A decision to upgrade joint Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises has provided an indication of heightening diplomatic tensions on the Korean peninsula and wider Asia-Pacific region and the role of Australia.
The proposed exercises form part of an increasingly aggressive US-led regional diplomatic position and are based upon reasserting traditional US hegemonic positions against a changing balance of forces.
The military exercises are based on real-war scenarios and have little to do with traditional regional defence and security planning.
In early October Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne announced the intention to 'increase military training exercises' with the ROK. (1) The upgraded diplomatic relations rested upon a 2015 agreement, Blueprint for Defence and Security Cooperation, for joint military exercises. (2)
The proposed exercises - Haedoli Wallaby off the Korean peninsula - are due to commence next month and include two ADF warships, the Melbourne and the Parramatta, together with a P-8A submarine hunter aircraft. (3)
The military exercises form part of a US-led aggressive regional foreign policy. While it has been primarily concerned with the northern DPRK, its main purpose is an attempt to encircle and contain China as a major rising regional force. With heightening diplomatic tensions becoming commonplace, western observers have recently even stopped denying the main purpose of the militarism.
A former ROK Ambassador to Australia, Kim Woo-sang, for example, was recently interviewed in the Joong Ang Ilbo Korean newspaper and advocated 'a new multinational meeting in the Asia-Pacific led by the ROK and Australia' as 'we face together the rise of China'. (4)
The disclosure followed other US diplomatic slips which have included Steven Hildreth, an official member of the US Congressional Research Service, stating 'the focus of our rhetoric is North Korea. The reality is that we're also looking longer term at the elephant in the room, which is China'. (5)
Generally, however, the US imperialists take a position of diplomatic silence when issuing directives about the Asia-Pacific and remain in a state of denial about their Cold War regional stance.
Current diplomacy reflects a long-term strategy
Behind the recent diplomatic positioning, nevertheless, lies far-deeper, longer-term military planning. Early in the previous Bush administrations in Washington, then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began planning for a Global Transformation of Defence and Security (GTDS). It included the building of Japan as a northern regional hub for 'US interests' linked to Australia as a southern counterpart.
The ROK was also instrumental in the three-way Pentagon, Tokyo and Canberra military planning. Hosting nearly 30,000 US military personal, the primary role of the ROK was rapid deployment with the Defence of Japan doctrine. The GTDS has now been implemented, with huge surveillance systems operational with 'deepening defence ties between Japan and Australia, and also trilaterally with the US'. (6)
The surveillance systems operate with little ambiguity about their real target and are primarily concerned with a military strategy to use sophisticated technology 'to offset numerical superiority of opponents'. (7) The development of space-based warfare systems also forms part of the same strategy. (8)
The GTDS system has reliance upon 'US allies' taking forefront positions with regional hostilities although following Pentagon military planning and directives.
It is, therefore, no surprise to read recent diplomatic media releases which include 'US President Donald Trump reassured Mr Abe that the US was 100 per cent with Japan while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia was ready to support Japan at any time'. (9) Australia also has other designated roles together with the security of US regional GTDS hubs.
Official media releases have clarified the role of Australia within the South Pacific region and GTDS frameworks of reference. In one, it was noted 'Washington has long regarded the Pacific Islands as belonging to our sphere of influence'. (10) In another, clear reference was given to the Australian role in the South China Seas, a sensitive maritime area fraught with political tensions over access and egress of shipping-lanes. (11)
What is particularly revealing about the recent US-led regional military exercises and war-drive has been the development of real-war scenarios. It has nothing to do with the defence and security of ordinary people. Sycophantic political leaders, totally preoccupied with US-alliances, are willingly placing their countries onto a war-footing with Pentagon planning to defend regional 'US interests'.
A trial run for later military conflict can be observed in the recent OPLAN 5015 military plan with the specific intention of a 'decapitation attack on the Pyongyang leadership'. (12) Another plan, OPLAN 3100, has included a response to 'a small-scale provocation', an ideal setting for a US-led covert operation. (13) Numerous other examples have also been revealed which focus upon US-led planning for a 'fully-fledged war'. (14)
Other disclosures include the creation of a US Special Unit to spy on the DPRK. (15) Linked to the US 8th Army 524th Military Intelligence Battalion with links to the CIA the stated intention was for the establishment of the stepping up of clandestine operations in October, 2017. (16) They are not conducive with the maintenance of peaceful diplomacy and include planning to identify more than a thousand targets in the DPRK for precision missile strikes. (17)
In the words of former US President Jimmy Carter, the region is confronted with 'the strong possibility of another Korean war with potentially devastating consequences'. (18) The sooner Australia develops an independent foreign policy, the better.
1. South Korean forces set for war games in Australia, Australian, 11 October 2017.
5. U.S. Seeks New Asia Defences, The Wall Street Journal, Friday-Sunday 24-26 August 2012.
6. Military build-up in the Asia-Pacific could be the key to diplomacy, Australian, 2 December 2014.
7. Scramble to keep up with rising spending, Australian, 3 October 2017.
8. Defence giant's bid for space supremacy, Australian, 20 September 2017.
9. N Korea fuels Asia war fears, Australian, 30 August 2017.
10. U.S. Moves To Counter China In Pacific, Australian, 1 December 2011.
11. Australian, op.cit., 11 October 2017.
12. Pyongyang hackers steal South's blueprint for war, Australian, 12 October 2017.
14. Commandos to kill Kim Jong-un, Daily Star, 1 September 2017; see also, South Korea is planning, Business Insider, Military and Defence, 29 August 2017; and, South Korea draws up secret plan, Daily Mail (Australia), 31 August 2017; and, US Special Unit, Chosun Ilbo, 8 May 2017.
15. US Special Unit, Ibid., Chosun Ilbo, 8 May 2017.
17. Business Insider, op.cit., 29 August 2017; and, Daily Star, op.cit., 1 September 2017.
18. Australian, op. cit., 12 October 2017.