On Tuesday, Lazy Jack and her crew sailed past Shoalwater Bay on the central Qld coast. It was a quiet and pleasant sail, showing no indication of what will be taking place at the Shoalwater Bay military training area over the next few weeks.
The Talisman Sabre joint military exercises will occur there from July 11-24 – “a biennial, bilateral Australian and United States training activity”. This will include a very different kind of flotilla to our’s – the latest military media release boasting of 20 warships from the US and allies that will be coming down the Queensland coast to simulate naval operations.
Talisman Sabre may be just a practice invasion, but events in the middle east currently are looking less friendly. There, it seems like Iran and the US are gearing up for war. Donald Trump tweeted last month “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran”. This week, Iran shot down a US drone they claimed had invaded their airspace.
After two decades of disastrous US-led wars in the Middle East, it’s hard to believe anyone believes anything good could come from another one. And yet Iran’s theocratic regime and the US self-appointed world superpower seem determined to do just that; with sabre-rattling having gone on between the two for months now.
Of course Australia’s military involvement with the US goes deeper than joint training exercises. If recent history is anything to go by, it is likely Australia would join the US against Iran. Even if not in actual troops, US bases in Darwin and the Pine Gap intelligence facility would play an active role in the US war effort.
Australia is inextricably linked with the US whether we like it or not, and I think it’s fair to assume most Australians would not support a war with Iran. The “special relationship” though, as Trump has described the connection between the two nations, is not quite reciprocal – as proved when Malcolm Turnbull tried to arrange for resettlement of refugees detained at Manus Island to the US. Less than half of the proposed 1200 refugees have been resettled, with Peter Dutton recently saying he doubted that number would ever be filled.
Relationships between nations; whether hostile or “special”; mostly are out of control of the everyday person who in the end will be the most affected. We foot the bill for the wars, while those in the firing line find themselves displaced or killed as “collateral damage”. We all pay the price of the immense carbon footprint and environmental cost of militarism.
A different way though is possible when we see our shared destiny as fellow beings on one interconnected planet. Far from being our enemies, the people of Iran have much to offer us, as shown by journalist Behrouz Bouchani and musician Farhad Bandesh. They are both Kurds who tried to escape persecution in Iran by coming to Australia. Both are talented and dedicated people who have made a great contribution to our culture even while being detained by our government on Manus Island. Who knows what other contributions could have been made by the countless others who have arrived on our shores only to be treated as enemies by the Australian government and corporate media.
At Sail 4 Justice we see our best hope for the future in everyday people of all nations uniting for our common good. That’s why ordinary people are reaching out to the traditional owners of this land, to Pacific Islanders affected by our fossil fuel emissions, and to those dehumanised by our government in offshore concentration camps. While governments plot for war and power, ordinary people resisting and working together can create the world we wish to live in.