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Tuesday, 4 March 1980
Page: 496


Senator HAMER (Victoria) -This has been a long debate, which 1 suppose is justified because of the subject matter. But we do not seem to be any nearer to reaching a conclusion on the key element in this debate. What was the Soviet motive for invading Afghanistan? Some Opposition members seem to have put themselves forward as half-hearted apologists for the Soviet's action, arguing that its motive was purely defensive. In the House of Representatives one honourable member went so far as to say that it was not an invasion at all; it was merely a Soviet presence in Afghanistan. I think that is a piece of extraordinary sophistry. I think we must accept that the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is permanent. It is there to stay. President Brezhnev, quoted in a left-wing document called Survey had this to say about the issue:

The only task set to the Soviet contingents is to assist the Afghans in repulsing the aggression from outside. They will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan once the causes that made the Afghan leadership request their introduction disappear.

The first one of those causes to disappear was President Amin himself, the man who invited the Soviet forces into Afghanistan. He was executed by the Soviet forces on the day of the invasion. The announcement of the coup was made by a Soviet radio station posing as Radio Kabul. A curious notion was circulated which even some members of this chamber seem to have picked up- that this invasion was forced on President Brezhnev by the hard-line group in the Politburo. This was an obvious piece of KGB disinformation. Historically this invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is in the great tradition of the Russian Empire and followed on by the Soviet Union. Its expansion has been continuous; its stay in occupied countries certain. The Soviet Union is the last great colonial empire. We are all aware of its expansion in Eastern Europe, before, during and after the Second World War. However, not everyone is aware of the recent nature of its colonial conquests in Asia.

The Soviet Union consists of 15 republics. Three of them are Slavic- Russia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia. The remainder are in no way racially related to the Slavs. The Ukraine itself was conquered by the Russians between 1739 and 1793; the Caucusus area, from 1774 onwards; and in Azerbaijan the conquest was completed in 1 8 1 3; in Georgia and Armenia the conquest was not competed until 1878. East Asia as far as the Pacific was occupied by the Russians in 1875. The area we are talking about now, South West Asia, the area east of the Caspian Sea and bordering on Iran, Afghanistan and China, was conquered between 1864 and 1886. Famous towns were occupied by the RussiansTashkent in 1865, Bokhara in 1866 and Samarkand- I remind honourable senators of The Golden Road to Samarkand by Flecker- in 1868. These colonial conquests are all of recent origin and are contemporary with the other European colonial conquests of the same period. They have continued. Sakhalin, an island north of Japan, was conquered in 1945 and now we have Afghanistan conquered by Russia in 1979. The Russians will not hold Afghanistan without a struggle. The Afghans, without doubt, are some of the fiercest and most rebellious fighters in the world. But the record of the Russians in supressing and dominating people of quality similar to the Afghans is impressive. The Russians have been prepared to use their power ruthlessly and I regret to say that their ruthlessness has been effective.


Senator Peter Baume - What did Kipling say about the Afghans as fighters?


Senator HAMER - I think he made some rude remarks about what you should do with a rifle if you are wounded on a battlefield and the Afghan women are after you. It think it was excellent advice. The conquest of Afghanistan- as I said before Senator Baume reminded me of an interesting poem on the subject- will not be easy. The first recorded conqueror was Alexander the Great. It has been a cross-roads of war, a cockpit of war, ever since. I have no doubt that the Soviet conquest of Afghanistan will ultimately, after a bloody war, be effective and permanent. There is also no doubt that the Soviet leaders grossly miscalculated the position. For instance, they appeared to think that Barbrak Karmal, the president-elect whom they kept under their own hand and who came in with the Russian invading forces, would be able to unite the Afghan people. In fact half of the Afghan army of 90,000 has melted away and joined the rebels. As I said, it will be a long and bloody struggle. Nevertheless we must recognise that we cannot effectively help the Afghans. They are, as an independent people, doomed to Russian sovereignty.

Like other peoples dominated by the Russians, they would be free if they could be. One saw how much people desire their freedom from Soviet rule in the Second World War when the Germans overran large areas of Russia. The Ukrainians, the people of the Baltic states, clearly wished to be free and would have fought for their freedom if it had not been for the unbelievable cruelty and stupidity of the German gestapo. These people wanted no part of the Soviet Union, but they had no chance to opt for freedom while they remained part of that Union. One can see examples in the satellite states of the Soviet Union. Hungary fought for its freedom in 1956. Something may have come of that if, unfortunately, at the same time the British and French had not been involved in an escapade in Suez. Czechoslovakia fought for its freedom against the Russians and lost in 1968.

