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article imageOp-Ed: Australia’s new port for US Marines is practical, not political

By Paul Wallis     Jun 24, 2019 in World
Nothing like total misrepresentation of issues to create headlines. The new facility for US Marines near Darwin is a logistics exercise. The press are reporting it like it’s a strike force aimed directly at China.
The new facility has received a certain amount of attention in Australia largely for political reasons. One reason is our position regarding China. The other is the more usual dreary (and dated) anti-American rhetoric, made so much easier and more marketable by Trump.
A bit of background
US Marines are more or less regular residents in the Darwin area. They’ve been in town for several years now. Their presence is based on a new US military deployment initiative from the Obama presidency, refocusing US assets on South Asia. South Asia is a brief reference to the hideous dog’s breakfast of political, security and military issues in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia.
The Australian and United States militaries have been working together since 1917, when US forces first arrived for orientation on the Western Front. Since then the world’s political travel agents have put Aussie and American forces just about everywhere on Earth.
To put it simply for the politically senile and ideologically deranged – It’s an ongoing working relationship which, mysteriously, requires working logistics. The Marines are America’s first-in combat element. The argument for a good local facility is so obvious it shouldn’t even need mentioning.
The halfwit reactions, explained
Halfwit is a euphemism. There’s another word ending in… wit which is far more appropriate. In a nice change from the usual unspeakable banality of press commentary on anything military, all sides, for, clueless and against, are outdoing themselves in misreading this facility:
• The pro-American, anti-Chinese interpretation: It’s all about “containing China”. If you want to contain China, perhaps a nice vase would be cheaper and easier to work with? US Marines, to our knowledge, don’t work on the basis of rhetoric, however futile.
• The anti-American interpretation: It’s spreading American hegemony and threatening Australia by making it a target. “American hegemony” in Darwin extends to a few more sales in the shops and several decades of wisecracking between the Aussie services and the Marines. (Talk about threatening…!) There’s even a theory that there may just possibly be other targets between Darwin and the North Pole.
• The clueless interpretation: We’re giving away our sovereignty to foreign interests! …Which is why we also leased Port Darwin to the Chinese on a commercial basis for commercial purposes. That lease is the one and only documented case of “foreign interests” having any legal rights at all in Australia of that kind, other than the US facility at Pine Gap.
Nice to know that these verbose critics are so totally committed to arguments they obviously know nothing about. Under external powers, any Australian government can shut down any and all foreign interests in Australia, yet for some reason neither side of politics has ever even considered doing so, or is likely to do so in future. Your point being, bozos…?
Also note that the much larger US naval facility in Western Australia has never been criticized on a similar basis. The US Navy, (which has been known to take a passing flippant interest in world affairs occasionally), apparently isn’t containing China or anything else, and is therefore not even a topic for discussion.
Chinese perspective and the obvious
The new facility will not come as any particular surprise to the Chinese. They may take an interest in what it is and what it does, but they’d do that anyway as routine evaluation.
Exactly why anyone thinks either the US or China, or Australia, for that matter, conducts any sort of military operations on such a vague basis is debatable. Easy bake policies and rhetoric are nothing new. In this case, the “arguments” are stale as an armour-piercing biscuit and about as useful. Nor is their total irrelevance exactly a novelty. This facility meets a need, and that’s pretty much the whole story.
Note: I almost left out the bit about US and Australian services and their eternal commitment to reducing the size of feral booze populations in Northern Australia. Also to be considered in any policy decisions, obviously.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US Marines, US Marines Darwin facility, Australian and US military cooperation, Port Darwin, Chinese hanbor lease Darwin
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