Friends You Can’t Depend On

Resisting the wars our Anglo-allies are fomenting and how to institute peace

To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.

—Henry Kissinger

Australia‘s leaders are preparing to go to war, either against China or against Russia, or against both. All our American friends have to do is wink, nudge our conjoined hip, and it will happen. After years of grovelling rhetoric about mateship and how ANZUS guarantees our defence, the alliance now propels Australia towards disaster.

Since 2001 Australia has sold off such independence in foreign and defence policy as we ever had to the United States. We have plunged Australia into debt by subsidising the US weapons industry. Australia’s leaders have opted for illegal, expensive, expeditionary militarism, and turned their backs on lawful, economical, peace-seeking diplomacy.

In the first two decades of the twenty-first century, America has ceased to be the global hegemon, losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and backing down from confrontations with Iran and Syria. But confident of its military superiority, the United States still threatens those who challenge its dominance: Russia on the borders of NATO, and China in the East and South China Seas.

President Trump hated treaties with ‘free-loading’ allies and talked about breaking them. A Republican successor could carry out his threat. If a dangerously erratic US leadership cannot be relied on to keep its word to allies like Japan and South Korea, to former comrades in Afghanistan and Iraq, or to clients in Taiwan and Ukraine, how can we expect Americans to defend Australia? America’s enemies have become Australia’s, for no good reason. As Malcolm Fraser writes in Dangerous Allies (2014), our US ally, with its bases on our territory, creates the greatest threat to Australia.

Tricks and treaties

International law, a cumulative body of decisions, precedents, agreements and multilateral treaties, has been held together since 1945 by the UN Charter. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, nations have hammered out modern agreements to restrict war. The means include zones of peace, nuclear-free zones, pacts, and conventions, all aimed at prohibiting specific weapons and forms of aggression. Some signatories have sought ways around them, and as the record shows, the United States has refused to sign more of them than any other country, promoting in their place its preferred ‘international rules-based order’.[1]  

Australia and our allies demand that others observe international law, but we honour it in the breach when it suits us. Whenever Australian leaders invoke the ‘international rules-based order’, they fail to state that these rules are the Americans’, not ours, nor the rest of the world’s. Australia claimed when it was elected to the UN Security Council in 2013, and again last year at COP26, that ‘we do what we say’. That usually means doing ‘what the Americans say’. Emanuel Macron knew that when he called Scott Morrison a liar over the breached submarine contract. Since then, even members of the PM’s own Coalition have said the same about him.

Over a century ago, parties to the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes agreed to use their best efforts to avert war. Soon after, the Hague Convention of 1907 repeated that undertaking. It added provisions for mediation, for solving disputes in an International Commission of Inquiry, and for appeal if needed to the Permanent Court for Arbitration at the Hague. But the convention didn’t prevent the First World War, which was supposed to end all wars.

After the cataclysm of the ‘Great War’, hope for a new world order based on mutual cooperation and the peaceful resolution of international conflicts inspired forty-two states to form the League of Nations in 1920. Parties were required to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all other nations and to disavow the use or threat of military force as a means of resolving international conflicts. But apart from promising respect and disavowal, nothing prevented them pursuing their national interests at others’ expense. The fatal refusal of the US Congress to join the league was one in a series of ‘America first’ assertions that undermined later treaties.

Trying again, from 1928, all parties to the French-American Kellogg-Briand Pact were legally required to ‘condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another’. They undertook to seek settlement of disputes by ‘pacific means’. But that didn’t prevent the Second World War, after which, at the 1945 Nuremberg Trials, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was invoked to indict Nazis for waging a war of aggression, and for committing ‘Crimes against Peace’. The victors, despite killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, were not accused of such crimes.

The concerted attempt to make war illegal after the Second World War produced the UN Charter of 1945, which obliged its parties to settle their international disputes by peaceful means, not to endanger international peace and security, and not to threaten or use force ‘against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state’. The requirement for peace and the ban on war have been elaborated over the years in successive UN resolutions.

War became illegal, but international law lacked any means of enforcement, apart from UN Security Council resolutions calling on members for active support. The military commission envisaged by the UN Charter was never realised, in part because member states were wary of what such an international authority might do. Among the exceptions found were those for defensive wars, ‘just wars’, war on terror, war in space, peace-keeping operations, and the responsibility to protect.

