Defense Review Binds Australia to US War Agenda

For most of its 110 pages the review’s mental contortions explain why “defending” Australia is going to have to look a whole lot like preparing to pick a fight with an Asian nation thousands of kilometers away, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

By Caitlin Johnstone

The Australian government has released the declassified version of its highly anticipated 2023 Defence Strategic Review (DSR), and the war propagandists are delighted.

Sydney Morning Herald’s Matthew Knott, most well-known for being told by former prime minister Paul Keating to “do the right thing and drum yourself out of Australian journalism” over his role in Nine Entertainment’s despicable Red Alert war-with-China propaganda series, has a new propaganda piece out titled “Defence review pulls no punches: China the biggest threat we face“.

Here are the first few paragraphs: 

“Angus Houston and Stephen Smith have delivered a blaring wake-up call to any Australians who think they still live in a sanctuary of safety at the southern edge of the Earth: you’re living in the past.

To those inside and outside the Australian Defence Force who think business-as-usual will cut it in the future: you’re delusional.

Their message to anyone confused about the biggest threat to Australia’s national security is similarly blunt: it is our largest trading partner, China.

Like a pair of doctors delivering confronting news to an ill patient, the two men tasked with reshaping Australia’s military for the 21st century have opted for admirable candour in their defence strategic review.

Rejecting vague language about rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific, the former defence chief and defence minister call out just one nation – China – for threatening Australia’s core interests.”

“Like a pair of doctors.” That’s the kind of third-rate propaganda we get in the nation with the most consolidated media ownership in the western world. 

The “defence” review focuses not on defending the shores of the continent of Australia, but instead over and over again makes mention of the need to protect the “rules-based order” in Australia’s “region” — the so-called “Indo-Pacific” — which includes China. It is for the most part 110 pages of mental contortions explaining why “defending” the nation of Australia is going to have to look a whole lot like preparing to pick a fight with an Asian nation thousands of kilometers away.

The public DSR actually only mentions China by name eight times, though by Knott’s ecstatic revelry you’d assume that was the only word it contains. In contrast, the document mentions the United States no fewer than 38 times, with the United Kingdom getting two mentions, New Zealand getting only one, and Australia’s neighbors like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia not mentioned by name at all.

“Our Alliance with the United States will remain central to Australia’s security and strategy,” the review reads. “The United States will become even more important in the coming decades. Defence should pursue greater advanced scientific, technological and industrial cooperation in the Alliance, as well as increased United States rotational force posture in Australia, including with submarines.”

The overshadowing presence of the United States in a document that is ostensibly about Australian security interests would be confusing if you did not know that Australia has for generations served as a U.S. military and intelligence asset, where its interests are so subordinated to Washington’s that Australians are not even allowed to know if the U.S. is bringing nuclear weapons into their country.

In a foreshadowing of the DSR’s pledge to pursue even greater cooperation with the U.S., last year Australia’s Secretary of Defence Richard Marles said that the Australian Defence Force is moving “beyond interoperability to interchangeability” with the U.S. military so they can “operate seamlessly together, at speed.” Which is a fancy way of saying that any meaningful separation between the Australian military and the American military has been effectively dissolved.

Marles, who is currently facing scrutiny in Australia for being illicitly secretive about the nature of a free golf trip he went on in his last visit to the United States, has said that the DSR “will underpin our Defence policy for decades to come.” 

Even some of the implementation of the DSR’s findings will be overseen by an American, not an Australian. ABC reports that “a major component to determine the future shape of Australia’s naval fleet will be decided later this year in a ‘short, sharp’ review to be led by U.S. Navy Vice Admiral William H Hilarides.”

The review itself has been tainted with severe conflicts of interest with regard to U.S. influence. As Mack Williams noted in Pearls And Irritations earlier this month, the senior advisor and principal author behind the review is a man named Peter Dean, a professor and director of foreign policy and defence at the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney.

