NICK DEANE. Unravelling the fabric of the Australia/US alliance.

John Menadue has articulated the problems with the Australia/US alliance very clearly. Those who are concerned to change its nature need a weak point at which to challenge it. To unravel the fabric of the alliance, start by opposing the presence of US marines in Darwin!  In his excellent article of 15 January (, John Menadue has given us an array of arguments that justify calling into question Australia’s alliance with the USA.

Amongst other things, he mentions the USA’s reputation as a warfaring nation; its track record for meddling in the internal affairs of other nations; the idea of American ‘manifest destiny’; the USA’s domestic problems of poverty and gun-violence; the power of the military industrial complex (and its corruption of democratic processes) and the role of the US-dominated mainstream press. He asks how long Australia will continue to be in denial of US policies, and of its association with this dangerous ally. He asks when Australians will wake up and stand up.

I would add to Menadue’s list of issues the fact that each sequential ‘AUSMIN’ conference only ever seeks ways to make the alliance even closer. In the terms of their annual communiques they are always finding ways to ‘enhance’ it. This means that the situation Menadue describes is constantly deteriorating – so that the idea of ‘standing up’ becomes more urgent with each passing year.

None of what Menadue writes is especially new or confronting to those of us who regularly read his blog or follow current affairs, but he raises  issues that are crying out to be addressed. Within the cohort of reasonably well-informed citizens, I would conjecture that that there is a broad consensus – that the closeness of Australia’s alliance with the USA is a cause for deep concern.

Actually, it is more than a matter of deep concern. It is time people got together to do something about it. It is time to note the intricate nature of the alliance relationship, which has, over the years, developed into a closely knit fabric. It is time to scheme ways to cause that fabric to unravel.

Confronting the entirety of the Australia/US alliance head-on would, of course, be a monumental task. A better and more strategic path is to find weak points in the fabric of the relationship and focus on them. And, in answer to Menadue’s questions, some of us have already woken up and stood up and we have made a start in this process. Our focus is on the most recent, local manifestation of the ever-enhancing alliance, which is the stationing of US marines in Darwin.

The Australian parliament never discussed the arrival of these foreign forces on Australian territory. Neither the people nor their representatives were consulted. Yet this was a development of great significance (as it would be for any nation). Hosting foreign forces on domestic territory in peacetime is a radical departure from the norm. Normally, the government of any nation, almost by definition, has control of all military activity within its borders. With foreign forces present, that control is no longer complete. Their presence indicates either that the host nation needs assistance (because it is under direct threat from a third party) – or that it is a subservient power.

In a speech in 2013, ex-PM Malcolm Fraser (author of ‘Dangerous Allies’) asked his audience to consider the possibility that the US marines might engage in some sort of military action on orders from Washington, from their base in Australia. He said: “They’ll do it and we’ll read about it in the newspapers. Our prime minister will be told about it after the attack is made. Because that’s the way these things work. That, for me, is a total denial of Australian sovereignty and if we were ever independent, it’s a denial of Australian independence.”

With the numbers of the US marines growing each year, and with tensions in the South China Sea likely to worsen, the chances of the scenario Fraser discussed taking place must be increasing. Peace activists have repeatedly sought the Australian government’s assurance that it could not happen – but no such assurance has been forthcoming. The reality is that Canberra has no over-arching control over the actions of the US marines.

The US marines have no business being in Darwin (their business being that of invasion). The reasons for their presence, in so far as they have been explained, are weak and poorly presented. The fact that they could conceivably be used by the USA in conducting some aggressive action, compromises Australian sovereignty and contributes to instability in our region.

As a first step in the process of unravelling the fabric of the Australia/US alliance,  oppose the presence of US marines in Australia! This is offered as an obvious course of action for all who are alarmed at the current situation.

The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network is campaigning against the presence of the marines. It will be holding its fifth national conference in Darwin in August. People serious about questioning the alliance should take note of this opportunity to act.

Nick Deane has a degree in Sociology. He is now retired. He has had a patchwork career, culminating with 17 years in the Australian Public Service. He is convenor of the Marrickville Peace Group and one of two NSW members of the national committee of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network.


Nick Deane is an ex-public servant with a degree in Sociology. He is a member of the co-ordinating committee of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) and convenor of the Marrickville Peace Group.

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14 Responses to NICK DEANE. Unravelling the fabric of the Australia/US alliance.

  1. Avatar Michael Flynn says:

    Kim Beasley says we, Australia, proposed the US Marines have a base in Darwin and the US agreed. Marine bases stay. A better issue is nuclear disarmament by the nuclear powers where we can play a role if we follow Austria, New Zealand , Ireland and others. We sign the nuke weapons ban treaty and work on the NPT Review in New York in 2020. The ALP support for nuke disarmament by the powers that have them was put well by Penny Wong in her 2018 address to the AIIA national conference in Canberra in 2018.

  2. Avatar Geoff Davies says:

    To the naysayers here: if we all say it’s too hard, we’ll be right.

    Another weak point: the major reason we’re a target of terrorists is because we invaded countries in the Middle East. Show people the connection. Remove our forces.

  3. Avatar Bevan Ramsden of says:

    Let no one tell us it is hopeless. Let no one tell us we can’t make a difference.
    A great man once said: Some people see things as they are and wring their hands and cry why? I see things as they could be and raise my fist and cry why not !”
    Potentially we are many and those who kowtow to the US are few even though the have currently political power and media backing.
    It is really a question of standing up and working together, fighting together !

    An truly independent and democratic country working for the benefit of its citizens and constructively or peace and mutual benefit in the world community is worth fighting for. And as Nick Deane says, let’s start at a weak link and demand the US troops in Darwin and the force posture agreement which underpins them, be terminated ! IPAN has started this campaign; come with us; let’s make a difference

    • Avatar Michael Hart says:

      Bevan, nice words but unrealistic. You need to convince Mr and Mrs Average of your case and their problem but here is the rub, every revolutionary and great thinker has run into, they dont think about it at all. Mr and Mrs Average don’t want a revolution, they just want a more comfy chair, better holidays, less bastardry at work, better wages, a decent health care system, good schools for their kids and something tasty for the dinner table and they are flat out worrying about that. Americans in Darwin? Us a nuclear target, fighting in other countries that have nothing to do with us – so what is the response.

      • Avatar Bevan Ramsden says:

        I understand what you are saying Michael.
        What you say is so true.
        We do have to communicate to Mr and Mrs Average that peace is in their interest and that of their children as is a sustainable environment.
        Of course those things you mentioned are the main ones on their mind ; everyday living issues and that goes for the vast majority of people on this planet. So we have a task and it is a communication issue. But the vast majority want a peaceful life too to enjoy what they have. They don’t want to see young Australian sent to wars that have no relevance to us and not come back, or come back injured physically or mentally or both
        Nor do they want to see us come under threat ( to our peace) by the close association with the warmongering US. I could go on and yes we have a communication issue and we have to show relevance to the lives of the many. So we keep going and try to do the job better. And the impetus and the “awakening” will be driven sooner or later by external events involving the USA and China.

  4. Avatar Michael Hart says:

    Nick Deane – all good points but there is a need for political consensus and then the ability to have a vision to convince the wider populace, nothing in our history indicates we are even remotely ready to have such a discussion except when it is a crisis. The British Imperium was only called into question over conscription and the antics of Billy Hughes, the British moneylenders were only called out by Premier Jack Lang (we all know what happened to Jack) and finally in WW2 Curtin faced the reality of a country whose imperial caretakers had been resoundly defeated across the globe and had to fight to even get our own troops back to defend us. We latched on to Uncle Sam and have never left the fold.

    We have an amazing capacity to just go along with this stuff no matter how inimical it is to our own long term well being or interests. For example, we are overtly racist and have a long history of white discrimination so we cannot even contemplate seriously looking at China and the Chinese in a sensible, realistic and humanist way to understand they are and always have been a great power, their people are hard working and decent, their innovative mostly peaceful and not expansionist in fact I would rather have people of Han origins or most other places from Asia as friends and neighbours right in my own street than the drongos that are there.

    Lastly do not expect any leadership or breakout from the Labour Party, they learnt their lesson from Whitlams demise and besides as Wikileaks showed us years ago, they so called leaders of that party report to their American handlers at various diplomatic establisments regularly. The Labour Party is as bereft of cultural and political maturity as is the Liberal Conservative side.

    • Avatar Nick Deane says:

      I share your despondency – but, for me, stationing foreign forces on Australian territory was going one step too far. It got me off my backside, so I hope that more of us will wake up and realise what a travesty this is.

