Peace Convergence

Dear Friends

It is with great joy that we share the news from last month of the Pine Gap 4 acquittal. A true victory amongst our many glorious defeats! If you haven’t read or heard the news visit
This is a significant win as it sets a precedent for how the act under which they were charged (Defence Special Undertakings Act) can be applied, effectively preventing its use against those who participate in peaceful nonviolent direct action at Pine Gap. Our congratulations to Donna, Adele, Jim and Brian.
The Pine Gap 4 are now inviting others to join them for further resistance at Pine Gap this April on ANZAC day. Visit for more details.
Shoalwater arrestees go to court this month. Court cases are scheduled for 20th and 27th March. Send messages of solidarity and support to (we will pass them on). Read press release below.

This is an important time to be challenging our relationship with the United States having just marked the fifth year of war in Iraq. Recently President Bush vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding (a method that simulates drowning) to break suspected terrorists. The Chamorro people hold concerns that the US military buildup will accelerate the destruction of their culture – 17,000 US marines will be moving to Guam beginning in 2012.
an aerial view of futenma in okinawa
An aerial view of the Futenma U.S. Marine Base in Futenma City, Okinawa prefecture, Japan, taken on July 27, 2006. The Marines plan to move 17,000 personnel and dependents to Guam from Okinawa beginning in 2012, boosting the island’s population by 10 percent. House prices have risen 70 percent since 2003 on expectations of increased demand.

The Peace Convergence Team
What YOU can do!
Read Press Release:
21 people were arrested during the Peace Convergence at Shoalwater Bay in June 2007. These people were arrested for peaceful acts of civil disobedience against the Talisman Sabre war games held at Shaolwater Bay. A number of them will be appearing in the Yeppoon and Rockhampton Courts in the next two months. People will be travelling from as far as Melbourne to attend court.
These Court proceedings can be an opportunity to bring attention to the use of Shoalwater Bay for the Talisman Sabre war games.
It is also an opportunity for locals and those appearing in court to catch up and make contact for the Peace Convergence at Shoalwater Bay in 2009.
If you can attend any of the following court proceedings that would be great. If you can arrive a half hour before court to hold banners, leaflet, run a stall etc…it would be much appreciated.
March 20 – 10 am Court 1 Yeppoon Magistrates Court
Emma Brindal and Paul Hood from Brisbane
Commonwealth Trespass charge – Charged with entering the Shoalwater Bay Training Area at the Byfield gate. The prosecution states that they sat down and refused to move from the area.
Contact: Emma Brindal 0411 084 727
MARCH 27 – 9:30 am Court 1 Yeppoon Magistrates Court
June Norman from Brisbane, Rod Castle, Wayne Reed and Neels Jack from Malany in Queensland and Kerry Priest and Kirsty from Melbourne.
Commonwealth Trespass – The prosecution states that the above people entered the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and camped out inside the area for four days during the Talisman Sabre war games.
Contact: June Norman 33140306 / 0438 169 414

For the remaining court appearences a reminder will be sent out in April with court times and further details.

APRIL 24 – Yeppoon Magistrates Court
The Samuel Hill 5, Sarah Williams, Simon Reeves, Krystal Spencer and Simon Moyle from Melbourne.
Commonwealth Trespass – The prosecution states that the group entered the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, and walked openly down the middle of the Samuel Hill Airstrip inside the base.

Write to the US ambassador in Australia regarding the approval of the waterboarding technique. See sample letter below:

American Embassy
Moonah Place
Yarralumla, ACT 2600

Dear Ambassador McCallum,
On March 8, 2008 President Bush became the first US president to use the veto power to preserve the right to torture. We would be grateful if you could forward us details and specifications of the waterboarding torture technique so that we may offer the Australian public and media the opportunity to experience this first hand and to decide whether or not this contravenes the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
As allies of the US we have a right to be guaranteed by the US government that no suspected or actual enemy combatant or suspected or actual terrorist faces “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” when captured by Australian military forces and delivered directly to US military custody or to US military custody via NATO forces. We are acutely aware of what happened at Abu Ghraib and the role that Fort Huachuca, Arizona, for example, plays in teaching degradation and torture techniques ( an excellent reference is: McCoy, Alfred W. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation From the Cold War to the War on Terror , Metropolitan Books, New York, 2006).
Yours sincerely
Don’t forget:

  • Shoalwater Arrestees in court April 24.
  • Hiroshima Day August 6 & Nagasaki Day August 9.
  • International Day of Peace September 21.
  • Asia Pacific Defence Security Exhibition in Adelaide this November 11-13.
  • Talisman Sabre July 6-26 2009

peace convergence

65 thoughts on “Peace Convergence

  1. A critical analysis of the PG4 campaign says:

    With Palm Sunday having come and gone it seems timely to assess where ‘the peace movement’ is at.

    I think that the recent result in the PG4 trial is a good place to begin.

    I have not written about the campaign of the PG4 and their supporters for some time.

    Now that the immediate legal battle in the NT is over and threat of immediate state repression has abated, I wanted to write about the PG4 campaign.

    This is an attempt to engage with supporters and others and pose some questions openly, questions that bear upon future struggle against Pine Gap and its role in the Iraq war.

    I would appreciate feedback, either publicly on BT or privately concerning the comments that I make below.

    I have read the salient parts of the judges’ decision in the Pine Gap Appeal mentioned in the article released by the Peace Convergence above.

    I think that it follows from the decision of the Court of Appeal that, if there had been a re-trial of the PG4 under the Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952, the defendants could have called evidence to rebut the Crown’s claim that Pine Gap is protecting the interests of Australia.

    I refer readers to the following comment by the Appeal Court:

    [24] The Judge accepted the submission by the Crown that as the Minister is in charge of administering the Act, the Legislature intended that the Minister should make the decision as to whether the declaration is necessary for defence purposes.

    Her Honour expressed the view that the construction for which the Crown contended promotes the purpose of the Act “and is necessary to make the section intelligible”.

    She observed that to construe s 8 otherwise “would result in a farcical situation where the Crown would have to call evidence on matters of national defence which presumably the defendants could seek to rebut”.

    [25] The last observation of the Judge concerning the calling of evidence appears to be based upon a view that if the precondition is an objective fact, the tendering of the Gazette could not amount to proof that the area was prohibited. In my opinion such a view is not correct.

    The Court of Appeal, the highest court in the Northern Territory is saying that the declaration by the minister that Pine Gap is protected is insufficient to prove a charge under the Defence Special Undertakings Act 1952 (DSU), the crown must prove that Pine Gap is necessary for the defence of Australia.

    I am wondering why the PG4 and their lawyers did not take up this point and go for the customary re-trial? Was this tactic put forward? If so what was discussed and why was a decision taken to go along with the Chief Justice who was clearly against a retrial and the embarrassment it may cause the federal government and its various authorities?

    If no consideration was given by PG4 to a retrial, why not? Especially since the PG4 lawyers would have known that this was the usual course in such appeals?

    Surely a retrial would have caused the current federal government considerable political embarrassment as its support for Pine Gap would then have been on trial [there having been a change of federal government during the Appeal process] with the crown having to justify Pine Gap’s existence or in the words of the trial judge section 8 of the DSU would have produced the “farcicial situation where the Crown would have to call evidence on matters of national defence which presumably the defendants could seek to rebut.” Given this outcome, it is unlikely any Minister will use the DSU legislation against protesters again. Most likely the legislation will lie dormant as it has done since its introduction in the parliament in 1952, until awakened by Attorney General Ruddock against the PG4 in 2006.

    I understood (perhaps I am wrong) that the primary aim of the PG4 and their supporters was to inspect Pine Gap to demonstrate that it was a base used to target people in Iraq. Given that Pine Gap continues to serve this purpose, the successive Australian governments’ use of Pine Gap is hardly an act of national defence of Australia, rather it is used for pre-emptive aggression against people in countries like Iraq. Put another way Australia slavishly follows US foreign policy. Hence the DSU does not work in Australian Courts to prevent entry into Pine Gap if the judges rule correctly – something the trial judge did not do in this case, evidently, as the quote above shows, because she realised the perverse outcome of the Act if followed correctly. Of course these contradictions occur all the time in political prosecutions like the the PG4. Clearly the participants are not naive to these contradictions.

    Hence I ask the following question:

    What then prevented the PG4 from pursuing their aim further? Exhaustion? Resignation to the fact that the law (judges and prosecution) either outsmarts us all or wears us down? When viewed in the light of this aim of PG4, the Supreme court verdict was a poor result. Perhaps there is a failure by supporters and the lawyers to fully understand and to expose the political role of the court, but I doubt it?

    The trial judge allowed an unjust conviction and sentence, which was then quashed by the Supreme court without following the common practice of ordering a retrial, thus preventing the further exposure of government apologists for Pine Gap.

    Thus the Court of Appeal frustrated the PG4 and their supporters from doing what they set out to do, namely to show complicity by government in the use of Pine Gap in a war of aggression against the people of another country, namely Iraq.

    Also a retrial may have been worth the risk of another guilty verdict and sentencing for the PG4, especially with jail time already served ‘in the bank’ so to speak. But that is a lot to ask of individuals.

    A lot more organisation and support would have been required to reduce the risks for those in the front line.

    And in the end, what would embarrassment have achieved? Would it have brought on a groundswell of support to finally end the war in Iraq? And if it had, why so late? After five years of needless suffering?

    My question, therefore, is not directed at the PG4. Surely they have done enough?!?

    I would be interested to hear why the Peace Convergence, supporters of the PG4, the Greens, civil liberties lawyers and sections of the peace movement say that this verdict in the NT Court of Appeal is a victory, where the decision created a faux legal victory and a diversion from the long held aim of the peace movement in Australia, namely opposition to Pine Gap and US bases like it.

    I note that Stop the War collective, the group that organised Palm Sunday, and had Adele Goldie (one of the PG4) as a keynote speaker on the day, remains silent on all of these questions. If they do support PG4, do they support the actions of PG4? How and to what extent?

    I am also wondering why sections of the peace movement (Stop the War Collective being one) did not give earlier and greater support to the PG4 who conducted an action that could have thrown up even more political contradictions?

    Do people in the peace movement accept the implication behind the PG4 action – that Pine Gap is more harmful to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan than the Australian troops on the ground in those places?

    Along with this is the contradiction that a nationalistic Labor Government, had there been a retrial, would have to justify its uncritical support for a Joint US/Australian spy base (Pine Gap) on Arrente sacred lands.

    Sources: PG4 had won their appeal!
    Liberating Pine Gap
    Liberate Iraq from democracy’s warriors of spin
    Pine Gap 4: Crime and Punishment
    Pine Gap: Crime and Punishment
    Words of Mass Deception by the Maniacs of Spin
    Pine Gap Four find Ground Zero

  2. Photos from London, anti-war nvda updates & comment on this article on this link

    After Yet Another March – What is Relevant Anti-War Activity 5 Years In?
    ..and why no mention of the Raytheon 9 by the Stop the War Coalition?

    by Ciaron O’Reilly – Pitstop Ploughshares/London Catholic Worker London, England

    Well last Saturday, I headed off to the march in London on the 5th. anniversary of this war.

    These groundhog day cattle drives through empty streets when the left goes marketing crazy in a confined space as you run a gauntlet of newspaper sales, recruitment drives etc always has the heavy potential to demoralise. So I thought I’d lower my expecations and set myself limited political objectives for the day. To be honest, I go to these things primarily to socialise and catch up with old comrades from campaigns of daze gone by…..

    If yet another groundhog day cattle drive through the empty streets of London is not a relevant response 5 years into this war – what is?

    Basically, nonviolent resistance to the war and proactive solidarity with nonviolent resistance is relevant. The war has never had popular support but there is little visible oppostion either.

    I believe if 1% of those who marched against this war in 03 had gone into nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Ghandi and King to the point of imprisonment and the other 99% commited to proactive solidarity with the resistance (help feed the cat, pay the rent, deal with the hysterical parents, spread the word) we would now have a vibrant anti-war culture and movement and not be reduced to these biannual holy daze of obligation marches and the government would have a lot of trouble prosecuting this war. (It was interesting how many people I asked on Saturday “Why are you here?” who had the repsonse “I’d feel guilty if I didn’t come!”) If this campaign of civil disobedience had occured it would have had a dissident response from within the British and U.S. military.

    The people who organise these rallies (the Labor Party – yes they happen to be the government presently blowing the crap out of Iraq & Afghanistan, the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party who have all the fervour and single mindedness of evangelical christians on speed but who in praxis (when you strip away the chanting & posturing) is pretty moderate, and the mainstream NGO’s who like the others see the war and the anti-war movement as an excellent opportunity to promote their brand in a target audience) DON’T support or mention nonviolent resistance to the war or promote solidarity with nonviolent resisters before the courts , in prison or preparing for more NVDA.

    So last Saturday, I set off for the march to increase awareness of the upcoming Raytheon 9 trial in Belfast in May . This is a significant resistance trial of 9 irish activists who nonviolently disabled the mainframe computer at Raytheon in Derry – during the 06 bombing of Lebanon. The Israeli military used Raytheon equipment extensively in their indiscrimate bombing that summer.

    I got to the rally and their were thousands (maybe 10 max, down from 2 million in 03) passively milling about in Trafalger Square. I had brought with me my homemade “Free the Raytheon 9 – Disable the War Machine! ” placard and unaccustomed as I am to wait for the official anti-war leadership – I began steet (soapbox without the soapbox) speaking to small clusters of folks about the Raytheon 9. Those not interested drifted away, those interested came in tighter. I did this 6 or 7 times before the main rally started and the amps drowned me out. People were excited to hear about the Raytheon 9 and they were exicted by the spontaneity and initiative of street speaking. They were probably relieved I wasn’t trying to sell them anything or recruit them (although a R9 info leaflet would have been handy for those interested!). Nonetheless, lots of them wrote down the Raytehoen 9 website.

    As I walked around the crowd with my placard during the rally I had lots of conversations with many people (some seasoned anti-war activists) who had never heard of the Raytheon 9, their action or their trial.

    The Socialist Workers Party/Stop the War Coalition are well placed to make the Raytheon 9 trial very widely known throughout Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and internationally and encourage support for the defendants. They have chosen not to!

    It is an important trial and should be a show trial of the arms trade in Ireland and Britain.

    My pathetic cardboard sign and a few goes at street speaking to the assembling crowds was the only mention of this trial at the rally this past Saturday

    When an SWP member took a break from selling the paper to ask me “How are those people doing?” My resolve not to get pissed off, by employing the praxis of lowering expecations of the rally, finally broke.

    I responded “You tell me, three of them are your party members looking at years in jail. Why aren’t they mentioned at this rally etc etc?”
    A fairly heated debate ensued.

    The debate concluded with my reponse “For all if it’s rrrrrrrrrrrevolutionary rhetoric, your party are a bunch of moderates who rather provide a platform for Labor Party politicians than support anti-war resisters before the courts. You have hung out your own people to dry etc.”

