Australia: Cancel Talisman Saber War Games


7-12-09, 10:53 am

Original source: The Guardian (Australia)

The US-Australian Talisman Saber 09 (TS09) military exercise started as The Guardian went to press. TS09 which began on July 6 at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Rockhampton will conclude on July 26. Military of both countries will be met by peace campaigners calling for the war games to be canceled.

The military exercise will see 15,000 US troops join 8,000 Australian personnel for exercises practicing invasion at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in central Queensland.

“The Australian Defense Force is out of control and is actively preparing for a war the Australian people do not want and would not support,” says Professor Jake Lynch, Director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

“My research shows the US has now, as of mid-2009, spent more of the modern era at war than at peace. Training with the Americans means we are rehearsing for the invasion of another country.

“The Australian public never wanted to take part in the invasion of Iraq and two out of three recent polls show we want Australian troops to pull out of Afghanistan. There is no mandate for Defense to collaborate in preparing for more wars alongside the United States,” Professor Lynch added.

“The invasion of Iraq was a colossal premeditated war crime, an act of aggressive warfare that killed over a million people and displaced five million from their homes, permanently in most cases. That alone shows our military alliance with the United States undermines international peace and security.”

“Coming hard on the heels of a Defense White Paper that parroted neo-conservative claims about the ‘threat’ of China, and heralded a major military build-up, these live-fire exercises will raise tensions in our own region, against Australia’s interests.”

Denis Doherty, the National Coordinator of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, said “Talisman Saber will cost over $50 million in the midst of an economic crisis. We peace campaigners speak for the 70 percent of Australians who do not want more money spent on the military.

“The live-fire exercises practice invasions, they make Australia a greater target, they train our forces to take US orders, and they bomb unique and fragile locations on the edge of the irreplaceable Great Barrier Reef.

“Talisman Saber is addressing threats that do not exist, while aggravating those that are rapidly advancing, including climate change, hunger, and crippling poverty.

“War and its preparation make these problems worse. Talisman Saber should be cancelled,” Denis Doherty concluded.

Peace campaigners from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and points further north are part of a peace convergence which will descend on the Rockhampton-Yeppoon area for activities from July 10 to July 13.

Other groups plan to stay longer in the area and to continue the campaign against the exercise.

The peace convergence plans to disrupt the war games, to draw attention to the unacceptably excessive spending on the military and to urge other Australians to join them in campaigning for a cut to military spending and to reverse the 13 percent increase in military spending for 2009/10.

The Communist Party of Australia has been active in the campaign against Talisman Saber.

Members have helped with the organization and some are traveling to Rockhampton. Branches in two states have contributed banners to hang at actions in Rockhampton.

The Party’s major contribution has been as the chief sponsor of a tour by US peace activist Judith Le Blanc, She is visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and will join the Peace Convergence in Rockhampton.

Le Blanc is a Vice Chair of the CPUSA and Chair of the Party’s Peace and Solidarity Commission. She is the Organizing Co-ordinator of United for Peace and Justice, the largest anti-war coalition in the USA. She is also a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.