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Nostalgia at the AUKMIN Talks: Britain’s Forces Eye Australia

Give the man credit where it’s due. Few could possibly be congratulated for selling the sovereignty of a country in full view of its citizenry, but Peter Dutton, former Queensland copper turned sadistic Home Affairs minister turned Defence Minister, is very capable of it. Australia promises to become a throbbing bordello for the strategic affairs of other states (to a large extent, it already is), awaiting submarine insertions, naval manoeuvres, and more troop rotations.

With the AUKUS arrangements being firmed up, US and UK sailors, personnel and miscellaneous staff are being readied for more time Down Under, ensuring that Australia becomes a staging ground for future forward military operations. Canberra has relinquished much say in this; the song sheets and blueprints are coming from elsewhere.

The UK, reprising its long history of using Australia for its own military adventurism, is keen to massage the recently minted AUKUS agreement. Last week, the UK Secretary of Defence Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met Dutton and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne in Sydney for annual AUKMIN talks. The meeting had a distinctly nostalgic note to it: maternal Britannia, dropping in to see its rather (territorially) large offspring.

The joint media release prior to the meeting was prosaic but had all the signs of greater UK military involvement in the region, though much of it is likely to be modest. Discussions promised to “focus on strategic challenges and identify areas in which Australia and the United Kingdom can work to support an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region where the sovereignty of all nations is respected.” Pity that Australian sovereignty is being whittled away in this transaction.

While plans to place British “defence assets” in Australia were not inked at the meeting, the idea has received much interest. After ministerial discussions Dutton told reporters that he was not averse to the idea. “In terms of basing [assets in Australia], there’s no proposal on the table to provide additional basing [but] it could be something that we discuss at the appropriate time if it’s suitable to both parties.”

Payne got into the spirit of “shared values” between the countries, noting “an interest in maintaining the international rule-based order underpinning stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and globally.”

The most commonly used word used in that regard, notably in Australian strategic lingo, is “complex.” The world has become more complex, as if it was somehow simpler before. The region has also evolved into components of complexity, necessitating more defence expenditure for the next war. And if there was conflict, the countries of the Anglosphere would not be aggressors, nor endorsers of it.

Payne’s wittering kept the theme alive. “The international environment is becoming more complex and challenging. AUKMIN 2022 will consider ways to strengthen our partnership in order to meet new and emerging threats and seize the many opportunities that this era presents.”

Dutton similarly looked “forward to discussing how we can work together in support of a safe and secure Indo-Pacific region.” This promises greater militarisation. In the words of the statement, the meeting “will consider ways to strengthen collaboration in defence capability, cyber security, critical technology, deterrence and sustainable investment in infrastructure.”

What could be expected, stated Dutton was “a greater regularity of visits [of UK ships and submarines], in training, in people being embedded in both services, and certainly a greater cooperation in exercises.”

Showing his usual wooden spoon understanding of history, the defence minister saw parallels in current strategic developments in the Indo-Pacific to the dangerous world of the 1930s and 1940s. “We know as a world today that we would be in a very different situation if […] the United Kingdom had not stood up to malign forces and had not represented the values that they adhere to even to this day.”

Were these the values of predatory colonisation and understanding of international rules that received such excoriation from Indian Justice Radhabinod Pal? Pal, as a member of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East established by the Allied powers to try Japan’s leaders for war crimes in 1946, acquitted the high-ranking parties of all charges. In doing so, he trained his judicial mind on Western imperialism, claiming that Japan had been subject to a “sham employment of legal process for the satisfaction of a thirst for revenge.” The United Kingdom, he noted, had seized Burma and India; the Netherlands, Indonesia; the United States, the Philippines.

You do not have to agree with the entire stretch of Pal’s dissenting judgment of 1,235 pages to appreciate his puncturing of the canard that has come to be known as the rule-based international order. Behind such neat declarations are not so much legal briefs as guns and gunboats.

After the meeting, Wallace promised that the countries would “lay foundations for training” between Australian and British forces, stressing that “nothing was off the table.” The defence secretary had an eye towards the submarine element of the security arrangement. Britain would “certainly make sure that submarines, when we have availability or we wish to deploy in conjunction with Australia” would do so.

