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 are over the weekend.

Tonight, over 300 people packed out the Yeppoon Town Hall to listen to a range of speakers, including some women from the Indigenous peoples of Guam and Hawaii. Both places host major military bases for the USA as part of their presence in the Pacific.

As I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog, I’m not a pacifist. But I strongly believe in a defence force being used for defence. At the moment, the federal government’s foreign policies are using our defence force too often in an aggressive capacity, while showing minimal interest in pushing for disarmament. We are intertwining our defence forces and equipment with the USA more and more, to the stage where we are all but handcuffed to their policies and actions. This is an expensive way of making the world, our nation and its people, less secure and less safe.

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  1. Andrew Bartlett, you said

    “I’m not a pacifist. But I strongly believe in a defence force being used for defence”.

    There is no shortage of war veterans who would agree with you there!!! [I’m one].

    You also said

    “We are intertwining our defence forces and equipment with the USA more and more, to the stage where we are all but handcuffed to their policies and actions. This is an expensive way of making the world, our nation and its people, less secure and less safe”.

    Not only that but it is also defence stupidity and commercial idiocy!

    Here is an example of such folly; it should have been a warning but it is a warning that remains unheeded: Prior to the Australian involvement in the Viet-Nam War, the Australian Regular Army was issued with the excellent multipurpose manpack Swedish Carl Gustav anti-tank weapon [affectionally called by the Diggers, the “Charlie Guts-ache”; they liked it]. However, the Swedes didn’t like our subsequent involvement in Viet-Nam so goodbye ammunition replenishment and spare parts. …. Don’t tell me the same sort of thing couldn’t possibly happen again.

    [[btw – can’t make it to Yeppoon to hear you speak so I’ll just have to make do with reading what sub-editors decide you said or should have said.]]

  2. Yep the dickhead theorist at the top in Defence and Parliament will remain our problem buying the latest war toys and then having inter party battles about the cost of such etc.,while Australians pay the price,and enlisted young Americans have to get use to Australia.s hostility to their presence.Suckers all the way,whilst the political process covers its arse the parents weep cry and point fingers at each other.American governments, should,before any engagements with Australia takes place send their navy air and army ratings to Australia first,on a holiday… so that they do not come unfamiliar with Australian attitudes, which are not so harsh on individuals outside of the expensive war toy and industries.You can only get offended by these displays of might,whilst a lacklustre performance of endangered whale and pantagonian matters persist.No doubt, the politicians who are compellingly crawling up the American backside will rejoice in the use of pacifist,the left,and all the hackneyed responses these forever boring bastards can avail themselves of.

  3. Andrew Bartlett:
    A warning too late perhaps [finally got around to opening this morning’s Rockhampton “Morning Bulletin” ….see page 5]

    Your Senate seat rival, James Baker, is turning up to support the Talibman Sabre U.S. joint military exercise. No doubt he has planned his activitues this weekend with military precision [no, in the Australian context, that’s not an oxymoron].

  4. Totally agreed. Australia does not have a standing army, it has a defence force. Hence the name. Expeditionary adventures in some kind of warped political support of whatever the US happens to be interested in blowing up is not defending this country. As you say, it is more akin to placing it in greater danger.

  5. Andrew Bartlett:
    Today’s “Morning Bulletin” [page 7] had a photo of you addressing the crowd; behind you is a banner “Australian Sovereignty” and “Detach From Tyranny”.

    You are mentioned in an article “Activists march to beach – American appeals to mateship” by Melanie Petrinec [sub-editor not named] …..

    [quote] ” Senator Bartlett encouraged Australians to continue to voice their concerns regarding the war in Iraq and other issues.
    “”It’s time to bring the word ‘disarmament’ back into the vocabulary of Australians” he said to a rousing cheer”. [end of qoute]

    No doubt you had a lot more to say than just that.

    Another article [same [page. same journalist] “Candidate attacks war games” spoke of Greens candidate Larissa Waters …. but it also spoke of ex-Nationals and ex-ADF Senate candidate, James Baker …. who probably didn’t enjoy being mentioned under that particular headline.

