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Australia 15 November, 2012
Contribution by Communist Party of Australia
to the 14th International Meeting of
Communist and Workers’ Parties
22–25 November 2012
Strengthen the struggles against escalating imperialist aggressiveness, for satisfying peoples’ socio-economic-democratic rights and aspirations, for socialism
The Communist Party of Australia extends its thanks to the Lebanese Communist Party for the invitation to participate in the 14
International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties. We very much regret that financial constraints make it impossible for us to attend this year.
In Australia today, the struggle against imperialist aggression, to satisfy people’ social, economic and democratic rights, and for socialism requires above all the building of a new national peace alliance to fight the recent decision by US imperialism to escalate its military activities in the Asian and Indo-Pacific regions and the development of alliances and solidarity among the peoples of this region..
In November 2011 US President Barak Obama and Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced an expansion of joint US and Australian military activities in Australia and the region, effectively turning our whole country into a US military base and a launching pad for US wars of aggression in the region.
After World War 2, British colonialism was replaced by US imperialism in Australia as the dominant economic, political and military power over the people. Since then Australia’s military forces and government foreign and defence policies have been subservient to US imperialism.
Australia is a middle sized imperialist power that is active economically, militarily, diplomatically and politically in the support of its own Imperialist ambitions. Australia is a strong supporter and loyal promoter of the interests of US imperialism. Successive Australian governments acting in the interests of the capitalist class have made Australia a regional tool of their global interests.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also announced that 2,500 US Marines will be stationed at an Australian base in Darwin in the Northern Territory. The new deal also includes an increased number of visits by US ships and aircraft, greater US access to Australian military bases, more joint military exercises, and the storage of greater amounts of US military material and equipment in Australia.
This has serious implications for Australia’s sovereignty and independence and for peace and welfare of all peoples in the region.
It builds on the high level of strategic and operational integration between the Australian and US military forces already, and drags Australia further along the road of passive accomplice to whatever adventures the US wants to undertake.
The movement of the majority of US military assets to the region, plus military facilities and deployment of US troops, ships and planes in Australia and many other countries in Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, gives the US the ability to shut down China’s imports of energy and raw materials and to cripple its economy.
Behind the US military escalation in the region is America’s own economic decline, the global economic crisis and a deep fear of the economic growth of China that is beginning to challenge US economic and political hegemony and dominance throughout the region, including Australia.
US monopoly capital has immense economic investments, control of markets and political power in the region that it uses to exploit and oppress the people.
The US views China’s economic development and growing investments as a major threat to its own massive investments, domination of resources, markets and political subservience to US interests.
Despite the fact that China’s military budget is less than one tenth that of the US, China is providing the “enemy” the US military-industrial complex requires.
The escalation of US imperialism’s military focus on Asia and the Indo-Pacific region must be seen against the background of the extraordinary growth in US-Australian military and intelligence co-operation over the last decade.
US-Australian military expansion
Australia signed on for three new “training bases” with the US military at the annual Australian-US Ministerial Consultations in Washington in July 2004. The three facilities will be linked with US bases and the Pacific War Fighting Centre in Hawai’i.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Australia refers to the need for planes, ships and submarines based in Guam, or rotated to Guam from Hawai’i or the US continent, to have access to training facilities which only Australia can provide.
The commitment to enhanced joint exercises takes Australia further down the path of “interoperability” -- the process of the gradual fusion of the Australian Defence Force into a de-facto arm of the United States military.
Pine Gap in central Australia is one of the largest and most important US war fighting and intelligence bases in the world. It is used to control satellites gathering information from the Middle East oil fields to China. It spies on international and domestic radar, satellite and microwave transmissions. It monitors missile launches and provides targets. It is an important part of the ‘drone wars’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.
Space-tracking facilities in Australia are being networked into a regional missile defence system with the Jindalee Operational Radar Network to become an increasingly important component of the system. The US “missile defence” project is the armed wing of globalization. The US is planning to militarise, commercially exploit and to control space, to become the master of space and take corporate globalisation to a new and more terrifying level.
Darwin is a port city on the northern coast. It is ideally placed to control of the strategic Timor Gap naval passage and for US imperialism’s plans for containment of China. It is also no accident that Halliburton, US Vice President Dick Cheney’s corporation, has recently built what is a strategic railway from Alice Springs (near Pine Gap) to Darwin.
The Australian Government recently signed an agreement to allow US forces to return to North West Cape in West Australia). This is a Very Low Frequency communications base for submerged submarines. As Australia has hardly any that are operational, its main role is to support US (nuclear-armed) submarines active in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as well as the contested South China Sea. A new function will be US space surveillance and detection activities to track the communication satellites of other countries for possible destruction in the event of hostilities. Camouflaging this role is the secondary function of tracking space junk and protecting global communications satellites.
In addition, the Australian Government is already giving much greater attention and money to cyber warfare and is also buying its own drones.
US strategy was spelt out in the Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). This said the United States will not allow the rise of a competing superpower. "Of the major and emerging powers China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States and field disruptive military technologies that could over time offset traditional U.S. military advantages," the Review states.
