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AUKUS – “These are the horrors”

Instead of humiliatingly accepting the smirking American ‘we neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons visiting your country’, the Albanese government could reassert a little of our lost sovereignty by stating up front, no nuclear weapons never.

The AUKUS submarines will not be here to defend Australia, but only to attack China in a subordinate role with the American forces.

Pearls and Irritations, By Richard Tanter, Mar 24, 2023

AUKUS. This is a horror for which I now fear for the lives of my children and their children. Every time a Labor member of parliament or senator puts foot outside their office to appear in public, turns up at a public meeting, we need to ask them: why have you betrayed us? Why have you allowed this to happen? What are you going to do?

Transcript of a speech at the Anti-AUKUS Rally, Naarm, State Library of Victoria lawn, 18 March 2023.

These are horrors.

This is a horror for which I now fear for the lives of my children and their children.

This is now changing the direction of Australia for the next forty or fifty years.

We have never seen anything like this in peacetime Australia. At any stage.

This must not stand.

But it’s with the suite of profound horrors that we must start with.

The horrors of AUKUS

Firstly, the automatic involvement in war.

We have already been tied to the United States by the bases – by Pine Gap, by North West Cape, by the Space Surveillance Telescope that take us into space warfare, by the many other Australian bases to which the US has access.

We are already tied in, hard-wired in many cases, to the American war machine.

And the ADF is barely an autonomous force today.

But AUKUS takes us very much further down that road.

We already know what the submarines are there for.

In a rational world I actually think submarines are very important for the defence of Australia – but not in the form of this politically-driven, call-from-Washington-inspired scheme for long-range, long-endurance nuclear-powered submarines whose only rational use is to attack China.

Not on their own – Keating’s right about that calling them toothpicks thrown at a mountain – but in concert with American submarines and carrier task forces.

Maybe not immediately nuclear-armed, but almost certainly capable of nuclear-attack as well.

The AUKUS submarines will not be here to defend Australia, but only to attack China in a subordinate role with the American forces.

The horror of that fiscal black hole.

What does that $368 billion actually amount to? As if we have any idea of what the value of a dollar will be in forty years time – the lifetime cost of AUKUS will be an order of magnitude higher, certainly two or even four trillion dollars.

But what that means in terms of the sacrifice from what’s needed from government for decent health and survival for the Australian people is itself horrific.

This moves us towards what I think is an almost irrevocable position of enmity as far as the Chinese are concerned.

Principally because the only rational strategic role for those submarines is to contribute, potentially, to an American existential threat to China.

Even if we stop tomorrow, is China going to forget that?

Why should they?

We’ve revealed our hand.

We have a Minister for Defence who is effectively the minister for Washington, and this is where we have come to.

The horror of the sacrifice zone that the high-level nuclear waste storage site that is to be somewhere built in Australia.

I have to say that of all things that have shocked me about this scheme, this is one that has shocked me most.

Not just because I made the mistake of thinking that Albanese might be halfway reasonable because in my role as a former president of ICAN I had relations with those people, and he pledged he would support a nuclear ban treaty.

Well, that’s not happening now unless we make it happen.

But the announcement of a nuclear waste dump for high-level toxic nuclear waste, radioactive for thousands of years, is another world all together.

I had foolishly thought that they would follow their own mantra for the past year of saying that ‘this will be a sealed reactor full of highly enriched uranium, and to prevent diversion to nuclear weapons, the US will deliver it sealed, and when the fuel is exhausted it will return to the United States sealed for disposal, somewhere safe, where no-one else can get at it …’

More fool me. More fool me.

They betrayed us again, and that nuclear sacrifice zone of high level waste is going to be a huge problem – and struggle – for decades and decades.

What really troubles me as someone who works on strategic issues and thinks that defence issues are real and important, is that this the largest defence expenditure – if we can use the word ‘defence’ with a straight face in this context – this massive defence expenditure actually disables our genuinely necessary defence capabilities.

