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Issue #1655      September 10, 2014

Abbott beats the war drum

From the Middle East to the Ukraine, Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean

The Abbott government is straining at the leash, desperate to commit the Australian military further to US war plans. In fact, it appears to have taken on the special role of being the first to threaten grave consequences for the alleged adversaries of the US worldwide in the most prejudicial terms. The rhetoric coming from Obama Administration and US Congress hawks has been exceeded by the Abbott government. Aside from its deep commitment to the US alliance, it is keen to draw attention away from a deteriorating domestic political scene. For its own political reasons, Labor is going along with this dangerous, dishonest agenda.

Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and other Coalition heavyweights have kept on plugging with their “tough” line on the situation in the Ukraine. “Let us be clear about what is happening: Russia started it and Russia must take responsibility for this loss of life,” Abbott told Parliament recently. Though investigators are still to report on the incident, Abbott insists Russian rebels shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, that swarms of tanks and 1,000 Russian soldiers are operating openly in eastern Ukraine.

The fanciful take on events begins with the idea that “Russia started it.” In fact, a violent US and NATO-inspired coup against the democratically elected government of the Ukraine “started it.” That reality and the major role played by neo-fascists in the process is completely ignored. The corporate media can be relied on to make the most of Abbott’s pot stirring. His latest pronouncement that the remains of passengers may still be strewn on the fields of eastern Ukraine and that, somehow, Russian rebels are preventing their recovery beggars belief.

Tissue thin or not, Australia has entered into tit-for-tat sanctions against the Russian government on the basis of these claims. New travel bans and other measures were announced by the Abbott government last week and Julie Bishop was going to use her visit to the NATO summit in Cardiff last week, in part, to lobby her counterparts for the exclusion of President Putin from the G20 meeting to be held in Brisbane in November.

The Abbott government has been rewarded for its efforts. While Australia already had a partnership agreement with NATO signed by the previous Labor government that covered intelligence and technology sharing and joint training and personnel swaps, it will now get to sit in on key decision-making meetings. Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden have also been anointed. Key decisions will include the deployment of a new “rapid reaction force” for Eastern Europe clearly directed against the influence and sovereignty of Russia. The Ukraine is only the latest pawn in the grand scheme of encircling and then breaking up economic rival Russia. A ring of dependent, economically crippled former Soviet republics now hosts NATO assets in readiness.

Other grand plans

The Prime Minister was busy last week advancing another grand US imperialist plan. He visited his Indian counterpart, newly-elected right-winger Narendra Modi. Abbott signed off on a deal to supply Australian uranium to India thus freeing up other supplies for use in its nuclear weapons program. The Australian PM’s talk about India’s supposedly impeccable behaviour as a global citizen since independence was so much hot air. The stubborn facts are that its nuclear power generation industry has an appalling safety record and that it is in a nuclear arms race with northern neighbour Pakistan.

Abbott’s trip also saw India agree to closer military ties including joint military exercises with Australia, the US and Japan. This grouping was enthusiastically termed the “Gang of four” before the Pentagon told Howard-era ministers to tone down the language. India is being drawn further into a war-fighting alliance against China, which is claimed to be behaving in an increasingly aggressive manner. Disputes over islands in the South China and East China Sea are said to be evidence of China’s “expansionist” mindset in the region, in the words of Prime Minister Modi. Chinese financed port facilities and other projects in the Asia Pacific and Indian Oceans region are said to be the beginnings of a “string of pearls” network of bases for future military aggression.

The reality is that the US and its allies are the ones busily establishing new military bases. The US Marines’ base in Darwin is only one of the most recent contributions by the Australian government. Talk of a “joint” Australia/US base on the Cocos Islands is firming up.

Back to Iraq

The other theatre of war that Abbott and Co is itching to be involved in is the Middle East. Horrifying images of beheadings carried out by Islamic State (IS) executioners have been used to create support for military involvement in Iraq alongside US forces or at least to dampen opposition to it. Abbott claims two thirds of the 60 Australians said to be fighting with IS forces may return to commit blood-curdling terrorist atrocities in Australia.

There’s no doubt successive governments’ complicity with the US in the Middle East makes Australia a potential terror target. The Abbott government could lessen that possibility by aiding the government of Iraq to rebuild the country after the “shock and awe” invasion and legacy of depleted uranium shells, flattened health and other vital infrastructure and the marauding of US and other oil sector corporations. But that’s not the way imperialism works.

The Abbott government will soon follow up air-drops of humanitarian supplies to territory threatened by IS forces with deliveries of rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, small arms and ammunition to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. The Iraqi ambassador to Australia has protested the move that bypasses Iraq’s national government. The Abbott government has also bypassed the Australian people in all of these war preparations. Labor and the Coalition united to defeat calls from the Greens and independent MP Andrew Wilke for Parliament to debate involvement in the conflict.

US President Barak Obama is set to commit greater numbers of supposedly non-combat military personnel to Iraq. Foreshadowing an expected address to the nation, Obama said he will be calling on a group of “partners” to help with the task of defeating IS. He mentioned Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Turkey in a televised interview. He could have mentioned Syria, which is already battling the forces of the gruesome “Caliphate” on its soil. The problem with helping Syria would be that it upsets the overall US (and Israeli Zionist) agenda of breaking up Middle Eastern countries not to its liking. Syria is a prime example of such independent minded countries.

In all these plans, the US has a willing helper in the Abbott government. The labour and peace movements of Australia must rally strong opposition to these reckless plans so that they no longer serve as a useful distraction to domestic politics but become a millstone around the neck of an untrustworthy government.

Next article – Editorial – Government contempt for Parliament

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