Micronesia: farewell Paradise, hello superpower rivalry
Written by: (Contributed) on 16 November 2021
A communique from the Australian Department of Defence has revealed US-led military planning to upgrade facilities for Micronesia as part of a regional militarisation program. The communique outlined clearly Australian military and intelligence involvement with the defence and security of 'US interests'.
Micronesia, historically, has been regarded as a strategic location for US-led regional military and security provision; a multitude of small islands, (“Micronesia” is Greek for “tiny islands”) many of which remain US territories and others with independent governments and neo-colonial relations with the West. The Micronesian sub-part of the vast Pacific Ocean would now appear to have been placed under the spotlight of the Pentagon as a potential theatre of war with China.
In late October the Australian newspaper published a Northern Territory Defence supplement using Australian Department of Defence media releases. It provided a useful insight into present day US-led military planning for the Indo-Pacific region. (1)
One part of the supplement, however, dealt specifically with Micronesia, a sub-part of the region resting to the north of the South and Western Pacific regions. It has always been regarded as important for US-led military and intelligence provision being centred upon Guam, a US-territory and regional Pacific military hub on the same arc from Pine Gap to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. In recent years both Guam and Diego Garcia have been upgraded to hubs specifically for military operations, with Darwin as the support centre.
Other areas of Micronesia, likewise, remain important for the US: the Marshall Islands has been used extensively by US maritime facilities for flags of convenience for shipping vessels. The fact so many of the small islands remain under US control is evidence itself of their continued significance for US regional foreign policy: many host sensitive facilities.
The recent upgrade for fuel storage facilities at RAAF Base Darwin was conducted for long-range flights of military aircraft. It is not surprising to find elsewhere in the same supplement reference given to Australia's Triton program for regional surveillance and intelligence-gathering and the use of military facilities in Guam. (2)
Micronesia now looks set for a further upgrade to its existing military facilities.
The communique noted, for example, that 'spurred by growing perceptions of a rising Chinese threat … the AUKUS trilateral defence agreement … will see the transformation of the Top End … and will concentrate upon the … vital southern US defence anchor, linking Guam to the north and Hawaii to the east'. (1) Hawaii has been important for the US regional military presence for decades as the centre of their regional command facility.
An actual/real size regional map shows the triangular military plan to encompass Micronesia. (3) The arc from Darwin to Guam cuts directly through Manus Island and the Lombrum Naval base and South Pacific region, the Darwin to Hawaii arc cuts through the Rajik Group of Islands controlled by the US and the Marshall Islands also under US control. The arc from Guam to Hawaii, furthermore, cuts through Wake Island, also under US control, while also covering the Western Pacific.
The same communique also drew attention to the role of Darwin as having undergone a 'transformation of the Top End into an important defence springboard into the Indo-Pacific'. (4) An example of the use of the Top End would appear the potential use of Guam by RAAF Triton aircraft for 'patrolling to the north of Guam … for up to ten hours at a time'. (5) The flight time would indicate RAAF aircraft manoeuvring in highly sensitive areas of the region contested by China.
A further consideration when dealing with Micronesia, however, remains the problem of Taiwan, which has become a US-led preoccupation in recent years. Australia has also been closely drawn into the problem with recent high-level diplomatic meetings between Taipei and Canberra. It is not coincidental that the present ruling President Tsai Ing-wen administration in Taipei has directed much of its 'New Southbound Policy' (NSP) specifically at Micronesia where it still retains some limited official diplomatic presence. It has, however, been challenged by China in recent times, which has left most of the NSP foreign policy in tatters.
Elsewhere, across the region China, likewise, has been able to establish far stronger diplomatic links and investment programs. They have seriously challenged traditional US-led hegemonic positions which historically included support from compliant governments to maintain neo-colonial relations with the West. It is, therefore, no coincidence the US military planning for Micronesia has taken place at the present time; China's increased role in the region has been assessed by the Pentagon as a serious challenge.
Most countries now, however, have full diplomatic relations with China and due to the United Nations One China policy, restrictions have been placed upon Taiwan. While Taipei has administrative offices in 112 countries, including four in Australia, they only have 17 official diplomatic missions worldwide. The recent diplomatic switch, by the Solomons Islands in the South Pacific and Kiribati in the central Pacific, from Taipei to Beijing in September 2019, for example, was a major blow to President Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan, as a means of projecting their neo-diplomatic presence elsewhere, has increasingly become reliant on a shadowy, out-sourced yet governmental-type body, the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD), formerly the World Anti-Communist League (WACL). It was established by the US during the earliest days of the previous Cold War and consists of a conglomerate of right-wing and far-right political organisations which have been noted from reliable studies as consisting of 'a world of ideological fanaticism, racialism, ignorance and fear … and composed of … many people who are as much opposed to democracy as they are communism'. (6) It also has intelligence functions and involvement with the CIA and operations across all continents. (7)
The WLFD would appear to also have an extensive presence in Australia although members and affiliates lurk behind sealed websites to maintain a level of secrecy which would arouse suspicions with even the most gullible of observers. (8) It has been noted, for example, that senior Liberal and Coalition partners, including John Howard and those associated with him, have active involvement with the WACL/WLFD. (9) Others, including senior Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers, through involvement with the WACL/WLFD were able to build on their work with the CIA to continue operations in Australia through far-right networks of supporters and civil defence provision, including with reservists. (10)
With developments such as these taking place, which draw Australia ever closer to a US-led limited war with China:
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. Security pact to boost US presence in the Top End, Northern Territory Defence supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
2. $200m thrust for aircraft base to service Triton, Northern Territory Defence supplement, The Weekend Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
3. Map of the World, Peters Projection, Actual Size.
4. Security pact, op.cit., Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
5. $200m thrust, op.cit., Australian, 30-31 October 2021.
6. Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1988), Foreword.
7. Ibid., pp. 55-56.
8. Ibid., page 59.
9. Website: WACL/WLFD, 9 January 1990; and, Ted Serong, Anne Blair, (Melbourne, 2002), pp. 183-91; and, Howard keeps link, The Age (Melbourne), 1 January 2007.
10. Ted Serong, ibid., Sleevenote, and, pp. 174-196.
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