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Peace Groups Urge Caution, Senate Inquiry On Iraq
19 August 2002
As parliament goes back into sittings today, Australian peace groups have urged the government not to unthinkingly go along with a US crusade against Iraq, and said that the long term results of this could be greater global instability.
The groups assert that first order of business for Australian politicians this week should be to address Australia's policy direction on the Iraq issue. The groups have backed calls for a Senate inquiry into the issue, and urged support for a Senate motion on Iraq introduced by the Democrats, which 'calls upon the Government to rule out Australia's involvement in any pre-emptive military action, or first strike, against Iraq or any other country without evidence that an attack by that country is imminent.'
According to the groups:
"It is deeply concerning to see our government going along with a US 'first strike' doctrine aimed at Iraq and other countries, and to see our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister's unthinking support for a 'crusade' against Iraq. The motion introduced by the Democrats in the Senate today, and the call for an inquiry and debate shows that the government is way out of line in its uncritical backing of the Bush administration."
"Too few voices in the government seem to have asked the obvious questions: 'Why are we doing this?' and 'Is this the best or the only way to ensure global peace and security'. Instead, the mindless echoing of the most aggressive statements that emanate from the White House have taken precedence over balanced debate. In view of this lack of real thought, calls for a Senate inquiry and debate make a great deal of sense."
In the US, by contrast, questions are being asked by both Democrats and even by Republican Congress members, while in the UK, church leaders and retired military personnel have expressed deep doubts to Prime Minister Blair. Senior republicans have expressed strong concern. Here in Australia, church leaders and other groups have already written to Mr. Howard expressing caution.
According to the groups:
"Even if the regime of Saddam Hussein proved to be a house of cards that fell with little effort, there is no guarantee that it will not be followed by complete chaos, requiring an indefinitely continued military presence. An invasion of Iraq could completely destabilize the middle east, spreading resentment of the US and the west. Israel could respond to an Iraqui attack with nuclear weapons. There is no legal basis for an invasion, and little reason for one other than that we do not like the Iraqi regime."
Much has been made of Iraqi attempts to obtain nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, but there is no real evidence that Hussein is close to having them, and the fact is that he poses no proven threat to either the US or Australia.
"Australia must repeatedly remind the Bush administration that it is the US, and not Iraq that has by far the largest numbers of, and the most sophisticated, weapons of mass destruction. It is an arsenal that the US is legally obliged to eliminate, something for which it shows not the slightest inclination."
"War on Iraq is sure to be opposed by large sections of both the Australian and the global community. A full Senate inquiry would demonstrate this to be true."
Media release from Friends of the Earth (Australia), Australian Peace Committee, Australian Anti-Bases Coalition, People for Nuclear Disarmament NSW, Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament, and OzPeace.