The Guardian November 15, 2000

Howard's military agenda

In the second half of the 20th Century, more than 120 wars were fought, 
killing 25 million people and wounding 75 million more. More than one 
million were killed in each of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea 
and the Horn of Africa.

At its height, military spending during the so-called Cold War reached 
$1250 billion a year. During the 1990s billions more dollars have been 
poured into wars in the Middle East, the Balkans and elsewhere, lining the 
coffers of the arms manufacturers.

The culprit is imperialism and the capitalist system which has never ceased 
for one moment in its attempt to impose its system on all other countries 
and to deliberately foment religious and ethnic disputes to preserve its 

The intention of the Howard Government, with the blessing of the Labor 
Party, to substantially increase military spending, is in line with this 
new upward trend. Arms contracts are exceedingly profitable for the arms 
manufacturers and they have a major interest in the fomenting of wars and 
international tension throughout the world.

The Australian Government has announced its intention to increase military 
spending by three per cent in real terms per year for the next 10 years 
which, when compounded, actually works out at an increase of close to 40 
per cent over the period.

But there is much more to it than that.

There are strong indications that a militarisation of society is being 
pushed. Recent "shoot-to-kill" legislation enabling the military to take 
part in internal policing duties is an indication that Australia's ruling 
class is preparing to suppress dissent, including strike action by workers, 
by military force.

There is an increase in jingoistic propaganda and the generation of fear 
with references to the "instability" in the region just north of Australia 
as though the conflicts in Fiji, Bougainville, PNG, West Papua, Indonesia 
and in East Timor represent some threat to Australia. They do not.

What they do signal however, is that the people of these small states are 
waging a struggle against their exploitation and oppression, the 
consequences of the economic impoverishment from which they still suffer.

It is the POLITICAL consequences of these movements that the government 
fears and intends to suppress by military means using the fig leaf of 
"peace-keeping" or the even more obvious "peace-enforcement" labels.

The upgraded military expenditure is also intended to integrate Australia's 
military forces with those of the United States by the purchase of high-
tech weapons. By these means it also hopes to outdistance the military 
forces of other nations in the Asia-Pacific region and together with the 
US, impose imperialist domination over the whole region.

The Defence Review 2000 issued by the Government in June of this 
year made clear the thinking behind the very substantial increase in 
military spending. The Review said:

"... most of our strategic interests are concentrated in our own region, 
the Asia-Pacific. It covers a big part of the Earth, in a triangle 
stretching from Pakistan to our northwest, to Japan and Russian Siberia to 
the north, and New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific in the east. Our 
strategic interests are engaged especially in the relations between Asia's 
major powers: Japan, China, Russia and India. US engagement in Asia is very 
important because it holds in check any potential for major power strategic 
competition. We can best promote our interests by supporting the US in its 
stabilising role."

The US by its beefed up military expenditure, its promotion of the Nuclear 
Missile Defence (which is really a system by which to cover its 
aggression), the aggressive and illegal bombing of Yugoslavia, recent 
legislation passed by the US Congress which flagrantly interferes in 
China's internal affairs, all indicate that the US is preparing for a big 
war. Talk of deterring aggression by others is no more than a cover for 
their own aggression.

Australia's increased military expenditure and the political agenda which 
lies behind this expenditure will end in the greatest disaster ever 
experienced by Australia and its people unless stopped.

In the 1930s a great world-wide campaign against war and fascism helped to 
mobilise the people against these evils. A similar campaign is needed now 
to stop those who have taken over the Nazi aim which was also world 
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