After Trump, Macron militarises space


This 13 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Donald Trump’s Space Force THREATENS NASA: JFK niece condemns US President

DONALD Trump’s Space Force was attacked for threatening NASA and global climate interests on the 60th anniversary of the space agency’s birth, by film director Rory Kennedy.

The accomplished film director and niece of the late President John F Kennedy told Express.co.uk of her “disappointment” in the current US presidency.

Ms Kennedy, who has filmed a documentary celebrating 60 years of NASA’s existence Above & Beyond: NASA’s Journey to Tomorrow, fears the White House’s militarisation of space could starve the space agency of funding, focus and public interest.

The proposed Space Force branch of the US military was announced by Donald Trump during a meeting of the National Space Council on June 18, 2018.

If the proposal passes through, the Space Force will join ranks with the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force and US Coast Guard.

Announcing his bold plans, Mr Trump said: “It is not merely enough that we have American presence in space.

“We must have American dominance in space.”

The film director argued some of the biggest challenges facing the planet today – namely human-led climate change – are being ignored by the US President and his cabinet.

She recalled her uncle’s iconic Rice Stadium speech in Houston from 1962, where President Kennedy announced his goal of landing on the Moon.

Ms Kennedy argued, the US’ interests in space at the time were motivated by the spirit of discovery, cooperation and looking forward to a brighter future.

As outlined in her documentary, the groundwork laid down by President Kennedy and NASA led to the discovery of the damaged ozone layer, the 1987 Montreal Protocol in response and the International Space Station (ISS).

She told Express.co.uk: “I think my uncle made a number of really amazing points in that speech, where he said: ‘We choose to go to the Moon.

“‘We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because the goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills.’

“I love that idea, which really contrasts to what we’re experiencing today, where a leader is really tapping into the best in all of us and encouraging us to work together towards a lofty aspiring goal.”

Ms Kennedy, the youngest child of the late Bobby Kennedy, said from the moment of NASA’s birth under Dwight Eisenhower, the vision was to have a “non-military entity” which could explore, share and impart knowledge with the rest of the world.

But 60 years on, NASA’s interests as the world’s leading space agency are at risk of losing resources and interest in exchange for militarising space.

This, in turn, could have a negative impact on research into climate change and the growing number of climate-related catastrophes – from hurricanes in the Atlantic to droughts and typhoons in the Pacific.

Ms Kennedy, who “grew up in the Apollo era”, said: “I think there is definitely a concern – there are only so many resources that we have.

“I think there is not really a sense right now that there is a need for an emerging presence in space and I think we haven’t done such a good job on this planet having the military play such a significant role.

“Given the urgency and the scientific truth around climate change and the number of deaths last year in Puerto Rico – 3,000 people died – these things are fatal and they’re scientific and they are only going to worse unless we make a dramatic move to redirect attention.

“I think that will only come through leadership and legislative action, so one of the greatest disappointments of this presidency is that there is not a greater appreciation of the scientists and the data that that is coming from the scientists.

“There is no policy that reflects what we know to be factual and true.”

From AFP news agency today:

Macron announces creation of French space force

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday he had approved the creation of a space command within the French air force …

The declaration — made on the eve of France’s Bastille Day national celebrations that feature a military parade down Paris’s Champs-Elysees — mirrors an initiative in the US championed by President Donald Trump. …

Defence Minister Florence Parly would reveal details of the funding at a later date, he added. …

France has a 2019-2025 military spending plan that allocates 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to defence in space.

That includes the renewal of the France’s CSO observation and Syracuse communication satellites, the launch of three CERES electromagnetic-monitoring satellites, and the modernisation of a spatial radar surveillance system called GRAVES.

The Pentagon has drafted plans for a new Space Force on orders from Trump who has declared space a “war-fighting domain”.

Advertisements

US, UAE support for Saudi-Yemen war stopping?


This 13 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

House Passes Bill to Halt US Support for Yemen War, UAE Withdraws Troops

The war in Yemen could end, if U.S. and United Arab Emirates’ support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is truly over. However, the House NDAA bill still faces a major hurdle in the Senate. If those who want US military involvement to end pressure Congress, it can be done, says CodePink‘s Medea Benjamin.

