Tuesday, February 27, 2024

US imperialism has no friends, only ‘interests’

 

Above - Island chain theory - see reference in article

Written by: (Contributed) on 28 February 2024

Those observing the dysfunctional nature of US politics may have overlooked one of the serious side-effects of the irrational behaviour. Three Pacific countries which remain dependent upon US foreign aid, have been kept waiting for financial support to materialise with no sign it will take place at some future date. It has been noted from more sensible quarters the three countries, at present diplomatically linked to Taiwan, are, in effect, being pushed closer to switching to China, and thereby, creating greater problems for US regional foreign policy and foisting likely military options upon their allies

Decision-maskers in Washington, supposedly operating in line with Pentagon military planning, can hardly be described as behaving in a rational manner and pursuing a straightforward agenda; they are pushing policies which are clearly counter-productive. Other countries, also dependent upon US foreign policy, including Australia, should perhaps take notice of the highly questionable political and diplomatic behaviour, and evaluate it accordingly. The US budget impasse has thrown elements of AUKUS planning into doubt, according to some in the Australian military community.

With US presidential elections looming later this year the spectacle of an ageing president with cognitive problems being confronted by a far-right buffoon backed by red-necks and gun clubs has become a daily event. It is hardly worth speculating their next move; in fact, it is difficult to take the spectacle seriously.

The latest political chicanery has included pro-Trump supporters wanting to re-introduce an amendment about funding for security on the US border with Mexico into the budget; they have actively campaigned for building a wall to prevent asylum-seekers from Central America as a central part of their increasingly racist and nationalistic political agendas.

Behind the scenes, however, they are pursuing a peculiar and devious agenda, which contributes to undermining US leadership positions in the Pacific; the region is a centre of geo-political battles between the US and China. The US budget impasse has hindered US foreign policy toward Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, effectively cutting their financial support. Dependent upon US foreign aid, the three countries have been kept waiting for months for vital foreign aid. (1) There is no sign the budget impasse will be resolved in the near future.

In fact, reliable observations about the debacle have noted the three Pacific countries signed a twenty-year agreement last October with the US which cost Washington $7.1 billion, designed to safeguard sensitive shipping lanes in competition with China; the cost of replacing the agreement with military options has been estimated to cost $100 billion. (2)  

Most of the Pacific islands had neo-colonial economic relations foisted upon them with independence; their economies have never been sustainable without foreign aid. The mass of the populations live subsistence lifestyles. Essential services are usually provided by foreign aid.

Elsewhere in the region, countries such as the Solomon Islands which made the diplomatic switch in 2019, were rewarded with extensive support from China. Beijing, historically, has been generous with its regional aid programs. It has, therefore, been noted by the President of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jnr., that he was 'coming under domestic political pressure to shift his country's allegiance from the US to China, dropping support for Taiwan'. (3) He further noted that 'every day … the US budget is not approved … plays into the hands of China'. (4)

Similar concerns have also been raised in neighbouring Tuvalu following recent presidential elections where the pro-Taiwan leader lost his seat. Nauru, likewise, made the diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China following recent presidential election last month.

The three Pacific countries, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, also form a strategic component part of Taiwan's New Southbound Policy, based on forging closer links with countries in the region and using their diplomatic links to gain access to regional dialogues and trade organisations. (5)

Taiwan, however, has become increasingly diplomatically isolated with a declining number of countries supporting Taipei, none of the remaining countries can be regarded as diplomatically significant. In fact, Taiwan stands the very real risk of total diplomatic isolation as countries switch allegiance to China. In practical terms, as the number of countries diplomatically recognising Taiwan dwindles, decision-makers in Taipei have fewer supporters to assist them at UN level.

Taiwan, however, is diplomatically important for Washington and the Pentagon, marking the centre of Island Chain Theory, used for regional foreign policy with tiny Pacific countries having huge significance by providing strategic access and egress across the vast waterways. (see diagram) Each diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China also enables Beijing to gain access to exclusive economic zones, rich in minerals and natural resources. (6)

Other regional defence and security considerations include the Pentagon planning to build a radar base on Palau and the Marshall Islands hosting the Space Fence, a sensitive space surveillance system. (7)

Returning to the budget impasse in Washington, it is perhaps appropriate to see the whole spectacle as a collapse of political will at the imperial centre being played-out inside a constitution which one side does not even regard as legitimate; it has far-reaching implications for Australia and other US allies.

The US appear to be abandoning Taiwan, if not in word, then by their actions; both Washington and the Pentagon, it should be noted, appear to expect their allies within the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) to take greater responsibility for regional operations. (8)

Bound ever closer to the US through the 'alliance' and numerous military agreements, Canberra, for example, has been forced to accept greater responsibility for regional 'US interests'; the defence and security of strategic Pacific countries, therefore, is a major concern foisted upon Australia. The recently published list of military acquisitions reveals longer distance deployments outside of Australia's usual areas of concern, already been planned by the Pentagon.

In order to increase US production of nuclear-powered submarines and thus have several to pass onto Australia, both countries agreed to provide US$3.3 billion – or A$4.6 billion from our side – but the US payment has been delayed by Congress.  Editor of the online Asia Pacific Defence Reporter Kim Bergmann commented: ‘So while Australia remains on the hook for a contribution of $4.6 billion – which neither the government nor the RAN can justify – the Americans refuse to spend their own money to speed up submarine production. What an ally! Unless Virginia class submarines are being built at a rate of 2.33 per year, Australia will receive nothing.’

The vast Australian defence budget is also set to increase dramatically, lifting spending from 2.05 per cent of present GDP to 2.3 per cent by the end of the decade. Much of the increased expenditure is based on military systems and equipment with designed interoperability with the US under their command; little thought or consideration has been given to the defence and security of Australia itself. (9)

The IPS, likewise, has established an agenda to only serve 'US interests', not those of its allies:  

We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     See: US budget impasse driving Palau into arms of China, Australian, 21 February 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Ibid.
5.     See: Beijing keeps a wary eye on new Taipei outpost, Australian, 18 June 2018.
6.     US v. China, Japan Forward: Politics and Security, Dr. Rieko Hayakawa and Jennifer L. Anson, 14 February 2020.
7.     Ibid., and, Australian, op.cit., 21 February 2024.
8.     See: The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019, with details about the US regional policy for allies taking responsibility for US-led operations.
9. Introductory remarks to APDR Podcast no. 37

 

Cancel the Elbit contract!

Above - the Hanwha Redback   PHOTO Andrew Green via Australian Ministry of Defence

 Written by: Nick G. on 28 February 2024

Israel’s Elbit Systems announced yesterday that it had been awarded a $600 million contract by the Australian Department of Defence for the supply of systems to South Korean company Hanwha. 

Hanwha is to produce 129 Redback Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) for the DoD at Geelong. 

Hanwha and Elbit last year signed an agreement to cooperate on the manufacture of the IFVs which already include the Redback Turret, which is based on the latest generation of Elbit’s 30 mm manned turret with the COAPS gunner sight, additional electro-optic systems, Iron Fist active protection system, Elbit's Iron-Vision advanced situational awareness head mounted display system, and Elbit's ELAWS laser warning system.

The contract for the IFVs is worth $7 billion AUD ($4.6 billion USD), of which will go to Elbit, in addition to the additional $600 million. 

All of this was negotiated by the DoD last year after the Zionist army attacked Gaza, and is a totally unwarranted reward for Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people.

The significance of the contract was omitted from today’s online Australian Defence Magazine’s announcement, but was prominent in yesterday’s US online Breaking Defense report.

The US report said that the contract ‘expands Elbit’s role in Australia. It is also the largest contract announced by the Israeli firm since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.’

The Australian report did not say why we needed the IFVs, but the US report was less coy, quoting the DoD as saying that ‘The acquisition of these infantry fighting vehicles is part of the Government’s drive to modernise the Australian Army to ensure it can respond to the most demanding land challenges in our region.’

What ‘land challenges’ there might be ‘in our region’ were not specified, although it strongly suggests preparation on the part of the DoD for military action in other people’s countries in the South Pacific.

This contract must be cancelled. There should be no purchases of military equipment from the genocidal Zionists, nor should there be any arms sales to them.
By way of a postscript, the Wikipedia page on Elbit documents other countries that have taken a moral stand against dealing with the company.

Ethical concerns and divestment

A number of financial and investment organizations have divested their interests in Elbit.

On September 3, 2009, the Government Pension Fund of Norway's ethical council decided to sell the fund's stocks in Elbit due to the company's supply of surveillance systems for the Israeli West Bank barrier. At a press conference to announce the decision, Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen said "We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law". The Norwegian Ambassador to Israel, Hans Jacob Biørn Lian, was called to a meeting at the Israeli Foreign Ministry where the decision was protested.

In January 2010, Danske Bank added Elbit to the list of companies that fail its Socially Responsible Investment policy. A bank spokesman noted that it was acting in the interests of its customers by not "placing their money in companies that violate international standards". The Danish financial watchdog DanWatch placed Elbit on its ethical blacklist in 2011. In 2014, one of Denmark's largest pension fund administrators PKA Ltd announced it will no longer consider investing in Elbit, stating "The ICJ stated that the barrier only serves military purposes and violates Palestinian human rights. Therefore we have looked at whether companies produce custom-designed products to the wall and thus has a particular involvement in repressive activities."

In March 2010, a Swedish pension fund, not wanting to be associated with companies violating international treaties, boycotted Elbit Systems for its involvement in the construction of Israel's West Bank barrier wall.

In December 2018, HSBC divested from Elbit following Elbit's acquisition of IMI Systems. HSBC cited IMI's manufacturing of cluster bombs, which violated the bank's ethics policy of not investing in companies linked to the manufacturing or marketing of cluster munition.

In 2019, Axa partially disinvested from Elbit Systems following pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The move followed several years of campaigning by NGOs, including an April 2018 petition launched by SumOfUs that received 140,000 signatures. Axa "quietly reduce" its investments in Elbit and Israeli banks. Axa remains indirectly invested in Elbit and Israeli banks through a non-controlling interest in its former subsidiary Alliance Bernstein.

 

Aaron Bushnell – rest in power…


 Written by: Nick G. on 28 February 2024

The self-immolation of an American serviceman in protest against US support for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians, has gone largely unreported in the Australian media.

The event is a major embarrassment for the US and for supporters of Zionism.

The 25-year old US Air Force senior airman set himself alight outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC on February 25.

As he collapsed to the ground in flames, one security guard pulled a gun and pointed it at him. Another, with a fire extinguisher, remonstrated with his colleague, yelling "I don't need guns! I need fire extinguishers!"

As he approached the embassy, Bushnell declared: "I am an active duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide. I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest but compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine it is not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

As flame engulfed his body, he kept shouting ‘Free Palestine’.

Hamas released the following statement on Bushnell’s death:

The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, extends our heartfelt condolences and unwavering support to the loved ones of American pilot Aaron Bushnell. His name will forever be remembered as a champion of human rights and a staunch opponent of the oppression faced by the Palestinian people at the hands of the American government and its unjust policies. 

We also honor the memory of American activist Rachel Corrie, who tragically lost her life in 2003 while standing up against Zionist aggression in Rafah. 
The responsibility for Aaron Bushnell's untimely death lies squarely with the Biden administration, which has continuously supported the brutal actions of the Zionist regime against our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Bushnell made the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to bring attention to the genocide committed by the Israeli military in Gaza. 

Aaron Bushnell's bravery will forever be etched in the hearts of the Palestinian people and all those around the world who stand in solidarity with our just cause. His tragic passing serves as a stark reminder of the growing discontent among the American populace towards their government's complicity in the suffering of our people. 

We call on the global community to join us in condemning the actions of the American government and demanding justice for the Palestinian people. The legacy of Aaron Bushnell will serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration in our continued struggle for freedom and justice.

It gives us no joy to report this young man’s death. 

However, the murderous Israeli security agency, Mossad, was jubilant. On its Twitter page on February 26, it gleefully declared ‘Our enemies kill themselves’.

 

It took the post down the nest day, prompting one of it supporters to ask: ‘You posted yesterday that our enemies are killing themselves and you deleted a post. (Referring to the soldier Bbq'ing himself). Do you consider the US an enemy?’ Mossad replied, ‘the post was deleted because it came across that way. The US is an ally and a friend. Individuals don't change it, not even a president,’ which was hardly a retraction at all.

The people of Gaza do not need more guns, tanks, planes, bombs, drones sent to Israel from the US, Australia, and others in the imperialist bloc.

