Australian news, and some related international items

Aukus will lock in Australia’s dependence on US, intelligence expert warns.

“It is a mistake to think that we are buying submarines,” Fernandes said. “We are, in fact, subsidising the US navy submarine budget.”

Guardian, Daniel Hurst , 2 Oct 22, Clinton Fernandes argues in provocative new book the security pact will make it impossible to have an independent defence policy.

The Aukus deal will lock in Australia’s dependence on the US and make it impossible to have an independent defence policy, a former Australian army intelligence officer has warned.

In a provocative new book to be released this week, Clinton Fernandes argues the true character of Australia’s relationship with the US is “a transactional, dramatically unequal one”. He argues the rhetoric about mateship is merely “window dressing”.

The former intelligence officer and now academic at the University of New South Wales takes aim at bipartisan consensus on Australian foreign policy and pushes back at the idea that Australia is a “middle power”.

Australia routinely acts to defend US power and grand strategy, he argues, and is better described as a “sub-imperial power”.

Fernandes warns of a “dramatic acceleration” of that trend as a result of the Aukus partnership with the US and the UK, under which the two countries plan to help Australia acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines.

The professor of international and political studies said Australia was “creating a structural dependence on the United States, leaving ourselves unable to defend ourselves except in the context of the US alliance”.

That is not a mistake. It’s not an oversight. It’s not an error,” Fernandes told Guardian Australia in an interview ahead of the release of Sub-Imperial Power: Australia in the International Arena.

“The people who are responsible for the policy … are doing it in order to make it impossible for future Australian governments to defend ourselves outside of an alliance relationship.”

report in the Wall Street Journal last weekend suggested the Biden administration was considering a plan to fast-track nuclear-powered submarines for Australia by the mid-2030s by producing the first few submarines in the US.

However, given existing production constraints at US shipyards, the deal would depend on Australia making a financial commitment to expand the US’s submarine-production capacity to ensure it could also meet its domestic demands.

“It is a mistake to think that we are buying submarines,” Fernandes said. “We are, in fact, subsidising the US navy submarine budget.”

Peter Dutton ‘just being honest’

Fernandes also said the then defence minister, Peter Dutton, was “just being honest” when he said he found it “inconceivable” that Australia would not join if the US defended Taiwan in a war against China.

Dutton later reflected on the issue in terms of the relationship with the US, saying Australia was “a great and reliable friend and ally” and he did not think “we would shirk away from our responsibility to be a good ally with the United States”.

In the book, Fernandes cites a US embassy cable, leaked to WikiLeaks, that described a conversation between the American ambassador and the then Labor leader, Kim Beazley, before the 2007 election.

Beazley, according to the cable, assured the ambassador that Australia “would have absolutely no alternative but to line up militarily beside the US” in the event of a war between the US and China, adding: “Otherwise, the alliance would be effectively dead and buried, something Australia could never afford to see happen.”…………………

Selective rules

Fernandes writes that the world is now one of independent nation-states rather than empires and colonies – but he argues an imperial system remains in place with the US at “the apex” and Australia “subordinate to the imperial centre”…………………..

While Australia and the US publicly profess to uphold a rules-based international order, Fernandes contends these rules are applied selectively, and that Australia has been drawn into military conflicts with a view to maintaining the US alliance as a core part of the strategic objectives.

“The rules-based order permits the United States and its allies to invade Iraq illegally and attack a hospital in the city of Fallujah,” Fernandes writes.

Middle powers such as Norway and the Netherlands insist on parliamentary authorisation of military deployments but Australia does not. In Australia, the executive government has the power to deploy troops without parliamentary approval and its leaders tend to be “so reflexive about requests from the United States”, Fernandes says.

Aukus debate grows

Fernandes is not the first analyst to raise concerns about the impact of Aukus on Australia’s sovereignty. Such concerns were fuelled last year when Joe Biden’s top Indo-Pacific adviser, Kurt Campbell, predicted “almost a melding” of Australian, US and UK military forces…………… more


December 12, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: