Monday 12 October 2009

A public statement from Bryan Law

The USS Blue Ridge is coming to Cairns today.  The USS Blue Ridge is the flag-ship of the US 7th Fleet, and as such it carries with it the nuclear trigger that is ready to initiate nuclear war in east Asia 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Today the US military will also launch attacks on civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  It will kill and maim children along with adults, destroy houses, terrorise populations, and create the conditions of permanent warfare that disfigure our planet, and disfigure our souls. 
General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has recently publicised his opinion that the 8 year long offensive against the Taliban and Al Qaeda has failed.  He says that a commitment of 40,000 or 60,000 more troops, a political accommodation of the Taliban,  along with a different military strategy MIGHT “save” the military objective.
I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.  I believe with all my heart and soul that there can be no military path to peace.  The Blue Ridge represents a massive waste of human and technological resource that could have been used for schools, hospitals and housing – but has been used instead for the murder of innocents.
When I examine my conscience I cannot passively accept the presence of this monstrous ship in our port.
When I first learned last Thursday that the Blue Ridge was coming to Cairns I decided to set up a public meeting to discuss the issues above, and Cairns’ role in supporting the US military.  I booked the Catalina Room at the Cairns RSL for this Wednesday evening.  I contacted the office of Mayor Val Schier, and Leichhardt MP Jim Turnour.
The title of the public meeting was to be:
“8th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan: What can the USA teach us about freedom?”
I was contacted within two hours by the President of the Cairns RSL, Peter Turner, who cancelled the booking for the venue, because he didn’t want any political activities at the club during the visit of the USS Blue Ridge.  I guess that’s one lesson about freedom and democracy.
Four days later, my calls to Val Schier and Jim Turnour haven’t been returned at all.  More lessons.
Meanwhile the Cairns Post has published three stories about the impending visit in which only two issues are discussed: the money that can be made selling alcohol, sex, and sunshine tours to the sailors; and the ‘human interest’ of a local family which has a relative on board.
So I’ve given up on the idea of a public meeting.  Our so-called political leaders are unwilling to enter into any public debate about the role and impact of US militarism in Cairns.  I guess they find it easier to just go along with the pimps and prostitutes of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, and their new slogan for Cairns’ tourism industry “We’ll do anything for a dollar”.
I guess this means that the media, the political institutions, the RSL, and the leaders of Commerce in Cairns all support the visit and operation of this floating Holocaust in waiting.
I guess this is the point at which I’m supposed to give up and go away, like a naughty little boy who just doesn’t “get” the reality of politics and commerce in a world where human life is held cheap.  Certainly I feel like giving up.
So at Mass yesterday I had a lot to pray and ask guidance for.  When things seem hopeless, and the opposition is daunting, just what can one person do?  What is the right thing to do?  For better or worse, this is the answer that came to me:
Even if I can’t reach our political leaders;
Even if I can’t prevent the ship from visiting;
Even if I’m treated like a kook, a madman, a fool, and a publicity-seeking ratbag;
I am unable to give my consent to this ship being in our port; and
I can try my meagre best to stop it tying up, and I can try to board it and ask the Captain to leave town.  I can make my best and continual effort to do that, and nobody can stop me from trying.
Realistically the outcome of such action will be arrest and confinement in the Cairns watch-house until the USS Blue Ridge leaves town.  There may be some health consequences.
Nevertheless my conscience tells me that my opposition to the visit of this ship, and to the murder it so routinely commits, must be implemented to the best of my ability.
And so I promise to meet the USS Blue Ridge when it arrives later today, and to make every effort possible to turn it around.  I promise to continue with these efforts for as long as the ship is in town.  I promise to refuse bail conditions, or to make any agreement with Police that allows the USS Blue Ridge to remain in Cairns unopposed.
In the final analysis, if I have to spend my life in prison because the USS Blue Ridge is worshipped and venerated by the money-changers of Cairns – well at least a life in prison has some integrity and honesty about it, while life in Cairns would simply be immoral and corrupt.
Yours in peace
Bryan Law


Bryan Outlaw said...

Bryan Law sez:

"Four days later, my calls to Val Schier and Jim Turnour haven’t been returned at all. More lessons."

The lesson? Real community leaders tend to ignore criminal wackjob dole-bludging losers.

american warships are welcome in cairns said...

funny how everyone that thinks you are a dill bryanexcept fellow devotees and don,t agree " I guess they find it easier to just go along with the pimps and prostitutes of Tourism Tropical North Queensland," can,t you absorb everyone thinks you are wrong?

dylan said...

That is stupid mate... these guys dont do anything wrong its the government i think you should be harrassing them not the us soldiers that are about to inject our local economy with ALOT of money!

Wendy said...

Go gently Bryan.

Unknown said...

