Warmongering — Australia at war. What for?
John Howard, his Minister for War, Peter Reith, ably backed by Kim Beazley, jumped onto the war chariot last week. It's to be a khaki election with Howard and Beazley grovelling before George Bush and Tony Blair, the main war cheerleaders. However, the consequences of the war, so enthusiastically entered into by both the Liberal and Labor Party leaderships, will remain with the world for many years to come. Their commitment of Australian troops, naval vessels and planes has not been considered by Australia's parliament nor have the Australian people been consulted in any way. The media immediately joined the war chorus without raising any questions about the real circumstances or the justification for the US attacks on Afghanistan. "Go with pride" trumpeted the front page of Sydney's Daily Telegraph to Australian military forces going off to bring death and terror to innocent Afghanis. The war is illegal. It is a violation of the United Nations Charter which has been pushed aside by the US and Britain. No evidence has been made public to substantiate the claim that the Taliban or Osama bin Laden were actually responsible for the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. It is a war by the richest and militarily strongest power in the world against one of the most poverty stricken countries whose people have already suffered over two decades of war and civil strife. No clear war aims have been stated except the vague claim that it is a "war against terrorism". There is no doubt that the attack on the WTC was a terrorist act but the impoverished people of Afghanistan are certainly not responsible. No-one has come up with a clear definition of terrorism nor can they because it depends on the social, economic and political aims being pursued in a world that remains torn by many conflicts. Those who struggled and fought for the elimination of apartheid in South Africa were branded as terrorists by the apartheid authorities. Israel brands the Palestinian people, whose struggle for statehood is now supported in words by Bush and Blair, as terrorists. They are not terrorists but freedom fighters. Osama bin Laden was also called a "freedom fighter" when he and the Taliban were fighting against the Soviet Union. Now the same Taliban and Osama bin Laden are branded as terrorists. The real war aims — to establish American military bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to destabilise the southern republics of the former Soviet Union, to colonise these republics, to seize the oil riches of the Caspian Sea area, to control Russia and to reestablish compliant regimes in every country of the world — are being hidden. The war being waged against Afghanistan (and the US intends to bomb other countries as well) will not solve the problems created by humiliation, occupation, exploitation, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, a lack of health care and education. The immediate casualties of this dirtiest of wars are the innocent people of Afghanistan and this is already apparent from the TV pictures now appearing on our screens. Far from eliminating the desperate and sometimes blind acts created by these social evils, the present war will inevitably create more generations of people who have nothing to lose. The consequences of enraging many of the world's more than 2 billion Muslims, most of whom live in dire poverty, does not seem to have been even considered. No matter how much Bush and Blair proclaim that it is not a war against Muslims, their targets are Muslim countries. It is into this illegal and immoral conflict that the Australian government and opposition have recklessly thrown Australian forces at the behest of the US. In yet another display of hypocrisy, Pakistan which has supported the Taliban and may have been involved in the attack on the WTC, is being bribed with promises of aid to the tune of US$1 billion to "bolster its economy" But the money required for Afghan refugees is falling pitifully short. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghan people may starve during the coming winter months. Where are the flights that were seen when hundreds of Kosovo refugees were flown to Australia during the bombing of Yugoslavia? The Australian Government's present response is to imprison Afghani refugees on Nauru, PNG and other islands. Although Howard is claiming the existence of a worldwide coalition the reality is that although every government without exception has condemned terrorism, the recent APEC meeting did not endorse the US bombing of Afghanistan nor did it support the condemnation of the Taliban or Osama bin Laden. Many Muslim countries have demanded proof — which has not been supplied. The APEC communique also called for the involvement of the United Nations in the conflict. Before the APEC meeting a gathering of the leaders of the 56 countries of the Arab League also did not endorse the war against Afghanistan. Howard declared that Australian forces would "be in the thick of it" and indicated that Afghanistan is not the only target country. He spoke of the "broader extermination of people who would launch terror attacks on other people around the world". The attempt to stir up war hysteria is being accompanied by more restrictions on democratic rights. Surveillance is being stepped up. The "security" argument is being used to justify the suppression of democratic rights and to introduce secrecy. Furthermore, the war against Afghanistan is being used as a major diversion from the real interests of the Australian people. However, there are indications that the Australian people are by no means supportive of this criminal war. "Radio callers oppose troop commitment" ran a Financial Review headline (19/10/01). The opposition will continue to grow as the enormity of the war that has been embarked upon at the behest of the American Government is realised. The task is to stop the war now, before even more casualties and suffering are inflicted on the people of Afghanistan, and before the Howard Government entangles Australia in a catastrophe of horrifying proportions.