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Against Terrorism, Against War Melbourne Protests for Peace


On the eve of Invasion

I'd like to thank the United States government for finally showing their true colours. Since the Second World War, the world has been fed the line that the US of A is the home of liberty, democracy and American pie. With hands on their hearts, the world has emulated and worshipped Washington, the epicentre of the democratic tradition.

Well that's the myth. When people look beyond the myth, they are confronted with the reality of American imperialism: an invasive cancer that has directly and indirectly caused the deaths of millions of people. From countries as diverse and far reaching as the Congo, Chile, Grenada, Indonesia, Panama, Laos, Argentina, Vietnam, Palestine and Lebanon, people have felt first-hand the wrath of the United States war machine when the United States believed its interests were threatened. George F (F stands for Fraudulent) Bush has done the world a favour by removing the iron fist from the American velvet glove.

United States authority does not rest on ethical or moral considerations. America does not promote democracy or liberty. Its legacy is one of wholesale death and destruction. Ask the million Indonesians who were slaughtered by United States supported and financed death squads; ask the tens of thousand of the disappeared, who have vanished off the face of the earth because they had the audacity to stand up to successive United States administrations; ask the people of Cambodia and Laos who were drawn into a secret war that bombed them back to the stone age and created the conditions that gave birth to the Khmer Rouge, a government that was supported and bankrolled by the United States when it was driven into the mountains by the Vietnamese.

It's good to see that the United States moral authority rests directly on its military might and the weapons of mass destruction at its disposal. Ignoring world opinion, the United States will be launching an invasion into Iraq that could result in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis a people who could have been liberated from Saddam Hussein's regime in 1991, who in 1991 were left to be slaughtered because the United States needed Saddam Hussein to act as a bulwark against Muslim fundamentalism. Thank you George F Bush for coming out of the shadows and openly using violence to pursue the United States dream. Your actions have highlighted the pariah status of the United States and those pathetic leaders like Howard the "bush kangaroo" and Blair, leaders who have turned their backs on the people who elected them into office.


The United States government and its coalition partners have just invaded Israel. Sick and tired of seeing United Nations after United Nations resolutions on Israel being ignored by the Security Council, they have decided to unilaterally invade the State of Israel to stop its weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of religious fundamentalists. The freedom loving nations of the world have become concerned about the inclusion of religious fundamentalists in the latest Sharon cabinet. Concerned that men and women who believe that the Messiah's return is imminent and that his return will be marked by plague, war and famine, the coalition of the willing has invaded Israel.

The Israeli government's stockpile of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, the most extensive in the Middle East, poses a threat to its Arab neighbours and the rest of the world. The United States is adamant that they must be disarmed and the religious fundamentalist regime changed if peace and prosperity are to return to the Middle East. George Bush, the United States President, believes that the Israeli government's brutal occupation of the Palestinian people gives him the moral authority to launch a unilateral invasion.

Collective punishment; deportations; summary executions; the destruction of the homes of the families of Palestinian freedom fighters; the use of tanks, helicopter gunships and jet fighters in civilian areas; and the refusal of the Israeli government to allow Palestinian's who were forced off their lands at gunpoint to return to their homes when the Israeli State was formed, are just a few of the reasons that President Bush has used to justify the invasion of Israel.

The coalition of the willing is fighting a just war, a legally sanctioned war, a moral and ethical war. The State of Israel needs to be forcibly disarmed. Its weapons of mass destruction must be destroyed and its elected government, like the government of Chile, needs to be changed. That's why the coalition of the willing, led by the United States, has just launched an all-out attack on the State of Israel.


Hearts and minds: hearts and minds is the name of the game. The media is the message; control of the media is paramount. When the cruise missiles start hitting their targets, new information about what's happening in Iraq will became a valuable commodity. Many of Bush's senior advisers believe the United States lost the war in Vietnam because the American people and the world saw the direct results of the United States intervention in Vietnam.

This time they are determined to make no mistakes. They want to control the information that's coming out of Iraq. Those who are familiar with the way the media is manipulated will have seen the feel-good stories that have appeared in the media. Pictures of gung-ho soldiers have given way to images of smiling female combatants. Dissemination of propaganda is their most powerful tool in the game. Following the line that if it doesn't appear in the media it, hasn't happened, the United States military has embarked on a system of news censorship that would make Stalin and Hitler smile.

This is a war that has everything to do with style and nothing to do with substance. Controlling what images are beamed into people's lounge rooms is as important as the war itself. Civilian casualties won't matter if there are no pictures of them. Following the lead given by Ruddock, the immigration Minister to the immigration department, as long as the media doesn't have pictures of refugees, you can manipulate public opinion about them. Once people see that they are living, breathing people like them with the same wants and needs, it is difficult to demonise them. As long as pictures of dead bodies and razed buildings are kept from the world, the invasion of Iraq will be able to be presented as a clean precision war.


