Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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Home Issue 19 War on Iran must be prevented

War on Iran must be prevented

 

COMMENT by JONATHAN PILBROW

 

On Saturday Mr Pilbrow was among a small group of passionate locals who held a peace march and gathering in Alice Springs with messages calling for “No war on Iran” and to “Bring the troops home from Iraq”. The event was part of a Global Day of Protest on the heightened risk of a US war with Iran, following the arguably illegal assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in early January. The killing was ordered by US President Donald Trump and carried out by a US drone. Several other protest events were held across the country, in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane, coordinated by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). Mr Pilbrow is a representative of IPAN, as well as of the local peace group – the Alice Springs Peace Action Think Tank (ASPATT).

 
 

IPAN was dismayed by President Trump’s decision to assassinate General Qassem Soleimani. According to media reports at the time, General Soleimani was due to meet the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi on the morning the general was killed, in order to discuss a diplomatic rapprochement that Iraq was brokering between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Soleimani had arrived in Baghdad not to plan attacks on American targets, but to coordinate de-escalation with Saudi Arabia.

 

IPAN’s condemnation of the assassination of General Soleimani is not to be seen as giving blanket approval to all of the policies or actions of the Iranian government or its military forces. However, it is a call for all countries to abide by the rules of international law.

 

After the death of General Soleimani, President Trump was reported as saying that he served up “American justice” by ordering the drone strike that took him out.

 

It is critical to ask if Australia was implicated in this drone strike.

 

Leaked documents from the US National Security Agency several years ago revealed that intelligence from Pine Gap is being used on US battlefields – locating of the source of signals is crucial for targeting military action, including by unmanned drone.

 

The Australian public have a right to be informed if our country is involved in such attacks as these.

 

We must resist a form of  ‘justice’ that strikes without charge, without trial or any legal process. This should not be justice by an Australian standard.

 

Let us also not forget that a version of so called “American Justice” started this whole thing 66 years ago when a democratically elected Iranian Government was ousted by a US and UK coup at end of 1953. These countries were our allies – and this occurred during peace time.

 

The 1979 Iranian revolution can be seen as response to the coup 26 years earlier. But the events of 1979 now seem to be used as an excuse for anti-Iran sentiment in the US. What a different Middle East we might have today if this coup had never occurred.

 

In the US the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) have highlighted that “US aggression against Iran threatens to begin yet another disastrous, bloody war.” Such concerns led to the weekend’s global action to demonstrate clear opposition to any US-led war on Iran. 

 

A war with Iran would have devastating impacts on the lives of people in the region and, should Australia be drawn yet again into another illegal US-led war, on the lives of Australian soldiers.

 

Australia should have learned lessons from the Iraq invasion. That futile action led to loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and ongoing human misery, an escalation of terrorism across the world, destruction of the environment in Iraq and huge wastage of money – and for what benefit? Given the capacity of the Iranian military, war with Iran has the potential to be far worse than the war in Iraq.

 

While it has been encouraging that the Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he will pursue “restraint” and a “de-escalation” of tensions in the Middle East, there is more that he could do. IPAN believes the Prime Minister should have put a stop to its plans to send the HMAS Toowoomba to the Straits of Hormuz, as sending it could be seen as a provocative move, effectively providing a message of support for the USA’s action – where there should have been condemnation. 

 

The Prime Minister justified sending the warship to Iran as guarding oil supplies but in fact, the greatest threat to trade in the region is the very real threat of war. Australia should be a good friend and ally by speaking truth to the US and dissuading it from another war that could draw Australia in.

 

The Australian Government should help diffuse the situation in the Middle East, starting with reversing its decision to send HMAS Toowoomba.

 

It should also respond to the Iraqi Parliament’s demand and bring our troops home. Currently around 2000 Australian personnel are still on the ground.

 

IPAN is also calling for no sanctions on Iran, as these are a weapon of war, contributing to devastation and lives lost.

 

Australia has a very large defence budget – but we do not have enough money allocated to fund fire-fighting efforts and to respond to and reduce the impacts of climate change. We should be funding firefighting – not war.

 

All of us opposed to war can do something by speaking up at this time – and urge our Government to reduce not inflame tensions in the Middle East.

 

Anyone can

  • Sign IPAN’s online petition on change.org
  • Contact the Prime Minister’s Office or the Defence Minister’s Office
  • Sign a petition in relation to the presence of US Marines in Darwin, which further enmeshes Australia with US foreign policy
  • Talk to members of the local Alice Springs Peace Action Think Tank to find out ways you can be involved in Alice Springs.

