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Why US imperialism wants Australia involved in space weapons development

(Contributed)

The excitement generated in scientific circles about the decision to establish an Australian Space Agency has focussed largely on the boost it will provide for industry, academics and entrepreneurs, opening up a new field for investment by imperialist finance capital in Australia.
 
The announcement was made at this week’s International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide by federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham in close cooperation with SA’s Minister for Defence and Space Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith.
 
Charles Bolden, the recently retired head of the US NASA, told the conference that governments have a critical role to play in laying out the path for private industry to follow.  What he didn’t say is that private industry, or finance capital, is invariably accompanied by state violence, and that for all the optimistic talk about putting humans on Mars by 2030, the space frontier is increasingly about putting humans to death on Earth.
 
We thank the author of this contributed article for his timely focus on Australia’s role in US imperialism’s use of space for military aggression here on the planet.
………………………….

A major statement about United States Defence Department budget allocations and their relationship with the corporate sector was recently covered in the Australian business press.
 
A closer study has revealed the immense power of the US-led military-industrial complex into the Australian economy.
 
Factors, for consideration, therefore include:
 
The media coverage was indicative of strong diplomatic links between Washington and Canberra. Australia has a designated role of regional hub for 'US interests'. The US also wants Australia to take a greater role in regional diplomacy.
 
Secondly, the US is increasingly concerned about the rise of China as a threat to traditional hegemonic positions. Due to aggressive Pentagon military planning it is increasingly likely Australia will be drawn into subsequent US-led regional military hostilities.
 
In mid-September, a US Defence Department media release that Northrop Grumman was moving to acquire Orbital ATK revealed 'the rising competition among defence giants for supremacy in space'. (1) It was noted, historically, space technology was largely a 'passive platform for surveillance' and recent developments included 'a more strategic military' stance. (2) Present Pentagon military planning, however, has now included 'new high-speed weapons and missile defence systems' specifically for use against adversaries such as Russia, China and North Korea'. (3)
 
It was further noted a shift in defence budget allocations was required for 'heightened attention to space-based weaponry' away from broader military spending. (4) The US Defence Department is rapidly prioritising space weaponry. The US Air Force recently requested 'about a twenty per cent increase from the fiscal year 2017 for space-related procurement and research, development, test and evaluation' for the 2018 fiscal year. (5) 
 
What is particularly significant is while military planning remains within the confines of Pentagon provision, manufacturing has been outsourced into the corporate sector. It is further significant to note of the eleven named top defence companies in the defence department media release, which have a combined revenue of nearly US$200bn for 2016, all have a major stake in the Australian economy and defence sector.
 
A study of their official websites has provided a glimpse of a shadowy world of high-tech defence and security for the Asia-Pacific region. Hidden within the official statements of 'software development for government defence', 'secure communications' for military and intelligence organisations and 'weapons systems' lies the subservience of Australia to US imperialism. (6)
 
Much of the US-led military equipment planning and manufacturing also remain officially 'classified', raising serious questions about vetting procedures being implemented by US intelligence services for Australian workers. (7)
 
Due to the size of the US defence budget it is not surprising a lobbying campaign is taking place within the corridors of power to secure stakes in a '$400bn-plus world-wide market, supporting innovation, defence and telecommunications'. (8) Australia has taken a leading role. Hidden within Canberra is 'an expert panel to develop a 10-year strategy at a national and state level for a domestic space industry', established last year. (9)
 
These developments have little to do with the sovereignty and defence and security of Australia for ordinary working people. They are concerned with US-led aggressive diplomatic positions taken primarily against China and the driving force of the corporate sector to secure a larger share of defence budgets. Recent US-led diplomatic hostilities against the DPRK can perhaps best be viewed as a trial run for later positions against China. And the US has a vested interest in real-war scenarios to boost profits even further.
 
Australia has an important place within US military planning due to its strategic position and political stability. There are numerous military installations across the country which form part of US-led facilities together with large-scale training provision for regional deployments linked to continual exercises and drills. The recent US-led Endeavour military exercise included 1,200 Australian Defence Force personnel working closely with ROK counterparts. They formed part of a program designed to enable defence chiefs to work 'effectively and encourage inter-operability'. (10)
 
Likewise, the controversial US-led annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises off the Korean peninsula have involved 'key logistics personnel from Australia' for over a decade. (11)
 
US imperialism is not content with the present status quo. They seek Australia to take a greater role in furthering 'US interests' particularly on the Korean peninsula. It is not difficult to find examples.
 
Moves have been made by the US on a number of occasions, for example, for Australia to open a diplomatic residence in Pyongyang as the CIA 'were acutely frustrated by a lack of meaningful coverage of North Korea'. (12) Canberra, however, has declined the kind offer from the CIA on several occasions. For fear of upsetting the US in recent times, however, official media releases from Canberra have been quick to show how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull 'backed Donald Trump's fiery language on North Korea'. (13)
 
Behind the present US diplomatic position toward the Asia-Pacific region lies their concern at a changing balance of forces and rise of China. The US, in reality, is slowly losing its traditional hegemonic position. Countries across the wider region have accommodated Chinese diplomacy.
 
The recent disclosures about high-tech space weaponry, however, reveal the US has no intention of leaving the scene quietly. In fact, US Air Force General John Hyten, Head of the US Strategic Command, stated in a briefing in August, that, 'the actions we take today will assure continued American dominance, especially in the critical domain of space'. (14)
 
There remains the very real and likely problem of heightening diplomatic tensions spilling over into military hostilities. Both the large print of the 'alliance' between the US and Australia together with the small print of corporate contracts for high-tech space weaponry will draw Australia into the conflict. The problem is not idle theorising from those who oppose militarism and war.
 
In fact, a former national security advisor for the previous Howard and Abbott governments in Canberra, Andrew Shearer, recently clarified the official position and stated, 'Australia could not avoid engagement in any major conflict involving the US in the Asia-Pacific region, including one with China'. (15)
 
1.     Defence giant's bid for space supremacy, Australian, 20 September 2017.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Ibid.
5.     Ibid.
6.     See official websites for: Lockheed Martin, Australia; Northrop Grumman, Australia;  Orbital ATK, Australia.
7.     Australian, op.cit., 20 September 2017.
8.     Thomas urges PM to aim for the stars, Australian, 21 September 2017.
9.     Ibid.
10.   ADF, South Korea to join forces, Australian, 8 September 2017.
11.   A role for Australia, Australian, 21 August 2017.
12.   Canberra tells CIA thanks but no thanks over Pyongyang embassy, Australian, 18 September 2017.
13.   PM backs tough speech on regime, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 2017.
14.   Australian, op.cit., 20 September 2017.
15.   'Alliance locks us in if US goes to war', Australian, 15 August 2017.
 
 

 

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