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Issue #1843      October 10, 2018


No march to the drums of war

Australia’s coalition government has allocated $200 billion for military development over 20 years. Although our population is small, we’re the world’s 19th biggest arms exporter. Our $35 billion military budget is bigger than that of any Southeast Asian nation, and is due to rise to 2 percent of Australia’s gross domestic product by 2020.

Apart from “big ticket” items like the 72 F-35 fighter aircraft, nine frigates and a new submarine fleet, the government’s shopping list includes 211 reconnaissance vehicles, 1,100 lightweight Hawkei armoured vehicles, supply trucks, troop carriers, heavy tanks, drones, helicopter troop carriers, and mobile hospitals.

Australian universities are offered contracts to develop training programs in military robotics and autonomous systems. But the government also wants the Defence Department to control the transfer of all research information, not just that relating to the military, from Australian universities to overseas institutions.

Military propaganda emphasises defending Australia against foreign aggression. But in the 73 years since WWII we’ve entered into numerous overseas wars, almost always for the United States.

Those wars have involved countries with limited military capabilities. But Michael Shoebridge, Australian Strategic Policy Institute director, recently commented: “If [our] army faces an adversary who has transformed its approach to technology, it is very likely that our small army will suffer very large combat losses ... The US no longer has a large technological advantage ... neither do we.”

The solution, according to the arms industry, is to regain that advantage. However, technologically well-armed nations include nuclear-armed China or Russia. The idea of preparing for war against either of them is insane, but that’s the direction of current US and Australian policy.

Shoebridge also warns about underdeveloped nations acquiring weapons like “low-cost swarming technologies”, which could inflict unacceptably high casualty rates on Australian troops. He observed enthusiastically that for Australia “much deeper use of semi-autonomous lethal and non-lethal systems in and around the combat front lines ... reduces the need for modern militaries to expose their people in this ‘bleeding edge’ of combat.”

But the real enemy, the military industrial complex, is already here. For them, war is a question of military procurement economics. They promote and profit from war and ignore its hideous human cost.

Military analyst Richard McGregor recently observed: “Australia and other Asian countries are only able to increase their defence spending because they are benefiting from the growth of China’s economy. In ... order to defend themselves against China they actually need China to succeed.”

But those who benefit directly from military spending are the military corporations, not the ordinary people of Australia and other Asian nations.

Australia’s Chief of Army, Rick Burr, who acted as Deputy US Army Commander in the Pacific, says Australia constitutes a strategic bridge between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and our military development should focus on north-western Australia.

That would facilitate the launch of strikes against North Korea or China by the US. On the strength of promises by US President Trump, North Korea has now eliminated part of its military facilities but the US and its allies still conduct annual war games around its land and maritime borders.

Under Trump’s administration, Japan and other countries are boosting military spending, and Japan is considering amending its constitution to allow it to invade other nations. The Australian government’s massive military spending will now include space and cyber warfare. The Queensland government has set up Defence Industries Queensland to promote military industrial development there.

Australia’s current military development centres on aggression against other countries, rather than defence of this one. The implications are potentially disastrous. Left unchecked, the policy will result in a never-ending state of war with other nations, on-going military and civilian casualties, and the impoverishment of non-military sectors of the national economy, including health and education.

Australia hosts the key US tracking facility at Pine Gap, as well as military facilities used by the US in northern Australia. That makes us a strategic target, with potentially catastrophic civilian casualties if we’re dragged into a US-led war with China, North Korea or Russia.

We must dump the coalition and vote in a government with an independent policy dedicated to peaceful development, genuine defence rather than aggression, and above all the pursuit of world peace.

Next article – Amazon’s wage slaves

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