The Guardian November 22, 2000


TAKING ISSUE with Jo Dunleavy
Heading for a big war?

We are heading for a major military conflict. This was the central most 
important issue raised in The Guardian editorial of November 15 
("Howard's military agenda"). It noted that the "US is preparing for a big 
war" and marked out the boundary of the Asia-Pacific region we live in  
and police  as a triangle stretching from Pakistan to Japan and Russian 
Siberia, to New Zealand and the Pacific islands. Such a war prophesy 
requires further consideration.

In passing I note that to prepare for war it is necessary, as far as 
possible, to prepare the minds of the people for war which accounts for the 
growing wave of nostalgia for slouch hats, Aussie soldiers as tough but 
tender-hearted larrikins and the general revisiting of history currently 
under way. 

This stirs up patriotic feelings and stokes the fires of nationalism as 
well as helping get people on-side over increased military budgets. 

Defence Minister John Moore even declared that taxpayers are happy to 
commit more money to defence, they just want to see "improved management 
standards". He didn't venture to explain how he came by this profound 
understanding of the wants and needs of the Australian people.

Last week the supreme commander of US forces in the Pacific came to 
Australia and was given a briefing on the contents of the Government's 
defence white paper, of which the public has been told nothing (it is 
relevant here to recall the Government's little farce a few months back 
when it "democratised" military planning by "consulting" the public).

The Defence Department explained the sneak peek thus: "America is our 
closest ally and there is a very strong flow of information on defence 
issues."

The Admiral  who is in charge of 300,000 US troops in the region  then 
set about instructing the Government on what the US expects from Australia.

He told Minister Moore to carry on with regional policing increases and to 
be ready for Australian forces to go anywhere in the world where the US is 
conducting a conflict.

For the latter the Admiral plugged the airborne early-warning and control 
system aircraft.

Said Blair: "I think it's a very high requirement to have an airborne 
battle management air surveillance platform in order to conduct military 
operations in a lot of situations I can see that we and Australia would 
want to operate in."

He admitted that there is "no direct major threat to either of our 
countries", but claimed in "the future" there might be. Plus, "there are 
many countries and groups who are capable of using violence against US and 
Australian interests".

He added that "this is not a sales pitch for buying American equipment. It 
is about having compatible concepts of operation and doctrine." Well, 
Admiral, perhaps a bit of both?

The Admiral told the US Senate this year: "A key objective of US Pacific 
Command's regional engagement program is to increase the readiness of the 
armed forces in the region, to contribute to combined peacekeeping and 
humanitarian operations."

The Guardian editorial characterised this type of language from the 
biggest military power in history  "Talk of deterring aggression by 
others is no more than a cover for their own aggression." It would appear 
that we are indeed headed for a big war. The question is, what do we do 
about it?

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