U.A.E. Pulls Most Forces From Yemen in Blow to Saudi War Effort: here.

‘Most forces’ unfortunately is not yet all forces.

If all UAE forces would withdraw from the Yemen war, that would be the end of their sexual torture prisons for Yemenis, run jointly with Saudi forces and United States forces.

It would also be end of UAE parents having to mourn as their conscript sons come home in coffins.

From TRTworld.com:

Is the UAE pulling out of the Yemen war?

4 July 2019

Reports about a military drawdown come at a time when the UAE is deeply involved in the complex conflict and faces global scrutiny over its role.

In the last few days, two international news organisations have reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is drawing down troops from Yemen.

First reported by Reuters and then by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the stories based on anonymous western diplomatic sources say UAE soldiers are being called back to strengthen security at home as tensions rise in the region between the United States and Iran.

The UAE, they say, is also under pressure by European and American politicians who are angry over the humanitarian disaster in Yemen’s prolonged war.

But neither the UAE nor its Yemeni proxies have officially acknowledged any military withdrawal.

…“Reports that UAE is withdrawing its forces from Yemen should never be understood as a sign of UAE completely ending their fight in Yemen war and becoming fully interested in finding a political solution to the conflict”, says Afrah Nasser, a Yemeni-Swedish journalist. …

On the ground, especially in southern Yemen, the UAE has been more active, funding and controlling different militias including Colombian mercenaries with the ostensibly stated aim of ‘fighting Al Qaeda’.

However, multiple reports over the years have come out that say that the UAE often arms and pays militants for its own purposes.

“They didn’t come here to fight extremist groups”, says Albukhaiti …

Al Qaeda is running freely in areas controlled by the UAE and the coalition. The only place where the group is not active is under the control of Houthis.”

In a report last year, Amnesty International said there were dozens of cases where people were tortured in secret prisons run by UAE-backed forces.

Nasser, who is also the editor of Sanaa Review, says UAE runs a paramilitary force known as the ‘The Security Belt’ that is outside the rule of … the Saudis …

“So, even if the UAE decreased its forces, it still has a huge security apparatus across southern Yemen.” …

However, for the locals, the distrust runs deep.

Dubai was in control of the Aden port for years, and they destroyed it,” says Albukhaiti.

Yemen signed a contract with [UAE] DP World to run the Red Sea port in 2008 but cancelled it a few years later saying Dubai’s port operator had not met the investment commitment.

“That is why they focus on the south; they are interested in the Socotra Island, they want to control the coast”, says Albukhaiti.

Whatever the geopolitics of the conflict, it has taken a heavy toll on the Yemeni people.

Homes, farms, shops and schools – all have been attacked since the poorest country on the Arabian peninsula descended into chaos.

Depending on which source you pick, between 7,000 and 68,000 people have been killed in the war, many in relentless Saudi air raids, which have at times hit unsuspecting civilians during funerals and weddings.

The NGO Save the Children estimates that 37 children have been killed or injured on average every month last year in bombings from air raids.

That’s on top of what it reported earlier about the 80,000 kids who died because of malnourishment between 2015 and 2018. …

Over the years, the Saudis have violated international humanitarian law by using excessive air power, according to the UN.

Last month, a court in the UK ruled that that government’s deal to sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia was illegal as the weapons were being used against civilians.

Earlier, the government of Morocco stopped participating in the Saudi war.

It would be good if Sudan would also withdraw its soldiers, mostly child soldiers sent there by dictator Bashir, from Yemen.

Donald’s Trump’s Iran deal wrecking, new scandal


This 20 June 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

The Secret Plan to Fake a War with Iran

Donald Trump is not the first person to try to fake a war with Iran.

Before John Bolton‘s oil fire, [George W Bush’s] Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that the United States could fake an incident and take the nation to war.

If the Republicans were willing to go to fake their way into war before what will Trump’s Republicans be willing to do?

