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Talking up Australia’s Middle Power Diplomacy

By Denis Bright

What are the implications for Australian sovereignty of the broadening and strengthening of commitment to the Australia US military alliance in The Post 9/11 Era?

From a security oriented arrangement between sovereign states under the ANZUS Treaty of 1951, the Alliance has evolved into complex whole of government accords which extend from traditional defence links to incorporate stronger security, economic and cultural ties.

Both countries share a commitment to market-based development, a low taxation base for the delivery of non-military government services as well as the expected long-standing commitments to mutual defence within an increasingly predictable template model of Australian politics.

Application of this wider template model in both Australia and the US has already brought widespread disenchantment with mainstream politics.

After five Prime Ministers since 2007, many Australians are not really comfortable with a society that is being restructured on Anglo-American lines.

Even in the US itself, this style of neo-conservatism has imposed an appalling income divide, falling real wages and real sectors of disadvantage.

This is hardly exportable as a model political system.

Australian lobbyists now talk up the profile of business corporations, the enduring role for the armed forces or the need for more law enforcement and domestic security. These establishment voices are echoed in most of the print media and eyewitness news reporting.

Welcome to the template world of Australian politics with its financial limits on the delivery of essential infrastructure and services despite ongoing commitments to overseas military deployments.

In reconstructions of Australian history in the mainstream media, images of military deployments have long triumphed over attention to the domestic political struggles for social justice in a more inclusive social market economy. Indeed by 1915, Australians had twice elected a national social democratic government with a majority in both houses of parliament.

The Australian electorate also voted on two occasions to reject the need for conscription to the Western Front in Europe in 1916-17.

The template of public sector austerity does not of course extend to the outreach of the US Global Alliance.

Protecting Australia from the unknown? ((www.globalresearch.ca)

Protecting Australia from the unknown? ((www.globalresearch.ca)

Joint and US Base facilities in Australia are now well entrenched.

Australia’s current involvement in joint military exercises means that our military commanders must decide spontaneously when an exercise becomes fully operational.

SBS news updates warn of possible offensive involvement of the Pine Gap Joint Communication Base in the targeting of US drone strikes from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa.

Australia’s proactive involvement within the US Alliance also includes commitment to the political stabilization of the adjacent Asia Pacific Region.

The greatest local regional challenge for Australia is steering Indonesia away from its long-term non-aligned status towards a greater association with allied countries in domestic counter-terrorism and towards a more critical stance on the rise of China as a military power in the South China Sea.

The military profile of the US in Indonesia has risen under President Obama. While Indonesia maintains its military ties with major international arms suppliers, the US Defense News applauds the increasing focus on US suppliers as well as military training programmes from Australia and the US.

During a sensitive phase in Australian Indonesian relations over the fate of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, called for closer military co-operation between the armed forces of Australia and Indonesia.

Such poorly-timed strategic advice accompanied by lobbying for the purchase of Reaper drones by Australia would not have been welcome in earlier stages of the ANZUS Treaty of 1951 with its insistence on constitutional processes to protect Australian sovereignty.

Historical background: Australia as a stable democratic frontier within the US Alliance

The suffocating conformity to the demands of the US Alliance was not just imposed upon Australia by successive US administrations. This has always been a trump card in the LNP’s domestic political arsenal.

Prime Minister Harold Holt won a sweeping victory at the national election on 26 November 1966 after a pre-arranged tour by President Johnson was conveniently slotted into the last days of the national election campaign.

The election was largely a referendum on the merits of Australia’s support for the US Alliance in South Vietnam. The LNP received its best primary vote since 1934 to that date.

Under the leadership of Gough Whitlam as both Opposition Leader and Prime Minister, the electorate was able to become more critical of The All the Way with LBJ Mantra of 1966.

With the election of Prime Minister Fraser in 1975, Australia returned to its old dependent status within the Alliance.

