The Guardian July 26, 2000


Military madness

The Federal Government's grovelling relationship with the US was 
highlighted recently by the joint media conference of the Australian 
Minister for Defence, John Moore, and the visiting US Secretary of Defence, 
William S Cohen. Clearly the Howard Government is intent on continuing 
Australia's ongoing role as a subservient deputy in helping the US in its 
planned military madness of gaining first-strike capability, which includes 
nuclear first strike.

As such Australia is a crucial element in helping the US in its aim to 
impose its will on nations everywhere, an untenable and dangerous strategy 
that will bring the world closer to the brink of nuclear conflict.

Cohen stated that he expected Australia to "play an important role in 
shared early warning", i.e. to use the existing bases at Pine Gap to 
provide the crucial information so as the US can put its "star wars" 
National Missile Defence (NMD) into action.

Moore did not state whether Australia would participate in the NMD system, 
saying euphemistically that we hadn't yet been asked.

Use of Australia's Pine Gap base is essential for the operation of the NMD 
system. Neither Moore nor Cohen denied that the new dome at the Pine Gap 
spy satellite base was intended to be used as part of NMD.

Significantly, neither of them ruled out the possibility of the US Air 
Force base on Okinawa moving to Australia, and Cohen stated that the US 
intends to maintain its current force of some 100,000 personnel "throughout 
the Asia-Pacific region".

The press conference also revealed that the US not only expects Australia 
to accept the role of US deputy, but to also pay lavishly for the 
privilege!

Cohen declared that he expected Australia to increase its future level of 
defence spending.

"There will have to be additional investment if Australia hopes to maintain 
a modern inter-operable force with the US and other allies", he said. "This 
is a requirement of all our allies."

He also spelled out Australia's role for the US in the region, saying the 
Australia/US alliance is "the anchor to our policy in the Pacific region" 
to "maintain peace and stability, to promote free trade and economic 
growth" and to "advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law".

It is also possible that the Howard Government is actually considering 
making Australia a fully-fledged nuclear power. This possibility resurfaced 
after the recent decision to upgrade Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor 
with a new and very much bigger reactor, despite opposition from Sydney 
residents.

The new facility, which was ordered in effect as a "fait accompli" by the 
Federal Government, will be far more versatile and powerful than the 
present facility, which is effectively limited to the production of 
industrial and medical radioisotopes.

Internationally, the proposal for the development of NMD has been 
vigorously opposed by a wide range of individuals and organisations. Both 
China and Russia have strongly denounced the proposal, and even the US's 
traditional allies such as Canada and Germany have expressed deep 
misgivings about the proposal.

Even former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser  a long time 
supporter of US hegemony  is alarmed at these developments, last week 
warning that the new system would benefit the US but would seriously 
endanger Australia.

He stated bluntly that the new system was intended to give an advantage to 
the US over China, and that the problem did not lie with the so-called 
"states of concern" such as Iran and North Korea.

Fraser described the US reference to the missile capability of these states 
as simply an excuse to justify development of the NMD program.

"Any government that agreed to participate in giving an anti-ballistic 
missile shield to the United States alone ... would be jeopardising 
Australia's own security."

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