From the (conservative) Daily Mail in Britain today:

Trump axed Iran deal to spite Obama: How the British ambassador called the President’s actions ‘diplomatic vandalism’ fueled by ‘personality reasons’ – as revealed in more explosive cables that have sparked a free speech row while Iran tensions mount

Trump’s personal anti-Obama feelings indeed probably have played a role in wrecking the Iran nuclear deal. But there are other, more structural and long-term, causes. United States Big Oil billionaires have aimed to grab Iranian oil for a long time. The United States George W Bush administration was on the brink of war on Iran. During the Obama administration, hawkish politicians, that is, most Republican politicians and sections of Obama’s own Democratic party, like corporate Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, and some 2020 presidential candidates, opposed the Iran deal.

  • Sir Kim Darroch’s 2018 memos accused Donald Trump of ‘diplomatic vandalism’
  • The ambassador claims that Trump abandoned Iran deal to spite Barack Obama
  • His comments came after Boris Johnson tried to change the US president’s mind
  • Then-Foreign Secretary failed to persuade the White House to save nuclear deal

By Isabel Oakeshott and Glen Owen

Published: 21:30 BST, 13 July 2019 | Updated: 05:03 BST, 14 July 2019

Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal as an act of ‘diplomatic vandalism’ to spite his predecessor Barack Obama, Britain’s Ambassador to Washington wrote in a bombshell memo to Downing Street.

Sir Kim Darroch’s claim – made after Boris Johnson made a doomed trip to the White House to change the President’s mind – is revealed in leaked cables and briefing notes which led to Sir Kim’s resignation last week.

The new revelation comes after an extraordinary row over the freedom of the press blew up this weekend, with Mr Johnson and [Conservative party] leadership rival Jeremy Hunt leading the condemnation of Scotland Yard over its threats to prosecute this newspaper.

Very ironic that these two (and other) Conservative politicians now pose as defenders of press freedom; while they both support the United States Trump administration in extraditing WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange from Britain to the USA, to persecute him for uncovering war crimes.

Responding to Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu’s incendiary claim that publishing the contents of the documents could be ‘a criminal matter’, Mr Johnson said prosecution ‘would amount to an infringement on press freedom and have a chilling effect on public debate’.

Mr Hunt said that he would ‘defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks if they receive them and judge them to be in the public interest’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock goes further today by calling on the police to withdraw Mr Basu’s statement. Writing in this newspaper, he says: ‘The press must be free to publish what it believes to be in the public interest.

Journalists and editors should not be subjected to threats of prosecution or sanction, especially from our own police. Such threats act as a deterrent to journalists doing their jobs – and the ultimate outcome will be an erosion of accountability.’

He was joined by ex-Chancellor George Osborne, who described Mr Basu’s remarks as ‘very stupid and ill-advised’.

In a statement released yesterday, the Met said it had been advised that the publication of the documents could ‘constitute a criminal offence and one that carries no public interest defence’.

In other dramatic developments:

  • Spies at the Government’s ultra-secretive GCHQ were poised to joined the hunt for the leaker by targeting email and mobile phone records;
  • The Queen’s former private secretary Christopher Geidt was named by Whitehall sources as a frontrunner to replace Sir Kim in Washington;
  • Tensions ramped up further between Britain and Iran with the Royal Navy’s £1 billion destroyer HMS Duncan being sent to the Persian Gulf to protect UK vessels against attack by Iranian boats.

Sir Kim’s Iran memo was sent in May 2018, after Mr Johnson – who was then Foreign Secretary – had been dispatched to Washington to make a last ditch plea to President Trump not to abandon the nuclear deal with Iran designed to prevent the regime from building an atomic bomb.

Despite a frantic 26 hours of meetings with Trump’s closest advisers, it became clear that the President was not going to change his mind.

After Mr Johnson returned to London, Sir Kim told No 10 in a ‘diptel’ (diplomatic telegram) that Mr Trump’s Administration was ‘set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism’. The Ambassador wrote that Mr Trump appeared to be abandoning the deal for ‘personality reasons’ because it had been agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Sir Kim suggested there were splits among the President’s closest advisers and said the White House lacked a ‘day-after’ strategy on what to do following withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal was called.

