A PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM BRYAN LAW ABOUT THE VISIT TO CAIRNS OF THE USS BLUE RIDGE,
AND HIS RESISTANCE TO IT.
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