Senator Ludlam has called for War Powers reform and the obligation that all decisions on war involvement must be taken only in consultation with parliament. David Macilwain argues that the matter of Australian intervening militarily in Syria without Syria's permission should be pursued in the Senate and with the attorney general, George Brandis, because it is in breech of international law.
Letter to Senator Ludlam, Fri, Sep 11, 2015
Dear Senator Ludlam,
Last week on behalf of AMRIS the attached media release was sent to all MPs and media; my apologies if you have already seen and read it.
I am writing because I just saw a video of part of your speech on Thursday, echoing Melissa Parke’s call for War Powers reform and the obligation that all decisions on war involvement must be taken only in consultation with parliament.
As you point out of course, in this case such consultation would have led nowhere, because the Labor opposition has no problem with the government’s military deployment and submission to US authority. I would suggest therefore, that the matter – of what is quite clearly a breach of international law, for which their must be consequences – should be pursued in the senate and with the attorney general George Brandis.
While Brandis laid out the supposed justification for breaching Syria’s sovereignty on the spurious and irrelevant basis of ‘collective self-defence’, in an article in Thursday’s Australian, this seems no different from the advice received from Lord Goldsmith in 2003 that the attack on Iraq was justified. (even had there been WMD it is hard to see how such an act of aggression against a sovereign state by a country not sharing any border with it could have been ‘legal’.
It is not too late to pursue this, because Australia may be brought before the ICC for its infringements when they lead to culpable casualties of Syrians. The idea that somehow the North East of Syria where we intend to confine our military is ‘ungoverned space’ has already been dramatically exposed as nonsense by this report from Deir Al Zour. Leith Fadel of Almasdar news is quite reliable, and he reports how the Syrian army and air-force have repelled an attempted attack on Deir al Zour airbase, killing up to 100 IS fighters. Deir al Zour of course is on the Euphrates, and in a direct line between Anbar and Raqqa, in the area that Australia intends to deploy its fighter jets. It is easy to see the possibility that an Australian missile could hit a Syrian army platoon or vehicle if they are in close combat with IS. Such a strike would have consequences.
I hope that you will keep pursuing this matter with supportive colleagues. Australia can make a decision at any time to start cooperating with the Syrian government, if it is truly serious about stopping the terrorist groups, but otherwise we should immediately withdraw our support for the US coalition’s dirty little war and its terrorist ‘boots on the ground’.
All regards David Macilwain
Sandy Creek, Victoria