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They don’t want him back…On 5 March Australian Green Senator Bob Brown sent NZ Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons the following note:
We view with some disquiet the Kiwi Greens refusal to roll the red carpet out for our Prime Minister John Winston Howard.
Mr Howard has a direct line to the world’s most powerful person, George W Bush, and together with Tony Blair, they are on the brink of achieving a New World Order, a sort of Oil Empire, after first dismantling the obstructive United Nations or, at least, its Charter. They are going to bomb Saddam Hussein and let no mothers of Baghdad or Basra get in their way.
Could you please at least reconsider? We would like you to extend Mr Howard’s stay. If possible, could you keep him until his birthday on July 26 this year, when he says he will consider whether to stay or go as PM. Maybe his holiday in New Zealand will become permanent.
We, along with millions of Australians for Peace, will be eternally grateful.
Senator Bob Brown”
Bob was responding to a statement put out by Jeanette and fellow Co-Leader Rod Donald on 2 March asking Helen Clark to withdraw the invitation to John Howard to visit New Zealand this weekend, calling him “America’s South Pacific proxy”and condemning his plans to commit Australian forces to following the US into an illegal attack on Iraq. Read
Jeanette and Rod’s statement
You can let John Howard know what you think of his war plans by giving him a warm (make that hot) nuclear-free, anti-war Kiwi ”WELCOME”. If you live in the Auckland area there are several opportunities this weekend for you to show him what Kiwis think of his plans to join the ”coalition of (the) killing” and commit Australian forces to attacking Iraq without a parliamentary or UN mandate. If you live in Wellington, your chance comes on Monday March 10. For more information on why we should be worried about Howard, see the item below in HOT ANALYSIS.
SATURDAY, MARCH 8
2.15pm – Howard “welcome”, Whenuapai Airbase
4.00pm – Protest Howard at Australian High Commission opening, 186 Quay St (Price, Waterhouse, Cooper Tower)
5.30pm – Protest at John Howard reception “celebrating” CER with NZ businesses, Sheraton Hotel, 83 Symonds St, City
SUNDAY, MARCH 9
9.15am, Sheraton Hotel, 83 Symonds St, City
Antiwar protest at John Howard/Helen Clark meeting
MONDAY, 10 MarchCrash the party! On Monday Helen Clark is hosting a state banquet at parliament for Howard. Join one of two marches which will converge on Parliament:
march leaving the Quad, Victoria University;
march leaving Midland Park (Lambton Quay, between Waring Taylor and Johnston Streets);
Crash the Party at parliament!
For more info contact Peace Action Wellington, tel (04) 382 8129 or email
hotmail [dot] com
There is still (just) time to SIGN ON to the Move On on-line petition against the war. The organisers have just sent out an e-mail saying:
“The response to our emergency petition to the U.N. Security Council has been nothing short of extraordinary. Less than two days after the petition was launched, over 550,000 people have signed, from over 200 countries. It’s a strong message from the peoples of the world that the Security Council should support tough inspections in Iraq, not war. It’s also the fastest-growing online petition we’ve ever seen — and already one of the largest in history.
Thanks for being a part of this enormous success. With your help, we can make it even bigger. Let others know they can
We’ve pushed back our delivery date to Monday — our sources at the U.N. tell us that’s when it’ll make the most waves. We need to send the petition to press on Friday night, but we’d like to have as many signers as possible by that time. If each person who signed the petition gets a few friends to sign, we’ll easily reach our 750,000 goal — but it has to happen today. Please take a moment to let your friends know about this important initiative. With your help, we can make an even bigger impact on the U.N. Security Council.”
MONITOR the Murdoch media for how it manipulates public opinion on the war.
On February 17 The Guardian ran a
story by Roy Greenslade
on how the Rupert Murdoch owned media empire is taking a strong pro-war editorial line.
