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The World Has Failed: Bob Brown

March 20, 2003

Senator Bob Brown, Leader of the Australian Greens The world is shamed by the start of this illegal attack on Iraq, Greens Senator Bob Brown has said today.

"The world has failed. It has failed to stop a President bent on going to war on Iraq at any cost. It is a shameful day for the planet," Senator Brown said.

"This morning in Bagdad and Basra millions of innocent Iraqi's are huddling in terror. George W Bush, Tony Blair and John W Howard have brought the incredible horror of war on a impoverished country and people.

"President George Bush has effectively sent Australia to war. The tragedy for this country is that not only did the Australian Government fail to attempt to stop the Bush administration, they encouraged it to attack Bagdad.

"This is an oil war, this is not Australia's war.

"John Howard should support our troops by bringing them home," Senator Brown said.


This is the transcript of the press conference held by the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, in Canberra, following the beginning of hostilities in Iraq.

Australia is now at war at the behest of President Bush. The hearts and minds of the Australian people will both be with the two thousand Australians who are involved in this unnecessary war, which is not Australia's war, at the behest of John W Howard. And we'll be hoping they come home safe and secure with the other combatants but also and very specially with the twenty-six million Iraqi people who are caught now beneath the cruise missiles and between Saddam Hussein and George W Bush.

It has to be hoped that as brutal as it will be, this war will be brief. The world will be hoping that if there has to be casualties, it will be Saddam Hussein and his hench people. But this is an illegal war. It is unnecessary. There were better options and there are better options under the auspices of the world body, the United Nations. It's an imperial war by the United States.

Australia has been made a vassal to that by Prime Minister Howard which is an affront to the dignity and pride of this nation. But we will be with those two thousand Australians, good and true, in heart and mind, and with the people in Iraq.

In the coming days, we will see unfold some terrifying events. But we must all think of the millions of people who are huddled in Basra and Baghdad and the other cities and regions of Iraq in the coming days and weeks, terrified, helpless and faced with an illegal onslaught from the most powerful weapons of mass destruction the world has ever seen arrayed in a situation like this.

As an Australian and a Green, I join with people right around ... the majority of people around the world and the majority of countries around this world, including those people of like countries such as New Zealand and Canada in wishing that our defence force personnel were here at home, in wishing that the United States and British weapons were not being unleashed, and in wishing that the United Nations had been able to continue to contain Saddam Hussein without the death toll we're about to see unfold.

REPORTER:

Now that the war has actually started - I mean, we have been talking about it for weeks and weeks - do you think it will hit home to the government what they've actually done today, that, you know, our troops are now in there? They're now putting their lives on the line. Do you think it will at all humble them in any way?

BROWN:

No, I don't. I don't think our Prime Minister has the depth to, despite what he has said, to understand the horror of the engagement for Australians now and into the future. We know it is going to further imperil Australians for years into the future let alone for the men, women and children - the civilians - of Iraq.

I was horrified myself to see today the government vote down Senator Nettle's motions to prohibit and to push against the use of cluster weapons, those horrific indiscriminate weapons used in Afghanistan by the United States now to be used in Iraq which children pick up, thinking they're food parcels and get blown to bits. This is a nasty, savage age of weaponry.

The Prime Minister has put himself behind that. I oppose it. Millions of Australians oppose it. The majority of the people around the world oppose it. But all we can ... we who are unable ... and our country has cashed in, because of the Prime Minister, the opportunity to put a hand of restraint on George W Bush's shoulders.

But now that John W Howard has done that all that we can do is join with the rest of the world in pushing to bring this to the shortest end possible and to continue to push to bring our two thousand Australians home as soon as possible.

And I say to all Australians who are appalled by these events, go beyond that, be active, come out into the streets - peaceably. Write to your politicians, ring them up, go to the Members of Parliament who have backed this unleashing of these weapons onto the Iraqi people. Be active about it.

The world is a modern world of communications and as Senator Nettle said, there is two super powers at play here. One is the United States of America, the other is world public opinion - and we're firmly on the side of the latter.

REPORTER:

What do you think this has done to Australia's reputation in the international community? Our involvement in...

BROWN:

Well, it has done enormous damage to Australia's reputation in the international community, but, more particularly, in our own region. There is not one other country in our region who... which is involved in the way that Australia is with the forward deployment of troops, not in Asia, not in the southern hemisphere.

And that is why the Prime Minister's reckless behaviour in this support of George W Bush against this country's interests is going to be one that disturbs the country for a long time to come, not just in these days of imperilment for the troops that have been sent to Iraq by the Prime Minister.

REPORTER:

Will you be joining in any anti-war protests here in Canberra this afternoon?

BROWN:

I'll be supporting them, and already have, and I will be supporting all the processes of good people who are frustrated and angered by what the government has done. I will be at the convergence, here in Canberra, a major protest outside parliament on Sunday afternoon.

And I will do what I can to support people wherever they are, because, afterall, this is a mutual thing, who feel our Prime Minister has done the wrong this by this country, has done the wrong thing by our service personnel, has done the wrong thing by the world and has done the wrong thing by the world our children will inherit.

Thanks everybody.

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