      • Avatar Michael Hart says:

        Nick -commendable aspirations but misplaced not that I would seek to dissuade you from that expression but it is just not enough. Like the malaise that grips us as to talking about and doing something about our developing environmental and ecological crisis or catastrophe, we have become a nation of cowards and self satisfied nihilistic consumers. Long gone are the bonds of community and society forged in the tempests of war and economic depression, It is all good times now constantly reinforced by its delivery but it is an illusion, and yes it will all end in tears. Nobody gives a real rats about the destruction of inland Australia and its water ways for a few greedy agribusinesses and political party interests. Nobody gives a rats about the fact we have guaranteed ourselves a front row ticket to any future nuclear exchange which would destroy most of urbanised Australia. Its the same old problem, she’ll be right mate! Except it wont. Trotsky once observed that “Revolution is impossible until it is inevitable”. He was right. It is just not inevitable – just yet.

  5. Avatar Rex Williams says:

    With all due respect, Nick Deane, the power that any individual or group of individuals or very large collection of individuals has in this once respected country, now seen as a feeble one, is so limited it is hardly worth the effort to raise the matter of the disgraceful US bases in Darwin. Just a matter of time before that have a serious operational base here to add to their over 800 bases worldwide. They need to control Asia as well as the rest of the world.
    But remember, the US is “a force for good”. Just ask the current Secretary of State, Pompeo. By association, Australia must also be ‘a force for good’ as well. What a wonderful feeling that creates.
    We are so enmeshed with the terrorist USA, now contemplating wars in Venezuela, Iran and Nicaragua (again) in which the Americans will insist we again become “comrades’-in-arms” (and we will jump at the chance), that there is not a federal politician who has the sand to make any derogatory comment as to these criminal actions, such as they are. We are so much like a puppet to the US’s puppet master that the effort would be futile.
    The same applies to the insidious and parasitic expansion of the other dominating influence here, currently called AIJAC, the Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council, whose management in Israel itself also currently controls both the houses in Washington.
    They don’t hide it. It is a fact. ““don’t worry about American pressure, we the Jewish people control America.” Ariel Sharon, October 2001
    But let’s be ambitious. Let us see if in the same breath we can voice our great concerns at the Pine Gap establishment, jointly operated by Australia and the US once again. Many have tried to no avail and it is unlikely that it will ever be reduced as a front line tool in the USA’s effort for world hegemony.
    We just do what we are told.
    One only has to look at Julie Bishop in her reign as Foreign Affairs Minister, effectively a spokesman for the US State Department (Australian Branch) with never an original idea or a comment not endorsed by the same State Department.
    Every vote at the UN to counter the inhumane disgrace of 70 years that is the occupation of Palestine for example, always saw the US, Israel and the lapdog Australia voting “NO” for any decision against apartheid Israel. Not representing the Australian people, not in any way at all, but at the will of Bishop and her political cronies on the demands of the USA and Israel. That’s the state of politics in this country. The parliament allowed her to do it.
    Now there’s the rub. The parliament. I doubt if any of our once-respected members even knew the vote was on, or even cared, what’s more.
    Mr. Deane. Our chance of ever being a country with a single independent opinion on any subject at all, have well and truly passed us by.
    It is time for Australians to have a reality check.

    • Avatar Nick Deane says:

      Absolutely, it is time for Australians to have a reality check! I agree that Australia has never shown true independence – but that doesn’t mean that one need give up on the possibility of our country standing up. I hope that time will come in the future. The chances may have passed us by in the past – but here we have another opportunity. Don’t give up, stand up!

  6. Avatar Jim Kable says:

    Totally concur with everything you and John Menadue write on this matter AND which Malcolm Fraser wrote. We need right out in the open what is the nature of the stranglehold (blackmail) held by the US over Australian political figures – both sides of the two-party system. And can we hear a little more of the whispers on the street in Darwin about the misdoings of the US marines there and of the edgy local night-life being encouraged to service these “service-personnel”! As has been and is the case in every other locality around the wirkd where US troops are stationed! Begone US military – and give us back our billions of dollars of tax-payers’ money so we can soend them in our public schools and public health systems.

  7. Avatar Tony Llewellyn-Jones says:

    When is your next Sydney meeting? Is it open to all comers?

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