Mobilising a mass movement to prevent war is now increasingly urgent

The following by Bevan Ramsden published as an editorial by the Independent and Peacefull Australia coalition is timely, given the escalation of Australia’s participation in war games, which are promoting the escalation of tensions with China. Unfortunately, the Albanese government has proved to be an especially willing pawn in Washington’s geopolitical ambitions to thwart China’s rise through gunboat diplomacy. Doing this is contributing to increasing the risk of a catastrophic war, and the only way to stop this is through a mass movement, such as the one that put an end to involvement in the Vietnam war in 1972.

The Australia-Philippine military assault to capture an “enemy-controlled” island in the South China Sea is the latest indicator that war against China may occur accidently or intentionally any time now. This assault only two weeks ago was led by 1,200 Australian troops backed by 560 Filippino Forces and 120 US marines.

Photo by Riley Blennerhassett/Australian Department of Defence/AP: Taking part in a large-scale combined south China Sea amphibious assault exercise on August 25, 2023

Australia’s defence minister, Richard Marles said the military exercise aimed to promote the rule of law and peace in the region and that Australia and The Philippines would pursue plans for joint naval patrols in the South China Sea, which the Australian defense chief said may be launched soon.

Previously Minister Marles has supported naval patrols of the South China Sea in line with the United States’ call for freedom of navigation patrols, a straw man exercise as China has never indicated any desire to block naval trade routes which, in any a case, would seriously harm its own trade with the rest of the world.

The Australian-Filippino-US military assault on the “enemy-controlled” island follows a series of recent war rehearsal exercises in which Australia has been a major player.

These include Talisman Sabre with 30,000 troops comprised mainly of Australian and United States troops backed by fighters, bombers, landing craft and naval forces operating in Qld and off the coast and in NT in July/August, this year.

Talisman Sabre exercise in invasion by sea

The Quad war exercise, “Exercise Malabar”, led by Australia was carried out from 10-21 August, this year and comprised of warships from the US, Japan and India as well as Australia supported by more than 2,000 personnel across the four nations. Exercise Malabar incorporated high-end anti-submarine, air-defence and gunnery exercises, aviation and communication operations.

These three war rehearsals in July/August, this year symbolise the rapid increase in war preparations occurring and in synchronism with the ALP National Conference in August in which the dominant leadership suppressed the growing opposition from within ALP branches and membership with AUKUS and the acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines and ensured that the conference endorsed these policies.

The shift of war exercises from Australian territory to the Philippines and South China Sea indicates the focus is on China and the territories it claims in the South China Sea. The Australian acquisition of tomahawk missiles to be fitted to our Hobart class destroyers indicates an intent to attack land-based installations as they are of no use against moving targets such as ships or planes and are therefore of no use in defence of Australian territory.

Minister Marles has now placed Australian military assets in an operational position which could, as a result of an accident, miscalculation or intentional provocation, trigger a breakout of hostilities with China with possible escalation into all-out war.

All peace- loving people and organisations and that includes faith organisations, trade unions, ALP and other political party branches and members, community organisations including ethnic community associations, parents and citizens associations, secondary and university students, mums and dads and workers everywhere need to come together urgently and demand peace; a Vietnam Moratorium level response is needed. It pulled the political leadership of Australia into line resulting in an end to conscription and withdrawal of all Australia’s troops from the Vietnam war some 50 years ago.

View of part Vietnam moratorium in 1971. This moment turned the tide and soon led to the end of Australia’s participation in the war

Similarly, a mass movement of the Australian people can prevent a war; a war which would have a devastating impact on our economy and our everyday life and may even lead to missile attacks on our continent.

Polls show a majority of Australian people want neutrality in a US war against China; 73 percent of Australian women want neutrality in such a war; 67 percent of young people want neutrality; this is a strong base upon which to build a mass movement for peace.

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