumulated over just the most recent few years, totalling not hundreds of millions of dollars but billions, would be enough to fast-track Australia towards substantial reliance on renewable energy, or dramatically increase our foreign aid, or wind-back HECS [tertiary education] fees, or fully fund dental care as part of Medicare.
More worrying than financial recklessness in the short term though – and I say short term, because obviously climate change is the greatest long-term threat to global security – is the way in which John Howard’s cosy relationship with George Bush has fuelled resentment against Australia and significantly increased the likelihood of another terrorist strike against Australians either here or offshore.
In essence, our closeness to the US will continue to fuel resentment that in its most extreme form will sooner or later manifest itself again as terrorism. There’s nothing complex about this. Regardless of whether or not we were ever a terrorist target or would ever have become one, the simple fact of the matter is that the Howard government’s policies since 9/11 have unnecessarily increased the hatred of Australia in some quarters and so increased the likelihood of another terrorist attack.
And all John Howard can say much of the time when challenged on this is that the New York and Bali attacks were before the invasion of Iraq, and that this proves that they hate us for who we are, not what we do. Someone, anyone, really should pipe up the next time he replays that nonsense to point out what Howard knows – that Osama bin Laden’s original gripe was the stationing of US forces in Saudi Arabia during the 1990s. In other words, the origin of al Qaida is what the US did, not what it was.
Unfortunately, though, too many Australians still remain oblivious to all this, persuaded instead that what we do, and who we do it with, are unrelated to the terrorist threat we now face. They read trash like the Herald Sun, The Australian, or Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, and blindly go about their selfish and xenophobic lives believing genuinely that Australia has no choice but to follow America. “We need the Americans to protect us from the Chinese”, my 80 year old mother reassured me again just two weeks ago.
Moreover many Australians believe also that we are now seriously contributing to the pacification and rebuilding of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Never mind the facts that Australian forces in Iraq have become a laughing stock with some American commanders because the Diggers are forbidden from doing anything much dangerous – the heavy lifting as John Howard might say. Or that in Afghanistan our new team will, once the top-heavy command structure and need for troop rest is taken into account, manage to put only a few dozen frontline soldiers into the field at any one time.
Of course none of this, or much else about Australia’s war for that matter, is going to get much of a run in the Australian media, in particular amongst Rupert Murdoch’s angry mob. Everyone’s too worried about appearing un-Australian by seriously questioning what exactly the job is that our soldiers are trying to finish over there.
Even the media outlets that do try to scrutinise this absurd war on terror are ham-strung by the shortage of decent Australian commentators. Take the recent London bombings, for example, when one of the television news services rolled out “Australia’s leading terrorism expert” who proudly predicted that the bombers would be found to be Moroccan. Or in one of the big dailies where a high-profile columnist claimed that the head of Monash University’s Terrorism Project, a former senior terrorism intelligence analyst, did not understand terrorism.
So things are obviously crook when it comes to Australian national security and foreign relations. In essence, the Howard government has lost control and many Australians haven’t got a clue. Just great. And all this at a time when Australia does face serious challenges, many of its own making of course, and needs to be better equipped than ever to deal with them.
But don’t count on our public servants to bail us out. The competent security services are stretched and wearing out as they continue to be distracted by the grinding Iraq misadventure; while the incompetent ones are spending their time on such worthwhile missions as investigating why Melbourne PhD students studying terrorism are taking terrorism-related books out of their university library. Nor are the bureaucrats much help, their top levels now heavily politicised, focussed much more on telling the government what it wants to hear, than what it needs to hear.
In closing I’d like to note another obvious – that there’s little value in just criticising the way things are, unless our criticism is accompanied by good ideas for improvement.
For a start we should pull back from the US. Sure we might choose to foster appropriate bilateral and multilateral relationships with some countries, but these must not be at the expense of giving primacy to the development of independent foreign policies based on Australia’s national interests. A good start would be to shut down bases like Pine Gap unless they are turned over in their entirety to Australian operators.
We should also seek to genuinely re-engage with the broader international community, in particular in our region where apparent progress with countries like Indonesia and Malaysia is thin. This is where our future lies and where our security efforts must be focussed. Remember that the Bali bombers were Indonesians, young men born in a place closer to Darwin than Sydney.
Moreover we must rebuild our position in the United Nations and start respecting international law. The illegal invasion of Iraq was obviously scandalous. But just as outrageous is the government’s continuing determination to ignore our Refugee Convention obligations.