The fact is Bryan it is a free country and because of ships like Blue Ridge and our very own you are allowed to express your views. I wonder how you personally would fair under a Taliban regime ..where you would be shot without your story even being heard because you would be viewed as a radical Christian.. At least here you can air your views and be shot down with words.. The thing is mate that you are a practicing Christian and they don't like your type in fundamental Islam... so perhaps you should be going down to the Docks and thanking the guys for allowing you to continue to worship your God.. Some in this town may be protecting their god-money as you point out. But the Soldiers and sailors allow you to continue your Bryan why not do something nice today and go thank them.

nocturnal congress said...

Bryan, you are indeed a very gutsy bloke who has the courage of his convictions. I don't think we have seen anything in this area as brave (and as foolhardy) as when Strikey swam the Daintree River!!
If anyone here remembers that, well I was on the other side of the river, trying my best not to crap myself and hoping to Christ we wouldn't have to rescue bits and pieces of Strikey from some croc's guts.

Thronton On Spence said...

Unfortunately Bryan once again you have failed to grasp the reality of your ignorance. You would be the first to complain when Mayor Mohammed Mustafashit and MP Abdul Currymuncher failed to return your calls because they were too busy at the celebrations welcoming in the latest ship of the Taliban Navy. They did however grant you a stay of execution because of your conversion to Muslem and the fact you look like one of them.

Keep your pathetic protests yourself and welcome to the US Navy.

Culley Palmer said...


Congratulations for speaking truth to power and for working to protect others.

I hope your health is better. Look forward to hearing the story.


Anonymous said...

I believe that Brian needs to get a job and work for a living rather than sponge off the community! Mate you have to much free time on your hands!

hieronymus bosch said...

hey bryan, i am happy to have my taxes go towards supporting your lifestyle. peace and bread!

Thaddeus said...

Brian's actions may not be agreed with by many, but they continue to bring into focus the American-Australian alliance and the hard questions such as "Why did we ever get involved in Iraq? And why the hell are we still in Afghanistan?"
As someone else here asked, "The USA is obviously important to Australia, but is Australia that important to the USA?"
World power is shifting to that of a multi-polar world. The USA is on the decline. Is it realistic to stick to the coat-tails of a fading superpower, or is it in our best interests to become a good friend to the new, rising superpowers? We must look to the future, free from our traditional ties of race and culture.

All we are saying said...


I admire you for the strength and basis of your convictions. Wish I had your courage.

Hope your actions work like a stone dropped onto water creating a widening ripple of awareness.

Wendy Davie said...

It is possible to love and welcome the individual, in this case the crew of the ship, while abhorring the intent of the vessel to which they belong, in this case the US Navy and military machine.

It is a fact that the US military are especially targeting underprivileged areas and individuals in enlistment drives.
Just think what good the multi billions spent of agression and murder could have done in the world.

Lenore Evans said...

Perhaps we need to go back to our bibles and see exactly what Jesus has to say.  Remember the centurian who was a fighting man and Jesus told him to obey his superiors.  There is nothing we can do about the ship being here but what about the sailors? Love your enemy, do good to those that hurt you.  What messages are the sailors getting? 

Are we trying to make them feel guilty of something?  Jesus didn't tell the centurian to leave his post.  Perhaps a welcoming event would go a long way to let them know there are christians in this community who love them in spite of what they do that we might not agree with.

James Middlemiss said...

well said Lenore. I wish I was there to wave a welcome placard. I'm not in Holloways Beach at the moment I am in China.

Bryan & Co would get short shrift here.
How lucky they are to be able to protest.

Deborah said...

I'm afraid I have no "carve that in stone!" revelations Bryan to boost your morale - it is never easy to "buck the system" and it requires a lot of inner strength and conviction (which you obviously have).

There are two quotes I find useful to push me along when I get completely disgusted with the 'system':

1) It isn't whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

If you play fair and just and you stick to your conscience, you win in the long term regardless of the short term "physical" outcome (or lack thereof....).

2) All that is needed for evil to thrive is for men of goodwill to do nothing.

Not exactly kosher for me to say as I haven't participated in the citizen's inspections (my reasons are 'institutional' rather than personal) but I can say that I think it is gutsy, courageous and important to stand up to malevolent power machines.

There was a classic poster from the 60's that says it all: imagine if there was a war and nobody came. War benefits no-one, including the aggressors, and it creates unimaginable agony which is always severely regretted after the fact - until the next conflict comes along and countries go marching in again. (The Oils called this "Short Memory".)

Obviously, major people-power is required to drive major change but it is still useful to voice the concern that not everybody likes the "industrial military complex" being here. Didn't the Kiwis make NZ a nuclear-free destination? How did they accomplish This?

Terry Spackman said...

I'm an athiest.

But that does not meen I can't be a decent human being.

