Anniversary of March 2003 Iraq Invasion Observed: Lessons Relevant for Syria and Elsewhere, But Still Ignored.
Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR) is marking the anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US and allied forces including Australians, by renewing its call for all Federal Parliamentarians to heed the lessons from that disastrous military episode. (While the anniversary date is generally recognised as 20 March, AWPR notes the Australian people were misled on this as on much else, as our SAS troops were operating in Iraq from 18 March, 2003.)
The invasion, which was authorised neither by the UN Security Council nor, regarding Australian participation, by the Governor-General as required by the Constitution, destroyed the lives of millions of innocent people in the Middle East and led directly to the creation of ISIS and the tragic outflow of refugees from Syria that neighbouring states and Europe now face.
There are essential lessons in relation to the current situation in Syria. Key among them is that “There is no political crisis in the world that cannot be made worse by external, including Western, military intervention, particularly in the Middle East.”
AWPR has sent all Federal Parliamentarians a discussion paper, “Syria: Options for Australian parliamentarians, and the need for debate” which sets out some non-military options for responding to the crisis in Syria – options that might, if implemented, reduce rather than escalate the level of violence.
AWPR President Paul Barratt AO said, “If tough questions had been asked in Parliament in 2003, Australia’s role at that time might have been very different, and the Australian people more secure now as a result. We urge different and smarter approaches to the problems of terrorism and extreme ideologies there and elsewhere.”
The organisation urges Parliamentary debate of all possible responses to the crises erupting throughout the Middle East, and the development of coherent strategies rather than knee-jerk support for US actions; the latter has increased rather than reduced Australians’ security.
AWPR members are also concerned at the possibility of Australian support for further military action against Libya, an option that was not excluded by Foreign Affairs Minister Bishop on 2 February. As in Iraq, the 2011 US-led intervention there left a disastrous and unstable aftermath.
In relation to decisions for military action, the letter to Parliamentarians states, “For as long as Parliament is excluded from examining any proposal to send Australian forces into international armed conflict, many of the pressing questions that such a proposal raises will remain unanswered.”
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