There will be very little money left over for anything else in defence.

Worst of all, it disables the possibility of what we have come here today to call for – an independent defence and foreign policy – because there will be nothing left.

I heard one of those defence experts quoted in that authoritative source, Nine Entertainment’s Red Alert on the front pages of The Age – the same report that said yes, we have allies, we have Diego Garcia – all 27 square kilometres of it grabbed by the Brits and rented by the Americans, and we have Guam – the tiny American colony almost wholly taken up by US military bases – it would be funny if it wasn’t so awful and so telling about the government’s grasp of the actual facts – I saw that one of those experts said ‘we have to accept that if there is a war with China ‘that means Pine Gap goes’.

Actually I think that’s quite true, under certain circumstances. But the blitheness, the casualness with which that is said tells us a lot about how these people think.

Because if ‘Pine Gap goes’ in a nuclear missile attack, then Alice Springs and most of its 25,000 citizens ‘go’ too. No need to think about that, is there?

Just the casualness with which this is proposed and debated, apart from the ignorance, is stunning and revealing.

And the last part of the horror for me is the nuclear permissiveness which is now beginning to swell in discussions in Canberra security circles.

The momentum that is going to be built out of this first step of nuclear-powered submarine will mean we’re already going to have naval training for this; we’re going to have expanded nuclear engineering programs at places like the ANU.

We’re going to have military and naval careers built around this.

We’re going to have an industry here which has a deep interest in going the next step from naval nuclear propulsion to a civilian nuclear power industry.

We also know, because this is preceded by the US B-52 bombers at RAAF Tindal near Katherine in the Northern Territory – not nuclear-armed bombers at present, but quite definitely possibly nuclear-armed in the future at the stroke of a presidential pen –that those bombers will be used as part of an attack on China.

And what’s really important to understand now is that the South pacific Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, which Australia signed and says it’s proud of, has a loophole in it sponsored by the Australians to meet US needs, which says there are to be no nuclear weapons in the territories of the member states, like Australia, except in the case of ‘transits’ or ‘visits’.

Transits and visit in these days of American rotational deployments can cover an awful lot of interpretations.

The Albanese government could do one very simple thing to address this fear: it could declare that under no circumstances will any nuclear weapons from any country be allowed into Australia.

Not for a visit, not of layover in transit, just never.

No nuclear-armed aircraft, warships or submarines will ever be allowed to enter Australia.

The USS Asheville nuclear-powered attack submarine in Perth at the moment at Stirling Naval Base, and its successors, will never be allowed to return without a verifiable declaration that they come without nuclear weapons.

Instead of humiliatingly accepting the smirking American ‘we neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons visiting your country’, the Albanese government could reassert a little of our lost sovereignty by stating up front, no nuclear weapons never.

The strategy of AUKUS

The strategic part of what’s happening at the American bases in Australia (aka ‘joint facilities’) is part of all this.

You know what is happening at Pine Gap, the giant American-built and American-paid for joint surveillance station outside Alice Springs.

You know about the wonderfully-named Harold E. Holt Naval Communications Station on the tip of North West Cape in Western Australia – a critical submarine communications base for American nuclear submarines and in the future for these AUKUS submarines. It’s immensely important, and probably another priority target, most likely nuclear under certain circumstances.

But just down the road the US has built a giant and highly advanced space telescope.

That doesn’t sound very much, does it.

But what it’s there for is our contribution to American plans for space warfare, to ensure what the US calls ‘space dominance’. And you understand perfectly well how critical space is for all militaries – and indeed our whole society – today.

We are deeply and increasingly plugged into that activity.

All governments have talked for the last thirty years about ‘the joint facilities’ – we don’t have any American bases, of which Australia has full knowledge and concurrence of any activities conducted at these bases.

When you peel that back, and when you talk to ministers – I can tell you I am continually shocked by their ignorance, as well as their deceptions………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. more


March 26, 2023 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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