The USSC receives funding from the U.S. government, and Dean’s own CV boasts that he “currently leads two U.S. State Department-funded public diplomacy programs on the U.S.-Australia Alliance.”

So to recap, Australia’s foreign policy is being shaped “for decades to come” by an “independent” strategic review that (A) was authored by someone who is compromised by U.S. funding, (B) is being implemented in part by an American former military official, (C) calls for greater and greater cooperation with the United States across the board, and (D) focuses primarily on targeting a nation that just so happens to be the number one geopolitical rival of the United States.

It is hilarious, then, that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the release of the DSR by proclaiming that, “At its core, all of this is making Australia more self-reliant, more prepared and more secure in the years ahead.” It is funnier still that he concluded that same speech with an Anzac Day acknowledgement of Australian troops who who have died in wars “to defend our sovereignty and our freedom.”

It doesn’t get any less self-reliant and sovereign than just handing over your nation’s military to a more powerful nation with a “There ya go mate, use it however you reckon’s fair.” You really could not come up with a more egregious abdication of national sovereignty if you tried.

And yet Australia’s prime minister babbles about sovereignty and self-reliance while doing exactly that.

Just annex Australia and make it the 51st state already. At least that way Australians would get a pretend vote in America’s fake elections.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


15 comments for “Defense Review Binds Australia to US War Agenda

  1. lester
    April 27, 2023 at 19:32

    Sorry, Australia and other vassal realms, you don’t get to be the 51st state. Our corruptoid Congressmen do not wan to share the hig bribe money. Instead, you must be as submissive as Japan or Britain, or be bombed back to the stone age, like Iraq.

  2. michael lacey
    April 26, 2023 at 17:01

    Australia spending billions protecting trade routes with their biggest trading partner from their biggest trading Partner!!

  3. Milenko Barudzija
    April 26, 2023 at 02:26

    Australia is even more than the EU (although it is hardly possible) a USA colony.
    They simply have to do what the hegemonists in Washington want.

  4. WillD
    April 25, 2023 at 22:16

    With such a weak and ineffectual PM and government, it is no surprise that the US has taken the opportunity to give Australia advanced vassal state training to reinforce its subservience and ensure its unquestioning obedience.

    Unfortunately, the Australian people have no say in the matter – such is the rotten state of democracy in this country.

  5. David Verrall
    April 25, 2023 at 22:15

    Now. Australia is known as the fawning patriot to the USA (we signed up to vote, didn’t we?) No longer does the Aus politic step with ghostly pride made by ANZAC’s identity; that drum beat amnesia as reminder of Australian culture-less-ness reinforced by BEER. ANZAC’s deplorable failure of Australian self identification hiding behind the UK matron, as if culture! (God Bless America is better know than the AUS national anthem). Standing beside the failed EUREKA STOCKADE lies GALLIPOLI, the crowning obeisance to the British/US Empire. So brain dead reliable are we. I Love My Country..where’s that again?

  6. Eddie S
    April 25, 2023 at 21:28

    I haven’t followed Australian or Japanese politics over the years, and had the vague sense that they were politically much more sensible the US (where I’ve lived my life). Both have rational gun control laws, for instance. So I have to admit to being astounded upon hearing that both countries are joining in the US provocation of China (which is insane enough for the US to do, but this country has been on a militaristic rampage since at least 1950, with only brief respites, so I unfortunately expect that crap around here). I guess the animal ‘tribalism’ driving most of this is a cross-cultural thing, which bodes ill for any peace in the near future at least….

  7. Penn Teller
    April 25, 2023 at 13:42

    Australians are among the few people in the British Empire who lacked the gumption to throw the damn tea in the harbor and run the Brits back across the ocean. Much of the world has been decolonized, but not Australia. They have, in Roger Water’s famous phrase … missed the starting gun.

    It is thus of no surprise that Australia is now as equally submissive to the Lords of Wall Street as they have always been to the Lords of Westminster. Not even Gallipoli could break them of that habit.