Since 2017, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has had the ability, where it has jurisdiction, to prosecute the crime of aggression. The court and its special tribunals have tried African and Central European tyrants, but not those responsible for most of the wars of aggression in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, despite participating in the negotiations that led to its creation. Six other countries that have not signed it are China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar and Yemen. 

In 1949, members of NATO restated the UN Charter’s ban on threat or use of force. Yet they continued to prepare for wars against the USSR, and later Russia, which was NATO’s founding purpose. Some, because a threat to one NATO member is a threat against all, later joined in US wars.

Also in 1949, parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention endorsed non-violence against individuals not actively engaged in war, and undertook not to use collective penalties, intimidation or terrorism against them. Now not only do civilian deaths and injuries outnumber those of soldiers but civilians are also made targets of terror, both by drones and by suicide bombs. Citing the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Arms Trade Treaty of 2014 barred arms transfers if parties know that the weapons will be used to attack civilians, or for such other war crimes as genocide. Yet nations continue to make these weapons, knowingly use them against civilians, and sell them to countries that do the same.

None of the states (United States, United Kingdom, USSR) parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970 has honoured its commitment to ‘pursue negotiations in good faith’ towards ending the nuclear arms race at an early date and achieving effective, general and complete nuclear disarmament. Whether in good or bad faith, early or late, effective or general or complete, none of the ‘nuclear five’ members of the UN Security Council has kept its word about nuclear disarmament. They have also failed to devise a further treaty on ‘general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control’. Of the other nuclear weapons states, India, Israel and Pakistan did not sign the NPT, and North Korea signed it but later withdrew.

Another significant, but breached, pact is the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC, 1976), which has been ratified by the ASEAN nations, Australia, New Zealand and more than thirty countries beyond the region, including Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, Iran and the United States. The signatories have committed not to threaten the ‘political and economic stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity’ of other parties, and to refrain from the threat or use of force, settling disputes among themselves through friendly negotiations. The High Council includes all parties and has the capacity to deal with failures in negotiations, but it does not appear to have done so. Australia could constructively suggest that the United States and China should avail themselves of it.

That’s unlikely. Australia has usually steered clear of any initiative or agreement that smacked of independence, like the Non-Aligned Movement, the Zone of Peace Freedom and Neutrality in Southeast Asia, and even the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that Australians initiated, and for which the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (.ICAN) won a Nobel Peace Prize. The TPNW came into force on 22 January 2020, and now has fifty-nine parties, while a further eighty-six states have signed but not ratified. The treaty makes it illegal for those parties to produce, transfer, receive, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons, or to have them on territory under their control. Australia is among fifty-onenations that have not signed it, including all the nuclear weapons states.  

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) asserts that the TPNW ‘would not eliminate a single nuclear weapon’, and that it ignores the realities of the global security environment. In the government’s opinion, to join the treaty would be ‘inconsistent with our US alliance obligations’. Even if the Treaty’s entry into force does not create legal obligations for Australia, the US alliance apparently does.

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Connivance and constitutions

Nations persistently find ways around their international undertakings, and use them to circumvent their own constitutions. Relatively recent constitutions usually cite the UN Charter, and either prohibit war, or impose restrictive conditions on it. Some countries have constitutional or legislated requirements for their parliaments to debate and approve any deployment of force, including in peace-keeping operations. Most states make exceptions for certain circumstances including emergencies, and some enable parliaments to debate and withdraw approval of a military deployment after the event.[2]


In the last three decades, the only countries sending forces to expeditionary wars have been the United States and its allies, several of which—including Australia, Canada and New Zealand—have constitutions that, written under British imperial influence, are rarely amended, much less revised. In all three, the royal prerogatives persist, and no parliamentary approval is required in advance of the executive government deploying troops to distant wars. Nor are governments obliged to report to parliament on a war in progress or ended. Their constitutions do not prohibit war, nor do they mention the UN Charter or later treaties.