They need the very real fire extinguisher of the defeat for all time of Zionist expansion, aggression and genocide.

 

 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Greetings to DFLP on its 55th anniversary


Written by: DFLP and CPA (M-L) on 21 February 2024 

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine is one of the constituent bodies in the Palestinian resistance. Tomorrow marks the 55th anniversary of the founding of the DFLP. We received a message from them and have sent a reply. They are both below.

Dear comrades,

On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the founding and launch of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) on February 22, 1969, and in light of the Israeli genocidal crimes committed against the Palestinian people that have continued for more than 75 years, the DFLP continues its struggle and resistance in order to end the Israeli occupation of its lands and establish the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the return of refugees to their homes, and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

DFLP has sacrificed a large number of martyrs in the face of the Israeli occupation and its crimes against the Palestinian people, including members of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau, and it is still defending its Marxist-Leninist ideas in order to implement its political program.

Based on the extent of the real suffering and tragedy that the Palestinian people are experiencing in the Gaza Strip, DFLP will suspend its celebrations on the 55th anniversary of its launch, and activities will be limited to support the resistance and struggle of the Palestinian people.
……………..
Our reply reads:

On the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) expresses its solidarity with, and support for, the heroic and long-suffering Palestinian people.

The Australian people have been shocked by the genocidal slaughter imposed on Gaza by the Zionist regime. In their hundreds of thousands they continue to rally and march for the right of Palestinians to exist peacefully in their homeland from the river to the sea. 

The bloodlust of Netanyahu, and his determination to eliminate Palestinians from the last of their territory, will bring thousands more into the movement, including those Australian Jews who refuse to allow Netanyahu to speak in their names.

Comrades, your adherence to, and defence of, Marxism-Leninism in the context of the need to maintain the broadest united front against Zionist aggression, is an inspiration to Communists everywhere.

Long live the Palestinian resistance!

Smash Zionism and its imperialist backers!

For Marxism-Leninism, the ideology of successful revolutionary struggle!

The Central Committee
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Solomon Islands and the 'Look North' policy.

 Written by: (Contributed) on 20 February 2024

Above - Sogavare and Xi Jinping establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership July 10, 2023.  Photo China Daily

The Solomon Islands goes to the polls on 16 April with the present government of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare expected to retain power. The ruling Sogavare administration remains popular with Solomon Islanders although it has been demonised in recent years by right-wing defence and security hawks in Canberra, backed by the US. An assessment from the right-wing Lowy Institute, influential in the corridors of power in Canberra, therefore, has provided an interesting insight into the nature of Australia-Solomons Islands diplomacy.

With electioneering taking place in the Solomon Islands, the present government of Prime Minister Sogavare has announced its five key policy priorities if returned to office; the priorities are all linked to China and its active diplomatic involvement since the Solomon Islands switched to Beijing from Taipei in 2019. They include a national broadband project by Huawei, closer involvement with the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese police training their Solomons' counterparts, with closer security co-operation with China together with strengthening existing relations with China. (1)

The new Look North policy of the government has also been strengthened with the formation of a ruling political organisation, the Ownership, Unity and Responsibility (OUR) Party.

Politics in the Solomon Islands, like much of the vast Pacific region, has traditionally been based on strongly localised leaders representing a multitude of different ethnic groups. The new OUR Party, however, is based at the national level and has over-ridden many of the ethnic problems which have plagued the Solomon Islands for decades, hindering economic development of one of the poorest countries in the region.

The problem was also exacerbated by diplomatic links between the Solomon Islands and Taiwan; Taiwanese aid programs were channelled through provincial government administrations, the outcome favouring some ethnic groups over others. The decision by the Sogavare government in 2019, to switch diplomatic links to China was regarded by many Solomon Islanders as a good move, although those ethnic groups which lost their aid provision on Malaita Island subsequently marched on the capital Honiara and attacked businesses regarded as owned or controlled by China. Direct involvement from Canberra for law enforcement was necessary to restore political stability.

