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Crikey Says

Aug 28, 2014

Crikey says: Parliament must debate airstrikes on IS

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What will be the basis in international law for any Australian participation in airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria? What evidence will the government provide, beyond rhetoric about the barbarity of IS, that intervention will make Australians safer? Will our intelligence agencies be allowed to provide adequate detail of their assessment of what impact Australia’s participation will have? And, most of all, will our Parliament debate Australia’s role in such an intervention?

Members of Congress in the United States — from both sides — have already demanded that the expansion of the United States mission in relation to IS be debated and authorised by Congress. “We all share concerns about the Islamic State’s brutal tactics and further destabilization of the region,” the group wrote. “But current military operations now underway in Iraq appear to be beyond the scope of these limited purposes, and even greater expansion is under discussion. These are serious matters that require congressional debate and a vote on whether to authorize them.”

Indeed. Parliament must be permitted to discuss any involvement by Australia in attacks on Islamic State militants, and whether they are in Australia’s national interest. At this point, there is no evidence that IS presents a threat to Australia, despite the relentless hype about its barbarity. If the government has evidence otherwise, let’s see it, and Parliament can debate whether it is sufficient to justify committing Australian forces back into the Middle East.

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