Under progressive governments in the twenty-first century, Canada and New Zealand have mainly stayed out of US wars, while conservative leaders in Australia have repeatedly committed forces to them. The Defence Act (amended 1975, section 8) gives Australia’s defence minister ‘the general control and administration of the Defence Force’, and this provision was used to send Australian forces to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The executive’s decision to declare war and deploy forces overseas has always been taken before parliament has debated the issue, and usually with no debate at all.[3] The combination of statute law and royal prerogative makes an Australian prime minister more like an autocratic despot in a dictatorial country than the leader of a democratic, independent state, according to historian Douglas Newton.[4] Attempts by the Australian Democrats were made in 1985 and 2003 and by the Australian Greens in 2008, 2014 and 2021 to introduce legislation requiring prior parliamentary approval of any decision for war, but they lacked the support of both major parties. Others have proposed similar reforms.[5]

Compare another former British dominion. The president of South Africa has the power to declare war and to declare a state of emergency on the advice of the cabinet member responsible for defence. In both situations the president must inform parliament but does not need to obtain its approval .[6] But South Africa has not sent troops to twenty-first-century wars. Thabo Mbeki warned Prime Minister Tony Blair against invading Iraq.[7] South Africa ended its nuclear-weapons program in 1989, dismantled its bombs, and in 1991, acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It has also signed the TPNW.

The United Kingdom, whose constitution is unwritten, relies erratically on convention. Since Iraq War II, a convention has developed that the House of Commons should debate in advance a proposal to commit troops abroad, except in an emergency. Tony Blair’s motion for war succeeded in the Commons in 2003; David Cameron’s proposal to attack Syria failed in 2013 but succeeded for ‘Northern Iraq’ in 2014; in 2018 Theresa May avoided putting the pre-planned Allied bombing of Syria in April 2018 to the Commons, claiming it was an ‘emergency’, and it went ahead. Despite repeated attempts to legislate war powers for  a modern parliament, British ministers can continue when it suits them to exercise the ancient royal prerogative in deploying troops and in issuing orders for hostilities.

The US Constitution of 1789 envisaged civilian militia being raised only in time of war, and repeated attempts to reform the War Powers Act (1973) have failed. Congress authorises war funding year after year, imposing few conditions on perpetual wars. These do not even require the clear identification of the enemy, or the purpose of the conflict. If an emergency is declared, the authorisations do not specify when it should end; some are more than twenty years old. Successive presidents have bypassed new congressional authorisation of military force (AUMF) by avoiding any declaration that a war has begun or ended. They have changed a war’s scope while it was in progress.[8] In the two decades since 2001, the AUMF secured by President Bush has been used to justify counterterrorism operations—including ground combat, air strikes, detention and the support of proxy forces—in twenty-two countries.[9]

Southeast Asia

The original five ASEAN countries’ efforts for security have mostly involved collective, regional initiatives such as the Zone of Peace Freedom and Neutrality (1971) and the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (1995). The defence forces of the Philippines and most other ASEAN countries have been intended more for internal security than for external operations, and the latest Constitution of the Philippines renounces ‘war as an instrument of national policy’. The TAC is credited with ending the threats or use of force that earlier occurred between them, but it has not banished all foreign bases. Martial law has been declared once each in the Philippines and Thailand. The revised Thai Constitution of 2017 states simply that the king is head of the armed forces, adding that no sort of accusation or action may be taken against Him [sic]. Vietnam, on the other hand, in its 2013 Constitution, the fourth since 1976, has a chapter on ‘Defense of the Fatherland’. It commits Vietnam to building the Revolutionary People’s Armed Forces and Public Security Forces, and to strengthening their national defence capability.[10]

After independence, Myanmar adopted three constitutions in 1947, 1974 and 2008. Under the latest Constitution, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) retain significant control of the government. A quarter of seats in the Parliament of Myanmar are reserved for serving military officers. The ministries of homeborder affairs, and defence must be headed by a serving military officer. The military also appoints one of the country’s two vice-presidents. Hence, the country’s civilian leaders have little influence over the security establishment, which can go to war if and when it wishes.


