The same weekend that Tasmanian Labor Premier David Bartlett congratulated the Tasmanian Greens on their "slick" electoral campaign — comparing it to that of US President Barack Obama — the NSW Greens refused to take part in an anti-war rally, afraid it reflected too heavily on the president.
The March 21 rally in Sydney (and several other cities) was organised by the Stop the War Coalition (STWC) and was timed to commemorate the invasion of Iraq. It was also thought it would coincide with Obama's visit to Australia.
As it turned out, troubles at home meant that Obama's visit did not happen. Nevertheless, pamphlets for the rallies pictured Obama, in his role as a commander in chief, who has doubled the troops in Afghanistan since the previous Bush regime.
Holding Obama responsible for the US wars is apparently what led the NSW Greens, at their most recent state delegates' conference, to refuse to support the Iraq anniversary rally. Green MPs had been invited, but declined. Only a couple of individual Greens members attended the rally, which was rather overshadowed by St Patrick's Day festivities.
The Greens have previously had good relations with STWC.
According to Australian Greens policies, the party supports "an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq and the expropriation of its resources" and backs the "immediate withdraw[al of] Australian forces from Iraq and Afghanistan".
The NSW Greens' refusal to hold Obama responsible for the wars he commands casts doubt on the credibility of this policy.
It is frankly bizarre that a supposedly anti-war Australian party would seek to muzzle its members over an important anti-war event because it felt protective of a US president. It is certainly true that Obama is under attack from the right at home, but no Australian citizen, party or government will change that.
Apart from doubling US troops in Afghanistan, Obama has sent killer drones into Pakistan, remained silent over the slaughter in Gaza, increased the number of US military bases in Colombia and supported the 2009 military coup in Honduras.
Solidarity from within the imperial nations remains critical, and in this respect it is encouraging that a 50,000 person anti-war rally was recently held in Washington.
If the Greens give up their independent voices for fear of the corporate media, or from electoral worries, they will be heading down the Australian Democrats' path. No one respects a "high-minded" opportunist.