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Friday, November 11, 2011

US Marines to set up base in Australia

In a move that reflects US concern about China, President Obama will announce during a visit to Australia next week that the US Marines will be setting up a base in Darwin, Australia.
''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.

''The new Chinese missiles could threaten them in a way they've never been able to before, so the US is starting to reposition them to make them less vulnerable. Australia's 'tyranny of distance' is now a distinct strategic advantage.''

Professor Dupont, a former Australian Defence official and intelligence analyst, said the ''Australian strategic rationale is that we are also hedging against increasing Chinese military power and their capacity to destabilise maritime trade routes. And we want to get closer to the US.

''There's no doubt at all the Chinese will have serious reservations about this''

Mr Obama and Ms Gillard are not expected to argue that China is a factor in the decision. ''This is a strong gesture that even in the face of budget constraints, the US reaction to the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan deployment is not to go home but to pivot'' into the Asia-Pacific, according to the former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, Jim Steinberg.

But Hugh White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University and a former deputy secretary of defence, said the decision would have deep consequences for Australia's relations with China.

''I think this is a very significant and potentially very risky move for Australia. In the view from Beijing, everything the US is doing in the western Pacific is designed to bolster resistance to the Chinese challenge to US primacy.

''In Washington and in Beijing, this will be seen as Australia aligning itself with an American strategy to contain China.''
This was actually the lead item on the 2:00 am news on Israel Radio. No, not just because it's the middle of the night. They didn't say this on the news, but as I see it, when you combine this with the upcoming US withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan (where the US is essentially cutting and running), what you are left with is that the US is abandoning the Middle East in favor of the Western Pacific.

What could go wrong?

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At 3:51 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

May be new for the Marines, but there are already some number of activities in Austrailia... there may be a focus on China, but also Australia has done a great job as regional wrangler re some disruptions (e.g., Bali bombing) and disasters (e.g., tsunami). Got to spend a couple of weeks in Australia once. Fabulous place and lots more to see. There is a book (and movie/miniseries) called A Town Like Alice, which can't help but make one want to spend even more time in Australia!


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