Contributed by Joe Montero
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has flown off to India, presumably to talk up trade, and then going to the United States to talk with President Jo Biden and the British Prime Minister, who will also be there.
This could have been a good opportunity to raise some issues of serious concern back here in Australia. They won’t be raised, because this will be a meeting between those who command and those who obey. Such is the political clout held over Australian government by Washington.
The meeting is about what is next for AUKUS, the military alliance that Australia has entered with the other two parties. So, we might as well start talking about this.
AUKUS is not an agreement between equals. It is an extension of the presence of the United States Military into Australia and our region, commanded from Washington, with some input from London.
Photo by David Glotzbach/ US Navy parade in Darwin during the closing ceremony of the eighth U.S. and Australian exercise Talisman Sabre in 2019
Part of the deal is to station nuclear submarines here. There is a pretence that they will be Australian submarines. They won’t be. The real command will remain with the Pentagon. Australia gets the privilege of paying for them. Billions of Australian taxpayer’s dollars will go to American arms manufacturers. This is in line with Washington’s policy of passing on some of the costs of its military to its allies.
The cost is not only about dollars. Australia loses sovereignty, that is, the right to make our own decisions and act independently. By being a cog in superpower military machine, Australia gets to be seen as a puppet, aiding hostile acts against other nations, a pawn in the revival of old time western colonial methods. This sets us up as economic targets, and in the worst-case scenario as a legitimate military target.
Anthony Albanese could mention these concerns shared by many of his country men and women. Butt he won’t. Our Prime Minister knows who calls the shots. He knows not to obey is to invite retaliation.
Something could be said about taking a course that would promote more global equality and the resolution of differences between states through diplomacy. But this is all about asserting the United States as the sole global power that makes all the choices and uses military threat and deployment to enforce this.
It would be good to say something about the importance of not only fostering a more equal world and peace, but also about more being done to reduce carbon emissions. After all, our collective future depends on it. Tsking this road would involve changing the way our economy operates and reducing military proliferation, which contributes significantly to the carbon footprint.
Something could be said about the Julian Assange case. He is an Australian citizen clearly being mistreated. Albanese knows this and could mention it. The case is about more than the human rights of one individual. This is a test case that will set the pattern on how the human rights of others will be treated.
We have already seen the rise of tendency to cut legal corners, even contravene the law, impose unusual and inhumane treatment within the three AUKUS countries on others. This includes long to detention without charge and show trials by stacked tribunals, where he right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, to a proper defence and right to cross examine witnesses, and the right to bring the matter to public attention, are all being curtailed.
The reply, if one was given, would undoubtedly be that this visit is not about other issues. It is only concerned with AUKUS. Such a reply overlooks that the erosion of once entrenched freedoms, military build-up, and the feet dragging on carbon emission reduction are connected. Each are aspects of the quest for domination. A change for the better requires a turning away from this quest for domination.
For Australia, it means finally acting like a nation that has grown to adulthood and capable of chartering its own course.
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