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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 238


Mr SHORT (Ballarat) -This debate is the most important debate on international affairs and on their domestic implications that we have had in this Parliament for more than a decade, and arguably for many years more than that. It is taking place after several years of changing balance of global power where the former nuclear and conventional military superiority of the West has been essentially eliminated. It is taking place a decade after the Vietnam war, a war the most tragic and dangerous aftermath of which may well have been the degree to which it sapped the confidence and the will of the West. It comes after more than two decades of progressive appeasement by the West to the quite naked and blatant aggressive expansion of the Soviet Union and its satellites in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, the Middle East and other areas. It is not, as the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Barry Jones) claimed before, a short term crisis. It is part of a much longer term crisis.

Before I turn to the facts of the Afghanistan situation and its implications, I want to put two simple propositions to this House. The first is that the free world, not just the West but the Third World too, must now say to the communist world and in particular to the Soviet Union: 'Enough is enough; any further and we shall use military force to prevent your continued aggression'. Otherwise I have very grave doubts that there will still be a free world by the turn of this century, or before. The second proposition is that for the free world to be strong in an effective rejection of Soviet aggression the United States of America must be strong.

The United States has borne an enormous burden on behalf of the free world for over 30 years now. That is a long time. It is easy to run out of steam a bit over such a period, particularly when, as has been the case, the United States has as often been vilified for carrying this burden on our behalf as it has been praised. If we want the United States to be our front runner, to be the free world leader, we must support her, not only in private but publicly as well. The United States cannot do it all on her own, nor should she be expected to. She needs the support of her Western allies and her Third World and other free world allies. She has the right to expect such support. If we cannot give the United States that support now, when will we ever do so? The immediate stimulus to today's debate has been the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The real genesis for the debate extends right back to the 1940s and the Soviet Union's continual aggression in the intervening years.

The facts of the Afghanistan situation are clear. In the final week of December last year the Soviet Union used very substantial military might to invade Afghanistan, overthrow the existing Government and instal a puppet government of its own choosing. What is less clear than these facts are the motives for the Soviet Union's taking this unprecedented action. It is unprecedented because this is the first time that the Soviet Union has sent its own combat forces beyond the Red Army's 1945 high water mark in Eastern Europe. There are several possible motives for this brutal use of force. The invasion could be a precursor to a further sweep south through Pakistan to secure a warm water port on the Indian Ocean; or it could be a precursor to a sweep into Iran to secure control over that nation's vital oil reserves; or it could be further to secure the Soviet Union's own southern flank; or to foster increased instability in Pakistan; and /or to heighten tensions between India and Pakistan. Each one of these possible motives has great significance for the free world.

Whatever the motives, the Soviet Union must have deemed them very important to have run such an enormous risk to world peace, unless the Soviets actually wanted the existing global situation to deteriorate. Major implications for the world have emerged from the Soviet aggression. The action has created a new danger of successful Soviet adventurism in the strategically vitally important Middle East region. The invasion has enormously increased the Soviet Union's leverage against the shaky government in Iran. Indeed direct Soviet intervention in Iran would surely trigger off a third world war. The Soviet Union has also strengthened its hand against the at-risk government in Pakistan. The very dismemberment of both Iran and Pakistan cannot entirely be discounted and the prospects of the Soviet Union's emerging as a power in the Indian Ocean has been significantly increased.

However one interprets the motives for the Afghanistan invasion it is indisputable that none of them adds up to anything less than a cause for heightened concern about the prospects for lasting global peace. The Afghanistan invasion has set back the cause of peace by many years. The critical question is how the free world, not only the industrialised West but the Third World as well, should react to the situation now confronting it. The West has, predictably I guess, savagely condemned the invasion. Perhaps of even more significance to the Soviet Union is the strong condemnation by some of its traditional friends and from many Third World countries. The invasion has been massively rejected by the United Nations General Assembly, the Islamic nations, the European Economic Community and many others. Are mere words and United Nations resolutions enough? My answer, and as I understand it the Government's answer, is an unequivocal no. Words are not enough. History may indeed record that the reason why the Soviet Union took its brutal plunge into Afghanistan was because the free world had, for many years beforehand, used only words to protect against the insidious, brutal and relentless creep of Marxist Leninism across the globe.


Mr Howe - What is the free world?


Mr SHORT - The honourable member would not know much about it. Quite bluntly, the Soviet Union is well on the way towards winning World War III without even a shot being fired by the major contestants. Why is this happening? Have we in the West been blind to the naked expansion of Soviet influence throughout the world? Have we not noticed the build up of the Soviet Navy and other Soviet conventional forces? Have we not known of the massive increase in Soviet nuclear capacity? Have we not appreciated that the Soviet Union has been permitted to establish bases in Libya, Ethiopia, Iraq and South Yemen, whilst in contrast the United States has no land base in North Africa close to the Red Sea and to the Arabian peninsula; or is it rather that whilst recognising that these developments have been occurring the West has based its dealings with the Soviet Union on some naive wishful thinking? Is it that we have not believed that Mr Brezhnev's constant reiteration of Marxist-Leninist doctrine means what it says? Have we forgotten the basic Soviet objective of domination over a Marxist liberated world, an objective that has remained unaltered and undiminished since the 1917 revolution? Do we not listen when Mr Brezhnev concludes his speeches with the cry: 'Long live peace. Long live communism'? In Soviet philosophy the two, peace and communism, are indivisible.

