Saturday, June 27, 2015

Anti-Bases after nearly 30 years

Talk by  DD for Pol in pub
April 30 2015

American Bases in Australia:  too close for comfort – more of them, more important, more binding us more tightly – still a target.
  There are occasions when the English language fails us and by way of introduction I wish to do an apparent diversion but it has relevance – trust me.  If I was a substantial person in this society instead of dwelling on the outskirts and I proclaimed that children over 8 should be allowed back into the mines, factories and other workplaces, this would be proclaimed RADICAL.  If I was to say that pensioners should be on a living wage I would be howled down as so 20th Century or last century.  You see backward failed policies of 150 years ago are radical and progressive ideas that work are dismissed.  This is the climate we live in today.  The progressive is backward and the backward is radical!

Imagine if you are into peace!  Another word that does not convey dynamism but status quo and uncontroversial views of pretty valleys or seascapes, that is why a lot of people add peace with justice to give the topic a bit of oomph.  It gets even worse if you add ‘peace activist’ to a phrase, you now have two dirty words ‘peace’ and ‘activist’ both words have in the minds of the general population been devalued and representing a bygone era.  Peace activism means dynamic hard work and attention to detail and longevity.  One wise man once said to me if I wanted quick results go and grow cabbages.  A young person at a recent meeting said to me he was surprised that a person my age gave a damn (he actually used shit). 

My aim tonight is that you should and we all should give a shit especially as we see our country going under the weight of an aggressive super power who does not have the best wishes for the people of this country but acts for the rapacious corporations of its own country and perhaps an insignificant sector of this society the so called 1% or even 0.01%.

How has the Anti-Bases gone on informing, activating and alarming the general population, the strata represented here tonight?  At first blush it is to use the anal  xx analogy pretty shithouse.  We can trace our history to 1987 nearly 30 years ago.

Our first t-shirts said ‘Close Pine Gap, Nurrungar, and North West Cape and the 27 other US Bases.  If we were to renew that T-Shirt today we would have to say:  ‘Close Pine Gap, North West Cape,   and the other 50 Bases.  At the same time kick out the training bases, the US Marines from Darwin, forbid the use of our land for drones, and any use of airports and harbours for US Navy and US Air Force.  By this time the t-shirt would be even more unmarketable than the present t-shirt. 

By any measure this is a gross failure on the part of the Anti-Bases.  We started with 27 Bases now we have 50, and on top of that we the Marines, Drones, US Navy, US Airforce and on top of that they are using those bases to spy on us.  (Read from p.122 Greenwald book- about the Snowden revelations).  Draw attention to the handout on the Snowden revelations.
In its heyday Anti-Bases could put 2,000 protesters into the desert around Pine Gap or Nurrungar.  We wiped the footy finals off the front pages of the Sunday papers.  (see pic)

Anti-Bases activists in Australia can whinge about all the obstacles to achieving our goals – little or no money versus unlimited billions of the pro US group, no publicity, both major parties are so pro the US President Obama could say of them what he said of Australian soldiers in Darwin when he announced the pivot to Asia and the US Marines to be stationed in Darwin. 
Afghanistan. I know many of you served there, including proud members of the 1st Brigade. Like generations before you, you've lived and served alongside your American colleagues - day in and day out. You work together so well, it's often said you can't tell where our guys end and you guys begin.”

Obama thinks we are so united he can’t tell us apart.  Is that how we want to think of ourselves?  Surely we could have a more rounded independent country than that.

Looking at the short comings of the Anti-Bases campaign the view it would seem on this assessment as pretty bleak. 

In academia there are people who study social movements even the Anti-Bases campaign – one such academic Adrian Ricketts of Southern Cross Uni Lismore says activists who come to me crying burn out, and non progress I say to them look at what your enemies are saying about you and your campaign.  We are not expecting them to name Anti-Bases but to refer in general to the issue.

One such enemy was Malcolm Fraser recently deceased his book Dangerous Allies was an eye opener or at least it should have been.  Nevertheless this book is so significant that we should have two new initial clusters in our language BF, and AF.  When the recent deployment to Iraq came up politicians could have used Malcolm’s experience and said we have heard all this before, it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.  His lesson about how dangerous the headlong unquestioning obedience to a major power was a lesson that has to be drummed into our major parties and the population.  On Pine Gap there has been no whistle blowers yet we have this book allowed by a US operative David Rosenberg at the base for 17 years.  (hold up) He said  ‘by writing this book I hope to provide more understanding of what Pine Gap does and the necessity of maintaining ever-vigilant eyes and ears that protect the lives of everyday Australians and Americans including the soldiers that protect us, wherever they may serve’…..p. 173  When he launched the book at Gleebooks down the road I asked him how did he feel that the intelligence he had gathered was used to bomb the bunker in Gulf War 1 with over 150 civilians in it?  He replied without a moments hesitation ‘oh I just gave the military the info how they use it is up to them.’  We know from Snowden all of the above is a bald face lie.  Why do they lie and falsify?  because of the actions of groups like anti-bases and many other citizens.

Still looking at the enemy in 1983 the fence at the entrance of Pine Gap was a cattle fence.  The women of 1983 soon made short work of that, in 1987 it was a fence that was 2 metres high which stretched for a short distance either side of the entrance and then it reverted to a cattle fence waist high.  Each year the fence has gotten taller and the security has gotten stronger.  This was not security against IS but Australian citizens like you and me.  You cannot go within a km of the fence.  We do have an impact, but is it enough?  Obviously not but it is a start and we must keep up the fight.

Abbott keeps talking about the fight coming to us well here is the other fight that is coming to you the Talisman Sabre 2015 exercise.  In this exercise which is every two years $100 million + will be spent by 30,000 US and Australian troops in an exercise that ranges over large sections of Australia.  The aim of the exercise as Obama says is to blur the difference between US troops and Australian or to use the jargon word interoperability.  They train to invade other countries thru tropical jungles, savannah woodlands and other climate zones so as to be ready to go where the US leads.  The main focus is always around Rockhampton where the Shoalwater Bay Training Area is but there are many more sites as you can see.  Richmond RAAF Base is a site from where some training will arise. 

The media strategy about our protests in Rockhampton are that the protests are a Central Queensland issue and not of interest to the other capital cities even Brisbane will not get much Talisman Sabre 15 protest coverage.  The media and to some extent the Government like it that way so discussion is limited to a small conservative section of the Queensland coast.  The peace movement is trying to counter this, this year with major protests in Brisbane and Sydney on or near the time of Talisman Sabre. 

The take home message from tonight is to keep an eye out for the details of the actions around TS in SydneyBrisbane is having a major conference on xxx at yyy to which you are all invited.  The peace movement under the present guise of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network IPAN is conducting a major attempt to have 100 pilgrims violate the sacred bombing range of the US and Australian military and hold up proceedings.  There is further information on these actions to come.  By all means get involved and show you care.  You may not be in a condition to go lolloping around a bombing range and sleeping rough for a day or two while 30,000 soldiers wait for you to be found.  There are so many levels on which you can contribute from liking us on facebook, following us on twitter and of course a financial contribution would be appreciated.  Even buy and wear the T-Shirt! 

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