Australian news, and some related international items

Australia getting dangerously locked in to USA military operations in the Pacific

An Australian General, Major General Richard Burr, has become a deputy commander of United States Army Pacific. He will be responsible for planning and advising on the further expansion of American armed forces throughout the Western Pacific.

Australia hostage to the politics of the US in the Asian Century, The Drum, MALCOLM FRASER, 27 Sept 12, 
This week Malcolm Fraser delivered a speech on Australia-US relations in the Asian Century. In this edited extract, the former prime minister says our Government has made us hostage to the politics of the United States. Australia has, under this Labor Government and with apparent consent of the Coalition, become the southern bastion of America’s re-arming in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. This is an extraordinary consequence of Australian Government ineptitude and of military planning, which might recognise America’s interest, but pays little account of our own.

It makes us complicit in any military activity that the Americans might undertake. It is even more disturbing because it really looks as though the words that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used in Beijing, when she was talking about consensus, dialogue, consultation and agreement, were pretty meaningless.

Australian concerns should be heightened by a recent military appointment announced by the United States. I saw the report in The Guardian, not in an Australian paper. An Australian General, Major General Richard Burr, has become a deputy commander of United States Army Pacific. He will be responsible for planning and advising on the further expansion of American armed forces throughout the Western Pacific.

Australian Defence public relations brushed the issue off as a routine exchange, but this appointment, at this time, carries significant implications. The statement on the American side was made by United States’ Army Secretary John McHugh. It emphasised the importance the Americans attach to this particular appointment, yet we ignore it.

Having undertaken hugely, costly and counterproductive wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan; with turmoil in Libya, Egypt and Syria; with no end in sight for the problems of Israel and Palestine; and the unresolved difficulties of Iran, the United States is shifting her main focus to Western Pacific. That spells danger for the entire region.

The major danger, and one that China recognises, is that the United States as a power whose economic relativity is less than it used to be, may seek to maintain supremacy through armed conflict, at a time when there is no valid dispute between China and the United States that would justify war. I would have no concerns that this danger will unfold if America were governed by an Eisenhower, a Kennedy, a Johnson, a Clinton or the first George Bush, but today’s America is different. The ideology of the neoconservatives is alive and well and has been given an ugly manifestation in the populist Tea Party. It is clear from what has been written that such people lack balance and are immune to reasoned argument……
In the Age on August 9, President Obama’s former intelligence chief, Admiral Dennis Blair, confirmed that China is the principal target of United States’ war plans. Hugh White who has some knowledge of these matters indicated that the AirSea Battle plan, a major United States’ war plan applicable in the Pacific to China, was significantly flawed and ran the risk of rapid escalation to a nuclear struggle. The Australian Government has made us hostage to the politics of the United States, to the machinations of the Pentagon, and the plans for continuing supremacy of the United States in the Western Pacific.
he Republicans are seeking to get an amendment to the Defense Appropriation Bill for next year through the Congress. That amendment urges the administration to deploy additional forces, including tactical nuclear missiles in the Western Pacific. I consulted with Senator Lugar, who I have known for many decades as one of the most reasonable and farsighted of Americans. He advised me that the amendment will go through. The Republicans have a majority and the White House has not opposed it.

Let us consider this just a little further. If American naval ships end up using Cam Ranh Bay and those ships are nuclear capable, and if the China-United States relationship becomes more difficult, is that not reminiscent of Khrushchev and Cuba?

The United States now talks as though China may wish to curtail freedom of the seas in the South China Sea. That sounds like an absurd allegation. It is an important waterway for trade involving many countries. I am advised that two-thirds of China’s own trade goes through the South China Sea and much of it in foreign-registered ships. China and the United States have an equal interest in preserving freedom of the seas. The United States does not need a military build-up to maintain that. It also worth recalling that China has ratified the Law of the Sea, while the United States has not…..
The United States does not need this military build-up. It does not need the policy of containment. It does not need to enmesh allies like Australia in policies that are fraught with danger, to achieve a sensible and rational accommodation between two significant powers….

This is an edited extract of a speech Mr Fraser delivered at the University of Melbourne’s Asialink centre. Read the full speech here  or watch it here .

Malcolm Fraser served as Australia’s 22nd prime minister from 1975-1983. View his full profil ehere...

September 27, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war

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