The Guardian • Current Issue

OP-ED

Softening its mates up for another war?

A US Marine takes position during the joint Cobra Gold exercise in the coastal Thai province of Rayong on February 28, 2020. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP) (Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Has anyone actually scrutinised the piffle that Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, recently came out with? It shows how delusional and deranged the ideological obscurantists in Washington really are. I quote:

“China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system; all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”

When this outrageous statement is dissected and analysed, it becomes the vacuous drivel it actually is. Who does the “we” refer to? Certainly not the ordinary US citizen but rather, I suspect, the capitalist ruling class. How many military bases does China have around the globe, threatening other nations? The US military spending for 2019 was $718.7bil compared to China’s $266.4bil. It would appear that the “international systems, relationships and rules,” referred to by Blinken are most likely its 800 US bases, supposedly protecting the interests of its capitalist class.

Australians should be very, very concerned by the current threatening language and belligerent political insolence coming out of Washington. I’m waiting to hear the line that China has weapons of mass destruction next! Signs of Washington’s panic about China’s superior scientific and technological capability, especially in telecommunications, became apparent when it resorted to accusing Huawei in 2020 of violating sanctions and stealing technology from T-Mobile – claims which have been denied. Could the US be targeting Huawei because it is seen as a threat to American business interests? Huawei and ZTE are way ahead of US telecommunication companies, and, rather than compete on a free market, Washington uses pressure with its immense military, diplomacy and its well-practised propaganda machine.

China’s “soft” influence in the global south also has Washington worried. The Belt and Road initiative not only aids China, it aids those countries who would have no financial support from the IMF (International Monetary Fund). The US views the help these countries receive from China as an existential threat to Western imperialism.

The Chinese government under the leadership of the CCP has raised millions of its people out of poverty post World War II. Compared to America, China is still relatively poor – its GDP per capita being one quarter that of the US. It is nonsense to imagine that China wants a war with the US. All the belligerent, bully boy tactics are, as usual, coming from America and, with Joe Biden at the helm, there’s little likelihood of an about face.

Australians should be very concerned about this situation. Our government seems joined at the hip with America, to the extent we should perhaps become known as its 51st state. The direction which the ANZUS treaty, signed between the US, Australia and New Zealand in 1951, is taking should be of grave concern to Australians. It was intended to provide for mutual aid in the event of aggression and for settling disputes by peaceful means, but increasingly it seems to be involving Australia in US-initiated wars. And with the current aggression being shown by Biden, our national sovereignty is directly threatened by having US troops stationed on our soil.

The Friends of the Earth reported that, in 2011, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an increase of US forces on Australian soil with the build-up of the Stirling Naval Base in Perth and the stationing of 2500 US troops on permanent rotation in Darwin. Smith denied these would be “bases” as such. The Pentagon report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies stated, “the next phase of enhanced access arrangements with Australia” will include the stationing of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Perth, infrastructure development on RAAF bases to accommodate US bombers, drone deployment from the NT and the stationing of US marines on Australian soil.

In November 2012, the AUSMIN meeting of the US Secretaries of State and Defense and Australian ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defense announced the beginning of “joint facilities,” or bases, on Australian soil. In 2013 it was announced that the number of US troops stationed in Darwin would double. Australia has been hosting US military interests for decades at Pine Gap, which in 2012 expanded its surveillance and satellite communications capacity by the installation of a new radar dome. Pine Gap was strategic in the deployment of bombing missions in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Pine Gap is a US base to which Australian politicians must request access. Officially, it is a collaboration between the Australian Department of Defence and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, but in reality this obscures the real purpose of Pine Gap which is a CIA-run spy base designed to collect signals from US surveillance satellites in geosynchronous orbit over the Equator.

In addition, a new communications base was built in 2008 for US purposes at Geraldton in northern WA and another at North West Cape, also in WA – which used to be a very low frequency submarine communications facility, but is now being upgraded with the construction of a space radar telescope. This will be used to keep track of adversary satellites in space which, in the event of war, the US would set about neutralising. This takes the use of these facilities in a very new direction and connects Australia with a US-led space war.

This recently proposed base is expected to be used for tracking and destroying enemy satellites. All three of these existing bases make Australia a strategic military target. The US has been holding military exercises with Australia for over fifty years. In recent years, Australia has been involved in US-led military activity that has killed flora, fauna and humans, left oil fields burning, exposed civilians to toxic chemicals, left environments radioactive, and destroyed infrastructure vital to maintaining health and welfare of communities. It would make for interesting research to know exactly the amount of carbon emissions these exercises produce.

The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) was formed in response to the 2011 deal between the Gillard government and the Obama administration to base a “permanent rotation” of US Marines and aircraft in Darwin, as well as using the Delamere Weapons Range (south of Katherine), the Bradshaw Field Training Range (near Timber Creek), and the RAAF base at Tindal.

A very important consideration to be had here is how important is Australian sovereignty to this nation? Why are we allowing “foreign” troops on our soil. For more detailed analysis, Tom Gillings’ Project Rainfall: the secret history of Pine Gap is well worth the reading.

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