Friday, August 23, 2019

A Cluttered Australia: Hosting US Military Facilities

(Contributed)                                              24 August 2019

A number of media releases from the Defence Department have revealed a chilling picture of a future Australia hosting endless US military and security facilities for wars in the Asia-Pacific region.

As the present US-led Cold War has intensified, the Asia-Pacific region has come to resemble a future 'theatre of war'.

The US clearly has no intention of relinquishing its dominant regional position without preparations for 'real-war' scenarios.

A recent disclosure that the US was seeking 'a more prominent role for Australia in US security thinking as a potential sanctuary, marshalling area, support base and force multiplier for US forces in the Indo-Pacific', left little to the imagination. (1) US military planning has clearly pushed Australia into the front-line of its regional planning. It includes 'the importance of ports, airfields and defence infrastructure in northern Australia and (will) put pressure on already stretched fuel storage and resupply facilities'. (2)

While South Australia has already been labelled the Defence State due to its extensive defence research and development and manufacturing sector, Northern Australia, being defined in military terms as 'those areas north of the 26-degree south parallel', includes the Darwin and Tindal bases which have 'become critical nodes in global defence supply-chains'. (3)

US imperialism  sees us as a base for their military activity

There is no ambiguity with the nature of the US-led military planning: a recent statement from US Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein that 'Australia's top end bases were seen as a strategic asset by the US in its military planning', should dispel any doubts amongst the less well initiated with developments in regional defence and security provision. (4)

The significance of Australia for US military planning is two-fold:

• US forward deployed forces 'in the western Pacific are concentrated in a handful of bases that are vulnerable to a Chinese first strike and out-of-area reinforcements might not arrive in time to change the course of battle'; (5)

• the US-led Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD) which has formally linked Australia and Japan as two regional hubs with the Pentagon and real-time telecommunications provision, has increased the significance of US intelligence facilities based at Pine Gap which in turn are linked to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

Australia and Japan to compensate for a decline in US influence

Further disclosures following the publication of two military reports, from the Australia Strategic Policy Institute and the US Studies Centre, which reinforce the view that the US imperialists are planning for their two regional hubs to take greater responsibility for the defence and security of 'US interests'. It was noted, for example, in the US Studies Centre report that the US 'no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific and that its capacity to uphold a favourable balance of power is increasingly uncertain'. (6)

It was also noted, furthermore, 'Australia and Japan (had become) southern and northern anchors of a strengthened US alliance'. (7)

The position of the US is quite clear: the statement said that 'as Tokyo and Canberra continue to modernise their militaries over the next decade, they will maintain – and in some cases expand – their collective inventory of assets in several crucial areas: attack submarines, anti-submarine warfare assets and principal surface combatants'. (8)

It was noted furthermore that Australia was required to 'deliver targeted funding' in line with its 'strategic partnership with the US' for expanded air and naval capabilities – to support F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, submarines, upgraded frigates and amphibious assault vessels – ‘which are viewed by defence experts as crucial in enhancing Australia's presence in the Indo-Pacific'. (9)

These moves have also been accompanied by larger groups of US military personnel rotating through Darwin for six-month deployments and training for regional real-war scenarios. Since 2012 more than 6,800 US marines have served in the Northern Territory alongside Australian counterparts. A further 2500 are expected in 2020. (10)

Lily-pads along the island chain

A further dimension of the US-led military planning is the creation of what are called 'lily-pad' facilities: small, safe areas, used by military forces to link 'to another forward location within the Pacific or the first or second chain'. (11)

The small military facilities are already scattered across the wider region, following high-level diplomacy conducted by then President Obama who visited numerous countries to re-open parts of US-led networks which US imperialism had 'abandoned or was evicted from.... decades ago'. (12) It was noted, however, the US had 'no desire to reoccupy any of the massive south-east Asian bases from the last century. Nor do they have the money to create new ones. So they want permission to operate from the old installations as guests, mostly on the temporary basis'. (13)

It should also be noted the smaller-scale military facilities and 'lily-pads', remain easy to hide and are not as conspicuous as formal old-style military bases. They are, therefore, useful for clandestine operations, invariably linked to other organisations for intelligence gathering. It is also significant to note in this context the US intelligence services have a long history in using 'front organisations' within the corporate sector.

