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Militarising the Pacific

Written By: - Date published: 2:04 pm, July 17th, 2022 - 16 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, defence, Disarmament, Pacific, Peace, us politics, war - Tags:

The Solomons Islands security agreement with China led to paroxysms of ‘serious concern’ about militarisation of the Pacific. 3 days before the Pacific Island Forum convened, 4 US B-2 nuclear-capable stealth bombers  deployed on rotation in Australia. I know what worries me most.

Much was made in the concerns about the Solomons expressed by Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese that security issues should be discussed in the Pacific Islands Forum,” and the notion that Pacific countries should make their security decisions openly and by consensus.

The B-2 deployment was part of the agreements reached between  Australia and the US at the time the AUKUS nuclear submarine project was announced. Nobody in the Pacific was consulted in advance about that agreement, indeed I posted at the time it was made that the associated force position arrangements were probably the more important.

The B-2 aircraft are long-range nuclear-capable bombers. They are offensive weapons directed at China. Basing in Australia offers range advantages, as they are outside the currently-known range of Chinese missiles.

US Air Force 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard said that the B-2 aircraft deployment shows the lethality of the long-range penetrating strike force.

The multi-role stealth bomber can deploy conventional and nuclear warheads.

The B2 bombers plan to train for ‘hot refuelling’ with Australian tankers.

This is a long-planned strategic shift. No-one in the Pacific was consulted, and in my opinion it significantly lessens rather than increases our security.



16 comments on “Militarising the Pacific ”

  1. Ad 1

    Well observed Mike.

    With PM Ardern's protestations at Chatham House about nuclear weapons, one might have hoped she would turn her attention to the only country we are Treaty-bound to defend, and which now holds nuclear attack capacity.

    And it sure ain't France.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Well if Mike is concerned about militarising the Pacific he's awful late to the party. What we won't be reading from him is any analysis on the massive build out of of the Chinese PLAN

      Already outnumbering the USN by hull count the PLAN has ambitions to have enough super carriers to match the Americans within a few decades. That is the kind very expensive dominance will not remain unused.

      We often make the mistake of confusing the capacity to project military power with the actuality of doing so. After all NZ has not recently bombed Australia – not just because we probably had no reason to do so – but manifestly we lacked the capacity. Yes the CCP has not invaded or bombed many places in recent history, but will certainly have the ability to do so in the near future.

      The CCP is undoubtedly rapidly building it's blue water navy and ignoring this is precisely the mistake Europe made with respect to Russia. And as for the nuclear weapons – as has been said before – I bet the Ukranians regret returning all those nukes to Russia in the 90’s.

      • Ad 1.1.1

        You know it's possible to object to Australia hosting nuclear attack capacity and also at the same time object to China generating more military and diplomatic presence at the same time?

        Clearly not possible in Australia since that government is too tied to the US to be able to do that, but NZ seems to be able to.

        NZ should continue to object to the militarisation of the South Pacific, no matter who is doing it.

        Far better to win a contest with riches than with the sword.

        And even then, it is hilarious to see the US and its allies object to Chinese state funding of infrastructure across the South Pacific when the US and allies have had 50 years since decolonisation to convince those new states who could best further their interests.

        • RedLogix

          And even then, it is hilarious to see the US and its allies object to Chinese state funding of infrastructure across the South Pacific when the US and allies have had 50 years since decolonisation to convince those new states who could best further their interests.

          When every attempt to do so would have been condemned as neo-colonial debt trappery – or some such.

          You know it's possible to object to Australia hosting nuclear attack capacity and also at the same time object to China generating more military and diplomatic presence at the same time?

          You miss the obvious counter point that these B2 aircraft remain firmly under the US military chain of command. Albanese will have zero say in how or when they get used – if ever. Hosting them is not the same as having control.

          Also the primary reason why the US want to host them at Amberly is that Guam now lies within the range of missiles the CCP has been very busy developing. There is likely no new US capacity in play here – just a shuffling of it around the chessboard.

          • Ad

            I would take Australia and the US seriously if they jointly committed to shutting down military bases so that they were about in parity with the Chinese. The US is able to secure shipping passage without its grossly distended military capacity.

            That would be a safer world for the Pacific.

            It is well time that Australia figured out what New Zealand figured out long ago: if you remain deeply, deeply dependent on trade with China, eventually trade and security interests have to influence each other.

            • RedLogix

              I would take Australia and the US seriously if they jointly committed to shutting down military bases so that they were about in parity with the Chinese.

              Why would they do that when the Chinese are committed to growing their capacity at break-neck speed? Checked out how many naval facilities and bases the Chinese have added to their inventory in the past decade? It is a modest number at present, but is rapidly giving the Chinese access to new operational capacity throughout the IndoPacific. And the number keeps growing.

              It is easy and lazy to compare absolute numbers – but most of the significant US bases with any sort of heavy capacity are located in countries like the UK, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea. Or small islands like Diego Garcia and Guam that are a legacy from WW2 and the Cold War. Entire regional economies such as Europe and SE Asia coat-tailed on this capacity for decades.