This newspaper’s cache of leaked memos from Sir Kim dominated headlines on both sides of the Atlantic last week, after Trump reacted furiously to Sir Kim describing the White House as a ‘uniquely dysfunctional environment’ and ‘diplomatically clumsy and inept’.

The President called Sir Kim a ‘pompous fool’ and declared that he would no longer deal with him.

Sir Kim resigned on Wednesday shortly after Mr Johnson refused to say during a televised Tory leadership debate whether he would keep the Ambassador in his job if he became Prime Minister.

The leak infuriated the Foreign Office and No 10. Their determination to catch he culprit is indicated by the fact that – according to a Government source – the cyber-experts at GCHQ are about to be brought in to target a shortlist of suspects drawn up by civil service investigators. The spooks have far-reaching powers to intercept communications.

The freedom of the press row erupted after Assistant Commissioner Basu said that Scotland Yard was investigating alleged ‘criminal breaches of the Official Secrets Act’ and warned the media that they could be committing an offence by publishing further details. He said: ‘I would advise all owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s Government’.

The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command has taken charge of the investigation as it is in charge of any allegations of criminal breaches of the Official Secrets Act. …

Mr Johnson added that he disagreed with former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon

Sir Michael Fallon had to resign is disgrace about a sexual harassment scandal.

– tipped as possible Foreign Secretary under Mr Johnson – for saying that the media should hand back documents to ‘their rightful owner’. …

And Liberal Democrat leadership contender Ed Davey said: ‘Press freedom has never been so under attack in my lifetime. There are alarming signs of a creeping police state tearing down the ancient democratic pillar of a free press, which is essential to hold government to account.’ …

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘A police inquiry into the totally unacceptable leak of this sensitive material has begun. The perpetrator should face the consequences of their [sic] actions. It’s not news that the US and UK differ in how to ensure Iran is never able to acquire a nuclear weapon; but this does underline that we do not shy away from talking about our differences and working together.

‘That is true of the current tensions in the Gulf where we, the UK, are in close contact with our American and European allies to de-escalate the situation.’

What a British Conservative government newspeak: ‘de-escalating’ by sending warships.

United States teenagers against Yemen war


This 7 July 2019 video from United States senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says about itself:

These High Schoolers Want You To Know About The War in Yemen

The Yemeni people need humanitarian aid, not more bombs. These incredible high schoolers are organizing to put an end to U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. I believe that as more young people get involved in the political process, we can achieve great things, like bringing peace to the desperate people of Yemen.

German TV on hospital in Hitler age


This 26 June 2019 video is called NETFLIX – CHARITÉ AT WAR series Review – NON spoilers,

By Joanne Laurier:

Charité at War: A chilling portrayal of Nazism and its crimes

11 July 2019

All over the world, ruling elites are responding to the heightening of social tensions and widespread opposition to poverty and war by lurching to the right, resorting to police-state methods and reviving the ideological and political filth of the 20th century. In Germany, neo-Nazi activity has become a major political danger.

One of the indispensable duties of artists today is to depict realistically what Nazism was and what it meant for masses of people. Leon Trotsky once commented, “The sole feature of fascism which is not counterfeit is its will to power, subjugation, and plunder. Fascism is a chemically pure distillation of the culture of imperialism.”

In its own way, Charité at War, a powerful German television drama currently available on Netflix, gives life to Trotsky’s proposition. The series is set in the years 1943 to 1945 at Berlin’s Charité hospital, one of the most prominent in Europe. Created by Dorothee Schön, directed by Anno Saul and co-written by Schön and Sabine Thor-Wiedemann, the six episodes actually make up the second season of a series devoted to the institution—the first takes place in 1888 and following years.

Inevitably, central to Charité at War’s storyline is the crushing impact of the Nazi regime on every aspect of life and the degree to which the various doctors, nurses, staff and family members, a mix of historical and fictional figures, offer either resistance or support to the Hitler dictatorship and its policies.

“How does the Hippocratic Oath square with an oath to the Führer?,” asks one of the characters rhetorically. Viewed by millions in Germany, Charité at War is a forthright and chilling appraisal of the fascist poison that seeped into every fiber of German society. It is clearly directed against the contemporary rise of neo-Nazi and far-right elements.