    This was my experience in Ireland as we went through 3 trials for $2 1/2 million criminal damaage to a U.S. war plane being refueled at Shannon

    The groups who organise these rallies primarily see the anti-war movement/ these biannual rallies as marketing/brand profile lifting opportunities for their party, newspaper selling and recruitment. They are the first line of policing of the anti-war movement. Whether they have been infiltrated (as were similar groups in the ’60’s) or whether such a strategy of groundhog day rallies, cattle drives through empty streets, centralisation, deflation and dissipation just dovetails into their short term aims – it probably makes little difference.

    A good anarcho critique of the SWP, authoritarian and moderate left screwing the anti-war movement in Ireland can be found on the following link…..

    Meanwhile from the platform ex Labor Party/Respect parliamentarian George Galloway suggests during his speech that maybe the movement has been “too peaceful and too legal” over the past five years hinting that Stop the War Coalition are going to start breaking the law and unleash civil disobedience soon…

    This seemed to be an echo from five years previous when Tony Benn stated “I never thought I would say this but we have to take whatever steps necessary to stop this war. If that means taking direct action like blocking the roads and railways then so be it!” Five years on Tony Benn is sitll giving entertaining speeches but has avoided being busted while a million Iraqis 4,000 young Americans and 150 Brits have died.

    Rather than Galloway and Benn flirting, posturing, teasing about NVDA as a response to the war….they should simply support the nonviolent resistance that is occuring (Raytheon 9, Trident ploughshares, my 2 CW community members who are being sentenced to day for Dsei resistance etc etc). It is the Socialist Workes Party/Stop the War Coalition policy to censor and marginalise nonviolent resistance to this war!

    Nonviolent resistance can be the most empowering experience of your life or the most disempowering – it’s all got to do with spirituality and solidarity. The resister’s spirit is subjective terrain but solidarity is something we can all contribute to.

    17 years ago I, and three others, broke into a B-52 Base in upstate New York on the eve of Gulf War 1. We were able to put a B-52 Bomber, on scramble alert, at Griffis Airforce Base out of action for three months. It didn’t get to drop its naplam, cluster bombs and fuel explosives on the people of Iraq.

    5 years ago I joined another 4 good folks in Ireland to disable a U.S. war plane at Shannon Airport.

    The ’91 crew were the longest serving political prisoners in the U.S. for resisitng that war. the nine of us have come out of those experiences, including 13 months in U.S. jails, three trials in Ireland, deportation from the U.S. etc – stronger than we went into it. We came out stronger because of our spirituality and the culture of solidarity that surrounded us!

    As we grow as a movement to stop this war, the reistance is going to spring from the most unlikely of places! Our movement is going to be so big and broad that we are going to have different hairstyles, musical tastes, politics and spiritual traditons. Resistance is going to come from country and western fans in the U.S. military
    it’s going to come from rad Salvation Army kidz
    anarchist punks
    socialists and republicans

    We have to develop a movement that whenever resistance goes down – we reach out to the resister offering proactive practical solidarity. The more solidarity the resister experiences, the easier the resistance is going to be. The more likely the resister will be back with more resistance!

    We have to reject the censorship of anti-war resistance by those who try to manage the anti-war movement and organise these rallies.

    Related Link:

  3. Ciaron,

    you said………

    “I believe if 1% of those who marched against this war in 03 had gone into nonviolent resistance in the spirit of Ghandi and King to the point of imprisonment and the other 99% commited to proactive solidarity with the resistance (help feed the cat, pay the rent, deal with the hysterical parents, spread the word) we would now have a vibrant anti-war culture and movement”


    “The more solidarity the resister experiences, the easier the resistance is going to be. The more likely the resister will be back with more resistance!”

    I believe these comments do not take into account the brute power of the state to repress any real threats to its masters’ interests, as manifest in those places where real resistance occurs such as Iraq, Palestine, Tibet etc. as well as the Ghandi and King campaigns that you mention.

    It is true that if the PG4 or yourself and your plowshares comrades were Terrorists that you would have been able to blow some stuff up and do real damage beyond temporary shutdowns and changes to routine maintenace of machinery, and inflict a powerful blow on the mass consciousness.

    But you are not terrorists and, while identifying such security risks, have been little more than an easily swatted nuisance to the state and its wars.

    The point at which resistance becomes powerful all the support networks and cat feeding become totally inadequate. Covert death squads, missiles targeted to phone signals and deaths in custody can simply not be turned into an empowering experience. It is only priveledged and detatched illusion, or opportinist terrorist strategy to see such oppression as a forward step.

    At Nurrungar (1989?) Hawke and Beazley brought in the troops to secure the base from the threatened occupation by the peace camp.

    First line – a very polite policeman issuing directions

    Second line – Cops on Horses with mace spray, reinforced by arresting officers and vans.

    Third line – Cops with dogs surrounding the base

    fourth line – Soldiers with rifles surrounding the base

    Fifth line (or the joker card line) – snipers

    The point at which resistance breaks out of small symbolic interventions that cause little more than embarrasment for the war machine, is when the state will squash any attempt to, not just get into places like Nurungar and Shannon, but prevent organisation through totalitarian policing of communities such as what is happening to Muslim communities today.

    Such state oppression is not an empowering experience, it does not build “a vibrant anti-war culture and movement”. Instead it builds a paranoid, hopeless and depressed movement that either goes crazy and dissappears or begins to consider violent fight back.

    I am sure that your movement is inspired by King and Ghandi and their movements but I do not think it is correct to claim that your mode of resistance is “in the spirit of Ghandi and King”, at least not if the spirit manifests in tactics and human action.

    Both King and Ghandi had, at the centre of their movements, an economic strategy. Ghandi’s was withdrawing as a market for british products and resisting British tax. Kings was boycotting local industries that were segregated, a strategy that evolved to boycotting local industry that did not employ a quota of Afro American employees.

    Without these economic strategies Rosa Parkes would have been just another angry black person breaking the law.

    The highly symbolic and choreographed clashes, in both cases, were just the tip of the iceburg which had its real power in social organisation and cohesion of large numbers of people.

    The role of collective identity is central in both cases also. Indian nationalism and Black/African identity provided the base for such social power. This power base is absent in the Western Non-Violent movement. Culturally the enemy and the resistance are much the same thing.

    I agree for the need of a new paradigm in political activity, one that is not contained by the illusions of protest and parliamentary change. However this new paradigm must, somehow, somewhere, achieve real material power in order to be able to achieve any social change at all. A simple call to high ideals alone has never in the history of humans been enough to bring about social change and I see no reason to see this present epoch is any different.

    Resistance is just commentary unless it is firmly rooted in real power.

    Real power lives in two separate but related places, nowhere else. 1/Economic power in terms of control of material resources or control of labour and 2/ Military power, either government control of state military or guerilla insurgence. There are no other modes of intervention into history, all else is just poetry or theatre, I include marches and propaganda in this as well as NVDA.

    Poetry and theatre are powerfull tools to build real power, but on their own are meaningless to all but the performers.

    It seems to me, the non-violent mode relevant to today is to build economic power, as Ghandi and King did. The non violent mode in Australia last century was union action with the ultimate weapon of the general strike. This is perhaps no longer a realistic mode of power, as producers. But the boycott strategy of Ghandi and King was largely based on the masses as consumers, not producers and is, it seems to me, very relevant to our present circumstances. Provocative public theatre such as PG4/Plowshares could well be a vanguard of such boycots that millions of ordinary people can participate in.

    Whoever controls the buying intentions of masses of consumers holds real power, if and only if, the targets of the boycott is chosen for its economic vulnerability to such a boycott – and therefore will become a force for that target to change. If the boycott is a scatter gun approach to ideologically unsound companies so that the consumer feels better about what they are consuming then there is no power there. Like Ghandi and King, boycotts would need to be designed with military precision to achieve power.

  4. Ciaron and John,

    Why no comments on #1 above?
    See A critical analysis of the PG4 campaign

    Since making these comments I have added to my comments a bibliography of articles and comments written by members of the PG4 and their supporters since 2006. These essays and the discussions that followed have been posted on BT at the links provided in the bibliography above.

    My analysis comes from following the tactics employed by the PG4 and their supporters and their own speeches and discussion of what they were trying to achieve. Also I have read the transcripts of the court cases and the major parts of the verdicts given by the various judges.

    Surely what they set out to achieve, how they went about it, and the outcome, do not deserve to be brushed aside?

    Ian Curr
    23 March 2008

  5. r.e. comment #1

    The Australian people already know about the U.S./Aus military alliance and that Australia is participating in the war in Iraq and that civilians were/are being slaughtered. Pine Gap is an Icon of the U.S. military and I dont think it would be a scales falling from your eyes moment to realise that it is being used in the Iraq war.

    I am less concerned about missed opportunities in court than about questions such as what are they/we/you/me trying to do?

    The focus of this campaign is NVDA as a methodology to confront the military machine, not on Pine Gap per se. P.G. is just the canvas on which they paint as was Shoalwater Bay and as is the resultant court cases.

    The Australian peace movement, from the marches to the NVDA are just engaging in theatre to show to the world and ourselves that we dissaprove of what is going on. This is relevant to the Greens and electoralists to capitalise on such theatre to get votes and profile, but they can and do generate much of their own theatre, without having to get arrested. They are sometimes able to add some parliamentary power behind their theatre.

    NVDA activism becomes very strong on motivation and presentation but weak on strategy, often to the point of irrelevance. It offers itself as a radical alternative to electoralism and movement bureacrats” but beyond good media opportunities they have offered little in the way of hope or strategy for change.

    I believe NVDA is a result of hopelessness. It is an escapist fantasy around which a whole explaination of the world can be found that has no need or desire to engage with the real forces of history.

    NVDA is content with personalist responses. I have read the writings of Bryan, Jim and Donna and all have very different tactical approaches and reasons for doing it. The common bond was the experience itself, not a shared understanding of why it occured.

    There seemed to be different approaches to the court process too.

    In the old days, before this American small group civil disobediance turned up, the power of NVDA in the Franklin blocade was the solid organisation of the local community over many years. Same with The Forest blocades of Northern NSW, The (old) anti uranium movement had solid union links which were the real power that prevented mining. In many ways the blocades at wharves and minesites were more in support of union action than the other way around in terms of real or “direct” action. The links were built over years of blood, sweat and beers.

    This new NVDA builds. and builds on. no real community or institutional power and as such is purely commentary.

    But the Americanistic affinity groups structure with its inherent ideology of small groupism became an end in itself, satisfying a revolutionary critique of class and state but avoiding the global next step of entering either guerilla war, workplace organisation or elections. The existance and program of the affinity group was enough of itself and has created a self satisfying alternative to engaging in any modes of power at all.

    The bible of affinity groups “Resource manual for a living revolution” was funded by the U.S. defense force. I remember wondering why they would fund such a thing, but now 30 years later I know.

  6. For the past two and a half years I’ve been involved with Christians Against ALL Terrorism, and the very successful nonviolent direct action (NVDA) we carried off by inspecting the “technical area” of Pine Gap in December 2005.

    A key objective of that action was to demonstrate the powerful effect a well planned and executed small group intervention could produce in a national context, at a time when numbers in the peace movement were small and conditions were hard. Here’s a reflection I wrote about my experiences in that action Here’s an article about it from Frank Brennan (a Jesuit priest and hero of mine) from Eureka Street this month.

    It has always been my intention to follow up Pine Gap NVDA 1 with Pine Gap NVDA 2. (Persistence produces results).

    In consultation with the Pine Gap 4, I used the conclusion of our recent appeal to announce that a second Citizen’s Inspection of Pine Gap Terror Base by Christians Against ALL Terrorism will occur at dawn on ANZAC Day, 25 April, 2008. This announcement has received considerable coverage and ongoing interest from media, both mainstream and independent, across Australia.

    I’ve booked Campfire in the Heart, a retreat centre in a community of prayer and hospitality at Alice Springs, between 19 April and 3 may 2008 to act as a base from which to organise the next Act of interventionary NVDA.

    If you want to explore nonviolent interventionary action, share insights, hone your skills, or celebrate the developing peace networks on earth, come to Campfire in the Heart this April for ANZAC Day. Participate in your way in a full range of available nonviolence activities and options (including solidarity actions for the Samuel Hill 4 who are on trial 24 April in Rockhampton for Talisman Sabre 07). There’s some possibility we’ll do a vine and fig tree liturgy/action. ).

    A small group of loving activists committed to nonviolence can do anything!

    We’ll be seeking 4-6 people from among locals and visitors to make the dawn attempt on ANZAC Day – to penetrate the Technical Area of the Pine Gap Terror Base. I’ll be one of them, and my Grandfather mate Terry Spackman will be another.

    There will be solidarity actions around Australia and in New Zealand.

  7. Ian,

    In my 30 years of experience “brushing aside” serious nonviolent anti-war resistance is what the Australian peace movement seems to do best,

    You can see this in the initial peace convergence post. Why do they only direct the reader to the peace convergence website?

    “If you haven’t read or heard the news visit

    when they could direct the reader to the primary source PG4 website

    Why do they want messages of solidarity sent/filtered through via peace convergence?

    There’s a soft exploitation going on here from moderate (in politics and praxis) groups like peace convergence of the more radical (in most cases in Australia now christian faith based) groups willing to take the risks of nonviolent direct action.

    We experienced a lot of this when working with East Timorese resisters in Liverpool (England) in the ’90’s. We (Catholic Workers and East Timorese) would pull off NVDA at British Aerospace in Lancashire and their would be a flurry of press releases from NGO’s in London, with no mention or contact details of how to support those who were before the courts as the result of NVDA.

    Those who took the risks at Shoalwater were predominantly radical Christians who have a well developed beliefs and praxis. They have their own websites,

    , their own statements and press releases that could be referred to which Peace Convergence neglects to include and then imposes their own interpretation of events.

    “Shoalwater arrestees go to court this month. Court cases are scheduled for 20th and 27th March. Send messages of solidarity and support to (we will pass them on). Read press release below.

    “This is an important time to be challenging our relationship with the United States having just marked the fifth year of war in Iraq. Recently President Bush vetoed legislation that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods such as waterboarding (a method that simulates drowning) to break suspected terrorists. The Chamorro people hold concerns that the US military buildup will accelerate the destruction of their culture – 17,000 US marines will be moving to Guam beginning in 2012.” ”
    Peace Convergence doesn’t appear to have well developed politics – the interpretation of events is most likely defined by the smaller Anti Bases Campaign which in the past has been unapologetically Stalinist. In terms of the movement in the U.S. it is the Stalinist ANSWER that calls the shots, imposes the politics and sets the agenda.

    There is a continuing tension between the “movement managerial class” who set up these big actions (eg. OTS 07) basically as publicity stunts and the nonviolent direct actionists who put themselves on the line.

    The bureaucrats rely on those willing to take the risks to create the tension which attracts the mainstream media that gives them a platform to pontificate, interpret events, push their profiles, and in this case fading rock stars and filmmakers attempting to push their product cd’s & dvd’s (less successfully than the hi drama low risk posturing of Garret at Jabiluka blockade).