The use of smaller-scale military facilities and 'lily-pads' for US-led military planners is four-fold and has included:

• greater flexibility in moving military personnel and cargo to remote regional locations, particularly the sensitive South Pacific countries of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu;

• enhanced facilities for hosting longer-range drone use for intelligence-gathering; while larger drones already have a ten-hour flight-span, intermediary 'lily-pad' facilities increase their range into the wider region. The same facilities are also usable for Nano-helicopters, small surveillance-type drones programmed 'to be able to be used for urban warfare' purposes where they can be flown into and around buildings 'to search for enemy personnel, reporting data including video to a remote operator'; (14)

• the US-led military facilities have already been noted as 'the ADFs ability to see deep into the Indo-Pacific region as an essential enabler for striking deep when necessary; (15)

• when US Defence Secretary Mark Esper recently stated 'America wanted to deploy ground-based intermediate-range missiles in Asia sooner rather than later', it drew attention to the significance of the smaller-scale lily-pad' facilities for siting purposes. (16) When Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Australia would not be siting US missiles due to the range from Australia to China, a curious further reference from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 'left open the possibility that Australia could be asked to host such weapons', thereby insinuating military facilities across the north of the country were being ear-marked for storage purposes pending rapid deployment elsewhere for real-war 

Island chain theory 

The resurfacing of Island Chain Theory is evidence that US-led military planning is drawing heavily upon previous provision from the last Cold War. It was used, initially, against perceived threats from the former Soviet Union into the wider region.

Island Chain Theory has also been used by US-led military planners to designate the role of Australia for 'new, high-end military exercises', which will include Canberra to 'acquire robust land-based strike and denial capabilities', which will subsequently provide the Pentagon with an improved regional posture, infrastructure and networked logistics' to 'strengthen Australia's northern posture'. (18)

It is significant to note there was no reference in the official media release to 'US interests', but then, why would those concerned want to draw attention to military planning of a dubious nature?

It is also significant to note most of the decision-making about US-led military planning has taken place behind closed doors, without any real public scrutiny. Those situated in the towering heights of Canberra appear quite content to pursue US-led military planning and clutter this country with equipment for fighting future wars of their making in the name of 'US interests', while using Australian military personnel in the front-line of hostilities.

But then, that is what those sorts of people do; they tend to have tertiary qualifications but do not appear to be able to draw sensible inferences from their studies once in the world-of-work, employed in a decision-making capacity, usually in Canberra.

For the benefit of such people, it should be noted, therefore, that when then President Obama addressed a graduation at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 2014, for example, and called on the US 'to lead through example and by creating international alliances', it was not a promise of a less aggressive foreign policy and a shift away from military might. (19)

It was, in fact, the laying of foundations for the present regional state of play, with all the dangers of real-war scenarios.

For, in the terminology of the last Cold War, the US position has remained quite clear. They believe that 'The Cold War is real war!'; the former is composed of the earliest stages of military planning while the latter is what happens after an escalation of diplomatic rivalries and tensions. (20)

Australia is already passing along this continuum; we are well into a new Cold War, with the war-mongers now amassing their military equipment in preparation for future real-war scenarios.
We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Conflict on our doorstep, The Weekend Australian, 10-11 August 2019.

2.     Ibid.

3.     Call to bolster north as Beijing threat grows, Australian, 19 August 2019.

4.     Strategic alliance in north enthuses visiting US chiefs, Australian, 22 August 2019.

5.     Weekend Australian, op.cit., 10-11 August 2019.

6.     'Boost north for China threat', Australian, 19 August 2019.

7.     Weekend Australian, 10-11 August 2019.

8.     Australian, op.cit., 19 August 2019.

9.     Ibid.

10.   Ibid.

11.   Ibid, and Diagram.

12.   US eyes return to south-east Asian bases, Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 29 June 2012.

13.   Ibid.

14.   Avalon 2019, Special Report, , 26 February 2019.

15.   Ibid.

16.   Beijing opens fire on 'offensive' US missile plan for Indo-Pacific, Australian, 7 August 2019.

17.   Hosting US missiles not on the agenda, Australian, 6 August 2019.  

18.   Australian, op.cit., 19 August 2019.

19.   US signals foreign policy shift away from military might, Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 6 June 2014.

