November 15th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Californian wildfires: the causes

EDITORIAL: Backdoor bid to approve therapeutic cloning

CANBERRA OBSERVED : The Greens' road-block to a double dissolution

AGRICULTURE : Farmers call for action on sugar crisis

BANANA QUARANTINE: Will we kill off our golden goose?

FAMILY: I'm sorry I am heterosexual

TRUST: Palliative Care, not Euthanasia

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Higher education / China Syndrome

LETTERS: Militant consumerism (letter)

LETTERS: Hanson a political prisoner (letter)

LETTERS: Forgetting the golden rule (letter)

LETTERS: SBS broadcasting of the Hanoi news (letter)

HEALTH UPDATE: Abortion-Breast Cancer link reaps medical malpractice payout

HISTORY: Dr Jim Cairns, the Kremlin and the World Peace Council

OBITUARY : Madame Chiang Kai-shek dies at 105

UNEMPLOYMENT: Deregulation and free trade are destroying country employment

MEDIA: Five issues Australia must address

TRADING BLOCS: Risks in the US Free Trade Agreement

Dairy industry shrinks under deregulation

FILM REVIEW: Bonhoeffer

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Dr Jim Cairns, the Kremlin and the World Peace Council

by John Ballantyne

News Weekly, November 15, 2003
A more comprehensive, footnoted version of the following article may be found at:
"Australia's Dr Jim Cairns and the Soviet KGB" by John Ballantyne
National Observer (Council for the National Interest, Melbourne), Number 64, Autumn 2005.

Former Whitlam Labor Government minister, Dr Jim Cairns, who died recently aged 89, was a leading figure in a Soviet front organisation, run and financed by Moscow.

A prominent anti-war activist and leader of Australian Labor Party's left who rose to become Deputy PM in the 1970s, Dr Cairns was for many years a member of the Soviet-run World Peace Council (WPC).

The WPC was originally set up in 1949 by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, one of the most murderous tyrants of the 20th century.

It aimed to promote the foreign policy aims of the Soviet Union, by infiltrating and controlling peace organisations in Western countries.

In November 1950, the WPC tried to launch a "peace" conference in Sheffield, England, but failed to do so after the Attlee Labour government barred Soviet and other Communist delegates from entering Britain.

The following year, the WPC was expelled by the French Government for what were described as "fifth column activities". In 1957, the Austrian Government banned the World Peace Council for "activities directed against the interests of the Austrian state".

Throughout its existence, the WPC openly defended Soviet military aggression and repressive actions in the name of "peace".

In 1958, the World Peace Council was condemned by British philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell for its refusal to denounce the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and the kidnapping and murder of Hungarian PM, Imre Nagy (New York Times, July 10, 1958).

In later years, the WPC supported the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968), the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979), and the 1981 Soviet-backed imposition of martial law in Poland and the crushing of Poland's 10-million strong independent trade union, Solidarity.

Dr Jim Cairns was intimately involved with the World Peace Council ever since it was launched by Stalin in 1949. In that year, Cairns became founding chairman of the Victorian Peace Council - an early Australian pro-Soviet offshoot of the WPC.

In the 1960s, he became chairman of another, bigger Australian arm of the WPC - the Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament (CICD), which was to play a crucial role in campaigning against Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War.

Through the CICD, Cairns and prominent fellow WPC member Sam Goldbloom, succeeded in mobilizing the vast anti-war protest movement known as the Vietnam Moratorium.

The movement made history on May 8, 1970, when 75,000 marched through the streets of Melbourne.

Most Vietnam Moratorium followers were probably innocent of the WPC/CICD's ulterior aims. But the organisers and wire-pullers behind the scenes were not.

Former Romanian secret police chief, General Ion Pacepa - the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc - used to run the Romanian side of the WPC.

He recalls that it was originally Soviet leader Khrushchev's idea to focus the WPC's efforts on "condemning the American intervention in Vietnam as a 'murderous adventure' and to require all WPC national branches to initiate demonstrations around the world against America's imperialism and its war in Vietnam" (National Review, March 18, 2003).

Dr Cairns himself was no Gandhi-like pacifist, renouncing all violence or seeking to be even-handed between the two sides in the conflict. Instead, he explicitly and publicly supported the Viet Cong's use of armed force to impose Communism on the people of South Vietnam.

