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The Time is Now

January 28, 2014

Peace is not the absence of war.

Whilst Australians debate the definition of violent punches thrown in pubs and clubs or are obsessed with the food pornography of My Kitchen Rules, or people chasing balls around fields, other works are happening behind the three minute news headlines and the flashy graphics of so called “news” on the television.

A little digging on the internet and you can see the big picture being played out. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan helped to trigger a severe destabilisation of the strategic and oil rich middle-east. Currently Syria and Lebanon are engaged in what can nicely be called civil wars, but what looks to me like a post-nation state rise of armed gangs (take a look at Fallujah on the internet news).

I’m not saying everything has gone to plan for the powers that be in the USA, Russia, China and local actors involved in fighting, but the net effect is that things are pretty messed up! To live in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon or Iraq is not to live in the way you or I know it in our Western lifestyle. It is a daily struggle.

In our neighbourhood, things are looking to get pretty messy as well. Okinawa, a Japanese island that was devastated in world war two has become a large US military base. Recently, the governor of the island has agreed to an expanded Marine (naval launched soldiers) base in spite of running an election opposing the base. Aside from the devastating effects of world war two, Okinawa has had a presence of tens of thousands of US soldiers which has resulted not only in ecological damage to the fishing and farm reliant community, but crime from the soldiers including kidnappings, rape and murder for which US troops are not held accountable to local laws.

The Obama administration has also sought out the cooperation of Australia. We are becoming, at our own expense, a base for US soldiers who want to ensure US dominance in South East Asia.

America in the so-called Asia-pivot is calling on its sycophants (allies) to pay for their own defence. There is going to be 10,000 US marines, air force personnel and troops based in Australia by the end of next year. We are not only taking sides with our traditional ally against our largest trading partner, we’re ensuring that any conflict in the Asia-Pacific makes us a target. Now I believe in a disarmed, peaceful Australia for the moral purposes of not killing anyone and providing for the poor and dislocated in our society, but from a purely strategic view of violence and arms as well, we are taking a most dangerous path!

With the advent of robot technology and the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the US, any conflict in the next few decades is going to be very messy. We are arming, the US is arming and China is taking notice. When tensions were rising before 1914, pacifists and internationalists found themselves powerless to prevent the bloody murder and carnage that world war one became. Many renounced their ideals in the face of sweeping nationalism and propaganda. We in the peace movement need to be ready not in five years or ten years but now. We need to be writing, protesting and getting in the way non-violently of the march to war that is taking place in our backyard- cause when you have drones, nuclear war heads and a declining world empire like the US fighting for survival, world war one might look like the English invasion of Zanzibar that lasted for 38 minutes and inflicted no deaths.

The only secure way for Australia, the only way forward for Australia is as follows:

  1. Slash military spending. Put that money into education and healthcare. As Martin Luther King Jr said “a country that spends more on arms than on social services is on the path to spiritual doom.”
  2. Reject foreign bases on our soil. No state willingly allows a foreign power to base troops on its soil and allow nuclear powered ships into our ports and waters. We make ourselves a target and we ruin our heritage as a peaceful, independent peoples.
  3. Become mates with Indonesia. Right now Indonesia and Australian political elites use the Fear of the Other to propagate their regimes. As a nation, we should be best mates with Indonesia. We should be sending our kids to their schools and welcoming theirs to ours. There should be a corps of young people who can spend a year or two in Indonesia in aid and development and young Indonesians should be welcomed into Australia to study for free. Not only would these and better initiatives lower tensions between neighbours, but it would allow regional problem solving on asylum seekers, West Papua and climate change amongst others.

 

We are in a resting period of history. Australia is overcome with the scourge of gross materialism and idleness. We choose to have no sense of our place in the world or the responsibility we have to the next generations.

The responsibility falls to us in the know who can see the economic power structure for what it is, who understand the stakes are high and those with the most chips are not interested in the lower classes, let alone the poor of this world.

The outcome of such short sighted, high risk policy making will be a major global conflict, that the largest military power in the world is betting will be in our backyard. As people of faith, as activists and those interested in the greater good of humanity what is our response? We can not wait for the gun shot heard around the world triggering the violent massacre of millions. The time to act is in before the iron is struck. We have to get our asses off the computer screens, into the streets and into the military establishments that long ago lost their legitimacy.

The Time is Now…

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One Comment
  1. Good one, Greg.

    I concur with your analysis and your sense of urgency.

    How the path to peace?

    The words in my head from conversations at Silver Wattle yesterday are discernment and conscience. Seeing deeply into things (beyond the media lies) and how to act for the right.

    How to cultivate discernment and conscience as the practice of peace.

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