Menu lock

United States

Aug 2, 2012

Nuclear drumbeat grows as US eyes Australia

Nuclear weapons and joint military bases aimed at containing our largest trading partner will, sooner or later, be put in our backyard. That's if US Republicans get their way.

Australian policymakers could not be getting a clearer picture of what our US ally expects of us. Nuclear weapons and joint military bases aimed at containing our largest trading partner will, sooner or later, be put in our backyard — and we’ll be expected to pay for the privilege.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies report making headlines over a proposal to establish a US base in Perth to host nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and manned and unmanned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) drones is but the first report commissioned by this Congress. The second — as revealed by Crikey in May — will focus on positioning nuclear force in the Pacific.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith’s denials overnight were revealed as word trickery by the comments of the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans Robert Scher in Congressional hearings early this morning, who pointed out that “no US bases” really means they expect Australia and other allies to share the costs of hosting large numbers of American troops at these so-called “shared facilities”:

“We are now engaged in discussions with Australians about what that would look like, what kinds of facilities would we be using within Australia. To be clear, we are not looking to establish a US base in Australia or anywhere outside US territory. We are looking to share facilities as we have in Australia for a number years under the overall approach of shared knowledge and concurrence.

“We do not know the full extent of our requirements or what Australia has to offer for what we are looking to do. So it’s premature to talk about cost sharing, because we honestly do not know the measure of cost. We are very close, we expect to have developments between now and the AUSMIN consultative talks in November. We would have a better idea of costs then and we would obviously be cost sharing with Australia.”

This is not a new idea, although it is perhaps unsettling given the historical context. The US has extracted ongoing payment from the losing nations in World War II for the privilege of hosting US military bases. In April it was announced Japan would pay US$3.1 billion in cash to have most of the US marines stationed in Okinawa removed to Marine Air-Ground Task Forces in Guam and Darwin. In an earlier era we may even have called it colonisation.

It is also important to note that none of these negotiations have been shared with the Australian public. Indeed, any substantive negotiations have been largely denied when raised directly by Australian journalists during ministerial visits to Washington.

The report’s authors don’t anticipate any resistance in Australia, citing Lowy Institute polling, aside from “non-mainstream anti-Americanism prevalent among some elite circles”. But CSIS senior advisor Dr Michael Green had one note of caution when testifying before Congress this morning:

“We have to be careful not to ask for access or commitments where the answer will be no. Because if the answer is no, we lose influence and the ability to shape the environment.”

If the idea of several populated “floating city” aircraft carriers and the word “base” scared the horses in Perth, then both the US and Australian governments should start preparing now for the reaction when next year’s report to Congress proposes nuclear weapons on the soil of a near neighbour, if not on our own.

The Obama administration has opposed any redeployment of nuclear weapons to the Asia Pacific, but the idea has found solid support with the Republican majority in Congress. Since taking control of the House, the GOP has dropped most of the previous grudges like the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell gay ban or Afghanistan troop numbers in favour of a substantial rethink of US military positioning and deterrents against ideological enemies.

The Tea Party ascendancy in the party hasn’t diminished the influence of the Defense Hawks either; indeed they’re often one and the same, like Republican Allen West, who makes Senator John McCain appear almost dove-ish. Or Republican Trent Franks, who argued the nuclear-arming proposal would be welcomed:

“It just asks if our alliances would be strengthened with the use of nuclear weapons in the region. If China is concerned about our presence in the region it is very simple, they can stop supporting North Korea and get tough on the Kim Jong-un administration.”

Congressional Republicans upon taking control of the House even named their military policy newsletter “The Drumbeat”.

The Republican House has commissioned several studies effectively showing they have the backing of much of the Military-Industrial complex and are ready to implement this new approach when they next win the White House. It may not matter who the Republican candidate is when that happens.

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

61 comments

Leave a comment

61 thoughts on “Nuclear drumbeat grows as US eyes Australia

  1. Gavin Moodie

    The writer should not use the obviously sexist ‘manned and unmanned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) drones’. A vehicle may be unpiloted, pilotless or unstaffed.

    My dictionary defines a drone as a ‘a pilotless radio-controlled aircraft’ so I don’t see how one can have a pilotted drone.

  2. lindsayb

    I am sure that if we don’t protest too much, we will not be subject to “regime change with extreme prejudice” raining down from above like the poor unfortunates in central america, south america, central asia, south asia, the middle east and so on.
    Some, who in an earlier age may have been called traitors might even do well out of such an arrangement. As Kent Brockman once said “And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves”

  3. Owen Gary

    Wonderful, the US will soon be able to perpetrate wars in other countries from Australian soil as well.