    The lead up campaign to OTS 07 was largely based on the promotion of a dodgy dvd that had been rejected by both the ABC and SBS. It was highly unlikely that depleted uranium was ever used at Shoalwater and it should never had been the central issue in the campaign.

    A campaign that obviously should had been anti-war and expansive rather than anti-nuclear and nimby.

    Attracting the mainstream media is not the main priority of those resisting and putting their liberty on the line, so they are vulnerable to being hijacked by self appointed movement spokespeople.

    Although they need them, the movement managerial class find the direct actionists a hassle if they are not totally submissive and disposable, or not easily starstruck and flattered to join the in-group, become housebroken and aspire for upwardly mobile in the movement.

    They find resisters problematic who would rather speak for themselves and to what motivated them to act.

    Last year, I was contacted by some of the interstaters arrested at OTS07 who felt the legal back up was pretty slack from those who had invited to travel 1500 miles up there and get busted. I put them in contact with a radical Queensland lawyer and then went down to Melbourne for a series of post-arrest/heading to court (and maybe prison) reflections.

    The ones I met are a solid crew, bright with a well developed praxis that locates with in community, with the poor and capable of confronting the war-making state directly.

  8. it continues…..IAN

    “With Palm Sunday having come and gone it seems timely to assess where ‘the peace movement’ is at. ”

    There is quite a bit of assessment following the 5th. anniversary of the war and my initial post is part of that.

    I read a recent one critiquing the left by Alexander Cockburn’s on Counterpunch website and there is also a War Resisters League .

    “I am wondering why the PG4 and their lawyers did not take up this point and go for the customary re-trial? Was this tactic put forward? If so what was discussed and why was a decision taken to go along with the Chief Justice who was clearly against a retrial and the embarrassment it may caused the federal government and its various authorities?”

    Are you saying the Prosecution were willing to go to trial under the Defence Undertakings Act where they would have to reveal the nature of Pine Gap? or were they going to proceed with a prosecution withoutout the Defence Undertakings act? OR were they going to proceed an appeal the previous ruling on having to reveal the nature of the base?

    You might have a point there, I would assume the PG4 were exhausted after 2 years with minimal solidarity, the enormous mileage involved and they had taken their witness against Pine Gap as far as they could. Maybe if they had experienced more solidarity they could have taken it further?

    “I note that Stop the War collective, the group that organised Palm Sunday, and had Adele Goldie (one of the PG4) as a keynote speaker on the day, remains silent on all of these questions. If they do support PG4, do they support the actions of PG4? How and to what extent?”

    Putting out press releases celebrating the PG4 victory after the fact hardly qualifies as solidarity. As you point out one of their rare invitations to speak at a mainstream peace movement event comes after it is all over.

    Do you really think that the Stop the War Collective would have invited Adele Goldie or any serious anti-war direct actionist to speak if they weren’t so desperate, dateless and in decline and Adele and her cohorts hadn’t been the subject of recent media attention and about the only show in town in terms of anti-war activism? Who was doing who a favour here?

    Cast your mind back to the Cindy Sheehan visit to Brisbane. It was the largest anti-war gathering in Brisbane since the mobilisation of Feb 03. There were members of the Pine Gap crew present (facing max 7 years) there was myself present (facing max 10 years) and there were people calling for direct action at the up and coming Operation Talisman Sabre 07.

    The organisers of the event made no mention of these upcoming trials and actions…they were using Sheehan’s profile to push their next “rrrrrreally big rrrrrrrrrrally”.

    Sheehan of course is a convinced nonviolent direct actionist and (according to Cockburn pretty much single handedly put the war back on the agenda in the U.S. thtough her NVDA at Bush’s ranch and multiple arrests elsewhere.

    I regret that on the night in question time I did not ask her to reflect on her own experience of NVDA rather than get up as I did to make a plea for soldarity with the PG4.

    The Palm Sunday rally is a leftover of the George Georges legacy and those who pursue it maybe doing it as a sort of memorial to him (he was a very nice guy) but it was always dominated by the CP and the ALP.

    The left would rather provide a platform for Labor politicians than one for people nonviolently resisting the war machine.

    This the same Australian Labor Party which is now in government going open slather on uranium mining, dovetailing the British Labour Government which announced this week a major escalation in league with France to spread nuclear power around the world.

    The stack and counterstack machinations and manipulations that surround these movement fronts and campaigns have all the viciousness of the market and little of socialist principles of solidarity and mutual aid. I sincerely believe a lot of these groups see the war as a great marketing opportunity. They see the anti-war market needs to be competed for and controlled and other NVDA voices need to be marginalised.

    I use to get pissed off and uptight about this behavior when I had expectations of the Labor Party and the left. I don’t have such expectations now, so I don’t have predictable disappointments.

  9. Ciaron,

    I think that PG4 and/or their immediate supporters are better placed than I to answer all the why’s and wherefore’s of the Pine Gap 4 appeal in the NT Supreme Court.

    As you would be aware, nothing substitutes for being there, being part of the group, certainly not the mere reading of the transcripts which was the source of much of my knowledge. Regarding your point about the prosecution going to re-trial on the DSU charges despite the legal requirement to lead evidence on national security, I am unable to read the minds of the prosecution, however I would say that prosecutors can be incompetent.

    Also the higher the court that you find yourself in, the more likely are the judgments to be political rather than a technical application of the law, the trial judge did not wish to hear matters relating to the actual purpose of Pine Gap, the Appeal court found a way of ensuring this did not happen by not ordering a re-trial.

    The crux of the weakness of legal action is that activists aims are not only decided by political bias, they can turn on judges’ interpretation of delicate points of law. For the lawyers it is the fun of the lucrative game; for activists, legal decisions can be disastrous, or frustratingly indecisive.

    On your comments regarding Stop the War Collective [STWC] I know little because I have not been able to attend meetings of the STWC; however, through LeftPress, I have provided STWC with frequent assistance with our PA system and from that practical engagement with the group I do know that there have been genuine attempts made by members of the STWC in Brisbane to keep resistance to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan going. However it is not for me to pass judgement on whether they are doing the right thing since I have not been part of their decision making process.


    On a more general level, as a person who marched as a young student in the demonstrations against the Vietnam War, the reality is that there will be no significant resistance in Australia to these wars until the lives of ordinary people are directly affected in some way. For example, if the Rudd government introduces conscription, resistance would begin as it did after conscription was introduced during the Vietnam War. For those doubting the possibility of conscription to fight wars alongside the US, just yesterday the Australian defence minister, Fitzgibbon, went against military advice, and ordered that young Australians from schools and Universities be given work experience in the armed forces. However that step by the minister is calculated not to give the peace movement much scope for resistance. With economic downturn and rising unemployment, it may act as an inducement for young working class people to enter the military especially to get a trade or apprenticeship.

    While Rudd’s backers may be contemplating a move towards conscription, the social and economic crisis in the US may intervene prior to that (which already exists there in the economic sense, as working class people are driven into the armed forces by economic need) .The economic and social cost is partly due to the cost of the Iraq war.

    Despite constant re-assurances by Labor government ministers, I do not think that Australia will escape the coming US recession/depression because it has been brought on by a financial crisis that exists here as well as there; and, on this occasion, will not be prevented by recent economic growth in China.

    Many people have already been thrown out of their homes for failure to pay mortgage payments.

    I do not know of any progressive political organisation or union in Australia that has made practical steps to prepare for the coming recession even though the economic warnings of increasing household debt have been out there for at least five years.
    People often get lost in where to put their energy, others dismiss the warnings as being too economy focussed, humans continue to be slow to change…


    My first ever anti-war march was the Vietnam Moratorium in May 1970 in Brisbane, at a time when the Vietnam War has been waged for over 10 years.

    This was the first big march in Brisbane against that war. While marches are only one barometer of resistance to war, they do show general concern by people. That march like others only came about as a result of years of the smaller acts of resistance of the type that you have engaged in down through the years — I can’t believe that it is 17 years since you disarmed the B 52 in New York state prior to the ‘first’ Gulf war.

    Ian Curr
    26 March 2008

  10. Email to Pine Gap 4 Supporters says:

    Dear friends

    Last week the judges of the NT Court of Criminal Appeal published the reasons for their decision to grant our appeal.

    I have attached the document for those who are interested in the legal arguments surrounding our case and the use of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952. [Editor’s Note: not attached here but may be requested by email]

    ABC Radio National’s Law Report will run a story about our case in its program next Tuesday, April 1 (if not then a week later) which includes an interview with n Merkel. The Law Report goes to air at 8.30am Tuesdays and is repeated at 8pm. Audio of the program and transcripts are available on its website. See

    Meanwhile, Jesuit Priest and Professor of Law, Fr Frank Brennan wrote an article about our case for the Eureka Street website, link below

    And our ecumenical support continues with this story on a Uniting Church website:

    Finally below is a message (and invitation) from Bryan Law about his plans to return to Pine Gap next month. [Editor’s note Bryan’s invitation is included above]

    best wishes

  11. Well what the hell, since I started I may as well conclude my critique of Peace Convergance performance as a response to the joint military exercises Talisman Sabre 07.

    As mentioned before, the political immaturity of peace convergance leaves itself open to the agenda setting of the small Stalinist “Anti Bases Campaign” but in this case it left itself open to the wholesale hijacking by a film maker pushing a product. I have never before witnessed a politcal campaign so hijacked to push a dodgy product. There really is a PhD on post modernism in here some where in terms of the MEDIATED REALITY (a dvd on DU that had been rejected by the ABC and SBS in desperate need of alternative marketing strategy) and the REALITIES of US/Australia warmaking in Iraq & Afghanistan, a joint military exercise in central Queensland between these forces and potential resistance to it.

    I think Depleted Uranium is a serious issue. I was surprised to find myself one of the few people raising it at the 1998 Jabiuka Blockade (7 years after it had been used in the inItial Gulf War). In 1998, the Jabiluka campaign, the films and propaganda around it was largely ignorant of depleted uranium – it wasn’t part of the broader campaign. It was injected into the broader campaign by the Jabiuka Ploughshares action, court witness, statement etc

    I don’t think uranium and DU should have been central issues to organise around in terms of resistance to Talisman Sabre 07, I seriously doubt if DU has ever been used at Shoalwater. Attempting to link it the birth deformities experienced by a local christian couple was cheap and exploitative. This uranium emphasis became a liabilty as Peter Garret, a good mate of the DU film maker, delivered the ant-uranium movement’s head on a platter to the ALP conference pre- OTS 07, shook Rudd’s hand ., sold us out and sealed the deal etc.

    Meanwhile the peace convergence website had become a fanzine for the filmmaker and his product. In a fit of sychophancy peace convergance handed the organising direction over to the artist (lunatics taking over the assylum, opportunist artists taking over the movement, go figure?)….who directs a renactment of period celebration of WW2 defeat of facism by OZ and U.S. parade into the latta land of West End on the weekend before the exercise. He directs us “to cut our hair, don our Sunday best and not to offend Kevin Rudd’s sensibilities”….this seemed to be the strategy his mate Garret was pursuing at the ALP conference. This was leading the movement into the dead end of West End one week out from the exercises. It created zero tension and media (which was its stated objective) It exposed the film maker as clueless in terms of politcal organsing and he has hopefully since concluded to stick to making the moveies and retire as a movement tactician…but hey the guy has always wanted to direct!

    This was such a missed opportunity on a day when there were 4,000 sailors & marines form the U.S. Kitty Hawk in Brisbane, A warship used extensively in killing Iraqis – but alas the killing of Iraqis wasn’t the issue peace convergance was organising around (It was all DU as the doc had told us) There was no tension in the air at all with this U.S. military deployment to Brisbane. To create some tension all the assembled would have had to do was turn around march out of West End up to a motel on Petrie Terrace where U.S. officers in uniform and pilots in jumpsuits from the USS Kitty Hawk were billeted,

    Assembling outside of this motel (in a similar way protesters had assembled outside the nearby Tower Mill during the racist Springbox Tour of ’71) would have created a major security problem…there would have been a good chance that ASIO/Commonwealth cops would have removed the U.S. military from the hotel- scoring a significant early victory for the movement.

    The movement should have planned for early NVDA in Brisbane during the Kitty Hawk visit – much more accessible to a larger group and easier terrain for people than the hike to Rocky etc. But the movement had dumbed itself down into being an anti-uranium, nimby issue (I would contend primarily to promote this guy’s DVD) rather than running with an expansive anti-war theme.

    As pointed out before the serious resistance at Talisman Sabre did not come form the organisers (peace convergance or ABC) who are always more interested in posturing and tussling over media spokesperson positions or those who “converged” but the fauth based affinity groups who had deployed to the area with a plan. Also the more spontaneous anarcho lock on of a military vehicle in Rocky was brilliant!

    The media pretty much censored the peace convergeance…the biggest spread was a feature article a few weeks later “When Doves Cry”,23739,22184253-5003425,00.html

    It’s worth a read. The main photo is of two activists attempting to publicly fuck against the war. (Apparently our erstwhile documentary maker filmed this…. so a future career in soft porn may await!) Whoever thought this was good idea, and the absence of any body of thought to suggest that it wasn’t, reflects on the immaturity of the convergeance. Given that one of the partcipants was at the same time in court trying to access his kids from a scorned wife plenty pissed with the affir he thought would be a good idea to turn into a public statment against OTS. A lot of kids get into radical politics for a while for therapeutic raesons,, they’re angry at their parents so they yell at the cops. This well covered action takes to another level.

    So there you go ……..for what it’s worth some criticisms of the peace convergeance, radical politics as marketing tool, the Oz movement in the post Peter Garret/Midnight Oil sell out and the dangers of swooning after celebs A list or B list, some ideas for the next time the U.S. military comes to town> As Peace candidate Kevin Rudd announvces “We’re in Afghanistan for the long haul!”

  12. Hi groovers,

    I’ve been meaning to respond to Ian’s first post, but I’ve been ill, and when not ill, busy.

    1/ We (Jim and I) were never really offered a re-trial, or an opportunity that we recognised to argue for one. Ron Merkel QC, acting for Adele and Donna argued against a re-trial on the grounds that it would serve no purpose, and “enough is enough”. If I’d had a chance I’d have asked for a re-trial.

    A key practical reason the judges refused a re-trial was that we’d had a mix of convictions under the Crimes Act and DSU, and apart from Jim, we’d all served time to completely discharge those sentences. Therefore a new conviction or otherwise would draw no new sentence.

    I know there are arguments about the way we chose to serve our time. But there was never any guarantee we’d get a re-trial anyway. That would have been at the discretion of the CDPP.

    So I’m going to attempt a re-trial by re-offending and challenging the government to either prosecute me under the DSU again, or abolish it. There is already some national interest in this proposal.

    I agree with Ian. There are very useful legal issues to run if we can just get charged again.

    2/ I’m going to jump a bit and denounce John Tracey’s faux analysis of movement politics before I comment on the broader peace movement in Australia today.

