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Australia Diplomats Seek Balanced Foreign Policies

Statement For The Media By A Concerned Group Of Former Service Chiefs And Australian Diplomats.

Time For Honest, Considered And Balanced Foreign And Security Policies.

We believe a re-elected 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 Hussein'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". 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 September 11, 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 US 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 US, 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 Ira

qAlf 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 Ira

qH. Neil Truscott AM, former Ambassador to Ira

qRon Walker, former Special Disarmament Adviser, Ambassador to the UN, Geneva, Ambassador to Austria and Chairman of the Board of Governors IAEA

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