Our shared secret, Malcolm: Our new Peacekeeper is on its way (image from news.com.au)

Our shared secret, Malcolm: Our new Peacekeeper is on its way (image from news.com.au)

During a spike in the Cold War, Malcolm Fraser and Ronald Reagan negotiated the symbolic involvement of Australia in testing the accuracy of MX Missiles fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Labor’s return under Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1983 brought a government with power sharing between the dominant right groups and various left factions. At the grassroots level, peace and disarmament groups had a big following. There was strong sympathy in both the Labor caucus and the wider community for the bans on US nuclear powered or nuclear armed naval vessels by the New Zealand Government.

Prime Minister Hawke faced a potential revolt within the Labor caucus over the continuation of the Fraser Government’s MX missile test protocols as arranged by the previous government. Bob Hawke was able to defuse the caucus problems with a complex series of brilliant Win Win manoeuvres.

Australia withdrew from a non-essential direct involvement in the MX Missile tests. This permitted Prime Minister Hawke to talk up opposition to New Zealand’s embargo on either nuclear powered or nuclear armed vessels.

With New Zealand excluded from active participation in the ANZUS Treaty, Australia proceeded to professionalise security consultations with the US through the formation of the Australia-US Ministerial Council (AUSMIN) in 1985.

The US Embassy in Canberra still maintains an eloquent interpretation of AUSMIN arrangements.

Held regularly since 1985, the AUSMIN talks provide a valuable opportunity for Australian and U.S. officials to discuss a wide range of global, regional and bilateral issues.

Embassy of the US, Canberra 2015 (http://canberra.usembassy.gov/irc/us-oz/ausmin.html)

The new arrangements were a big win for the US in widening the scope of visits by US nuclear powered ships and the transportation of nuclear weapons through Australian ports.

After a senate inquiry in 1988, the prevailing centre-right majority within the Hawke Government was prepared to live with the consequences of nuclear incidents in Australian ports:

The US has confirmed to us that in all routine peacetime circumstances, US naval weapons are securely and safely stowed in an unarmed condition where they are protected from fire and electrical activity. The US Navy’s safety procedures take full account of the risks arising from sources of electromagnetic radiation as well as unauthorised access being gained to the nuclear weapons…The nuclear material in modern nuclear weapons is kept together with the other components of the weapon at all times. This does not however affect the possibility that a nuclear weapon accident might occur or that accidental nuclear detonation might eventuate.

Letter from the Minister for Defence, the Hon. Kim Beazley (1988) as tabled at the Senate Inquiry into Visits to Australia by nuclear powered or armed vessels

Even during the Republican Presidencies of Ronald Reagan (1980-88) and George H. W. Bush (1988-92), there seemed to be few objections to specific assertions of Australian independence in defence and foreign policy issues.

However, the events of 9/11 rekindled the old spirit of Australian dependence within the US Alliance. Prime Minister Howard had debts to repay to the US for its diplomatic support for Australia’s intervention in East Timor in 1999. The electorate was also ready to accept the threat of Jihadi terrorism as a viable substitute for the perils of perceived communist threats in the Cold War Era.

The Australia US Alliance in the Post 9/11 Era

This rekindled Australia US Alliance in The Post 9/11 Era was qualitatively different from the Cold War ANZUS treaty of 1951. It is now more deeply embedded in US economic diplomacy to consolidate the more strident financial leadership roles of the US and its key allies in the management of global capitalism.

Latest corporate data from the McKinsey Global Institute, shows the relative success of US economic diplomacy in recovering from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

With a mere 14% of corporate profits, Chinese firms were hardly a threat to the dominant western multinational brands.

Associate Professor Ho-Fung Hung at John Hopkins University made an appropriate interpretation of the still dependent status of China in the global economy. His article entitled America’s Head Servant: The PRC in the Global Crisis is readily available.

There is of course a longer term strategic risk for the US if China develops a more effective global financial outreach within an alternative brand of social market capitalism with obvious appeal to the developing world as a more altruistic form of capitalism.

US strategists must be comforted by the positive drift in corporate profits to industries associated with research and development, corporate communication, software and algorithms. These are in the economic sectors of pharmaceuticals, media, finance and information technology. All these commercial achievements are reinforced by the close co-operation between the business sectors of the US and those of its key allies.

