The Guardian 16 March, 2005

IRAQ: End the occupation
Join the protests on March 20


March 20, the second anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, will be marked by an international day of action. The aim is to make the NO WAR and US OUT OF IRAQ messages heard around the world. Peace organisations are joining with political, trade union, environmental and others to tell Bush, Blair and Howard that the people of the world want peace. The last time this movement flexed its muscle globally was in February 2003 when over 10 million people poured into the streets of cities and towns around the world in a display of anti-war feeling unprecedented in its size.

The March 20 protests will be taking place in Australian capital cities and regional centres and will revive traditional Palm Sunday peace activities in some instances. Organisers are expecting big turnouts as more of the pre-war predictions of the peace movement are borne out by tragic experience.

As predicted

Even before the Bush administration extended its "War on Terror" to include Iraq, the peace movement questioned the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction and predicted that war would actually promote terrorism and further undermine regional stability.

Most people feared that the aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq would be followed up by further invasions and "pre-emptive strikes". In 2005 with the US threatening Syria, Iran and North Korea all these fears have been shown to be well founded as have those about the erosion of longstanding democratic rights.

To all of this there has been added the horrors of the torture of detainees by the occupying forces, the deaths of thousands of combatants and an estimated 111,000 civilians (Amnesty International figures).

Expansion and profits

"Pursuing their insatiable drive for expansion and ever-higher profits, the transnational corporations have undertaken a new drive to expand their control over the markets and resources of all countries by whatever means necessary, including war."

"Capitalist globalisation means the militarisation of society." (CPA 9th Congress Political Resolution, 2001)

With the re-election of Howard and Bush, Australia's subservience to the United States will increase. We can expect a significant increase in the number of joint exercises between the military of the two countries in coming years and greater integration of Australia's forces in the US military. Australia is set to become one of the highest-priority training grounds for the US.

In an accelerating militarisation of Australian society, the Howard government is spending billions establishing a new US military bases in the north, buying three warships with long-range anti-missile capabilities, upgrading radar facilities for the US "missile defence" program, turning the Australian Defence forces into a de facto arm of the US military, setting up facilities for US warships to change crews in Fremantle (WA) (Sea Swap), and buying new aircraft and tanks.

This agenda dovetails perfectly with current thinking within the US military, where the emphasis is on a network of small bases or "transit points" dispersed around the Asia-Pacific region together with the development of global dominance through the militarisation and control of space.

The acquisition of the technology to operate weapons of mass destruction is clearly not for defence purposes: these are preparations for a first strike, invasion and occupation from Australian soil as part of a US pre-emptive attack, aimed primarily at China.

The Howard Government gave military and political support to the Bush administration's illegal military strike against Afghanistan and it provided troops and naval forces for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It recently increased the numbers of Australian troops assisting in the occupation of Iraq.

By signing up as a front line collaborator with US global war plans, the Howard government is putting all Australians in danger.

The cost of militarisation

The Howard government's Defence Capability Plan, announced on February 4, 2004, reveals an intention to spend $50 billion on military equipment projects over the next ten years, on top of the current outlays.

This spending will be on items that fit into support for US pre-emptive strike plans and have nothing to do with the security of the Australian people. It includes:

  • $6 billion for three air warfare destroyers for the Navy

  • $1 billion for 12 pilotless surveillance aircraft (probably the US Global Hawk)

  • $15.5 billion for new combat aircraft to replace the F-18s and F-111s

  • $4.5 billion to replace the Orion maritime surveillance aircraft

  • $1 billion for 12 troop transport helicopters

  • $550 billion for 59 second hand US Abrams tanks.

    Australia's current military spending of over $55 million every day steals the resources needed to provide human for social needs.

    It has been estimated by state governments that an extra $700 million (about 2 weeks' military spending) spent on public hospitals each year would overcome their critical shortcomings.

    A just world is possible

    Subservience to the US makes Australia poorer, not safer.

    The United States is not all-powerful and is being challenged by the "super power of peace" i.e. global people power.

    The rise of the anti-war movement has brought an unprecedented force onto the world stage with over 10 million people in the streets around the world in February 2003. The movement is more politically conscious, better organised and more inclined to action than ever before. It has drawn into action a greater range of social forces, including in some countries sections of the ruling class which have deep reservations about the Bush doctrine.

    A just and peaceful world is possible. A massive turnout for the March 20 worldwide protests is the next step.

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