and what we are not suppose to know

Part of the crowd at the Brisbane protest.


March 20, 2006

  Almost two-thirds of Australians want the nation's troops out of Iraq immediately or no later than May, a new poll shows.

But 32 per cent believe Australian troops should remain there until Iraq is peaceful and stable, even if that takes a long time.

The poll of 500 people was conducted from March 10 to 13 by the market research firm UMR Research, on behalf of the Labor-linked political consultancy Hawker Britton.

Those dates coincided with Defence Minister Brendan Nelson's announcement that Australia's 460-member Al-Muthanna Task Group would remain in Iraq beyond May, the original deadline for the mission to end.

The poll found 65 per cent of respondents believed Australia should leave Iraq immediately or no later than May.

That view was strongest among younger age groups, with 74 per cent of those aged 18-29 calling for withdrawal.

The opposing view was strongest among Queenslanders with 35 per cent backing Australian troops staying until the job was done; 35 per cent of those on higher incomes (over $100,000) adopted a similar view.

The poll also sought the views of respondents on reasons for the Iraq conflict, with 49 per cent saying it was to protect oil interests.

Just three per cent said it was to promote a model for democracy in the Middle East.



Sunday August 8, 2004

   We believe that a reelected Howard Government or an elected Latham Government must give priority to truth in Government. This is fundamental to effective parliamentary democracy. Australians must be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders, especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.

  We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people. Saddam's dictatorial administration has ended, but removing him was not the reason given to the Australian people for going to war.



17 Feb 03
   On the 14th February 200,000 people flooded into Melbourne to protest against the government's support for President Bush. On Sunday 16th 250,000 people jammed into Sydney's Hyde Park. There were so many people they could not reach the venue. In Brisbane 100,000 people (almost 10% of the city's population) turned out in blazing summer sun and 32 degree heat to protest against the government. In all about 500,000 people in Australia protested against either any war, or US led war.

  In London 750,000 people jammed into the city. In France, Germany, Spain, New York, San Francisco, in country towns -- in 600 different cities and towns across the world aproximately 30 million people felt strongly enough to come out and protest. In New York 400,000 people defied a ban on marching to protest. In Rome aproximately one million people turned out. In most countries the protests were the biggest ever held -- exceeding those against the Vietnam war and all other issues. And in at least two of the countries, UK and Australia, we have been stigmatized as "coalition of the willing".

      Not bloody likely!
 26 Jan 2003:  Reports from USA suggest that America may use nuclear weapons on Iraq.
(To teach Iraq not to have nuclear weapons).

"War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength"

"His mind ... fetched up with a bump against the Newspeak word doublethink."

"1984" George Orwell

   Richard Butler, the Australian former UN chief weapons inspector, said any US-led move that did not have backing of the UN Security Council would spark a "major crisis", he said it would possibly be terminal for the UN. If the US, Britain and Australia took the law into their own hands, people would lose faith in the UN. He criticised US President George W. Bush for using "the language of the posse" He has no right ... to say 'We will take the law into our own hands'. Butler said that when the law of the posse took over, "the first loser is the law itself." The world would lose faith in the UN as an international regulator.
4 Feb 2003

   Australia's Senate passed a symbolic vote of no confidence in Prime Minister John Howard for his handling of Iraq, censuring a government leader for the first time in parliament's 102-year history. This illustrates the deep opposition to Australia's involvement in the war on Iraq.
   The lower House of Representatives, where the conservative government holds a majority, threw out a similar motion failed by 82 votes to 63.
Howard, a staunch U.S. ally, has come under attack for sending troops and approving fighter jet deployments to join U.S. and British forces in the Gulf preparing for a possible war on Iraq before the United Nations process has run its course.

Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, said the Senate's motion, passed by 33 votes to 31, marked a "historic condemnation of the government."

"John Howard has let this nation down. His gross mishandling of Australia's involvement deserved the strongest parliamentary rebuke," Brown said.
  AUSTRALIAN POLLS. Newspoll and ACNeilsen record 61% and 60% of Australians opposed to war without UN backing.

Newspoll reports war support has fallen from 39% to 30% in the last two surveys.

    People in Australia are deeply sceptical about George Bush's motive for attacking Iraq -- a country that is reduced to starvation, bombed, and has not attacked or threatened anyone for the past 10 years. North Korea is seen as more of a threat. Perhaps the big difference is OIL. People do not believe they are being told the full story.

The UN is seen as the arbitrator whether Iraq is a threat to world peace or supports terrorism.

Many people believe that the Bali bombing and events in East Timor are more real threats, and ones that we can do something about.

If the US takes it upon itself to attack another country, then this sets a precedent. Maybe China might take a dislike to Japan. Or Germany could discover German citizens being oppressed in Poland. India could deal with Pakistan, and more realistically, Israel could do some ethnic cleansing across the whole of the West Bank and Gaza -- the Final Solution for the Palestinians.