New financial hubs are crucial in maintaining the financial supremacy of the western model of global capitalism. The Australia US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the forthcoming Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and European Union (EU) countries are all crucial milestones in the consolidation of US economic diplomacy.

Prime Minister Turnbull is still committed to the neo-conservative policy template of market based economic development, less commitment to direct government intervention, a low taxation base and unswerving loyalty to the US in defence and foreign policy commitments.

President Obama’s current charismatic style has made it somewhat easier to promote the template model of market-based politics since 2008. Australians must also anticipate less predictable changes in US Global Alliance Systems in the event of another neo-conservative Republican administration with more assertive foreign and defence policies.

Australia’s successful record in Middle Power Diplomacy

Earlier generations of Australian leaders could afford to be more even-handed about the direction of the US Alliance.

The Hawke Government was factionally broad enough to accommodate some token changes in Australia’s relationship with the US.

US control over the renamed Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap became slightly more accountable after 1988.

Even some meetings of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security were hosted at Pine Gap Base during the Rudd-Gillard years. No minutes of the deliberations were published on the Australian parliamentary site.

Senator Gareth Evans as foreign minister (1988-96) became the outstanding architect of the Cambodian Peace Plan of 1989.

The plan was a UN sponsored initiative. It brought together all four Cambodian factions, the six ASEAN countries, the Permanent Five Members of the UN Security Council, Vietnam, Laos, Australia, Canada and India as well as Zimbabwe (representing the Non-Aligned Movement) and a representative of the UN Secretary-General.

This moved Cambodia from an ongoing security and humanitarian crisis to a broader peace initiative under UN auspices.

Andrew Peacock as Foreign Affairs Minister in the Fraser Government broke with the US in withdrawing diplomatic recognition from the remnants of the Pol Pot Regime which soon lost all its significant territorial controls after the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia from late 1978.

Some parallels with the current Syrian crisis must be noted.

President Obama has now incorporated the positive achievements of German diplomacy from an innovative Middle Power within NATO.

A generation ago, Gareth Evans also proposed that Middle Powers like Australia could make a substantial contribution to peace and disarmament which is largely off the radar in Australian politics.

All these commitments have been overshadowed by the international politics of The Post 9/11 Era.

Instead of confronting Israel for its failure to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or international protocols against the use of chemical and biological weapons, Australia under the LNP could not even support the highly symbolic gesture of allowing the Palestinian flag to be raised at the UN Building in New York.

Australia voted with the Israel, Canada, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau and Tuvalu to support the US in opposing this symbolic resolution in the General Assembly on 10 September 2015.

This isolation of Australia from mainstream world opinion extended to a reflexive commitment to support a minority of NATO in the bombing of Daesh installations in Syria while the current round of international diplomacy was in its initial stages.

With the support of other responsible middle powers like Germany, Australia could have gained traction for some alternatives to the current misery in Syria as early as 2012.

Writing in The Guardian Online on 15 September 2015, Julian Borger and Bastien Inzaurralde welcomed the new US approach to the Syrian crisis. It was interpreted as a return to the recommended negotiating stance of the UN Syrian Group of February 2012. The Elders in the group had included Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The civil war in Syria had taken 7,500 lives by February 2012. Now the toll has already reached 250,000 with 11.5 million Syrians homeless. Four million Syrians have sought sanctuary in adjacent Middle Eastern and European countries.

Revisiting Australia’s involvement in the bombing of Daesh installations in Syria

Australia’s recent decision to follow a request from the US to become involved in the bombing of Daesh installations overlooked the complex nature of the civil war in Syria.

The conflict map shows a mosaic of misery across Syria with the government of President Assad in charge of much less than half the country.