  6. In response to Graham Bell i think you have
    the broad facts right, but seem to draw the wrong lesson from history.
    The L14A1 Carl Gustav was, at the time it was purchased (and still remains)one of the best medium calibre man portable recoiless rifle anti tank systems in the world.
    And an excellent choice, however the failure of the department of defence at the time to secure the manufacturing rights for the ammunition as a
    condition of purchase was a beauracratic bungle of some proportion.
    (Current events indicating things have not gotten any better.)
    We were unable to deploy the weapon in Vietnam due to a ban on the supply of ammunition to Australia, due to our quite reasonable deployment of an effective military force to Vietnam.
    Remember Swedens political/diplomatic position at the time.
    They had a left wing government aligned with the Soviet Union, (After all when you live next to a 500 lb gorilla with an extensive regional history of attacking/absorbing neighbours you tend to be diplomatically responsive to their requests/demands for political support.
    Remember at this time there was a very real prospect of a soviet invasion through the fulda gap in Germany and on into Western Europe.
    Swedens position was in many ways much like Taiwan with China (without a traditional territorial claim)
    And dont make the mistake of thinking they were politically neutral on this matter.
    They were part of Russias international support base and diplomatic propaganda team used to aid the North Vietnamese in whatever way they could.
    Remember prime support for north vietnam came from russia not china (china was a traditional enemy)though china did provida substantial material support and, combat engineers to provide civil engineering in North Vietnam thereby freeing nva combat engineer units to go south.
    Dont forget we had been fighting communist attempts to take over countries in our region for years almost without pause.
    Korea, Malaya, Borneo and then Vietnam.

  7. So the lesson to be learned, is if you are going to purchase equipment overseas(and mostly we have to) you have to be able to repair or replace it from within Australia, (OR BUY FROM A LONG TERM ALLY like the US) where the chance of loss of support is low,as you must expect other countries to put their strategic ,diplomatic and political needs ahead of our own.
    Put another way, what is strategically best for european nations is often the exact opposite of what is best for us and vice versa.
    Whereas with the strategic US interest in the region what is best for the US is far more frequently what is best for our own future.
    As far as more frequently entwininng our military
    purchases and strategic perspective.
    The purchase of THE steyer,euro Tiger attack helicopters,
    MHR-90 transport helicopters, and now non american A.D.W destroyers and L.P.H ships for our navy(despite in all cases the defence forces concerned favoring us designs),indicates a radical departure from previous policies of commonality
    with the us forces we expect to operate with in the field.
    As far as our policy of generally supporting us
    military/political policy this certainly does not appear to have changed(neither deeper or shallower).
    If it comes to us actually having to use our defence forces on our own for defence, then we have already lost the war.
    Remember the U.S is the only country in the world that we could reasonably expect to come to our aid either diplomatically or militarially.
    And why should they send their young men to die for us, if we support policys that isolate the us POLITICALLY, AND ADVANTAGE THEIR ENEMIES OVER THEM?
    Which is what the peace movements policys and actions have always been designed to do.
    If you doubt that, then you do not understand much about the history of the strategic military and political situation.
    Western peace movements have always been blatently used as useful tools by china and russia, and so continue.

  8. I’m currently participating in Talisman Sabre as a member of the ADF (and of the Dems). I don’t feel that such exercises entwine us in US Policy. I don’t believe that we should be in Iraq, but I believe that Australia needs a military force that is capable of operating with allies in a hostile environment. Working with forces from other countries is challenging, and we cannot expect to contribute successfully to peace enforcement or peace keeping in (say) East Timor or Sudan with other countries if we don’t practise.

  9. John [8]:
    Agree about the value of training with allies and potential allies …. and [despite family experiences of Japanese Imperial Army] I myself would welcome exercises with the Japanese Self defence Force too.

    Peter Jones [6 and 7]:
    Thanks for fleshing out my mention of the Carl Gustav ATk wpn. The overpaid Masters-Of-The-Universe did indeed fail to get the manufacturing rights for the ammunition but later, when they tried to buy ammunition directly from Sweden they showed the whole world just how naive they really were.
    Sorry but I am definitely not “drawing the wrong lesson from history”.

    “Remember the U.S is the only country in the world that we could reasonably expect to come to our aid either diplomatically or militarially”.

    That might have been partially true for several decades in the 20th Century but times have changed and now we do need to be just as pragmatic as are the Yanks. Believe me, the Yanks have a hell of a lot more respect for somebody who stands up to them – when needs be – and for somebody who doesn’t accept any wooden nickels.

    “If it comes to us actually having to use our defence forces on our own for defence, then we have already lost the war”.

    Like hell we’ve lost!! The Howard government might be hell-bent on becoming surrender monkeys ….but not me!! The lovely long holiday is over and we have to stand on our own two feet and, if we are in an alliance, to pull our weight.

  10. Interesting thread. Here is another peaceful initiative for people to check out:

    We’re walking to encourage Australians to respect and value the contribution that our Indigenous People can make in understanding our place in the world and our link to the earth.

    Be interested to hear what people think.

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