Anti-US Base Rally and Forum
with Japanese and
Contribution by Denis Doherty
Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition
Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition
I thank the Asia-Wide Campaign against US-Japanese Domination and Aggression of Asia for the invitation to join this anti-US bases forum and protest action.
I bring you greetings from the Australian peace movement to your events over this weekend and a firm wish for their success.
We do know that we have good sense, economic responsibility and human and environmental survival on our side and that the continued rush to arm and weaponise our region is not in your country’s or my country’s interests.
We need a region where the big two --
and the China -- work out ways to
cooperate. Instead the governments of US ,
and the Japan
are rushing to develop and implement the road map to hell. US
The structure and machinery for the road to hell
The Asia Pacific region is crisscrossed with agreements for military and economic cooperation which are frequently updated.
As far as
is concerned the annual AUSMIN talks which are held one year in the Australia and
next in US
are the key decision making times for the two governments. Australia
AUSMIN, which stand for
and US Ministerial talks, was held in Australia
this year. My peace group, the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign, called the
communiqué issued at the end of the talks ‘the road map to hell’. One
quotation from this document will give you a sense of what was going on: Sydney
Australia and the United States welcomed
and committed to enhance trilateral security and defence cooperation, including
through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and further developing existing
trilateral exercises.’s efforts to make
a greater contribution to international peace and stability, including through
its decision to allow for the exercise of its UN Charter right to collective
self-defence. They undertook to maintain strong bilateral security
relationships with Japan
Trilateral agreements between
are a few years old now but in recent times there has been a deliberate
strengthening of the ties. Australia
Of course the announcement by Obama in November 2011 of what was first called the ‘pivot’ and now the much milder word ‘rebalancing’ is a process that will be well known to everyone here.
In 2011 Obama said
With most of the world’s nuclear power and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation…As President, I have, therefore, made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future…I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority…As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region. We will preserve our unique ability to project power and deter threats to peace…Our enduring interests in the region demand our enduring presence in the region.
is a Pacific power,
and we are here to stay. United States
At the G20 talks just concluded in
Obama gave a speech to the local University and said Brisbane
“And so as President, I decided that – given the importance of this region to American security, to American prosperity – the
would rebalance our
foreign policy and play a larger and lasting role in this region. That’s
exactly what we’ve done.” United States
The pivot is well and truly in place and there is no sign of any rethinking except for using a different word ‘rebalancing’.
APEC and the Trans Pacific Partnership (
and other economic forums play their part in the domination of our region. US
The teaming up of the
in a tight tri-power arrangement is a move to tighten containment of Australia . China has been congratulated for
‘re-interpreting’ its pacifist constitution so its forces can become more
integrated with the Japan
The architecture for the complete containment of
is well under way but it is
doomed to fail as China
is just too big to be contained. China
Australia’s involvement with the US
After WW11 many in
considered that the Australia
had ‘saved’ US
from the Japanese militarists and that they were owed some gratitude in the
form of favourable treatment economically and militarily. Australia
Gradually from 1967 until today, the number of US military facilities in
has grown to around 50. Australia
The first formal treaty was called ANZUS and was signed in 1951. ANZUS only requires the signatories to come to the assistance of other nations after consultation. However, it has been used as the excuse for Australian involvement in the many wars of the
in our region – US ,
and now against IS. Afghanistan
In 1967 the US and Australia opened what has become the biggest US base in Australia –Pine Gap, situated 20 kms from Alice Springs in Central Australia. There are over 1,000 people working there from all
intelligence agencies – the US CIA,
NSA, NRO and intelligence sections of the army, navy and airforce. There are private contractors and Australian
military personnel as well. US
bases in US
have been largely technical facilities involved with spying from space on areas
of interest to the Australia ,
covering the area from the US Middle East oil
fields to . China
Today the bases still have those functions but have added many others. They cover the collection of signals, the surveillance of both enemies and friends, communications with battlefield commanders, finding targets in conflicts, and more. The
bases are called 3CI and later
4CI facilities, namely Control, Command, Communication and later the 4th
C was added Computer and Intelligence. US
Today the bases are more involved in the day to day operations of the
military such as US ’s
participation through Pine Gap and other bases to provide the necessary
information to control and provide targets for drones. Pakistani human rights lawyers and Australian
lawyers allege that Australia can be prosecuted for human rights violations
because of the assistance from Pine Gap in the over 3000 extra judicial
killings carried out by drones in Pakistan. Australia
A more intensive form of involvement has been the use of training bases by US forces along with regional partners.
introduced this form of
subservience in the 1990’s making large tracts of Australia and the Queensland available for war
games. Northern Territory
In 2011 the then Labor (social democratic) Government agreed to the stationing of US Marines in
on Darwin ’s
northern coast. Australia
The centrepiece of Obama’s visit was the announcement that at least 2,500 elite
Marines will be stationed in US in Darwin ’s
In addition, in a series of significant parallel agreements, discussions with Northern Territory were underway
to fly long-range American surveillance drones from the remote Washington Cocos Islands — an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Also the will gain greater use of
Australian Air Force bases for American aircraft and increased ship and
submarine visits to the US Indian Ocean through a
naval base outside ,
on the country’s west coast. Perth
Who would pay the millions, possibly billions of dollars over time for the 2,500 Marines rotating through
was not clarified for some time, despite intense pressure from the peace
movement and other forces in Darwin .