Syrian conflict map 16 September 2015 (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 2015 authorized by Pieter Van Ostaeyen (https://pietervanostaeyen.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/2000px-syria15.png?w=640)

Syrian conflict map 16 September 2015 (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 2015 authorized by Pieter Van Ostaeyen (https://pietervanostaeyen.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/2000px-syria15.png?w=640)

Even Syria’s capital, Damascus, is besieged by a network of rebel forces with no direct links to Daesh forces. On the nearby Golan Heights, illegally placed Israeli forces stand ready to intervene in the conflict should Damascus fall to Jihadi rebel forces.

While Germany was one of the 45 countries which abstained from voting on the symbolic Palestinian flag issue in the UN General Assembly, it was not prepared to participate in the US inspired bombing of Daesh installations in Syria at this stage in the conflict.

In the interests of a pragmatic peace in Syria, Chancellor Merkel knows that there is no advantage to NATO if the Syrian capital should fall to Jihadi rebels in an absolutely failed state which may only advantage Daesh forces in the longer-term.

Besieged by refugees from war-torn Syria, the German Government supports peace initiatives to avoid the continuing conflict between the Assad Government and an array of rebel forces.

As one of the ministers in Germany’s Grand Coalition, foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) has raised the prospects of a peace initiative with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In holding off from involvement in bombing operations in Syria, Chancellor Merkel mentioned to Germany’s DW News Network that “We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well.” This would include “Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia.”

These German initiatives for peace in Syria are very similar to proposals from the Syrian Group which was rejected by both the US and the UK in 2012. Details are available in The Guardian Online.

It is appropriate that US Secretary of State, John Kerry and Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop now endorse these proposals.

Meanwhile, the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus is often hit in the cross fire between forces loyal to President Assad and a myriad of rebel groups.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop’s welcome change of heart on Syria is perhaps a sign of greater independence within the Australia US Alliance under the new Prime Minister.

Let’s hope that Malcolm Turnbull’s uses his understanding of contemporary globalization to review all aspects of the current template model of market-based politics which is causing so much distress in both societies.


denis brightDenis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). He has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in developing progressive public policies that are compatible with commitments to a social market model within contemporary globalization.



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  1. kizhmet

    Denis – thank you for another thoughtful, considered article that simplifies complex issues. As with all matters, I watch our “new PM” with interest – holding a (possibly vain) hope he is cut from different cloth to Abbott.

  2. susan

    Turnbull the lawyer and banker is going to rock a boat? Haha, what incentive does he have because he is already in the books as attaining the Prime Ministership. I see no earthly reason for Australia to have US bases on its soil and Pine Gap is not US territory for them to use without accountability to us.

  3. ISW

    Interesting food for thought Dennis, while we are still sucking our almost sovereign thumb and clasping the Linus style “political/security blanket”, otherwise known as “Royal Assent”, the chances of our political class acting in a truly Middle Power independent manner is slim.

    Our ex-Useful Idiot’s decision to bomb a sovereign nation without either a UN mandate or an invitation from that nation was both illegal and fundamentally stupid!, its reasonable to speculate that our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was just following instructions but I doubt she fought hard for the principle that “illegally bombing a country haemorrhaging refugees was a dumb way to stop the flow”!

    Given the premise that FM Julie was merely sucking up to the US warmongers, I suspect her knees go weak around “Power”, by blindly acceding to the request/coercion it’s a bit of a stretch to assert that rather than again blindly following the Empire of Chaos she’s had a change of heart in softening “our” stance of meddling in a sovereign nation’s politics by dropping bombs on it!

    Australia’s world position, both physically and institutionally, lends itself to successfully being a geopolitically neutral, self-aligned fully sovereign nation. We have the resources, the rule of law mostly effective and applied equally, a flawed but essentially robust political system, a reasonably effective regulatory system keeping the bottom of the harbour schemers under water, one wrinkle could perhaps be our relatively small population!

    America doesn’t need any more overseas military bases, it’s got more than 800 already, however, if it wants one here and having one is to our advantage then lets profit by it!, but!, offer the same to The Indonesians, The Chinese, The Indians, and, gulp…The Russians!, or, don’t have any foreign powers on our land at all!