Certain characters and strands of the complex plot stand out. One of the leading doctors at the Charité is Ferdinand Sauerbruch (Ulrich Noethen), a surgeon, an innovator in surgical procedures and prosthetics, who has been at the hospital since 1928. (“I defended [Albert] Einstein, the most hated scientist in the Third Reich.”) Sauerbruch is a German nationalist and a conservative, but he criticizes the Nazis and their dictates.

In the series, Sauerbruch’s chief adversary is Max de Crinis (Lukas Miko), a psychiatrist, high-ranking SS member and medical expert for the Aktion T4, a mass murder program of involuntary euthanasia. As many as 300,000 mentally ill and physically handicapped people were killed under this Nazi program in Germany and Austria, occupied Poland and Czechoslovakia. In his Mein Kampf (1924), Adolf Hitler had claimed that racial hygiene would “appear as a deed greater than the most victorious wars of our present bourgeois era.” (Both Sauerbruch and de Crinis were historical figures.)

Anni Waldhausen (Mala Emde), one of de Crinis’s most promising PhD students, is married to Artur (Artjom Gilz), a pediatrician who, unbeknownst to his wife, is testing out medications on disabled children considered disposable by the Nazis.

The duplicitous Artur’s reactionary predilections surface in a lecture he delivers to nurses about being the guardians of genetic material: “Our goal is to increase fertility for good gene holders and to prevent unwanted genetic illnesses.”

Artur describes his work, according to the precepts of Nazi “racial purity” theory, as research into the “sterilization of genetically unsuitable subjects. The genetic value of a person is determined by the tribe and not their looks or health condition. Your information regarding genetic diseases and anti-social elements is the foundation of our tribal registration in determining if the parents of disabled children should be sterilized.”

In a horrible twist of fate, Anni delivers a child, Karin, with hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, making the infant a potential victim of the euthanasia program. In the maternity ward, Anni shares a room with Magda Goebbels (Katharina Heyer)—wife of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister—who is suicidal because of a recent miscarriage.

When surreptitious efforts to cure Karin fail, Artur takes action behind Anni’s back. Some of the most tension-filled moments concern Karin’s destiny.

Anni’s life is further complicated by the fact that her anti-Nazi brother, Dr. Otto Marquardt (Jannik Schümann), is gay and recently returned from the frontline. He and his lover, nurse Martin Schelling (Jacob Matschenz), must avoid the prying and spying eyes of the vindictive Nazi collaborator, Nurse Christel (Frida-Lovisa Hamann), who is committed to Germany’s “ultimate victory”.

Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code made homosexual acts between men illegal. The Hitler regime broadened the provision, in the name of defending the “moral health” of the Volk, the German people. Nazi persecution included the conviction of some 42,000 homosexuals. Ten thousand gay men were sent to concentration camps, 60 percent of whom did not survive.

One of the most admirable anti-Nazi figures in Charité at War is Adolphe Jung (Hans Löw), a French physician (and another real historical figure) forcibly transferred from Occupied France by the German authorities to the Charité. In Episode 2, he informs Sauerbruch that famed German writer Thomas Mann, in a radio broadcast, has revealed that there are deliberate killings at the Charité: “In German hospitals,” says Mann, “they put the seriously injured together with the old, frail and mentally ill in order to kill them with nerve gas. … The regime tells us it’s a Christian crusade against the Bolsheviks. It is nothing but genocide and mass murder.”

Sauerbruch is skeptical that such horrors could possibly be taking place in his hospital. His physician wife and staunchest defender Margot (Luise Wolfram) tells Jung: “My husband is neither a Nazi nor in the party. He is a doctor not a politician.” To which Jung replies firmly: “In these times everything is political.”

Margot and Sauerbruch attempt to shield opposition figure Hans von Dohnányi (Max von Pufendorf) from the perfidious de Crinis and the Gestapo, into whose clutches he will eventually fall, resulting in his being sent to a concentration camp and murdered.