    I got all misty-eyed thinking about the Marxist purity of articulating the relations of production and economic necessity through shared blood sweat and beers with the workers, walking hand in hand through the valley of enlightened self interest.

    John also says that small affinity groups have no “real” institutional social power (like a guerrilla army, a union, or an elected office). It’s a mere personalist expression of futile powerlessness.

    In some ways you’re right.

    Basic nonviolence theory says there are three kinds of power: Personal Power, Group Power, and Institutional Power. Personal power is developed and exercised by individuals in pursuit of a powerful self, able to negotiate with reality on the basis of ability and awareness. Call it “power within”. Group Power is developed and exercised by numbers of powerful individuals who choose to cooperate in shared tasks and projects. It can be called “power with”. The sum is greater than the parts. Group power summons up and relies on each group member being as personally powerful as possible.

    Institutional power takes on a quality of hierarchical organisation that requires personal power to be contained and channelled in ways which serve a set of rules and procedures that hold an institution together. Trade Unions are much different to Labor or neighbourhood Syndicates. Institutional power can be “power over”, and become exploitative and domineering.

    My choice to organise with affinity groups is deliberate, because I believe I can exert a positive and productive influence through that work. I say that the success of Christians Against ALL Terrorism conclusively demonstrates the effectiveness of nonviolence theory and the affinity group structure.

    As an expression of small group nonviolent power the Pine Gap 4 has been an absolute cracker.

    Yes, we are four very different people. We not only disagree on matters of faith, money and the Labor Party, we sometimes find each other very very annoying. The only thing we could agree on was to do our best to use our action at Pine Gap to mobilise against war and for peace. Along the way we made friends, created networks, built capacities and participated in community-based peace-making that improved and empowered everyone who came into contact with it. I submit it’s correct policy. (If only more people did it yada yada yada).

    Ciaron’s analysis about the real numbers of people need to become proficient in and use interventionary nonviolence to create profound change is also correct. The numbers are low. The question is how to inspire and mobilize them? (because in reality we don’t yet have even those low numbers).

    The Pine Gap 4 got a lot more attention and assistance from churches and faith groups than it did from the mainstream. The Christian tag makes all the media coverage, and there seems to be a global resurgence in Christian peace-making that we plug into. Ciaron made plenty of links.

    It’s a program I’m going to stick to.

    3/ The Secular peace movement. It has its uses, but they’re not many, and not worth much.

    Appears overwhelmingly “left” and “white” and seems filled with wankers and wannabe bosses who’ll never sacrifice one iota of personal comfort or privilege to stand with the poor and oppressed on any terms other than their own. Never. These people contend for and monopolise microphones, media conferences, and organising roles.

    [At this point I experienced heart failure and had considerable difficulty breathing. I spent 8 days in Cairns Base Hospital being stabilised, diagnosed, and treated for a nest of problems. I came back home today to recuperate and prepare for further tests and treatment in a few weeks’ time. While I got a chance to re-evaluate some of life’s key questions, It didn’t change my experience of, or thinking about the Talisman-Sabre exercises at Shoalwater bay in June 2007. I’m going to respond to Ciaron’s critique soon. I’m going to post this now ‘cos it’s just been sitting on my desktop while I’ve been elsewhere].


  13. Good to hear you are out of hospital Bryan. Take it easy.

    I’m in Belfast.

    The forthcoming trial of the Raytheon 9 gets underway in May and is slated for 6 weeks.
    Encourage all to check out their website
    and do what you can solidarity wise.
    The defendanst are leading the way – having visited Lebanon where Raytheon bombs killed and destroyed and have started a charity for those maimed and rebuilding.

    Much solidarity

  14. Hello Bryan,

    Thanks for clearing up my question in Comment # 1 above.

    The attorney general would have to be pretty stupid to charge people who enter Pine Gap under the DSU Act again – especially given the view of the trial judge and the court of appeal that it means the government would have to call evidence to justify that Pine Gap is used in the defence of Australia.

    It is not as if previous Labor governments were not aware of the implications of the DSU legislation – remember how a previous defence minister [Robert Ray] revoked the original declaration under s 6 of the DSU Act in 1992 to exclude the reference to the defence of ‘other countries’ – this declaration was in the original 1968 memorandum about Pine Gap issued by Defence Minister Fairbairn.

    For those who are just tuning into this discussion the DSU Act purported initially to defend the interests of ‘other countries’ [which meant Britain in 1952 and the US in 1968] as well as Australia.

    Unfortuneately, the calling of evidence by the crown about the real purpose of Pine Gap was something that a group like PG4 was going to get only one chance to expose in a trial.

    That chance was missed, and this is not a criticism of PG4. It takes a lot of organisation, clarity of purpose and support to take advantage of such chances. You also need lawyers who would almost certainly be reluctant to move from a defence of civil liberties to embark on a legal campaign against the state. These actions can be expensive if you win, but even more expensive if you lose.

    In the end, a conservative court would probably accept some bogus version of what Pine Gap does rather than, in the words of the trial judge, entertain the “farcical situation where the Crown would have to call evidence on matters of national defence”.

    If I am right about all this, then wouldn’t the opponents of Pine Gap need to reconsider the merits of going into Pine Gap again?

    PG4 has already established for those concerned and who did not already know the real purpose of Pine Gap i.e to prosecute wars of aggression in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Therefore, short of closing Pine Gap down, I can see little point in people repeating an action that PG4 has achieved already.

    I hope you get well soon,

    In solidarity

  15. Report, photos and audio of “Reporting War” Debate have put up the video of this debate:
    (2 hours)

    Reporting War Tag Teams

    DIT, Aungier St., Dublin

    Panel includes:
    Pepe Escobar – Asia Times / Real News Network
    Dahr Jamail – Independent Journalist, author “Beyond the Green Zone”
    Patrick Smyth – Irish Times Foreign Editor
    Joe Zefran – News Editor
    Harry Browne – DIT lecturer
    Ciaran O’Reilly – Anti-war Activist
    Fergal Keane – RTE Journalist

  16. Hi Bryan,

    Your denunciation of my “faux analysis” is noted. However I also note that you provide no critique of what I say except a cheap shot about marxism (which is funny as I am always taking cheap shots at marxism myself).

    How do you explain the role of unions in the anti uranium movement? The unions were of course always at the marches. However, the two direct action campaigns that I was a part of was the blockade of the wharves in Brisbane and the occupation of the Ben Lomond mine site near Townsville – In both instances most information about the work sites was provided by unions and the wharves and Ben Lomand were shut down by union walk-offs when protests were occuring. Your ideological dismissal of institutional power is a re-writing of history, especially in terms of the dynamics of direct action history. My recent posts on BT indicate that I have no faith at all in the union movement today, but history is history and the unions were central to the old anti nuclear movement, especially direct action campaigns.

    I also notice that you fail to give any explaination at all about how a “powerfull self” can in any way be relevant to the genocide in Iraq or elsewhere without institutional political power. Your enthusiasm for non-violence theory is obvious but your explanation of why is not so obvious. You refer to Ciaron’s 1% theory but, like Ciaron, you naively dismiss the capacity of a brutal state to comfortably deal with such action. In the past you have said that your strategy was to provoke the brutality of the state in order to catalyse some form of blow-back. This is the same passive aggressive motivation that drives half hearted suicide attempts – a pathetic cry for attention.

    I would be very curious to hear why you thought CAAT was a success and why PG4 was “a cracker”. – what has it achieved beyond a personal ego trip for the participants?, especially in terms of Iraq/Afghanistan etc.? I find your statement on webdiary…… ” We sent a shock-wave through the US space war agencies”…… to be delusional, reminiscent of a goofy pep talk to a losing football team. I don’t see how the war machine has been affected in any way by PG4. Much of the PG4 propaganda has focussed on the great successes of getting media coverage – how does this help at all?

    You said the peace movement ….. “Appears overwhelmingly “left” and “white” and seems filled with wankers and wannabe bosses who’ll never sacrifice one iota of personal comfort or privilege to stand with the poor and oppressed on any terms other than their own. Never. These people contend for and monopolise microphones, media conferences, and organising roles.”

    This is clearly a hateful, resentful, untrue and nasty characature of a movement which, I suggest, defies all principles of non-violence. If we can love our enemies, why must we hate our allies? It seems to me that the real white wank here is your movement’s misrepresentation of the philosophy and strategy of Ghandi and King, reducing the collective and cultural power inherent in their movements to a simple matter of personal growth and individual or small group action.

    Your ideological and pop-psychological dismissal of institutional power may well serve your egos and reinforce in you the importance of being separate from the infidels, but it is basically personalised, self serving fantasy.

    The real resistance to U.S. imperialism is the sort of thing documented on the B.T. post “A diary of resistance”

    Personalised responses to the war such as PG4 and the Shoalwater bay convergence are just detatched and powerless commentary.

  17. Bryan Law says:

    Hi John,

    I’m not going to get into a discussion about the historical role of unions, especially given that you go on to dismiss their contemporary nature and relevance. If you want us to connect to institutional power – I give you the Church.

    I love the way you locate the “real” locus of resistance or change away from the here and now. It’s with union power that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s with the armed resistance movement in Iraq. It’s not here, not now, and not within range of anything I can do. (Sounds like an excuse to me)

    Certainly the PG4 have sought media coverage as part of what we do. We put it in the basket of building awareness. In this regard we built awareness of Pine Gap’s role in contemporary warfighting, in Iraq, in Iran, and in relation to China and North Korea. The good thing about this is not that we somehow transformed the purpose and nature of the mass media, but that we used it with an economy of means, and a surfeit of outcome.

    If you’ve read my stuff on Webdiary you’ve read my analysis that the most important outcome of our efforts has been the facilitation of an emerging network of nonviolence activists who are able to push the envelope in resisting all the direct manifestations of war-fighting found in Australia. (We didn’t start it, we facilitated and expanded it). It’s happening.

    You talk about the state’s capacity for heavy repression, and seem to overlook that our penalties were slight, and that we drew the teeth of the state by rendering their DSU Act unworkable for them. I’m not sure how you can dismiss this as an achievement.

    As for my hateful and nasty characterisation of the secular peace movement, watch out for my next post where I talk about what I saw at Talisman Sabre 07.

    I don’t know why you have trouble accepting the idea that personally powerful people can do more as neighbours and peace activists than the timid and quiescent. Are you afraid to look squarely at the obstacles you confront in your own journey to liberation? Maybe you’re afraid to discover you have an ego too.

    I have quite a healthy ego, and I do my best ego-tripping in front of a mirror. The actions I participate in stand up for judgement on their own merits.

    Next time you write, you might want to tell me more about the theory and practise you engage in, and why it works better than nonviolence.

  18. Bryan,

    Real power here and now (and at the time we last spoke face to face)…….
    My personal priority is facilitating, resourcing, supporting and carrying my own weight in Aboriginal customary law. In the imperialist war in Australia – the real war here and now – the collective and cultural power of customary law has sustained a 150 year violent guerrilla struggle, support and mutual aid through 80 years of incarceration in mission and reserves and has driven the non-violent land rights movement since the release from missions and reserves. Customary law does indeed demand personal change and growth, but in the context of a national, regional, local and family political network.

    Aboriginal customary law and the resistance to colonialism is the real Australian equivalent to Indian Ghandianism.

    It is indigenous customary law that is driving the Iraqi resistance too.

    Your movement does not play a part in customary law, Ciaron goes as far as attacking and villifying it and the PG4 simply engaged in shallow tokenism by incorporating custodial permission into their own separate white philosophy and action.

    As for the church – it is indeed institutional, collective and cultural power and has been since its creation by Emporer Constantine as a universal (catholic) spirituality with which to repress and replace indigenous spiritualities around the globe including the paganism that you identify with.

    Imperialist/colonialist philosophy demands an individualised, personalised philosophy as the basis of social control, the myth of personal salvation or even growth is one that disconnects from political reality.

    The best the church can do is produce meaningless social justice statements, they will never ever mobilise their congregations against the staus-quo or government authorities.

    Jesus himself was a holy person in the context of customary law. The first chapter of the new testament identifies his genealogy and country (including identifying Joseph as his blood father!). Jesus came to fulfill the old law, not destroy it. The old and new testament is the history of indigenous and cultural organisation in defense of god’s law and land. The institutional church in the new testament is clearly identified as the enemy of gods law and land, as collaborators in Roman domination as it has also been a collaborator in British, American and now corporate domination and imperialism.

    Now I do not challenge non-violence and in particular Ghandianism. I consider myself a Ghandian which is why I object to the westernised bastardisation of Ghandi to justify western philosophies, in particular the rejection of violence or any overt conflict inherent in comfortably numb affluent, consmerist western consciousness.

    I suspect you have engaged with mainstream Australia more on the basis of a rejection of violence than a rejection of imperialism and domination. The real resistance in Iraq does indeed involve violence but your movement is incapable of connecting to this resistance in any way (except Donna Mulhearn and the human shields in Iraq). Your movement stands with mainstream Australia in its condemnation of nationalist violence against imperialism. Do Christians against ALL terrorism consider the Iraqi resistance to be terrorism? At best you ignore the resistance, at worst you undermine it in the Imperialist societies. Ghandi said it is better to resist violently than not to resist at all. His absolute was not non-violence but rather satyagraha – truth force. Your movement has embraced non-violence and abandoned the essentiial Ghandian principle of truth force – which has more to do with marxist notions of objective conditions than it has with any pacifist notion of non-violence.
    However, satyagraha is an impossibility without a personal transformation, a change of consciousness that allows the scales to fall from our eyes so that we can see the truth force. Again customary law is relevant because it involves education paradigms such as discipleship and initiation that systematically destroy the illusions of consciousnes and catalyse the re-birth of the truly conscious individual. This is not about facts and figures and information as in western education but about creating a mutation of the mind and psychological processes.

    Ghandi’s satyagraha is firmly rooted in Indian Hinduism, in particular the practice of meditation to purge illusions, social consciousness and entrenched assumptions in order to make room for the infinite reality of god and the cosmos – to be a part of infinite reality rather than an observer looking through cultural and psychological filters.

    So, I am not against non-violence. My answer to your last question is that the union strikes against uranium, the ultimate weapon of a general strike, the consumer boycotts of Ghandi and King, the international boycott of South Africa, etc. are examples of what I consider to work better than your small group interventions. I think the mass protests of ordinary conservative Australians opposing the war have much more relevance to and impact on the Iraqi resistance than your isolated, marginalised and easily dismissed adventurism.

    As for right here right now in Australia as far as Iraq, Afghanistan etc are concerned……

    The energy and development corporations that are in Iraq, the reason for the invasion, are also here in Australia. Haliburtan’s frontline engineering company, Bechtel, has dominated the Australian energy and mining industry for decades. Until recently its global office was in Brisbane. We should be resisting the corporate domination of our own energy and mining industries to challenge resource imperialism, just as the Iraqis are doing. The only people who have successfully done this are Aboriginal people demanding either control of or a share in the profits from mining on their land. Murrundoo Yanner’s challenge to the century Zinc mine (built by Bechtel) a couple of years ago is an example of how to resist international energy and mining companies. There was nothing non-violent in Yanner’s rhetoric of the warriors coming to fight and sabotage the pipelines, but in reality this sort of threat based on real and tangible collective power was and is successfully used by some Aboriginal people in their negotiations with mining companies. Yanner did not get the land back or all the profits from extraction, but they did use real power to achieve real things. Similarly the Mirrar resisted mining on their land because of the broad political momentum they built. It was real engagement in the political process that has stopped (stalled?) Jabiluka mining, not the power of symbolic direct action.