The record of the Soviet Union in suppressing freedom is unsurpassed. It is not a thing of which the Soviets should be particularly proud because the people they are ruling, suppressing and dominating are quite separate from the Slavic Russians. They are as different from them, for instance, as the Algerian colonial people were from the French or the Pakistanis were from the British. They are of quite different racial stock and those territories, by any sensible standards, are colonial territories that, in the current trend of world opinion, should be decolonised. Some people argue that they are citizens of the Soviet Union, for what it is worth, but the Algerians were citizens of France and that did not make Algeria any less a colonial territory. I believe it is to the lasting disgrace of the United Nations Committee of Twenty-four on Decolonisation that it has not tackled this great, remaining colonial problem- the people who are socially, culturally and politically enslaved by the Slavic Russians. This is the great task and it is one which the propaganda of the West has not yet effectively tackled. The Soviet Union is the great example around the world of the only remaining imperial colonial power.

In the apologies for the action of the Soviet Union it was alleged that its action was defensive because it had Moslem people within its boundary- and that is so- and that they were being upset- I think that was the expression used- by what was going on beyond the Soviet boundary. Therefore it seemed to be argued that the Soviet Union was justified in some way in invading those countries to avoid its citizens being upset. It has not been very successful, as I think the outrage of the Islamic Foreign Ministers' Conference at the Soviet action clearly revealed. Nevertheless there is no doubt that the Russians have a great problem with their 35 million Moslem minority.

There are many ways in which this problem can be solved. One which world opinion and the opinion of this chamber should not accept is that they can solve it by invading free, independent countries. They should set their own house in order, not distract attention from the troubles inside their own house by invading other countries. The 1970 Russian census- the results of the most recent one have not been announced- showed that in Central Asia and the Caucasus there are 35 million Moslems, and they are increasing in number substantially faster than the people of Russia itself- the Slavs of Russia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia. The level of rural unemployment in these Moslem areas is massive, but this problem gives them no right to invade another country.

The reason for the unemployment is that the Soviet economy is in a state of disastrous collapse, as is inevitable for any country that endeavours to run its economy by detailed central direction. Trying to run an economy by detailed central direction is about as sensible as trying to improve the operation of someone 's brain by hitting it with a hammer. Nevertheless, the fact that the Soviet economy is in a state of disastrous collapse and inefficiency does not justify the Russians solving their problem by invading another country on the pretext that there are disturbances, disorders, in that country and that to avoid their people being in some way affected by those disorders they are entitled to invade and occupy it.

Let us look at the situation in the other countries on the Soviet Union's borders. Korea is a potential trouble spot if ever there was one. China is in a state of endemic dispute with Russia, Pakistan has very serious problems, Turkey has problems. Beyond the boundaries of the satellite countries of Russia there is Yugoslavia, and beyond it again there is Albania. Is the Soviet Union to be justified by people here as defensively occupying these countries because they are in a state of some disorder? Can anyone honestly say that is a proper action by a sovereign country? There are real problems in Yugoslavia with the likelihood of President Tito's death in a very short period. Yugoslavia, being the only country that has managed, once being inside the Soviet orbit, to take itself out again, is therefore an object of particular hatred to the Soviet Union. Tito, when he goes, will leave behind him a very uncertain situation.

What is planned for Yugoslavia is that there be what is called a rotating leadership and an eight-man state presidency. It may work. Some of the Yugoslavs think it will. It is not yet clear which of the three main contenders for leadership- -Doronjski, Ljubicic or Bakaric- will come through as the leader. At the very least, there is a severe danger of problems arising in Yugoslavia. Are these problems going to be used as a justification for Soviet intervention? We in the West must make it crystal clear that this sort of intervention is totally unacceptable. That is why, although we cannot save Afghanistan, the Western world must make it quite clear that further behaviour of this nature by the Soviet Union will be resisted by all the means in our power, otherwise the expansion of the Soviet empire and the colonial empire will go on and on and on.

What can we do? The first thing we can do is take military measures. I do not think we should pretend to ourselves that military measures taken by Australia would have any significant effect on the Soviet Union. I therefore applaud the wisdom of the decisions that the Government has made in the defence field and the fact that we have not allowed ourselves to be distorted in our strategic thinking by events in Afghanistan. Our strategic situation remains the same. What has arisen is the danger of conflicts occurring round the world. This action by the Soviet Union has raised the temperature, raised the flashpoint, round the world. Therefore it is important that our defensive measures should be increased, but they should be increased along the lines we have been working out. We should not have an abrupt change because of events there. For that reason, I am delighted that the Government has kept its head and taken measures which are increasing our level of defence without changing our strategy.

One option which has been put quite strongly by some, and which I am very glad to see has been rejected, is that we should go back to some form of conscription. Conscription has been used twice in this country in peacetime. In the 1 950s it was used mainly by the Army, although people were conscripted into the Navy and Air Force for brief periods of training. In the case of the Army it was for three months. The effect of that training was that it would have reduced the time taken to form divisions in the field from, say, a year to about nine months. But the penalty that was paid for that- this type of training was of no value to the Navy or the Air Force- was that the whole Regular Army was devoted to training the national servicemen. The Army, as a consequence of this type of training, had no immediately available output. What we want from our Regular Army, as we will get from the reorganisation that has just been announced, is more effective, readily available forces. National service for a long term requirement would disrupt and destroy the ability of the Regular Army to be effective immediately. For that reason, I think that any attempt at mass conscription and training for military service would be a strong detriment to our military preparedness. Some people have argued that military training is valuable because it teaches discipline, mops up unemployment, and arguments such as that. I will not deal with those matters. They are not relative to any defence issue. They are social issues. I have severe doubts as to whether they are appropriate or would be effective.

The second way in which conscription has been used is the method used in the 1960s in order to increase the size of the Army so that it could meet its commitments in Vietnam and Malaysia. It was calculated then- I do not dispute the calculations- that the Army, to meet those requirements, needed to consist of about 45,000 men. It could not recruit by voluntary recruiting, given the conditions it was prepared to offer, more than about 32,000. In order to meet the urgent requirement the Government called up about 13,000 national servicemen by selective ballot to meet the short term immediate requirement. That is not the present requirement. Although the Services experience difficulties in getting some of the type of people they want, in general they can recruit the men they want. Incidentally, what we should be doing at the moment is not increasing our manpower rapidly, we have a far more important need for long term sophisticated capital equipment. Now is the time when we should be acquiring that equipment and that, I am glad to say, is being done.

Although we cannot make any great impact on the Soviet Union by our defence preparations, our readiness to respond to the threat is important in the free world. Of course, far more important is what the United States does. What has the United States done? The United States has made a declaration- the so-called Carter doctrinethat it will regard a threat to the Middle East oil fields as being a threat to the interests of the United States. Incidentally, it would also be a great threat to the interests of Japan, Western Europe and Australia. The United States has said that it will defend these interests with any appropriate means. I think it would be quite clear to anyone who looks at the strategic situation that the Americans would have enormous difficulties- in fact it would be a strategic impossibility- in bringing conventional forces into that area in strength sufficient to stop an all out Soviet attack on the Middle East. I do not say such an attack is imminent, but it certainly would be a possibility if the Americans were not ready to respond. Therefore it is important that the Americans make it quite clear- and we support them in it- that any attack on the Middle East oil fields by the Soviet Union, which would destroy the economies of the free world, would be resisted by all the military force of the Western world. We must accept the consequences of that. If we are prepared to accept the consequences, that attack will not happen. If we are not prepared to accept the consequences, if we are ambivalent, if we argue and if we cast doubts, it may happen. That would be an unmitigated disaster for the whole world. What we are living on is what Winston Churchill described as a balance of terror. While that balance is effective the world is stable. Once one casts doubts about the resolution of the Western world- perhaps we will not do it, maybe it is too difficult, maybe it is too dangerous- all may well be lost. This is the great task of the whole Western world- to show unity and resolution. We can play a small but significant part in that unity and resolution.

What do we have other than military preparations? Trade boycotts have been suggested. Senator Bishop was talking about them. If we were to have trade boycotts a number of effects would flow. Firstly, they would have to have an impact on the Soviet Union. There is no point in having a trade boycott which has no impact on the Soviets. All that would be doing would be cutting off our nose and not even spiting our face, or their face. A boycott that has no effect would not do any good. In a free trading world unilateral boycotts have effect only if the supply can be controlled. For instance, I thought the United States was very unwise to put a boycott on certain supplies of grain because it did not control the world supply. What the Americans forewent was taken up by the Argentinians and others. The effect on the Soviet Union was negligible. In fact, people in the Soviet Union might even have died laughing about it. It did the Soviet Union no harm at all. Boycotts of that nature are absurd and should be avoided at all costs.

What must be looked for in a possible boycott are a relatively small number of strategic materials that have no possibility of replacement. Areas of technology which the Soviet Union cannot get from other places must also be looked at. Regrettably- Senator Bishop was talking about this earlier in a different vein- there has been a decline in our capacity in certain defence related fields. Australia has no contribution in these areas. The United States has and so does western Europe. It is important that we should concentrate our trade boycotts in the areas where they will have impact. They are limited to high technology and the relatively small number of strategic materials that have no possible replacements. That is a task to which, regrettably, Australia cannot contribute; it is one for western Europe and for the United States. I am delighted to see that the United States is taking action in that way. I can only regret that despite the strong feelings of the European Parliament, so far the member states of the European Economic Community have not yet taken action to make these types of boycotts effective. They could be effective. They could hurt the Soviet Union, hurt it in its economy, and its economy is the most vulnerable part of its society. One can hold down dissidents with the KGB, police forces and terror, but one cannot make the economy work effectively by those methods. If we wish to show that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, that there will be consequences that the Soviet Union will not like, we must boycott it in the areas that hurt it. That can be done, but to make it effective requires unity of purpose from both the United States and the European Economic Community.

The third area where we might convince the USSR that this type of behaviour is not acceptable is in the area of propaganda, public relations and community opinion. The key issue in that area is the Olympic Games. The Olympics have been built up by the Soviet Union as being of major importance in its acceptance in the international community. This chamber has heard before what the Government in the Soviet Union said in its Handbook for Party Activists in November last year, but I think it is worth reading again. This is the view of the Soviet Union on the importance of the Olympic Games. The handbook states:

The decision to give the honored right to hold the Olympic Games in the capital of the world's first socialist State has become a convincing testimony to the general recognition of the historical importance and the correctness of the foreign political course of our country, of the enormous services of the Soviet Union in the struggle for peace, its contribution to the international Olympic movement and to the development of physical culture and sports.

More than ever before in its 80-year history, the Olympic Games have turned into an event of great social and political significance and actively exert an influence on all aspects of the life of society, lt is clear that international relations, the disposition of political and class forces in the world arena and the presence in the world of two opposing systemscapitalism, which has outlived its day, and socialism which is growing and becoming stronger with each day- leave their imprint on the Olympic Games as a large-scale social phenomenon.

So much for politics and sport not being mixed. In fact, the Olympic Games have been in a state of rapid decline for many years. The ideals of Baron Coubertin for a meeting of amateur sportsmen who should race with no thought of financial gain have long disappeared. At the 1896 Olympics in Athens there were 245 sportsmen- there were no sportswomen, I am sorry to say- competing in 42 events. Since then the Games have ballooned into an enormous propaganda exposition. They have declined almost to the point of being a farce, in less than 80 years. It took 1,000 years for the original Olympic Games to go through this cycle. The first Olympic Games started in 776 BC. One event was held, a 200-metre foot race. But over the years the Games developed into a great athletic event with considerable religious significance. Incidentally, wars were suspended for the duration of the Games. But as they went on, like our present Olympics, they deteriorated and finished at a stage where instead of being races for sportsmen they were fights between slaves and wild beasts. The Games were eventually abolished in 393 AD, about 1,000 years after they started, by the Emperor Theodosius I who regarded them as pagan rituals.

This same degeneration I think has been evident in our Olympic Games. They have become centres of professionalism. The Games have been used for political point scoring on all sides and for political propaganda. At Lake Placid recently there were present more representatives of the Press than competitors. Each city that stages the Games is trying to be one up, both in size and scale and in the use being made of them, on the city that staged them before. The staging of the Games in their present form is out of control. If they are to survive they have to be brought under control. The obviously sensible suggestion is that they be held at one permanent site. The Greek Government has offered about 1 ,200 acres near Olympia which would become an international place and not the property of one country to make what propaganda it can out of the event. It would be an international place where these events could be held every four years. I think it is necessary now to opt for that solution because it seems to be most unlikely, in the light of recent events, that it will be possible to stage the next Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles. We must make a decision now and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has expressed his willingness to support the concept of the Olympic Games being held in Greece. If the Games are to survive, some clear step such as that is obviously necessary.

But this brings us back to the present Olympic Games. Whether the Opposition likes it or not, whether it is wise or not- I think it is wise- the decision on whether to go to the Olympic Games is now one which is intensely political. The appearance by any athlete from any country will be taken and used by the Soviet Union as indicative of support for its political position. I think it is a wise decision to opt out of the Games. But whether it is wise or not, one must face the fact that if athletes from Western countries now appear in Moscow they will be used as and believed by the Soviet Union to be indicative of support for the Soviet political position and that, I believe, is a quite unacceptable situation. What we must now do as a people, as a group of nations, is to show the unity and resolution of the free countries of this world in the face of Soviet expansion and Soviet threats. Unless we show this unity and resolution the prospects of peace in our time are grim. This unity and this resolution are the tasks of us all- on both sides of the chamber, throughout this country and throughout the Western world.







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