Submission on Defence Review 2000 White Paper
Hon. Andrew Peacock and Community Consultation Team

Dear team members,


War starts in minds. The first casualty is truth.

Governments and military leaders can guide public passions towards democratizing influences and interventions, and away from destructive deterrence and vengeance. Short term leadership in politics, industry and mass media too often thrive by selective publication of facts, demonizing others to deflect critics.



Your June 2000 discussion paper puts well a case for War ministries (properly so amed a century ago) and for what Japan (as if apologetically) calls Self-Defence forces. It pays incidental tributre to the less military objectives that I stress here.


Again they wage war, but now largely by proxy forces and a booming arms industry. Your white paper obliquely refers to alternative war preventive postures. I plead that your report should emphasize such options.


Churchill, a historian and leader in both world wars, after the most destructive event in history declared he knew of no war that could not have been prevented by negotiation. Can any tragic fact exceed that?

Perhaps the later amazingly peaceful dismantling of apartheid and the Berlin wall are examples of what he had in mind. But at the time Churchill did not specify such effects of financial pressures backed by public passions. Winston offered political union of the UK with France and called for a democratic rule of international law, Osomething like a world government,ı without which, he said, Othe future of mankind is dark and doubtful.ı I want your report to stress the half century of neglect of this preventive defence.


If defence, not just war, is really what defence policy is about, we must combine a war office and a peace office, the latter with resources, priorities and cabinet seniority at least equal to the former. Please call on governments to define what we defend with our taxpayers' sweat and thrift and the blood and flower of our youth. It should not include, as it did when we trained Indonesians and others, the absolute right of governments, elected or not, to military spending, the only public use of resources financially exempt from investment policy control by the WTO and IMF. Defence should mean defending not whichever dictator happens to suit our powerful friends (as in Korea and Viet Nam) but the sovereign rights of world citizens to choose democratically and empower a world disarmament authority,

The current UN structure is pitifully inadequate for this.


Instead, governments have bveen persuaded by global investment controllers to accede to treaties that penalize welfare restraints on trade and investment but give total exemption to military budgets. Thus we continue to betray Churchil's victories and vision, three generations of our war dead and the damaged families of veterans.


A few realistic military leaders, like Michael Harbottle, former chief of THE UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, stress how governments turn to armed forces for disaster relief and urge them to broaden their social role beyond "training 365 days a year for war". He recommends conservation and other "Environmental Security" objectives for the equipment, skill and discipline of armed forces. He quotes 20 countries with an increasingly holistic perspective of security including India in 'What is Proper Soldiering' Jan. 1992, £5 posted outside Europe, less for bulk orders, from the publisher: Centre for International Peacebuilding, 9 West Street, Chipping Norton, Oxon OX7 5LH, tel 0608 642335, fax 0608 644732.


In my 3 years as health minister my deepest regret is that I acceded to 1974 and 1975 budget restraints, deferring funding for preventive, community, educational and rehabilitative health services -- without warning colleagues that this Osavingı would soon be swallowed up by resulting demands on remedial services including surgery. I was allowed record hospital funding which rolled back the bed shortage, but demand has now outgrown the supply and nursing resources again. Such shortsighted economies afflict most public services. Savings for this yearıs budget and next yearıs election too often override longer term security, as your Paper indicates. But long term security may mean medium term deflection of traditional military strike force priorities towards 'peaceful invasion' or democratizing diplomacy. Defensive-minded military experts should lead all departments in calling for a new way of thinking, constructive cooperation in dispute resolution techniques to complement the old adversarial politics.


Perhaps the most prestigious role of our armed forces has been in peace keeping and peace building, particularly in East Timor. I think the biggest mistake of the Whitlam government ministers concerned was going along with the pragmatic but unprincipled advice of our Ambassador in Jakarta when East Timor was invaded. Human rights still too often have lower priority than Australiaıs amoral commercial interests in international policy. This imperils world peace and thus our security. Buying as many units as we can afford of imported military hardware has been rarely lasting in effectiveness when pitted against rebel solidarity in most of todayıs wars and coups, or has provoked new tyrannies that defeat old ones. If we want peace we must prepare peace forces by peace training of peoples and armed forces. Weıll need more personnel, may have to forego a tithe of their cherished hardware, but I think they will enjoy widening gratitude and affection, status and influence.


The most cost-effective investment in military security is not military but democracy building. It is inconceivable that New Zealand or Malaysia would make war on us if we pursue our current constructive cooperation with them. The same is true of the democratic elements emerging in Japan, China, Indonesia and southeast Asia. If there is a war threat, it is from such quarters and only, as repeated strategic experts seem to conclude, if expansionist military dictatorships come to power. We should cease dalliance with military dictators or powerful military lobbies in these countries.


I ask that you recommend strategy in the light of history to devote more emergency rescue, arms and disarmament-monitoring, peace-building and peace-keeping skills and resources domestically, diplomatically and in all joint military arrangements and exercises, stressing conflict resolution and non-violent resistance capacities which usually defeat superior military firepower in winning hearts and minds. Making war should have a lower priority in dealing with authoritarian governments, including those that are potential invaders of other countries including ours. The UN members claim in the Charter what most war orphans know: that war is the last and lamest resort in providing security, Our record of cooperatrion with Indonesia, Myanmar, China and the US does not always accord with this principle.


Though not so visually appealing as your White Paper, Gene Sharpıs paperback Social Power and Political Freedom seems to me an excellet starting point for investigating new priorities to get the best value for each defence dollar with least loss of life and human values. I strongly recommend you read at least the 3-page introduction by Senator Mark Hatfield.

Yours sincerely

1975 Vice-President WHO Assembly
1982 UN Delegate
Since 1998 member National Consultative Committee on Peace & Disarmament
(Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade)