“New Questions about Recent Wars”: Wed 3 October meeting of the 17 Group

The October meeting of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 3rd of October at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End. Tony Reeves, non-fiction author and journalist, will address the topic “New Questions about Recent Wars”.

Here are a short summary and some biographical information:

Summary : new questions about recent wars

THE rising death toll of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan has helped to re-kindled the debate about Australia’s involvement in that gruesome war.

Why did Australia decide to take part? When will our troops be withdrawn? What really is the objective? What will happen when all the allied forces leave?

These are important issues but of greater significance, argues Tony Reeves, is the way Australia makes decisions about engagement in war in foreign countries.

For lovers of peace, it possibly seems uncanny that human-kind has over the past one-and-a-half centuries been formulating rules for fighting wars, starting with the first Geneva Convention signed in 1864 and the Third Hague Convention of 1917.

Australia has signed and ratified later versions of these “rules of war” Conventions, but appears to be in serious breach of them.

Tony is not suggesting we run off to the International Court of Justice waving a writ, but one day somebody may do just that. Is it possible that Australian (and other Allies’) soldiers have been sent illegally to kill people? Would that, strictly speaking, mean they’ve been murdering their foes?

A simple resolution for future situations is suggested, but are our politicians even wanting to discuss the issue?

Tony Reeves

Tony is a Woolloongabba-based non-fiction author and long-standing freelance journalist. His recent books have focussed on major Sydney criminals, corrupt police and compromised politicians, lawyers and judges. He is currently finalising a detailed expose of the 1973 Whiskey Au Go Go firebombing in Brisbane, in which, he makes clear, the two people convicted were NOT the ones responsible for the crime.

Tony’s interest in the war issues possibly stems from his earliest recollections of gas masks and air-raid shelters at his home near London when he was about four. These were later strengthened by vigorous involvement in the anti-Vietnam war demos in Sydney, and a developed belief that if humans spent more time working for peace than they do for war, the world would be a better place.

Without actually promising to turn up, Leon has signified his awareness of the importance of the topic by sending on the following snapshot and relevant quotation, with the latest scholarship about how it got to be misattributed to himself: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
This was attributed to Trotsky in an epigraph in Night Soldiers: A Novel (1988) by Alan Furst but it may actually be a revision of a statement earlier attributed to Trotsky: “You may not be interested in the dialectic, but the dialectic is interested in you.” Only a very loose translation of “the dialectic” would produce “war.”
In a later work, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (2000) by Michael Walzer, the author states: War is most often a form of tyranny. It is best described by paraphrasing Trotsky’s aphorism about the dialectic: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
This statement on dialectic itself seems to be a paraphrase, with the original in In Defense of Marxism Part VII : “Petty-Bourgeois Moralists and the Proletarian Party” (1942) — where Trotsky publishes a letter to Albert Goldman (5 June 1940) has been translated as “Burnham doesn’t recognize dialectics but dialectics does not permit him to escape from its net.” More discussion on the origins of this quotation can be found at The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist Brad DeLong: Fair and Balanced Almost Every Day

You are probably interested in this topic, and at the risk of bordering on the obscure if not the mystical, this topic is probably interested in you. Or not. But turn up anyway.

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