Presentation at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
Quezon City, Philippines
19 July 2013
PANEL 2. US geo-political and military strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan
By LEN COOPER
Vice chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS)
Chairperson, ILPS-Australia Chapter
Divisional President, Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU)
Fraternal greetings and thank you for the opportunity to attend such an important conference and to learn from you during my stay.
I come from Australia, which is a country that was invaded by Europeans, beginning about 120 years ago and prior to that it was settled by the aboriginal native people for tens of thousands of years.
Since the European invasion of Australia, the ruling classes have been committed to and dominated by the priorities, policies, requirements and military actions and activities of one or other of the so called great powers. Initially the Australian ruling class was a puppet of British colonialism and neo colonialism and then, as it is now, it became more and more of a puppet of US Imperialism, particularly following the second world war and the decline of Britain as the main imperialist power.
Australia is a very large Island state, rich in minerals, agricultural production, manufacturing and services. It has a relatively small population of about 28 million people, with a workforce of over 10 million.
Australia is a relatively wealthy capitalist country which is suffering from most of the symptoms of the global capitalist crisis. Growing unemployment, over 2 million people living in poverty, a starving of the funding for many peoples needs, super exploitation of and oppression of the aboriginal first nation people, privatisation of the government assets and businesses, inhumane and un- democratic treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, attacks on workers wages, conditions and rights and so on.
To a degree and for a period Australia has been protected from the worst aspects of the capitalist crises by business activity and growth in China. This has enabled Australia to grow and prosper from trade with, and massive exports of minerals to China. But that period is coming to a close as China’s demand drops and the severe conditions of the capitalist global crisis start to bite even further into the Chinese economy.
Australia currently has a so called Labor government in power although a Federal election is imminent. During the term of the so called Labor government the large capitalist enterprises have prospered and Australia has moved even more firmly into the web of US Imperialism.
The Australian authorities, under pressure from US big business are working to deliver the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPPA) which at present involves several countries bordering on the Pacific. The TPPA is an extension of the US / Australia free trade agreement of 2004.
The TPPA is also an extension of the Neo Liberal economic programme put in place by imperialism from the 1970’s. In essence the economic programme wants unrestricted access to the markets in all countries outside the imperialists home countries, an unrestricted flow of goods, services, and capital by imperialism and complete freedom for US big business and others to exploit natural resources, source the cheapest Labour in the world, and remove all restrictions for the big and powerful to exploit the weaker and particularly the working people, the farmers the peasants and small business.
If imperialism achieves its objectives in the TPPA talks there will be far reaching detrimental, effects on jobs, working conditions ,health and safety, the cost of health services, education services, the cost of medicines, the environment, agriculture, manufacturing, protective regulations, and the independence and sovereignty of people and governments in the targeted countries.
Even former World Bank President Joseph Stiglitz has said that “most of these free trade agreements are managed to the advantage of the US which has the bulk of the negotiating power.”
Various governments are resisting various aspects of the US agenda in the TPPA talks however what is needed is more unity and mobilisation of the people across Asia and the Pacific to fight this free trade deal in particular and the neo liberal agenda in general.
Much good work is being done by people in many countries on this score with mobilisation and united action growing. There is a potential to unite unions, small farmers and small business, health workers, education workers, environmentalists and more.
The people in the Philippines and Oceania have this struggle and many more in common.
There is the vexed question of US military domination of the Asia Pacific.
Australia has a formal alliance agreement with the United States. It is known as the Australian New Zealand United States Alliance (ANZUS). This has existed for over 50 years.
As a result there are over 35 to 40 US military and intelligence sites and bases across Australia, covering all states. Some of the US facilities in Australia are a very important part of the US strategy to dominate and militarise space.
The Australian authorities have supported and been involved in, most of the military aggression and slaughter by US imperialism at least since the Second World War. Aggression against Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others.
Now of course due to President Obamas ‘ so called pivot towards the Asia Pacific the US is now stationing military assets more permanently on Australian soil and has drawn Australia more firmly into joint military exercises with the US and others and more central to the US military intelligence apparatus.
Just recently former Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, writing in the Age newspaper on Feb.6th 2013 said this:
“It is time Australia started to have a mind of its own. We should not follow a superpower into war, merely because it wants us to, or because of ANZUS.” We agree.
We must continue to say we will not be part of US Imperialisms’ plans to dominate our region, we will not be part of US Imperialisms war plans against China and other countries. We must continue to demand that the US and any other Imperialist power get out of our region now.
There have been reports in the Australian media just this week that the” United States is negotiating an agreement to allow it to position military equipment and rotating personnel in the Philippines while avoiding the controversial issue of re-establishing US bases in the country officials from both countries say.” Says the Sunday AGE newspaper in Australia. (July 14th 2013)
Clearly both the Philippines and Australia are being treated like vassal states by US Imperialism. The Filipino people have already pushed US bases out of the country previously and it looks like they will have to do so again.
In Australia, we witnessed the biggest street demonstrations in our history when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the Iraq war. There is today a beginning of a re awakening in Australia of that protest action against foreign military bases and for an independent Australian foreign policy.
The Filipino people have been struggling for independence and Liberation beginning in the 1800’s.They continue that struggle today, more determined, even more effectively and with the absolute certainty that will succeed. They are our inspiration.
The democratic, human, and social rights of people across the globe are under challenge in a way unseen since at least the growth and spread of Fascism before and during the Second World War of last century.
The capitalist crisis and Imperialism pose a grave threat to the globe and the people of the world.
Only the people themselves can solve this crisis and prevent this grave threat. The peoples of Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Philippines, India, Turkey, and many others are showing the way today. They are working towards a solution and we salute them. A solution that involves genuine democracy not a sham. A solution that represents freedom not oppression. A solution that represents social liberation for the people. They are the inspiration. That is our task.