20.   None Dare Call It Treason, John A. Stormer, (Missouri, 1964), page 7. (The whole publication has provided a significant insight into the nature of US-led Cold War thinking. The copy in possession of the contributor was found in a second-hand bookshop and stamped inside: Distributed by the Australian League of Rights, Box 1297 L. GPO Adelaide, Depot, 15 Hanson Street, Adelaide. The ALOR was a well-known SA-based far-right organisation, prominent for decades following the Second World War. It was an active lobbying organisation within other right-wing and business-orientated bodies. In recent times it has re-morphed itself  and would appear an active entity.)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Turkey plays the Russia card to force US imperialism to drop the Kurds

(The following article is from the International Bulletin of August 2019 published by the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party Turkey/Kurdistan.  We have made some minor stylistic changes.  The article explores the apparent contradictions between the fascist Turkish state and US imperialism over the former’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.)

Why does Turkish State Want the S-400?

The S-400 conflict between the U.S. and Turkish state has passed its first round as the first batch of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems was delivered on July 25.

The U.S. has responded to this move by excluding Turkey from industrial participation in the F-35 program.    As we recall, the negotiations over the S-400 between Turkey and Russia began in 2016, one year after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near its border to Syria in 2015, which stood as a compensation payment for the jet shot down in the crisis.

Going parallel with a remarkable rapprochement process between two states, which has developed especially over their conjecturally matching policies on Syria, the S-400 negotiations resulted in a 2.5 billion dollars deal at the end of 2017, under which Russia agreed to supply Turkey, a NATO member state, with four S-400 batteries.

Since then, despite the objection of NATO’s big boss, including verbal ‘threats’ pointing out various sanctions, the Turkish state has mainly preserved its position and made some advance payments, as well as received loans from Russia. While the fascist chief Erdoğan has been marketing this process as a courageous step by the Turkish nation challenging the imperialist system(!), the Russian Federation on the other hand enjoyed an important profit not only in an economic but also in a political sense by pulling a NATO country to its side.

So, what was the actual reason behind Turkey heading towards the S-400 system, rather than to NATO’s Patriot missile defence system at the expense of deepening its conflict with the U.S.? Does the fascist dictator Erdoğan really intend to land a blow on the imperialist influence of the U.S. on Turkey, as his lackeys keep on yelling night and day? Is he conducting an anti-imperialist fight against the U.S.?

Of course not. Just as how he was in his initial years in power, today’s fascist chief Erdoğan keeps on working together with the U.S., IMF, World Bank and other sorts of imperialist states and monopolies for eliminating any kind of economic and political obstacles against Turkey remaining a financial-economic colony. The imperialist monopolies and their integrated collaborators, the monopolist bourgeoisie are still exploiting the labouring masses with the most brutal methods and there is no obstacle for them to letting the profits flow outside the country. Neither the U.S. nor Erdoğan will allow their capitalist exploitation brotherhood to be ruined.

Then why did Turkey move to deepen its conflict with the U.S. by buying the Russian S-400 missile defence system? The answer is nothing other than the Kurdish liberation struggle, the Rojava revolution.

If we remember the initial years of the Syrian civil war, we see that Erdoğan was the most loyal partner of the U.S., because of his bloody appetite towards benefiting from the regional hegemony gap. However, the Kurdish liberation gave this show away. If the Rojava revolution had not erupted, then he would have already seized Syria together with the U.S. But after the Rojava revolution erupted and conducted a heroic war against the ISIS, the U.S. was obliged to build a tactical alliance with the YPG. This led the Turkish state to approach Russia in order to destroy the advances of the Kurds. The fascist chef Erdoğan is well aware of the fact that neither his regional hegemony, nor his own fascist existence could be preserved unless the Rojava revolution was liquidated. Struggle is the actual reason for buying the S-400 missile defence system.

One may say that the Kurds in Rojava have no missiles that would threaten Turkey. Yes, it is true. That’s why the S-400 does not have a military meaning in this picture. It is the ransom for approaching Russia which Erdoğan uses as a “political weapon” to move the U.S. away from the Kurds in Rojava, or at least, make them totally neutral against the Turk’s fascist and colonialist hostility. In this equation, the fascist chief and his team are getting more and more close to Russia in order to save their political future while Russia seizes every opportunity to pull Turkey to its side, as an imperialist power.

