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There's So Much Rhetoric For War. Where Is The Case For Peace?

Conflict must truly be a last resort.

05/05/2017 12:59 PM AEST | Updated 05/05/2017 12:59 PM AEST
Lucas Jackson / Reuters
A despot makes a threat; the case for war is made.

We've been here before. Seemingly all of a sudden the world's attention is drawn to an imminent danger posed by a despotic leader with the intent to develop and use weapons of mass destruction.

Our governments and the media direct their intense focus and a stream of 'so-called' experts are rolled out to tell everyone why this threat is real and imminent.

The case is made before us all on the nightly news; It is a show trial on an international scale and the case for war is made.

North Korea was one of George W Bush's 'Axis of Evil' countries. The first, Iraq, was invaded with the assistance of Australia. While Saddam was removed and ultimately executed, the consequences for Iraq and the region has been the flourishing of Islamic extremism. This is now the justification the U.S, Australia and others use for retaining a military force there.

I am asking a genuine question of our political leaders -- Do you want to see Australia military forces dragged into conflict in our region?

Who can forget the Iraqi Information Minister at the time of the invasion with his grandiose propaganda broadcasts extolling Saddam's virtues as a leader and the Iraqi military's might -- even as Western military forces entered Baghdad. It was all nonsense. As it turned out, so were the weapons of mass destruction on which the invasion itself was based.

The North Korean spokespeople are out there talking up their capacity to go to war, even nuclear war, and of their grand leader's resolve.

Donald Trump is tweeting. The Vice President Mike Pence was in Australia last week talking up our security alliance and warning North Korea not to goad the new president.

Our prime minister will symbolically meet with Trump aboard a World War II aircraft carrier while commemorating the battle of the Coral Sea. The optics are clear before it even happens. Labor leader Bill Shorten has backed the United States to deal with the "rogue" state of North Korea.

The war rhetoric is in overdrive.

The public will be rightly sceptical of the grandiose 'propaganda' from all sides.

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That is a particularly worrying place for us all to be when we rely on governments to keep us informed on security issues. There is a lack of nuanced political debate made worse by the fact our Parliament has no say in the deployment of military forces or a declaration of war.

The problem this time is that there is no doubting the capacity of North Korea to wreak havoc on the region, particularly on South Korea. But one has to wonder what the end goal is here? Where are the political leaders in Australia and around the world talking about how we arrive at a peaceful solution?

I am not downplaying the threat, I am asking a genuine question of our political leaders, do you want to see Australia military forces dragged into conflict in our region? If not -- how is your language helping to achieve a peaceful solution?

It is interesting that since Trump's bombing of the airfield in Syria, the dropping of the 'mother of all bombs' in Afghanistan and the ramping up of rhetoric around potential conflict with North Korea that the discussion of his failing domestic agenda has gone quiet. The media seem to continually frame tough talk, military action and threats as signs of leadership. Analysts here have suggested that Turnbull's alignment with the Trump message rubs off well on him too.

That Australian political leaders have chosen that path too should worry us all. But it is not new.

In the shadow of Anzac Day and a national remembrance of the sacrifice our servicemen and women over the life of this country, how is it that we do not have more critical analysis and public debate of trying to build a more peaceful world and what Australia's role in that should be?

As a former army officer, people often think it strange that I have become a member of parliament for the Greens.

When I tell them I was an Intelligence Analyst they find it even stranger. My response is that anyone who spends their time digesting information, analysing events and thinking about what happens next inevitably recognises we are on the wrong path and I saw a better path in a political philosophy built around peace and non-violence, sustainability, economic justice and grassroots democracy. Conflict must truly be a last resort and its origins must be dealt with at a global level.

Access to food, water, education; Equal rights and opportunity for women; Reducing inequality, building consensus around international frameworks to deal with the challenges of our future; Taking action on climate change. These are the challenges that should consume politics and bring us all together.

Security threats will overwhelmingly be reduced if we get these things right.

War makes it harder and warmongering breeds distrust and division at home and in our global community. Cutting foreign aid, demonising refugees, and hyping up security threats takes us down the wrong path yet that is the path the major parties in Australia have taken.

The rhetoric from our political leaders in Australia is dangerous. Our relationship with a U.S. administration that is prepared to provoke global conflict to 'Make America Great Again' can be no friend of ours.


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