We must send the message: No war on Iran.

 
 
 

13 COMMENTS

  1. Wow!! Just because a couple of communist loving, left wing flogs, go for a little march down the street, you write some crap about it. How about Australia & Most Good Australians Fully Support the USA President’s actions against a murdering Iranian general , & we’ll just leave it at that. Cheers.

  2. @ Matthew Langan. Mr Pilbrow and his fellow protesters are entitled to their views as you are yours.
    Theirs, however, have the appeal of being more considered and certainly not abusive in tone.
    You may care to substantiate that he / they are “communist-loving” etc.
    You may also care to substantiate that “Australia and Most Good Australians” support the assassination. Are you aware of a survey to that effect?
    You could also explain why they are not “Good Australians” because they hold views that are different from yours and critical of President Trump’s actions.
    Kieran Finnane, moderator, senior writer, Alice Springs News.

  3. These issues are of critical importance to Australians, and there are many Australians very concerned about the potential for a war on Iran – evidenced by the number of rallies held across the country on Saturday (part of a global day of action).
    A very much related issue of critical importance is the situation of Julian Assange being held in solitary confinement in a high security UK prison. The peace march in Alice Springs followed directly on from a
    rally for Julian Assange, organized by the Julian Assange Supporters Alice Springs (JASAS) Action Group – also part of a global day of action – and held in solidarity with the Yellow Vests from France who are travelling to London and surrounding Belmarsh Prison where Julian Assange is being held.
    Julian Assange is fighting against extradition to the United States, where he is wanted on charges relating to the publication of secret US files leaked by Chelsea Manning, a US intelligence analyst who was subsequently jailed. The secret files include hundreds of thousands of reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Those opposed to war on Iran are hoping that lessons can be learned to avoid a repeat of the kinds of needless atrocities exposed in the reports Assange published through WikiLeaks.

  4. Thanks to the Alice Springs peace group for showing leadership towards peace. This century’s wars continue to be counter-productive, non-strategic errors by any measures, other than the egos of leaders and the profits of arms traders.
    And there is a real risk that the American president might offer up another war for his re-election campaign. And an even greater risk that an Aussie leader – if only out of habit– would go along with a big foolish conflict that has nothing to do with Australia and can only make us less safe .
    Our real enemies are not in the Middle East. Our real enemies are things like the bushfire crisis; inequality; disease.
    And our national defence won’t come from dominating nations on the other side of the world; a better basis for defence can come from investing in effective and useful relationships with our regional neighbours.
    Peace talks now.

  5. Great comments, Kieran, spot on. The only thing Matthew had going for him was the courage not to hide behind a pseudonym. And Jonathon Pilbrow is right, we must learn the lessons from the Iraq folly. If we had a time machine we would certainly go back and make different choices. I applaud Jonathon and his group for reminding us of the risks we take in blindly following the US into conflicts where there is no prospect of a positive outcome. For anybody.

  6. Kieran. I would seriously invite you to my home suburb of West Heidelberg to introduce you to my Iraki refugee friend Danny (Daniel) who owns a Milk Bar in the Olympic Village Shops on Southern Road. Danny grew up in Saddam Hussein country as a member of the persecuted Christian community that traces its history back to Jesus Christ and beyond to the Assyrian agrarian empire. Danny will give you a fully informed political history of Iran’s Shiite designs on Irak and its people. And in the process, a very different view to that expressed by the protesters in the Alice.

  7. I would like to compliment Alice Springs News for its journalistic integrity in this matter! World peace is hugely important and recent events have brought it to the fore. To see aspects of the matter being openly debated in your paper is most refreshing – and in sharp contrast to what is being printed in the press in Sydney.
    Meanwhile, I support and cheer on Mr Pilbrow’s efforts.

  8. Iran is an aggressor in the region.
    Qassem Soleimani was leader of a designated terrorist organisation (Quds) – so to call his killing “illegal” is highly questionable. Illegality occurs more around the question of war power. Trump has not started a war.
    The Quds / Iranian Guard are ideologically incompatible with democracy or peace. Their purpose is to exert influence, using force to spread Iran’s agenda. Iran is an authoritarian state that is responsible for the murder of thousands of its own civilians who dare protest against the regime. Much like China.
    The Quds were themselves engaged in the murder of diplomats as well as countless deaths of both civilians and coalition forces through their ongoing support of Hezbollah and more recently, the Taliban.
    Regarding sanctions, they are an effective tool to encourage a country change course and prevent funds going to the war machine which is aimed squarely at the West. Ultimately it was bankruptcy that ended the Cold War. Economics is a powerful tool indeed.
    Australia does not follow the US into endless and sometimes seemingly foolish wars as it is directly beneficial to Australia.
    We do it to nurture the Alliance with the hope that one day it will guarantee our security when we are (almost inevitably) challenged in our own region. Be it by China, Indonesia, Russia etc.
    The cost of this protection may very well be the “pointless” wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and so on. Only time will tell.

