Contributed by Joe Montero
The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) held an important and successful conference in in Melbourne this last weekend.
Participants, including indigenous Australians, came from around Australia to discuss the matters of war, peace and independence, connecting this to the need to keep Australia out of US instigated wars, removing foreign military bases on Australian soil and putting into place an independent foreign policy.
IPAN is a network of over 70 affiliates, including Church groups, unions and a range of community organisations and individuals, sharing concern over the control over Australian affairs emanating from Australia’s alliance with the United States, servicing elite and corporate interests in that country, rather than the needs of the peoples of both.
The emergence and growth of the of the network, reflects rising opposition to sending Austrealins overseas to fight in someone else’s predatory wars, the use of Australian soil forforein milkitary bases and the stationing of marines in Darwin.
Key speakers from overseas were;
- Assoc Prof David Vine, from the American University in Washington and author on US military bases around the world and US foreign policies.
- Sung Hee Choi an activist from from Jeju Island in South Korea.
- Olivier Bancoult, indigenous leader from Diego Garcia.
- Murray Horton, from the Anti Bases Campaign in New Zealand
American global strategy is based on the containment of China and Russia, which are regarded as economic and political threats. It is on this notion that that former president Barack Obama began the pivot into the Asia Pacific region. The outcome has been the growth of naval and air power presence, involving the expansion of military bases, the positioning of troopsand threats, which increase tensions. Australia is participating is a player in all of this and therefore contributing to the miltarisation of the region.
As well as hosting marines in Darwin, Australia takes part in regular military exercises, aimed at further securing military positions in a war scenario.
The Turnbull government has become militarily involved in both the North China Sea and Korean issues, taking part in gunboat diplomacy. The push to secure the regionas an American sphere of influence and relying on military threat, is causing grave concern in many countries and is what lies behind the tension in these two hot spots. The present move by the Australian government to send military personnel to the Philippines, is part of the same context.
As the targeted nations, China and North Korea to react to what they consider a threat to their national security and tensions escalate, bringing in the possibility of war. This is not in the interests of anyone in teh region and across the planet and it is certainly is not in the interests of Australia.
IPAN has re-enforced its call to not only close foreign military bases on our soil, but to push for diplomatic solutions to existing differences, based on understanding and recognition of the right of the peoples of all nations to determine their own future, free from meddling and military intervention by foreign interests.
This is the only foundation on which a peaceful world can be built.
The alternative is to risk being drawn into global conflict, whether by design or accident.
As well as being involved in the Asia Pacific pivot, Australia continues to be heavily engaged in unjust wars in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, also concerned with carving out American influence by force.
The result has been a series of quagmires because, in essence, wars waged against civilian populations and they resist what they see as a foreign occupation.
By necessity, involvement in these theatres, has been carried out through an alliance with the most feudal chieftains, who then proceed to carve out their own ward lord territories and then use fear to build divisions along religious and ethnic differences. A particularly sinister outcome of this alliance has been, the increasing reliance on al Qaeda and Islamic State as the foot soldiers. The australian government is complicit in this, while at the same time, pretending to be helping to wage a war against terrorism.
The militarisation of world affairs is by its nature, leading to an erosion of democratic rights in Australia, through the dehumanisation of politics and setting up certain groups as targets of hate, which leads to further erosion of democratic rights. The presence of military bases also sets up Australia as a potential target, at the same time as it leads to diverting resources to military use, at the expense of services that are important for the quality of life.
The conference re-iterated the its recognition that to counter this direction, Australia needs to shift from a foreign policy of dependence on a big power, to a policy that is independent, seeks to build peaceful relations with all nations that is based on respect for one another and on being a responsible and accountable participant in the world of nations.
Recognition was also given to the need to build a campaign that involved as broad a range of opinion as possible that, for whatever reason, agrees with the general call and not to impose a single view on other participants. Only though a broad-based campaign that transforms public opinion decisively, can a change be achieved.
Among the other keynote speakers at the conference were;
- Dr Alison Broinowski, Vice President of Australians for War Powers Reform
- James O’Neill, who is a Barrister.
- Prof Richard Tanter, from the Nautilus Instutiute, Melbourne University.
- Dr Margaret Beavis, National President of the Medical Alliance for the Prevention of War (MAPW).
- Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens Defence Spokesperson.
- Dr Mike Gilligan, former Defence Department adviser.
- Warren Smith, National Assist. Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
- Scott Ludlam, former Greens Senator.
- Alex Edney-Browne, Ph D researcher on drones
- Dr Vince Scappatura, on the US lobby in Australia
A conference statement and resolutions calling for an end to the military base in in Jeju and demilitarisation of the Korean Peninsula, against Australian interference in the Philippines and support for the independence of West Papua were agreed on. They will soon be published on the IPAN site.