Wish we had a Stan Goff in Oz!

Peter Boyle peterb at dsp.org.au
Fri Aug 15 00:45:42 MDT 2003

It is great to see that The Bring Them Home campaign
continues to rock the US media. Some people on this list may
worry that  Stan Goff is not politcally correct but he's
kickstarted back into life a powerful campaign that hits
right at the heart of US imperialism.

I wish Australia had a Stan Goff (and a Mike Moore).

We have yet to see a significant impact of this new
political turn in Australia but anti-war activists are
disussing the new developments in the US and there is a lot
of interest in the October 25 call. Some of us are trying to
persuade anti-war groups here to try and mobilise in
solidarity on that day. There is a good chance that this may
take on, especially if US developments keep going the way
they are.

In Australia the anti-war movement may be limited by the
smaller scale of Australian military involvement, the fact
that the Labor opposition is unopposition-like and the total
lack of surprise by Australians that politicians lie!

For anyone who is interested below are extracts from recent
statements by Australian defence minister and the Labor
opposition spokesperson.

Peter Boyle

This is from a July 15 media release by Defence Minister
Senator Robert Hill:

 [Australian Defence Force involvement in Iraq (Operation
Catalyst)] comprises approximately 1000 personnel,

* An Australian Joint Task Force headquarters for national
command of ADF elements deployed in the Middle East.  This
headquarters is currently commanded by Air Commodore Graham
Bentley and will be responsible for both Operation Catalyst
Operation Slipper, Australia's contribution to the war
against terrorism.

* A naval component of about 270 personnel, comprising HMAS
Sydney (soon to be replaced by HMAS Newcastle) as part of
coalition maritime force conducting maritime interception
operations in the northern Persian Gulf and a Logistic
Support Element.

* A RAAF C-130 Hercules detachment of about 140 personnel
providing intra-theatre air lift and sustainment support in
the Middle
East, with two transport aircraft, ground crew and other
support elements.

* An Air Traffic Control detachment and support personnel at
Baghdad International Airport providing air traffic control
services, and
Combined Air Operations Staff - totalling about 80

* A security detachment of about 70 personnel including
armoured vehicles and an explosive ordnance detachment to
protection and escort for Australian Government personnel
working in our Representative Office in Baghdad.

* Up to 16 analysts and technical experts to support the
Iraq Survey Group - the coalition effort to locate,
identify, account for and
subsequently destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
associated programs.

* An Australian contribution to coalition headquarters and
units, combined logistics and communications elements
comprising about
90 personnel.

* Six personnel to provide training and policy support to
assist the development of the Iraqi Defence Force.

* A temporary military liaison officer with the Australian
Mission in Baghdad.

* Three ADF representatives to the Coalition Provision
Authority (formerly ORHA).

* A RAAF P-3C Orion detachment of about 160 personnel
conducting maritime patrol operations, with two aircraft and
command and support elements supporting both the
rehabilitation operation in Iraq and the coalition operation
against terrorism.

Certainly not ending the
occupation. This is from an August 15 statement by Kevin
Rudd, Labor's foreign affairs spokesperson:

Australia should now seek to broker a CPA/UN/EU deal that
puts the Iraqi
people first and the continuing political debate about the
legitimacy of
the war second.

If the task of humanitarian assistance seems large, that of
reconstruction is mind-boggling.

Thus far I'm not aware of any accurate integrated needs
analysis for the
rebuilding of Iraq's economic infrastructure, debilitated
over the past
decade by derelict administration and the cumulative effect
of economic

Here the combined challenge to be faced by the UN
Development Program
and the CPA is enormous. The sooner rational divisions of
labour and
funding responsibility are reached the better.

Australia's offer to assist in the agricultural
reconstruction of the
country is sound given our demonstrable expertise. However,
for our
efforts to be more than token and be consistent with our
responsibilities as an occupying power, the scope of this
project needs
to be expanded.

Finally, there is the vexed question of political
transformation and
whether the American dream of constructing an Arab democracy
from the
ground up has any real prospect of realisation.

Some achievements have been registered, although
under-reported. These
include the appointment of a 25-member Iraqi Governing
Council; a
preparatory commission (answerable to the council) to write
constitution; functional municipal councils in all major
cities and 85
per cent of the towns in Iraq; the funding and training of
non-government organisations; and the proliferation of a
largely free

A credible role for Australia will lie in the international
expertise of
the Australia Electoral Commission whose global reputation
constructing free and fair electoral systems in some
seriously difficult
places is second to none. But there is a long way to go -
and the
prospects for the early withdrawal of Western troops is

The ALP opposed Australian participation in the war in Iraq.
position has not changed. But the challenge facing all
people of
goodwill today is not to allow fundamental disagreements
about the
prosecution of this war to impede the common effort that
must now be
joined to build a new Iraq.

And that includes Prime Minister John Howard, who cannot
simply tiptoe
quietly off the Iraqi stage as if he was never there in the
first place.
Occupying powers aren't allowed to do that.

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