The Solomon Islands, as part of the South Pacific sub-region, has always been regarded as an important addition to Australia's defence and security in conjunction with neighbouring Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. It is, therefore, in keeping with the relationship for the arc from Australian military signals intelligence facilities in Queensland to swing through the capital cities of all three Melanesian countries. (2)

While the three countries have their own defence and security provision, established when they achieved independence, they have historically been over-ridden by Australia as the former colonial power. Australia retained the status of the Mother Country afte independence. The defence and security facilities, however, are also further over-ridden by the US, with its global intelligence system at Pine Gap, Central Australia. The US, nevertheless, has usually relied upon Australia for localised operations in line with Five Eyes provision; the 'alliance' always has been the dominant force in US-Australian diplomacy as part of the elite Five Eyes intelligence facilities.

From the early 1970s the US National Security Agency (NSA) together with the British GCHQ starting sharing intelligence work with other members of the Five Eyes. (3) It has now evolved into a highly sophisticated defence and security-based relationship. The origins, however, were not coincidental. In 1973 the US opened sensitive intelligence facilities on Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean which operated in conjunction with Pine Gap.

The opening of the US intelligence facilities included counterparts at Silvermine, near Cape Town, in South Africa, likewise, became operational at the same time. The stated range of the South African intelligence facilities reached from Argentina to Bangladesh, and from north Africa to the South Pole, providing defence and security provision for the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions. (4) The South African facilities maintained direct contact with both the US and UK, as dominant within the Five Eyes. (5)   

As the present Cold War position taken by the US toward China has escalated, regional defence and security provision has become increasingly important for the Pentagon and its military planners. A quick study of the US regional military involvement has revealed endless obsession and preoccupation with the maintenance of traditional hegemonic positions in the face of increasing competition from China.

The US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS), for example, has included Japan being elevated into a global alliance with the US for regional operations, resting on the so-called 'quad' designed to hem in China on all sides. (6) The 'quad' is linked to lower-level partners. (7)

Elsewhere, the Pentagon has re-opened a multitude of military facilities across the vast Indo-Pacific region. (8) The US-led regional foreign policy has included re-using Island Chain Theory (ICT), largely discredited during the previous Cold War, and using it to host numerous missile networks. (9) The ICT is, at present, being upgraded to include the Indian Ocean. (10)

It is, therefore, hardly surprising to find the Sogavare administration has been increasingly demonised by right-wing defence and security hawks in Canberra eagerly pursing the US line; it cannot be trusted to follow their diplomatic positions. A recent assessment from the Lowy Institute, for example, included reference to 'the wide array of China-backed policies that will continue to cause Canberra unease if Mr Sogavare is returned after the April election, as is expected by many analysts … he fully intends to pursue closer ties with China'. (11) No recognition was provided in the assessment for Melanesian traditional diplomacy conducted along lines of the peoples of the sub-region being 'friends to all and enemies to none'. (12)

In conclusion, the diplomatic position of Canberra toward the Solomon Islands remains one based in neo-colonial attitudes based on wanton speculation. 

At this stage, Australian and US fears that China plans to establish a military base in the Solomons appear unfounded, but China is pursuing its own imperialism – with Chinese characteristics – and must be watched if countries are to maintain their independence.

                                         Every country needs an independent foreign policy!


1.     Solomons PM vows: 'I'll look to China', Australian, 14 February 2024.
2.     See: Peters Projection, World Map, Actual Size.
3.     Spyworld, Mike Frost, (Canada, 1995), page 40.
4.     'Maritime Operational Communications HQ', The Star (South Africa), 10 March 1973; and, Security in the Mountain, The Star (South Africa), 17 March 1973.
5.     Ibid.
6.     The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
7.     Ibid.
8.     US eyes return to south-east Asian bases, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 29 June 2012; and, The Guardian Weekly, (U.K.), 2 May 2014.
9.     US to build anti-China missile network along first island chain, Nikkei Asia, 5 March 2021.
10.   Wikipedia: Island Chain Theory.
11.   Australian, op.cit., 14 February 2024.
12.   Ibid.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Workers’ power and closing the loopholes industrial laws

 

Above - the Perfection Press women, as part of their campaign, released a CD available here.


Written by: Ned K. on 18 February 2024

The federal Labor Government has succeeded in having its Closing the Loopholes industrial laws passed through both Houses of Parliament.

The new laws will find their way into the Fair Work Act and become operational over the next 6 to 12 months.

