Monday, 10 June 2013

As the USA takes a greater interest in the Asia-Pacific region, how will it/can it use the base Australia has given to it in Darwin?

Thanks to Dale Hess for this article:


Malcolm Fraser 

warns of US attacks 

launched from Darwin

Former PM says Australian foreign policy is 'complacent' 
and leaves country hostage to American decisions
Malcolm Fraser
Malcolm Fraser. Photograph: Tess Peni/Rex Features

The former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has launched a wide-ranging attack on Australia’s “complacent” foreign policy, accusing the government of being harmfully dependent on the US.

In a speech delivered at Melbourne University, Fraser said he was “ashamed” that Australia was led into theIraq war on “falsehoods” and criticised the current deployment of American troops in Darwin.
Around 2,500 American troops began rotating through Darwin for training last year, with US marines set to bring equipment such as amphibious assault craft, jets and helicopters to Australia, in a bid to enhance the USmilitary position in the region.

Fraser, who was Liberal prime minister between 1975 and 1983, said this was an example of a damaging imbalance in the US-Australian relationship.

He said Australia was “hostage to the decisions of a country 10,000 miles away”.

He added: “And they aren’t going to say ‘Canberra, we don’t like what people are doing here and we want to attack them and we want to use those forces you’ve so conveniently housed in Darwin.’

“They’ll do it and we’ll read about it in the newspapers. Our prime minister will be told about it after the attack is made. Because that’s the way these things work. That, for me, is a total denial of Australian sovereignty and if we were ever independent, it’s a denial of Australian independence.”

Fraser said that Australia should be wary of “not very good” US foreign policy in the Middle East and northern Africa being replicated in the Asia-Pacific region, urging the government to forge an independent identity forAustralia that focused more on engaging with neighbouring nations.

“We are a complacent nation when it comes to foreign affairs,” he said. “Since the end of the cold war and the failure of the Soviet Union, our ties to the US have become closer and closer than ever before.
“Today, the United States has influence over our armed forces. Influence might be the wrong word – the right word may be control. Our armed forces could only operate if the United States approved, because otherwise we’d have no communications. I don’t think that’s very comfortable.”

Fraser warned that Australia risked being marginalised, rather than strengthened, by being enmeshed in US foreign policy goals, with regional powers such as Indonesia becoming increasingly important to Washington.
“The largest Islamic country in the world would rate highly in the priorities of the United States,” said Fraser. “20 million Australians? Not so highly.”

“I know of three occasions where the United States has chosen Indonesia over Australia, which no Australian government will ever proclaim because they think we have a special relationship. Special relationships with great powers just don’t exist. Great powers have their own interests.
“It’s time Australia stood up and learned to be independent. To have no external entanglements that would stop it making up its own mind.”

In recent years Fraser has become an outspoken critic of both the government and the Liberal party, which he quit in 2009, on issues such as the treatment of asylum seekers and Australia’s military involvement in Iraq andAfghanistan.

He reiterated this stance in his Melbourne University speech, saying: “In the second Iraq war there were three nations involved and I’m ashamed to say Australia was one of them. And they went to war on a falsehood.

“[Chief UN weapons inspector] Hans Blix wasn’t allowed to finish his job, because if he had, he would’ve shown there were no weapons of mass destruction.”

He also took aim at the Australian mainstream media for not highlighting the Australian army general Richard Burr’s recent appointment as the second in command of US Pacific operations.

“The announcement was made by the [US] secretary for the army, John McHughand wasn’t published in the Australian - but it was by the Guardian, in England,” he said.

He said the appointment was “another way of tying us into decisions that they make and makes us complicit in whatever they do”.

“The senior American military people, as the British before them, are very good at making people feel important. It flatters lesser powers and some people are not immune to the consequences of that,” Fraser said.

Fraser was speaking at the launch of the Melbourne Globalist, a magazine focused on international affairs that is based jointly at the universities of Melbourne, Monash, RMIT and La Trobe.

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