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Issue #1721      March 2, 2016

Defence White Paper

Making Australia poorer not safer

The United States is driving to contain and control China and maintain its domination of the fast growing Asian region. The new Australian Defence White Paper (DWP) obediently adds to US military pressure and provocation designed to achieve this goal, all carried out in the context of a dangerous, growing regional arms race.

The Turnbull government will spend almost $50 billion in the next decade to fund the biggest expansion of the Australian naval power since World War II.

At a cost of $1 trillion over the next 20 years, the DWP is leading Australia down the destabilising and risky path of military escalation, making us poorer but definitely not safer.

This money should really be used to create jobs for the 800,000 unemployed, homes for the homeless or to help the two million Australians living in poverty.

Instead the billions will go into the pockets of the armaments corporations, most of them US-based.

Strategic assumptions

The major investments contained in this White Paper are based on two key strategic assumptions. Firstly, that the US remains our most important ally and the ultimate guarantor of the liberal order upon which the security of our sea lines of communication depend.

However, alliance with the US has pulled Australia in wars it did not need to fight – Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It continues to place our nation at risk of further involvements.

Secondly, that while the rise of China continues to be a source of economic prosperity, the country’s military expansion and refusal to obey the rules-based global order create tensions that Australia must rearm in order to counter.

The rather bland phrase “rules-based order” (which is used 53 times in the DWP) is of course spin for capitalist rules, for what is an American creation, the rules of the jungle!

All that China actually threatens is the continuing military supremacy in and economic and political domination of the region by the USA.

Surrounded by US bases in Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines and Japan, with the US taking over nearly half of Guam for a massive military base, with Australia allowing US marines to be based in Darwin, it is hardly surprising that China is moving to defend its borders.

China is asserting its role in the region, as one might expect from a growing and powerful country. It is also asserting its right to self defence. For Australia to risk making China an enemy, because it suits the interests of the USA, is the height of folly.

China

Chinese officials have commented that “Australia has been encouraged, seduced and threatened into a military build-up by the United States.

“Australia should try to maintain a good economic and trade relationship with China ... its military expenditure will not bring any benefit to Australia either strategically or economically.”

Throwing our weight around

The DWP concedes that any attack on Australia is an extremely remote prospect but it feels able to talk about preparing the ADF to take “a more active role in shaping regional affairs”.

The boost in naval and air power will allow Australia to project force further and more powerfully in the region. The US Deputy Sheriff is creating the most powerful regional military force (apart from the US) so it can throw its weight around in our region.

The DWP states that “the government is committed to working with the United States and like-minded partners to maintain the rules-based order by making practical and meaningful military contributions where it is in our interest to do so”.

Interoperability

The full spectrum maritime forces outlined in the DWP are designed to operate seamlessly with the US in sea-lanes, cyberspace and outer space.

The maxim within Australian defence circles is “interoperability” with the US military.

Interoperability – the process of Australian forces becoming more closely integrated with those of the US – means that Australian forces can operate with US forces and no other. This is because internal military communications are now dependent on US-controlled systems

This ever-deepening military subservience to the United States compromises Australia’s security, because our support for US engagement in the Asia-Pacific adds to regional tensions and increases the risk of Australian involvement in war. It does not in any way serve our strategic interests.

Australia’s economic well-being, security and national independence require a foreign policy which upholds peace and supports transparency, disarmament, co-operation and mutually beneficial trade.

Fightback!

  • April 5 to 18 are the dates for the Global Day of Action against Military Spending (GDAMS).
  • Organise $1 trillion protests in your area.
  • September 26 to October 3 is the time to aim directly at the US as we protest the 50th anniversary of the US base Pine Gap. The facility directs US killer drone assassinations, is crucial for US nuclear war-fighting strategies and is involved in massive surveillance programs.

NAVY

  • 12 “regionally superior” new submarines. Design and construction will soak up at least $50 billion, while fit-out of weapons and systems will cost at least $5 billion.
  • 9 anti-submarine warfare frigates and weapons. Cost $ 4 billion.
  • 3 Air Warfare Destroyers. In addition to the $9.1 billion construction bill, the destroyers will also require a further $5 billion to cover the installation of combat systems.
  • 12 offshore patrol vessels. At a cost of $3-4 billion;
  • 7 PA-8 Poseidon spy planes
  • Drones to assist warships
  • Mine defence and countermeasures equipment
  • Land based anti-ship missiles
  • Maritime Anti-Ship Missiles. Cost $ 5 billion;

AIR FORCE

  • 72 F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. US manufacturer Lockheed Martin will charge $15.3 billion. The F-35 is the first Australian defence purchase with the explicitly stated intention of improving interoperability with the US. Australia will be dependent on US technicians to keep the aircraft in the air. The planes have technical problems, there are questions about their suitability and ability to operate effectively in combat. Many of the problems with the F35 relate to its extraordinary, computer-based complexity.
  • 12 E/A-18G Growler attack planes produced by Boeing at a cost of $2.1 billion. These aircraft have unique air-to-air weapon capabilities and advanced radar detection.
  • New missile and missile defence systems
  • Cocos Islands. Airport to be upgrades to accommodate the P8 Poseidon surveillance planes, 7 new Triton long-range surveillance drones, and land-based missiles.

ARMY

  • Tanks. The army will upgrade its current fleet of 59 US-manufactured Abrams battle tanks at a cost of up to $15 billion.
  • Drones
  • Armed reconnaissance helicopters. Cost $5-$6 billion 

PERSONNEL

  • Uniformed personnel to increase by 4,900 to 62,400.
  • An extra 1,200 civilian jobs, including 900 special positions for cyber and surveillance

SURVEILLANCE & CYBER WARFARE

  • 7 MQ-4C Triton surveillance drones
  • Jindalee over the horizon radar system to be upgraded
  • Increased cyber defences
  • Long range Gulfstream jets for electronic war

Next article – Editorial – Nuke industry targets SA

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