The new laws make some attempt to regulate working conditions for gig economy workers and owner drivers in the transport industry. They also provide a more detailed definition of casual employment which may assist some casuals to be recognised as permanent workers with at least minimum paid sick leave and annual leave.

David Peetz, a researcher well-respected by workers and their unions, recently wrote an article online in the Pearls and Irritations website about the recent changes.

Peetz's most astute observation about the "rough and tumble" in parliament by Dutton and his cronies about the new laws is that possibly the most important change of all the laws went through "under the radar", so to speak.

Peetz was referring to the changes to the Fair Work Act arising from the Closing the Loopholes Bills that for the first time since the early 1990s see the term Union Delegate and rights of Delegates included in the industrial relations Act of the day.

The Fair Work Act will now require the rights of Delegates in workplaces to be included in Awards and Enterprise Agreements.

Peetz has done very detailed research of the impact on workers’ collective strength in workplaces of the decline in Union Delegate numbers in Australia during the period from early 1990s to about 2015.

His research showed a direct correlation between decline in union membership in workplaces and the decline and/or complete absence of Union Delegates in workplaces.

His research also showed the relationship between strong Delegate networks and stronger industrial outcomes in wages and conditions, respect of workers by bosses and better job security and control of casualization of the workforces, even during the onslaught of Workchoices and the (Un)Fair Work Act years.

Peetz's research findings are backed up by two recent disputes that have been prominent in the media in the last few weeks.

The dispute between stevedore multinational DP World and the MUA and their members saw these maritime workers take industrial action in various forms over a number of weeks against DP world in order to win wage increases and better conditions.

Why were the MUA members able to maintain their struggle for a considerable period of time and win?

One important factor was that throughout all the attacks on the MUA since at least the 1930s, their members have maintained organization and elected Union Delegates across the whole maritime industry.

The second dispute that made headlines was the shocking and utterly disgraceful exploitation and sexual harassment of migrant women farm workers at the biggest tomato producer in Australia, Perfection Fresh.
Twelve courageous women farm workers with the strong support of their Union, United Workers Union, have taken Perfection Fresh to the Federal Court after being sexually harassed by labour hire male workers in positions of power over them.

One important reason these women workers have been able to take this action is because the hundreds of mainly migrant workers in their workplace at Virginia, north of Adelaide, have courageously organized themselves (supported by their Organizer) and elected their own leaders including Union Delegates. Without that level of collective Strength within the tomato glasshouses of Perfection Fresh, the twelve women's decision to take action would have been much more difficult.

As David Peetz correctly points out, even with the new laws giving formal recognition to the rights of Delegates in workplaces, it is up to union leaderships to ensure that workers are given full support and opportunity for development when they step up as Union Delegates in their workplace.

Workers will soon notice which Unions want to organize the unorganized and further develop the already organized.

If David Peetz's research is still valid today, when workers unite and organize, bosses will tremble.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

ADF in trouble as personnel leave in droves

 Written by: (Contributed) on 12 February 2024

The ADF beset with recruitment and retention problems    PHOTO: defenceconnect.com.au 

Cold War US-led diplomatic hostilities and sabre-rattling continue to escalate across the Indo-Pacific region on the daily basis. An official statement from Duntroon has, therefore, proved particularly revealing when placed in the context of developments in the Western Pacific. While the statement was primarily concerned with training provision and serious shortages of personnel, it revealed the sense of urgency taking place within military planning circles inside the corridors of power, for Australia to be prepared for 'real-war scenarios' at the behest of the US in the next few years.

In early February the Royal Military Training College at Duntroon issued an official media release announcing the beginning of a two-year trial for army officer training provision whereby their standard 18-month courses would be shortened to 12-months. (1) While the stated reason for the shortening of the training provision was 'recruiting and retention problems', a sense of urgency would appear to have taken priority. (2) The present course structure of six separate modules has also been altered to enable students to take each stage separately and not in the usual sequence. The statement also quoted a Lieutenant General Stuart noting that 'officer cadets were keen to get out there and apply what they have learned'. (3)  

During the next two years Duntroon will be providing training provision for between 500-600 military officers who, after graduation, will then form part of the command led by the Pentagon for largely regional defence and security provision and military operations.

