BY NICK EVERETT
As the war in Iraq passed its first fortnight, thousands of Iraqis have been killed by US, Australian and British troops. Unlike many of the US dead and injured, we will never know most of the Iraqis names, what their lives were like or who they left behind.
All of these dead Iraqis are victims of an illegal and unjust war of aggression launched against their country by the world's richest and most powerful country. Many were civilians, others were teenage conscript soldiers, fighting to defend their homeland from a foreign invasion. They had committed no act of aggression against Australia, nor did they pose any imminent threat to any Australians.
Nor were they collateral damage of a necessary war. For this war is not necessary. The initial pretext for the war that the Iraqi regime had weapons of mass destruction has almost completely disappeared from the invading powers' war propaganda. And no-one believes that Iraqis will be liberated by being carpet bombed by those who want to steal their oil.
The Australian governments participation in this war, its use of taxpayer money to kill, maim and to destroy families, should never be done in our name. That is why more than million Australians have taken to the streets to show that we are not part of the killing machine, that we stand with the Iraqis, not with their invaders.
There are those who say we should not protest, because our first duty is to support the troops. This is just an excuse to shut us up, to get us off the streets. And its an insulting one.
Firstly, we did not send troops into danger. Those 2000, mostly young, men and women in Iraq and the Persian Gulf are there because the Australian government sent them. We want to bring them home to safety.
But more importantly, we do not support the job they have been sent to do. We do not think that Australians should be killing Iraqis and occupying their towns and villages.
We do support the Iraqi people. We support their right to defend themselves against the invaders, including those wearing Australian military uniforms. We stand in solidarity, not with the invading army, but with its victims.
The only way to deliver justice to all those in Iraq is to fight as hard as we can to get Australian troops out of there. We cant oppose this war and not demand that the Australian war machine gets out of Iraq, immediately.
To not call for the withdrawal of the troops will let PM John Howard off the hook. He can deplore this war all he likes, but unless he takes action to stop it, the blood will continue to drip from his hands.
Now more than ever, the anti-war movement needs to be saying that we can stop the slaughter, that we do not just call for peace, but that we have a plan to stop it bring the troops home, immediately!
[Nick Everett is a member of the Socialist Alliance and the Sydney Walk Against the War Coalition.]
From Green Left Weekly, April 9, 2003.
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