    A superficial examination of American society circa 2015 highlights a society riven by rot in the forms of, astronomical levels of homicide, daily police killings of citizens, racially lopsided and unprecedented high incarceration rates, vast wealth inequality, massive below the radar dependence on government welfare, ear popping levels of debt, pervasive internal security agencies, and a humongous proactive military hell bent on subjugating the rest of the planet, allies included, at the behest of shadowy Transnational corporations.
    Did I mention the debt?, prosecuting wars on borrowed funds cannot be a good thing for “the people” when the bill comes due!

    For Australia to be an integral part of this when participation is optional reflects badly on our elected officials!, perhaps the foreign lobbyist agents really have subjugated our system poly by poly?

  4. Australia Non-Aligned

    A great case against over-commitment to great powers. Clinging to a declining Britain did not work and Australians had to wait until John Curtin’s government had the courage to draft the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 for Australia to make its own waves in defence and foreign policy after the Singapore Naval Base had fallen to the Japanese Army. Australia is to some weird colonial cringe and waits for intelligence directions from the USA on matters great and small. To be out of step with world opinion about the symbolic issue of the raising of the Palestinian flag in a minority of eight in the General Assembly is frightening.

  5. Australia Non-Aligned

    A great challenge to over-dependence on Australia’s powerful friends abroad. It was John Curtin’s government which finally had the courage to draft the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 to enable Australia to make waves in defence and foreign policy. Relying on US Intelligence to clear matters relating to our national sovereignty is appalling. On the Palestinian flag issue, only seven other countries voted with us. This is appalling in 2015.

  6. Catherine

    Great interpretation of the US alliance and its impact on Aussie sovereignty.
    The consent and encouragement given by the voters to this control on our sovereignty is a challenge for every progressive activist.
    Let’s mobilize for the peaceful alternative.

  7. Paul

    A very interesting read. There is always so much more to these issues than we see in the headlines. With such negative consequences stemming from war we must take a careful and considered approach to promote peace at every opportunity.

    I have never seen an issue with military neutrality particularly when Australia can have a move positive and valued impact on the world through using its resources for other means. NZ has been no worse off for taking a more distant approach over the last few years. I think Australia should do the same.

    Always choose peace within our own personal environment and wish for positive outcomes for those immediately around us not matter where we are. This will spread outwards to the broader community. Real change comes from within first before it can spread to the external environment. When we truly love ourselves we can truly love everyone – wars can become a thing of the past.

  8. Theresa

    Let’s hope the new PM will steer Australia in a new direction that is not focused on toeing the line of the U.S. alliance particularly in relation to Syrian crisis.

  9. Lalnama

    An interesting and timely article by Denis Bright. Australia over the last number of years has just appeared to agree with everything that the US instigates and for example look at the havoc caused by invading Iraq. I have thought of saying I am from New Zealand when travelling over seas. However hopefully each foreign policy decision shall,be made,on merit with all,the available,information, independently and on our terms , not just because of our Australian , American alliance. Thank you Denis for this well,thought out article.

  10. Irish Neutrality Forever

    Strange that so many Australians down-under are in love with US Militarism: President Obama still visits Ireland enthusiastically. US Military planes pay the airport fees at Shannon like everyone else and Ireland decides if they are welcome on a case by case basis. Definitely no nuclear bombs are allowed in transit.

  11. crypt0

    “a more independent Australian foreign policy” … ???
    I’ll believe that when Australia develops a mind of it’s own …
    Like NZ … or Ireland … or Syria …
    Oh, wait … perhaps Syria is not quite the example we’re looking for.
    No matter … climate change will eventually set us all free.

  12. Neil of Sydney

    Irish Neutrality Forever

    Must be great to live in a country that does nothing.

    It should never be forgotten that Ireland was neutral during WW2. During the blitz which the Irish supported, the IRA started its bombing campaign of Britain. Lots of Irish people were cheering on the Nazi’s. There are thousands of people at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean because the Irish refused to take part in WW2. The British needed Irish help to protect the convoys coming from North America but the Irish refused to help. Lots of people on those boats died because the Irish government did not want to take part in WW2

    The Irish were so upset when Hitler died that the Irish PM, De Valera sent his condolences to the German embassy in Dublin.