In 1945, the end of the Hitler regime draws near. There are more and more air raids as the Soviet army approaches. Berlin, the German capital, is the last stand for the Nazis, who want every doctor and nurse to handle a bazooka. In the end, the Nazi authorities become preoccupied with destroying evidence of their crimes, killing patients and, ultimately, themselves.

When Soviet soldiers enter the hospital, Artur, wearing a yellow star of David given to him by the Jewish father of an injured boy, negotiates their takeover of Charité. He performs the role of a self-sacrificing hero, in part to try and salvage his relationship with Anni. More importantly, he fears being prosecuted as a Nazi collaborator. Interestingly, one of the Soviet troops identifies Sauerbruch as the physician who treated Lenin’s tooth 30 years earlier—in Zurich.

All in all, Charité at War makes a consistently honest, convincing effort to present the horrible truth of this historical period. The unbearable pressure exerted by Nazi rule brings out the best and the worst in people. In terms of the latter, every weakness, fear, jealousy, opportunist impulse and desire for authority over others is amplified and can even take a murderous turn.

Artur under “normal” circumstances would be a conventional middle class professional and family man. However, his highly pronounced conformism and unwillingness to stand up against the fascist authorities make him a vessel for the carrying out of genuine atrocities. The series points out that Jewish personnel were all expelled from the hospital in 1933.

The acting is first-rate and committed in Charité at War, and the entire project has a sober, serious air to it. One striking visual feature is that many scenes open with actual historical footage then blended into the drama.

The series raises vital issues. The fascist threat arises from the crisis of capitalism. The Nazi regime was the terrible price the German working class paid, thanks to the Social Democratic and Stalinist misleaders who stood at their head, for the failure to overthrow the bourgeois order. Fascism is not a mass movement today, but there can’t be the slightest complacency about the dangers.

Fascism, Trotsky wrote, meant the direct dominance of every aspect of society by ruthless finance capital, which “gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, directly and immediately, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive, administrative and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives.” And, one might add, the medical profession and hospitals.

When a state becomes fascist, Trotsky explained, it signifies first of all that the workers’ organizations are annihilated, the working class is reduced to an amorphous state, and “a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses.”

Charité at War is not written and directed according to a revolutionary outlook, but its honesty is an antidote to complacency.

Nuclear weapons proliferation, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia?


This 20 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Admin’s Secretive Talks to Sell Saudi Arabia Nuclear Technology Spark New Fear of Arms Race

House Democrats are accusing the Trump administration of moving toward transferring highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of U.S. law. Critics say the deal could endanger national security while enriching close allies of President Trump. Saudi Arabia is considering building as many as 16 nuclear power plants by 2030, but many critics fear the kingdom could use the technology to develop nuclear weapons and trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

We speak with Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna of California and Isaac Arnsdorf, a reporter with ProPublica. Arnsdorf first wrote about the intense and secretive lobbying effort to give nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in 2017. His reporting was cited in the House report.

After the threats of Donald Trump proliferating nuclear weapons to the Saudi absolute monarchy, and to his right-wing crony Shinzo Abe in Japan … now Australia?

By Peter Symonds in Australia:

Prominent Australian academic suggests building nuclear weapons

11 July 2019

Strategic analyst Hugh White has reignited a debate in media and security circles about building nuclear weapons to defend the country against the alleged threat posed by nuclear-armed powers, particularly China. His recently published book, How to Defend Australia, argues that nuclear weapons need to be considered because the United States is in relative decline and can no longer be relied upon to defend Australia in a “more contested and more dangerous” region.

This discussion is taking place in the context of a broader dispute in the political establishment over how to position Australian capitalism amid the increasingly belligerent US confrontation with China over economic issues and the US military build-up in the Indo-Pacific in preparation for war.

The dominant position in ruling circles is that Australia has no choice but to stick with the US military alliance, even if it damages relations with its top trading partner, China. Indeed, since US President Barack Obama announced his aggressive “pivot to Asia” against China in the Australian parliament in 2011, Australian military and military bases have been integrated ever more closely with the US, and governments—Labor and Coalition—have toed the line from Washington.

