The Guardian October 24, 2001


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.

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