US Dictates Foreign Policy to Australia But Won’t Give It Excess Vaccines

The U.S. expects Australia to follow its foreign policy commands but has rejected a desperate plea for excess vaccines as Sydney remains in lockdown and the U.S. wastes a million doses.

PM Scott Morrison with President Joe Biden at G7 Summit in Cornwall in June. (Morrison via Facebook)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

The United States has rejected a plea from Australia for Pfizer vaccines as Sydney remains in lockdown with an expanding Delta variant outbreak, desperate for vaccine doses after a disastrous domestic rollout. 

The Australian newspaper reported on Friday, “Australia has ‘made representations’ over the course of several weeks for access to America’s excess Pfizer ­vaccines. All of Australia’s requests have so far been unsuccessful.” Meanwhile, The New York Times reported this week that a million vaccine doses have gone to waste in the U.S.

Australia’s largest city has been locked down since June 26 after a major outbreak of the Delta variant that caught Australia unprepared.  The country had been relatively virus free for more than a year before the sudden outbreak. That contributed to a lack of urgency by the federal government in Canberra to garner necessary vaccine supplies for a country of just 25 million people.  

From the Second World War, when the U.S. defended the northern coastal city of Darwin under Japanese attack, Australia has been an extremely loyal U.S. ally to the point where critics say it hurts its own self-interests in following Washington’s dictates.  When Prime Minister Gough Whitlam stood up to the U.S. in the Vietnam War era he was removed from office in 1975 in what has been called a coup engineered by the CIA in conjunction with Buckingham Palace.

Since then no Australian prime minister has dared stray too far outside the lines laid down by Washington, even if detrimental to Australia’s interests. The most recent example has been the conservative government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison damaging relations with its leading trade partner, China, by ramping up U.S.-directed tensions with Beijing.

A ‘Five Eyes’ Ally

Pine Gap, a key U.S.-run listening post in Australia’s Northern Territory. (Mark Marathon/Wikimedia)

The Murdoch-owned Australian quoted Republican members of Congress who acknowledge Australia’s loyalty and back sending U.S. supplies of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the midst of Sydney’s Covid-19 crisis.

“Australia is not only an ally but a Five Eyes ally,” the paper quoted Rep. Michael McCaul as saying. “I’ve been pressuring this ­administration through the Covax program to give more of these ­vaccines that are just sitting in warehouses in the U.S. They will expire if we don’t get them out the door.” The Five Eyes is an alliance of the U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand that shares electronic intelligence.

The co-chairman of the Friends of Australia congressional caucus, Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher, said: “The United States has vaccine doses set to expire at the same time our Australian mates need extra doses. The Biden administration should be doing everything in its power to get these doses to ­Australia.” 

The newspaper said the Biden administration is sensitive to criticism that it would be helping a rich country while it has made commitments to send vaccines to developing nations. The U.S. might also be holding on to excess supplies as the Delta variant makes its way through the U.S. population, the paper said. 

Australia’s mess was of its own making, with Morrison early on betting alone on the Astra Zeneca shots, which have become unpopular in Australia after reports of it causing rare blood clots.  Several Australians have died of such clots after taking the AZ vaccine. 

Amidst Pfizer shortages, only 21 percent of Australians have been fully vaccinated, second lowest among OECD countries. That number stood at nine percent before the current outbreak.  Drive-thru vaccination centers, common for months in the U.S., were only announced this week in Sydney.

While for months Australia stood at around 30,000 cases during the entire duration of the pandemic — the U.S. had more than 300,000 cases in a single day — there have been more than 5,000 infections in New South Wales in just the past six weeks. Three hundred Australian Defense Force soldiers are in Sydney to help with enforcing the lockdown.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe  

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14 comments for “US Dictates Foreign Policy to Australia But Won’t Give It Excess Vaccines

  1. Julie Hart
    August 8, 2021 at 04:34

    An important and timely article by Joe Lauria. The strength of the readers comments are all appreciated as well.
    Wake up Australia; make our own vaccines, and refuse to go to war with America again. Healthcare not Warfare.