The Irish Constitution states, ‘War shall not be declared and the State shall not participate in any war save with the assent of Dáil Éireann’. Ireland has an All-Party Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution that actively considers the war powers. In 2003 a Private Members Bill sought to slightly widen this by including aid to foreign countries, and peacekeeping forces on UN missions ‘of a policing nature’, among proposals subject to a resolution of the Dáil Éireann. The Defence Act includes this provision.[11]

European democracies with the strongest parliamentary oversight of war powers are countries that have post–Second World War or post–Cold War constitutions, and minimal military forces.[12] In other European countries, constitutions provide for parliament to exercise war powers, with exceptions; some allow for parliamentary review of decisions already taken for war; while in others, parliament can investigate and debate the use of military force after troops have been dispatched.[13] The constitutions of Cyprus, France and Greece, however, require no debate or control by parliament relating to the use of military force.[14]

The postwar constitutions of Italy, Germany and Japan reject war but provide ways around it in deference to NATO, or in Japan’s case to the US–Japan Security Treaty. Italy’s Constitution explicitly limits national power in deference to the international rule of law. It gives parliament the authority to declare a state of war, to vest the necessary powers in the government, and to agree to declarations of war by the president and the Supreme Council of Defence. It provides for military tribunals in wartime, whose jurisdiction in times of peace is limited to crimes committed by members of the armed forces. In Germany, threats to peace and preparations for aggressive war are unconstitutional, and the manufacture, transport and marketing of weapons of war require the permission of the federal government. Germany’s Constitution, while it makes war illegal, provides for sovereign powers to be transferred by legislation to international institutions, and for Germany to join ‘a system of mutual collective security’, consenting to limitations of its sovereign powers in order to achieve peace in Europe and beyond. Those limitations include Germany permitting large US bases on its territory.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949, did not promote peace or disarmament, or impose limitations on war powers. Its three core tasks were and still are ‘collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security’, then against the USSR, now against Russia. NATO obliges all members to respond to an attack on one of them. The constitutions of some NATO members, including Albania, Czechia and Poland, stipulate that a war should be in response to aggression, actual or imminent. But like Germany’s, they mention a mutual obligation to defend other NATO members. This is one reason for some members’ opposition to Ukraine joining NATO.


The Constitution of the Russian Federation gives sweeping powers to the president (Article 87). He [sic] isSupreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In cases of aggression or a ‘direct threat of aggression’ the president is to declare martial law and immediately inform the Council of the Federation and the State Duma of it. Nothing is said about ending martial law. Russia’s only military bases outside the former Soviet states are in Syria.

Formed in 1993 by Russia and former states of the USSR, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) has six members: Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and, at different times, Uzbekistan. In 1997 Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova formed their own GUAM group. The charter of the CSTO expresses the members’ desire to abstain from the threat or use of force, not to join any military alliances, nor allow any third country to establish a military base on any of their territories without all other members’ consent. They also declare that they ‘will not allow’ colour revolutions—such as the recent attempt in Kazakhstan—to be implemented inside their borders.[15] The members of CSTO in 2009 established a Collective Rapid Reaction Force to undertake peacekeeping operations under a UN mandate. Iran is considering joining CSTO, which has agreed to collaborate with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on security, crime and drug control.

These were no doubt discussed when President Putin met Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow. on 19 January 2022, just before a joint Russian-Chinese-Iranian naval exercise was held in the Gulf. If that was a threat of force, in breach of the CSTO, it was also a response to earlier operations there by American and British naval ships. No doubt China sees the current expansion of the US, UK and French presence in the South China Sea as a threat of force.[16]


Under the 1982 Constitution (Article 92), the Turkish Grand National Assembly has the power to declare a state of war in cases deemed legitimate by international law, to dispatch the Turkish Armed Forces to other countries, and to allow foreign armed forces to be stationed in Turkey. In a situation of armed aggression or a state of emergency, when the assembly is not sitting, the president can decide to use the Turkish Armed Forces, and suspend fundamental rights and freedoms, ‘provided that obligations under international law are not violated’. Turkey has military and intelligence bases in ten countries, including Qatar, Syria and Somalia. In and around Iraq there are more than forty Turkish bases.

Northeast Asia

The people of Japan in their 1947 Constitution (Article 9) ‘forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes’ and military forces ‘will never be maintained’. The right of belligerency of the state ‘will not be recognized’. Yet Japan’s Self Defence Forces are now among the world’s largest, and in Japan the United States has twenty-three bases. Japan’s only offshore military base is in Djibouti. ‘Reinterpretation’ of Article 9 is a work in progress, and since 2014 Japanese forces have been allowed to defend allies in war. In January 2022 Japan and Australia signed a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), Japan’s first with any country, to allow the Australian and Japanese militaries to work ‘seamlessly’ with each other in defence and humanitarian operations.

