The recent statement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the effect that on defence issues Australia and the United States were “joined at the hip” raises the serious question of how far Australia will actually go in support of the United States as it embarks on one foreign policy misadventure after another? A possible change of government in Australia after the next election will not make any appreciable difference. The Labor leadership is always quick to ensure minimum daylight between themselves and the Coalition whenever yet another pledge of fealty to the Americans is made.
There are two useful tests to employ to gauge an answer posed to the above question. The first test is one of history. There have been at least five major conflicts since World War 2 where Australia has followed the Americans when a vital national security issue was either difficult to discern or was invisible.
The Korean War 1950-53 has always been justified to the Australian public as a UN based “Police action,” with American led forces responding to an invasion of South Korea by the North. That explanation was never adequate. It ignored a large number of relevant factors, including a history of American interference in that country since at least the 1880s. It further ignored American acquiescence in the brutal colonization of Korea by Japan after 1910 in exchange for Japan not interfering in America’s colonization of the Philippines. (600,000 Filipinos died resisting that colonization.) With Japan’s defeat in 1945, Korea was divided in two along the 38th Parallel, a line drawn by the US State Department without consulting the Koreans. Contrary to international maritime law, that boundary line then turned north, thus depriving the North Koreans of access to their own maritime exclusive economic zone.
Between 1945 and 1950 the promised national elections were never held. South Korea’s US-installed military dictator made repeated forays into the North, killings tens of thousands of North Korean citizens. The “invasion”, more accurately a civil war, has never been resolved. (Cummings, The Korean War, The Modern Library 2010.) Several opportunities to steer North Korea away from nuclear weapons were squandered and there is now a level of belligerence that poses the risk of a further outbreak of war. Australia’s willingness to become involved has repeatedly manifested itself, although a rational basis for doing so remains elusive.
The second great conflict was Vietnam, again a civil war initially and again a country divided artificially after the defeat of the former colonial occupiers. Another similarity with Korea was again, the Americans refused to allow an election as provided for in the Geneva Accords, no doubt because the “wrong” man would have won. Australia’s involvement in the war was prefaced by Harold Holt’s infamous “all the way with LBJ” although the internal Vietnam conflict posed no national security threat to Australia, the blatant “red scare” propaganda notwithstanding. In common with so many American invasions, this one was justified on the basis of a blatant falsehood; in this case the alleged attack on an American warship in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Afghanistan, the third major conflict we entered at the behest of the Americans, was similarly based on a number of lies, which have continued unabated in the nearly 16 years of subsequent occupation. The real causes of that intervention and continuing occupation have been well documented. (O’Neill, The Ongoing Disaster of Australia’s Policy in Afghanistan, www.johnmenadue.com 16 May 2017.) Trump’s most recent speech on the topic (21 August 2017) was similarly an exercise in concealing the real purposes behind the continuing American occupation. (O’Neill, Trump and Afghanistan: a Hidden Agenda, www.journal-neo.org
Iraq in 2003 was a similar lie-based invasion and occupation, the disastrous consequences of which continue to this day. Australia’s presence there is so tenuous that there is no Status of Forces Agreement signed and all Australian military personnel carry diplomatic passports. (Tanter, Australia in America’s Iraq 3.0, Nautilus Institute 2014.)
The fifth illustration is Australian participation in the US led “coalition” currently attacking Syria. Notwithstanding the nonsensical claims of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop invoking Article 51 of the UN Charter, the American and Australian presence in Syria is in blatant breach of international law. It is worse than just being illegal. Australia is a party to the commission of war crimes, most notably at present in the current assault on Raqqa with an horrendous civilian death toll that even the UN was drawn to criticize (www.telesurtv.net 23 August 2017).
With this history we should not be surprised that more wars are looming in which Australia will assuredly be involved unless there is a radical change in foreign policy. This brings us to the second test that can be applied: what do the protagonists themselves say about their intentions?
To assist in predicting future wars, the Americans have helpfully produced a document that might reasonably be described as a blueprint for future wars. These documents have valuable predictive power, as we have seen demonstrated with the PNAC document, Rebuilding America’s Defences (1997).
This 90-page document served as a blueprint for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. It promoted policies to “preserve and extend” the US’s position of “global leadership” by “maintaining the pre-eminence of American military forces” that would better enable them to fight and win “multiple simultaneous major theater wars” which themselves provide a framework within which to “spread American principles of liberty and democracy.” That last phrase was used without a hint of irony.
We then had General Wesley Clark’s revelations that he was shown a document at the Pentagon in September 2001 that was a blueprint for war with “seven countries in five years.” (Global Warfare www.globalresearch.ca 30 January 2017.) In the light of subsequent events, the list is instructive: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, and Sudan.
Of the seven, only Lebanon and Iran have escaped direct US military intervention. Lebanon has suffered invasion and occupation by Israel before being driven out by Hezbollah. The US armed, financed and politically supported Israeli aggression, while Australia has always been slow to find fault with Israeli foreign policy and is one of a literal handful of countries that vote with Israel in the UN General Assembly on resolutions critical of Israel.
Iran has been the victim of hybrid warfare through sanctions, massive propaganda assault, US sponsored terrorist activity through their proxy group the MEK, and drug warfare through the US controlled heroin production and distribution from Afghanistan. (Shoring Up a Flood of Drugs www.unodc.org 19 July 2011; Afghanistan’s Role in Iran’s Drug Problem www.cfr.org 13 September 2006.)
In 2012 the US published another Defence Department document entitled “Operational Environments to 2028: The Strategic Environment for Unified Land Operations“. To the best of my knowledge its existence, let alone analysis of its contents, has never appeared in the Australian mainstream media.
The plan, written in 2012, foresees the economic and social collapse of Europe caused by massive immigration from Africa and the Middle East. It also predicts that Ukraine will become a NATO member. This was written two years before the US financed coup in February 2014. There has been a range of events that have occurred since 2012, all of which were “anticipated” in the document. The whole document is worth reading, but some highlights illustrate the wider point.
– The Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU) transferring nuclear technology to North Korea, but blaming the Russians. (The CIA runs the SBU.)
– Blaming Pakistan for “WMD proliferation, being a direct threat to the Homeland, supporting terrorist organisations, and causing regional tensions with India.” All of these points appeared in Trump’s 21 August speech.
– A cold war with China and a proxy military conflict using India’s military. This is currently being played out on the Bhutan-China border.
– Azerbaijan is named as a future war zone. Azerbaijan not only shares borders with Iran and Russia (two prime targets for the Americans) but it is also a key link in the North South Transportation Corridor that is a key component of the Eurasian geopolitical transformation that is underway. That transformation, spurred by China’s massive One Belt One Road program, is in turn a fundamental threat to US hegemony.
– A plan to trigger war between Russia and China. This is one of the major strategic miscalculations in the document. As a direct result of US policy in Europe and Asia, Russia and China have been driven into a closer strategic embrace than at any other time in their long history. Together they have the capacity to destroy US hegemony.
– According to the 2012 plan, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen will continue indefinitely and can be used as launch pads for wars in Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Korea and Pakistan.
The arrogance implicit in these plans is astonishing. They are also exceedingly dangerous. Can it seriously be argued that Australia’s national interest is served by being a party to any of these plans? Does Australia really want a war with any of the named targets, several of whom are nuclear armed?
The history of the past seventy years demonstrates the folly of Australia’s blind fealty to US imperialism. A serious rethink is urgently needed before it is too late and we are dragged into yet another war, the results of which would be terminal in every sense of the word.
James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org