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White Paper locks Australia into US confrontation with China

Bill F.

The Turnbull government’s recently released Defence White Paper could easily have been called the Offence White Paper, since it virtually places Australia’s military forces at the disposal of US imperialism and its aggressive foreign policy agenda in the Pacific region.

Tax payer dollars for the corporate arms industry
While the government is tight-fisted with funding for schools, hospitals and social services, there is no restraint on spending when it comes to ensuring so-called “interoperability” with US military forces.

The White Paper sees military expenditure rising from $32.4 billion in the 2016-17 financial year to $58.7 billion in 2025-26. Much of this will go to US corporations such as McDonnel-Douglas, Raytheon and others who need wars and political tension to justify their existence and to expand their profits.

A sinking feeling
Headline grabbing was the announcement of 12 new submarines – shockingly expense – $50 billion with delivery over 10 years from 2030 through to 2040. Maintenance costs are expected to be a further $100 billion over the projected life of the subs.

The White Paper stresses that they should be “regionally superior submarines with a high degree of interoperability with the United States …” (and as an after-thought) “… to provide Australia with an effective deterrent”.

So far no contract for building the submarines has been announced, with bids still being assessed from companies in France, Germany and Japan. However, with the emphasis on “interoperability” don’t be surprised if Japan gets the nod as this would cement US aspirations for further US-Japan-Australia operations. And, given the problems that Australia has had in crewing the Collins class submarines, you can almost bet that US, and probably Japanese, officers will climb on-board as well.

Other expensive items, that dove-tail with US military plans for the Pacific region, are the 72 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, 12 E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and new helicopters for the SAS special forces.

The airfield on Cocos Island in the Indian Ocean is to be upgraded to take heavy military aircraft; something the Americans enquired about last year, much to the concern of local islanders. 

As for Australia’s direct defence, the equipment is mainly replacement items such as 9 frigates to replace the Anzac class, 1000 army patrol vehicles, some surveillance and heavy-lift aircraft, and a small increase in military personnel numbers.

New bits include both armed and surveillance drones and land-based missiles to defend the off-shore oil rigs and gas infrastructure of the multinationals. 

Spy in the sky
Further billions will be spent on satellite surveillance systems and studies into the development of an Australian satellite. They say it could be used to monitor bushfires and floods – now who could question that?

This would be an addition and complement to the US space telescope to be installed at North West Cape in Western Australia. 

Lest we forget – three years ago Australia forked out $900 million to pay for the US to launch a satellite to monitor local and regional communications and images from military drones.  

Justification?? Serving US imperialism, of course!
To quote the White paper, “…there is no more than a remote chance of a military attack on Australian territory by another country” 

In spite this, it then goes on at length to repeat all the positions taken by US imperialism in its contention with China over islands in the South China Sea and the “threatening behaviour” of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. 

Another shot at justification is the sudden concern for our Pacific neighbours threatened by rising sea levels and extreme weather caused by climate change.

To quote from the White paper, “Climate change will see higher temperatures, increased sea-level rise and will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. These events will exacerbate the challenges of population growth and environmental degradation, and will contribute to food shortages and undermine economic development… high expectations on us to respond to instability or natural disasters, and climate change means we will be called on to do so more often”.

This is all true, but totally hypocritical coming from a government that has wimped on seriously reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, denigrates renewable energy, panders to climate deniers and slashes foreign aid to neighbouring countries in desperate need.   

Predictable responses
The White Paper received a stamp of approval from US ambassador to Australia, the ever-grinning John Berry, who said it was “a well-considered, comprehensive approach to addressing evolving security challenges”. It satisfies the economic and military aims of US imperialism with its TPP and “Pivot to Asia-Pacific” strategy.  

However, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the reference to the South China Sea was "negative" and that China was "dissatisfied with that".

Pine Gap

Much less publicised was a report by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability which reveals the expansion of the highly secretive US spy base at Pine Gap in Central Australia. Allegedly a “joint facility”, the activities there are critically important to US imperialism’s global military posture and the conduct of wars of aggression.

The list includes intercepting military and civilian communications, monitoring space satellites, monitoring military manoeuvres and missile launches, communicating with US nuclear submarines, aircraft and warships, directing drone warfare, and collecting information on the economies of foreign countries, including Australia.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Pine Gap and an equally long history of people’s struggle to close it down.

Invasion planning
US imperialism is never satisfied with its puppets. Another paper comes from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute calling for the establishment of an Amphibious Centre of Excellence to "inculcate amphibious warfare expertise across the ADF".

This is being pushed by US special forces officer Ken Gleiman and defence academic Peter Dean who write, "In any major crisis in the region, pooling US and Australian amphibious forces ... would allow the formation of a combined US-Australian expeditionary strike group”.

They basically want the HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide to be diectly integrated into the US Marine force structure for use in any sea-launched invasion US imperialism cares to conduct.

For an independent Australian foreign policy
The Australian people do not want to be dragged into an American war with China or the DPRK. Nor do they want to have the sea lanes and air corridors closed off by conflict or trade embargoes. And they certainly don’t want to be a nuclear target!

The ANZUS treaty won’t save us – it only requires the US to “consult” in the event of an attack on Australia. US imperialism would be too busy looking after itself.

Yet this could all be the consequences of subservient politicians bowing to a ruling class dominated by and dependent on foreign corporate monopolies and their local collaborators.

Sooner or later the Australian working class will stand up to this dangerous nest of rats and lead the people in chucking them out and building an independent republic where socialist principles will guarantee peace and security for the people.

 

White Paper locks Australia into US confrontation with China
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