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Issue #1656      September 17, 2014

Abbott commits Australia to US’s endless war

The first of Australia’s combat troops are on their way to the Middle East to join US and other forces in Iraq. The Abbott government, with the full support of Labor leader Bill Shorten, has committed Australia to a long and expanding conflict in the Middle East and beyond, if all goes according to US plans.

Abbott initially claimed the forces would not be used in conflict, now he is saying a decision has not been made. The Australian was a little more forthcoming. “The Australian understands the decision to engage in combat will be almost automatic once ADF members and their equipment are in place,” writes Brendan Nicholson. (“Special forces head back to Iraq as PM sends 600 troops to take on jihadis”, 15-09-2014)

The government is sending an initial 100 special forces to be deployed on the ground in Iraq, part of a 600-strong force to the Middle East. Four hundred Australian Air Force personnel will be stationed at the Minhad air base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Eight Super Hornet fighters, a C17Globemaster and C130 Hercules transport aircraft will also be used. The special forces deployed in the Ukraine will also be diverted to the UAE. The deployment is open-ended, as is the conflict itself.

In addition to Australia, the US’s new Coalition of the Willing, with an estimated 10,000 personnel, includes Britain, Canada, and 10 compliant Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

There are strong parallels with the methods used by the Howard government to try to justify Australia’s involvement in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. There is “be alert, not alarmed” rhetoric, putting Australia on “high alert” meaning a “terrorist attack is likely”, and the lies. The Howard government used the threat of terrorism as an excuse to increase ASIO’s powers and introduce other laws restricting people’s democratic rights, which went well beyond fighting terrorism.

As the then General Secretary of the CPA Peter Symon said commenting on the government’s legislation, “It is part of the offensive being undertaken by conservative governments in a number of countries which, overtime, will be used to silence opposition to their war policies.

“The capitalist system is now in very serious economic and political crisis and wants to silence all criticism of its policies.” (The Guardian, “Resist anti-democratic ASIO laws”, #1115, 30-10-2002)

This time, Attorney General George Brandis, has a raft of so-called anti-terror legislation before Parliament and is using the threat of terrorism to try to justify a further erosion of democratic rights. There is also the additional threat of Australians now fighting with Islamic State (IS or ISIS) forces returning to Australia and continuing their jihad here.

The Australian Greens are the only parliamentary party to oppose the government’s war plans. Back in 2004, Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said Australia was at increased risk because of our involvement in the Iraq war. Greens Leader Christine Milne says the same applies now.

“It is not as simple as extremists hating us because of our way of life. They are also fuelled by our past engagement in Iraq with the Coalition of the Willing. Fighting [with] US-led Western imperialism is a rallying call for jihadists,” Milne said.

“Extremists need vulnerable young people to feel isolated and alienated in order to win them over. We shouldn’t make that easier for them. We should focus on strengthening our community ties and policies of inclusion.

“The Prime Minister must focus on making sure all Australians are included in our wonderful multicultural society. The problem isn’t Islam or Christianity, it is the discrimination and hatred that drives social isolation and violence,” said Milne.

Endless war

Obama, was elected to office six years ago on the promise of ending the war in Iraq and moving away from a “perpetual wartime footing”. He brought home 150,000 troops from Iraq, but has continued with the wars and regime changes (overtly or covertly) since then, including in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

“This effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Obama said. He said “no American troops were being sent in a combat role. The attacks will be focused on defeating the ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria and on training and strengthening the Iraqi military forces.”

Like the Australian government, Obama only told half the story. This is not a new war; it is the next stage, of the “endless war” launched by GW Bush in 2003. But it will not stop with ISIS in Iraq or Syria.

The next objective is to bring down the Syrian government. The US and its backers Britain and Australia are supporting and funding IS forces in Syria while claiming to be about to fight against IS in Iraq.

The main objective in this strategy is to close in on Russia in a pincer movement with a coalition of the willing that is by then experienced and well co-ordinated for the big battles ahead. Ukraine is part of that strategy.

Australia has no right to wage war in Iraq, Syria or anywhere else.

To quote The Guardian in 2002 again, “The ‘war on terrorism’ is a campaign launched by imperialism to justify war against any number of countries, to justify their occupation and the taking over of their economy by the transnational corporations. It is by these means they are attempting to re-impose worldwide colonialism.” The government should withdraw from the Coalition and spend the money on social security. (The Guardian, Editorial, #1115, 30-10-2002)

Next article – Editorial – Job destroyers

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