ONTD Political

US marine 'base' is a mistake, says Fraser

9:22 am - 04/24/2012
THE former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser says the new American marine "base" near Darwin is a mistake, and that Australia's grovelling to Washington is hampering ties with Asia.

In a strongly worded submission to the federal government's white paper on future relations with Asia, Mr Fraser has criticised Australia's subservience to the US as a product of misguided assumptions America offers a security guarantee.

"Over 20 years now we have given the impression of doing that which America wants," Mr Fraser writes.

"We seem to believe that our security can be best assured if we do what we can to win brownie points with the US. This is a mistaken assumption.

''No country can really win brownie points with great powers. Great powers follow their own national interests and we should follow ours."

Mr Fraser is highly critical of the deployment of US marines in the Northern Territory, saying it fuels Chinese concerns over a policy of containment. He also dismisses claims by Labor and the Obama administration that the presence of the marines does not amount to a "base".

"For America to say that 2500 troops do not constitute a base is nonsense, indeed a fabrication," Mr Fraser writes.

"In military terms, a base does not have to be bricks and mortar. If 2500 troops are stationed in a particular place then the language makes it quite plain that they are based in that place. It is a base.

"To say that they are just passing through and that it is not a base is deceptive and misleading. It sends the wrong message, not only to China, but to countries like Indonesia."

He told the Herald he was also concerned Australia would lose more of its independence in Asia should the US turn Cocos Island into a base for unmanned surveillance drones, as reported last month in The Washington Post.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, commissioned a white paper last year guided by the former head of Treasury, Ken Henry, titled Australia in the Asian Century.

Mr Fraser said he had only decided to put his thoughts on paper after the marines' presence in Darwin was announced and reports of plans for a US military presence in the Cocos Islands emerged.

In his submission, he said he was not against the US alliance but for Australian independence.

He said in assessing what to do in the future, Australia should conscious of our history and a dependence on Britain before World War II: "We believed that Britain would be able to secure our future," he writes. "It never occurred to us that Britain would be so preoccupied, so beleaguered, that in a situation of emergency she would not be able to help."

ETA: The Liberal Party is the more Conservative Party in Australia though Fraser has always been very liberal (small l liberal) than most of the party. He was particulary critical of the social policies of the previous Liberal Howard Government and is now almost entirely alienated by the current Liberal party.

bronweeny 24th-Apr-2012 03:25 am (UTC)
Amen to that!
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