Addressing the Vietnam Moratorium demonstrators in May 1970, he declared that, examined in the great historical pattern, the forces led by the Vietnam Liberation Front and Hanoi were "on the side of right" (The Australian, May 11, 1970). Cairns had a strangely benign view of Communism.

In November 1970, on his return from an overseas trip which included a brief stay in Russia, he declared that he had found no more suppression in Russia than in many aspects of Australian life.

Referring to a Stockholm WPC conference on Vietnam, which he had also attended during the same trip, he disingenuously claimed that the Communists formed "only a small minority of the delegates and [had] little influence at these conferences" (The Age, December 5, 1970).

Despite Cairns's claim, the WPC was strictly controlled by the Soviet Communist Party's International Department (successor to the Comintern and Cominform), which also supervised the activities of the spy agency, the KGB.

The highest ranking Soviet diplomat ever to defect to the West, Arkady N. Shevchenko - a one-time personal adviser to Andrei Gromyko and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations until his defection to the US in 1978 - recalled how "the Soviet-controlled World Peace Council... swarmed with KGB officers" (Shevchenko, Breaking with Moscow (1985), p.225).

Soviet funding

Romanian General Pacepa has described how the WPC had a "$50 million annual budget" and that "the money was delivered by the KGB in the form of laundered cash dollars, in order to hide its Soviet origin."

In early 1981, financial irregularities forced the WPC to withdraw its application to upgrade its consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The WPC had claimed in its application that it did not receive any contributions from any government. But, according to the ECOSOC Report (March 16, 1981): "It is clear, however, that the World Peace Council has received large-scale financial support from government sources, and has gone to great lengths to conceal the fact."

The WPC lost any remaining credibility in 1989 when it admitted that 90 per cent of its funding came from the Soviet Union (WPC, Peace Courier, 1989, No. 4).

The nominal head of the WPC - first as General Secretary from 1966 to 1977, then as President from 1977 onwards - was Romesh Chandra.

A leading member of the pro-Moscow Communist Party of India, Chandra was groomed as a Soviet agent of influence by a senior KGB colonel, Radomir Bogdanov, who was stationed in New Delhi (1957-67).

In June 1981, at a Kremlin ceremony, Chandra was personally decorated with the rare and prestigious Order of Lenin, by Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev himself.

The WPC returned the compliment by bestowing on Brezhnev its highest award - the Joliot-Curie Gold Medal for Peace.

Towards the end of the Gorbachev era, a former Soviet secretary of the WPC, Tair Tarov, publicly admitted that the WPC was a Stalinist body which had "ended up as a continuation and reflection of the Soviet Union's foreign policy" - remarks which, incredibly, were published in the Communist Party of Australia's Tribune (October 5, 1988).

World Peace Councillor Dr Jim Cairns had an extraordinary impact on Australian public life - not just through organising street protests in favour of Soviet-backed expansion in Indo-China, but also in parliament and the party-room.

In 1968, he came within a few votes of toppling Gough Whitlam for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party.

During the Whitlam Government (1972-75), Cairns served briefly (and disastrously) as Treasurer - the only Federal Treasurer never to deliver a Budget. He was sacked for misleading parliament.

In 1977 and 1982, in two costly defamation cases, Dr Cairns lied under oath when he denied that he had had sexual relations with his ministerial assistant Junie Morosi.

Cairns and Morosi were awarded substantial damages. But last September both admitted that they had lied in court.

But these serious blemishes of Cairns - a man whom Whitlam has generously described as having "brought a nobility to the Labor cause which has never been surpassed" - pale beside his prominent role in the WPC.

Cairns apparently saw no conflict between holding high ministerial office and promoting Soviet foreign policy aims. This was clearly evident on WPC official letterhead stationery from 1974, on which Cairns is named both as President of the Committee of World Peace Councillors in Australia and as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

Australia's Constitution (section 44) declares that "any person who... is under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power... shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or member of the House of Representatives."

In light of the WPC's role as an instrument of Soviet Communism, it was surprisingly inappropriate that a man with Cairns's prominent position in it should ever have been allowed to sit as a member of the Australian Parliament - let alone become Deputy Prime Minister.

  • John Ballantyne

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