However, economic relations and class interests may force the fascist chief to switch his way again. Let’s put it clearly once again: Turkey is a financial-economic colony of the world monopolies. The imperialist states and their local collaborator states are the representatives of the interests of the global financial oligarchy and their collaborator monopolistic bourgeoisies. The Turkish economy has been integrated with the world market which is dominated by the world monopolies, and Erdoğan has played a major role in this process. With any sort of bourgeois administration, Turkey cannot turn the tables on this situation.   

Does the Turkish state have the power to redirect the political superstructure, even though it has completely tied its economic relations to the financial oligarchy? We do not argue here that the economic conditions determine the political superstructure one to one. This would be nothing more than economic determinism. There is no doubt that contradictions between the ruling classes, the struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed, as well as the class struggle all appear in the field of politics and thus create space for various manoeuvres.

However, economic conditions are ultimately crucial, and due to Turkey's dependence as a financial-economic colony there is scope for action to some extent. This action ends where political manoeuvres threaten the interests of the financial oligarchy as a class.

If faced with such a threat, the financial oligarchy will not hesitate to translate this financial-economic colonial dependency into a political blackmail against Erdoğan. Some sections of the financial oligarchy have already begun to prepare other bourgeois political alternatives manifest in the attempts of Erdoğan's former companions to found new parties or in the "rise" of the bourgeois opposition, the Republican People's Party (CHP) with its new political figure İmamoğlu, the newly elected mayor of Istanbul.

All in all, just as it is seen in the S-400 crisis, the fascist chief Erdoğan seems to continue holding the “Russian weapon” to create room for himself to manoeuvre against the U.S. hegemony which is an economic obstacle to Turkish colonialism’s objective of an immediate occupation on Rojava.

So far, being excluded from the F-35 program does not seem to be enough to dissuade this “naughty” NATO member from its plans. The “anti-imperialist” limitation of the Turkish state will show itself after a possible defeat in Rojava or other sanctions of the U.S.

Workers step up industrial action against US multinational O-I Glass

Danny O.                                                   23 August 2019

Ever drank beer from a stubbie? Poured a glass of wine? How about made vegemite on toast? Well if you’ve ever done any of these things in Australia, then you’ve probably handled a glass container made by workers employed by US-owned multinational glass maker O-I Glass.

For over 4 months, about 100 maintenance workers at O-I Glass plants in Melbourne and Brisbane have been taking protected industrial action to secure their conditions in a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. Workers have been taking a variety of actions to push their claim including rolling stoppages, overtime bans, and a rally out the front of O-I’s Australian headquarters. Workers in Melbourne are now holding a series of 4-hour stoppages and public rallies over the next month to help build wider union and community support for their dispute.

The workers, members of the ETU and the AMWU, have been met with nothing but contempt from management. Management are refusing to bargain fairly after workers overwhelmingly voted down a substandard proposal from the company, and have been bringing in scabs through dodgy labour hire companies to try and complete work. According to the ETU, at the Melbourne plant scab electricians were being brought in from sub-contractors as far away as South Australia!

But all of that is par for the course for a multinational like O-I. According to reports, the company had revenues of over $2.6 billion in Australia between 2013-2017 and didn’t pay a single cent in tax during the same time. Again, it’s hardly a surprise. It’s typical practice of so many of the foreign multinationals and handful of local big businesses that dominate and control Australia’s economy.

And O-I certainly dominates its sector of Australia’s economy. Not only is it the largest glass container manufacturer in the world, the US multinational has a 90% share of the glass container market in Australia. That means just about every glass container used in Australia is made by workers at O-I Glass.

Australian workers making everyday products used by the Australian people, but the profits go to a tax avoiding American multinational – talk about a rort!
There’s nothing the bosses fear more than a united working class that understands their labour power is the source of profit and that the bosses are redundant parasites. And there’s nothing a foreign multinational fears more than a united people that understands they are being ripped off and taken for fools.

O-I Glass should have plenty to fear.      

We need to fight for a country run by and for the working people of Australia – not the thieving multinationals! We need to fight for an Independent Australia and Socialism!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Truth discarded and NSW MPs targeted in anti-abortion media rants

Louisa L                                                            22 August 2019

Abortion became a crime in NSW in 1900. Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph is cynically spearheading media attacks to keep it that way. Its real aim is to use the issue to further suppress the people.

On Friday 16 August, the Tele corralled key anti-abortion allegations, lies and distortions in one place.

