The Department of Defence said on June 22 that more than 22,000 Australian and US troops would take part in the annual Talisman Sabre military exercises near Rockhampton, Queensland. In response, activists have called a Peace Convergence.
The following call to action was released on June 22 by Peace Convergence convener and Peacebus.com activist Graeme Dunstan.
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Every two years in July, US-Australia war games take place at Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
Called Talisman Sabre, these military exercises are the biggest war games in Australia. They involve 30,000 US and Australian troops and cost US and Australian taxpayers $100 million, for a live-fire bombardment of a coastal wilderness and adjacent marine park, the biggest in the central Queensland.
Together with the associated visits of US warships and recreational leave for US troops, these war games are a time when the cost and baleful influence of the US alliance becomes most visible.
Talisman Sabre was a deal struck by the John Howard government as part of his collaboration on the “war on terror”. Like so many other repugnant policies of Howard, this too has been enthusiastically embraced by the morally corrupt Rudd and Gillard governments — puppets on a string.
At Shoalwater Bay, troops practise invasion and the mock up villages built for the practice invasion have mock up mosques to practice on. But it is not training for the current 10-year-old US war in Afghanistan; rather it is practise for future US wars.
The prime aim of Talisman Saber is the achievement of what the military call “interoperability”, by which is meant the seamless co-option of Australian forces into the US war machine; same communications systems, same weapons systems and so on.
When the US Secretaries of state and defence, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, met with Australian PM Julia Gillard and “defence” minister Stephen Smith in Melbourne last November, a joint command agreement was signed. It promises US troops accommodation on Australian bases and joint command, which in practice means US command.
We pay, they deploy. Our taxes, their wars. Exploitation and permanent war; this is what it means to be a vassal state.
Talisman Sabre is also an occasion when peace activists converge on Rockhampton and nearby Yeppoon and Byfield to resist war, the preparation for war and subservience to the US death culture.
Peace Convergence is on again this year over July 11-29.
Let it be a time to be visible for peace. Let it be time of courage and talking truth to power.
Let it be a time for artful public rallies, non-violent direct actions against military trafficking, outside the Shoalwater Test Facility and, for the brave, within for site invasions and on the ground disruptions of the war games.
Talisman Sabre live firing officially begins July 18. But residents of Byfield report their houses shaking from the percussion of Shoalwater bombings even now. They complain but the official attitude is: “So what? Byfield residents have had it too good for too long. It’s a military test facility and we the military, will do what as we please. Go fuck yourself!”
Naturally enough, Peace Convergence has popular support in hilly Byfield, the district close to the southern boundary of the Shoalwater Test Facility. Locals there have offered a place for activists to camp. In bayside Yeppoon, residents are offering home stays. In Rockhampton, the organising base, a crash pad or three is available. More information is at http://www.peaceconvergence.com or on Facebook.
Come to Rockhampton, Yeppoon or Byfield if you can. If you can’t, act locally. Talisman Saber is a national military event and bases all across the land are involved in it.
Turn off the TV and turn towards kindness. Gather some friends, make art, send out a media statement and go to your nearest military base and speak up and speak out. Let the military see and hear your dissent.
Peace Convergence media reports in previous years have rarely been heard or seen outside of Queensland. Local solidarity actions will help draw national attention to the bloody cost of the US alliance.
End the lies! End the wars! End the US alliance!