  What it means is that the world will turn away from the UN, and nations will do whatever they can get away with. You just form an armed gang and go and do over whoever you wish. The UN hasn't always been a successful arbitrator, but it is all that we've got. The world needs to strengthen the UN, not have it destroyed by countries that don't get their own way.
  SIMON CREAN, Leader of the Opposition: "We will not be supporting US-led unilateral action. It's as clear as that."
BOB BROWN, Greens Leader   "Is the Prime Minister going to be aiding and abetting the breakdown of international law which gives us all security at the start of this century and a very insecure world?"
  The Greens are stridently opposed to war under any circumstances.
ANDREW BARTLETT, Democrats Leader   "We need to be prepared for trouble in our own region, particularly in East Timor where Australia has to carry the load more than any other country."
KEVIN RUDD, Labor foreign affairs spokesman    "By forward-deploying Australian forces, Howard has raised enormously American expectations that they will be used in battle if and when the US decides to attack Iraq."

  I have heard and read statments by almost all the relgious bodies in Australia. I cannot recall one who supported a US-led war. Should there be one who supports Bush's war, let me know and we'll acknowledge them.

  So sorry Mr Bush, no support there.

  Don't even think about it!

JESUS? No way.

MOHAMMED? Not likely.

 Okay President Bush, Tony Blair and John HoWARd, you've got mail!
  WHAT ABOUT INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT?   Three out of four Germans say that they consider President Bush to be a greater danger than Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. As is also the case in France, three out of four of those polled in Germany say that they are opposed to a war in Iraq, even if it is specifically authorised by the UN security council.

In Spain and Italy, majorities against war are over 60%. These largely Catholic countries will have listened to the Pope's recent denunciation of war as a "defeat for humanity".

In Britain over the past three months, those against an attack on Iraq have risen to 47%, according to a Guardian poll. Other polls show that more than 80% of Britons believe clear evidence of Iraqi non-compliance with the UN inspection regime's requirements, and specific UN authority for the use of force, are essential prerequisites for military action.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that American grassroots support for the Bush administration's policy on Iraq is falling steadily. Seven out of 10 Americans want the UN inspectors to be given more time to do their job, according to the findings. They therefore oppose Mr Bush's anticipated attempt to curtail or cancel the inspections prior to launching military action.

25 January 2003

Peter Wear

I am sitting on my grandson's bed. He is four years old. Xavier and I are immersed in his bedtime story, and he's cuddled up against me as I read. The soft darkness of this summer night is all around us.

We turned the page and the stegosaurus rears up in battle with another horned monster.

Xavier's eyes grow wide. He is besotted with dinosaurs, deliciously frightened, as four-year-olds are, by all that is spooky and sinister. And then he is suddenly sleepy. His eyes flicker and close. I gently fold him down into the safe keeping of his bed, cover him with a sheet, touch a kissed finger to his forehead, and stand up to leave.

And I cannot move. I am trapped, midstream, in that emotional flash flood that every parent and grandparent knows.

It's love, of course — love for this soft-breathing child, love sharpened by a vague unnameable fear — but what has caught me, without warning, is the blinding universality of this moment.

Right now, in this room, I am every grandfather in the world who will tonight read to his grandchild, and Xavier is every four-year-old child in the world, slipping into innocent sleep.

It doesn't matter the country, the language, the religion — at a hundred million bedsides, this very night, men and women, you and me, will watch over their sleeping children, yours and mine.

And they will feel what we feel, because we are them, and they us.

Mere accidents of blood and geography us keep apart. On this lonely planet we only have each other. And you can probably see were this is leading.

Many thousands of those bedsides, many thousands of those men, women and innocent children are in the city of Baghdad, towards which, on this soft Brisbane night, are sailing the warships of the US and Australia and Britain.

For the grandfather who is me, in Baghdad, his fear is neither vague, nor unnameable— its name is war, and its name is death.

And from the moment the first shells arc across the Iraqi sky, it's only a matter of time, hours most likely, or even minutes, before the first four-year-old, the first Xavier, is pulled lifeless from the wreckage of some "non-civilian" target where, moments before, he was dreaming of dinosaurs.

The first casualty of war is truth, but before a nation can go whole-heartedly to war it must slay an earlier victim — its humanity.

Killers, whether they are nation-states or homicidal loners, always dehumanise those they will kill.

Can we do this? To go to war with Iraq is to pass a death sentence on countless innocent Iraqis.

Are we OK with that? Will they get a fair trial, would you say, with George W. Bush as Judge, and his confederacy of dunces as jury?

Bush, his home state Texas, is very comfortable with the death penalty. How about you?

And what of the defence of ordinary Iraqis, of helplessness, of living under a regime in which to speak out is to die? Not a defence?

Can you show me why? Here's a soap-box, and a ticket to Bagdad.

My grandson would not understand John Howard's military strategy. He would not understand why Australians are sailing halfway around the world that Australian eyes might squint down the gun sights and Australian fingers curl around the triggers that will send Iraqis to their graves. I don't understand either.

Spare me the global analysis. Spare me the fear-mongering about fighting against terrorism, and the bullying one-liners from Bush's script-writers, and the idiocy that says carpet -bombing Saddam and his goons will somehow make our world safer, and anyone's life, anywhere happier. It didn't last time. Or the time before that.

Spare me the rhetoric of our Prime Minister, the sham thoughtfulness, the bogus restraint, the shallow pretence that our Gulf forces are there to intimidate Saddam Hussein (he must be easily frightened) not to aid and abet a US strike that will go ahead come hell, high water, or the UN Security Council.

Let's test the collected wisdom of Bush and Howard.

Let their speeches be printed on black-bordered sympathy cards, to be handed around at the gravesides of the innocents of Baghdad.

Let us see if the mourners are comforted that their children did not die in vain.

Peter Wear, Australia.