  2. Ma Laoshi
    August 7, 2021 at 22:55

    China’s pretty much done vaccinating its own 1.4 bn population. The Aussies could get (as in buy, I don’t mean for free) all the vaccines they need from them if they’d just ask nicely; they choose not to do this. So can the Sydney COVID outbreak even be called a crisis if it’s what they want and deserve.

    The Zionist believes that morality is rooted in perpetual Middle East war; the video gamer thinks that morality lies in discovering and owning the consequences of your own choices. The harder all these ingrates get slapped around, the sooner they’ll hopefully learn something.

  3. August 7, 2021 at 18:51

    Thankyou for your focus on the Australian American Alliance formed with the signing of the ANZUS treaty in 1951. The treaty has only been invoked once by the Australian Prime Minister John Howard in 2001 post attacks on the New York World Trade towers. This led to Australia committing our military forces to the attack on Afghanistan which has joined the litany of US led wars post WW2 none of which were WON in fact they were all lose lose wars with civilian deaths in the millions. The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) initiated a nation wide People’s Inquiry into the Costs and Consequences of the wars, the alliance and calling for alternatives. This has attracted in-depth analysis by a large number of Australians. The report is due out at the end of the year. For more information hXXps://independentpeacefulaustralia.com.au/

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    August 7, 2021 at 10:13

    The American hypocrisy is SICKENING!!! For crying out World…stop kissing their behinds.

  5. renate
    August 7, 2021 at 09:58

    Too bad Sputnik V is not politically correct.

  6. Larry McGovern
    August 7, 2021 at 08:22

    Wow, talk about being in locskstep with the U.S. Morrison even has to wear same suit, shirt and tie as Biden!! :-)

  7. Andrew Nichols
    August 7, 2021 at 05:21

    Noone respects a forelock tugger, and all Aussie PMs are that in spades. Living in Brisbane it’s cringeworthy. Scomo even took a dodgy church leader with him to ingratiate himself with Pence,…and who could forget the embarrassing fawning speech of Gillard to both Houses back in 2011. It takes retirement for Aussie PMs like Malcolm Fraser Hewson and Keating to wake up from the grovelling and question the Empires value to Aus.

  8. August 7, 2021 at 01:36

    IF BIDEN CAN REFUSE A LOYAL AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT COVID VACCINES WHAT WONT HE DO TO KILL CUBANS LACKING VACCINES AND CHINA TO STOP RECLAIMING ITS PROVINCE OF TAIWAN. HE THINKS IMPERIAL POWER IS STILL THE STRONGEST POWER. HE IS STILL LIVING IN THE PAST CENTURY OR WORSE IN THE 19 C. IS BIDEN DEMENTED?

    • Vera Gottlieb
      August 7, 2021 at 10:14

      As I see it, ALL American politicians are demented…

  9. forceOfHabit
    August 6, 2021 at 16:29

    The US can’t even get its act together to support an ally, let alone indulge in the kind of vaccine diplomacy to non-aligned states in Africa and around the world that China and Russia (and Cuba!) are actively engaged in. The US empire is a flailing failing empire, and I shudder to think how short the road is to the US becoming a failed state.

    • Andrew Nichols
      August 7, 2021 at 05:21

      Vaccines? No theyd sooner send a drone.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      August 7, 2021 at 10:16

      It isn’t ‘becoming a failed state’…it already is one – it just that the Americans (and so many others) haven’t realized it yet.

  10. David
    August 6, 2021 at 12:47

    The running dog will slow down if it is fed and it gets fat. You don’t need to give the grass to your donkey: just dangle it in front. The possibility of getting it is good enough for the animal.

    • August 7, 2021 at 10:30

      Thanks Joe Lauria. Your analysis here , linking recent very worrying COVID trends in Australia and US-Australian diplomatic and strategic relations, fearlessly breaks new ground and makes new connections. No one else could have written this.

Comments are closed.