Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Nick Beams? He can't be living in Australia...
- Not to take Nick Beams and friends too seriously, but a few points...
- the Greens called for sanctions instead of war
- Greens, Socialist Alliance and John Pilger say troops should be
deployed closer to Australia (not in Iraq) to protect the Australian
Kerry Nettle, in her first speech to the Senate (21 August 2002),
"The Iraqi people must be given back not only the right but also the
capacity to decide their own rulers, without intervention from the
United States, who firstly armed and supported Saddam Hussein and who
are now only interested in controlling oil supplies, not in achieving
democracy in Iraq. We need an international effort to rebuild Iraqi
society and infrastructure, which was deliberately destroyed to
undermine the civilian population. Sanctions that have caused
immeasurable suffering must be lifted. Peaceful solutions will always
seem more complex than a simple attack, but it is only through
peaceful solutions that we can achieve long-term success."
She clearly calls for an end to the sanctions and opposes US military
Firstly I would say that it is an elementary demand that the
Australian military be used only to protect the Australian people and
to provide real solidarity to the people of the world, and that they
not be used to protect US business interests or Australian business
So in my opinion there is not a problem with the left calling for
Australian troops to be deployed 'close to home', as this expresses
the entirely legitimate aspiration that Australian troops should
support the Australian people.
The problem arises with the term 'national interest'. It could mean
either the interest of the Australian people for safety, security and
international solidarity, or it could mean the interest of Australian
business in gaining access to cheap labour and natural resources in
the third world. There are two, counterposed 'national interests'.
The more the latter is pushed, the harder it makes achieving the
For this reason I am generally against the left using the argument
that it, rather than the right, truly represents the 'national
interest', at least not without further explanation.
However, for a good use of 'national interest' see
Nettle uses 'national interest' interchangeably with 'public
interest'. In other words she is rightly claiming that the interests
of the Australian people, not Australian business, are the 'national
So, even if the Greens, Socialist Alliance or John Pilger had called
for Australian troops to be used in the 'national interest', this
would not necessarily be a problem. It depends what they were
advocating these troops actually do.
Having said all that, there is still the question of whether Beams is
factually accurate in his claim that the Greens, SA and John Pilger
base their argumentation against the Iraq war on Australia's
The google searches 'site:www.greens.org.au "national interest"
iraq', 'site:www.bobbrown.org.au "national interest" iraq' and
'site:www.kerrynettle.org.au "national interest" iraq' returns a
single hit arguing against the Iraq war on the basis that it is not
in Australia's 'national interest'. This is out of several hundred
pages opposing the Iraq war.
The google search 'site:www.socialist-alliance.org "national
interest" iraq' does not return a single hit arguing against the Iraq
war on the basis that it is not in Australia's 'national interest'.
A similar search with pilger.carlton.com reveals the same thing - he
never argued that the war should not be waged because it was not in
Australia's 'national interest'.
Personally, I have never found Beams's writing to be all that
inspired and this talk doesn't challenge that impression. Perhaps Bob
Gould could post his impressions of the meeting.
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