White, a former senior defence official, Labor government adviser and now professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University, is one of the dissident voices. He has previously advocated for the US to strike a power-sharing deal with China to defuse tensions, but now suggests that Australia has to be prepared to go it alone. Amid the rising dangers of a US-China war, White lines up with others who, either directly or indirectly, advocate for a more “independent” foreign policy.

White makes clear that the necessary corollary of a so-called independent foreign policy is a huge build-up in the Australian military. He calls for a virtual doubling of military spending—from 2 percent to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. Such an increase would be extracted from the working class via the further gutting of essential social services.

White’s argument—in public at least—is based on the hoary old lie that the military build-up is purely defensive in character. In reality, the military’s mission has always been to prosecute the economic and strategic interests of Australian imperialism, which, in more recent times, has included interventions in East Timor and Solomon Islands. Australian participation in British and US-led wars has always sought to secure the backing of the major powers for its own regional and international interests. Now, White is arguing, Australia requires more military muscle to do the same.

White claims he is not advocating the acquisition of nuclear weapons but merely encouraging a debate, which he is now fostering with the assistance of the media. It is not the first time that White has advanced this proposal, but the publication of his book has become the occasion for his appearance on a number of TV and radio programs, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s high-profile “Q&A” last Monday night.

Well aware that any decision to build nuclear weapons would face huge public opposition, White was at pains to stress that it was “the hardest issue I’ve ever dealt with in 40 years of thinking about the unpleasant business of war.” White, however, is doing far more than just encouraging a general discussion. He is outlining an entire agenda, including what would be needed to build nuclear weapons and the necessary delivery systems. He advocates creating a nuclear arsenal along the lines of Britain and France, based on submarine-launched missiles.

For all his attempts to disguise the provocative character of his arguments, White was adamant on the central point, saying: “At the moment, we depend on US nuclear weapons to deter any possible nuclear attack on Australia. The less confident we are of that, the less confident we are that we can rely on America to do that, the stronger the arguments for Australia to acquire its own.” Asked whether China or other powers were a future existential threat, he declared they could pose “at least a very, very serious threat, and one which we can no longer rely on America to defend us from.”

White is standing reality on its head. While it is true that the US faces a historic decline vis-a-vis China and other powers, the response of Obama and now Donald Trump has not been to withdraw from Asia but to confront China on all fronts—diplomatically, economically and militarily—to maintain American domination. US imperialism has no intention of being eclipsed in Asia or any other region of the world and is recklessly engaged in an economic war and military provocations in contested waters close to the Chinese mainland that could trigger open conflict. The danger to Australia’s population is not primarily from Chinese aggression, but from being dragged by the US into a war on China that would have incalculable consequences.

Rising geopolitical tensions and rivalries, and the growing danger of a global conflict, have sparked debate not only in Canberra but in other capitals, including Tokyo, Berlin and Seoul, about building nuclear weapons. A nuclear arms race would multiple many-fold the danger of a nuclear war. This prospect barely rated a mention among the politicians and commentators on the “Q&A” program. Both Liberal Senate President Scott Ryan and Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong differed with the need for nuclear weapons, but did not emphatically rule out building a nuclear arsenal. They praised White, in Wong’s words, for grappling with “the most challenging set of external circumstances since World War II.”

Scant reference was made to the fact that acquiring nuclear weapons would be a clear breach of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that Australia has signed. Diana Sayed, a human rights lawyer, declared that it was “astonishing” that the issue was being canvassed. After branding nuclear weapons as “inhumane and indiscriminate” and an environmental disaster, Sayed said: “The fact that Australia would even be entertaining this thought is unfathomable and unconscionable to me, and it goes against everything in international law.” Her remarks were quickly brushed aside.

The growing prominence being afforded in the media to building nuclear weapons is a sure sign that behind the scenes a more intense discussion is underway. This would concern not only the advisability of a nuclear arsenal, but also how to overcome the intense public opposition and anti-war sentiment that such a decision would trigger. The debate is another warning of the advanced preparations being made in capitals around the world for war, not decades down the track, but in the not-too-distant future.

The author also recommends:

Renewed push for Australia to building nuclear weapons
[30 January 2018]