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Re: [GreenLeft_discussion] Need comment re 'Militant' take on Australia election

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  • Peter Boyle
    ... ALP leader Mark Latham has said that he is sticking by his promise to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq by Christmans if the ALP is win the next
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 9, 2004
      Fred Feldman wrote:

      > I have fallen behind on the Australia elections and I need to know if
      > the following article from the current Militant captures the situation
      > sufficiently.
      > The headline confidently declares that "Labor Party drops call for Iraq
      > troop withdrawal" but the article does not quite demonstrate that though
      > it points to many retreats that could point in that direction.
      > According to the Militant, the LP is now suggesting they will keep
      > troops if they are placed under United Nations command.

      ALP leader Mark Latham has said that he is sticking by his promise to
      withdraw Australian troops from Iraq "by Christmans" if the ALP is win
      the next federal elections (the latest rumour is that it could be called
      for September 18). However, this promise was qualified on June 13 by the
      the ALP shadow foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd when he said thatsaid
      that it was always “clear cut” that Labor's position was that only
      “those forces which are purely dedicated to the Iraq-specific operation”
      would be withdrawn. The 340 ADF personnel engaged in helping patrol the
      Persian Gulf operation, which Rudd claimed are part of the “broader war
      against terrorism”, would therefore remain.

      Rudd has said an ALP government would probably also leave the 85 troops
      guarding the Australian mission in Baghdad.

      This means that it's possible that about half of the current deployment
      of 846 ADF personnel in and around Iraq would be likely to stay if Labor
      wins government.
      See <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2004/586/586p12.htm>

      On July 12, Latham announced that Kim "Bomber" Beazley (former ALP
      leader and staunchly pro-Pentagon defence minister under the last ALP
      federal government) would become the shadow defence minister. Latham
      made a speech to the Australian Institute of International Affairs in
      which he reiterated Labor’s full support for Australia’s military
      alliance with the US and for Washington’s “war on terrorism”.

      I think that if Beazley had been ALP leader last year, he would have
      given full support to the invasion and occupation. In fact, Latham's
      promise to withdraw the troops home by Christmas even surprised the
      "left" in the ALP (and that section of the anti-war movement it influences).

      While Latham reaffirmed his promise to withdraw Australian troops from
      Iraq by Christmas, in this speech, he stated that Australian diplomatic
      security personnel would remain in Iraq, and warships and RAAF Orion
      aircraft would stay in the Persian Gulf to protect Western oil
      interests. He also announced that a Labor government would send up to 30
      non-combat personnel to work as part of the UN mission in Iraq,
      particularly assisting Washington’s puppet regime to “secure” Iraq’s

      On June 10, the ALP leadership had welcomed the adoption of UN Security
      Council resolution 1546, a sequel to two other UN resolutions that have
      “legitimised” the illegal US-British-Australian invasion and occupation
      of Iraq. Resolution 1546 mandates the US-led occupation force to remain
      in Iraq until at least December 31, 2005.

      Latham criticised the surrent Iraq deployment because because it was
      “unrelated to the main business” of Australia’s military forces in the
      “war against terrorism”.Labor’s “priority in the war against terrorism”,
      Latham declared, “is South-East Asia”. This “is not just a matter of
      geography”, he explained, “though our geography makes it inevitable. It
      is because we have economic and military weight in the region and
      because we have expertise.”
      See <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2004/590/590p3.htm>

      The ALP has tried its best to downplay the whole Iraq issue as the
      elections draw near. Indeed the actual policy differences between the
      major parties have narrowed
      <http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2004/588/588p24.htm> and in the eyes
      of many traditional Labor voters especially since the ALP decided to
      support the Free Trade Agreement with the US. See

      Plans by the anti-war movement to organise nation-wide rallies in the
      week before the elections around the theme "End the lies! Howard out!
      Bring the troops home!" have not received much support from ALP. It is
      largely being built by the socialist left (mainly Socialist Alliance)
      and the Greens.

      These actions could be given a boost by the public statement last
      weekend by 43 former Australian military chiefs, diplomats and heads of
      government departments condemning the Howard governments’s decision to
      join the Iraq war on the basis of lies and deceptions. “Australians must
      be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders,
      especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.” This
      reflects a current of opinion in the ruling class that worries, as does
      Francis Fukuyama, about the credibility problem of those politicians who
      took the decision to invade on the basis of the WMD lies.


      The anti-war movement <http://www.stopwarcoalition.org/> is keeping
      pressure on the ALP to keep its promise while campaigning for a
      Spain-type victory. The Militant's handful of supporters in Australia
      play no part in building any broader movements.

      Hope this helps explain a bit.

      Peter Boyle
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