    I cannot see a line between opposition to war and opposition to fossil fuels (and uranium). We in the west are essentially consumers, the choices about what we consume and the possibilities of boycotts and technological innovation (solar and wind etc.) is the most profound way we can challenge the power of imperialism.

    Symbolic icons such as Pine Gap are just irrelevant illusions to the real superstructure of imperialism – resource and energy markets. If ideological protest at iconic sites do not connect in some way to either economic forces or a developing collective power to be able to engage economically then it is just commentary, the expression of opinion in public, even if you do get arrested and go to gaol.

    I can’t see any victory in the challenge to the DSU. My own opinion is it was a political fix by the new government to avoid martyrs. But the police and prosecutors have all the legislation they need including new terrorism laws to do whatever they want. You may have embarrassed incompetent prosecutors but you made no dint at all on the war machine. When they want to kill you they will, whether you are a real threat or not. They kill Aboriginal people all the time. Your own white privilege has protected you so far but you cannot rely on it.

  19. Bryan Law says:

    aaaaahh! The noble savage meets economic man.

    I don’t condemn those who turn to violent resistance. I choose not to join or support them in that violence.

    We are more than an economy, and the power of change operates in many fields.

    My program is one of transforming war-fighting supports in Australia to reduce and eventually eliminate the empire’s army. That strikes me as effective anti-imperialism.

    I’m happy for people to choose their own terrain for resistance. I’m less happy to hear anyone claim the One True Way. I’d rather appreciate evryone’s best efforts and figure synergies across the boundaries.

    As for white privilege, I can only be grateful that you didn’t chuck male power at me as well. Still, maybe you’re not a feminist.

    Whatever benefits and opportunities I come across – whether from privilege, God’s grace, or my own creative powers – I use them to express an intention to manifest peace and justice in my life.

    If you think I’m oppressing you, or someone for whom you can speak, let me know and we’ll negotiate a solution. I’m happy to negotiate indigenous customary law with the local folk.

    BTW you make far too many sweeping assertions about “my” movement and its beliefs, practices and attitudes.

  20. “aaaaahh! The noble savage meets economic man.”

    Another unexplained dismissive one-liner, and in this case, racist too.

    “My program is one of transforming war-fighting supports in Australia to reduce and eventually eliminate the empire’s army.”

    I assume you are refering to turning Pine Gap into a peace monitoring facility – nice poetry but totally unrealistic, especially as a starting point to tackle the war machine.

    “I use them to express an intention to manifest peace and justice in my life.”

    Can you suggest anything beyond expressing an intention? Can peace and justice manifest anywhere else other than in your life? If so, where and how?

  21. John,

    I would not be so hard on the PG4.

    Firstly, PG4 sought permission from an Arrente tribal elder, Pat Hayes, to enter Pine Gap. This was both a correct and a political move because neither the Australian or US government’s sought permission from the Arrente to have their spy base at Pine Gap.

    This request may have been the first time anyone had bothered to ask the traditional owners of the land to enter the base.

    In 1977, with the help of the unions (Railway workers, seamen and wharfies) Friends of the Earth and a number of other small groups of people, organised and delayed Uranium shipments from Hamilton No 4 wharf in Brisbane.

    With the economic downturn and lowering of commodity prices for Uranium, I believe these shipments stopped from Brisbane for a number of years. Labor’s three mines policy in the 1980s was the compromise to get Uranium mined and exported.

    Labor’s compromise on Pine Gap may be that they will not charge people who enter the base with the DSU Act. Was it worth it?

    Four people entered Pine Gap, not many, but at least there were four.

    So I can see little point in attacking them.

    In solidarity,
    Ian Curr

  22. Ian,

    The Arrente permission was tokenism. Just like opening meetings with “we acknowledge the traditional owners” – a mantra no more substantial than “God save the Queen”.

    The police have more connection to Arrente customary law than PG4 or any other PG protest did. The police have bothered to learn Arrente and they work with the elders and community every day of the year. They make real relationships and engage in the political reality of customary law. Until the “resistance” can show the Arrente the same level of respect and relationship they are just using politically correct but meaningless rhetoric.

    It is true that nobody asked Arrente to locate P.G. where it is. I bet it is also true that none of the PG4 or broader movement have asked traditional owner permission to occupy the land that they live on. Polite permissions are easy and cheap for transient visitors but the deeper issues of connecting to Aboriginal organisation, structure and process has been ignored.

    The Arrente permission, just like P.G. itself, has been used simply as backdrops to the theatrical proclamations of opinion and ideology.

  23. John,

    I do not think that PG4’s request to the eastern arrente people for permission to enter Pine Gap was tokenism.

    In your comments above, I suspect that you are confusing the hype by the government with what PG4 set out to do and you have unfairly judged them on the basis of that hype. Personally I come from a different perspective to that of the PG4, but I think there are good reasons for why they should be supported for what they did at Pine Gap.

    PG4 engaged in a non-violent protest on a minor scale. But the government (specifically Att-gen. Ruddock, who signed the order to prosecute under DSU Act 1952, and defence minister Hill) blew their action out of proportion because the government did not want Pine Gap exposed for what it is.

    The Australian government want Pine Gap closed off from review by the Australian people. So they dragged PG4 before the courts wasting everyone’s time and tax-payers money not to get at justice but to try to create precedents for hiding the facts about Pine Gap from the Australian people.

    My understanding of what happened when the Arrente people were asked about this use of their land is as follows, it is mainly derived from the court record but also from reading the book “Liberating Pine Gap” available on BushTelegraph.

    Firstly, PG4 asked permission of an Arrente elder to enter their traditional land:

    “On Wednesday morning we sought out Pat Hayes, the traditional Arrente caretaker for the Pine Gap area and asked his permission to walk on his land in order to expose the violence of the base which occupied part of that land.

    “No permission had ever been sought or given for Pine Gap to be used by the military.

    “However Pat graciously gave us permission to enter the area.”

    Later Pat Hayes agreed to give evidence in the court on their behalf.

    The Attorney General, the prosecution and eventually the trial judge did everything they could to prevent the elder giving evidence on PG4’s behalf.

    If the request by PG4 was tokenism, why did Pat Hayes support PG4 throughout this process, going to their meetings and even turning up in court to be cross-examined in an atmosphere of hype and threat of big jail terms?

    Remember, PG4 stuck to their guns, what they began in 2005, they pursued in 2006, and again in 2007 and so on … Of course you would know the long history of the activism of Mulhearn, Dowling and Law. Mulhearn went to Iraq to help kids, could have been killed at Fallujah, came back and made the link with Pine Gap, not merely with words but with action in concert with the others. The same could be said of all four – they barely fit your description in any sense. I am not making them into matrys, I am saying that they followed through on their convictions.

    One of the PG4, Jim Dowling, went on to make the argument in court about the land rights aspects of that case:

    THE ACCUSED, DOWLING: When was the Base opened at Pine Gap?

    MR BURGESS (deputy chief of Pine Gap Base) – When was it opened?

    DOWLING: Yes?

    BURGESS -They started work at the facility in 1967.

    DOWLING: Are you aware of any contract or agreement with the eastern Arrente people who were there for the previous 40,000 years before that?

    BURGESS – Am I aware of any agreement with them?

    DOWLING: To take over that land?

    BURGESS – I don’t believe there was any agreement with them.

    DOWLING: Right, so the land was just taken?

    BURGESS – The land was acquired by the Commonwealth.

    DOWLING: So you would understand if some people would think that it was still owned by the Arrernte people if there was never a new agreement to take – – –

    HER HONOUR: Mr Dowling, that is not relevant and Mr Burgess cannot give evidence about how some other people may feel.

    DOWLING: My contention is that it belongs to Eastern Arrente people and we were given permission by the traditional caretaker of that land to be there that night and we’re going to produce more evidence in regard to that.

    This application by Dowling became the subject of a mini-enquiry by the Crown into whether permission was ever sought by the government to use traditional lands of the eastern arrente people for Pine Gap. I recollect later in the trial the prosecution even called evidence on these matters. Of course, no such permission was found because none was ever given. The same is true of the use of Maralinga for A- bomb tests by the British in the 1950s.

    Pine Gap is not just ‘a symbolic icon’ or an ‘irrelevant illusions to the real superstructure of imperialism’ it has a real military role that is of more significance in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan than troops on the ground. I think Bryan Law made this case well in their book “Liberating Pine Gap”:

    “From what is known outside the official record , Pine Gap is a vital component of war-fighting in Iraq. It’s monitoring of radar, cell-phone, radio, and long-distance telephone communication enables it to provide targeting information for US air and ground forces.”

    If I am wrong about anything I say here through faulty memory or have left out a relevant fact, someone from PG4 can correct me.

    For more background on what traditional owners think about Pine Gap and how the case unfolded read PG4: Crime and Punishment and other articles and pictures on BushTelegraph about this case.

    Ian Curr

  24. The Nunuwal opened the new parliament, elders gave full support. Does this mean the parliament respects customary law or just used the symbolism to advance their own agenda?

    The inherent contradiction of the illegal siting of P.G. could be used to promote Arrente agendas such as land rights and self determination or it could have been used to promote the agendas of the white visitors. Which occured?

    In the context of the historical conditions, in particular the Howard/Brough attacks on N.T. Aborigines throughout the CAAT timeframe, the reduction of the Aboriginal agenda to a question of permission is indeed tokenism. The real connections that were possible in the NT (or where the activists live) was simply never on the agenda.

  25. To Pinegap4supporters: Latest news and next steps… email from Donna Mulhearn Mon 14/04/2008 3:16 PM

    Dear friends,

    Since our last e-mail which included an invitation from Bryan to join him at Pine Gap later this month, his health has unfortunately taken a turn for the worst.

    He recently suffered heart failure, water on the lungs and internal bleeding and was hospitalised for about a week. He is now at home and sounding well but will continue to undergo treatment and tests – but an order from the Doctors was: no flying for the time being.

    This means the Pine Gap action scheduled for Anzac Day will be postponed until further notice. We’ll keep you posted.

    I’m sure you join all of us in wishing Bryan a speedy recover and good health.

    For those who didn’t catch the Law Report, you can listen to it and read the transcript at:

    And today an excellent article on Pine Gap and our trial appears on Richard Neville’s website. Richard Neville is a wonderful Australian futurist, social commentator and writer who is not afraid to tackle the hard issues and speak the truth.

    I believe this is the most up-to-date, comprehensive and readable article currently on the web about Pine Gap and its secretive function. I highly recommend you take a look.

    Now that the trial and appeal has run its course, this e-mail list will not be utilised unless we have more news in relation to Pine Gap.

    But we would like to stay in touch with you and invite you to stay engaged with our activities.

    If you would like to follow what Donna is up to, you can join her e-mail list ThePilgrim, by sending an e-mail to
    or send and e-mail to and ask to be put on the list.

    I will have news later in the year about the publication of my book (about my first trip to Iraq) and planned visits to Axis of Evil countries next year including Iran and Afghanistan. So please join the list to stay informed!

    If you would like to follow what Bryan is up to, you can contact him at He will continue to confront US warships in Cairns Port, lobby politicians and will keep you up-to-date with his plans to return to Pine Gap, it’s also worth staying in touch to get to read his excellent reflections on non-violence.

    If you would like to follow what Adele is up to, you can contact her at She is involved with the Peace Convergence that organises actions opposing the US-Australia military war games at Shoalwater Bay. Later this month, she will be supporting activists who were arrested last year as they return to Rockhampton for court action on April 24. See

    If you would like to follow what Jim is up to, you can contact him at Jim will continue his creative non-violent resistance to war, including regular vigils at the Enogerra Military Barracks, Brisbane as well as focusing attention on Raytheon, the dodgy US company that provides the machinery of warfare to the US military and also maintains Pine Gap. You never know what Jim will do next, so be sure to join his e-mail list to find out!

    So, we hope you can continue the journey with us in some way…

    In the meantime, signing off this list for a while.

    Many thanks for your support; it’s been invaluable and much appreciated.

    Peace to all

    on behalf of Bryan, Adele, Jim, Jessica and Sean

    PS: Take a look at this new Australian Veterans anti-war group Exciting stuff – they deserve our full support.
    PPS: Other groups deserving our full solidarity and support are the Samuel Hill 5, ( the Raytheon 9 ( and those organising for the Adelaide Arms Fair.
    PPPS: “One of the most important messages from our entry into Pine Gap is that our security does not lie in bigger or better bombs, bigger and batter targeting or surveillance systems. Our security lies in building better relationships.” Jim

  26. John,

    It was politics that forced executive government to have the Nunuwal people open the new parliament. And, of course the elders gave full support, it was aboriginal political organisation that forced it.

    It was also necessary for the recent federal parliament to recognise the stolen generation – black and white Australia insisted upon it, the executive had no real choice, or they would have gone down just like Howard. Brendan Nelson’s imminent departure from the Liberal leadership can be traced back to that day, when the people outside the parliament turned their back on him in the same way that Koori and Murri people turned their back on Howard.

    It would have been politically foolish for PG4 to ignore the owners of the land at Pine Gap, it was not symbolism, it was necessary.

    And from what I do know about the history of some of PG4 it would not have been tokenism, John, they mean it.


  27. Ian,

    I have no doubt that they mean it. I do not challenge their sincerity or commitment. The gaol sentences and potential gaol sentences indicate a deep personal commitment. It is not the depth of their commitment that concerns me it is the focus of that commitment. I have no doubt that the villified peace bureacrats or even David Bradbury are sincere and committed. But sincerity and commitment alone do not make social change.

    I do not accuse PG4 of opportunistically manipulating the Arrente, they did what they thought was righteous. However the power relations inherent in white/black Australia means that, in the hearts and minds of white folk, Aboriginal perspective has again been co-opted and incorporated into a white frame of reference with no reciprocal journey in to the politics and spirituality of Aboriginal Australia – just like the opening of parliament. Well intentioned but totally within a colonial framework.

    My tokenism criticism is not just related to dealing with Aboriginal perspective. it seems to me that the whole modus operandi of the new christian civil dissobedience movement is based firmly on a psychological and strategic foundation of tokenism and symbolism. despite the very real and profound consequences of their symbolic interventions.

    p.s. I disagree with your statement ” it was aboriginal political organisation that forced it.” The opening, in particular the role of Matilda House has to be understood in the ongoing struggles of the Aboriginal tent embassy. Ms. House is on one side of a bitter tribal argument. Rudds commitment to Ms. House is yet another example of divide and conquer, not the government bowing to Aboriginal power. The simple fact is that while the ALP encouraged the opening, its policy is the extinguishment and dismissal of customary law. The opening was pure tokenism.

