Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The US Alliance and Australia - 2nd Manning Clark House Talk July 5 2013

Session 2
The US Alliance and Australia
Australia signed up to ANZUS, a military alliance with the US, in 1951 under the anti-communist eye of Prime Minister Menzies.
The Australian military budget immediately increased by 150%, partially of course because this was the time of the Korean War and also because the Menzies Government wanted to impress the US with its loyalty.
This was in the midst of a housing crisis and a backlog of post war reconstruction but pleasing the US was more pressing than the needs of pesky Australians.
It set the pattern for successive Australian regimes right up to the present, a pattern which in blunt Australian talk is called ‘brown nosing’. 
The Alliance is the underpinning for the democratic and human rights abuses that I mentioned earlier when talking about the US bases on our soil.
There is an interesting question I don’t have time to go into now which is what is the impact of this subservience on Australian attitudes towards our independence and sovereignty.
There is a high level of support for the ANZUS alliance but it is based on the misconception that the US will come to our aid if ever Australia is invaded or seriously threatened in some other way.
In fact, of course, the actual wording of the ANZUS treaty does not compel the US to come to assistance of Australia should there be a danger on our borders nor does Australia have to do likewise for the US.
However, Australia has come to the US’s assistance in many conflicts from the Korean War to the Afghan War and Australian lives and Australian taxpayer’s money have been wasted on pursuing the foreign policy goals of the US.
We had no quarrel with the Koreans, with the Vietnamese, with the Iraqis or with the Afghans yet we sent young men and women to those places like obedient lambs to the slaughter and helped kill hundreds upon thousands of innocent people.
The most immediate effect of the alliance has been on our military spending.
In 2012 Stephen Smith cut the military budget by $7 billion which caused an angry response from the US. Mutters about ‘not pulling your weight’ were put about by various US commentators close to the US Government, the Pentagon and the US arms corporations.
In 2013 the military budget went up by just  over $1 billion. It is now $25 billion for this year which is around 10% of our disposable income.
Smith’s claim that Australia is the 2nd highest per capita spender on the military in the world which puts us behind the US but before big spenders like Britain and France,
The figure is indefensible when we consider that Australia’s strategic position makes it almost impossible to invade or hopelessly expensive to invade.
Considering that there is no country threatening or even looking like it could threaten to invade, why is the Australian military budget so high?  The budget is so high because we have to be ready to go off in a ‘coalition of the willing’ with the US at the drop of a hat.
The Alliance with the US skews our defence spending. We are corralled by the US to purchase equipment and engage in training that suits their needs. Interoperability is the term for turning the ADF into a de facto arm of the US military, with the equipment to match.
The weaponry we buy as a result of the Alliance is exorbitantly expensive and inappropriate for island defence. Based around long range delivery platforms, it does nothing for a balance of trade and makes us poorer, not more secure.
Apologists for the Alliance assert that we cannot have an independent non-aligned foreign policy as it would cost Australia too much to provide its own security.  We are deeply indebted to the US for giving us a shelter under their umbrella.
Complete nonsense!  The ledger is all on the side of the US, and Australia pays and pays for the dubious privilege of being aligned unquestioningly to the US.
The US gets an ally in International forums, a lever to apply at home, total support in the wars they start every 14 months, and 50 bases to play with on Australian soil.
The bases here give US troops experience in working the tropics and in dry savannah land as well as ports and airfields all for free!
The relationship expressed in the Alliance has to be changed. We should abandon the military interoperability and develop instead a relationship of mutual respect and reciprocity in fields such as trade, culture and education,
There has never been an adequate public discussion of Australia’s defence needs and how to respond to any threats that may arise.
Security threats that have been identified most clearly are smugglers and terrorists attacks. Submarines or F35’s do not assist much with those problems
The other threat is environmental be it fire, cyclone or flood.
In the Queensland floods the Australian Navy did not have a supply ship able to provide aid to those stranded in various parts of the state.  The skewing of priorities can be seen right down to this level of involvement and it can be all sheeted home to the US alliance. 
The Alliance affects our political system which is manipulated so that it can continue the massive direction of resources to the military and the use of our country as a staging post for more military adventures.
The major political parties vie with each other to see who can demonstrate the greatest loyalty to the US, too often to the detriment of the interests of our own citizens.
Questions about the role and cost of the bases, calls for a public enquiry into how best to make our nation secure, questions about the level of military spending are met with suggestions that ordinary people cannot deal with such complex topics or that the peace movement is anti-American.
The Alliance assists Australian big business to spread its own enterprises in the region, to become little imperialists at the expense of local people.  The behavior of Australian mining companies in the Philippines and Africa has been less than impressive. 
The Australian media is dominated by media owners and other pressures that discourage discussion of US involvement in Australia’s life. When stories on these topics are covered, the range of views published is severely limited.  The Australian people never get to hear all views so that they can make informed choices.
Political interference in Australian internal affairs is par for the course. The most scandalous occurrence took place during the ascendancy of Mark Latham as leader of the opposition when the US Ambassador publicly campaigned against the ALP. This is the arrogance that we have unfortunately come to expect from US representatives.

It is our view that the ANZUS alliance should be converted into a non-military relationship with the US in the interests of Australia’s economy, security and sustainable development.

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