Following the re-organisation of the elite US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) over a decade ago, the Pentagon now receives a regular stream of regional military assessments from various locations in the Indo-Pacific; the region has seen the US experience a serious challenge to traditional hegemonic positions with the rise of China and is regarded as a potential theatre of war. (4)

The US military assessments have already provided the Pentagon with what they regard as a serious problem.

Serious problems face US imperialism

Assessments of the Western Pacific region, for example, have revealed the US is no longer the dominant power. (5) The recent attempt by China to win over the government of Nauru for diplomatic recognition away from Taiwan has heightened tensions still further; it has been noted that 'Nauru could not have been unaware how the timing of its announcement would put the region again on the geo-political frontline'. (6)  

Taiwanese diplomatic recognition elsewhere in the region is also under threat with serious concerns about Tuvalu and Palau, the last two countries in Micronesia which support Taipei.  (7)

A major US concern is that China has been able to win support from Pacific island countries enabling them to gain access to their huge exclusive economic zones (EEZs); some of the EEZs are used by the US to host sensitive military and intelligence facilities. (8)

North of the Marshall Islands, for example, the small US territory of Wake Island together with the Japanese territory of Minami-Torishima both host highly sensitive facilities for US-led military facilities. (9)

Many of the small Pacific islands also mark sensitive areas of the US-led Island Chain Theory, used for demarcation of the region; they have already been used to host defence and security provision against China. (10)

ADF to recruit footsloggers and commanders from the Pacific

The changes to training procedures reflect government and ADF concern about the numbers of people leaving the ADF. The military recorded a separation rate of 11.2% in 2022/23, falling short of its retention targets. For several years, the right-wing ASPI and similar groups have called for a relaxation of ADF screening of recruits, believing too may are turned away.

In early January, then-acting Defence Minister Keogh announced the ADF was looking to island nations in the Pacific for recruits. At the same time, Pacific military leaders are being given command positions in the ADF.  In a first for the ADF, Colonel Boniface Aruma from Papua New Guinea and Fiji's Colonel Penioni Naliva have been appointed deputy commanders of Australian Defence Force brigades. In Naliva’s case, the screening could not have been that thorough – Amnesty International wants him investigated for human rights abuses following the 2006 coup in Fiji

What seems to have been more important to the government and the ADF is the way the appointments would be perceived: “…as strategic responses to China's increasing influence in the Pacific…This region is traditionally considered within the sphere of influence of Australia and the United States. The ripple effect of these appointments is expected to have vast geopolitical implications, altering the balance of power in the Pacific region.”

Black Hawks darken our skies…

What is also particularly significant about the recent statement issued by Duntroon is their emphasis upon helicopters, in fact about half of the statement was focussed upon the US providing Australia with Black Hawk utility helicopters following the phasing out of existing Taipans together with provision of a Black Hawk training simulator. (See our recent comment Heads must roll to clear Defence of US loyalists).

It was noted Australia will eventually be acquiring forty Black Hawks together with a further 29 AH-64E combat helicopters. (11)

Helicopters have traditionally been associated with rapid deployment in and out of difficult terrain. Small and remote landmasses are, no doubt, already in mind!

The new helicopters have been accompanied by upgrades to sensitive military facilities in Queensland, facing the western Pacific.

The time-line from defence and security provision into likely military operations, therefore, would appear to be shortening:

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!

 

1.     Army officers on fast track to command, Australian, 7 February 2024.
2..     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Pentagon plays the spy game, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 7 December 2012.
5.     See: Study – US no longer dominant power in the Pacific, Paul D. Shinkman, Information Clearing House, 22 August 2019.  
6.     Island recruits a win-win solution for ADF shortfall, Australian, 18 January 2024.
7.     Pact with Tuvalu in the balance, Editorial, Australian, 30 January 2024; and,
        Tuvalu security pact in jeopardy, Australian, 29 January 2024.
8.     See: US v. China, Japan Forward, Politics and Security, Dr. Rieko Hayakawa and Jennifer L. Anson, 14 February 2020.
9.     Ibid.
10.   See: US to build anti-China missile network along first island chain, Nikkei, 5 March 2021; and, US Indo-Pacific Command proposes new missile capabilities to deter China, RFA., 5 March 2021.
11.   Australian, op.cit., 7 February 2024.