Obama visit sparks protest organising


Anti-war and democratic rights activists are organising protests for US President Barack Obama's upcoming visit.

On February 11, AAP reported: "The federal government is refusing to reveal the exact dates for … Obama's visit to Australia despite media reports he will arrive with his family on March 22."

Anti-war, Latin American solidarity, climate action and union activists are planning to make the president's visit a memorable one.

Obama's main destination will be Indonesia — to underscore his support for the neoliberal and corrupt government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He will also stop over in Guam, a small Pacific Island occupied by a US military base.

The presidential visit "down under" will celebrate and boost the US-Australia military alliance, but also provides an opportunity for all those opposed to the crimes of US imperialism to make their voices heard.

Obama took the 2009 Nobel peace prize, but is escalating US-led military aggression around the world. He is continuing the Bush administration's "war on terrorism" which, in reality, is a return to colonial military occupations in the Third World, justified by a fear campaign.

The US "surge" in Afghanistan — in which 20,000 extra troops were sent in 2009 and another 30,000 are scheduled for deployment by the northern summer — has spilled over the border into Pakistan. The so-called withdrawal from Iraq is a fraud — 50,000 US troops remain, at least until 2011, and the US plans to retain hundreds of bases in and around Iraq.

The US is also promoting a civil war in Yemen and is stepping up its threats against Iran. It continues to turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinians.

The US is increasing its military bases in Latin America and is increasing its military provocations against the progressive governments and movements in the region.

In its latest budget, the Obama administration has allocated US$1 trillion to the military, even while millions of workers in the US have been thrown out of work and have lost their homes.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost US$1 trillion so far and the 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan will cost an additional $33 billion, the February 5 Toronto Sun reported.

There is little doubt that Obama will ask for more Australian troops for the war in Afghanistan and the protests will be an opportunity for this country to say no to the "war without end". PM Kevin Rudd has a duty to explain why he is helping escalate conflict in the Middle East, and why he has not broken with the policies of his hated predecessor John Howard.

Anti-war and democratic rights groups in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane have been meeting to prepare for the March visit. Check the calendar on page 23 for details and get involved.

[Pip Hinman is an activist in the Stop the War Coalition which is organising the protest in Sydney. Visit .]