Citizen Journalism

Australia invaded Iraq by deceiving Australian people: 43 Australian elders

In Democracy, Iraq War, Margo Kingston on May 23, 2013 at 1:47 PM
An estimated 600,000 Australians participated in Iraq War Protest Marches in  February 2003

An estimated 600,000 Australians participated in Iraq War Protest Marches in February 2003 Pic: Andy Baker

We must return stable, predictable, AND honest government to Australia.‘  Joe Hockey, May 23, National Press Club

By Margo Kingston

May 23, 2013

When I saw Paul Barratt’s tweets today on some momentous Howard government lies, I remembered this letter, which Barratt signed in 2004. The government’s trashing of the elders who signed it triggered the decision of public servant Michael Scrafton to blow the lid on the children overboard lie. Thanks for the memories, Paul. And Joe Hockey, don’t talk about bringing back honest government, please. Your last government’s record does not allow it.

Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dept of Defence and Deputy Secretary Dept of Foeign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)


Sunday August 8, 2004

We believe that a reelected Howard Government or an elected Latham Government must give priority to truth in Government. This is fundamental to effective parliamentary democracy. Australians must be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders, especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.

We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people.
Saddam’s dictatorial administration has ended, but removing him was not the reason given to the Australian people for going to war. The Prime Minister said in March 2003 that our policy was “ the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein”. He added a few days before the invasion that if Saddam got rid of his weapons of mass destruction he could remain in power.

It is a matter for regret that the action to combat terrorism after 11 September 2001, launched in Afghanistan, and widely supported, was diverted to the widely opposed invasion of Iraq. The outcome has been destructive, especially for Iraq. The international system has been subjected to enormous stress that still continues.

It is of concern to us that the international prestige of the United States and its Presidency has fallen precipitously over the last two years. Because of our Government’s unquestioning support for the Bush Administration’s policy, Australia has also been adversely affected. Terrorist activity, instead of being contained, has increased. Australia has not become safer by invading and occupying Iraq and now has a higher profile as a terrorist target.

We do not wish to see Australia’s alliance with the United States endangered. We understand that it can never be an alliance of complete equals because of the disparity in power, but to suggest that an ally is not free to choose if or when it will go to war is to misread the ANZUS Treaty. Within that context, Australian governments should seek to ensure that it is a genuine partnership and not just a rubber stamp for policies decided in Washington. Australian leaders must produce more carefully balanced policies and present them in more sophisticated ways. These should apply to our alliance with the United States, our engagement with the neighbouring nations of Asia and the South West Pacific, and our role in multilateral diplomacy, especially at the United Nations.

Above all, it is wrong and dangerous for our elected representatives to mislead the Australian people. If we cannot trust the word of our Government, Australia cannot expect it to be trusted by others. Without that trust, the democratic structure of our society will be undermined and with it our standing and influence in the world.

Signed by:
Admiral Alan Beaumont AC, former Chief of Defence Force
General Peter Gration AC, former Chief of Defence Force
Admiral Mike Hudson AC, former Chief of the Navy
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peek, former Chief of the Navy
Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC, former Chief of the Airforce
Air Vice Marshal Brendan O’Loughlin AO, former head of Australian Defence Staff, Washington
Major General Alan Stretton AO, former Director General National Disaster Organisation
Departmental Heads and Diplomatic Representatives
Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dept of Defence and Deputy Secretary Dept of Foeign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
Dr John Burton, former Secretary of Dept of External Affairs and High Commissioner to Ceylon
Dr Stuart Harris AO, former Secretary of DFAT
John Menadue AO, former Secretary of the Prime Ministers Department and former Ambassador to Japan
Alan Renouf, former Secretary of DFAT, Ambassador to France, Ambassador to US
Richard Woolcott, AC, former Secretary of DFAT, Ambassador to the United Nations, Indonesia and The Philippines
Dennis Argall, former Ambassador to China
Robin Ashwin, former Ambassador to Egypt, the Soviet Union and Germany
Jeff Benson, former Ambassador to Denmark and Iceland
Geoff Bentley, former Ambassador to Russia and Consul General in Hong Kong
John Bowan, former Ambassador to Germany
Alison Broinowski, former Charge d’Affaires to Jordan
Richard Broinowski, former Ambassador to Mexico, Korea and Vietnam
John Brook, former Ambassador to Vietnam and Algiers
Ross Cottrill, Executive Director Australian Institute of International Affairs
Peter Curtis, former Ambassador to France, Consul General to New York and High Commmissioner in India
Rawdon Dalrymple, AO, former Ambassador to the United States, Japan, Indonesia and Israel
Malcolm Dan, former Ambassador to Argentina and Chile
Stephen Fitzgerald AO, former Ambassador to China
Geoff Forrester, former Deputy Secretary of DFAT
Robert Furlonger, former Director General of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and Head of JIO and Ambassador to Indonesia
Ross Garnaut AO, former Ambassador to China
Ian Haig AM, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE.
Robert Hamilton, former Ambassador to Mexico, El Salvador and Cuba
Cavan Hogue, former High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ambassador to Thailand, and United Nations (Security Council)
Roger Holdich, former Director General of Intelligence and Ambassador to Korea
Gordon Jockel, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Committee and Ambassador to Thailand and Indonesia
Tony Kevin, former Ambassador to Cambodia and Poland
Peter Lloyd AM, former Ambassador to Iraq
Alf Parsons AO former High Commissioner to United Kingdom, High Commissioner to Singapore, Malaysia
Ted Pocock AM, former High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador to France and Morocco, the Soviet Union, Korea and the European Union
Peter Rogers, former Ambassador to Israel
Rory Steele, former Ambassador to Iraq
H. Neil Truscott AM, former Ambassador to Iraq
Ron Walker, former Special Disarmament Adviser, Ambassador to the UN, Geneva, Ambassador to Austria and Chairman of the Board of Governors IAEA
Garry Woodard, former High Commissioner to Malaysia and Ambassador to China

