By Denis Bright
Decades ago – in 1951 – the ANZUS Pact promised ongoing consultations about strategic policies within the US Global Alliance. Now, from the elite surroundings of Queensland’s Government House in Brisbane, media statements from AUSMIN have taken everyone back to school days. Our elected leaders are now the principals in a frightening new age in which preparation for war is a key element in foreign and strategic policies (Joint Statement from AUSMIN 29 July 2023):
Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles hosted the U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on 29 July in Brisbane to advance the Australia-U.S. Alliance and their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and globally. Building on the high tempo of engagement between leaders and ministers, including the meeting between Prime Minister Albanese and President Biden in May 2023, the Ministers and Secretaries (the principals) determined that the Alliance has never been stronger. Based on a bond of shared values, it remains a partnership of strategic interest – premised on a common determination to preserve stability, prosperity, and peace.
For our visiting US Principals, it seems that peace will be delivered by exporting cluster bombs to extend the war in Europe.
National sovereignty is always imperiled by unnecessary secrecy like the Treaty of London (1915) which moved Italy from neutrality to becoming a participant in the Great War (1914-18) at the instigation of the British Government.
Extracts from the Treaty of London 1915
ARTICLE 2. On her part, Italy undertakes to use her entire resources for the purpose of waging war jointly with France, Great Britain, and Russia against all their enemies.
ARTICLE 3. The French and British fleets shall render active and permanent assistance to Italy…
ARTICLE 11. Italy shall receive a share of any eventual war indemnity corresponding to their efforts and her sacrifices.
ARTICLE 13. In the event of France and Great Britain increasing their colonial territories in Africa at the expense of Germany, those two Powers agree in principle that Italy may claim some equitable compensation…
ARTICLE 14. Great Britain undertakes to facilitate the immediate conclusion, under equitable conditions, of a loan of at least 50,000,000 pounds…
ARTICLE 16. The present arrangement shall be held secret.
It would have been better for Italy if a brave Julian Assange from the era told the Italian people about the secret strategic deals with Britain in 1915. Italy’s involvement in the Great War brought family tragedies, mass immigration, financial ruin and the rise of fascism in its wake.
The current militarization of the global economy by potential friend and foe alike will ultimately be ended by accidental conflict or economic recession from burnt out commitments and distortion of investment flows globally. Going too far by Australian leaders risks schism in the Labor Movement as in the Great War or tensions within the Labor Party during the Cold War in the 1950s and more recently when New Zealand withdrew from the ANZUS Pact over visits by naval vessels that were either nuclear powered or carrying nuclear weapons or both in the 1980s.
If there is a chink in the armour of public support for Australia’s defence commitments to the US Global Alliance, it lies in medium and long-term concerns about the costs of the AUKUS defence commitments which are apparent in the Lowy Institute’s 2023 Polling.
The financial costs of the submarine deal is the real chink in favourable Australian public opinion towards more participation in the US Global Alliance.
Despite the outpouring of patriotic rhetoric at the launching event in Mobile, Alabama, Austal Limited Australia had not finalized its Australian taxation commitments from an annual revenue of $579.4 million in 2020-21 by 2 November 2022. The tax owing under review by the ATO was a paltry $28 million due to legalized tax minimization by the company’s accountants. Austal’s explanation of these processes is well covered in the 2022 Annual Report from Austal Australia which can easily be perused by interested readers.
Orders for AUKUS vessels and commitments to the QUAD Defence Arrangements will provide windfall revenue for the military and industrial complexes of Britain and the USA for a generation ahead until 2050. In the traditions of the original ANZUS Defence Alliance of 1951, our bipartisan strategic commitments were always consistent with adherence to the UN Charter and to open discussion of defence arrangements.
Behind the scenes intrigues by defence chiefs and intel services through their media releases are a quite inadequate substitute for these democratic consultations.
Hopes of US co-operation in releasing Julian Assange who is languishing in Belmarsh Prison in London while awaiting extradition to the USA to face charges for breaches of the US Espionage Act were dashed at the recent AUSMIN Meeting. Defence analyst Chelsea Manning who actually released the Pentagon documents to Julian Assange for publication had his charges commuted by President Obama in 2017.
These documents are largely in the public domain through sites like ChatGPT which can retrieve the gist of most items released but without adequate referencing by the AI robots at Opensystems in San Francisco. Readers can avail themselves of the resources of ChatGPT in the absence of full and frank media releases from Australian government strategic agencies.
Environmental risks of nuclear-powered ship visits to Australian ports also add to the policy dilemmas facing Australians.
It was the Morrison Government which welcomed the ageing French nuclear powered submarine to HMAS Sterling near Perth in late 2020 en route to naval manoeuvres near Guam and likely stealth operations in the South China Sea to test China’s maritime intelligence. Such manoeuvres in troubled waters are hazardous operations. This epic seven-month voyage to the Indo-Pacific Basin was well covered in this YouTube video.
The New York Times (31 March 1994) and other global media outlets of the nuclear accident involving the nuclear-powered submarine off Toulon. ChatGPT has a blind spot about the reporting of this incident from media monitoring:
Ten sailors died today in an accident aboard a French nuclear-propelled submarine that was taking part in naval exercises in the Mediterranean off Toulon, the Defense Ministry announced.