  13. Alliance Changer

    Re: Irish Neutrality by Neil of Sydney

    I am not aware of IRA activities against Britain during the War. Of course the IRA resisted British control of Ulster. There was a daring raid on the main Ammunition Depot in Dublin in 1940 to re-equip the IRA but it was not directed against Britain which had given up control of Eire.

    After the British crushed the Easter Uprising in 1916, it is understandable that the Irish Free State would not support the war against Germany.

    In these NATO days, Ireland keeps out of international conflicts as a neutral country like Switzerland, Austria and Sweden.

    The manner in which the NATO Alliance and the Australian US Alliance have become linked to political accords on matters such as the rights of multinational corporations, the continuation of state-run commercial enterprises or the validity of fair industrial awards in market economies has extended the scope of old security arrangements beyond acceptable limits.

    US representative government should not be imposed on other countries in the manner in which Britain subjected Ireland to permanent humiliation for centuries. Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria do not need this style of representative government which is contrary to local traditions.

    President Obama currently laments the tensions in his country over its failures in gun control.

    Many of these tensions are a product of falling real wages, substance abuse and a terrible income divide that is tearing the US apart within a so called freedom model of democracy.

    In Australia, we have a new Prime Minister but he strongly endorses this market model of development and every aspect of the US Alliance.

    Australians would do well to become more non-aligned in international affairs and to keep out of foolish errands like the bombing of Syria with the support of just a couple of NATO countries and a host of Middle East States who will benefit from the fall of President Assad.

    Maybe, Ireland and the other less aligned states in NATO can give us the courage to be more independent.

  14. Rezblah

    Hmmm n of s, how bout a little more historical research? I would think that Ireland has earned the right to be as neutral as it likes after serving up grist for the mill of the thin red line for centuries of colonial expansion.

    Obviously we think we haven’t served up enough ourselves yet so off to Syria we go (pray we don’t end up in direct conflict with Putin over this, we may well be shirt fronted ourselves, and then I think you’ll find that our noses won’t have been as far up the Americans backsides as we thought, they’d cut us loose in an instant before getting caught between Russia and us.

    As for our ongoing vassalage to the mighty us of a, we no doubt get told our true place in the world at regular intervals, and to defy that would be dangerous indeed. The U.S. Has a very long memory when it comes to being told to go away (just ask Castro). NZ got away with it because they’re too small to matter (no offense NZ, if only we were that lucky), but we’re way too important geo-strategically to be let off the hook like that.

    I’m not sure if there’s a way out of it, but it would be nice if there was

  15. Neil of Sydney

    I am not aware of IRA activities against Britain during the War


    The S-Plan or Sabotage Campaign or England Campaign was a campaign of bombing and sabotage against the civil, economic, and military infrastructure of the United Kingdom from 1939 to 1940, conducted by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA)

    But i am surprised how few people know that Ireland was neutral during WW2. Many people find it hard to see how anybody could be neutral in a conflict like that.

    Many people are at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean because of Irish neutrality.

  16. Alliance Changer

    Re: Ireland and the European War (1939-45)

    The Ulster Counties were part of the UK during the war years and 300 000 US troops were stationed there at different times after the US ceased being neutral itself in 1941.

    IRA campaigns continued in Britain during the 1930s without permission from the Irish Government. The last major attack at Coventry was four months before the outbreak of war with Germany. The Irish Government had anti-terrorism legislation in place to contain the IRA.

    As in Portugal and Sweden, Ireland retained diplomatic links with Germany during the war years.

    But without permission from Ireland, the British mined Irish ports like Queenstown near Cork and vetted shipping movements during the war.

    Neutrality must be accepted as a right of national sovereignty. The US itself was neutral for part of both world wars.

    The British could not condone a republican Ireland until the last. The last naval installations in Ireland were finally transferred to the Republic in 1938.

    Some US activities in Australia are dangerous for our own independence and national security. Closing down places like Pine Gap or opposing the transit of nuclear weapons through Australia would probably meet the same resistance.

