By calling Armistice Day on November 11 “Remembrance Day” we miss the point. The original Armistice Day in 1918 was a day of joy, celebrating the end of a hugely bloody war. As one newspaper at the time described it: “Whole country goes wild with joy at news of peace”.
The Invictus Games, taking place in Sydney over October 20-27, features athletes who were injured serving in the armed forces of 18 countries. The games celebrate the undefeated human spirit, but come with deep irony, being sponsored by the very same arms companies that profit from causing the injuries in the first place.
Many Australians are unaware that up to 2500 armed personnel from a foreign nation routinely occupy Australian territory. However, soon the next contingent of US marines will arrive in Darwin, writes Nick Deane.
It is extraordinary that foreign forces should be stationed in Australia in peacetime. There has been no such foreign presence here since the end of World War II. There is no threat to Australia, so there is no need for this presence.
Since US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a spike in commentary about the increasing risk of a war in our region — a war that could involve the US and China. As things stand, it would be impossible for Australia to avoid involvement in such a war. That is a reality we must urgently confront.
The Defence Department’s website says: “Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 is a biennial combined Australian and US training activity, designed to … improve the combat readiness and interoperability between our respective forces. This exercise is a major undertaking that reflects the closeness of our alliance and the strength of the ongoing military-military relationship” and is “focused on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity ‘high end’ warfighting.”
In November 2011, US president Barack Obama announced that the military focus of the US was “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, as part of this “pivot”, he announced that US marines were to be stationed in Darwin.
Following those announcements, a ripple of discontent spread around the nation. Numerous peace groups, academics, faith-based groups and unions began talking to one another about this “pivot” and the threat it represents.
In Canberra on April 21, there will be the first meeting of representatives of the groups that together make up the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). The individual representatives will be drawn from every state and territory.
On April 22, the main conference will take place, with invited experts speaking on a range of related topics. The conference will be open to the general public and is expected to draw a large number of people with an interest in creating a more independent Australia.
As one who took part in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, I could hardly believe it when the US “war machine” resurrected itself and began its march on Iraq.
Appalled by what appeared to be happening, I was delighted to discover, following a rally in November 2002, that a local peace group had been created. I joined that group and began actively campaigning for peace which I continue to this day.