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Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Nick Beams? He can't be living in Australia...

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  • Luke Fomiatti
    Not to take Nick Beams and friends too seriously, but a few points... Nick says: - the Greens called for sanctions instead of war - Greens, Socialist Alliance
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 6 1:27 AM
      Not to take Nick Beams and friends too seriously, but a few points...


      Nick says:
      - 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
      national interest

      I say:
      On sanctions:
      Kerry Nettle, in her first speech to the Senate (21 August 2002),
      said:
      "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
      intervention.

      On troops:
      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
      interests.
      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
      former.
      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
      http://www.kerrynettle.org.au/600_media_sub.php?deptItemID=193 Kerry
      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
      interest'.
      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
      'national interest'.
      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.

      Cheers,
      Luke




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