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Issue #1794      September 13, 2017

Editorial

Military-industrial complex demands infinite warfare

Fifty-six years ago retiring US President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex, an amalgamation of “an immense military establishment” and “a permanent arms industry of vast proportions” that exercised unwarranted influence over government policy, consumed an enormous proportion of the US federal budget, and dictated intellectual research so that “public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite”.

No left-winger, Eisenhower said the US was facing “a hostile ideology – global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method”. That’s how he saw communism, yet his words describe precisely the US military-industrial complex.

Eisenhower advocated “disarmament, with mutual honour and confidence”, and the resolution of disputes “not with arms but with intellect and decent purpose”. But he would have surely been appalled by the vice-like grip of the military-industrial complex on current foreign and domestic policy, its insatiable consumption of government funds and the resulting impoverishment of US citizens.

President Trump says the US will boost its military involvement in Afghanistan, and refuses to say how long it will remain there. After 16 years, the US now faces never-ending warfare in Afghanistan. That’s a brilliant result for the military industrial complex, but a disaster for the people of the US and Afghanistan.

Several years ago the US national debt passed one trillion dollars, which someone described as: “a one-dollar sign with 12 zeros behind it!” Every year the US sinks further into debt, borrows more, and makes “temporary” arrangements to fund pensions, medical and welfare services and other federal programs, while its military expenditure continues to grow.

Last week’s agreement between Trump and the Democrats, which aimed at limiting the US debt, is likely to involve reducing the already threadbare US social welfare programs rather than cutting military spending.

Australia has been an ally in every major US military conflict since WW2. After Trump’s recent announcement committing the US to a virtually endless war in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Turnbull offered Australia’s military assistance for “as long as necessary”.

He stated: “... you should expect it to be very long term ... Additional resources [may be] deployed to Afghanistan but I don’t want to speculate on it.”

The coalition government has also offered military assistance to the government of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, whose anti-drug policies have resulted in the summary execution of more than 12,000 citizens over 14 months. Foreign minister Julie Bishop did not raise the issue of human rights during a recent visit.

Under the agreement Australia will train Philippine soldiers for military operations against ISIS in Mindanao, where Australian mining corporations are operating.

The terrorist group has found ready supporters there because the Philippines is an ally of the US, whose brutal military intervention in the Middle East has led to the creation of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The Turnbull government denies that Australian forces would be involved in direct combat, but the RAAF is already using two spy planes to gather information on ISIS, which has described Australia as the US “regional guard dog”.

The US is also likely to appoint former Admiral Harry Harris as ambassador to Australia. Harris has adopted an extremely confrontational approach to navigation in the South China Sea, and advocates an increase in US missiles directed at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

One Chinese newspaper described him as “the most prejudiced and Cold War-minded chief of all US Pacific commanders since WW2”.

Turnbull has joined the US in calling for further sanctions against the DPRK (North Korea), including banning cross-border oil supplies. A Chinese official subsequently referred to someone “pointing fingers while stabbing [you] in the back”.

And an enormous proportion of Australia’s federal budget is now going to defence, including multi-billion dollar purchases of submarines and supersonic aircraft. Overseas weapons manufacturers, including the Israeli corporation MBDA, are now jostling for the chance to supply missiles for the Australian Army’s 225 new combat vehicles and 400 new armoured personnel carriers.

Australia is sinking into a military morass. We must stop being the toady of Uncle Sam, end our offensive operations at his behest, and enter the international struggle for peace. If we don’t, we’ll join the US as a prisoner of the military-industrial complex, doomed to poverty and never-ending war.

Next article – CPA statement – Reza Shahabi, Iranian trade unionist on hunger strike

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