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Issue #1686      May 27, 2015

Taking Issue – Chelman Lentz

Plan reveals Australia’s colonial status

Last week US assistant defence secretary David Shear announced to a Congressional hearing that the United States would soon be basing B-1 Lancer bombers and surveillance aircraft in Australia as a deterrent to China’s “destabilising effect” in the South China Sea.

US Marine Corps Sgt. Robert Cole informs Marines of the firing procedures during a live-fire exercise on Kangaroo Flats Training Area in Darwin, Australia, May 1, 2014. (Photo: Cpl. Scott Reel)

This move is, in fact, part of the USA’s pre-existing “pivot to Asia” strategy, which aims to gradually emplace a blockade on China, so the USA can strangle China economically by closing off its trade routes, affecting its ability to import oil from the Middle East or elsewhere by sea.

Australia is being upgraded as a US operated base for this purpose.

Australia has a “force posture agreement” with the USA that allows “enhanced aircraft cooperation initiatives.” It has already had heavy bombers (B-52s) deployed in Australia, though the justification at this stage is that these have only been “visits” for exercises and training.

For the US Defence forces it is apparently OK to inform their own Congress about their plans for further deployment of military forces before informing the government of one of their most obviously obsequious colonies of their intentions.

However, the Chinese government almost immediately issued a statement expressing “serious concern”, declaring it would “resolutely uphold its territorial sovereignty” and warning the United States to “talk and act cautiously and not take any actions that are risky or provocative”.

Following the Chinese reaction, the Australian Prime Minister Abbott and his Defence Minister Andrews were soon claiming that the US government had contacted them to advise that the official had “misspoke” and as far as the PM understood, “the US does not have any plans to base those aircraft in Australia.”

Abbott’s statement betrays the real relationship between Australia and the United States – Abbott “understands” the Americans have no “plans” at present for basing aircraft in Australia, but there is no independent Australian view on the matter.

Contrast this with the government view on refugees and immigration – “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.”

The Pentagon’s spin is that “the specifics of future force posture cooperation are yet to be finalised.” This is an admission that the US does not regard the current status of “visits” and deployments as having reached their limit, whether or not the US will involve the Australian government in planning further development of US facilities in Australia, or whether it merely expects Australia to go along with whatever it decides.

The mention of the planned basing of B-1s in Australia was not the only thing the US Assistant Defence Secretary mentioned to the Congressional hearing: he also declared that there would be a doubling of US marines bound for Darwin, so as to maintain a “very strong continued posture … and to continue ensuring peace and stability in the region”.

That peace of course is the peace of Pax Americana, the imposition of US imperial rule!

Australia is bound by thousands of intricate and all embracing ties and dependencies to the US empire – of which an expanding network of military and intelligence bases is just one aspect. Australia is almost completely integrated into US rule.

As WikiLeaks and other sources have shown, Australia’s political, business, public service and even union establishments are riddled with US “protected assets”. Our media, for news and information, as well as its program content is greatly dependent on US (and British) sources. Mass culture and consumerism greatly reflects its US origins.

As pointed out by John Pilger (“The Forgotten Coup – How America and Britain Crushed the Government of Their ‘Ally’, Australia”) and many others, there is very strong evidence that the Whitlam Labor government was brought low at the instigation of the United States in 1975, when it queried the continued operation of the United States’ Pine Gap spy facility near Alice Springs.

Most of all, we are colonised in our minds. Much of the population is seeing itself as a part of the team, a “democracy”, part of the “free world”, accepting that the US is exceptional and does legitimately maintain “law and order” throughout the world, that its world view is authoritative and the US is automatically the “goody” arraigned against whatever “baddies” are in its sights.

There is much to do for Australia to achieve its independence. It can only be through taking on imperialism – including our own ruling elites inextricably tied to imperialism – and by building solidarity and class consciousness within Australia and with the working and oppressed masses throughout the world.

Next article – National Justice Coalition wants record changed

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