              Yes US military capacity is bloated if it's sole purpose had only been to defend the US homeland – but in terms of providing a default security guarantee for small nations like NZ, it is actually pretty damned thin these days.

              So sure you can demand the US scale back to match China, but in doing so all you will ensure is that everyone else will ramp up to fill the gap.

        • Populuxe1

          Well, NZ can express disapproval of course, but we can't really object to how a sovereign nation chooses to arrange its military defences any more than we can object to the Solomons having a defence pact with China. Especially when we object to Russia's invasion of Ukraine because the former doesn't like the latter's security arrangements.

  2. Tricledrown 2

    China has upped the anti since covid expansionism more totalitarianism military threats against Taiwan over fishing ,buying influence! China is flexing its economic and military might.Backing Putin, buying corrupt politicians in the Pacific and elsewhere .New Zealand needs to be more proactive .We have been blindsided diplomatically in our backyard.Now the stakes have been raised we need to spend more in our neigbourhood overseas aid,upgrade our Navy, Airforce ,drone and army it takes an average of 5 years for delivery of military equipment by the time conflict breaks out its to late. Our military could barely manage an MIQ debacle let alone any serious conflict.We are relying on the US and Australia to protect our backyard.While we have no combat aircraft ,drones , a navy with old boats that have no capability an army thats so small its a joke, Helicopters that are not performing .Australia is getting rid of its ah90;s because they are rubbish they have replaced their APC's replaced the f18s for f35s. Make no mistake New Zealand is hiding behind the coattails of Australia and the US.We would be more of a hinderance than help.

  3. Scud 3

    Actually Mike you are wrong on the B2 Deployments to RAAF Amberley are part of AUKUS.

    But are actually a part of the Gillard & Obama US defence presence, of forward basing US Military asset to Australia.

    Normally the B2's normally operate out of RAAF Tindal, but unfortunately Tindal is under going a massive rebuild which includes extending the Runway including various Taxiways & hardstands are upgraded.

    The only Base that's capable of meeting the required Security Protocols required of the B2 is RAAF Amberley.

    The B1's made a regular appearance to Amberley when I was posted there between 99-08 at 2AFDS.

    Darwin regular hosts both B1 & the B52's, this a legacy from the days when the RAF would deployed the Vulcans & Victors of the RAF's Far East Airforce during The Confrontation.

  4. Blazer 4

    China's rise to super power level probably gives the U.S nightmares, because they assume China will behave the same way…they do!.

    • Populuxe1 4.1

      Assume? Nay, I know not "assume". There only "is". China has been behaving exactly that way since at least 1950.

  5. Jenny how to get there 5

    "….in my opinion it significantly lessens rather than increases our security." Mike Smith

    In my opinion Mike Smith is absolutely right. The lie is, the build up of military forces in the Pacific does not increase security, it lessens it.

    The build up of military forces on both sides makes war more likely not less,
    In the immortal words of Black Adder. it's "bollocks".
    The build up of military forces on both sides makes war more likely not less.

    With a big military build up, as Black Adder pointed out. "it just becomes too much effort not to have a war."

    @ 1:50 minutes

    You see Baldrick in order to prevent war in Europe, [the Pacific] two super blocs developed…
    …. the idea was to have two vast opposing armies each acting as the other's deterrent. That way there could never be a war.
    But this is a sort of a war isn't it, Sir?
    Yes, that's right. You see there was just a tiny flaw in the plan.
    What was that, Sir?

    "It was bollocks!"


    • Jenny how to get there 5.1

      The point is, the more infrastructure and investment you put into fighting a war, the harder it becomes to make the effort to prevent it.

      In that way, war is much like climate change, we have so much infrastructure invested in fossil fuels, it has become too much effort to prevent it.

      War and climate change are alike in another way; They are both the product of competing growth economies on a finite planet, running up against the natural borders of the planet, and up against each other..

      De-growth and the Left


  6. Bruce 6

    Not sure what you mean about super power, failing construction companys, failing banks, and buildings. Billions of $ lost but protesters getting the Hong Kong white shirt treatment.

    yes I know its you tube and just propaganda . Amazing the budget these guys have to create the videos.

    • Jenny how to get there 6.1

      Militarising the Pacific, (and the world).


      18 July 2022 at 10:10 am

      Not sure what you mean about super power, failing construction companys, failing banks, and buildings. Billions of $ lost…..

      Super power imperialist rivalry is not a product of success, in many ways imperialism is a product of systemic failure.

      Bruce, from one of the videos you supplied;
      In a harshly competitive capitalist society like China, we can see the destructive competitive pressure to cut corners and take dangerous risks, to maintain competitiveness, on the micro level.

      This exposure helps us understand the competitive pressure to maximise capitalist competitiveness at the macro level, which lead to war and climate change. This competitive economic and political pressure is even more pressing on rising capitalist powers like China and Russia, than it is on established world powers like the US and Britain.
      This underlying competitive economic pressure, is why, rising capitalist powers are forced to challenge the hegemony, of established global powers, like the British Empire in the 20th Century, and the US hegemon in the 21st Century.
      It is why rising powers are more dangerous to world peace than the existing global powers, and why rising powers are often the aggressor in conflicts between the superpowers, than the existing hegemonic power.