I was part of the peace by peace ship inspection team today.

I welcomed the US ship's crew to Cairns as I handed them a pamphlet.

I found them polite and respectfull and I returned their respect.

The same respect was given to and returned from the police.

I have no problem with the ship's crew.

I spent almost a year in the Persian Gulf in a british frigate.

I was not told I was protecting British and US oil corporate interests as I was sweating down in the engine and boiler rooms of that ship.

I used to play chess with one of my shipmates, a marine corporal.

No one told him the truth as he was bleeding to death on the jetty of Muscat befor we could get back to him and help him.

Of course I love the crew of that US ship, "for I have walked in their shoes".

They are not the enemy, they are also the victims of war.

The enemy, is the corporations and their shareholders that make such massive profits from war.

War is about business, and big business in particular--and is a big business in itself.

The Siemens Corporation was a major backer of Adolf and his Nazzi Party.

Siemans built the consentration camps, the gas ovens, suplied the gas, built the incinerators and used the slave labor for their factories.

How many Siemens directors or shareholders faced a war crimes tribunal?

When will Bush and Cheney face justice?

I don't need a bible or a preacher to teach me the difference between good and evil, I know it when I see it.

Love and respect to you all.

Michael Moore said...

Lance Royce, whilst I welcome any constructive input to the discussions here on CairnsBlog, you make statements about Bryan's employment status (or lack thereof) and also allegations that he "sponges off the community".

Why do you just repeat silly rumours?

Have you ever made an effort (like a quick telephone call or an email) and talk with Bryan before you make ill-informed and totally incorrect statements?

Bryan does have a job.

He is not on any unemployment benefit, as you try to suggest.

Your comments are simply to discredit Bryan's ability to protest publicly on issues he wishes to do so. Ever citizen, regardless of employment status, should be free to do so.

You also enjoy that privledge on your blog. What job do you have by the way? ;-)

Margaret Pestorius said...

Great to see the discussion.

Soldiers and sailors in the US military are the fastest growning section of the peace movement. We treat them with respect and hand out GI Rights leaflets so they feel more confident in resisting the sorts of disrespect they get inside the service [like sending them to war to be killed and kill]. [; courage to resist; iraq veterans against the war.

There is very little evidence that Jesus or the early church cooperated with or promoted military service of then Empire Rome. See for a list of texts.

Slattery suggests that not one of the early church fathers supported military service. [see Slattery: Jesus the Warrior? Historical Christian Perspectives & Problems on the Morality of War & The Waging of Peace]

There are even some early documents about initiation into the faith in the the first 2 centuries that specifically exclude people who have been in the military because they have disobeyed the commandment not to kill, and because they may have to disobey again as part of their loyalty to Empire. [Soldiers in the empire were often in charge of civic executions amongst other contexts] So at least some communities were specifically against military service.

Our actions to highlight the recreational port visits have nothing to do with being "welcoming or not welcoming" of sailors or marines.

Our inspections are about highlighting the enormous waste of resources and the incredible misdirection of funds to conventional warfare at a time when even the top SERVING US generals [see Gen. McChrystal] are saying that conventional warfare is a total failure in insurgent conflicts and they say that insurgent conflicts will dominate the 21st Century.

Cairns is a bit removed from world militarism in some ways. But these port visits are very explicit way that Cairns supports the US military in their misguided endeavours.

Happy to support anybody else's actions that manage to break the dominant discourse of money money money: Lets get their money.

We do what we can with little time and money or personell. And we're pleased with the response and support. Thankyou.

John Rainbird said...

The problem as I see it is there is little space for a proper conversation on this issues - not just in Cairns, but pretty much anywhere.

The media can ridicule actions that aim to start such a conversation or highlight some of our collective insanities because they themselves lack the maturity or will to properly explore the issues of war and the use of military might, why we have it, its consequences, what are the alternatives.

It seems that as a species we tend to suffer from binary vision – the either or view of the world when the world is more complex than that.

Unless we are able to explore these issues in a constructive way, and as Donna Meadows said, to seek the truth rather than to seek to be right, we are forever lost in a tangled understanding, where people latch on to part of the story without necessarily appreciating the total context in which actions occur.

This is of course true for many significant issues of our times – it is a pity our media don’t appear able to help facilitate these conversations in any meaningful way, for as another wise person once said “The truth can be a pain in the arse, but it will set you free”

nocturnal congress said...

Well said John Rainbird. Note how most of the posters here assume the Americans are our military allies and will be there to "save" us? They assume it without any second thought. As Thaddeus asked in an earlier post, "How important is Australia to the USA?"

Hugh Spencer said...

Right on John!! - befriend an Editor (and maybe a subbie)

Rob Willliams said...

Onya Bryan..The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat..."Theodore Roosevelt"