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Issue #1885      September 11, 2019


September 11: A day to reflect on the role of US Imperialism

Today is September 11, and it is a notable day for a couple of reasons.

On September 11, 1973, the socialist world suffered a setback in South America with the successful coup of the Chilean military over democratically elected President Salvador Allende. What is now widely known regarding the installation of Fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet is that the USA (more specifically the CIA) had their fingerprints all over it. What is less widely known, despite the fact it was reported on as early as 1974, was Australia’s involvement. The role of two Australian intelligence agencies, ASIS and ASIO, was to “backfill four CIA agents who had been expelled by the Allende government,” according to an ABC report. Four years later, Former PM Gough Whitlam confirmed to parliament “I cannot deny it [...] Australian intelligence personnel were working as proxies of the CIA in destabilising the government of Chile.” Thus, before us here, is one of the earliest examples of Australia aiding and abetting US imperialism. And it would not be the last, nor was it our first.

Before the Allende coup, Australia was involved in what was then its longest war: the Vietnam War. In 1962, the Menzies government committed to conscripting thousands of our men to fight an ideological and political war (ultimately being our most substantial post-WW2 contribution to a war effort) for the USA.

Fast forward to September 11, 2001, and the fate of the century changed with the attack on the World Trade Center by Al-Qaeda. This rare (although not unprecedented moment) of foreign terrorism provided the Bush administration with ample capital to push ahead with war against Afghanistan that only served as an excuse to get at their real target: Iraq.

In order to shore up international support, the Bush administration called upon allies to not only condemn Saddam Hussein but also to echo the false reports that Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. While 48 nations backed the US, only three contributed to its invasion forces: United Kingdom, Poland, and our little sun-soaked country, Australia. In defending this decision, then PM John Howard spoke before parliament to lay out his “five core” arguments: “First, that Iraq possessed an ‘arsenal’ of chemical and biological weapons. Second, that Iraq was in pursuit of a nuclear capability. Third, that the UN’s disarmament efforts on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had failed. Fourth, that a failure to dismantle Iraq’s WMD capabilities would encourage other rogue states like North Korea to continue their own nuclear programs. Fifth, that allowing Iraq to retain its WMD capabilities would make it possible for terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to obtain WMDs, threatening the security of other states including Australia.” (Sydney Morning Herald)

These “arguments” by Howard, which amount to merely parroting the US claims, reflects nothing but the subservient nature of Australia to US imperialism. Australia’s membership in the “coalition of the willing” has been qualified by former PM Kevin Rudd as “as one of the two great failures of Australian foreign policy since the Second World War.” The other one? The Vietnam war.

As a result of the war, thousands died on both sides. Why? Because of oil and military interests (look at US VP Dick Cheney’s ties to Halliburton). And this is the case with any resource-rich nation that is not compliant with US hegemony (e.g. Venezuela) or that acts independently of US interests and has the ability to defend itself (as is the case with the DPRK, China, etc). And Australia complies for a couple of reasons; firstly, Australia and the US share the same ideological mindset; secondly, the US provides the illusion of military security to Australia; thirdly, the US is one of our biggest trade partners.

The first reason is evident in the political duopoly of Australian politics. Both major parties, the ALP and the Coalition, are driven by the same capitalistic tendencies that dictate their policy (e.g. the actions taken regarding Adani by Queensland ALP and federally by the Coalition). An even more egregious political duopoly exists across the Pacific in the Pacific, driven by those same attributes.

The second reason is not contentious at all. According to Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), it is believed there are roughly 50 US military bases, across Australia. Australia is also home to over 2,500 members of the US armed forces. The US navy also protects Australian ships on trading routes through the Asian-Pacific from dangers such as piracy.

The third reason, however, puts Australia in a hairy situation. While it is true that the US is one of Australia’s biggest trade partners, do you know who’s the biggest? China. China counts for almost a third of our total exports (the largest by far).

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news recently, China and the USA have gotten into a tit-for-tat trade war. With our largest security partner engaging in a Cold War-esqe battle with our largest trading partner the ruling class in Australia is showing signs of division. We need to strengthen our relations with China on a mutually beneficial basis. Especially so, given that China is so apparently becoming an economic powerhouse globally that is conveniently located in our backyard! What makes China an even more palatable option over our American friends is that they aren’t imperialists. The continuation of “China’s peaceful rise” under Xi Jinping, best highlighted by the Belt and Road initiative, showcases that China isn’t concerned with exporting their ideology but rather, providing the opportunities to countries who need an alternative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank.

These moves are imperative. The US has torn apart the Iran nuclear deal and is putting feelers out for an Iraq 2.0. Australia has already agreed to send troops, planes and, warships to the Strait of Hormuz joining (who else?) the USA and UK. And while Morrison is channelling his inner Howard, the ALP (as usual) is labelling the actions as “appropriate,” providing zero opposition to the government’s actions.

We must watch these developments closely, and continue to fight against our government’s compliancy with US foreign agenda. Otherwise (given the support for and military capabilities of Iran) we may not end up with an Iraq 2.0 but a Vietnam 2.0. So this September 11, while other media outlets are focusing on the 9/11 attacks, let us reflect on the history of Australia’s foreign policy, and its current role in supporting US imperialism.

Next article – The role of the leader

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