A part of US-led defence and security planning for the Asia-Pacific region has revealed an escalation of militarism levelled at China.
Other US-led initiatives also include economic considerations, targeting regional Chinese investment programs.
The new US-led planning has also made Australia central for US regional involvement specifically for the area of the South China Sea, which, in turn, has provided an explanation why the country is experiencing a new Cold War.
With the implementation of the so-called US-led Global Transformation of Defence and Security (GTDS), Japan has become a fully-fledged regional hub for 'US interests' in the northern part of the Asia-Pacific region with Australia as a southern counterpart. The triangular military model has the two hubs directly linked into the central US war plan, with the specific aim of encircling and containing China in the region and wider afield.
It is, however, specific component parts of the plan which show the US is not concerned with war-games, but real-war scenarios.
In May, the US renamed their Pacific Command, the Indo-Pacific Command, showing how the Indian Ocean had become a crucial addition for their GTDS planning and revealed a shift from sea considerations to land battle scenarios. (1) Around the northern part of the Indian Ocean lie a large number of littoral states, each having a specific strategic role for US military planning. There is little ambiguity with the US diplomatic position: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently unveiled what he described as 'a new era of US commitment' for the Indo-Pacific in Washington. (2) The US diplomatic statement was also accompanied by a similar one from Canberra where Foreign Minister Julie Bishop 'announced Australia would work with the US and Japan', to counter China. (3)
The role of the Japanese in the GTDS planning has included their 'renewed interest in the Indian Ocean', marked by a number of infrastructure projects in littoral and other states which have been designed to counter China's 'String of Pearls' facilities in the same area. (4)
The part of the southern GTDS planning, in question, has been developed to include the elevation of Guam in the western Pacific together with Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as two hubs specifically for military operations. (5) They are situated on an arc from Pine Gap in Central Australia, linked directly to sensitive US military intelligence facilities on Diego Garcia. The role of Darwin Harbour in northern Australia has also been planned as a 'support centre', with 'agreement to proceed with full implementation of bilateral force posture initiatives, including increasing the number of US marines in Darwin to 2,500'. (6) The US military personnel will also be used to undertake joint training with Australian, Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian, Philippine, Singapore and Thailand counterparts for regional operations. (7)
The triangular relationship of Diego Garcia, Guam and Darwin, has also revealed a US preoccupation with the South China Sea, with contested land-masses potentially making the area highly volatile for access and egress to shipping-lanes and a possible future theatre of war. A recent US military assessment of the area, for example, concluded that China's island bases, could, 'be used to challenge the US presence in the region', and, 'China had reached the tipping point', in the South China Sea. (8) The assessment has revealed US concerns and their likelihood of resorting to military action, particularly in light of an official diplomatic statement acknowledging that 'US attempts to contain China were futile and counter-productive'. (9)
Military considerations, however, form only part of the present US position toward China. In fact, former leading figures in the Trump administration including far-right Steve Bannon has been quoted as saying 'the economic war with China is everything'. (10) And it is against this backcloth that the attempts by the US to impose tariffs and create a trade war scenario have taken place.
The hidden hands of the US and their planned trade war scenario have not been particularly difficult to identify in Australia. Their arrogance has taken priority over usual secrecy with decision-makers in Canberra being advised in a recent report by the United States Studies Centre, Sydney University, to make national security considerations a major priority for the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). (11) The move by the US to control decision-making in Australia can be seen with the report also recommending that the FIRB 'should strengthen its links with the similar US body to deal with growing concerns over Chinese investment'. (12) The report further recommended 'a formal consultation process between Australia and the US', designed for dealing with 'national security concerns' which 'complement the intelligence sharing arrangements through the Five Eyes agreements'. (13)
It has been interesting to note that the recommendation and emphasis in the report on strengthening links were written in a placid journalism style intended to convey a cozy diplomatic relationship between Australia and the US. In reality, the so-called Alliance has tended, historically, to be marked by chicanery and outright tutelage from Washington with almost daily interference into Australian sovereign affairs.
Australia is being drawn into US military planning for real-war scenarios: the move has also been accompanied with the revival of a new Cold War, directed primarily toward those who are regarded as not supportive or who question US positions. New restrictions placed on journalists and media outlets by the present Turnbull Coalition government in Canberra are part of a much bigger plan to restrict the flow of reliable information into civil society.
We are, indeed, living through troubled and dangerous times at the behest of the US.
1. US Intensifies Military Presence in Indo-Pacific, The Global Times, 24 July 2018.
2. Pompeo commits US to Indo-Pacific, Australian, 1 August 2018.
4. The Normalisation of Japanese Policy in the Indian Ocean Region, Future Directions International, 21 June 2018.
5. Global Times, op.cit., 24 July 2018.
6. Editorial, A welcome US commitment, Australian, 26 July 2018.
7. More US Marines than ever head for Darwin, Australian, 23 March 2018.
8. US alarmed as China lands in disputed water, Australian, 21 May 2018.
9. Bring US, Asia together or pay the price: Robb, Australian, 3 July 2018.
10. Back to lying, Z Magazine, October 2017, page 6.
11. Toughen up vetting of foreign investors, Australian, 1 August 2018.