The Australian defence minister was more forthcoming with the details. “In terms of additional visits we will see greater rotation, as we’ve already seen from the strike carrier group and from the nuclear sub visit out of the UK.”

As for Australia’s promised nuclear-powered submarines, which will only see the light of day, if at all, in two decades, Wallace was ceremonial in promise and encouraging to swollen heads in Canberra. “What is absolutely clear is that the United States, Britain and Australia are joined at the hip on delivering this program, that the strategic capability that Australia wishes is a step change that will absolutely set them apart as a leader in their field in this part of the world.”

This statement is accurate on one level. Australia will certainly be set apart as a leader in the field of poor defence acquisitions of suspect military value and in permitting countries such as the US and UK to treat it as both client state and butler. How richly jarring to then hear that the countries of AUKUS are all very keen to defend the sovereign sanctity of such states as Ukraine.

 

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15 comments

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  1. Harry Lime

    I can just see Old Blighty rushing to our defence should those wicked Chinese cast jealous eyes in our direction.Since brexit,an already ailing Britain has taken another,severe turn for the worse,and with an impossible and dangerous fool for a leader,one can smell horseshit disguised as politics from 10,000 miles away.The political pygmies in both countries match each other,fool for fool.It’s like watching a play that Shakespeare couldn’t bring himself to publish for fear of a citizen backlash.Even Walt Disney would have rejected it as too fantastic.We live in times of high farce.

  2. Stephengb

    I do not believe that war has ever been about anything but the stealing of the resources of another, collective, tribe or country.

    Yes yes war has always required the peasants to pay the price, whether it’s with death maiming or economically.

    Yes the war mongers have invoked religion, patriotism and so called honour to create the need for war, but beneath all that it is merely the very very elite who simply profit from the spoils of war, from the making of the war nachmne to the simple truth of pillage.

    History has shown that wars has never ended, there is always a war raging somewhere, but it is interesting that apart from a few minor wars China has not tried to dominate the world by so called colonialism, by regime change, or economic domination. Unlike Great Britain, and the USA, who have dominated the world from the 17th Century to 1939, and since 1945 to date.

    Nothing has changed the USA and GB are now angling to dominate (or controlled ,asia – and that means controlling China).

    And of course – if there is going to be fisticuffs, best do it on someone elses soil, especially a soil that is relatively uninhabited, benign in topography and weather, and where the victors will be rewarded with so much mineral and agricultural recourse.

    PS
    If I were China, I would not be happy to have NATO ensconced in Australia.
    China needs the mineral wealth of Australia, and eyes the agricultural capacity of this wide brown land.

  3. New England Cocky

    Remember the last time the Yanks were here in huge numbers? During the imperialistic Vietnam war t hey took over Kings Cross Sydney, bought up all the girls with good times and made an absolute arse of themselves. Then remember back to WWII when the Yanks were only three problems; over paid, over sexed and over here. The Battle of Brisbane saw US military forces attempt to ”take over” Brisbane during a three day war with Aussie military personnel. Meanwhile in Sydney generations of Sydney families proved that Sydney was the biggest brothel in the SW Pacific.

    Australia has been an occupied country since Gillard allowed the Yanks t install about 2,500 troops in Darwin ”to protect American assets in the NW Shelf”.

    With friends like the USA (united States of Apartheid) who needs any other enemies??

  4. New England Cocky

    @Harry Lime”: In WWII strategy England was going to protect Australia with the HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales. Both were sunk by the Japanese Air Force as the Poms fled from Singapore, their tails firmly between their legs thanks to an incompetent English High Command. Indeed, little HMAS Armidale did more to protect Australia than the English Navy.

    @Stephengb: An astute observation of global politics. Remember that the Iran Iraq War was fought in the desert with the USA (United States of Apartheid) providing BOTH SIDES with weapons. This was predicted by Gary Allen, (1971) ”None Dare Call it Conspiracy”; available on line.

  5. Harry Lime

    Cocky, the biggest brothel has now relocated to Canberra,where, under madam the Liar,the harlots have moved into carparks,swimming pools and shooting ranges.They also bend over for mining magnates and assorted international chancers and spivs.Australia, the lucky country,where, if you’re a crook,you get a go.

