Thinking outside the box
of the US military alliance

Report of the GDAMS Speak Out
at Defence HQ, Blamey Square, Canberra 15 April 2013

The space was monumental and Peacebus was set up slap bang under the Aus-US Memorial directly in front of the vast plaza of buildings that make up Defence HQ Canberra.

Here is where the Australian defence hierarchy resides. These are the halls of power and delusion where about $26 billion pa - $70 mill a day - of the Australian tax revenue is squandered.

The PA was booming out across the soundscape, a bright banner rig was at our back and we were bearing witness of a palpably powerful kind.

Witness for peace in a time of perpetual war, witness to wisdom and moderation in a time of military excess and spending wastage. How vast the profligacy of military spending? What paucity the peace!

Some 15 participated in the action, nine of them were from the Silver Wattle Quaker Centre about 40 km away. We were mostly greyheads.

At the suggestion of Trish Johnson, co director of Silver Wattle, we stood in front of the Peacebus rig holding hands in a circle for a couple of minutes before cranking up the mike. It proved to be a grounding thing to do. With side conversations stilled, a quiet fell on Blamey Square and we could hear and feel the breeze and the silence beyond. Spirit was moving.

By the Australian Federal Police on duty, we were treated with utmost courtesy, respect and cooperation. It had all been negotiated and there knew waht to expect. Four young uniformed officers stood to one side and attended to our words with interest. One of them was an Iraq vet, and after he was eager to say more on the subject of war and wasted taxes.

The public speaking began with Kim Sattler, secretary of UnionsACT, who talked of defence spending waste and consequent diminished community services.

David Johnson, co director of Silver Wattle Quaker Centre was wearing what his Friends call his "Gandalf cloak". He spoke gently and persuasively about alternatives to violence. "Not only do non violent means of conflict resolution bear quicker results and cost less, they also endure longer," he said.

The eminent Australian historian, Dr Humphrey McQueen, who has a special interest in the ANZUS Treaty and Pacific militarism, talked of rethinking the US alliance and the ANZUS treaty. The central, and in fact ,only strategy that the Department of Defence has for the defence of Australia, he observed, was to be in every way subservient to the US military in the hope that, if a crisis comes, the US will come to our defence.

I say that in defence of the US alliance, gullibility is a virtue, waste a life style.

I also noted how spectacularly the Australian military had failed the Australian people since 9/11: two failed wars and widespread, massive , and chronic wasted tax spending.

Australian military culture, revealed by recent reports has been revealed as endemically abusive. It is also completely kind of congenitally stupid, unable to think outside the box of the US Alliance and in regard to procurement of armaments, as confused as it is profligate. Time to reform it.

All spoke well and from their hearts, each calling for engagement from the defence planners inside. "Come and speak to us," we cried.

Could they hear us? Some could for the sound was loud enough to he heard through the glass. A hundred meters away we could see people coming and going at the entrances, pause to listen.

Certainly they could see it. Many of course would ignore us. But the ways of witness are subtle. It just takes one awakened to initiate a reformation.

And if they cannot hear us now, only a matter of time before they do. GDAMS @ Defence HQ Canberra is now established as an annual event; only a matter of time before we have a PA capable of pinning their ears to their mastoids.

We had assembled at 12.30 pm and at 1.55 pm, when no one else was moved to speak, we reformed our circle and closed the SpeakOut with a silence.

Not everyone amongst us had spoken but everyone present was moved and uplifted by the experience. We were had indeed become a circle of uplifting friends.

What's more we knew were part of a national and global day of action in which people of goodwill like us were being visible and vocal in speaking out against military spending all about the place. And we also knew knew with a certainty that only hearts joined in spirit can know, that it was only a matter of time before our will for peace would prevail.

Graeme Dunstan
27 November 2012


Media for Canberra GDAMS

Global Day of Action on Military Spending

World Military Spending

The Most Expensive Fighter Jet Ever Built, by the Numbers

ABC Four corners report Reach for the Sky 19 Feb 13

Past campaigns of

Doing best we can.
For peace! For justice! For the Earth!

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