National Independence

 
 


Anti-war Conference targets US imperialism

Alice M.

On the weekend of 8 – 10 September in Melbourne, close to 200 people attended the 2017 Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) National Conference War, Peace and Independence – Keep Australia Out of U.S. Wars.

Continuing to build on the successful 2016 IPAN anti-war conference in Alice Springs and protest outside the nearby Pine Gap U.S. military base, the 2017 Melbourne national conference lifted higher the call for an independent Australian foreign policy and decoupling Australia from the U.S. alliance. The Melbourne event further consolidated and broadened the alliance of anti-war groups across the country and attracted wide support from many concerned Australians and local activists.
 
The Conference took place at a critical time of increasingly belligerent U.S. imperialist military build-up in South Korea and the intensified provocations against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
 
Speaker after speaker criticised the Australian government’s collusion and subservience to U.S. global wars of aggression and strongly argued that it is time for an independent and peaceful Australian foreign policy and time to consider decoupling from the U.S. -Australia military alliance.
 
The main threat of war was clearly regarded by the speakers as coming primarily from the belligerent words and actions of US imperialism. While Trump and Turnbull have tried to sheet blame on the DPRK for conducting missile and nuclear tests, the fact of multiple US bases ringing the Korean peninsula and China cannot be denied. The insertion of the THAAD missile system into south Korea is a significant escalation that is aimed at China as well as north Korea. In spite of the alarm and original objections voiced by the new south Korean President Moon Jai-in, the US has bullied its way and installed all six THAAD missile units and imposed further US arms purchases on the Moon government.
 
Several speakers presentations are now posted on IPAN’s website and can be listened to on http://ipan.org.au/conf2017audio

The list of speakers at the conference was extensive and covered many aspects of US political and military aggression, the subservience of both Liberal and Labor Australian governments, and the need to break from the so-called US Alliance and develop an independent foreign policy. While each speaker focussed on a particular aspect, their views and conclusions converged and were reflected in the final Declaration carried at the conclusion of the conference. (see below)
Associate Professor David Vine – American University Washington D.C.
Dr. Alison Broinowski – Australian Institute of International Affairs
Dr. Mike Milligan – Former Defence department expert
Professor Richard Tanter – Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability
Senator Peter Wish-Wilson – Greens defence spokesperson
Sung-Hee Choi – anti-war activist from Jeju Island, Korea
Warren Smith – MUA National Assistant Secretary
Dr. Vince Scappatura – Deakin University
Margaret Beavis - Medical Association for Prevention of War
Dr. James O'Neill - International law expert
Alex Edney-Browne – PhD candidate Melbourne University (drone warfare)
Olivier Bancoult – Leader of the Chagossian people expelled from Diego Garcia for a US military base
Murray Horton – Anti-Bases Campaign, New Zealand
Stephanie Rabusa – Anakbayan, Melbourne and Philippines
Bevan Ramsden – IPAN, Anti-Vietnam Moratorium
James Brennan – DISARM - anti-war and weapons trade
Cate Adams – Wage Peace
Rob Stary - Civil Rights lawyer
 
Lidia Thorpe and her sister, Gunnai-Gunditjmara women, spoke of the unresolved war on indigenous people since the colonial invasion and the need for a just Treaty. Their powerful and moving message was an appropriate reminder that aboriginal resistance continues and calls on the anti-war movement for support.
 
Warren Smith, MUA National Assistant Secretary argued powerfully on why the struggle for peace and justice and against imperialism are fundamental to overall working class struggle.  “Peace is a class struggle….hence we are here (at the conference)…and the forces of capital that drive world wars are the same forces responsible for and driving ongoing exploitation and attacks on workers.  Peace and justice always have been and always will be union business and should be everyone’s business.”  He strongly debunked the social democrats argument that unions are not political organisations and should only concern themselves with immediate wages and conditions.
 
Sung-Hee Choi, South Korean peace activist attending the Conference made impassioned and informative presentations on the history of U.S. imperialist political and military intervention on the Korean Peninsula during the Korean War and subsequent division of Korea and the military and political domination of South Korea by the U.S.  Sung-Hee called for the immediate removal of U.S. THAAD defence system installations, U.S. bases and troops from South Korea, and called on the Australia government to withdraw its support for the U.S.-South Korean alliance.  She said the majority of people of both Koreas want to reach a peace agreement between North and South Korea that would lead to the eventual unification on the Korean Peninsula.
 
Dr Vince Scappatura’s presentation outlined the stronghold of U.S. imperialism on Australia politically, economically and militarily. He explained how the Australian “elites” were moulded into “adhering to a worldview that aligns with U.S. foreign policy interests".
 
A panel of international speakers from New Zealand and South Korea together with local activists from the Philippines and other young activists in the anti-war movement shared their experiences and lessons in the building of a broad based grass roots peace movement.
 