Imperialism in the Asia and Indo-Pacific region
US imperialism is driving to strengthen its grip on the economies of the countries of the region while also escalating its military presence in the area to defend and extend its economic and political hegemony.
The US military arms and trains the local puppet governments’ armed forces to suppress resistance by the people of Asia and the Indo-Pacific region to imperialist domination.
Territorial disputes are being provoked between China, the Philippines and Vietnam over the vast unexplored undersea gas and oil fields in the South China Sea.
US imperialism is manipulating the Philippines puppet government to increase the tensions in the region and at the same time has unleashed war on the people of the Philippines.
Similarly, the US is directing Australia’s acquiescent governments to stoke the fires of imperialist wars in the region.
Australia is involved in a tripartite arrangement with the US and Japan which makes Australia the southern arm of US strategy against China and Japan the northern arm.
Australia is assisting US imperialism’s efforts to pull India away from its growing ties with Russia and China and to make it part of imperialism’s anti-Chinese alliances in the region. Australia is pushing for India’s inclusion in APEC, and the government sees great opportunities in India for the export of uranium, minerals and other raw resources.
Australia is engaged in a sustained drive for increased trade deregulation, structural adjustment, public sector privatisation, deregulation of foreign investment and capital flows, and the replacement of communal land ownership by private holdings. Increasingly aid is being made conditional on such policies, which are pushed regardless of cultural, social, environmental and economic consequences to local communities.
The drive for economic integration is at the expense of the vast majority of the peoples of this region and has imposed exploitation, unemployment, poverty, environmental destruction and loss of democratic and civil rights. The land and resources of food, water and fisheries and forests are being depleted by the transnational corporations that follow these inter-governmental agreements.
The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is about facilitating the penetration of US corporations into markets across the region. The TPP, which covers Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Canada, Mexico, Peru, and the USA, is intended to remove local laws and protections, claiming that these are a restriction on “free trade” and should not apply to their investments and activities.
Trampling the rights of the Australian people
The social and economic cost of subservience to US imperialism is enormous. Australia's military spending is twelfth in the world on a per capita basis. Meanwhile public schools, hospitals and transport are starved of funds.
The US-Australia military alliance distorts our society. Instead of a focus on sustainable development, socially useful production and the needs of the community, priority is given to supporting US foreign policy, military spending and increasingly repressive social control. The beneficiaries are not our people but the US and Australian militaries together with huge US corporations and some Australian companies.
Australia’s current military spending of over Aus
70 million a day steals the resources which should be funding human and social needs. Much of this spending is dictated by the equipment needed to fight in coalition with US imperialism, not by Australia’s genuine defence needs.
Military spending creates far fewer jobs than spending the same dollars on civilian projects. Resources committed to the military mean less money for developing strong social cohesion and stability within the nation through employment programs and the health, education and housing needs of Australians and our neighbours.
Preparing for war with China provides additional super profits for the US armaments corporations. It will be the primary justification for the acquisition of costly new weapons systems.
The US military is one of the world’s worst polluters, and yet the Australian Government has invited them into environmentally significant areas of Australia. Considerable environmental problems have developed during the Talisman Sabre joint military exercises, and an increase in war games on Australian soil is on the agenda.
The majority of the over 30 US bases in Australia are located on Aboriginal land and deny the indigenous people of this country their land rights.
Overseas US bases have become the centre of major social problems. They are linked to increases in violence, prostitution, drugs, alcoholism, rape, sexually transmitted diseases, and abuse of women and children. The Australian experience is similar.
The 1963 Status of Forces Agreement between Australia and the US holds that in circumstances where an alleged offence is committed by an officer in the course of his or her official duties, Australia has an international obligation to give the US primary jurisdiction to deal with the officer.
The proposal to base nuclear-powered ships and aircraft in Perth would be out of step with the nuclear weapons-free zone to which Australia has been a signatory since 1985. The role of North West Cape in supporting the US nuclear-armed submarine fleet is in conflict with Australia’s commitments to nuclear disarmament.
An atmosphere of fear and insecurity is being fanned to assist a massive attack on civil liberties. Federal and State legislation, being used first against the Muslim community, is intended to destroy democratic rights and stifle all dissent.
Many Australians are disgusted and angry at the lack of any notion of independence in Australia’s foreign policies. 70 per cent of Australians want less money spent on defence and 82 per cent oppose tax increases to pay for more defence spending. Over 70 per cent opposed Australian involvement in the Iraq war. A majority want Australia out of Afghanistan immediately. None of these views have influenced the policies of Labor or Liberal governments.
Even sections of the ruling class are concerned about US imperialism’s aggression damaging relations with China which is Australia’s largest trading partner.
The threat of devastating war on our doorstep has provoked a response in the Australian peace movement which has been small and relatively inactive for several years.
New networks of peace groups have been established in each state in the Australian commonwealth. They recently united into a national network – the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), with the aim of raising public awareness and building opposition to Australia’s support for US imperialism’s militarization of our country and the region.
Australia needs an independent, non-aligned foreign policy, based on the principles of peaceful co-existence, self-determination and anti-imperialist solidarity. Reduced military spending and respect for the sovereign rights of nations to their independence, sovereignty, equality and self determination would best serve the interests of Australian people and our regional neighbours.