  28. p.s.

    I must say that my criticism is not directed to the human shield movement. This is profound as an on the ground strategic intervention as well as publicising and humanising the war to the folks back home.

    I am not sure where this movement came from, it seems to have its roots somewhere else than the traditional peace movement, left and radical christians. It is interesting that Donna seemed the most conservative and willing to embrace the legitimacy of the legal system of the PG4 yet, I believe, she has been the pioneer of a new and effective mode of non-violent action.

    Others have been shields before, especially independant medical and aid teams who go to war zones. But the Iraq shields. as far as I am aware, are unique in the centrality of their media work as the primary strategy rather than medical or aid delivery. As ghandi used the new film technology and Martin Luther King used the new television technology, the Iraqi shields used the new information technology to provide a real “witness” to what was really going on as the bombs landed.

    I don’t know if they managed to neutralise any bombing targets or provide refuge, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. The direct action was, it appears to me, not symbolic at all.

    The shields tackled racism too, I reckon this was their most powerfull psychological impact. While western media audiences engaged in political discussions about what was happening to the Iraqi people, the “other” people somewhere else that exist in our own mind as a theoretical concept, dot points in propaganda, statistics, headlines and a range of other objectification of Iraqi people. However the shields, in particular Donna from my own following of the action, implanted in our collective subconscious the knowledge that one of “us” was over there and might get killed too. A nice, white blond haired christian, one of us, was there and she was sending “us” messages of what she was experiencing. Donna’s non-ideological, non-political description of the suffering of Iraqis is a most powerful message, humanising Iraqi people and confronting Australians with the clear truth (satyagraha) beyond any information about Pine Gap or all the facts and figures of the propaganda and media releases.

    Also, the shields applied themselves to the real conflict as it occurs. PG4 created their own artificial and stage managed conflict, the main forum being the court, not the bloodsoaked ground as the shields did.

    The question still remains, how does this change anything? I believe the shields may have provoked a response in many people, changing their opinion and voting trends, a response that I do not think PG4 have provoked. If anything PG4 would have just concretised the status-quo of for and against opinions.

    The more conservative shields movement does not give any real direction to meaningful long term change, no realistic options for those whose hearts and minds are changed but nor do the radical direct action mob either, despite their intricate analyses of the status-quo and short term collective experiences.

  29. “I must say that my criticism is not directed to the human shield movement. This is profound as an on the ground strategic intervention as well as publicising and humanising the war to the folks back home.

    I am not sure where this movement came from, it seems to have its roots somewhere else than the traditional peace movement, left and radical christians. ”

    You’re right John, the idea comes from Saddam Hussein! He kidnapped a bunch of westerners on the eve of Gulf War 1 and was going to dot them around potential U.S. targets in Iraq. Ramsey Clarke, Muhamad Ali and others went and successfully negotiated their release.

    The human shields project in the second war was a bit of a cock up. There’s quite a good documentary on it that I saw screened on SBS covers the english mutiny on the double decker bus from london, the disillusionment of many well meaning activists as they discover they are suppose to play out a role of stooges for the Baathists. This is not to say that people lke Donna didn’t go on to do great things in Iraq and back home.

    Human Shields project shouldn’t be confused with the Gulf (War 1) Peace Team and the sanctions busting Voices in the Wilderness which of course have their roots in the radical christian direct action tradition in north america (specifically in earlier projects against the U.S. wars in Central America in the 1980’s).

    But this thread…as always with John’s involvement…… digresses away from the issue at hand…back into a white guilt orgy. On most other sites this would be considered trolling an the editor would edit.

  30. Ciaron,

    A friend of mine went into the desert with others to act as human shields in what you call ‘Gulf War 1’ — that is the 1990-1991 war. [There have been so many wars … but I do wish to digress or is it ‘trolling’ (sic)?]

    My friend and his comrades ran out of water.

    They sought and were given food, water and help by local tribespeople.

    The human shields were saved by the Iraqis awaiting bombardment.


    When it was clear they could not perform any worthwhile purpose by being in Iraq, they returned home to Australia.

    Ian Curr

  31. Guam Indigenous Peace Activist Tour Chamorro activists Lisa Natividad & Julian Aguon from Guahan(Guam) will visit Brisbane to tell their stories about living with the US military bases that cover most of their traditional lands.

    Organised by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Australian Anti-Bases Coalition

    In Queensland, Friends of the Earth/Peace Convergence will be coordinating events and activities.

    It would be great to have somethingin Brissy, at Maleny/Sunshine Coast, and if poss on the Gold Coast or NNSW.

    Help wanted!!! with event organisation, arranging meetings with politicians, media, billets, catering, transport-etc!!!

    Phone Kim on 0413 397839 or Robin 0411 118 737

  32. Ian,

    I think you are confusing the Gulf Peace Team (that involved a number of friends from U.S. ( Kathy Kelly, Kathy Boylan, Sr. Anne Mostgomery), England (Mark Chapman, Jimmy Johns, Richard Krump) and Australians (Dean Jefferies, Liz from Tassie, Jim from Briz) and the human shields project. The original shields idea was Saddam’s and it wasn’t voluntary. As you say the Gulf Peace team were in the desert on the Saudi/ Iraqi border not near likely targets nor playing the role of a shield…..Sr. Anne Montgomery returned from Iraq to testify at our New York trial of hearing the B-52’s overhead etc.

    The human shields tactic was adopted by Serb civilians occupying bridges during the NATO bombardment later in the ’90’s

    The Gulf War 2 shields project was initiated a U.S. vet of the first war and there was a lot of the usual (some justified) paranoia around him at the time.

    The Voices in the Wilderness project led by Kathy Kelly has since been pursued through the courts by the Feds. These people have remained engaged in Iraq since the first Gulf War and have their roots in the broader Catholic Worker & Berrigan influenced nonviolent scene

    Good recent news from Guam is a B1 Bomber disarming itself to the tune of $1.2 billion….pilots ejecting safely. There are 3 flights from Guam to Cairns each week servicing U.S. military doing R & R.

    The U.S. military assess Queensland safer than Asia for R & R. And as pointed out earlier on this thread if the lack of tension around last year’s visit of the 4,000 strong U.S. Kitty Hawk is anything to go by….they don’t have a problem.

    I think this thread is useful – a year out from the next Shoalwater exercise to critique the last one, learn from mistakes and the usual dead ends. Don’t get fooled again! Meanwhile some of the christian resisters appear in court in Rockhampton next week for last year’s effort. See their website on my first comment on this thread

  33. Greenpeace going into N test zones and the Sea sheperd whaling stuff is a similar mode to the (non-hostage/non-Sadam) human shield process.


    Are you able to share what your friend expected to achieve in the first place and what changed for them to conclude that they could not perform any usefull purpose?

    on a different issue

    Ciaron said…”well meaning activists as they discover they are suppose to play out a role of stooges for the Baathists.”

    I don’t know what expectations the activists had of their role in Iraq but it seems naive and unrealistic to expect to not to become engaged in the organisations and agendas on the ground in Iraq – willingly or unwillingly. The iraqi resistance is the Iraqi resistance, Baathist and all the other tribal/national groups and international connections, whatever our detatched opinions of it are.

    People in war zones, Iraq or anywhere else fighting for their country will never comply to the high ideals of the western peace movement’s rejection of violence or hierarchy. The struggle in these war zones will never be one that we approve of.

    I dont see how you can connect to Iraq or any other struggle including the Aboriginal or Palestinian struggle without taking sides, without providing real support to someone in particular rather than theoretical support to victims of war everywhere, from Hiroshima to Baghdad.

    I wondered, at the time when invitations to be Iraq shields were publicised, what connections this movement had to a strategy for peace in Iraqi terms, and the necessary connection to and understanding of that process. But perhaps if some even left negotiation of water to the last minute, the complicated process of where to apply relevant focus to protect life may not have occured.

    My own agenda is to assist the peace process in the war in this country, the ongoing genocide yesterday, today and tomorrow. As I have written elsewhere all the elements of the Iraq war – imperialism and global capitalism are manifesting in the same corporate and military structures in this country as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Also, the same phenomenon of ideological/religious detatchment and objectification/sloganisation of the struggle that charachterises the western peace movement also exists in the Aboriginal support movement and the left/green movement in general.

    We have meetings, pickets and marches about the “issues” maybe even NVDA which shines light on the “issues” but we build nothing of substance and assist nobody else to build anything of substance.

    Yesterday apparently there was a picket of Anna Bligh’s office to protest extending the N.T. intervention into Cape York. This essential demand is as innacurate and sensational as was the explaination in the poster. Like the Michael Noonan controversy, the campaign is based on a false assumption. I didn’t hear about it until it was over so I don’t know what happened, but with Cape York elders including the recently re-elected mayor of Aurukun, one of the supporters of the plan demanding things in one of Anna Bligh’s ear and in the other ear she has an inner city/university Brisbane left protest, how powerful will this protest have been?

    Meanwhile. around the corner from the Bligh picket site Murries are routinely rounded up by police to clear West End for safe dining and fine wine sippers. Just over the story bridge every night Murries are attacked and criminalised including Murrie elder and struggle leader Bob Weatherall recently.

    The concern behind many of my comments here is about the huge gap between the political/religious manifestations “about” particular issues and the existential reality of those people and places represented by the “issues” – in Iraq, Cape York or Brisbane.

  34. Ciaron and John,

    My friend was a member of the Australian Gulf Peace Team – here is an account of their objectives from the Dec1990-Jan1991 edition of Non Violence Today:

    “When you read this an Australian team will have flown to Iraq via Amman, Jordan where they will have met peace camp organizers to arrange the next steps to Baghdad and the peace camp, which will be several hundred kilometres away in a stony desert.
    Conditions will be harsh with no running water, low night-time temperatures, scorpions and snakes, but current intentions are for the camp to exist for as long as necessary to prevent the war planned for the 15th of January (1991).” — Jan McNicol

    My understanding is that my friend was forced to return because his team ran out of water being saved from the conditions described above by Jan McNicol by receiving help from the locals. I do not know much more than this. Nothing is served by publishing my friend’s name but please note that it is not in names listed by Ciaron above and I doubt that he would call himself a radical christian.

    Ciaron, there is one crucial difference between the period after “Gulf War One” and the current American occupation of Iraq — Iraq appears to have been a better place under the Baathists than it is under the American military and their puppets.

    This should not be interpreted as an endorsement of Saddam Hussein who spent his political life wiping out political opponents both within and without the Baathist Party … he wiped out the communists first and then … well the rest is history.

    But it is an objective fact that Iraq under Hussein was a better place than it is under the Americans. For one it was both secular and a ‘democracy’ of sorts.

    These days Iraq is run (and is destined to be run) by religious fundamentalists and the military as happened in Iran after 1979.

    Ciaron, you can talk as much as like about Baathist stooges, but it turned out like this, regardless of the supposedly civilising influence of the West in all its forms: be they peace makers or war mongers.

    Ian Curr
    April 2008

  35. There is a book about, and from, the Gulf Peace team. It was quite a sizeable group with a never ending consensus decision making process. There were a variety of political positions and debates within this rapidly assembled group. Some of these involved the interface with the Baathist military.

    When the Baathist moved in and declared the project over I think some of the U.S. Catholic Workers went into noncoooperation. From memory, the Australians co-operated. It ended because the Baathists ended it not because they ran out of water. It’s longest legacy is that it gave rise to the sanctions busting “Voices in the Wilderness” project heavilly Catholic Worker influenced. See Kathy Kelly’s book published by Counterpunch on their website dealing with this history.

    Saddam was not a threat to his neighbors in the 1990’s (the rationael for the U.S.invasion). He was of course always a threat to his people .
    He was a threat to his neighbors when the Brits and U.S. were arming him in the 1980’s and the Irish were selling him beef on credit.

    Iraq is over as an entity, The Kurds are gone the Americans have moved from backing th Sunnis to the Shia and now back to the Sunnis.

    In a lot of ways I don’t understand why the Americans abandoned Saddam, he seemed the best thing going for U.S. foreign policy in the region. It is all free fall now with a likely attack on Iran by this fading U.S. administration.

    There was nothing democratic about saddam, a big fan of Stalin with a huge personal library on the man.


    recently stayed in Belfast with one of the participants and we were chatting about it.

  36. "The more oil, the more Democracy is needed!" -US Senator says:

    There is nothing democratic about ‘democracies’.

    Readers who are interested may wish to have a look at A Diary of Resistance compiled by Ray Bergmann.

    If this diariy shows one thing, it demonstrates how Iraqis want to rid themselves of the occupation by US, Australian, British and other western military.

  37. Thanks for the link Ian. You have given away too many clues, I know who your friend is.

    It seems that the peace teams were in a make it up as they go along mode.

    There is an issue that is common to radical civil disobedience movement, the peace movement, the Aboriginal support movement, and the climate change movement, that is they are all primarily outlets for the urge to action, they allow concern and anxiety to manifest rather than “doing nothing”. The more committed the activist the more intense the personal activity, be it civil disobedience or excessive hours of coffee driven meetings, putting up posters and selling newspapers or it could take the form of hard line veganism and a simple lifestyle.

    Activism serves a similar purpose to counselling and therapy in that it helps the disturbed individual to get it all out, to act on the disturbing things in a self empowering way rather than being consumed and immobilised by them. Grief, relationship breakdown, surviving trauma, and realising the inherent corruption and brutality of the status quo all require an individual response of some sort to simply cope.

    A problem is, the civil disobedience, marching and meeting cycles are purely processes to facilitate individual psychological responses with no serious strategies for social change and engagement except more of the same but next time with more intensity. As long as the personal motivations to act are being satisfied in a program of action there is no reason or pressure to seriously try to work out how to make a difference.

    Radical activists through to moderate networkers alike engage in all sorts of activity that often has little relevance to the issues they are active about, succeeding (or failing) only in affecting the nature of the activists own organisations and agendas.

  38. It seems I guesses wrong who Ian’s friend is. There is another Brisbanite who went too

    Following from the previous comment,

    I believe it is very important to recognise that the personal needs and understandings of peace/left activists are usually different to oppressed or resisting groups that they campaign about or on behalf of. The perspective of the Iraqi Peace Camps or Ploughshares actions was obviously radically different to the Iraqi resistance. I say the perspective of Socialist Alliance and ANTAR are radically different from Aboriginal perspective, intellectualism, modes of organisation and priorities. Western calls for peace in Palestine do not share the same priorities as Hamas or Fatah. Western calls for civil liberties in Zimbabwe are different to the Zimbabwean resistance to colonial domination such as white land title and globalisation.

    The Western peace/justice activist’s personal motivation to action and moral framework for action is radically different from the motivation to resistance inherent in historically oppressed groups who care little for western notions of democracy, radical or conservative, and do not share the absolute rejection of violence inherent in radical pacifists and comfortably numb law abiding citizens alike.