The Conference concluded with participants joining IPAN’s working group for building the movement.  Working groups are:  What would an independent foreign policy look like; Shifting people’ taxes from servicing U.S. wars to people’s needs; Peace and Justice are Union Business; U.S. Bases and troops in Australia; Building people’s movements for peace alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
One of the many highpoints of this conference was the strong presence and participation by MUA members and officials.  Three MUA branches sent several delegates to the Melbourne conference.  Many at the conference were deeply moved by the MUA’s practical and political support for the conference, IPAN and commitment to building the wide national anti-war peace movement.  The involvement by MUA reinforced confidence in the necessity for working class leadership in the anti-imperialist movement.
 
IPAN Conference Declaration 2017
The declaration was passed overwhelmingly, with some minor amendments. Resolutions on the Philippines, Korea and West Papua were also passed as well as a solidarity message to the Chagossian people of Diego Garcia.
 
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), representing over 60 peace, anti-war, community organisations and unions around Australia held its 4th national conference in Melbourne on 9/10 September 2017.
 
This IPAN National conference is taking place on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people.   We acknowledge this country was violently seized from the First People 230 years ago.  We pay our respects to their long struggle for justice and self-determination.  We affirm that true independence cannot be achieved without a just and sovereign Treaty with the Indigenous people of this land.
 
We have a vision of an Australia that plays a positive and independent role in building peace in our region and beyond through peaceful resolution of international conflicts.
 
This national conference reaffirms that Australia urgently needs an independent and peaceful foreign policy that upholds Australia’s independence and ends successive Australian governments’ subservience to U.S. or any other big powers’ agendas.  We seek an independent foreign policy that respects the sovereignty and self-determination of all countries.
We believe the integration of Australia’s military facilities, defence forces and our foreign policies into U.S. military agendas threaten our sovereignty and security and contributes to global wars.
 
We believe that the continuing operations of U.S. military bases in Australia, the joint military exercises in North Queensland and the stationing of US marines in Darwin are a threat to the security, safety and sovereignty of the Australian people and integral to U.S. global wars.
 
We believe Australia can be self-reliant in its ability to safeguard our security and sovereignty.  The Australian people have the skills, knowledge and creativity to design and build our own self-defence industries and strategies, and do not need to depend on any big powers. 
 
We uphold the Australian people’s aspirations for global peace and security and call for an end to escalating militarisation of the world.  We stand in solidarity with the people of Korea, the Philippines, Japan, Guam, and many other countries in Europe and Latin America campaigning against wars of aggression, foreign military bases and troops, and for peace, justice and sovereignty.
 
 In moving towards an independent and peaceful Australian foreign policy:
• We call on the Australian government and the Opposition to end their unequivocal subservience to U.S. military and foreign policies that have made Australia a virtual rubber stamp, helping to legitimise U.S. foreign policies, military adventures and threats to peace. For example, Australia refusing to ratify the U.N. Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty; continued support for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the blockade on Gaza, and voting with the U.S. and U.K. against calls in the U.N. for decolonising Diego Garcia U.S. military base and allowing the Indigenous people return to their homeland.
• We call on the government to immediately end Australia’s military engagements in U.S.- led wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. 
• We call on the Australian government to immediately sign the U.N. Nuclear Weapons Bans Treaty.
• We call for removing U.S. marines and warplanes from Darwin back to the U.S.
• We call for an immediate end to any contribution from the U.S. military intelligence base Pine Gap near Alice Springs to the drone assassination program.   Furthermore, we are deeply concerned that US military bases on our soil, including Pine Gap, integrate Australia into the US war machine and lock us into its wars against countries with whom we’re not at war, and jeopardise Australia pursuing friendly and peaceful relations with our neighbours and the international community. These bases deny Australia our sovereignty and our freedom to make foreign policy decisions independently of the US.  We support the call made by the former Prime Minister, the late Malcolm Fraser, to phase out U.S. military bases on Australian soil.
• We call on the government to re-direct public funds from supporting U.S. wars and the military-industrial complex into public and community needs such as health, education, income security for all, affordable housing, creating sustainable and socially useful local industries and jobs; and addressing climate change.
• We call for the removal of Lockheed Martin and other military corporations from Australian Universities and schools. We oppose the inroads made into the militarisation of education, manufacturing industries and the economy by military corporate conglomerates like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and others.
• We call for the ending of military tensions in the South China Sea by the removal of the military presence of countries not directly involved in the disputed territories.  Australia should not be used to provoke a conflict by sending our navy or airforce into the disputed areas.
 
This Conference welcomes the trade unions’ involvement in the broad people’s movement for peace and independence.  Australian unions have always been at the forefront of campaigns for peace and against wars of aggression.
 
We support the aspirations of people of Korea to remove U.S. troops, bases and the THAAD system from the Peninsula. This would enable the people of Korea to work on a peaceful resolution in their own country. 
 
This Conference calls for building and mobilising a broad united people’s movement against wars of aggression and nuclear weapons; for peace and an independent Australian foreign policy.
 
September 10, 2017, Melbourne
 
Tuesday 12th September US Consulate
At very short notice, Sung-Hee Choi and other IPAN members organised a small protest rally outside the US Consulate building in St. Kilda Road, complete with English and Korean placards calling for the removal of THAAD missiles and US troops out of Korea, and for a peaceful resolution on the Korean Peninsula. This capped off a very intense and successful week of anti-imperialist war activity.
 

 

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