America’s cruel game with Australia

Jan 16, 2023
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks in honor of 60 years of the U.S.-Australian alliance Nov. 17, 2011, in Darwin, Australia, as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, right, looks on.

Australia’s security policy is a mess. We have been betrayed by our national leaders. Without exception, from Prime Minister Gillard on – with Anthony Albanese shaping up to join – the sell-out to America’s war neurosis is complete. Our leaders have been party to the fabrication of China as a military threat to Australia, by inviting a US military offence against China to settle here and be developed.

Thanks to Bevan Ramsden’s work we now know that formal agreements have been devised, which make Australia an American base for war anywhere in the Indo-Pacific, formally yielding our sovereignty to America:

…prepositioned materiel of United States Forces, and Agreed Facilities and Areas designated for storage of such prepositioned materiel shall be for the exclusive use of United States Forces, and full title to all such equipment, supplies, and materiel remains with the United States. United States Forces shall have exclusive control over the access to, use of, and disposition of such prepositioned materiel and shall have the unencumbered right to remove such prepositioned materiel at any time from the territory of Australia.

That creates security risks of existential proportion for Australia, unacknowledged by our governments.

Whereas once Australia’s security policy had been open and bipartisan, since 2011 it has been deceptive and secretive. The deception began with President Obama’s speech to our Parliament which, buried amongst the rhetoric of 4000 words, employed the term “defence posture” as if it was everyday vernacular:

Indeed, we are already modernising America’s defence posture across the Asia Pacific. We see our new posture here in Australia. The initiatives that the Prime Minister and I announced yesterday will bring our two militaries even closer together. We’ll have new opportunities to train with other allies and partners, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. And it will allow us to respond faster to the full range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief.

It sounds like old friends getting their militaries together to train and respond to random natural events. Who would have guessed that this was code for US planning to enmesh Australia into militarily confronting China?

What could explain the naïvety of Australia’s leaders? It took forty years from Federation for our leaders to discern their sovereignty responsibility in World War 2. With such little depth of independent thought we negotiated the ANZUS treaty with the Americans. While a second-rate treaty, without a security guarantee, it was nevertheless exalted by then PM Menzies.

After America diminished itself and Australia in Vietnam, some adult leaders did emerge here who realised Australia had no alternative but to embrace self -reliance in its defence– Prime Ministers Whitlam and Fraser each were behind the first White Paper of 1976, and both were open about the risks and consequences. Nothing cute or misleading besmirched the comprehensive documents and speeches which laid this profound policy before the Australian people. And the Americans supported it for another thirty years. Because it suited America then.

But from the moment Obama visited Australia in 2011 our leaders went from being open and frank to conniving and secretive, misleading Australians egregiously. They had learnt this conniving through that humiliating period which began with GW Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2001, on a lie, through to the rape of Afghanistan. Today treating citizens as mushrooms is reflexive for the leaders of both nations. Shoulder to shoulder, half-truths are the fare on security.

But it’s not as if sense and truth were unknowable before the deception. In 2013 prominent American geostrategist Robert S Ross observed:

Australia’s geopolitical distance from the South China Sea and the East China Sea and China’s limited naval capabilities in distant waters allows Australia to distance itself from the region’s territorial conflicts without jeopardising its national security or alliance cooperation with the United States.

Those conflicts involve insignificant islands that possess minimal economic and strategic value for both the United States and Australia. The leadership transition at the US Department of State presents Canberra with the opportunity to support and encourage US reconsideration of the pivot in an effort to restore regional stability.

Rather than become entangled in regional disputes, Australian foreign policy can contribute to US-China cooperation and to a restoration of regional stability.

Here was a disinterested, thoughtful expert advising on Australia’s options two years after Obama’s “pivot”. But already PM Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop were busy documenting concessions to the US for its military domicile in Australia. The Force Posture Agreement between Australia and the United States (FPA) was signed in August 2014 at AUSMIN talks in Sydney. The joint press communique had no hint of the sovereignty sacrifice and risks imposed on Australia:

With the signature today of the legally-binding Force Posture Agreement between Australia and the United States, we reaffirmed our commitment to work towards full implementation of the Force Posture Initiatives in Australia. The agreement provides a robust policy and legal framework and financial principles for implementation of the force posture initiatives announced in 2011. The agreement also reaffirms our mutual intent to deepen our relationship and regional security through expanded cooperation together and with other countries in the region.

Sound like a bean counting exercise overseen by lawyers? Who would suspect the farm was being handed over? Narrative control and duping with half-truth had found another gear.

The reality is that ANZUS holds no security guarantee for Australia even if we were attacked by China. And the FPA delivers America the right to wage war from our territory at its pleasure, making attack on us far more likely.

America’s territory is not threatened by China. Its pride is. America is picking a fight to preserve its global domination as it sees it. Even then America doesn’t need to base its military forces here for its military strategy against China. We are peripheral. It’s about control, options and our money. With unspeakable and unnecessary risks and consequences for Australians.

The Americans know our leaders are mugs who emotionally conflate our interests with theirs. Proudly “joined at the hip.” It’s time, for Australians to recognise we are on our own, sold out slyly by our leaders. A new beginning becomes possible then.

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