B52’s mark the demise of Australia as a self-reliant nation

Nov 5, 2022
Traditional Chinese Temple with guardian door knockerse with guardian door knockers

News that the US plans to base six B52’s at RAAF, Tindal, will likely change the dynamic, in what has admittedly been a half-hearted attempt by Australia, at improving relations with China.

The Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, got off to a good start, but the momentum was slowed by Prime Minister Albanese’s remarks that China constituted a threat, his rushed attendance at an anti-China NATO Summit meeting, the QUAD meeting and the Abe funeral. Abe like his grand farther Kishi was very anti-Chinese.

Albanese’s remarks echo those of Biden, who has chosen on a number of occasions to say that the US would ‘defend’ Taiwan. These guarantees have each time been denied by White House spokes persons but have been reiterated often enough by Biden to indicate where he stands on the question of the ‘reintegration’ of Taiwan with China.

Biden in his confusing way did nothing to stop the ill-conceived Pelosi visit to Taiwan. Biden has refused, indeed prevented, diplomatic negotiations toward ending the war in the Ukraine. He sees the war, mistakenly and naively, as an opportunity to break Russia. Albanese has gone along with this, recently sending 70 Australian soldiers to the UK to train Ukrainian troops. His thinking, and that of Biden, appear in lockstep over the major foreign policy and defence issues confronting Asia and Europe, mainly created and fanned by the US.

An almost frenzied pace is building in the US for confrontation of China. Why? John Menadue, Richard Tanter, Mike Scrafton and Jeffrey Sachs have all recently written in Pearls & Irritations on this unfolding madness.

The basing of B52’s in the Northern Territory changes the nature of Australia’s defence relationship with the USA and our diplomatic relationship with China. Australia has become a base for the possible use of US nuclear weapons against China. Tentative and overly cautious moves to re-establish a sound and workable relationship with China will have been set back, if not put on ice. Moves that Morrison was a party to, or patsy to, have proceeded apace without the brakes being applied by Marles or Albanese. The horse has bolted. And all this has happened without the Parliament being consulted. So much for Australian democracy. All this talk about Western Democracies standing up to totalitarian regimes is so much cant.

China is unlikely to regard Australia as having acted in good faith and nor is the region and the Pacific. Overnight the US and Australia changed the nature of the game with no prior warning and no special briefings. It is a unilateral and hostile upping of the anti.

It is also unlikely that Australia will be advised if the aircraft are carrying nuclear weapons on planned patrols. The line that can be expected is that for operational and security reasons information relating to carriage of nuclear weapons is classified and can neither be confirmed or denied.

No doubt the Chinese are seriously thinking of writing Australia off as being incapable of independent decision making- a vassal state, a follower, lacking the capacity and courage to shape its regional destiny. The chances of Xi Jinping meeting with Albanese at the G20 have receded, if not evaporated.

Perhaps it is symbolic that the ubiquitous B52 marks the demise of Australia as a self-reliant nation.

The B52 is the symbol of US foreign policy failure in Asia. Not satisfied with the terms of the Paris peace settlement, Nixon and Kissinger decided to bomb the Accord, as it was termed, out of existence. Over a ten-day period beginning on 18 December 1972, B52’s bombed Hanoi and surrounding areas. It was a disaster anywhere from 15 to 30 aircraft were shot down, depending on whether you believe the Americans or Vietnamese. The US was forced back to the negotiating table and agreed to the original terms.

B52’s bombed Laos and Cambodia during the same undeclared war with a greater tonnage of bombs than the US used over Europe in WWII. Fields are still being cleared of unexploded armaments and men, women and children are still being maimed.

The basing of the B52’s blind sides the Defence Review called by Albanese and Marles and gives a great deal of weight to AUKUS, details of which are yet to be put to the Australian Parliament. It is unconscionable that AUKUS is bandied about as a joint defence arrangement when little is known about it.

It is presumed that all that is currently taking place and has taken place between the US and Australia, such as the embedding of US personnel in the ADF, base upgrades and proposed and past purchases of defence equipment, such as the Mark II Abrams tank, were all done under AUKUS, except that the UK seems to have been notably absent. So, is it AUUS? Or against the wishes of the Japanese people will it become JAPAUUS? Or AUJAPUS? OR AUJAPUKUS?

Whatever the Monty Python outcome, it needs to go before the Australian Parliament. It has been a big mistake for Prime Minister, Albanese, to take on and run with Morrison’s dirty and deceitful deal. Australia needs to be aware of the immediate and long-term consequences of the US military and industrial China folly of which once again we have been railroaded into. No debate, no consideration and no brains.

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