  6. Canguro

    Not to make too fine a point of it, but the idiot Brit, Defence Sec. Wallace, seems to have gotten lost in his whimsical use of metaphor with his assertion that the US, Britain and Australia are joined at the hip. Siamese twins are rare, and triplets…. vanishingly so. Such forensic deconstruction seems pointless though, given that the linguistic metier of the political class de jour is to pile claptrap upon obfuscation upon winged bullsh*t, having learnt along the way that you can confuse most of the people most of the time if you just keep your lips flapping and words spewing.

    Marise Payne, another functionally inept personality, added to the dungpile of useless pronouncements with her offering that “[Things are ] becoming more complex and challenging, … [with] new and emerging threats, [so let’s] seize the many opportunities that this era presents [and blah blah blah and so on, and are we done yet?].

    This ‘joined at the hip’ shit is risible; the USA exploits everyone it interacts with, Britain is lost in a fug of delusion and sentimentality for its long-gone ‘glory’ days, and Australia is yet to overcome its colonial antecedents and forelock-tugging penal mentality, courtesy of mugwhumps of the ilk of Abbott, Dutton, Morrison et al.

  7. Jon Chesterson

    He sold us out for proposing British and American nuclear powered subs be based here in Australia for the next 20 years while we wait for them to build Australian ones, for which no contract has as yet been agreed. So for the next 20 years the British and Americans will be able to use our soil to wage whatever campaign/s they want against China, we will not have a say in at all. And this is Dutton’s solution as Defence Minister for the massive blunder on French subs we won’t get but will have to pay for, and not realising we would end up with no subs for 20 years, exposed and vulnerable. What a prize idiot Dutton, Napoleon’s goddamn brainless monkey!

    Cleverly engineered by America and Britain and putting all Australians in serious jeopardy while Dutton continues to mouth off like a loose cannon against China!

    Does Dutton even know which flag he flies under, who elected him and does he have a secret payroll from overseas?

  8. GL

    If we were invaded tomorrow Scummo and his bunch would be out of the country so fast their brown trousers would be left standing in parliament. I can just hear his version of (apologies to him) Churchill:

    “You have nothing to offer but your blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

    “…you will fight on the seas and oceans. You will defend our Island, whatever the cost may be. You will fight on the beaches, You will fight on the landing grounds and in the fields and in the streets, and fight in the hills; you will never surrender.”

    “Are the jets ready to take us to the US Peter?”
    “Yes, all fueled and engines running.”
    “Then let’s get the fuck out of here, we’re too valuable to stay here and anyway we can just as easily run the place from Washington. Oh, did you make room for Gina and Twiggy and Brian Houston like I asked?”
    “Certainly did and I even had two spare seats for a couple of au pairs that were staying at my place.”
    “That’s great, let’s go.”

  9. Andrew J. Smith

    Says a lot about this current and previous generation of mostly LNP (and some others) who think there is some inextricable cultural link between three Anglosphere nations in US, UK and junior partner, Australia. In other words selling out our sovereignty for short term political, media and maybe financial gain; ditto Brexit but that is long term and in the eyes of protagonists, permanent.

  10. John Hanna

    It’s all about optics for the forthcoming election. Morrison is praying that the Ukraine thing will blow up just in time for a khaki election so he can beg to send troops there like Abbott did with syria and Howard with Iraq and Menzies with Vietnam all are a bunch of bum sniffers and Mr Potato head is the worst of all.

  11. Howarth

    GL, no matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine our PM holding a rifle, let alone pulling the trigger. If he did, he would probably shoot himself in the foot.

  12. GL

    Howarth,

    That reminds me of a line from a program (don’t remember the name) I saw/heard many years ago, paraphrased: “Today there was an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister. Doctors said that although he was shot in the head the bullet missed his brain by six feet.”

  13. Michael Taylor

    GL, that muttonhead is becoming a danger to this country.

  14. Phil Pryor

    Peter Skullfulla-Mutton is actually a national security risk, the dunce pretending to be dux. He is sensationally unaware, uninformed, undereducated, unbelievable, and he should be elsewhere looking for a village which advertised for the position of idiot.

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