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US Alliance a distinct liability for Australia

By Klaas Woldring - posted Monday, 26 February 2007


Australian Governments and the Australian public should finally wake up to the fact that the US Alliance is not just of no value to Australia but, worse, has become a distinct liability. A foreign policy based on a position of strict neutrality would be a vastly superior option for Australia.

The outmoded ANZUS Treaty itself doesn't commit the US to anything in the way of defending Australia. It was concluded at the onset of the Cold War period. The reasons for it have been overtaken by events long ago. The follies of US foreign policy since World War II, with which Australia is often associated at its peril - Vietnam and Iraq being prime examples, have resulted in a de facto colonial relationship, not a partnership of equals. It negatively affects Australia’s independence.

It has negative ramifications in our own region, at the UN and for Australia's standing internationally. The unspeakable subservience of the Howard Government to an American president, whose incompetence is beyond dispute, has brought this dysfunctional situation into sharp focus.

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Those who say that this uncomfortable episode will soon pass are wrong. The Iraq disaster may pass, eventually, but the US Alliance is a liability regardless.

Instead of arranging for yet another US base in Australia at Geraldton, this time for spying, costly military and intelligence co-operation should be ended as soon as possible. Rather than begging the Americans to stop assisting their farmers with massive subsidies the Australian Government should subsidise Australian farmers, matching those of the US, and out compete them.

Why not end the pandering to the US multinationals? We don't need them. All these issues have been raised when the discussions for the US FTA took place. In fact one of the major reasons why the Howard Government went into Iraq was to secure this useless US FTA.

The US plutocracy has become a massively negative society in environmental behaviour. Taking our cue from the US on environmental decisions, leaving the courageous Al Gore campaign aside, would be laughable.

Finally, US cultural imperialism is destroying Australia's unique national identity. Australian voters wake up. We want to be an independent Australian Republic, not a US colony. Let me elaborate on some of these points.

The Free Trade Agreement with the United States

The early drive for the FTA (2002) came from the Australian US Free Trade Agreement business group (AUSTA).  AUSTA, the principal lobby group, stated on its website that it “seeks deep integration” with the US economy and argued that “the benefits would be felt especially in the areas of manufactures and investment”. At a time when the subservience of the Howard Government to the US’s military adventurism was already a growing concern to the nation did it make sense to foster further integration? AUSTA certainly thought so. They claimed:

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The Points in favour: an FTA strengthens the long-term strategic relationship with the United States; Australia cannot afford to assume that the defence relationship will be enough to maintain strong ties with the US in the long term; the US is now using Free Trade Agreements as measures of special relationships.

There seemed to be no notion at all that the defence relationship itself could be a liability. AUSTA described itself as a “Business Group which represents 30 members, including most peak Australian industry bodies - BCA, MCA, AFGC, AIG, ACCI as well as most of the largest companies doing business with or in the US, across agriculture, manufacturing, services and mining, to lobby for an FTA”.

The Australian Labor Party pushed for a Senate Inquiry as much of the early negotiating had gone on in secret, in the same fashion as the earlier (2001) negotiations for the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) were - unsuccessfully - conducted.

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About the Author

Dr Klaas Woldring is a former Associate Professor of Southern Cross University.

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