Colonies of the US empire: Will the Cocos Islands become the new Diego Garcia?

Nov 27, 2023
Australia on the globe (Cocos (Keeling) Islands special) Southeast Asia.

The 2000 residents of Diego Garcia were forcibly removed to make way for a giant US military base. Will the same happen to the Australian residents on the Cocos Islands that lies south of Sumatra in the Indian ocean?

When Julia Gillard allowed US marines to be rotated/based in Darwin there was speculation that this was just the beginning of the US military colonisation of Northern Australia. And it is now happening :

  • Enhanced air cooperation through the rotational deployment of U.S. aircraft of all types in Australia and appropriate aircraft training and exercises, including US nuclear armed B52s out of Tindal and US nuclear submarines in Perth.
  • Enhanced maritime cooperation by increasing logistics and sustainment capabilities of U.S. surface and subsurface vessels in Australia.
  • Enhanced land cooperation by conducting more complex and more integrated exercises and greater combined engagement with Allies and Partners in the region.
  • Establishing a combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high end warfighting and combined military operations in the region.

Will the Cocos Islands be next?

The signs are ominous.

On 2 September 2023, the ABC carried a special report about major plans which Australian Defence have for the significant expansion of the airfield and associated facilities on Cocos Island. It explained the serious concerns of some islanders and other locals had about the adverse impact these projects would likely have on the community and its environment with the threat of climate change lurking in the future. It also pointed to the local anxieties about the elevation of the level of geostrategic threat this would impose on Cocos. Some even worried that the local community might be forced to move out of Cocos – much like what had happened to the locals having to give way to US defence interests in Diego Garcia – further west in the Indian Ocean.

The report failed to mention the commitment the then Australian Government in 1984 had made to the United Nations as part of the agreement to the Act of Self Determination for Cocos to be integrated into Australia. In 2012, responding to talk from Defence about expanding the airfield and facilities on Cocos (under pressure from the US who wanted access for their long range drones there) the Australian diplomat Richard Woolcott drew attention to that commitment as was reported by Hamish Macdonald in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Australian government has reneged on its 1984 commitment to the UN “that it had no intention of making the Cocos (Keeling) Islands into a strategic military base or of using the Territory for that purpose.”

Will the Labor government ignore the warnings of the late Richard Woolcott and make the Cocos Islands a militarised version of the US Diego Garcia?

The US has defied the UN in militarising Diego Garcia. It is a familiar story that may unfold in the Cocos Islands – obliging the US and ignoring the UN.

Some history of Diego Garcia

With the cooperation of the UK, the US has occupied Diego Garcia and turned it into a vast military base in defiance of an ICJ advisory opinion and an overwhelming vote by the UN General Assembly.

Consider the following:

  • Diego Garcia is part of the Chagos Islands. Chagos is an archipelago scattered across the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was the last British possession in Africa.
  • In 1965 it was excised by the British from Mauritius and renamed the ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’ (BIOT).
  • Between 1968 and 2003 the entire population of about 2000 people was rounded up by the UK and forcibly removed from BIOT to Mauritius, Seychelles and Britain.
  • One of the islands, Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Archipelago was leased in 1966 by Britain to the US for 50 years with a 20-year extension option, despite the island being claimed by Mauritius.
  • The US has built an enormous airforce and naval base on Diego Garcia. It now has over 5,000 US service personnel and contractors. It was used as a base for attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a key US military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Amongst other things, it is used for bomber training missions over the South China Sea. It was used for rendition flights.
  • In 2017 the UN General Assembly voted by a large majority (94-15) to refer the request for an advisory opinion on Diego Garcia to the International Court of Justice.
  • In September 2018, 13 of the 14 judges of the ICJ concluded that the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia were illegally separated from Mauritius.
  • In May 2019 the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly (116-6) to endorse the Court’s opinion that the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia, belonged to Mauritius. Apart from the US and the UK only four countries, AUSTRALIA, Hungary, Israel and the Maldives voted in favour of the British neo-colonial claim.
  • In November 2019, Britain refused to abide by the ICJ opinion and for the US to leave Chagos/Diego Garcia.

Presumably, the US will stay on in Diego Garcia until 2036 when the lease, granted illegally by the UK, expires.

Our mainstream media reminds us incessantly of China’s action in the South China Sea. But is scarcely publishes a word about the serious breach of international rules and norms by the UK and the US in Diego Garcia and elsewhere. As always, our media and the government is drawn along in the US slipstream.

Will the Cocos Islands be the next military colony of the US empire?

The Australian Government has ceded so much to the US military. There are few signs that the sellout will stop or be reversed.

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