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Issue # 1409      6 May 2009

Defence White Paper – stimulus Australia cannot afford

“Spending billions of dollars on the biggest military build up in Australia since WW2 is a military ‘economic stimulus’ that our country simply cannot afford,” Hannah Middleton, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Australia, said following the release of the federal government’s Defence White Paper.

“The government is following a familiar path. Capitalism has always used war and preparations for war as a way out of its regular economic crises.

“The US staved off serious recession for 20 years, largely through profit-generating wars and preparation for war and the massive accumulation of debt.

“Following a recession in 1982 and 1983, US President Reagan stimulated the economy with US$2.8 trillion in military spending, using Cold War propaganda to justify this huge handout to the military-industrial complex.

“War is the supreme destructive activity of capitalism which can provide seemingly limitless markets, which can absorb limitless credits, which can raise prices and revive profits, which can use production to produce super profits through slaughter.

“War consumes weapons and equipment generating further orders, it offers the private sector profits from being integrated in the war machine itself during war, and then it provides billions of more profits from reconstruction programs.

“Never mind the lives that are lost and other devastation – if war is more profitable than providing schools, health services, food, drinking water, housing, then capitalism will go to war.

“In times of recession, capitalist states like Australia promote war and the threat of war to ensure the protection and expansion of corporate empires and to divert working people from their economic problems.

“While the world suffers under the growing economic recession, leading armaments corporations and military contractors are still reporting super-profits.

“Lockheed Martin raked in almost US$5 billion in profits in 2008. In January 2009 Raytheon predicted continued growth in sales and earnings. BAE Systems boasted a 93 percent profit increase in 2008 due to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“High military spending takes money away from employment, public health, education, housing, clean water, environmental protection, infrastructure projects, etc. Money invested here would provide jobs, stimulate the economy and bring many other benefits now and into the future,” Dr Middleton concluded.

The federal government’s Defence White Paper heralds the largest military build-up in Australia since World War II, costing at least $310 billion over time, on top of current military spending of $22 billion annually, Denis Doherty, national convenor of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition said.

“This is military madness,” said Mr Doherty. “The thinking behind the Defence White Paper is totally irresponsible economically and in terms of Australia’s future security. Australia can have 100 strike fighters or lousy schools, if that is what it wants. It can have 12 submarines and 3 warships or deteriorating hospitals. Australia would prefer good services and jobs rather than a beefed up military machine.”

He pointed out that only 30 percent of Australians support increased military spending and that the new submarines, frigates, fighter planes and cruise missiles are clearly ultimately targeted at China. Even Australia’s intelligence community insists that China’s relatively limited military build up is not a threat to Australia. Rather it is China’s response to a huge US military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Doherty said US Space Command has been war gaming a pre-emptive, first strike attack on China, set for the year 2016.

“The expansion of ‘missile defence’ systems in Australia, Japan, South Korea and on US military platforms near China is already creating more regional tension and instability.

“How can increasing Australia’s military spending avoid conveying a more threatening posture in its region?” Mr Doherty asked.

“The Defence White Paper policies will make Australia poorer and less secure and bring the threat of war in the region closer. They are military madness.”

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