  17. Neil of Sydney

    The Ulster Counties were part of the UK during the war years and 300 000 US troops were stationed there at different times

    Yes and just before D-Day the British govt put some American troops in NI because they were running out of space. England is not a big place. The Irish were terrified. They thought this was a prelude to the invasion of Ireland. When they realised they were not going to be invaded the Irish govt protested about this violation of Irish sovereignty. This was when stories of what had been happening in Europe we starting to come out. Just before D-Day all the Irish could do was moan and complain.

    Ireland retained diplomatic links with Germany during the war years.

    Yes. And the Irish President was so upset when Hitler died he sent his condolences to the German embassy in Dublin.

    The US itself was neutral for part of both world wars

    Yes but for whatever reason eventually took part. Although if the japanese did not attack Pearl harbor i guess they would never have taken part.

    Big difference though with Irish neutrality. Switzerland was a neutral behind enemy lines and it was to german advantage that Switzerland remain neutral. It was also to german advantage that Ireland remain neutral. Britain wanted to use Ireland as a base to hunt Nazi submarines. Because they could not do this it made the task much more difficult. There was a gap where merchant ships were totally unprotected. This unprotected area would have been much shorter if British warships left from Ireland.

    What Ireland did during WW2 was a disgrace. Hopefully one day the Irish govt will apologise for what it did.

  18. Michael Lacey

    If you look at famous American historian John Lewis Gaddis – if you want to be secure you have to control everything else ” Expansion is the path to security” After the second world war the assumption was America controls the whole show in their view and their allies, the dollar became the reserve currency, they had over 50% of the world’s wealth, If we own most of the world we have to defend it; this was not unique to the United States. The aim is not necessarily assess to resources but control over them. You see this also in control of the media where we are deluged with a single message if you go outside that message you are sidelined. Gough Whitlam tried to go outside that message; he did not last long; they effectively discredited him with with media disruption until he was voted out of office! Neoconservative global doctrine which is an integral part of this influence is tightening with Corporate rights agreements, this will further put Australia in lock step. We do play around the edges from time to time but serious independence, (which I do see merit in as it enhances democracy and allows ownership) I cannot see it happening!

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    Is it a day of miracles. Neil responding to what others have wrtten.

  20. Florence nee Fedup

    Truth is, we live now in a global world, not necessary a country. Boundaries mean less each day.

    Corporations respect or need no borders. Same could be said for the economy. No country can control their ownb. Haven’t been able to do so for a long time.

    People travel the world for vacations. Same goes for employment, education, sport and research. Even crime and corruption.

    One can see why neoliberals like Abbott & co hate such organisations as the UN. Truth is, we have to move more in that direction, otherwise global corporations not national governments will rule all.

  21. Patricia Ryan

    Thanks for the coverage of the links between militarism and the template model of Australian politics, Denis. Looks like this template model of Australian life has eroded our nation sovereignty. Let’s break out before it’s too late!

  22. Sustainable Planning Yes

    Will Malcolm Turnbull stick with the template model of a low tax, low service state with ongoing military commitments abroad?

    If he wants to be a Tory Progressive, the PM should look to the last days of the Menzies Government when the LNP was recovering form the shock of the 1961 election.

    The recent offers to the states on some token infrastructure commitments do suggest that he will try the soft approach and go for a new mandate before the end of 2015 on the back of a mini-budget to accommodate the slower growth rate and the ongoing problems with resource exports.

    With a new mandate the LNP can proceed with its ongoing template without changing too much.

    The PMs inclusive rhetoric is a welcome change but where is the substance of his new policies?

  23. Alliance for Peace and Development

    Is this really an Alliance for democracy and freedom when it has just killed medical staff at a hospital in Kindez, Afghanistan and as for terrorists, what are the members of the Free Syrian Army which are funded by Saudi Arabia and the USA

  24. brisbanej

    This would be a great research topic, Denis, that the U.S. global military alliance in the past 9/11 era is in fact embedded in a political template which promotes market orientated development that is antagonistic towards social democracy at home and alternative forms of economic development abroad. A timely article in light of the recent Trans Pacific Partnership.

