Look below the surface in submarine decision
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Prime Minister Turnbull has just announced that 12 new submarines will be built in Australia by a French consortium.
On the surface, this is a significant victory for the Australian people.
As the CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre, a peak “defence” industry body in South Australia said on radio today, “This is the people who got this across the line, so well done to the people!”
It is indeed a significant defeat for the preferred political agenda of the US imperialists which they planned to impose through the arch-Rightist former PM Tony Abbott.
That agenda was for the submarines to be built in Japan by Mitsubishi and Kawasaki.
Abbott was prepared to sacrifice Australian jobs, Australian industries and Australia’s sovereignty to do the bidding of the US overlords.
They saw in a Japanese build the most effective way to guarantee the interoperability of the US, Japanese and Australian submarine fleets against the emerging rival, China.
They also saw in a Japanese build the most effective way of assisting Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to demolish the so-called pacifist Constitution adopted by Japan after WW2, a Constitution which places certain impediments in the way of a revival of a highly developed Japanese militarism and of armaments exports as part of a militarised economy. All of these are desired by the US imperialists in order to “contain” the growing strength of China.
However, the Australian people took offence at Abbott’s sell-out to the Japanese, particularly as it involved breaking an iron-clad election promise of an Australian build at the Australian Submarine Corporation in South Australia.
There was also great cynicism directed at Abbott’s decision to create a “competitive evaluation process” (CEP), the initial aim of which was to provide a sounder basis for the Japanese build than the secret handshake deal believed to have been made between Abbott and Abe.
Abbott eventually became a liability for the ruling class. Many factors contributed to his unpopularity, but the change of government leadership opened the possibility of cancelling the Japanese build.
A US setback but their control is intact
US interests were given top priority by both Abbott and Turnbull. Whatever the outcome of the CEP, US interests were to be protected by the appointment of senior US government and naval personnel to positions that allowed them to oversee the CEP and its peer review process.
This meant that while the Japanese would not get the build, US imperialism would still be able to maximise the potential for interoperability under its leadership.
The following statement by the Australian government indicates the degree of control and oversight exercised by the US imperialists:
This rigorous and independent process was led by Head of the Future Submarine Program, Rear Admiral Greg Sammut AM CSC, and General Manager Submarines, Rear Admiral Stephen Johnson USN (retired), who was previously in charge of the program to replace the Ohio Class ballistic missile submarines.
The process was overseen by an independent Expert Advisory Panel, chaired by former Secretary of the United States Navy, Professor Donald Winter. It was peer reviewed by Vice Admiral Paul Sullivan USN (retired) and Rear Admiral Thomas Eccles USN (retired).
The US oversight of a process “essential to Australia’s national security” (Turnbull) clearly indicates Australia’s position as a client state of US imperialism. The US, for its part, would never in its wildest dreams contemplate such a sacrifice of national sovereignty to another power, would never appoint another nation to oversee processes essential to US national security.
And as much as today’s decision is important in closing a shameful chapter in recent Australian political history, it does not alter the intention of the US navy to take control of the deployment of the Australian submarine fleet and to use it as part of its provocations and confrontations against its major rival, China.
Australia’s continental defence does not require submarines with “long range capability”. US confrontation with China does.
The submarine debate must now switch direction and be expanded to embrace the campaign waged by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) and others to stand up to the incorporation of the Australian military into the predatory plans of US imperialism.
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