At the Third-World Water Conference opening on Sunday, delegates from 150 countries met to discuss the most pressing problem facing the Third World: access to water. About 1.4 billion people, around 25% of the world's population, do not have access to clean drinking water, and over 2.3 billion people, about 40% of the world's population, lack adequate sanitation facilities. Tens of thousands of people, mostly children, die every year as a result of water borne infections, due to a lack of access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities.

The single greatest threat facing the 40% of the world's population that cannot access clean water and adequate sanitation is privatisation. The central question facing the Third-World Water Conference is the rapid privatisation of the world's most important and essential product: water. Poor countries that need to raise capital from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are finding that one of the conditions for new loans is the privatisation their water supplies. The privaiisation of water by transnational corporations has turned a human right into a commercial commodity.

In both the developed and developing world, water privatisation has become a 21st century scourge. Access to water, a fundamental human right, is being restricted to those who can afford it. The growing water shortages, especially for domestic consumption, and the privatisation of water supplies, both in the developed and developing world, have become the major problem facing the world today. The privatisation of water supplies is the unacceptable and unwanted face of capitalism. For all the United States administration talk of freedom and democracy, it has encouraged and supported the transfer of the ownership of water supplies from the state to the private sector, both in the United States and in the developing world.

Access to water is a basic human need that we all share. Access to drinking water and adequate sanitation is a universal human right that each and every one of us, irrespective of how poor we are, should enjoy. This access could be provided by the spending of a fraction of the money that will be spent by the United States and its allies when they invade Iraq. It's a sad indictment on the type of society we have become when the central debate at the Third-World Water Conference revolves around the benefits of the privatisation of water. Water privatisation by transnational corporations is the single most important threat faced by the world.

The Third-World Water Conference needs to declare that access to clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right. It also needs to put a program in motion that will stop in its tracks the IMF and World Bank's push to privatise water. If this does not happen, more and more people will be finding that they will be spending more and more of their meagre resources to access what should be a fundamental human right: the right to access freely clean drinking water.


The Prime Minister earned his nickname "Honest John" early on in his career for his penchant for twisting the truth. As his parliamentary career has progressed, he has become a Zen master of the honourable parliamentary art of manipulating the facts to suit his current ideological position. His attempts on Thursday to justify the invasion of Iraq is a text book study of evasion and manipulation of the truth.

The man who has enriched the Australian vernacular with the phrase "core and non core promises" is losing all credibility among an increasing number of Australians. When he opens his mouth, many people no longer listen to what he is saying. A significant number of Australian's now believe the Prime Minister is incapable of telling the truth. He tells the Australian people that refugees throw their children overboard when clearly they never did. He tells them he will never introduce a GST and then does. He tells them he hasn't made a decision about committing Australian troops to a war against Iraq even though he has deployed two thousand troops to the Middle East.

Howard the "Bush Kangaroo's" performance on Thursday has stretched the Australian peoples' gullibility to the limit. It's impossible to understand how he can still publicly deny that he has not committed Australian service man and women to the war against Iraq.

John Howard is the most divisive Prime Minister since Billy Hughes. Hughes' historical legacy is one of deception. Hughes promised in 1917 that if the conscription referendum was defeated, he would resign. When the referendum was defeated, he resigned, but then persuaded the Governor-General to recommission him to form a government with the same ministry that resigned Howard's, like Hughes' legacy is one of deception. When he retires he will be remembered not for what he has done in office, but as the man who added the phrase "core and non core promise" to the Australian vernacular.


As the crescendo against the impending war in Iraq reaches fever pitch, the cry has gone out to leave the armed forces alone. The spectre of the treatment many Australian ex-servicemen and women received on their return home from Vietnam is raised again and again. People conveniently forget that successive Australian governments not individuals were responsible for the abysmal treatment many Vietnam veterans received.

Australian servicemen and women in the Middle East know they are participating in a war that does not have public support. They know that when and if they return home, their participation will be resented by many people. They also know that the treatment and support they and their dependants will receive from government when they return back to Australia will be inadequate to meet their needs. Faced with these facts they may be thinking about their participation in the war.

Refusal to participate in a war by a professional soldier is a very serious offence. At the very least, they will be ostracised and dishonourably discharged from the armed forces, at the worst they would have to face a military court and spend years in a military prison. The pressures they are faced with are immense. Irrespective of the years of military training they have undergone, rapidly changing events will force them to think about the extent of their participation in the upcoming war.

Governments make decisions about participation in a war, individual soldiers carry out those decisions. Whether a war occurs depends on whether soldiers obey orders. The Nuremberg Trials clearly stated that individuals not the State, carry the ultimate responsibility for the atrocities that are carried out in a State's name. Following orders is not an acceptable excuse. A soldier's duty to humanity far outweighs any responsibility to their unit, military commanders or government. Faced with these competing pressures, it's possible that some members of the Australian armed forces may refuse to fight in the upcoming war. Those that are thinking about making that decision need to be supported by those of us who oppose the war.

Comment by Dr Joe Toscano
Anarchist Age Weekly Review
Number 538 17th March 23rd March 2003


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