    The NWO is slowly but surely putting it’s pieces in place.

    *1st a raft of new surveillance laws being foisted on Joe public.
    *2nd the world police (US) arrive on our shores all in the cause of our mutual friendship with the US, I wonder who has juristiction over who?

    Our mutual friends who place tariffs on our agricultural produce, but we freely import theirs. Both major parties have sold out the people of this country time and time again. Then again we are probably viewed by the US congress as the 51st state of America anyway. Given the amount of US investment & financial control in this country it’s not hard to see why they are trying to pull us away from the Westminster system into a much more democratic system like their congress has!!

    Still the people sleep….

  4. Clytie

    China doesn’t want to invade Australia, but apparently the U.S. does. 🙁

  5. 81dvl

    Darwin not enough? Perth is a fair drive from the Pacific – does this mean they want the Atlantic as well? Why don’t they ask the Kiwis (we all know what the answer would be, because they still have a pair.)

    GlobaliZation, ‘free’ trade, Julian Assange, David Hicks, Vietnam….. We haven’t gotten out from the empire’s skirts and we are crawling straight up the US arse? If we do this, we are the pussies they take us for.

    Look…no….straight answer, no – you can’t.

    No maybes, thats it.

  6. muruk

    It is 46 years since Australia went “All the way with LBJ”. All the way to Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Apart from death and injury there was no reward from any of these wars, not from the result or from the USA. It is time to let go our ties to the most war-loving nation on earth. We should be building relationships with countries in our own half of the world rather than those that are about as far away as possible.

  7. Col Campey

    This is perhaps the best reason yet for us to have a non-partisan government. See

    colflower.blogspot.com.au

  8. Sharkie

    since our foreign policy is more or less determined by washington, I want to vote in the US elections. Now do I support Obama or the Republican Party which is controlled by big business/big military and cheered on by the lunatics in the tea party?

  9. geomac62

    What better way to create a ” situation ” than by having a naval base to counter the threat that the initial permit of a base started . Why not Indonesia or Thailand which must be closer to the perceived threat that isn,t actually articulated . SB can have a blank avatar signifying the white flag of surrender . The softening up process has begun , first Darwin and now feelers for public reaction regarding Perth . Aussie aussie aussie woot woot woot with the arm punching the air like those yank tv shows . Apparently the 6 billion a year we lose with our free trade agreement with the yanks doesn,t pay for our protection so we need to cough up more than bodies and funds in Afghanistan . Maybe we should contact Israel and ask how they manage to get 5 billion a year or more out of cash strapped USA ? They have been getting it since 48 and I,d hardly call Israel a third world country . They even have their own nukes , hundreds of them . Maybe thats where we went wrong , being allies in all the wars . We may as well have been a defeated nation because thats what victors do to the vanquished , station bases on their soil to let them know who rules the roost . They don,t even have to face the law of the land that house their bases . Can,t have those pesky foreigners putting US troops in their courts . Better to let the US look after its own , like Mai Lai . Calley gets 2 years or so for mass slaughter , so what ? Some marines get a few years for raping an Okinawa schoolgirl . Hey ! she was nearly 13 you know , give me a break . Raise the white flag , poor fellow my country .

  10. geomac62

    What better way to create a ” situation ” than by having a naval base to counter the threat that the initial permit of a base started . Why not Indonesia or Thailand which must be closer to the perceived threat that isn,t actually articulated . SB can have a blank avatar signifying the white flag of surrender . The softening up process has begun , first Darwin and now feelers for public reaction regarding Perth . Aussie aussie aussie woot woot woot with the arm punching the air like those yank tv shows . Apparently the 6 billion a year we lose with our free trade agreement with the yanks doesn,t pay for our protection so we need to cough up more than bodies and funds in Afghanistan . Maybe we should contact Israel and ask how they manage to get 5 billion a year or more out of cash strapped USA ? They have been getting it since 48 and I,d hardly call Israel a third world country . They even have their own nukes , hundreds of them . Maybe thats where we went wrong , being alli es in all the wars . We may as well have been a defeated nation because thats what victors do to the vanquished , station bases on their soil to let them know who rules the roost . They don,t even have to face the law of the land that house their bases . Can,t have those pesky foreigners putting US troops in their courts . Better to let the US look after its own , like Mai Lai . Calley gets 2 years or so for mass slaughter , so what ? Some marines get a few years for raping an Okinawa schoolgirl . Hey ! she was nearly 13 you know , give me a break . Raise the white flag , poor fellow my country .

Leave a comment