The editorials in the Murdoch-owned press here are mixed, with the Press taking a strong pro-Bush line, the Sunday Star-Times being against, and the Dominion Post somewhat critical. Bill Rosenberg of ARENA would like help in monitoring Murdoch-owned provincial papers like the Waikato Times, The Daily News, Manawatu Evening Standard, The Nelson Mail, The Timaru Herald, The Southland Times, Sunday Star Times, Sunday News, and Truth.
If you can help Bill with this media monitoring project by providing information on what any of these papers are saying (dates and quotes needed as well as name of paper), please
bill [dot] rosenberg
canterbury [dot] ac [dot] nz
The Greens have copped some flak for suggesting that John Howard should be sent a strong antiwar message by being ”uninvited” to visit NZ this weekend. Well, it’s hard to know what it is best to do about a political leader so close to us who may be just about to commit his country’s armed forces to breaking international laws. How to stop him may be a puzzle, but why he should be stopped is not in doubt. Christine Dann prepared this quick summary of what Howard has done and intends to do that endangers peace and security locally, regionally and globally.
Would you die for John Howard?
(Would you dine with John Howard?)
Sometime after the re-election of John Howard’s government in 2002, New Zealand’s closest international neighbour, friend and ally, Australia, began to make radical and significant changes in its defence and international relations policies. It made them without consulting with New Zealand. In fact, it made them largely without consulting with Australians, many of whom have been marching in protest and returning their government issue anti-terrorism kits by the thousands.
In August 2002 the man who can’t bring himself to say ”Sorry” to the stolen generation of Aboriginal children was not the least whit abashed to have his Woomera concentration camp for asylum seekers internationally condemned. A former Indian chief justice reported to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that conditions in the camp were degrading and in breach of international treaties. In October 2002 a Senate majority report found that the Defence Minister in the previous Howard-led government had lied about the alleged ”refugee children thrown overboard” incident, which helped win Howard another term in office.
Unrepentant, and defiant of national and international opinion, in early December 2002 Howard announced that Australia would be following the change in American defence policy that was promulgated officially by President Bush in September 2002 in his National Security Presidential Directive 17 and the National Security Strategy. This is a shift from relying on multilateral and collective defensive arrangements (such as the United Nations, and regional alliances) to unilateral pre-emptive strikes against states perceived to be harbouring threats to Australian (or American) security.
Howard’s statement of this new policy caused outrage in Asia, with Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand all condemning this position, and labelling Howard an arrogant and dangerous bully. In New Zealand Prime Minister Clark’s reaction was first of all to try and make excuses for Howard, claiming that his comments were taken out of context. They most certainly were not, as he re-stated them clearly on several occasions. Secondly, and much more worryingly, she reiterated and gave credence to the arguments used by Howard (and by President Bush before him) in favour of a shift towards unilateral pre-emptive strikes and for re-writing (or ignoring) Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
Article 51 (which must be understood in association with Article 42, which deals with collective security via UN structures and processes) is the article which reserves states’ rights to self-defence. But even this is subject to collective self-defence arrangements, permitting a state to attack another state only if an armed attack is first perpetrated against it and up until the Security Council has taken necessary measures to maintain peace and security.
The US National Security Strategy claims that ”For centuries, international law has recognised that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack.” (NSS.p. 8). Howard presented this position as ”reasonable” in his interview with Laurie Oakes on Channel Nine on 1.12.02. He said ”…it stands to reason that if you believed that somebody was going to launch an attack against your country, either of a conventional kind or a terrorist kind, and you had a capacity to stop it and there was no other alternative than to use that capacity then of course you would have to use it.”
Clark defended Howard’s position by saying that ”…you could get international lawyers to debate all day whether some kind of pre-emptive strike was legal or not”, and that she believed the law was ”fuzzy” and needed revision. (quoted in the Christchurch Press, 3.12.03)
New Zealanders should be appalled that the world’s superpower has blatantly broken with fifty years of collective international security arrangements, that our closest ally is endorsing this shift, and that our Prime Minister is seeking to justify it. Contrary to Clark’s view, international legal opinion can be and has been summed up, in less than 40 pages, in an opinion on ‘Legality of use of force against Iraq’ prepared by British international legal experts Rabinder Singh QC and Alison Macdonald of Public Interest Lawyers. The international legal view is that self-defence measures are severely circumscribed, and certainly do not cover the situation in which the US, the UK, and Australia consider they have a ”right” to attack Iraq in ”self-defence”.
