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For whom are we “projecting military power in the region”?

Written by: (Contributed) on 23 July 2020


The Australian Defence Force (ADF) acquisition of an anti-ballistic missile defence system is further evidence of the Trump administration’s escalation of Cold War hostilities toward China.

In early July the Morrison coalition government announced the deployment of a US anti-ballistic missile defence system in Australia. The facilities formed part of the massive ten-year $270 billion defence budget. The official media release from the Defence Department specified the defence system would be used to 'project military power in the region and defend against adversaries seeking to launch attacks from targets such as the South China Seas'. (1)

With a stated range of 550 kms, the defence system would appear hopelessly ineffective when dealing with range from the South China Sea. The location of the defence system, therefore, has not been disclosed; nor has the country which will host the facilities.

This is the same region in which five Australian warships were “confronted” by the Chinese navy last week. The Australian ships sailed teasingly close to the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, acting as a cat’s paw for US imperialism. The Nansha Islands are within the so-called nine-dash line defining China’s territorial claim to the South China Sea. The line predates the coming to power of the Communist Party of China and was not disputed at the time of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia. No doubt the Australian Navy would feel justified in “confronting” Chinese warships sailing provocatively through Torres Strait, to our north, or Bass Strait to our south.

The defence system itself, forms part of a regional-wide system, where radar facilities identify a missile's trajectory and then destroy it in flight before it reaches a target. Similar defence systems exist in various locations across the Indo-Pacific region and have been used  extensively for surveillance purposes. A major problem, however, with real-time intelligence has hampered US military positions. Computer systems operating with satellite transmission and reception tend to have a micro-second time delay, enough to make the defence systems inaccurate with fast-moving missiles. (2)

The US, however, has continued to deploy defence systems across the region on the stated basis they enable the US to 'focus and project our force in the Pacific'. (3) Analysis of the wording of the media releases leaves little to the imagination. It is, therefore, hardly surprising to find a recent statement from the Morrison government which specified the defence system was intended for 'greater focus on the immediate region and put adversaries on notice that Australia will respond with military force if needed'. (4)

Behind the scenes of recent developments, the Trump administration has pursued an agenda clouded in intrigue.

Reliable information about the changing balance of forces across the Indo-Pacific, for example, has not been difficult to establish: in November 2018, a commission established by Congress concluded the US was no longer a superior regional power. (5) The findings, however, were not accepted by the Trump administration.

The Pentagon subsequently established a special China Strategy Group, 'to focus the Pentagon's efforts on countering the growing threat'. (6) The organisation has recently issued a new strategic threat assessment, which has included the reviewing of all war-plans with China. (7)

And following suit closely has been the Morrison coalition government in Canberra which has tabled $270 billion for defence spending over the next decade. Real-war scenarios are clearly a main part of the agenda. Whether the stated anti-ballistic missile defence system, as a major component part of the plan, is ever actually operational remains as yet, however, to be established. If it is anything like the similar facilities based in Japan, it should be noted they were quietly shelved due to their stated inefficiency and protests from local people. (8)

With US-led military planning such as this taking place in Australia:

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     PM shoulders arms to China, Australian, 1 July 2020.
2.     U.S. seeks new Asia defences, The Wall Street Journal, 24-26 August 2012.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Australian, op.cit., 1 July 2020.
5.     Study: US no longer dominant power in the Pacific, Information Clearing House, Paul D. Shinkman, 22 August 2019.
6.     China now biggest military threat: US., Australian, 10 July 2020.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Japan axes US missile defence, Australian, 26 June 2020.


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