Finally, some time after the AUSMIN meeting, another document was released
called the Australia
and Australia Force Posture Review. This made it clear that US has to pay! Australia
However, with AUSMIN it became clear that there will be increased US Navy and US Air Force visits. B52’s – infamous for their bombing of
– will be allowed into Vietnam
for the first time since they were banned from our skies because they carried
nuclear weapons. Australia
The Australian Anti-Bases Coalition has campaigned for information on the rules governing the stationing of Marines in
. But AUSMIN provided no answers to important
questions such as “can the US marines undertake military action from Australian
bases without Australian government agreement”. Vague general references are
made to interoperability, strategic collaboration and the bi-annual huge
military exercise Talisman Sabre Darwin
Journalist Hamish McDonald (Saturday Paper 16/8/14) pointed out:
Another question left unspoken is about the freedom of Washington to deploy its forces directly out of Australia, and the level of consultation required with Canberra. The distinction between training and basing is blurring.
The US and Australia Force Posture Review made it clear that the US is free to operate anyway it sees fit from its base in Darwin.
Missile warfare is given prominence in the AUSMIN statement. This reveals that the ground stations at Pine Gap, the Geraldton base in Western Australia, and the three Jindalee radar stations across Australia will be the eyes of the US-Australian-Japanese anti-ballistic missile network.
The possibility of anti-missile firings from Australian and Japanese air warfare destroyers being controlled by the US central command is lauded by AUSMIN. This proposal would mean Australia would lose control of Australian weapons and it leaves open the prospect that Australian missiles could slam into Chinese or Russian missiles without any input from Australia – an appalling, dangerous and depressing possibility.
Australian involvement with the US is getting deeper and more complex and threatening. Both major political parties (Labor and Liberals) compete with each other to more ‘pro US’ than the other and almost all the media and much of academia totally supports the US-Australian alliance.
However, things are changing with some prominent people from Australia’s political establishment expressing doubts about the usefulness of the US alliance and the need for greater Australian independence. Some leading members of the Australian business community are growing increasingly concerned about upsetting China which is a major economic partner. These are voices from within the elite and cannot be completely ignored or silenced. So the picture is not completely bleak.
Australia’s involvement with Japan.
With the advent of the Abe administration in September 2006, Japan’s official policy became much more pro-active about direct strategic collaboration with Australia. Now with the right-wing Abbott Government this rush to engage more with Japan on every level is proceeding at a great pace. Japanese Prime Minister Abe was in Australia in April to an almost hero’s welcome. Abbott declared that Japan is “Australia’s best friend in Asia”. This clearly upset the Chinese and the Indonesians who thought they were pretty friendly too.
Around 2006 the first trilateral agreement was made with Japan and the relationship has grown since. There is a strong move on for Australia and Japan to become more involved economically and militarily with each other to strengthen the US alliance. The meeting of 4th Australia-Japan Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations 2012 called for:
43. Strengthening trilateral defence cooperation with the United States.
44. Strengthening interoperability amongst the defence organisations of all three countries.
45. Focusing on robust, regular and practical cooperation among Australia, Japan and the United States through the Trilateral Defence Ministers' Meeting, the Trilateral Security and Defence Cooperation Forum (SDCF) and trilateral service-specific talks.
48. Conducting observer exchanges to respective exercises with the United States.
In 2014 apart from the special visit of Prime Minister Abe to Australia to sign a trade deal, Obama took both the Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia apart at the G20 meeting for talks.
For the first time since 2007, the leaders of the United States, Australia, and Japan met on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Brisbane, Australia and agreed to deepen their military cooperation. Specifically, U.S. President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to deepen their cooperation on maritime security. The meeting took place despite its potential to antagonize Beijing, which complains of U.S.-allied states in the Asia-Pacific aspiring to “contain” its rise. The meeting between the three allies came a week after the U.S. and China concluded a landmark agreement on climate change, and after Japan and China held high-level diplomatic meetings for the first time in nearly two years. (Diplomat Nov 19 2014)
Indicative of this rush for more involvement with Japan has been the contentious issue of a new submarines purchase for the Australian Navy. The peace movement has been fighting this acquisition as it will cost over $24 billion Australian dollars. We have argued that we do not need submarines as they are platforms for attack rather than defence. We also ask why we need 12 when we could not manage to keep 6 of the former submarines in the water at one time.