Since 1953 for South Korea and 1960 for Japan, mutual-defence treaties with the United States have committed them to ‘mutual cooperation and security’ in the event of attack, and they allow for the presence of US bases in both countries. The United States undertakes merely to inform Japan if its forces there are to be deployed. Complaints by US politicians persist about ‘free-loading’, even though substantial costs are paid by Japan and South Korea for the privilege of hosting multiple US bases.

The 1948 Constitution of Korea was revised by both sides after the Korean war: five times in the Republic of Korea, and repeatedly in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. To write a single new Constitution for a reunified Korea would be difficult if not inconceivable.

In South Korea, political neutrality is a convention of the Constitution, to which the military are committed, together with national security and defence. In North Korea, the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK states that the mission of the armed forces is to defend the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and the country, against foreign aggression.

The People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) is not a national defence force of the Western kind but an armed branch of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) itself. Its allegiance is not to the state or the Constitution but to the party. The PLA is obliged to follow the principle of the CCP’s absolute civilian control of the military under the doctrine of ‘the party commands the gun’. The Chinese constitution, however, follows the UN Charter In requiring that a war be a response to actual or imminent aggression, or to a common defence obligation. In January 2022, President Xi took charge of policy and decision-making for war and removed them from the State Council. As head of the Central Military Commission, he has absolute authority to mobilise civilian resources as required.

War by other means

Foreign bases

Several nations have constitutions that ban foreign military bases.[17] The United States has 800 bases around the world, and their presence is often contentious, not least in Japan and the Philippines. They were withdrawn from Subic Bay and Clark Air Base in 1992, but US forces returned in 2017 in response to a request by President Duterte to deal with a terrorist siege in Marawi. They were joined by an Australian deployment, and both continue, with Australian numbers reduced. The only other ASEAN countries that host foreign military are Myanmar (a Chinese naval SIGINT base), Malaysia (British and Australian air force and army presence at Butterworth under the Five Powers Defence Agreement) and Singapore (a RAAF Squadron, an Australian Army Aviation training group, and a British naval base). Singapore has access to two aviation training bases in the United States, and supports two operations (dating from Lee Kuan Yew’s time) for the defence of Taiwan.

Manymore countries allow foreign bases on their territory. For example, Turkey has established them in ten neighbouring states and Russia in thirteen. France’s fifteen overseas bases are mainly in African countries. British bases are distributed in sixteen states around the world, and American ones—often multiples—are in thirty-one countries. China has three: the intelligence station in Myanmar, a naval base in Pakistan and a PLA base in Djibouti. A tiny, impoverished state in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti hosts eight foreign military bases, which supplement its income. China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States all have bases in this territory, strategically located between the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. India and Russia reportedly plan to join them.

Neutrality and demilitarisation

One constitution, Costa Rica’s, has abolished the army as a standing military force. Fourteen other small nations do without military forces.[18] Some nations—Iceland, Monaco and Nauru—with no standing militaries or virtually none, have no recent wars, and their constitutions make no mention of war. The Constitution of Andorra simply mentions a desire for peace. A number of other nations’ constitutions allow only ‘defensive’ war, explicitly banning aggressive wars or ‘wars of conquest’.[19] Some impose other restrictions, depending on whether a president or a parliament proposes a war.

As well as committing states to non-interference in others’ internal affairs, some constitutions explicitly espouse permanent neutrality and non-alignment. Long-standing examples are Switzerland and Malta, while Austria, Ireland, Finland and Sweden, despite their strong ties to NATO, remain neutral and non-aligned. Less well known as neutral states are Belarus, Cambodia, Moldova and Turkmenistan; the latter’s Constitution commits the nation to ‘refrain from the use of force and participation in military blocs and alliances, and promote peaceful, friendly and mutually beneficial relations with countries in the region and all states of the world’. Cambodia’s Constitution states that the kingdom ‘shall be an independent, sovereign, peaceful, permanently neutral and non-aligned country’.

If armed or non-armed neutrality works for them, why should it not for Australia? If they can change their constitutions; why is it unthinkable for us? Several submissions to a Costs of War Inquiry by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) in 2020–21 endorsed an influential 1984 proposal by David Martin for armed neutrality in Australia. IPAN’s conclusions will be published soon.