A ministry spokesman said that the Émeraude, a 2,400-ton Rubis-class attack submarine, did not carry nuclear missiles and that its 48-megawatt nuclear reactor was not damaged in the accident, which occurred when a burst pipe released high pressure steam into a turbine compartment.
“The steam is certainly not radioactive,” Rear Adm. Philippe Roy said at a news conference in the southern port city of Toulon this evening.
Hours after the accident, the navy recalled three other nuclear-propelled submarines — two from the Mediterranean and one from the Atlantic — pending an investigation. “We are recalling them because we are asking questions about what happened,” Admiral Roy said.
Since I covered this topic the WA State Police Minister’s Office has kindly provided details of protocols operating for the containment of accidents involving nuclear powered ship visits which possibly carry nuclear weapons under Don’t Ask Won’t Tell Protocols operating within the US Global Alliance. It was most appreciated when the Hon. Paul Papalia’s Perth office to provide this statement for the preparation of this article which has been added in its entirety:
The Commissioner of Police is the hazard Management Agency for Radiation Escape from a Nuclear-Powered Warship (NPW) as defined within the Emergency Management Regulations 2006. The Commissioner of Police holds the responsibility for ensuring all necessary actions and services are in place to protect the public in the event of radiation escape from a NPW. This includes coordinating emergency response efforts and taking appropriate measures to mitigate risks associated with radiation exposure.
To provide a comprehensive framework for managing this hazard, the State Hazard Plan (SHP)-HAZMAT Annex A Radiation Escape from a NPW has been developed. The SHP, along with other related plans, outlines the arrangements for managing various hazards within Western Australia.
To mitigate the risk of any collisions, the Western Australia (WA) Police Force provides an escort for NPWs while they are moving within port limits. This measure is take as part of the arrangements for visiting NPWs and aims to ensure the safety and security of both the ship and the surrounding area.
It is important to note the SHP contains unclassified material, consequently considerations of nuclear weapons are not part of the Visiting Ships Panel (Nuclear) administrative process. The WA Police Force is unable to provide further comment in relation to nuclear weapons.
Nuclear powered vessels from countries in the US Global Alliance have been visiting Australian ports since 1960. The details of these visits can be monitored on the web sites of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Departments of Defence itself in both Australian and the USA.
Specialist staff within DFAT will of course have access to some classified documents generated by the US Department of Defense and its related intel networks. To guard against the emergence of any new generation of Australians wishing to follow in the traditions of Chelsea Manning of Oklahoma, it is my understanding from personal communications from just one staff member on my reporting rounds for AIM Network that personal phones and communication systems are all monitored by local intel services and probably by overseas agencies as well.
Whilst ChatGPT is tightening up on the topics on which it is able to release information, it can still provide a wealth of anecdotal information to assist in the reporting of hearsay on strategic and intelligence matters. Reporters can work on this anecdotal information by perusing reliable documents in the public domain such as annual reports of companies within the global military industrial complexes.
Like the manufacturers of lethal weapons during the Great War, not all corporate data can be withheld from potential investors and curious members of the general public. Corporations here and overseas will make windfall profits from defence contracts. ChatGPT could offer these details of key defence companies operating in Australia:
US Companies operating in Australia who are likely to gain from international strategic tensions include:
Inquisitive readers can easily check which prominent Australian family is a big shareholder in Austal Limited which manufactured the USS Canberra in Mobile, Alabama prior to its commissioning in Sydney on 22 July 2023. With so many millions to spare, this family is a prominent investor in the Ukrainian Development Fund with just a small holding of US $500 million.
More than a century ago during the Great War (1914-18) peace initiatives were by-passed because both sides of the conflict in Europe hope for strategic advantages from continuing the fighting. These peace initiatives involved the Vatican under Pope Benedict XV and ultimately diplomatic engagement between the warring parties in 1916-17.
More than a century later, Pope Francis has authorized his peace envoy in Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna to visit Washington, Kiev, Moscow and Beijing to sound out the possibilities for an end to the current conflicts with colleagues from the Vatican secretariat of state. As in the Great War, initial efforts are on behalf of the civilian victims of warfare. These efforts became mainstream in the Great War as noted by Philip Zelikow in his book for the US Woodrow Wilson Institute.
The Road Less Travelled: The Secret Battle to End the Great War, 1916-1917
For more than five months, from August 1916 to the end of January 1917, leaders from the United States, Britain, and Germany held secret peace negotiations in an attempt to end the Great War. They did so far out of public sight – one reason why their effort, which came astonishingly close to ending the war and saving millions of lives, is little understood today. In The Road Less Travelled.
As Australia is not a current non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, our immediate efforts for some token welfare support for the victims of war can be made through the efforts of NZ’s UN Ambassador Carolyn Schwalger (NZ Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). NZ is still officially outside the US Global Alliance but is kept well in the loop by the Australian Government.
Supporting governments which are involved in the use of cluster bombs to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine is dramatically at odds with the values of the broader Labor Movement and this opposition should be taken up by delegates from the progressive wings of the Labor Party within the National Conference. Supporters of lobbyists from the commercial military industrial complexes across the US Global Alliance have no affinity with Labor Values and should be exposed by committed delegates who believe in peace and disarmament.
Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.
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