Australia’s Reward For Hosting 1,000 U.S. Marines

17 Nov

Now that U.S. President Barack H. Obama has left Australia for Bali, what didn’t happen?

Kevin Rudd has hit back at concerns about the build up of US troops.

Mr Rudd told the ABC the move was a “contingency” but wasn’t aimed at China, or any other country in particular.

“Number one position from us, and it’s based in absolute reality, is that this enhanced set of arrangements with the United States are not directed at any one country,” Mr Rudd said.

Well, he’s right, in the sense, that the U.S. seeks to reduce its presence in any one country. But, not against China? Really?

In just the last year, the Pentagon has arranged for new or expanded access to facilities in Vietnam, Singapore and northern Australia. Combined with existing bases in Japan and Guam and a treaty granting U.S. troops “invitational” access to The Philippines, the Pentagon has managed to essentially cordon off the Western Pacific.

Meanwhile, China has built no bases on foreign soil. There were rumors that Beijing would establish a military port in Pakistan, but they proved to be false.

The most recent U.S. expansion was announced just last week. Under that deal, around 1,000 U.S. Marines will rotate through existing Australian facilities in Darwin, on Australia’s northern coast. Paired with the Navy’s new high-speed transports, the Darwin Marines could back up Marines stationed in permanent U.S. bases in Japan. Not coincidentally, Japan and Australia have both begun standing up their own, brand new amphibious forces modeled on the U.S. Marines.

And, Australia will also supply uranium to India, China’s main rival. Is it possible 1,000 Marines are an acceptable burden for the “pain” of such trade and for avoiding the insult of TPP?

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