    I do not say non-violence is irrelevant. Ghandi and ML King showed that it is indeed relevant to oppressed groups from their own cultural and historical frameworks. The dialectical energy of Kings’ non-violence clashing with X and the panthers radical embrace of violence is the true nature of historical change, both philosophical positions focusing on the common agenda of community organisation and empowerment. King’s marches and the Panthers’ armed units were not ends in themselves but always as a means to a greater end, real change on the ground.

    Similarly Ghandi’s non-violence was dialectical, as much defined by the violence inherent in indigenous indian society as the riots and death squads of the time were. It was the inherent violence that Ghandi managed to contain and neutralise that was the essence of Ghandi’s non-Violence. If the British authorities defied Ghandi all hell wiill break loose, which ended up happening after Ghandi anyway.

    The western isolated, one-dimensional and non-dialectical moral construct of political non-violence has not emerged as a strategy for social change, although much of its mythology is based on such struggle e.g. India and black America. It has simply been the articulation of a moral framework

    It has emerged as an internal contradiction within a unified persepective of mainstream colonial consciousness and perspective.

    Non-violence, guerilla violence or parliamentary engagement arises in oppressed groups primarily as a strategy for survival, by any means necessary. The basic motivation is so different from the western political activist that it is only in the illusions of the western activist that there is any connection at all.

    The dominant colonial/capitalist sociology does indeed have to change, and those best able to change it are those within it, to resist from within. However the dominant mode must change towards the agenda of the oppressed, on their own terms and from their own perspective. The prophetic minorities within the dominant sociology must be intrinsically connected to and represent the perspective of the oppressed or else the changes they may be able to make will just be a rearrangement of the dominant mode on its own terms. Like the Apology or the troop reduction in Iraq, change within the oppressors own terms is no change at all.

  39. “The perspective of the Iraqi Peace Camps or Ploughshares actions was obviously radically different to the Iraqi resistance.”

    Yeah like we don’t kill anyone or seek state power! John, as Phil Berrigan was fond of saying “This is so much psychobabble!” As Bryan pointed out on this thread it seems like a technique to keep yourself as far away from the action and risk as possible. A typical first word white boy response.

    Anyone interested in returning to the subject of the thread. Critiquing last year’s Peace Convergeance, working on next year’s nonviolent resistance to the U.S. military coming to town – Brisbane or Rocky. I saw a lot of ’em in Brisbane in 07, I saw none of them when I went to OTS 05 in Shoalwater. Besides the back country actions done by the christian resisters I can’t see a lot of reason for transporting people up to Rocky when the U.S. military were much more accessible in Brisbane.

    4 of the resisters – 2x Simon, Krystal and Sarah – are in court next week. Check their website listed on my first entry on this thread.

  40. Ciaron,

    Psycho-babblers, authoritarian Aborigines, uncommited movement bureacrats and the full bag of personal insults that you and some of your colleagues throw at any perspective that in any way challenges your own, indicates the shallow emotiveness of your politics and so-called spirituality. You lack any substance to fall back on beyond abuse and guilt trips for not supporting the martyrs.

    As the indigenous radical nationalist, Jesus of Nazareth said in the beattitudes speech so often recited at christian peace actions (but not this bit for some reason).

    Mat 6

    1TAKE CARE not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no reward [[a]reserved for and awaiting you] with and from your Father Who is in heaven.
    2Thus, whenever you give to the poor, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they may be [b]recognized and honored and praised by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward [c]in full already.

    3But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

    4So that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.

    5Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward [d]in full already.”

    I’d say brother Jesus is describing the Catholic Worker movement.

  41. You know little of Jesus and less of the Catholic Worker movement.
    God has created you in his image and you have returned the favor.

    Meanwhile back to the subject of the thread……

  42. Hi all,
    This is just a reminding that the next planning meeting for the Stop the War Collective is this Monday (21th April) 6.30pm at the TLC Building, 16 Peel St, South Brisbane.

    Stop the War Collective is showing the documentary “Taxi from the dark side” on the 18th May (see link for attached leaflet). I will have some of these leaflets at the meeting for distribution. If anyone can help put some around, please let me know. We’re planning to leaflet the Labor Day march on 5th May.

    Mark Gillespie

  43. Ciaron,

    Meanwhile back to the subject of the thread……

    We often hear comment in Australia asking why there is not an anti-war movement like there was during the Vietnam War. This lack of an organised anti-war movement is especially poignant given
    that most polls show that a big majority of people oppose the war in Iraq.

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious, and mindful some readers may not have been around during the Vietnam war, I wish to attempt to explain this apparent paradox.

    There are differences between our current circumstance of Australian involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan compared with that of Vietnam.

    They are:

    1) More Australian soldiers died during the Vietnam war and more were injured. Far more Australian troops were sent to Vietnam which in turn led to greater casualties.

    2) There was conscription during the Vietnam war. Although there was an anti-war movement in Australia, in the end, conscription played a big part in that movement in mobilising sentiment against the war. You could almost say that the peace movement was an anti-conscription movement like the one that occurred at the end of the First World War when Prime Minister Billy Hughes tried to introduce conscription and was defeated by referendum on two occasions.

    After the Whitlam Labor government abolished conscription and called the troops home in 1972, the Vietnam war continued. At the same time the anti-war movement in Australia lost momentum. For example calls for support for the Vietnamese National Liberation Front in their struggle against the American occupation was largely ignored in Australia. Those who supported the NLF, people like the journalist Wilfred Burchett who was vilified and banned from Australia, were mocked and ignored. In 1975 when the NLF tanks entered Saigon and broke down the gates of the US consulate, local Brisbane anti-war activists called for a celebration of the NLF victory expecting hundreds if not thousands, hardly anyone turned up. A few years later a trade union delegation from Vietnam were hounded from the Brisbane Waterside Workers Club by stone throwing Vietnamese migrants. And trade union supporters were arrested by the Qld Task force.

    The anti-war movement in Australia did not change the conservative, anti-socialist nature of Australian politics. I think it was the strength of the resistance of the Vietnamese people that drove US and Australian troops out of Vietnam rather than the anti-war movement in Australia and the US being responsible for the withdrawal of these occupying forces.

    3) Trade unionism was stronger in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s with participation rates above 60%. Unions organised strongly against the war mobilising members. It is no longer the case that unions are strong in Australia. Now participation rates are below 40% in the public sector and 13% in the private sector. What little anti-war organisation currently exists can no longer depend on union organisation that gave it strength during the Vietnam War.

    4) While the US economy could sustain a long period of occupation in Vietnam, this is no longer the case. The war in Iraq has demonstrated that even the most powerful military industrial complex like the US cannot sustain if army of occupation for more than a few years. The situation in Afghanistan is as bad if not worse. Even with the help of NATO forces the US has struggled to maintain control over much of the country. People in Kabul must be wondering if the situation was worse during soviet dominance of their government.

    Ian Curr
    April 2008

  44. Ian,

    I don’t think you have to go that far back. Compare it to the movement in the ’80’s against the U.S. wars on Central America eg the grassroots groups, the NVDA etc

    I think what we had pre-Iraq invasion was an anti-war phenomenon, an anti-war vent (not movement) before the war got underway. As a friend described it….it was like all those people who marched were buying a moral tv license to watch it unfold for the next months.

    The authoritarian and moderate left’s obsession with ever diminishing marches and rallies either displays a lack of imagination or a deep cynicism about seeing these movements primarily as marketing and recruiting terrain There should never have been a another rally called after the mass freak turn out of Feb 15th. 03. All it displayed was a movement in decline. As mentioned before the Stop the War Coalition (who have just posted a promo on this thread) would not announce or give oxygen to the Talisman Sabre organising, the Pine Gap 4 or myself facing the courts all present at the Cindy Sheehan meeting (the largest antiwar gathering in Brisbane since Feb 15th. 03. Where does this come? from cyncicism and opportunism or lack of imagination?

    The celebrtity driven approached by NGO’s and moderates (and in this case the Peace Convergeance website leading up to OTS 07) is also setting yourself up for disaster. See rick kidz Bob and Bono leading the march FOR the G8 (and what it can do) after several years of building a grassroots movement AGAINST the G8. Examine the choreography of sellout of the anti-uranium cause between Garret and Rudd at the last ALP conference.

    Examine your own (off the internet) response to this war involving troops dispatched from Brisbane. Last year we started a weekly vigil at Enoggera Army Barracks….a dynamic interaction with troops departing and returning from the battle fields and Afghanistan and Iraq. This was the only visible anti-war expression in Brisbane for most of the year. With a small crew and minimal resources we maintained this dynamic presence at point where these wars come home.

    It looks like the vigil is grinding to a halt for the lack of participation. The anti-war movement in the west may be over but the wars are definitely not….expanding into northern Pakistan real soon, Go figure?

  45. The size of peace marches, environment marches, APEC/Bush marches, Mulrunji marches and all the other marches runs in direct proportion to the level of sensational media coverage of each particular issue. In all cases, as the media coverage declines or is minimalised to routine updates as in Iraq or deaths in custody, the movements also decline.

    These marches are manifestations of media agendas, not underlying movements or organisations. The “leaderships” of the protest movement usually have very little connection at all to the ongoing day to day struggles and organisations of the people central to the themes of the protest campaigns,

    I am sorry if others find my psycho-babble is irrelevant to all this but as I see it the real nature of the various protest movements is just simply the expression of contrary opinion in public to satisfy a personal urge, similar to Ciaron’s friend’s notion of a moral license to observe the war. I guess i include the radical civil disobedience movement to be amongst these licensees, though demanding a higher moral test to achieve such license for detatched commentary.

    Forgive me for not engaging in the debate as to whether it is better to confront U.S. soldiers in the streets of Brisbane or at Shoalwater Bay I believe either option in isolation from any real strategy and organisation beyond public confrontation for confrontation’s sake is simply the isolated expression of opinion in public. The obsession with civil disobedience in this whole approach is simply a technique for intensifying the personal experience of the activists in their desire to express their opinion publically.

    Entering the arena of public opinion is directly relevant to electoral strategies such as the Greens or the ALP left but is useless to any of the real struggles on the ground, usually public opinion is a major obstacle to the real things that need to be done to achieve justice (e.g. the political football of Aboriginal policy). The civil disobedience movement’s determinied rejection of and disassociation from electoralism leaves it no other purpose than self fulfilment. The vision of an ever expanding and escalating civil disobedience movement capable of disabling the war machine in real terms is a pie in the sky fantasy, serving only to reinforce and justify the personalist mode of dramatic public expression – a justification with no less validity than Bradbury’s justifications for his own mode of personalist activism as seems to have been a point of conflict at Shoalwater Bay..

    There are much more profound issues for the peace movement to address beyond the logistics, staging and choreography of their next routine production, be it a movie, non-violent civil disobedience or mass march.

  46. You have no traction John. It’s just another talkfest – this time in the atomized zone on the internet.

    Your observations do not come from praxis and well,at this risk of stating the obvious are irrelevant. You have this privileged position because you are a first world white boy that can sleep through this escalating and expanding war. No worries, you’re not alone, have another beer and we’ll wake you when it’s over…it’s a mystery why you persist in trolling activist websites?

    What is relevant is nonviolent resistance to the war and solidarity with those resisters before the courts, in jail and acting up. The rubber hits the road at Enoggera with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Go there. The rubber hits the road when U.S. warships comes town. Go there….go there and is a constant at Pine Gap.

    If U.S. troops come to Brisbane…..use this link for info that will give them contact with G.I. Hotline

    They can call from anywhere in the world.

    The first world anti-war movement is so deflated that more serious resistance and tension for the war making states is coming from within the military and military families of casualties.

    Check out the Courage to Resist website

  47. Ciaron,

    again personal insults only betray the lack of substance behind your world view.

    My perceptions are indeed born of praxis, 1976-1991 as an activist of the tradition that you advocate including multiple arrest, court and prison, 1989 – 1995 working in Aboriginal cultural organisations including traditional research, prison education programs, reclaimation of traditional land, community development along customary law lines as well as media programs. Between 1992 and 2006 I was involved in facilitating 4 separate land rights claims, in one instance as personal assistant to the chief elder of Cape york.

    I looked after Oodgerroo for a couple of months in her latter years.

    I have run cultural programs in prisons and primary schools. I was part of the infrastructure of the most powerful prisoners organisation in Qld’s history. I have accompanied armed warriors into confrontation with prison authorities, and I am not talking metaphorically. I was arrested 4 times in one year by the same cop because of my connections to Aboriginal Australia. I have been a human shield on many occasions in the war in this country, West End in particular.

    When Danny Yock was killed my home became the venue for private and family community meetings. I linked arms in the demonstration against his killing and prevented police from pushing elders down the Roma Street station steps.

    I helped facilitate a branch of the Greens on Palm Island and helped facilitate the Green Mayor’s agenda, especially on housing.

    While you have been living the life of a troubedour, claiming your adventures as praxis, others have been engaged in ongoing struggle, organisation and resistance – living a different praxis altogether than your own and consequently developing different understandings and priorities.

    Your petty and one dimensional notion of praxis is just a prescription for christian missionaries. Your simplistic notion of where the rubber really hits the road is an illusion of symbolism. The rubber might hit the road in terms of troupe movements at Shannon or Enogerra but the shit hits the fan in the houses and streets of Iraq, Palm Island and the Valley.

    You know I know about Jesus and the Catholic Worker, you know my political history is not a void and you know that I have not had a beer since 1998. I wonder why you must revert to dishonesty to try and dismiss my critique of your philosophy and movement?

    You provide a very clear example of the cultural and psychological containment of which I have written.

  48. The personal is not political says:

    Ciaron and John,

    Hey, this is way too personal … why do people use the internet as a medium for putting other people down? And to read the abuse in the comments above when both of you were members of ‘the group of (was it 12?)’ who ‘gathered together in his name’ back in the early 1980s … what went wrong?

    As the comments above have highlighted there is a need for resistance at all levels. Resistance takes many forms.

    BT recently started up A Diary of Resistance compiled by Ray Bergman with some help from an Iraqi comrade that points to what is happening inside Iraq. But resitance should not be confined to the streets of Baghdad.

    Ciaron has spoken of civil disobedience, local (to here) and elsewhere. As Iraqis will tell us, the struggle is not just there. There is a pivotal struggle in Palestine. See the article on this site where Phil Monsour is trying to raise funds for besieged Palestinian in Gaza through The empire’s new clothes — a CD Launch.

    It seems to me that these are all legitimate acts of resistance.

    There will always be tactical debates about this — and that is a good thing — but from words must follow action.

    ANZAC Day is coming up and I am told that foco nuevo which is music in the spirit of resistance will be adopting an anti-war theme at their ANZAC day concert at AHIMSA house.

    Ian Curr
    April 2008

  49. John,

    Scroll up the page read the title “Peace Convergance”. That is the topic of the thread. You keep intervening on threads with irrelevancies. For some reason such trolling is not edited on this site. That is why serious people abandon such sites.

    It’s like going to a meeting with the “911 truthers”. Your and their contributions are reductionist dead ends that have nothing to do with the topic under discussion.

