As tensions between North Korea and the United States heat up a vocal few are asking what this means for Australia. The Sydney Stop the War Coalition staged a rally ahead of US Vice President, Mike Pence’s visit to Australia this weekend. They made their message loud and clear, ‘we want peace, not Pence’.
On the eve of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s arrival in Australia a small but determined crowd gathered in Sydney’s Town Hall Square to protest the US-Australia military alliance, and the recent aggressive military actions of the U.S.
Since assuming office, President Trump has increased U.S. military involvement in Syria, Afghanistan and the Asia Pacific. This is his long held opposition, among other things, against US involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Pence’s visit marks the next chapter in what seems to be an enduring foreign alliance, a prospect that Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon is uneasy about.
“I’m extremely worried. I am actually old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis. I remember throughout the 1980s the threat of nuclear war was very extreme. My youngest child was just born and I remember news flashes, I became worried about it.
“I had the same feelings come back to me last week in the shocking way in which Trump carried on. Regime change and trying to bomb countries into submission has never worked, and in the 21st century it’s almost criminal that it’s even considered,” she told Read About This.
Sen. Rhiannon reminded the crowd of Australia’s long military history with the U.S.
“We have followed the U.S. into war on five occasions, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and every time, whatever the U.S. is doing in war, Australia is integral to this effort because of the US bases located in this country. We need an independent foreign policy. The bells of war are tolling ever louder,” she said.
Trump has been beating the war drums, last week tweeting,
I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2017
On the ABC’s 7.30 program Malcolm Turnbull told Leigh Sales, “I trust the judgment, the wisdom of the American government, the president and the vice president.”
It is the Prime Minister’s willingness to blithely follow the U.S. that had many in despair on Friday night.
Ken Canning is an Aboriginal Support Worker The Rainbow Lodge and a political activist. He addressed the rally to cheers of ‘no war’.
“I am tired of having gutless Prime Ministers who stand there and when the U.S. says ‘jump’, they say ‘how high?’
“When is this country going to learn to break away from the terrorist regime of the United States because we are going down the same path of being global terrorists. That’s all we’ll ever be known as until we keep our troops, our planes and our armaments out of other countries. We must keep them out, we cannot stop war by creating war,” he said.
Despite what appeared to be a small turnout, Sen. Rihannon was hopeful about the future.
“I am always hopeful of change, I certainly think it is a very dark time and a threatening time. But I do hope, even with a regime like Trump’s, that a nuclear catastrophe could be averted because it’s not just about Korea, it would be catastrophic for the whole world. Do they really want to be responsible for that?
“It is critical to have a strong public voice and a collective voice, but on short notice I am very pleased with the crowd. Protest comes in different form and what the history of protest shows is that it does take time to build big movements. Literally Vietnam war movement started with a dozen people walking in a circle, around Martin Place then it ended up in a moratorium of one hundred thousand,” she told Read About This.
To find out more, go to Sydney Stop the War Coalition’s Facebook page.
Feature Image Credit: Gage Skidmore