  1. That’s a pretty impressive list of names and titles. It remains a fact that the invasion of Iraq was based on lies, and fabrication, and Iraq pays the price for this enforced liberation even as I write these words. Sectarian violence, until Saddam Hussein’s downfall, was held in check. Now it flourishes after his departure.
    Where are the sycophants now? Where are the pro war advocates who lied to us, who claimed we would be greeted with flowers in the streets as liberators?
    Mostly out of power, out of government and out of the public eye. Howard continues to defend his indefensible decision….fatuous stubborn old fool that he remains.
    On now to Hockey, surely one of the most inept liars in the entire coalition. For if he is consciously and deliberately lying about both the past record of Howard’s time as PM, and the current record of Gillard as PM, my only conclusion is that he does not have the intelligence nor the education to be Treasurer.
    I truly wonder how Hockey’s family and friends must think about his lies. How his staff feel about working for a liar. How must Joseph Hockey feel about himself? Is he proud of his dishonesty? Of his lies? Does he sweat when he holds his hand high and swears on the good book that he will uphold the Australian Constitution?
    Just sayin, is all.

  2. It was Downer who once stated that he couldnt wait to get home and put Fox News on
    and have his world view affirmed.. ahh the golden years of the man of steel..
    Mr Barrett might have added the AWB conspiracy and the showering of the evil Saddam who had the human version of paper shredder according to Howard with three hundred odd million of bribes prior to the attack by the “coalition of the willing”……

  3. Whoa! that was powerful. Thank you for reminding us so forcefully about the past transgressions of this shonky lot of neoliberals and reactionaries.

  4. Heather – That is the problem – Why do we need to be reminded. I will never forget or forgive using pictures of refugees floating in the water only to be accused of attempting to drown them. That was the insinuation Howard used, these people don’t care for their young except to use them as pawns, that was the impression he wanted and got from a compliant MSM. Iraq – Well we all knew they were lies – Hans Bliks anyone??? but no, George and Johnny was running out of time. One day we can only hope that the Haig will have the balls to try all involved for war crimes. If they get off then fair enough but lets get it all out in the open and not covered up like AWB where only one person was held to account and got off very, very lightly. PS our armed forces are for the protection of our nation from threat, not to be use for political purposes such as children overboard. Remember the SAS boarding Tampa

  5. Thank you Margo. I have never been able to understand how Howard’s reputation survived the Iraq invasion. Surely, to take your country into a war is the most grave decision a government can take – to send young Australians out to face death and injury, and arguably, worse, to send Australians out to kill people. In this case, to kill people who wished us no harm. To do such a thing without good reason was unpardonable. To do it on a lie was absolutely unconscionable, despicable. (Remember, Howard told parliament February 2003 that the government “knows” Saddam has WMDs. And they did not “know” that at all.)

    And were not many of today’s Coalition party to that contemptible act? How can we view them with anything other than contempt and trepidation? How can we contemplate letting such people take control of our country?

  6. But in the end that fine letter counted for very little. Why is that? I think we are very shallow in this country. Howard is still lionized. Downer is always commenting on something. Reith writes on the Drum every five minutes and is a constant guest on Q and A. It is too gruesome.

  7. thanks for the reminder Margo, not that I’ve ever forgotten the liars in the Howard govt. And many still there that assume we all suffer from amnesia. How voters could even consider voting for Abbott and cronies (mainly all left overs from their previous regime) is astonishing.They seriously treat the electorate as numbskulls.
    Time the govt started calling them to account.

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