Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

The Speech

As the speech itself acknowledges, a single speech can't resolve things.  But it is impossible to overstate how significant it would be if the vision President Obama expresses and aspires to in this speech is successful.  The text of the speech is here, or here for translations into 14 other languages.  It is worth taking the time to listen to and watch as well.

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US soldier refuses to serve in ‘illegal Iraq war’

A US soldier has appeared at Congress, stating his refusal to serve in Iraq, citing grounds that the US military presence there “is unconstitutional and illegal.” Sergeant Matthis Chiroux had already served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines before he was honorably discharged and placed in the reserves, which immunises him against any cheap shots that he is just a coward. As a reservist, he was due ...

Forgotten casualties of Iraq war

It is understandable that the media and community tend to focus on the people killed in action in wars, as well as on the civilian casualties in the war zone. But it does mean that the ongoing impacts on the soldiers who return home can be forgotten – especially those who return apparently unwounded. It is an unfortunate tendency of governments to be more enthusiastic about sending people to ...

Iraq War 5 years on

The fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq has provided plenty of reflections on the consequences and correctness of that decision. The Easter long weekend is probably as good a time as any time to read back over some of what was said at the time of the invasion. One quote from around that period which is worth revisiting is that of former Prime Minister, John Howard, who ...

Our War

While our government makes every effort to distract the public with their undefined, ever-shifting ‘war’ on terror, there is a real war and real ever-present terror going on – one which our government, and thus our country, initiated and continues to support. The USA based magazine The Nation has just published a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war. Our war. ...

The Iraqi refugee issue on a global and personal level

Given the national wave of anxiety that occurred when we had a few thousand Iraqi refugees turning up in Australia, it is curious how little attention has been given here to the huge number of refugees that have flooded out of Iraq (as well as the many more internally displaced people) in recent times. I can recall the excited media coverage given to a comment by our then Immigration ...

Does the US Congress hate America?

The House of Representatives in the US Congress has passed a Bill to withdraw US forces from Iraq by September 2008. The Bill is unlikely to pass the Senate and would anyway be vetoed by the US President, but it certainly sends a strong message that mainstream opinion in the USA clearly recognises the need to start withdrawing combat troops in Iraq. At the very least, one can hope that ...

The finger of freedom, having written, moves on

I think almost everyone, regardless of their views about the war in Iraq, would have seen the images of Iraqis going to the polls to elect a new Parliament two years as a positive development. Many media outlets, blogs and other websties carried pictures of numerous people happily showing their ink-stained fingers as proof of having voted - an image which should have gladdened the heart of any ...

Saddam executed

Over the last couple of years, I've written a few posts on the death penalty, putting the view that it should opposed in all circumstances, rather than just when its popular. I't's no surprise then that I don't support the execution of Saddam Hussein. It’s only human for some of the victims of his tyranny to be pleased with his death, and the fact that justice 'of a ...

Saddam: verdict right, sentence wrong.

I just saw news come through that Saddam Hussein has been found guilty of crimes against humanity and has been sentenced to death by hanging. The verdict seems completely right to me and the sentence seems utterly wrong. There are very few things that I think are unequivocally right or wrong in virtually all circumstances. The death penalty is one - I find it hard to think of ...

War – resistance is futile?

Some time ago I put up a post about an Australian peace activist who was involved in a trial in Ireland with four others for damaging a US warplane which was refuelling at Ireland’s Shannon airport on its way to Iraq. The group ended up being acquitted by a jury. I wanted to provoke some debate about how far one could or should logically go with nonviolent resistance ...

A change in approach toward Iraq?

It appears that the Australian government's approach towards Iraq may be going to change over the next few months. I say this, because it appears that the USA government's approach towards Iraq may be in the process of changing, and the Australian government will inevitably follow suit. The New York Times reports James Baker, the co-chair of the panel reassessing Iraq strategy for the Bush administration (and a ...

The Wages of Spin

Ever wondered how the transcripts of Senate Committee hearings could be interesting? Wonder no more - go see the Wages of Spin at Brisbane's Powerhouse tonight, tomorrow or Saturday.

Mission Creep

Today is the third anniversary of USA President George W Bush declaring “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”, while standing in front of a huge banner reading “Mission Accomplished”. Click here to read some of the extraordinary media commentary in the USA at the time of the President’s declaration – most of which focused on how cool it was that he got out of a fighter jet in ...

Iraq

Unlike the UK and the USA, the issue of Iraq has slipped fairly low in the political debate in Australia, apart from the link to the ongoing AWB ‘wheat overboard’ scandal. One could speculate as to why this disparity between the 3 key members of the original ‘Coalition of the Willing’ exists, but the difficulties in Iraq continue regardless. In the UK, a medical Doctor and air force ...

Liberating the persecuted? Iraq and Sudan

The Guardian has published one of the more telling articles I have read about the consequences, motivation and competence of those who generated and implemented the invasion of Iraq. It is by former British Army Colonel, Tim Collins, who became well known in the UK for the speech he gave to his Battalion prior to going into battle in Iraq in 2003. We go to liberate, not to conquer. ...