Samuel Makinder, Associate Professor of International Relations at Murdoch University, Perth, criticised Howard’s policy shift, saying that ”If governments suggest taking the law into their own hands, if they canvass the violation of international institutions and norms, then they are behaving like terrorists.” It may well be that the advent of globalised terrorism requires a rethink of collective security arrangements, up to and including a revision of UN Charter provisions. However, the only proper way to do this is multilaterally and collectively. We can not have states like the US and Australia unilaterally taking the law into their own hands. This is the law of the jungle — the same one that terrorists abide by.
The Australian Senate showed what it thought of the supposed legality and morality of taking non-UN sanctioned military action against Iraq when on February 6, 2003 it passed a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister for his handling of the war on Iraq issue. This was an historic event – the first successful such no confidence motion in the 102 year history of the Senate.
Howard and his Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer predictably dismissed this as mere ”politicking”, and went on to further commit Australia to American global military strategies when the Defence Update was released on February 26. Despite the fact that the Update states that ”the threat of a direct military attack on Australia is less than it was in 2000”, it canvasses the possibility that Australia should co-operate with America’s ”son of Star Wars” missile defence programme. Howard has since defended the proposal to join the American missile defence system, despite criticism from China that it would be damaging to global non-proliferation efforts and could spark a arms race in East Asia and thereby jeopardise regional stability.
China’s fears are real, for Australia is (again) following the US in stepping further outside international law — and towards nuclear proliferation. In June 2002 the US ended its participation in the Anti Ballistic Missile treaty. This was so that it could go on with building ”son of Star Wars”- an enormously expensive and probably not very effective missile defence ”shield” intended to operate (from 2004) not just on the shores and ships and aircraft of the US, but also on the territory of its allies. The UK and Australia are already part of US early warning systems (Australia via the electronic spy base at Pine Gap) and now both are considering joining the physical proliferation of missiles as well. Some of these missiles will certainly be nuclear missiles, as the US Nuclear Posture Review and National Security Strategy papers of 2002 made it clear that the US once more considers nuclear attacks to be among its defence options.
This appears to be fine by Howard’s government. The Defence Update states that ”Our relationship with the United States remains a national asset. The United States current political, economic and military dominance adds further weight to the alliance relationship. The alliance increases Australia’s ability to contribute effectively to coalition operations.” The Howard government has thus committed Australia to a ”Where America goes we go” policy, regardless of the implications for the rule of international law, the dangers of nuclear proliferation, and last (but for us, perhaps not least) the security of New Zealand.
For nowhere in the Defence Update does New Zealand even rate a mention. Even though New Zealand has strong opinions and positions of matters covered in the Update. These include being a strong advocate for and supporter of the United Nations collective security processes, working co-operatively and well with Australian forces in UN peacekeeping operations, such as that in East Timor, taking a unique and powerful national stand against nuclear proliferation, and opposing a unilateral, non-UN sanctioned attack on Iraq. All these New Zealand contributions to national and international security are well-known to the Australian government. It may not agree with all of them, but it surely has a duty to talk with its ANZAC mate before it exposes this corner of the world to the possibly dangerous consequences of its radical revisions in security policy. Also to the further integration of its military forces and strategies with those of US, which is what the Defence Update commits to.
If it has done such talking, then our government needs to come clean on what it said in reply, and not leave the public trying to make sense of why New Zealand now appears to countenance military co-operation with not one but two states that show disregard for international law and a penchant for nuclear proliferation.
Until these matters are resolved, people invited to sup with John Howard would be advised to take very long spoons.
JustPeace is produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
Previous issues of JustPeace are archived on the