Cavenagh submission IPA
As a child in Liverpool I was very aware of the US military presence in Australia. As I got older, and more and more books
appeared about WWII, I had to abandon things about this US presence that I had learned as a child, and came to respect the
work that the US undertook to first, defend Australia, and second to take the war to Japan. As a child I cheered, along with
everyone else, the ‘atom bomb’. As an adolescent I shared the particular fears of the 1950s about nuclear destruction, and the
consequences of the Cold War. I supported the Korean intervention.
When Australia entered the war in Vietnam I was horrified. The reasons advanced by the Austrlaian Government were all about
an insurance policy issued by the US, and had nothing to do with the rights of the Vietnamese people themselves; the Gulf of
Tonkin incident was clearly fraudulent; the Anericans had little understanding of the local people and had a singular contempt for
the so-called ‘enemy’; the 1966 pamphlet issued by the Liberal Government, with its arrow pointing from China to Australia, was
childish and fraudulent; and the rate of growth in the Australian Army was so low that conscripts had to be sent to fight and die. As
Arthur Calwell said, it was a ‘dirty, unwillable war.’ We were involved because the Australian people had been lied to.
The short, sharp conflict conducted by the US in the Middle East in the Hawke era was to me a sideline, and it was only later that I
found ways to fill in the appalling behaviour of ‘The West’ towards that area of the world since the end of WWi. There is little in our
popular understanding of the middle East, and we know almost nothing of role of the US in undermining the whole area – except
Israel, although accounts of the offences of the Shah in Iran make all of its anti-American stances understandable.
But then came G .W.Bush, possibly the stupidest President in US history. Frank Rich’s 2006 book ‘The Greatest Story Ever Sold’
gives a graphic account of Bush’s behaviour prior to, and during, the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and it is a story of calculated lying,
all of which backed up my own suspicions about that period. His collection of Neocon lunatics, together with Cheney and
Rumsfeld, his ;axis of evil’, his devotion to stunts, publicity grabs and his utter contempt for the people of the region has led to a
catastophe of immense proportions.
And what did we do? Without analysis, moral rectitude, or any consideration of human right, we were right in there. And of course
our ‘leader’ at the time was one John Winston Howard, a dissembler himself of some note, and whose major work in life was to
undermine as much of the progress that had begun in the 1970s. He began the habit ot calling himself a ‘conservative’, as many
of his followers have adopted. But Howard was a reactionary, and these days most of the Federal Government’s parliamentary
members could be similarly described.
This may seem unnecessarily nasty, but the corruption that seems to be endemic to this government’s behaviour , and so be it.
But is worthy of note in that anything that is dais that apposes their view – and particularly the view of Dutton – will be attacked with
the same dishonesty that it attacked The ALP during the last election. And remember the axiom, ‘in war the first casualty is truth.’
Remember also that the last election, where the Government was confronted with a policy package of consistent reformist ideas it
won the election with a front man who wore his hat backwards and kicked balls around the country, with nary a policy in sight
except to balance the budget, (by ripping funds out of every public activity he could find ). And the Australian public bought it, as
they bought wars in Vietnam and the Middle East.
I will finish here, but with a couple of words of warning. A straight out call for abandonment of the Alliance with the US will be cat-
called and defeated easily in the public mind. I like the proposition that we refuse to allow any Prime Minister to declare war on our
behalf and as a first step the ratification of Parliament essential. While the behaviours of states such as Russia, Iran, North Korea
and China are deleterious to our interests they should be seen as new methods for an old Stalinist strategy of picking away at the
edges of the the democratic states – alarm without the affray. Indeed, it would be hard to argue that the US surveillance of
Australia’s efforts in politics and industry is less than any of the states mentioned. Again the Chinese leadership should be
recognised for what it is – a return to Stalinism with internal practices alive during Mao’s time – cover any internal problems with
denouncement of external interference – real or not.
The Dutton presence is something to worry about, and his bureaucratic construction at the centre of Government is a very big
problem. The question is whether we can allow a single authority to call all the shots on external and internal dangers, or live with
the American system where different organisations compete for different views. the answer might lie somewhere in the Senate
Committee process, with extended powers and a tighter capacity to question. It is impossible to continue to allow paid public
servants to dodge issues by calling everything ‘confidential’.
If it is withing the realm of reason, the corrupt practices of this government should have much more public attention. The idea of a
truth commission should be pressed strongly. It exists in some of the states and the fact that corruption has had a public presence
without public criticism should be noted. The Audit Office does a fine job, but I suspect that a re-elected Morrison Government will
have go at it. Corruption has possibly existed on a grand scale in all previous governments but I cannot remember a government
as publicly corrupt as this one, in process as well as action, or ‘the way things are done’ as well as ‘what is actually done.’