  25. Italian Australian

    Just watched the RAI News from Italy this morning and I see that Italy’s popular Centre Government (Matteo Renzi as PM) is joining the air strikes in Syria. Part of the template jigsaw around the world. In Italy: Cuts to public broadcasting, curtailment of pensions, double digit unemployment and total reliance on the market in national and regional planning. More research is definitely needed on just why the electorate accepts the policy template and why social democrats are afraid to speak out against this abuse of political privilege to sell policies which do not represent popular opinion. Keep up the good critical analysis of just what is going on around the world in democratic politics. If the template is so strong, who speaks for us?

  26. Ali

    Very true: “Prime Minister Turnbull is still committed to the neo-conservative policy template of market based economic development, less commitment to direct government intervention, a low taxation base and unswerving loyalty to the US in defence and foreign policy commitments”, and it seems to me a very similar policy to his predecessor Tony Abbott, and to some extent to Labour party agenda! What seems lacking is a real opposition party!

  27. Justin

    I hope you are keeping well, Denis.

  28. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    The Australian-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) were held in Boston this year and continued the annual consultations between the foreign and defence ministers of both countries with the assistance of key staff members and intelligence services.

    The Joint Statement is worth reading and confirms the strong neo-conservative political template which links Australia and the US.


    As mentioned in my article, strategic, economic and cultural ties are strongly entwined in the current Australia-US Alliance. Here is an extract from the Joint Statement:

    “Noting that 2015 marks the tenth anniversary of the Australia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, both countries welcomed the dynamism and diversity in the economic relationship, including significant business engagement and substantial two-way investment, which serve to boost productivity, innovation and economic growth.

    The United States and Australia reiterated their intent to work together to deepen regional economic integration, and welcomed conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). They agreed to continue working toward bringing TPP into force in order to reduce business costs, and to promote growth, job creation and higher living standards across the region.”

    The AUSMIN Statement reflects the evolution of the Australia-US Alliance into a whole of government political template.

  29. Nepalese Australian student qut

    Come on Aussies ! Have more faith in commitment to peace and development over massive protection in a troubled world.

  30. New Paradigms: University of Sydney

    Article that challenges the notion that permanent preparation for warfare should dominate democratic politics. Let’s have some peaceful initiatives new like the royal welcome to President Xi in London. Better more horse drawn carriages than armed drones.

  31. Peace in our times

    Bad company within the Alliance system has Australia taking sides with Saudi Arabia in sectarian conflicts in Yemen and Syria. Is the Pine Gap Base directly involved in the Saudi military offensives in Yemen? Australia’s sovereignty is severely compromised. Thanks Denis for this article.

  32. More Republican Independence?

    Our new PM favours a republic and this means a politicized president. Will this change the role of Pine Gap in targeting drone attacks in the Middle East at the behest of the CIA, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States? Hardly!

  33. Middle Power Diplomacy Revisited

    What has Australia done to assist Syria in its hour of need? Snubbing Assad is the Global Alliance policy.Damascus and Homs have suffered today.

  34. Coast@Robertson (Gosford)

    This article gets more relevant with the passing of time. Why can’t Australia become more independent of American modernism in domestic and foreign policies. Gough Whitlam was right to resist the intrusion of Pine Gap into our policy assessments. With all the unrest in the US, why do Australians need to follow a fallen state where corporate and military power have trumped democracy. Now 40 per cent of Americans want a Trump as President to kick democracy further.

  35. Peace Now

    Pine Gap would be a threat to Australians under a Trump Presidency. Even hard-liners in the LNP fear the consequences of this Donald Duck in the White House.

  36. NorwegianC

    Great work! This really go in depth as I briefly read through it. I will definetly read it again closer.

  37. Peace Now

    Time to close down this base.

  38. Rubio@Coast

    I will send early alerts if I see US military drones and US submarines off Ettalong Beach

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