Lenin put it with brutal frankness and clarity. He said that wars cannot be abolished unless socialism is created. This is the Soviet rationale for its aggressive adventurism. It is quite clear for us to see if we want to see it. Do we want to see it, or has the West somehow run out of ideological steam? I believe that we do still believe in democracy, individual human rights and freedom of enterprise, but I also believe that unless we in the free world urgently and dramatically recast our basic approach towards communism, and particularly, though not exclusively, Soviet communism, our days of freedom and democratic institutions are limited. We must condemn the Afghanistan invasion. But good may come from evil. It may just be that it is the Afghanistan rape that has at last made the free world wake up to itself, wake up to the great danger in which it is placed. It may just be that we will recall the words of Churchill after Munich in the 1930s when he said:

The counsels of prudence and restraint may become the prime agents of mortal danger . . . how the middle course, adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life, may be seen to lead direct to the bull's eye of disaster.

Churchill was right. We must never forget that lesson of history. I fear that the free world in recent years has done just that. What does the free world need to do to redress this potentially fatal situation? What should Australia's role be in this? First and foremost, I believe the free world must seek to regain the initiative in the never ceasing battle for the hearts and minds of people. We must go on to the offensive both psychologically and politically. We must get through to the oppressed and the poor throughout the world that our system is better than the brutal dead hand of communism and socialism. We must serve notice on Moscow that the free world has a new resolve to stop further Soviet expansion. Moscow has thrived on Western inaction and apparently declining will since at least Vietnam, and we must impress upon Moscow that that has changed and that we mean it. The free world's whole military posture must change, and quickly. We can no longer afford the luxury of a strategically defensive posture. As we let pass each issue on which a stand should have been made in years past, so the cost and risk of subsequently standing firm escalates. If the free world cannot determine its correct and meaningful priorities now, at what point will we face them? Or by then will it be too late? It is for this reason that I support the Government's wish that Australia not participate in the Moscow Olympics. From reading the Australian Press or listening to the Labor Party one could be forgiven for gaining the impression that Australia is virtually alone in its support for the United States Government on this matter. This is patently not so. More than 30 governments around the world have echoed similar views, and so have men like Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov and Ginsberg- men like the former Labour Deputy Prime Minister of Britain, Lord George Brown, who said in the House of Lords last week:

.   . to go to the Moscow Olympics while the present situation persists would be an obscene farce.

Many figures directly involved in sport have supported a boycott of the Moscow Olympics, people like Olympic swimming coach Forbes Carlile and the captain of our Olympic swimming team, people like former great Australian Olympians, Laurie Morgan and John Konrads and others. Nor is the Opposition opposite united behind Mr Hayden 's strident personal abuse of the Prime Minister over his advocacy of a boycott. The Labor shadow Minister for Health, the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman), had the courage to stand in this House earlier this week and say it is quite clear that the Moscow Olympics should be boycotted. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) is schizophrenic on the matter. In the course of his hour long, personally abusive and completely negative and destructive diatribe on Tuesday in this House he said:

An effective boycott would have embarrassed the Soviet Union deeply and could have been expected to drive home to many of her own people the point that the invasion of Afghanistan was repugnant to and rejected by most countries of the world.

I agree with that. Yet two brief paragraphs later in his speech the Labor leader said: 'Labor opposes the boycott. ' What consistency. What a model of heir apparent leadership the honourable member for Oxley brings to this chamber. This is another example of his comforting consistency. He said in the same statement that the Australian Government did not seek to organise a boycott. Two paragraphs later he said: 'The Government's behaviour in attempting to organise a boycott is particularly offensive'. How could anyone credit that the alternative Prime Minister of this nation could be so dangerously inconsistent? How could anyone in this nation believe that the Opposition in this House would spend the whole of this debate, in major respect excusing and providing excuses for the brutal invasion of Afghanistan that has taken place, denying the significance of the invasion for freedom, world peace and stability. Yet that is precisely what the Opposition has been doing.

The Prime Minister has been devoting his energies towards attempting to secure an effective boycott of the Moscow Olympics because it would demonstrate more forcibly to the Soviet Union than any other measure- I repeat, any other measure- that the free world is no longer prepared to tolerate its expansionist, militarist excesses. The Prime Minister deserves great credit for his stand. He has had the courage to assist America in providing firm leadership to the free world at a time of critical importance for the future of the free world. What opponents of a boycott seem to me to overlook is the fact that the Soviet Union wants the Games primarilyand has said so publicly- to lend validity to the concept of communism as compared with our democratic institutions. The Prime Minister may fail in his attempt to encourage the world, to have an effective boycott of the Moscow Olympic Games. If he does he will be very disappointed, as will the Government, but at least he will be able to walk tall. I wonder how many other leaders of this nation or the world will be able to do so? Certainly not the people opposite in this chamber.







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