Many of the ‘modern’ constitutions include references to peace, even while they accept emergency wars, defensive wars, wars at the discretion of the leader or wars that respond to treaty obligations. The oldest constitutions don’t even include these categories of war, nor do they mention peace. Significantly, most of them are constitutions of the Anglo-allies who have been fighting a continuous ‘war on terror’ since 2001. Far from banning war altogether, there are at least 107 constitutions that allow war without limiting it to defence or treaty obligations.[20] None requires a parliamentary vote.

A different example of this double-speak is provided by the Constitution of Bangladesh. It recites international law: respect for national sovereignty and equality, non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, peaceful settlement of disputes, and the UN Charter. It states that ‘War shall not be declared and the Republic shall not participate in any war except with the assent of Parliament’, and it opposes aggressive war by colonial powers. Yet it commits to support for wars of ‘national liberation’. So does the Constitution of Cuba. Ukraine’s Constitution bans political parties that promote war, which should help to defuse the current crisis with Russia. The Constitution of Haiti requires no war before ‘all the attempts at conciliation have failed’. In Chile a new Constitution is being written, and some Chileans are seeking to have a ban on war included.

That might set the world a good example when once again we face an existential choice between war and peace. For all our aspirations and promises in this century and the last, we still fight wars, with dire results. The leaders of the three Anglo-allies, all facing domestic political problems, are feverishly manufacturing consent (with the help of the Murdoch media) for wars of mass distraction against Russia and China. If the United States, United Kingdom and Russia risk nuclear war over Ukraine and a gas pipeline, that is bad enough; for Australia to join this insanity is worse.

But America always needs a coalition of willing allies for a war. Canberra’s bravest stand would be to make clear to Washington and London that we are not obliged by our alliance or our Constitution to join them, and that we do what we say.

[1] David Swanson, ‘Treaties, Constitutions, and Laws Against War’, World BEYOND War, 10 January 2022,; K. J. Noh, ‘The U.S. Makes a Mockery of Treaties and International Law’, Pressenza

[2] Douglas Newton, ‘Report to AWPR’, 22 August 2018; Claire Mills, ‘Parliamentary Approval for Military Action’, House of Commons Library Briefing Paper CBP 7166, 8 May 2018, p. 69; Sandra Dieterich, Hartwig Hummel and Stefan Marschall, ‘Parliamentary War Powers: A Survey of 25 European Parliaments’, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, Occasional Paper No. 21, Geneva, 2010, p. 73.

[3] Deirdre McKeown and Roy Jordan, ’Parliamentary Involvement in Declaring War and Deploying Forces Overseas’, 22 March 2010,

[4] Newton.

[5] See Clinton Fernandes, Island Off the Coast of Asia: Instruments of Statecraft in Australian Foreign Policy, Melbourne: Monash University Publishing, 2018; Alison Broinowski (ed.), How Does Australia Go to War? Canberra: AWPR, 2015.

[6] McKeown and Jordan, p. 158.

[7] John Matisonn, God, Spies, and Lies, Vlaeberg: Missing Ink, 2015.

[8] Swanson.

[9] Stephanie Savell, ‘The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: A Comprehensive Look at Where and How it Has Been Used’, Costs of War Project, Brown University,

[10] See Vietnam at

[11] McKeown and Jordan, pp 152–5.

[12] Austria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia.

[13] The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden; Czechia and Slovakia; Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

[14] Sandra Dieterich and colleagues, 2010.

[15] Pepe Escobar, ‘After Kazakhstan, the Color Revolution Is Over’, The Cradle, 12 January 2022,

[16] Cameron Leckie, ‘Ukraine Crisis Is a Pivotal Moment in History—For the US, Not Russia’, Pearls and Irritations, 31 January 2022,

[17] They include Angola, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Ecuador, Lithuania, Malta, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Ukraine and Venezuela.

[18] Andorra, Liechtenstein, the Vatican, Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu; the Federated States of Micronesia, the North Marianas, Palau, Haiti, Grenada and Panama: Laura Secorun Palet, ‘Nations that Survive Without Militaries’, OZY, 19 June 2014.

[19] These include Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar and the UAE.

[20]Among these ‘war-sanctioning constitutions’ are the United States, three Scandinavian countries, and six members of ASEAN. Swanson’s list is: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

About the author

Alison Broinowski

Dr Alison Broinowski, formerly an Australian diplomat, is an author writing on Australia’s interactions with the world, and a member of Australians for War Powers Reform and of World BEYOND War.

More articles by Alison Broinowski

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