It ignored the overwhelming vote in favour – a two thirds majority – implying NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was doing “deals” to “shore up support”.

The anti-abortion crew waited till Berejiklian was in Europe on a trade mission to prepare an ambush.

They used an upper house review they’d demanded to further air their allegations.

The Australian Medical Association actively supports the bill, demolishing an avalanche of anti-abortion amendments. None of this made the Tele.
Instead it outright lied, saying “the AMA upped the ante on its opposition to the bill”.

One amendment played the race card against Chinese and Indian people who are alleged to abort female foetuses. The Tele raged against gender selection.

The Tele also warned doctors about a previous (failed) prosecution involving “live-birth termination” for late term abortions, but really aimed to stir up readers against an extremely rare occurrence.

Non-religious and non-political?

It turned truth on its head again in a headline, “Support group says majority of women are pressured to abort”.

According to the Tele, NSW Pregnancy Help Inc which opposed the bill alleges, “Almost all women who call a pregnancy support group in the Hunter region do so because their partners are threatening to leave them or not support the baby.”

Sadly, this is true for many women, but any claim it is the major reason women seek abortion is not backed by evidence.

Obviously, women being pressured not to have a baby they want would seek an agency like Pregnancy Help that counsels in favour of giving birth.

They don’t need nonsense that most women “regret abortions” or other half truths.

The Tele described the group as “non-religious and non-political”. But Pregnancy Help Inc encourages delay which makes abortion more complicated and dangerous.

The first fact sheet on its website speaks in glowing terms of motherhood and of adoption, but in entirely negative terms about abortions and their effect “on both mother and baby”,  not “mother and foetus”.

The Pregnancy Help Inc “fact” sheet bleats about all the help a single mother gets. Tell that to single mums whose payments have been cut by outrageous demands of the privateers running the federal government’s ParentsNext!

Pregnancy Help Inc also insinuates that “vested or pecuniary interests in abortion facilities” are encouraging abortion.

The bill, said the Tele, was “rushed through parliament” without a “formal inquiry”. Clearly anti-abortion activists wanted more time to fan hysteria over their lies and distortions.

Rural women suffer most from delays

Another article that day (Friday, 16 August 2019) drove a wedge between the rural community and Berejiklian by making out she was more concerned with the abortion bill than Essential Energy’s rural job cuts.

It didn’t mention the AMA’s concerns about the disproportionate suffering for rural women and their families of delays that anti-abortionists tried to insert into the bill.

The article gave huge prominence to a leaked “call to arms” by Nationals Deputy Premier, Barillaro, targeting Berejiklian and other social liberals in Coalition ranks. The aim is to mimic the federal Coalition coup that cleansed all but the hard right.

Berejiklian backed down and ensured the job cuts would not go ahead, a win for far-right ‘champions’ of the working class as well as the workers themselves in a publicly owned company.

Scaremongering hits its target

Liberal Health Minister Brad Hazzard who co-sponsored the bill was also hammered by the Tele. He and Manly MP James Griffin were “called to a crisis meeting” of local members to explain their stand. Party members were “furious… about the whole process.”

In Sydney’s south eastern suburbs, which includes Cronulla where PM Morrison is based, only two of seven MPs voted in favour of the bill. MPs in these suburbs are open to pressure by well-organised and active community-based church groups.

These groups have successfully intervened in recent elections against Labor candidates. Former head of the Council for Civil Liberties, Cameron Murphy was narrowly defeated in Banks electorate after widely distributed and totally false allegations that he supported paedophilia.

In local media, the anti-abortion MPs each highlighted a different scaremongering ‘concern’, obviously coordinated well beforehand. No medical advice was included in the article. The local paper is now owned by Nine Network.

In a pointed attack noted by the Tele, the Armenian Apostolic Church to which Berejiklian belongs sent a representative to oppose the bill at the Legislative Council review.

It all had an effect.

Gladys Berejiklian returned to Australia. First the bill was delayed. 

Next came this: the ABC’s Sarah Thomas wrote, “After pressure from religious leaders and conservative MPs, Ms Berejiklian said she would be prepared to change the bill to ban gender-based abortion.”

This is unlikely to save Ms Berejiklian. Too many other factors apart from her stand on abortion are at play, as those in the ruling class favouring far right methods mobilise their forces.