    Trust me your theology and your understanding of the Catholic Worker movement are pretty limited. You went to jail once, didn’t like and didn’t go back. Good for you, but hardly a reason to construct an ideology around it.

    Some people can’t do jail, then do solidarity work. There’s not much resistance these daze because there’s not much solidarity work (as pointed out on previous comments here).

    Case in point do something for the four resisters before the courts in Rocky this week.

  50. George Orwell says:


    I have done some formatting on your comment #53 above to assist in its readability. I have not changed the text. I think your quote from Sarah Williams about this group is strong and speaks for itself.

    I will consider your criticism of BT and my failure to act as an editor and let you know my response when I have thought it through. I do not dismiss what John Tracey says. He makes a lot of sense when he supports Lex Wotton and the people of Palm Island. I have no idea of where indymedia is. I did not know there wasn’t one in Brisbane, but then I do not get a lot of time to read indymedia or even other blogs – mostly I have read your stuff and some comments on what you have written.

    It is a strange contradiction that when you and John T have your arguments on BT, the number of views (‘clicks’, ‘hits’, readers) seem to go up. Usually BT averages about 25 views per day. But when you two debate the peace movement, the views per day never go below 50 per day. Maybe your disagreements are a thermometer of where people are at, I do not know.

    This may seem off the point of this thread but the person who was on the Gulf Peace Team in 1991 that I referred to above used to be known as “George Orwell“.

    ‘George’ was a self taught radio technician who kept Brisbane’s only mulicultural radio [4EB] running in its early days [with a lot of other volunteers] and eventually George had a stint as radio manager of 4EB in the 1980s.

    Also “George Orwell” built the first pirate FM transmitter for 4PR (People’s Radio) which broadcast during the street marches in 1977-1979.

    This transmitter, operated by 4PR, was refused a community licence when we applied to the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal.

    This is not surprising given that our application was made from the back of a room at Brisbane City Hall and the chairperson of the tribunal (a man named Gyngell, who was the first person on TV in Australia in the 1950s) called the cops on us before we could finish.

    We told the audience of radio and TV managers and staff the reasons 4PR (‘the voice of the people’) should never be granted a licence in Brisbane.

    At the same time radio station 4ZZZ, using 4PR as ‘left cover’, demonstrated to the tribunal how responsible it was in contrast to the ‘ultralefts’ at 4PR.

    4ZZZ got the higher power licence which it still operates from the old Communist Party Building in the Valley.

    This is a very short summary but I would be surprised if you had not met ‘George’. If you visit his website you will see that he is still a fighter (in the positive sense) if nothing else. See

    In solidarity,

  51. Ciaron,

    Actually I was gaoled twice in the 80s. But forgive me if I do not trust you and still maintain that I do know about the Catholic Worker.

    I am motivated to support the resistance of Lex Wotten who faces a possible 15 years for his resistance to the Qld. police on Palm Island. Wotten and the others were framed because of their involvement in speaking out against the watchhouse killing, There is no police evidence about who lit the fire. People such as Wotten were charged simply because of their presence at the demonstration. Some were charged for the arson simply because they spoke at a forum in the Palm Island mall and have already served 6 month sentences. All defendants were exiled from their families and community for months as a bail condition. Wotton’s trial was moved to Brisbane because it is impossible to get an unbiased jury in Townsville.

    These heroes who struggle every day on Palm Island and are forced into the legal system against their will because of their militancy represent the real resistance in this country and I have offered my support to their agendas in the past and will again in the future. Wotton’s case has been adjourned till october. The Palm Island struggle continues today.

    In the U.S. the real war resisters are Mumia and Peltier and their less publicised comrades imprisoned for their political activity on the ground in African and indigenous communities, not their righteous confrontation of icons as the volunteer prisoners are.

    The play-acting resistance of those who volunteer for arrest and gaol is simply self indulgent in the context of real oppression and resistance. For the play-actors, solidarity is a matter of reinforcing the perspective of the actors, making them feel good about what they have done. On Palm Island and the other war zones solidarity, like resistance, is a matter of survival.

    So I am sorry if I do not conform to your parameters of acceptable discussion but I repeat there are much more basic questions for the Peace movement to ask itself beyond choreographing the next event.

    The suggestion that peace and justice movements need to be directly engaged with the will and organisations of the oppressed is not an ideosyncratic notion that I invented, it has a deep and broad background in many struggles. jesus had a few things to say about it too.

    Your rejection of this principle, in action as well as by proclamation, backed up only by the demonisation of contrary perspective is indicative of entrenched and self reinforcing prejudice. Similarly your attempt to dismiss discussion of fundamentals while insisting on focusng on a program of action is typical of cult psychology.

    It is time for the peace movement to abandon many of its sacred cows that have until now lead nowhere. This requires a level of open mindedness and lateral thinking beyond what the Ploughshares/CAAT/Peace Convergence/ peace marches seem to be capable of.

    Just as well there are other movements and modes of action grappling with the issues. Maybe one day the peace movement will support them.

  52. Ian,

    This thread has exhausted itself partly due to your failure to have clear editorial guidelines and edit. This is why there is no indymedia in Brisbane.

    John continually trolls on this site, sabotaging serious reflection by those few of us who remain active in confronting the war making state. He has finished off this thread, congratulations…looks like some serious reflection about resistance to the last Shoalwater and the next one will happen somewhere else. Or maybe Bryan will deliver part 2 here and John can do his best to wreck that.

    John, and the left’s preference for supporting struggles in lands far far away, rather than engaging the base for war and violence in their own local is a common one. (In John’s case from the safety of his keyboard) It’s a typical first world comfort zone response, no surprises there.

    The four folks before the Queenland courts this week for resistance at Shoalwater pose the question to all of us “What are you going to do about the war?”
    John’s response “Fuck all!”
    is hardly a rarity.

  53. In June 2007, five Christian peace activists (Sarah Williams, Simon Reeves, Carole Powell, Krystal Spencer and Simon Moyle) were arrested while protesting Australia/US war games in Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area in central Queensland, Australia. In August one pleaded guilty to the Commonwealth trespassing charge, and four pleaded not guilty; they go to trial Thursday April 24 .

    “Currently, this week I join 3 other Christians from Melbourne who will face court in Yeppoon, QLD. We have been charged with trespassing on Commonwealth land during the 2007 Operation Talisman Saber “war games” hosted biannually in Australia. This involves approx 30,000 Australian and U.S. troops practicing ‘interoperability.’ We walked down the tarmac of Samuel Hill airbase with a frisbee. a letter for the Generals of both armies and a peace flag with the message “we want to practice for peace and not war.”

    We spent approx 1 1/2 hours in the hangar of the base discussing the Iraq war with the soldiers and the use of depleted uranium, we talked about their lives and broke down the barriers that we usually experienced when behind the fence with blank faces staring at us. When we were eventually taken off the base I could see large tanks and soldiers in the bush who had to stop for a couple of hours whilst we were on the base. Our presence highlighted to the military that it was possible to enter (as the base is the size of Belgium) and that our other friends were on the base. Until then it was denied.” — Sarah Williams

    This link is where you will find the latest news including what happened, various musings from the group about their experiences, any court developments that will subsequently happen, and news related to saving Shoalwater Bay.

  54. Thanx Ian,

    In terms of readership going up during these debates…..
    In my experience from the schoolyard to soapbox speaking – a crowd tends to gather when there is a fight. How much light goes with the heat expended is debateable.

    My understanding is that Brisbane indymedia was deregistered by the world indy community because of the lack of editing. Thre’s a detailed explanation when you access the Brisbane link on another indymedia.

    Good luck with your good work

  55. factional disputes says:

    Hello John,

    What do you mean by ‘factional disputes’ at Brisbane Indymedia?

    Do you mean it was a political dispute or do you mean personal dispute?

    If it was political what was it over?

    Were you involved?


  56. Brisbane Indymedia was shut down because of factional disputes within the collective including allegations of bullying and lying that were considered a breach of the IMC unity policy. The saga dragged on for 18 months with one faction seeking IMC intervention and the other resisting it. The Brisbane site was over-ridden by the larger network and managed for a time by non-Brisbanites before it was officially collapsed.

    There is no wisdom in the Brisbane Indymedia story to justify Ciaron’s thirst for censorship.

  57. Hi Ian,

    No I wasn’t involved but i followed it for a period and have briefly spoken to a couple of people involved in it, two of several who gave up on IMC and focused their energy on ZZZ which was itself at the time part of building a new national internet news system.

    As far as i can make out of the dispute it was personal, mainly centred on who did what and when, including outside of meetings.

    I suppose it got political when it became a struggle between local autonomy and national intervention, a schism that existed amongst the local group itself.

  58. Editing irrelevant drivel hardly qualifies as censorship.
    Rebutting John merely leads away from the top of the/this thread.
    That is a role of a troll.

    Brisbane indymedia had an adolescent anarchist approach to the editorial role that it is why it sunk.

    The predominantly anarchist editors of Irish indymedia run a quality site with plenty of debate from across the left, Republican and other spectrum. It mght be worth checking out their guidelines.

    Many thanx Ian for the thanxless task of facilitating this website

    The relevancy of this thread looks pretty dependent on Bryan giving us part two and his first hand experience of the scene at Shoalwater. The other parties addressed peace convergance, Stop the War etc do not appear interested in responding to the ciritques put forward here. Hopefully they are doing there own internal criticism on how 4,000 U.S. military could descend on Brisbane in the midst of an unpopular war without a whisper of descent.

    It’s a long way from the visits of the Ark Royal and New Jersey in ’88.

  59. Byran Law says:

    Hello Ciaron,

    I sent the following email to Bryan Law this morning.


    Hello Byran,

    I hope you are well.

    We received Donna’s email about there being “no flying for the time being” for you.

    This is a request to continue with your response on BushTelegraph about the issues raised about both PG4 and the Peace Convergence action at Shoalwater Bay and more about what is happening in the ‘broader’ peace movement.

    You may recall this thread was initially about an analysis of PG4, followed later by a discussion of various tactics.

    That was on 20 March 2008. The ensuing debate has gone on for a month now with about 60 comments in the thread.

    Ciaron O’Reilly in his most recent post on this issue states:

    “The relevancy of this thread looks pretty dependent on Bryan giving us part two (promised at and his first hand experience of the scene at Shoalwater.”

    This stand-up, drag-’em-down, Punch-and-Judy show on BT has left John Tracey and Ciaron O’Reilly still standing, but bloodied and weary, so while we catch our breath (or breadth?) your reflection on these matters is called for.

    Ian Curr
    Ph: 07 3398 5215
    Web: BushTelegraph

  60. Ciaron,

    if you want to get legalistic, the original post is about PG4. The editors first comment is an analysis of PG4, followed later by the editors call for responses to his analysis.

    Your attempts to redirect discussion away from your own ideology and mode of action, prefering to engage in your repetitive canon of criticism of other groups is I suppose understandable. You have obviously been personally offended by my analyses.

    However your justification of censorship by way of Bris IMC or adolescent anarchism is no less pathetic than your personal abuse responses.

    I am most amused to hear Brian Laver calling for film censorship and you calling for censorship of a public forum. My how things have changed. Your repeated calls for censorship and your own self censorship by withdrawing posts is also amusing in the light of your perpetual whinging that the broader peace movement represses your own perspective and agenda.

    But beyond the humour of these contradictions….

    If what i write disturbs you, scroll past my comments. it is not like a meeting where everyone has to sit through rants they disagree with. But if you are disturbed to the point of being motivated to respond, as you obviously are, I urge you to dig a little deeper and respond with something with more integrity than abuse or calls for censorship.

    Not for my sake or your own but for the sake of the peace and justice movements who desperately need discussion of hope and direction beyond proclaimations of slogans or the narrow focus of organising the next event.

    You have been very brave in the face of state power, there is no need to be fearful of other peoples perspectives.

    Your comments about dynamic friction as futile are astounding. They dismiss your whole confrontational mode of political action. On one level I agree with you as part of my criitique of ploughsares/CAAT etc. is that it is a mode of shallow sensationalism that does nothing else but attract attention. However I am a dialecticist, as was brother Jesus, and I find your dismissal of conflict to be naive. Without a clash of thesis and antithesis there can be no synthesis, in this limited case, in the mind of any reader bored or fascinated enough to have followed this conversation.

    If there is an essence of truth (satyagraha) to be found in Ploughshares/CAAT etc. it is its engagement in dialectical friction. Even Jesus spent 40 days in the desert listening to what the Devil had to say, long enough to consider all his propositions. Surely you are capable of such patience on a comfortable blog.

  61. John,

    It’s one thing to abandon resistance to the war machine as it continues to slaughter to provide you the first world white boy cocoon you inhabit, it’s another to dedicate yourself to attacking resisters before the courts and trying to undermine the little resistance to the war that is occurring You should really take up another hobby…..something more harmless and life affirming.

    In the meantime I’ll take your advice and treat your contributions on this sight as static and scroll on through to the other side!

    John did a few courageous things in the ’70’s. He gave up, got cynical, got resentful and he is what he is today. There are a lot of people who took much more serious risks against the state than John who turned. Their role like John’s is to undermine the resistance.

    Some chose this path for reasons of cold hard cash, some for reasons of passive aggressive resentment and spite, others were blackmailed….it doesn’t really matter they inflict the same damage.

    There is a war on – some of us are resisting it, most are not. Such disengagement is the first world white boy option of being raised in Brisbane I guess.

    “Hey guys! So we have got out of court. We were found guilty of course. Received a 6 month behavior bond, no penalty, no conviction recorded. Thanks for all your wonderful support, blessings and prayers. Peace, Samuel Hill 4”

  63. Desert Storm says:

    I wish to correct an error that I made above at comment #30 where I said that :

    “My friend and his comrades [in the Gulf Peace Team] ran out of water and that is why they left the desert during ‘desert storm’ in 1991. They sought and were given food, water and help by local tribespeople.”

    This is not correct.

    They did not leave for reasons of thirst and, not speaking arabic, they had little contact with the locals.

    My friend and six of his comrades were dragged out of a bombed-out factory that had produced dried milk.

    They were expelled by Iraqi secret service curiously aided by some of their fellow peace activists after the 1991 war had started.

    Their role as hostages had been terminated by the Iraqi government.

    As I understand it, the NVDA peace activists who forced them to leave were suffering from ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and for that reason had taken on the views of the Iraqi government agents who had put them there in the first place.

    They are offered themselves as hostages to prevent invasion and bombing by the US led forces in 1991 but few if any had ever openly discussed why they were there, what was meant by the ‘blockade’ that they had become part of. Only these seven took a principled stand to remain on the basis of the spiritual understanding of NVDA rather that its tactical use ( by the Iraqi secret service and some peace activists).

    After the war had started, they become an impediment to the plans of the Iraqi government thingking that they could no longer could serve any purpose and were expelled from the country.

    Of course, there is more to it than this, but it is a big question that I am unable to address.

    I just wish to correct the error that I made above.

    Ian Curr
    May 2008

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