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Issue #1775      May 3, 2017

Editorial

Mr Turnbull goes to Washington

A very relieved Australian Prime Minister is off to Washington to meet the US President in person, briefcase in hand with a wad of blank cheques. His greatest hope is to reverse the public humiliation of Donald Trump undiplomatically cutting short their phone call. The meeting is taking place on board the World War II aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid, now a museum. They will be marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea against the Japanese – an appropriate occasion for two leaders preparing to take their countries into another war.

Meanwhile tensions are mounting on the Korean Peninsula and in the East and South China Seas. The US and South Korea have been conducting the largest ever joint military exercise, “Foal Eagle” with North Korea the target. The US has made it clear that “all options are on the table” and that it is prepared to stage a pre-emptive strike, which could involve nuclear weapons.

Washington’s bellicose threats about making a “surgical strike” are alarming and should have all anti-war and peace activists on the streets. There is no certainty of containing any conflict. Australia will be complicit, at a minimum, through the US forces and materiel stationed here and the US’s spy base at Pine Gap. What we don’t know is what commitments the government has made such as during Turnbull’s discussion with US Defence Secretary James Mattis in Kabul, with Vice-President Pence during his visit to Australia and what Turnbull will sign on board the Intrepid.

While demonising the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) for carrying out missile tests and developing nuclear weapons, the US continues to carry out its own testing and is generating an arms race.

China has strongly condemned the US deployment of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) aimed at weakening China’s defence and which will escalate an arms race. The massive build up of US forces and regular military exercises with South Korea, simulating an attack on the DPRK, pose the greatest threat to peace. Without the presence of US forces, the DPRK would not need such weapons.

Australia is already involved in the US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and looks set to be in those countries for the long term. There is growing concern about and opposition to Australia’s foreign policy as Turnbull looks set to take Australia into yet another war. According to a recent poll for The Australia Institute, 48 percent of voters feel that Australia should be more independent on military and security matters and 60 percent believe that the election of Donald Trump is a negative outcome for the world overall.

War is not the solution. A nuclear war would have no winners and would render the planet uninhabitable.

Australia is in an ideal position to play a key role as a peacemaker in our region. Australia has good relations with both China and the US. Instead of knocking on Washington’s door with blank cheques, Turnbull should be doing what the majority of Australians wish for – adopting an independent foreign policy, recognising the sovereignty and independence of other nations and establishing relations based on mutual respect and cooperation.

There is no security reason for the US military to be in Asia. There is no military threat apart from that of the US. The US must withdraw to allow the facilitation of a negotiated, peaceful resolution to current tensions. The clock is ticking to midnight.

Next article – Guards punched, restrained boys

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