Also, we must become serious about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, starting with the strongest possible protest over Washington’s determination to develop a new generation of bombs.
And finally, we must get serious about the biggest threat to our security – climate change. Because, when it’s all said and done, that’s the thing most likely to destroy humankind as we know it.
In February 2005 Andrew contributed this analysis to the Sunday Mail of why Iraq was invaded – and what a ghastly mess it has turned out to be.
The big turnout of Iraqis casting their vote last weekend was a rare bit of good war news for George W. Bush and John Howard.
But the problem is not the 60 per cent who might have voted, rather the 40 per cent who didn’t. It’s among them that the many Iraqis hell-bent on fuelling the ongoing guerrilla war are to be found. Hopefully they can still be brought into the political fold. But the prospects of this happening are not good, not least because the process to develop Iraq’s new constitution is dominated by rival groups and backed by Washington.
The problem is a bit like what confronted the United States in South Vietnam in 1967. More than eighty per cent of voters defied Vietcong threats of reprisals and voted to the accompaniment of much American fanfare. That millions were still to die before Washington – and Canberra – finally came to their senses and pulled out of South Vietnam is now history.
The Bush administration can’t flee Iraq because it’s hostage to the reasons for the mess. Forget the cock and bull about weapons of mass destruction and links to al Qaida. More than anything else Bush and his cronies invaded Iraq to progress and safeguard United States global authority. They are not about to risk such a grand ambition by bailing out, even though it is the very presence of foreign troops which now fuels the war.
Plus there is the long list of other considerations, including the fact that Iraq virtually floats on a sea of oil. Some troop withdrawals will occur for show. But the United States feels compelled to stay and fight in Iraq for as long as it takes to stand up some sort of reliable pro-American government.
A potential circuit-breaker would be a collapse in public support in the United States for the war. For sure Americans sometimes have an extraordinary tolerance for heavy casualties. But even their legendary patriotism has limits which will be sorely tested if the Iraqi election fails to soon result in a reduction in American casualties. Already their body-count is close to 1,500 – the vast majority since Bush’s silly ‘mission accomplished’ stunt on the decks of an aircraft carrier.
The financial cost of the war to the United States alone has already passed US$150,000,000,000 and continues to accumulate at an alarming rate. This is a mind-boggling figure and way beyond what most Americans expected. It is enough already to cover the financial cost of the Boxing Day tsunami tragedy many times over.
Bush and Howard point to their own election victories as vindication of their Iraq policies. But public patience in both countries is wearing thin, propped up for now by the patriotism and official disinformation still surrounding the war. Plus there are broader influences at work, like the selfishness, xenophobia and weak political oppositions prevalent in both countries.
The Bush administration has lost the international support and moral authority it enjoyed after 9/11. Polling in the United States – and Australia – puts support for the war at below 50 per cent. People are restless, not just because of the deceit which justified the war or the quagmire it has become, but also because of the other abominations revealed along the way. Even strong supporters of the United States are squeamish at the Bush administration’s disregard for the international community and belief that the end justifies the means.
Contempt for due process and the rule of law lies at the heart of much of the unease. The invasion of Iraq was illegal because it was not authorised by the United Nations. Just as obscene was the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Further afield Guantanamo, and official insinuations that people like the Australian Mamdouh Habib should be presumed guilty until proven innocent, are truly frightening. Team Bush’s version of democracy and freedom – and by association Howard’s – is discredited.
Only time will tell if the Iraqi election warrants the fanfare it has generated. The capture of Baghdad almost two years ago turned out to be a precursor to an even more bloody combat phase. Neither did the gunning down of Hussein’s sons or the dragging of Saddam himself out of his dugout end the violence. These successes were soon understood to be only tactical wins because the occupation of Iraq had by then triggered a widespread guerrilla war.
That the United States and United Kingdom suffered in recent weeks their worst casualties in Iraq is ominous. Just as worrying is that the Australian embassy has been forced by repeated attacks to retreat into a military garrison. And to think that none of this was necessary because there were other ways to deal with the menace posed by Saddam Hussein.
JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
If you have feedback on the content of JustPeace, or news items, please
christine [dot] dann
clear [dot] net [dot] nz
>email Christine Dann
The Green Party is not responsible for the content of external links, or of externally produced articles, and their contents may not reflect Green Party views or policies.