  9. @ Interested Darwin Observer. The questionable legality of the US killing of Qassem Soleimani has been widely discussed in mainstream media, for example, the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times.
    A key word in the debate, in international law, is ‘imminent’: were the future Iranian attack plans, that the US claimed to be deterring by the killing, imminent? If so, this could justify the use of lethal force. Under international law, that means the necessity to respond would have been “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation”. When the US began belatedly using the word ‘imminent’ to justify the action, it provided no evidence of any such overwhelming necessity, nor evidence even of a more loosely defined imminent threat.
    The debate is not limited to IL considerations. There are also questions being asked, again in mainstream media, about whether the killing was justified under US law.
    For these reasons the Alice Springs News, in its introduction to Mr Pilbrow’s comment, referred to the killing as “arguably illegal”.
    I will leave it to others to take up the other points you make.
    Kieran Finnane, moderator, senior writer, Alice Springs News.

  10. @ Kieran Finnane: You quote “mainstream media, for example, the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times”.
    These media outlets have a renowned anti-Trump anti-conservative bias.
    Where Iraqi citizens such as West Heidelberg Danny rejoice at the taking out of a mass murderer who has terrorised countless thousands of men women and children, your argument re the Western world legality of it hardly registers on their life relevance radar. And rightly so. Would you agree or not?

  11. Dear Mr Bell (John): Your comments are important but clearly, every individual from war torn backgrounds carry a different and personal perspective pending the religious discrimination and persecution they may have experienced in their country of birth.
    Australia is a young and wonderfully democratic country and the peacemakers who stand up against injustices are to be commended for protesting and demonstrating to keep their own country free and vibrant from outside influences.
    I applaud your commentary about your friend and I would encourage you, on his behalf to respect what he must now deeply feel about freedom and peace in his new country.

  12. @Jerry Fitzsimmons. My friend’s name is Daniel Yussuf. He changed it to Daniel Joseph when he settled in Australia. He is a fully qualified engineer who updated his quals in Oz and has now realised his secret dream not possible in Sunni Irak of owning a small business. His son Bennell works in the Milk Bar while studying IT at Uni. The only thing he wants more than peace in Australia is that Australians share his knowledge of the history of Iran’s takeover of the Iraki parliament. So yes, I have the very highest respect for this good man’s love of his new country and his desire to inform Australians of the reality. Thanks for your comment mate. Any time you visit Melbourne I would be very happy to introduce you.

  13. I wish to congratulate the Alice Springs News for opening up this debate, in a civilised and respectful manner.
    Congratulations also to all the contributors.
    To add my to cents or grain of salt, with reference to Matthew Langan remarks on 27th Jan (indeed thank you for keeping your name, as I keep mine), I must state that I took offence at his language and personal attacks on a small group of peace loving and law abiding people.
    As an old woman of 82 plus 9/12 years of age who went on the march, I am not and never been a Communist (would not have been allowed to enter the country in 1966), neither a left wing flog.
    I consider myself a GOOD Australian with no dual citizenship and I vote according to my conscience.
    I have lived through WWII, then the Arab / Israeli war in 1948, then the Suez War in 1956, then the Iranian Revolution in 1978-79, met the returned soldiers of Vietnam and many refugees from the Middle East fleeing the endless conflicts in the region for the only benefit of arms dealers. It was not pretty and added zilch to the security of the world.
    A new US War on Iran would not benefit the planet.
    Another folly of the current US President to suit his “imminent” political desires, as it was in 2003 when President Bush went to war in Iraq and “we, GOOD Australians” followed suit.
    Only more refugees and displacement of persons. WAR NO MORE was the sign on the banner.
    NO WAR ON IRAN was the theme not only of our humble march along the empty streets of Alice Springs, but in communion with much larger rallies in all capital cities on the 25th January.
    Our drop in the ocean is just a reminder that war, in whatever form, is no good for no one, certainly not for our troops.
    Australia has much more urgent, “imminent”, issues to deal with. Are there any JUST WARS as Noam Chomsky debated in 1978?

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