The Guardian March 27, 2002


The unemployed and army service

Tony Abbott, Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small 
Business, has floated a plan for an extension of the "work for the dole" 
scheme to include service in the army reserve and emergency services.

The background to this suggestion is the failure of the armed forces to 
attract recruits and the aggressive military operations being planned by 
the US with the active support of the Australian Government.

It is only a small step to extend the compulsory work for the dole scheme -
- if one does not comply unemployment benefits are cut off  to a 
compulsory period in the armed forces. So far very little publicity has 
been given to Tony Abbott's remarks but the fact that they were made is an 
indication that his plan has almost certainly been considered by senior 
Government Ministers.

If implemented, it would become a form of conscription and is certain to be 
strongly opposed by all who objected to the conscription of 18-year-olds 
for the Vietnam War, for example.

The extended war plans of the US Bush administration are becoming more 
aggressive and obvious. War in Afghanistan, war in the Philippines, war in 
Colombia, another war against Iraq, plans for intervention in Indonesia, 
war against the Palestinians, the setting up of more military bases in a 
whole string of countries, are all part of the US plan for world domination 
by war where-ever necessary.

Faced with growing opposition to various aspects of the policies of the big 
corporations that Bush, Blair and Howard represent, these three not-so-wise 
men are pushing their plans harder and faster.

For this, a quick boost to the military arm, laws to take away existing 
democratic rights, the building of camps that can easily be converted into 
concentration camps for protesting Australian citizens, are all part of the 
picture. The attack on Justice Kirby, a progressive High Court judge, was 
another step that had the aim of changing the political complexion of the 
High Court in favour of conservatives more likely to support the needs of 
the Howard Government.

A very big war is being planned and the announcement that the Pentagon is 
dusting off its previous commitments regarding nuclear weapons should be a 
warning to all.

On March 9, the Los Angeles Times reported that the US has 
redirected its nuclear weapons at China. The report indicated that the Bush 
administration has instructed the US military to draw up a plan for 
launching nuclear attack under "special circumstances" and that it was 
prepared, "when necessary", to use nuclear weapons against at least seven 
countries  China, Russia, Iraq, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea 
(DPRK), Iran, Libya and Syria.

The "special circumstance" mentioned in the report includes conflicts in 
the Taiwan Straits.

With an obvious change in policy, the Bush administration is orchestrating 
a major provocation in regard to Taiwan.

The US has made repeated declarations that it will follow a "one-China" 
policy and recognises that Taiwan is a part of China. This has been 
repeated in three joint communiques between the US and Chinese governments.

However, the US in its actions is violating what has been agreed to in 
words. For years the US has surreptitiously encouraged the separatist 
movement in Taiwan (and in Tibet). Recently the Bush administration stepped 
up actions that can only be regarded as violations of the three US-China 
communiques regarding Taiwan.

The US invited Taiwan's "defence minister" to attend what was called the 
"US-Taiwan defence meeting", sponsored by the "US-Taiwan Business Council". 
US arms sales to Taiwan have been stepped up. Senior US officials, 
including Carlucci, chairman of the "US-Taiwan Business Council" and former 
US Defence Secretary; Paul Wolfowitz, the current US deputy Defence 
Secretary; and representatives of the armament makers in the US attended 
and made speeches at the meeting.

Taiwan authorities played up the meeting claiming that it was a "major 
breakthrough in the diplomatic and military exchanges between Taiwan and 
the United States".

It may seem a long step between Tony Abbott's schemes for the unemployed to 
the Taiwan Straits but the rapidity with which the US plans are unfolding 
may prove to be quite a short but very dangerous step.
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