Sydney electronics businessman Gary Johnston has just released a report condemning the federal government’s decision to award a French company the contract to build twelve new submarines in Australia.
Johnston commissioned the paper from Insight Economics two years ago after he and other capitalists, including Dick Smith, began a campaign favouring the purchase of off-the-shelf nuclear submarines.
Neither the government decision nor the Johnston proposal proceed from the needs of Australian working people for a peaceful and independent Australia. Both are based on the assumption that a capitalist Australia is, to quote the Prime Minister, “joined at the hip” to US imperialism.
Johnston’s concern is that the French build in Adelaide is far more expensive than purchasing submarines built elsewhere; that the timeline for the build will see a capability gap between the time the current Collins class submarines are retired and the new ones become operational; and that the new submarines should be nuclear-powered to avoid the need for “snorting” – the practice of coming close to the surface to run diesel generators to recharge a submarine’s battery system.
Submarines in the service of predatory imperialism
The Australian ruling class is a willing tool of predatory US imperialism. It will go to any expense and impose any financial burden on the people it claims to represent in its parliament, in order to back the controllers of its economic and financial lifelines, namely the US imperialists.
The armed forces of the Australian capitalist state are designed, trained, provisioned and equipped not for winning Australian independence and securing its right to a peaceful and independent foreign policy, but to fight in other people’s countries and to be deployed globally to support US hegemony – the “full spectrum dominance” over the Earth and the space that surrounds it – to which US imperialism aspires.
As the Insight paper notes, Australian governments have seen a role for submarines that is essentially imperialist in its definition. Referring to a 2009 Defence White Paper, it states: “Beyond the traditional roles of defence of Australia and intelligence gathering, the requirement included, for example, the capacity to undertake ‘strategic strike’, perhaps unilaterally, against a ‘major adversary’.” The submarines must be long range to enable them to operate in an offensive capacity around the Indian and Pacific Oceans far from the shores they are ostensibly assigned to “protect”. The paper even proposes that a mother ship be based at Christmas Island or Cocos Keeling Islands “to avoid long and fatiguing transits…(and) operate much closer to the submarines’ area of operations.”
Defence requirements of a future proletarian state
The Australian working class and its allies will one day have their own independent and peaceful state. They will need to have the ability to defend it. The requirement will be for submarines as a component of coastal defence rather than for predatory offensive action as is the case now.
It is worth looking at the example of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which has been threatened with annihilation by “fire and awe” by US imperialism. The DPRK’s defence is based not only on ICBMs and nuclear deterrence, but on the defence of its coastline from invading forces.
The DPRK has a population slightly larger than Australia’s in a land area half the size of Victoria. Its coastlines are minimal compared to Australia’s, yet the DPRK has more submarines (76) than the US imperialists (70). Whereas those of the US imperialists are massive, nuclear-powered long-range vessels, those of the DPRK are “made up largely of coastal-minded attack submarines with limited capabilities” according to the www.globalfirepower.com website. It is immediately apparent which of the two nations is for defence, and which is for predatory and aggressive threats and actions against other countries.
In terms of total naval strength (which includes battleforce ships made up of aircraft carriers, frigates, destroyers, corvettes, torpedo boats, patrol boats, amphibious support craft and landing craft), the DPRK (967 vessels) outstrips both the China (714) and US (415). Reflecting the rise and humiliating fall of its own imperialist power, the UK now comes in at 32nd in the global rankings of naval strength. Australia sits at 54th spot.
Again, the difference lies in the political purpose behind the composition of the naval forces of the US imperialists and the DPRK. Imperialism requires nuclear aircraft carriers, battleships and cruisers; the defence of a socialist nation requires torpedo and patrol boats, and small fast-moving amphibious support craft.
Australian traitor class makes us pay for its loyalty to US imperialism
The Australian ruling class keeps signing up for more and larger financial commitments in providing military props for US imperialism. A host of active and retired US military personnel keep arriving on our shores to tell us what is required. Australia has the 13th largest “defence” budget, way out of proportion to the size of its population.
The defence budgets per capita of some of the countries above are: US ($18,142), Australia ($10,478), the UK ($7,140), China ($1,178) and India ($402). It is both politically and financially criminal that the traitors who occupy the parliament of this country commit us to carrying US imperialism at all, let alone to this gross extent.
US imperialism – military giant with financial feet of clay
According to the globalfirepower website, “war is as much about money as it is about bullets, bombs and missiles”. For that reason, it ranks countries by their reserves of foreign exchange and gold. We have complied this graph of 2017 data expressed in US dollars for each of the top ten countries listed according to their “financial health” from the website. We have included the US imperialists (18th) and Australia (35th).
According to these figures, US imperialism no longer has the “financial health” to sustain its massive military budget. That is why it demands its lackeys, like the Australian capitalist class, carry a heavier and heavier burden of the cost of maintaining the US Empire, and why the Australian people are seeing static wages and poor services.
The other important measure of “financial health” from a military point of view is external foreign debt. The globalfirepower website includes its country-by-country ranking with these observations:
“External debt commitments can severely limit the spending capabilities of a global power, particularly in times of total war. Per the CIA World Factbook, External Debt is the total public and private debt carried by a particular nation as owed to outside parties (i.e. the international community), repayable through currency exchanges, consumer/durable goods and applicable services. Typically, larger, better developed nations will carry a large external debt total. External Debt is just one outside factor used when considering a nation's overall fiscal "health" as going to war tends to have a prominent, far-reaching impact on economies. For the purposes of the final GFP ranking, a high External Debt total serves a penalty.”
The penalty that US imperialism carries in the event of “going to war” is severe indeed:
On a per capita basis, the British imperialists impose an external debt of $126,968, the US imperialists $55,278 and China $716. Each Australian carries an external debt of $73,565, much of it run up to provide military support to US imperialism.
Some people criticise the DPRK as a “hermit kingdom” steeped in poverty. In reality, it is a fiercely independent country that suffered egregious losses at the hands of US imperialism, Australia and other countries during the so-called “Korean War”. US imperialism, which refuses to sign a peace treaty with the DPRK after all these years, makes it necessary that the Korean people deny themselves the prosperity they could be living in so that they can defend themselves and not be reduced to the level of slaves for finance capital.
Australia is a developed capitalist country, but it is totally enmeshed in the financial, military, cultural, political and diplomatic webs of US imperialism. Like the DPRK, but for totally different reasons, it pays a heavy cost because of US imperialism. The burden of supporting US imperialism is intolerable.
For a free, peaceful and independent socialist Australia!