Australians need to know what lies beneath the new era of US-Australia strategic cooperation

Euphemistically, the Australian Prime Minister recently announced that he and US President Biden have “inaugurated a new era of US-Australia strategic cooperation”. Presumably he meant to say he’d found new ways to surrender Australia’s sovereignty.

With the US President in October 2023, the Prime Minister issued the United States-Australia Joint Leaders’ Statement – Building an innovation alliance. Albanese probably hoped to portray the “partnership” as one between equals; an alliance of mutual benefit. But it would be naive to understand the relationship as anything other than a small satellite captured and circling without volition in the gravitational field of a great hegemonic power.

The Joint Statement shows how in substance and language Australia’s policies and priorities are simply those of America. Without irony Albanese claimed the new commitments “are based on respect for international law, including as it pertains to the protection and promotion of human rights, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states”. In reality the Americans are sharing technology and intelligence with Australia in accordance with their own plan to turn Australia into a vassal state in which almost every aspect of political and economic life is colonised.

This is evident in the individual announcements as well as the substance of the Joint Statement in its entirety. There isn’t a cigarette paper’s thickness between America’s policy positions on a range of issues and Australia’s. The Joint Statement reads like a bunch of sentences cobbled together from various official American documents. It is difficult to hear a distinctive Australian cadence.

The Australian public deserves greater transparency of the implications of the announced initiatives.

The plan to establish “a Combined Intelligence Centre – Australia” following the last AUSMIN was concerning enough but equally troubling is the move to “create the Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield to harden Australia from cyber-threats to individuals, businesses, and governments.” Is this a further encroachment on a sovereign and independent intelligence capability; on a premier element of Australia’s national intelligence community and a vital provider of intelligence product to the government? An explanation of how this will affect ASD’s independence is required.

There will be a Memorandum of Understanding between Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Australian National University that “intends to strengthen cooperation in research and education between the United States and Australia”. This links Australia to a key component of America’s nuclear war-fighting enterprise.

Los Alamos conducts computer simulations related to testing nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship; that is, reliability testing and maintenance of America’s nuclear arsenal. Los Alamos also supports the US Department of Defense (DoD), Intelligence Community (IC), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The ANU is the leading educational and experimental institution in the field of nuclear physics in Australia and the nature of its connections with Los Alamos need to be explained. At worst this is a backdoor for American influence on promoting nuclear power generation and pro-nuclear weapons lobbying.

On the surface, these initiatives appear to potentially give American institutions and agencies access to the inside workings of Australian intelligence, research, and business in ways that will not be, and could not be, reciprocated. Inevitably America will selectively choose the technologies and research it wishes to share and will harvest all it needs to shape Australian perspectives.

Australia will become a subsidiary of the American arms industry, a base for American forces, and function as a quarry. The Statement endorsed “the work under way to establish guided weapons co-production, as a first step towards higher volumes of industrial production for the alliance”. Steps will be taken to “streamline technological and industrial base collaboration and build new opportunities for United States investment in the production and purchase of Australian critical minerals, critical technologies, and other strategic sectors”. This will establish a powerful pro-American industry lobby in Australia through increased dependency.

At the AUKUS Defence Ministers meeting the parties agreed “to streamlining defense trade controls and information-sharing while minimising policy and financial barriers across public and private sectors”. Subsequently, the Defence Minister has announced The Australian Deep-space Advanced Radar Capability to be established in Western Australia. It will contribute to a space domain awareness capability across the AUKUS partnership.

The war-fighting aspects of this facility aren’t clear but Australia’s sovereign war decision-making could be seriously constrained.

Albanese agreed to Australia “examining its export controls framework to streamline the flow of defence information and technology” and Defence Minister Richard Marles has brought forward controversial amendments to Defence Trade Controls exempting the United States and United Kingdom. This draft legislation would align Australian and American regulatory frameworks. A step which could “surrender any sovereignty capability” in this area according to Bill Greenwalt, the former US Under Secretary for Defense who wrote much of America’s defence procurement laws.

It is increasingly impossible to see how the intelligence picture provided to government will not be filtered and distorted through America’s interests, investments, and influence in government and the economy. It’s becoming difficult to find an area not being infiltrated. As Australian institutions are seduced and infiltrated by American money, technology, and power, an ecosystem of views reflecting American priorities and interests will emerge; an echo chamber amplifying and endorsing the American viewpoint.

In fact at the AUKUS meeting, the loss of sovereignty was celebrated as “the strategic alignment of our national defense strategies, anchored by our shared values”. “Alignment” is yet another euphemism for the abandonment of sovereignty. As the far smaller alliance member Australia has little influence on shaping America’s defence policy and the government has patently ceded its sovereignty and the war decision to Washington.

The take-over already working.

Copyright Mike Scrafton. This article may be reproduced under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence for non-commercial purposes, and providing that work is not altered, only redistributed, and the original author is credited. Please see the Cross-post and re-use policy for more information.

Also published in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations.