by Bevan Ramsden *
AUSMIN 2023 has further surrendered sovereignty and tightened the US military grip on Australia. The integration of the ADF with the US military, insertion of US intelligence staff in our defence intelligence organisation and the increased military presence of the US including command facilities in Australia has locked us into any war plans of the United States and made us a launching pad for their wars. The US grip on Australia must be broken to give us independence and a peaceful future.
The AUSMIN 2023 talks between the Australian Defence and Foreign Affairs ministers, Richard Marles and Penny Wong and their US counterparts Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, have further tightened the US military grip on Australia.
Australia has become the US southern Indo-Pacific base from which it will launch military operations. Under the US Force Posture Agreement the US has established, or is in the process of establishing, huge fuel, munitions, spare parts, maintenance and equipment storage facilities on our continent. It has also been given unimpeded access to our airports, seaports, RAAF, RAN and Army bases for its military aircraft, warships and nuclear submarines. Sovereignty has been cravenly sacrificed on the altar of the US-Australia military alliance.
These Australian facilities are being massively upgraded largely at Australian taxpayers expense to support these US military operations.
The ADF trains extensively with, and is under the command of, the US military in war exercises such as Talisman Sabre. The ADF is now so integrated with the US military and our foreign policy so tied to that of the US that Australia will be swept into the next US war without a whimper from our political leaders and indeed with their enthusiastic support. That the next US war will be against China, Australia’s major trading partner and that such a war will have a catastrophic impact on every aspect of the Australian people’s lives and those of the people in our region and the world, with the dreadful possibility of a nuclear exchange, apparently has not registered with our leaders.
By agreeing to the outcomes of the AUSMIN 2023 talks, Richard Marles and Penny Wong have shown that they are no more than flunkeys, willing to place the interests of the US above those of the Australian people. They have accepted measures which effectively increase the US grip on Australia and infringe our national sovereignty in a most fundamental way, by denying us the ability to decide if, when and against whom we go to war.
Let’s review the decisions reached at AUSMIN 2023
AUSMIN 2023 re-affirmed a joint commitment to operationalise the Alliance including through enhanced Force Posture Cooperation across land, maritime and air domains as well as through the Combined Logistics, Sustainment and Maritime Enterprise. They declared Enhanced Space Cooperation as a new Force Posture Initiative to enable closer cooperation on this critical operational domain.
There will be a fresh expansion of the deployment of U.S. forces to Australia including amphibious troops and maritime reconnaissance planes.
American intelligence analysts will be embedded within the Defence’s spy agency in Canberra establishing a Combined Intelligence Centre- Australia within Australia’s Defence Intelligence Organisation by 2024.
In addition to upgrading RAAF Tindal and Darwin there will be expansion and “hardening” against attacks of two other RAAF bases in the north, RAAF Scherger near Weipa in Qld and RAAF Curtin near Derby in WA.
This upgrading will service aircraft used by both Australia and the US including the F-35 Lightning, Super Hornet fighters and C-17 cargo planes. On November 1st 2022 the ABC ‘Four Corners’ program revealed that RAAF Tindal will be upgraded to accommodate up to six nuclear-capable B52 bombers, and on August 4th 2023 it disclosed that a search of US budget filings had revealed plans to build a US Air Force Mission Planning and Operations Centre in Darwin, plans which have never been fully disclosed by the Australian Government. Through Enhanced Maritime Cooperation there will be more and longer visits of US nuclear submarines to HMAS Stirling in WA from 2023. These visits are in preparation for Submarine Rotational Force-West involving UK and US nuclear submarines being berthed and serviced under the AUKUS Agreement.
The Americans will now conduct a “regular rotation” of U.S. army watercraft as well as deploying a US Navy spy plane to conduct surveillance flights.
The US announced its intention to pre-position US Army stores and materiel at Bandiana Army base near Wodonga in Victoria as a precursor for longer term establishment of an enduring Logistics Support Area in Queensland designed to enhance interoperability and accelerate the ability to respond to alleged ‘regional crises’ which are in reality US-perceived threats to its hegemony.
The US will collaborate with Australia in the local production of multiple- launch guided missiles, planned to commence by 2025.
We are in the grip of the US military, which is ever-tightening and underpins US control of our economy. We are indebted to the historian Clinton Fernandes for his analysis showing that of Australia’s twenty largest corporations, 15 are majority US owned. This includes BHP Billiton, once called the “Big Australian” but now 73% US owned and therefore beholden to US shareholders. The four major banks, NAB, ANZ, Westpac and the CBA, once the government- owned peoples’ bank, are all majority owned by US shareholders, a form of ‘foreign influence’ that the Government doesn’t seem to have a problem with.
The huge public expenditure on “defence”, such as the $368 billion for nuclear-powered submarines, $10 billion for Hercules cargo aircraft, $10 billion for armoured vehicles, billions for runway extensions and port upgrades – the list goes on and is at the expense of addressing urgent social needs such as urgent measures to deal with climate change and address the serious crisis in public housing, health care and public education. There is no military threat to Australia. The real beneficiary is the US military-industrial complex which has its presence in Australia through Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other corporations.
If we are to have an independent and hope of a peaceful future, the US grip on our country must be broken. There can be no social or economic justice, no real solution to the ever-worsening crises in housing, public health care, public education, care of children and the aged, and no effective measures to address climate change and no peaceful future until we free ourselves from the grip of the US militarily, politically and economically.
In order to free ourselves we must unite and we can, because increasing numbers of Australians from different walks of life and political persuasions are becoming alarmed at the suicidal direction the present Australian political leadership is taking us. We are many and are powerful when we are united, while the US collaborators and those who profit from US domination are few. We need political leaders who will serve the interests of the Australian people rather than those of the US or any other foreign power. We need a new constitution, one which will respect the people who first walked this land, will forbid the presence of ALL foreign bases and foreign troops on our soil and will give emphasis to the promotion of peace and mutually beneficial relations with all countries.
Only independence can give us back our sovereignty and self-respect and the possibility of a peaceful future.
* Bevan Ramsden is a former telecommunications engineer and TAFE teacher and a long-time peace activist. He advocates for Australia’s independence. He is a former member of the coordinating committee of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network) IPAN) and editor of its monthly e-publication, Voice.