      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


      John A. Hobson strongly influenced the anti-imperialism of both Marxists and liberals, worldwide through his 1902 book on Imperialism. He argued that the "taproot of imperialism" is not in nationalist pride, but in Capitalism. As a form of economic organization, imperialism is unnecessary and immoral, the result of the mis-distribution of wealth in a capitalist society. That created an irresistible desire to extend the national markets into foreign lands, in search of profits greater than those available in the Mother Country. In the capitalist economy, rich capitalists received a disproportionately higher income than did the working class. If the owners invested their incomes to their factories, the greatly increased productive capacity would exceed the growth in demand for the products and services of said factories.

      Hobson's ideas were not entirely original; however his hatred of moneyed men and monopolies, his loathing of secret compacts and public bluster, fused all existing indictments of imperialism into one coherent system….

      ….His ideas influenced German nationalist opponents of the British Empire as well as French Anglophobes and Marxists; they colored the thoughts of American liberals and isolationist critics of colonialism. In days to come they were to contribute to American distrust of Western Europe and of the British Empire. Hobson helped make the British averse to the exercise of colonial rule; he provided indigenous nationalists in Asia and Africa with the ammunition to resist rule from Europe.[7]

      On the positive side, Hobson argued that domestic social reforms could cure the international disease of imperialism by removing its economic foundation. Hobson theorized that state intervention through taxation could boost broader consumption, create wealth and encourage a peaceful multilateral world order. Conversely, should the state not intervene, rentiers (people who earn income from property or securities) would generate socially negative wealth that fostered imperialism and protectionism.[8][9]

      The anti-imperialism of Adolf Hitler

      "….His [Hobson's] ideas influenced German nationalist opponents of the British Empire"

      Hindenburg and Hitler for peace and equality (the Marshal and the Private)
      Infamous 1933 Nazi election poster


      The German Nazi propaganda regularly exposed the evils of British imperialism. Claiming that the allied powers were unfairly keeping Germany down. Everything the Nazis said about British imperialism was true. In conquering and subjugating large parts of the globe, the British Empire, it has been estimated, killed over 40 million people.

      In theory the German Nazi empire was to be more enlightened, more modern, more humane, than anything that had gone before. In practice it was anything but. In practice the Nazis strived to equal, and even surpass, in racist depravity and bloody conquest, every imperialist power that had gone before. Whatever the theory or excuse for it; In practice racist mass murder is at the heart of imperialism. To justify imperialism you have to believe in superior and inferior races, that superior races should rule over inferior races. The British Empire called this theory of superior and inferior nations, 'The White Man's Burden'. Yeah right, like they were doing the British Empire's subjected people's a favour in colonising and oppressing and exploiting them.
      If you believe that some people are inferior, less human than you, you can justify to yourself and your supporters killing hundreds, or thousands, or millions, or even tens of millions of human beings. It becomes no problem to fire rockets into apartment buildings.

      The point of all this: If you support Russia's invasion of Ukraine, If you support China's expansion into the Pacific, you are an imperialist, you are not an anti-imperialist. No matter how much you think you are.

      The 'multilateral' (to use Hobson's word) slower developing capitalist economies, Germany, Italy and Japan, found trouble becoming imperialists, because the world had already been divided up and colonised by earlier adopters of capitalism. Faced with protectionism overseas and stagnating capitalist economies at home, the only way to expand their economies and gain access to overseas markets and raw materials, was by force. Ideally Germany wanted to seize colonies in Africa and the Pacific from the existing powers, but since most of the Nazis rival imperial powers were based in Europe, that is where the war started.

      The anti-imperialism of Putin

      Like the supporters of 20th century Nazi imperialism the supporters of 21st Century Russian and Chinese imperialism claim, they are anti-imperialists. That just like Germany, Japan and Italy wanted a new 'multilateral' world order, free from the old imperial powers of London, Washington, and Paris, so do they.

      But a world free of imperialists, will never come at the hands of other imperialists.

      With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, Russia lost its ability to practice imperialism, to exploit its smaller neighboring nations under the Soviet system.
      The drive to reclaim lost empire is the underlying motive for the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine, often called revanchism, it has nothing to do with neo-nazis or the oppression of Russian speakers. Imperialism is why the Russian Federation has its eyes on Moldova, and possibly even further afield. Putin has said that he wants to recover the old Russian Empire, (Notice not the old Soviet Empire). Lenin who was influenced by Hobson's theories on imperialism, famously described the old Russian Empire, "as the prison of nations" This prison of nations is what Vladimir Putin wants to reclaim.

  7. Adrian Thornton 7

    Good piece Mike, thanks, it is always nice to see and read some counterbalance to the tsunami of hysterical anti-China rhetoric and propaganda which is passed off as serious news….it's hard to pick what is worse, the dismal warmongering MSM coverage of the war in Ukraine or their racist take of China in the world?

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