Foreign Bases Workshop Report
Ross Gwyther (IPAN, Australia)
We had three people in our workshop – myself, from the IPAN (Independent and Peaceful Australia Network), Carlo Frisiero (Italy) & Karin Carlsson (Sweden)
The IPAN presentation covered a brief outline of the long history of Australian involvement in wars to support the UK (from 1800s to 1945), and wars to support the US (1945 to 2016), with only arguably the WWII being the only war in which Australian interests were threatened. Today Australia is closely involved in the Five Eyes intelligence relationship between US, UK, Canada, NZ and Australia. A brief outline was also given of the long history of Australian people’s struggles against conscription, against war, and against nuclear weapons, from the 1910s to the recent times, as well as struggles against foreign military bases in Australia, primarily US bases, from the 1970s to the present. This led to a description of the formation of IPAN from over 30 community organisations around Australia to promote an independent forein policy, oppose foreign military bases, develop community dialogue and build links with other peoples’ campaigns in the Asia-Pacific region with these same aims. . The presentation then detailed the main foreign intelligence bases in Australia at Pine Gap, North West Cape, Kojarena, with their central role in US war fighting as well as 2500 US troops, aircraft and ships based in the Norther Territory in Australia. The IPAN presentation concluded with a description of the current IPAN campaigns to have US troops and bases removed in order to lessen Australia’s involvement in the US contention with China, or aims at building a campaign around shifting military spending to health and eduational spending, and deepening our international ties.
The Swedish situation was outlined by Karin in that there are large military exercises planned for 2017, and altho Sweden is not part of NATO they have a host agreement, and the Swedish government is moving to join NATO, in the face of a public campaign of opposition. The public support for the government moves s only at a level of about 50%.
The Italian situation was described in that NATO has about 100 bases in Italy, including 50 nuclear weapons at Vicenza and 20 or so in Brescin (Ghedi). Near Aviano, there are 5000 troops stationed. There is a growing opposition to NATO in the last few years after people see no need for NATO after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
With such different situations in our three countries there was no real possibility of reaching a common campaigning strategy, however we all agreed that one of the complicating factors in our three countries is the refugee situation.