On War and Remembrance

Since I took up studying teaching, all that half-silly/half-sinister commentary that happens from time to time alleging Australia’s school children are having their brains filled with left-wing propaganda – especially when it comes to history – has become a bit more directly relevant for me. Although it’s pretty clear that fact-free fumigating by some random…

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Progress in efforts to ban cluster bombs

Last week, the international convention to ban the use of cluster bombs and other munitions was ratified by two more countries, providing the 30 ratifications needed for it to become officially binding international law.  The Convention on Cluster Munitions will now come into force this year on 1 August, little more than two years after it…

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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…

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War on ‘War on Terror’?

Larvatus Prodeo draws attention to a significant and sensible comment by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has acknowledged the unhelpfulness and inaccuracy of the “War on Terror” phrase and indicated the British government stopped using it some time ago.  Anyone in Australia who has made the same point over the last seven or so…

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New opportunities for peace?

I went along to a meeting of peace activists held in Brisbane over the weekend, examining ways forward in the current political and social environment.  I suspect promoting peace above conflict has always been a far harder row to hoe, but it’s still something worth struggling for wherever possible. The urgency of now does tend…

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Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 40 years on

This week saw the fortieth anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). One thing that has often perplexed me is how much the public anxiety about the proliferation of nuclear and other armaments has diminished over the last twenty years. The end of the Cold War could explain some of it, but given the repeated references…

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Better controls over committing troops to war

It was 1981 when an Australian Democrat Senator first proposed to amend the Defence Act to require the approval of Parliament before our troops could be sent overseas to war. It has been proposed many times since – I still have a Bill before the Senate which would achieve this.- but has never gained the…

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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…

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Small defence cuts make big splash

Cutting ten billion dollars in spending from the Defence Department sounds dramatic – until you notice it’s to be spread over ten years. Apart from the basic mathematical fact that this immediately reduces the cuts to just $1 billion a year, government money announcements – for both cuts and spending – that are spread over ten…

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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…

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Parliamentary Approval for War

Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser gave an interesting speech last week entitled “Finding Security in Terrorism’s Shadow: The importance of the rule of law”. It is an interesting and thought provoking speech. It is appropriately scathing of the neo-conservatives and their malign influence not just in the USA but on the globe. But it…

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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…

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Peace Convergence at Talisman Sabre

I’m in Yeppoon this weekend attending some of the Peace Convergence – a gathering of people protesting against the Talisman Saber defence exercise (also known as ‘war games’), which are taking place in nearby Shoalwater Bay, next to Byfield National Park. Some protestors and activists have been here during the week, but the main actions…

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Shrugging our shoulders at torture

The Senate has been sitting last week and this week. The Parliament will then rise, returning in the second week of August (missing the period which is usually the harshest part of Canberra’s winter). Pre-election hysteria has very much hit inside the sealed off bubble that exists around Parliament House, and any issue that doesn’t…

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