The main issue, as usual, is China. The Australian/US alliance is hardly likely to be news to the Chinese, who fought against Australians and Americans in Korea and with them in World War Two. Nor are they likely to be unaware of the Pine Gap US installation in Australia, the Australian/US defence purchases or that the sky is blue.
The Sydney Morning Herald:
''This is all about the rise of China, the modernisation of the People's Liberation Army and, particularly, it's about the increased vulnerability of US forces in Japan and Guam to the new generation of Chinese missiles,'' said Alan Dupont, the Michael Hintze professor of international security at Sydney University.
This is all about “containing China”, aka the current version of the Yellow Peril. All due respect to those able to make a case for China as a threat to the world for their imagination, if not for their intelligence or paying attention to the PLA for the last 10 years.
A few pointers-
1. The US forces in the Guam/Japan areas have been there for nearly 70 years. Any attack on them would be an act of war with more ramifications than where a few grunts are or aren't.
2. US carrier and sub forces are far more likely to be seen as threats than ground forces.
3. The PLA’s modernization is so far replacing a virtual Cold War museum with up to date conventional equipment. What are they supposed to be buying, new mahjongg tiles
4. Redeployment would have been a good idea about 20 years ago, given the later US involvement in the Middle East, Africa, etc.
5. The PLA has other issues. This is an article I did in 2007 about a Xinhua piece on the PLA food situation
and how individual PLA units manage their rations. The main issue was how expensive pork was becoming. Some threat.
I6. It is quite true that there are a few remaining vestiges of the old hardline PLA still rattling their chains in some areas. They’re not running foreign policy. Taiwan is their pacifier, the subject they can babble about and like the US ignore the cosy relationship between Taiwan and the PRC in business and other practical areas.
7.China has other security issues beyond mindlessly firing anything at Marine bases in the Pacific, including western province issues and (miraculously) a massive and porous border which is actually bigger than that of the US with some similar issues.
8. Australia, meanwhile, regularly hosts US forces for joint exercises, training and other basic military functions.
9.Australians and Americans have been fighting wars together since World War 1.
“Containing China” has to be perhaps the most airheaded theory of global politics possible. It’s a policy which can never happen. It’s not even geographically possible. Russia’s right next door and they’re on good terms again, remember? How exactly do you propose to contain China, kiddies- Bore them to death?
This is the logical Indian/Pacific deployment for the Marines. It’s logistically right and unarguably a lot less “neurotic” than other deployment options in the region.
Anyway, the Marines are always welcome in Australia. They’re highly respected, and few Aussies will forget their various trials and tribulations in battles in the Pacific and Vietnam.
Quite aside from that, our beer’s better.