However, the major debate in Australia is now whether to buy Japanese submarines of the shelf or to use Australia’s submarine company (ASC) to build them. The Abbott government clearly favours the Japanese option as it will put us closer to Japan militarily and economically. Just days ago (November 25 2014) the Australian Defence Minister claimed he would not trust ASC to build a canoe! A statement that has caused uproar.
Of course there are some rough patches in the relationship. The conflict over Japanese whaling is one example. Another is Japan’s refusal of Japan to recognise Australia’s economic zone in the Antarctic which impacts on the difficult issue of fishing rights.
In general, however, the Australian Government wants closer involvement with Japan and strongly supports Japan’s attitude towards the disputed South China Sea islands and the reinterpretation of Article 9 of Japan’s constitution.
This year the AUSMIN talks indicated that the right-wing Abbott Government would ignore advice from prominent Australians that we are too ‘close to the US’. Instead the Government engaged in more abject groveling.
Former Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and Paul Keating and former Foreign Minister Bob Carr have all said that Australia’s interests are not served by servility to the US super power but require greater independence.
Paul Keating was reported as saying in the Keith Murdoch Oration 2012 that “Australia was over deferential to the US”
The combined weight of the Abbott Government and US officials has squashed any tendency towards a more independent Australia. Instead the path of ‘all the way with the USA’ was reinforced by AUSMIN 2014.
Australia’s interests are best served by good relations and co-operation with all countries, especially Indonesia and China. Tension between the US and China is not beneficial for Australia and the region. The most advantageous policy for Australia is to steer an independent course in our region. AUSMIN charts a path that will lead inevitably towards heightened tensions and even the possibility of war between the US and China and hence is a road map to hell.
The need for regional-wide resistance
Just as our opponents, the militarists, arms profiteers and warmongers of Australia Japan and the US, meet with regularity and form partnerships across many countries in Asia so too must we in a more modest manner meet for joint actions and cooperation.
As citizens of this region we are not in a position to leave the growing tension between our countries and China to the elite. We must act to bring about cooperation between China and the US. We must act to have our countries act more independently and to stop being so keen to jump to the US dictats.
In Australia’s case there has been some move to warn our citizens about the dangers of tension between China and the US by prominent people. The discussion does get some airing but it is quickly suppressed by our highly monopolised and right wing media which will not support any modification of the present arrangements. Despite assurances from Obama, Abbott and Abe about not wanting to contain China, it is irrefutable that this is their main aim.
As a starting point, just as you have invited me here today to participate in the rally against the US Marine Base at Iwakuna, we are having a rally against the giant US-Australian military exercise ‘Talisman Sabre’. TS15 will be held in July 2015 and the peace movement will rally to oppose and frustrate it. We are fairly certain that the Japanese military will be present as observers. It would be most welcome if there could be some push from here to stop any involvement of the JSDF. In addition, if AWC considers it possible, there might be space and finance for a representative from Japan to attend our peace convergence against the Talisman Sabre war games.
We would like to make some suggestions for your consideration:
- A cross regional Anti-Base Day/week/action.
- Linked participation in the Global Day of action against military spending which is held on or around April 14 each year.
- Linked participation in the Keep Space for Peace week in the first week of October.
The peace movement in Australia has been at a low ebb for some time. However, there are signs that this is changing and we continue to work and act to encourage people to think about the issues we are talking about today.
The introduction of Marines to Darwin sparked new energy and activism across Australia to resist US domination of Australia’s political life, economy and military.
The Anti-Bases Campaign sponsored and assisted to found a new peace group called IPAN – Independent and Peaceful Australia Network. This group has taken up much of the resistance to the US Marines in Australia. The older established Anti-Bases network is working to rid Australia of its US bases and has also organised protest rallies, leaflets, pamphlets and submissions about the pivot, war games on our territory, drones and other issues.
As I left Australia the country was upset because the government had cut $250 million from our national broadcaster, the ABC. However, there are few people asking why funding for the Australian military is never cut.
We are told to tighten our belts and accept poorer services for health, education, welfare and housing. But when the US demanded Australian support for its intervention in Iraq and Syria to push back IS, the Australian Government was able to find half a billion dollars for troops to Iraq and $600 million to spend on security services to behave as the NSA in the USA.
The “guns or butter” argument continues and will only get more bitter as governments ignore the needs of the people and serve only the needs of upper 0.01% of our populations and the military-industrial complex which defends them.
We still need to fight and the prospect of the demonstration against this US Marine Base is a positive sign of resistance – congratulations to all the organisers and the people who support you.