Nov 18, 2011

The gunboat diplomacy over welcoming US troops

Iit was inevitable that Australia, in the absence of tough-minded governments, would eventually come to host a US military base, writes Bruce Haigh, a political and strategic analyst and retired diplomat

In view of the sycophantic nature of Australia’s relationship with the United States over the past 60 years, I guess it was inevitable that Australia, in the absence of tough-minded governments, would eventually come to host a US military base. The North West Cape, Pine Gap and Geraldton communication facilities and joint exercises were incremental steps along that path, not to mention Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf war, Iraq and Afghanistan.

As announcements go relating to major policy change, this one was a shocker. While the rest of the world called it for what it was, the establishment of a US base, the Australian Defence Minister said it was merely an enhancement of joint exercises. Then to make matters worse, few other details were provided. We have been told that in mid next year, 250 US Marines will arrive on a six-month posting to undertake training. Over five years, that commitment will rise to 2500 Marines. That figure represents a stripped down brigade.

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7 thoughts on “The gunboat diplomacy over welcoming US troops

  1. mikeb

    I don’t quite understand the recent writings which hint at China v America as if it is another cold war.
    Have either side the slightest intention of provoking a skirmish – let alone a war?.
    I wouldn’t have thought such an event would be in either parties best interests so why is it being built up as an issue? There may be some rhetoric but should we be concerned?

  2. OPti

    Yes, it is of concern, for the reasons stated above. Australia’s sycophancy is pathetic and counter-productive.

    The US always needs an enemy, and they are trying to begin a cold war. That’s for them, but why is Australia involved in such a mindless way?

    As noted in the piece above, why can’t Australia have some sense, and get involved in South-East Asia independently, for the benefit of Australia rather than for the benefit of the US? We could always assist the US without having them move in here permanently.

  3. Keith Thomas

    @mikeb – I have the same feeling myself, but when you read popular opinion and listen to talkback shows in the US, you find the assumption widespread that war with China is inevitable. This is based on economics (particularly trade and currency imbalances), resource imperialism as well as the apparent need by a wide slice of American society that they have to be always looking forward to the next conflict. Many of these same people take a successful US strike against Iran as a foregone conclusion and that a war with China is the next real big thing.

    Thank you, Bruce Haigh, for your analysis and your outrage – I’m with you on this one.

  4. Salamander

    I am not a critic of Gillard. I believe she is generally doing as good a job (or better) as circumstances allow (minority Govt, hostile media). But even I cringed as I watched her slobbering all over Obama.

    Although it’s no more sickening than Howard and Bush – and Barack is still quite cute – POTUS is not even world Emperor any more. And if that was an example of warm hospitality protocol, what on earth would she have done had the US Pres been, say, a Berlusconi?.. Or even Hillary, for that matter.

    Personalities aside, can’t we comport ourselves with a bit more wit, panache and sangfroid? For some reason ex-NZ PM David Lange comes to mind…..aside from his sad demise, that is.

    Perhaps we just need a better foreign policy toward the US, and the improved niceties will follow.

  5. sparky

    I am, and hopefully (fingers crossed) always will be enamoured at how Austral
    ia tends to ride the waves of the world. Maybe you all of the southern land are smarter
    than you seem.

  6. zut alors

    If Australia was smart we’d stay neutral ie: be the Switzerland of the South Pacific. Gillard got way ahead of herself with this deal, just as Howard did by committing to Iraq without any consultation.

    Once the Yanks are here they will be impossible to extricate.

    Despite the US ‘saving’ us during WWII US servicemen soon became unpopular with the locals. In Brisbane emotions ran hot and resulted in a riot in the city centre in 1942 during which an Oz soldier died. We learn nothing from history, nothing.

  7. AR

    OPTI – agree that amerika always needs an enemy but would amend that to external enemy, mainly to neutralise the very powerful domestic one that the autocracy would otherwise have – the highest imprisonment rate on the planet (NOT per capita – in real numbers), the highest execution rate apart from China, lower literacy rates, worse child mortality stats.,than many Third world countries, highest numbers (actual and far & away per capita) numbers living below the poverty line than ANY Western democracy, including the working poor etc, etc.
    If they didn’t constantly manufacture external enemies, and thus soak up vast numbers of otherwise pissed off lumpen then the USofA would ripe for revolution.
    This does NOT take into account the bien pissants of OCCUPY.

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