With the fall of Baghdad there has been
a great rush to condemn anti-war activists
as being naïve, misguided, or simply
wrong. Greenpeace has been among those
condemned following our activity on Sydney
Harbour last week.
This action reflected our core value
of engaging in non-violent direct action
for what we believe in - a green and peaceful
future. These are aspirations that have
been fundamentally challenged by this
war. The question now is whether the international
community will allow the "might is
right" mentality to prevail, or whether
we can pursue the more sustainable path
of cooperation and multilateralism.
Our action sought to condemn the government's
decision to involve Australia in this
illegal and immoral war, which millions
of Australians did not support. Instead
of making us feel safe and comfortable
the government has made Australia a deeply
divided and nervous nation, suspicious
of our fellow Australians and near neighbours.
Of course Saddam Hussein was a brutal
dictator. The people of Iraq deserve better.
But this United States-led unilateral
war was waged on the basis of Iraq being
perceived a terrorist threat and harbouring
Weapons of Mass Destruction. Such weapons
are yet to be discovered, suggesting the
inspection programme was working.
Far from achieving "preventative
disarmament", the war in Iraq is
likely to see further arms and nuclear
proliferation. Common sense and history
tells us that such a doctrine is likely
to stir up the hornet's nest, rather than
North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on 10 April,
and the restarting of its plutonium-production
reactor, has the potential to precipitate
conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Iran's
programme is another potential focus for
US military action. States already identified
as within the "axis of evil"
will see little incentive in remaining
inside the international norms of non-proliferation.
On the contrary, they may believe that
acquiring nuclear weapons capability is
the only means to counter US military
and political dominance.
Greenpeace fully supports disarming Iraq
through peaceful multilateral initiatives
but also advocates universal disarmament
of all countries with nuclear, biological
and chemical weapons. There must be one
standard for all, not a rule for "us"
and a different rule for "them".
Pre-emptive military strikes are not a
stable way of controlling or abolishing
such weapons, and in fact encourage their
The Coalition of the Willing relied upon
UN Resolution 687 to justify their invasion
of Iraq, though its spirit is to take
steps towards making the Middle East free
of Weapons of Mass Destruction. This is
pertinent as on April 28th, the vast majority
of the world's states that are party to
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
met at the United Nations in Geneva to
begin preparing for a full review of the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2005.
It is critical that these parties, at
their first meeting since the Iraq invasion
and the North Korean withdrawal from the
Treaty, face up to the urgent need to
revitalise and adhere to the Treaty. The
nuclear weapons states, including the
United States, have all but ignored their
obligations to disarm under Article 6
of the NPT since their agreement to do
so in 1970.
While the people of Iraq are free of
their despotic dictator, there is little
clarity on post-war reconstruction. It
is important that the United Nations play
a constructive role in this process. The
danger otherwise is the perception that
the "victors" of this war will
divide up the spoils among themselves,
leading to even greater instability within
This war is a test case. Iraq was not
the only state mentioned in President
Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech
nor was it the only country listed as
a rogue state which could suffer a U.S.
pre-emptive strike. US Secretary of Defence
Donald Rumsfield's open attacks on Syria
for supplying military equipment to Iraq
are a foreboding case in point.
John Howard stated "Australia would
be resolute in our solidarity with the
Americans". While he has not spelled
out whether Australian troops have been
committed for further US-led pre-emptive
strikes, we are deeply concerned this
will be the case.
It is the Australian government who should
be made accountable for what further commitments
we have made to this so-called war against
terror. Australia should not be involved
in any more wars like this - not now,
not ever again.
We call on all the people of Australia
to continue to tell our politicians that
the only logical response is to work multilaterally
to support and strengthen the United Nations
treaty systems so that all countries disarm
and that we deal with the root causes
of global insecurity. Greenpeace will
continue to strive for global peace and
security - for all of Earth's people and
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