I was invited to join in signing this document and pleased to do so,
but was not involved with drafting it — Dennis

 

STATEMENT FOR THE MEDIA BY
A CONCERNED GROUP OF FORMER SERVICE CHIEFS
AND AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATS.

8 August 2004

TIME FOR HONEST, CONSIDERED AND BALANCED
FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICIES.

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

We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people.

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

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

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

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

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

The list of those who have agreed to the text follows:

Military
Admiral Alan Beaumont AC . former Chief of Defence Force
General Peter Gration AC . former Chief of Defence Force
Admiral Mike Hudson AC . former Chief of the Navy
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peek , former Chief of the Navy
Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC, former Chief of the Airforce

Air Vice Marshal Brendan O’Loughlin AO former head of Australian Defence Staff, Washington
Major General Alan Stretton AO, former Director General National Disaster Organisation

Departmental Heads and Diplomatic Representatives
Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dep. Defence and Deputy Secretary DFAT
Dr John Burton, former Secretary of Dep. External Affairs and HC to Ceylon
Dr Stuart Harris AO, former Secretary of Dep. Foreign Affairs and Trade
John Menadue AO, former Secretary of Prime Ministers Department and former Ambassador to Japan
Alan Renouf, former Secretary Dept. Foreign Affairs, Ambassador to France, Ambassador to US
Richard Woolcott, AC, former Secretary of Dept. Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ambassador to the United Nations, Indonesia and The Philippines

Dennis Argall, former Ambassador to China.
Robin Ashwin, former Ambassador to Egypt, Soviet Union and Germany
Jeff Benson, former Ambassador to Denmark and Iceland
Geoff Bentley, former Ambassador to Russia and Consul General HongKong
John Bowan, former Ambassador to Germany
Alison Broinowski, former Charge d’Affaires to Jordan
Richard Broinowski, former Ambassador to Mexico, Korea and Vietnam
John Brook, former Ambassador to Vietnam and Algiers
Ross Cottrill, Executive Director Australian Institute of International Affairs,
Peter Curtis, former Ambassador to France, CG New York and High Com. India
Rawdon Dalrymple, AO, former Ambassador to United States, Japan, Indonesia and Israel
Malcolm Dan, former Ambassador to Argentina and Chile
Stephen Fitzgerald AO, former Ambassador to China
Geoff Forrester, former Deputy Secretary Department Foreign Affairs and Trade
Robert Furlonger, former Director General ONA and Head of JIO and Ambassador to Indonesia
Ross Garnaut, AO, former Ambassador to China
Ian Haig AM, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE.
Robert Hamilton, former Ambassador to Mexico, El Salvador and Cuba
Cavan Hogue, former H.C.to Malaysia, Ambassador to Thailand, and United Nations (Security Council)
Roger Holdich, former Director General of Intelligence and Ambassador to Korea
Gordon Jockel, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Committee and Ambassador to Thailand and Indonesia
Tony Kevin, former Ambassador to Cambodia and Poland.
Peter Lloyd, AM, former Ambassador to Iraq
Alf Parsons, AO former High Commissioner to United Kingdom, High Commissioner to Singapore, Malaysia.
Ted Pocock AM , former High Commissioner to Pakistan, Ambassador to France and Morocco, the Soviet Union, Korea and the EU.
Peter Rogers, former Ambassador to Israel
Rory Steele, former Ambassador to Iraq
H. Neil.Truscott AM, former Ambassador to Iraq
Ron Walker, former Special Disarmament Adviser, Ambassador to the UN, Geneva, Ambassador to Austria and Chairman of the Board of Governors IAEA
Garry Woodard, former High Commissioner to Malaysia and Ambassador to China