Iraq – breaking down or breaking up?

A Brisbane based blogger, Arthur Chrenkoff, has been making a valiant effort for a long time to try to highlight every piece of good news about Iraq. Whilst the inevitable one-sidedness of such an enterprise has led to him being criticised for ignoring all the bad news by those like me who opposed the invasion and subsequent actions of some of the occupying forces, I must admit I ...

From Seniors Week to Butterflies to Kurds in Iran and Civil War in Iraq

I stayed on in Canberra for the weekend for a meeting of the Democrats’ National Executive, which I’m a member of. It was good to finally get back home and get out and about amongst people around Brisbane. In amongst catching up with mail and assorted paperwork in my office, I had a diverse range of activities covering a Seniors Week forum, butterflies and the human rights of Kurds. First ...

The Forgotten Dilemma in Iraq – what future for the Kurds?

In amongst all the talk from all sides over the last couple of years about freedom and the future for Iraq, there has been surprisingly little about the specific situation and uncertain future for the Kurdish people, a significant section of who live in the north of Iraq, and what impact their strong long-standing desire for self-determination may have on the future prospects of Iraq. The most open Parliamentary ...

A Senate Committee Interrogation

After my relaxing weekend, I travelled to Canberra on Tuesday for a Committee hearing into claims of Australian involvement in interrogations in Iraq. This Inquiry was set up following allegations in a Four Corners report that the Government had misled the Parliament and the public in saying that no Australians were involved in any interrogations. After further questioning at Estimates Committee hearings in February (page 36 onwards), the Senate ...

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Mini Posts

  • Rhetoric vs reality

    I’ve had a break from writing for a variety of reasons, but the reckless approach the new Queensland government is taking to their spending decisions – and the straightout nonsensicality of some of their claims – roused me enough to pen a piece for New Matilda. Time will tell whether the Newman government will start trying to ensure their statements have some connection with reality – I suggest the way they respond next year to the findings of the inquiry into child safety which they’ve established will be a significant test.

  • End of LP the end of a blogging era

    Back in October, I wrote here about the decline or re-defining of blogs, at least in the Australian political arena.  The relatively few posts I’ve done on this blog since then shows how much less useful I find it to do my own blog than I used to, and as I mentioned back then, a big reason why I don’t read many of the blogs I used to is because the valuable links to many interesting stories, ideas and pieces of information can be found more easily through Twitter or Facebook, sometimes with comment threads which are also at least as good.

    The recent announcement by the Larvatus Prodeo blog that they are ceasing to operate is quite a significant one. (more…)

  • A final comment on Labor’s leadership laments

    Fundamentally, I don’t greatly care about the outcome of Labor’s leadership travails. As my previous post indicates, the bigger issue is that the ALP is being fundamentally damaged by the toxicity of this brawl, and the fact that the brawl is happening in this way is a sign of some much greater problems within Labor. Whatever the immediate outcome, I think those problems are likely to continue.  The outcome of the leadership contest (including the size of what will surely be a Gillard victory) will shape how those problems play out, but they will still be there.

    Not surprisingly, I see this as presenting an opportunity for the Greens to build some support, but more importantly it presets extra responsibility and obligation for the Greens to be a stronger counter to what is a seriously reactionary Coalition.

    But seeing we’re all pundits now, and despite having little inside knowledge, my prediction is that there will be no ‘third candidate’ in tomorrow’s leadership ballot.  Julia Gillard will win comfortably. The instability will not disappear. It’s quite possible there will be another leadership ballot before the election but Kevin Rudd will not become leader then either. No matter how good Kevin Rudd looks in the polls, that polling lead would disappear very quickly if he was back in the PM’s job.

  • The Ups & Downs of Ups & Downs – interview with Greg Atkinson

    I’ve mentioned before my liking for the 80s Brisbane band Ups and Downs. I got a chance to interview their lead singer Greg Atkinson on 4ZzZ FM a few weeks ago. They’ve released a compilation CD of 20 of their best tunes and played a gig in Brisbane earlier this month to promote and celebrate it.

    It was a fairly long interview, but I found it very interesting to hear the views of someone who has been active in the independent sphere of the music industry for so long about what has changed and what is the same.

    You can listen to the interview at this link.

  • Speeches to refugee rally + SIEV-X exhibition

    A local activist helpfully recorded speeches given by myself and by Julian Burnside at a refugee rights rally held in Brisbane last Saturday.  You can listen to them here and here. The rally was held to mark the tenth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X.  353 refugees drowned when that refugee boat sank on the way to Australia on 19 October 2001.  There is a beautiful exhibition at The Studio on the ground level at the State Library of Qld this week, commemorating that anniversary. It finishes this weekend – I strongly recommend you try to get along for a look if you have a chance. The Library also has a screening of the documentary Hope on Friday October 28 – this film tell the story of Amal Basry, one of the few survivors of that tragedy.