    • Rex Williams
      April 25, 2023 at 23:38

      I am disgusted with my country.
      A year ago I voted for the current government because in my electorate I had a worthy candidate. I mean really worthy.

      I had no idea that there was any possibility that such a direction would be chosen by this new government, even more dramatic than the policy of the previous government. The Labor Party, a party for the people, for social justice for all the things that I value.

      So how do we survive as a pretend 51st State of the USA. Already new bases in the north of our country are planned, nuclear weapons in B-52’s in and out as the US pleases. We are a disgrace to our future generations who can’t plan a thing, all future decisions now in the hands of a foreign government, one that is losing support all around the world in trade, the relative value of its currency and trading links and which will find their greatest problem will be in the support and management of its own country as economic changes occur. Not that far away either.

      And this is what 25 million Australians can expect for their futures?

      Now that’s a great mistake, perhaps the biggest mistake ever made in Australia’s history.

  8. shmutzoid
    April 25, 2023 at 13:21

    If you think of the USA as the Mafia boss of all bosses – the Godfather – and its “allies” (client/vassal states) as various Mafia ‘families’ operating under the “rules based order” set forth by the Godfather, you can more easily grasp global politics/neoliberalism/US gangster capitalism.

    By its desperate actions to regain unquestioned global dominance, the US is accelerating its decline in influencing international affairs.
    …….. I do wonder if/when European ‘allies” will peel off from their support of US militarism. ……I mean, the US demonic quest for global hegemony affects THEM ,too. After all, the unofficial mission statement of NATO is —-> Keep Russia out—— Germany down ——and, the USA up.

    Anyway, it does appear Australia is willing to go down with the ship/ USA. What a shame. ………. And, it’s hard to believe there’s a more propagandized people than that of the US, but, it looks Australia is just that.

  9. Jerry Markatos
    April 25, 2023 at 12:11

    If Australia fails to respect its own sovereignty it will become another pawn in the flailing US empire, to be sacrificed and thrown to the economic wolves as has Germany, and the other countries subjected to chaos, with outside interests imposing their own choice of leader. I hope it’s not too late!

  10. Bob McDonald
    April 25, 2023 at 10:47

    Why should we be surprised? Racism and ignorance are the hallmarks of all Commonwealth societies.

  11. mgr
    April 25, 2023 at 08:21

    Thank you as always. It would be hard to imagine a better example of a “vassal state.” Lest we forget, a vassal state typically exists in the context of a feudal society. Actually, as wealth continues to concentrate under neoliberal policies at an astronomical and even accelerating rate, Western societies are headed inexorably into neo-feudal future. That’s a system with few nobles and many serfs. Of course, under this scheme, serfs are chattel to be bought, sold and discarded. Welcome Australia to your own brave new world. Ask Ukraine.

    Rather than being in a state of mortal conflict with China, wouldn’t it be more desirable to simply continue in a relationship of mutually beneficial trade and commerce with no meddling in each other’s affairs? After all, the “conflict with China” is an entirely artificial one ginned up by the US for its own policy objectives and benefit. It is certainly not intended to benefit anyone else. This is because America has lost the will and ability to compete. It has given up trying to make itself better and instead works only to undermine others. A plot and plan, by the way, that is quickly reaching its end of life. Does Australia really want to be there, bound, tied and captive to that coming collapse? Seriously, if any crumbs of benefit from this alliance happen to fall on Australia, it’s entirely accidental. It seems that Australia has brought stupid to a whole new level. Perhaps, tragically, a prisoner mentally still prevails in the national consciousness after all these years.

  12. Mikael Andersson
    April 25, 2023 at 07:26

    Julian Assange accurately described Australia as a “suburb of the United States”. It lost all self-determination in the coup against Whitlam in 1975 and supplication has been bi-partisan policy for decades. There are media references to the “cigarette paper” that doesn’t separate the two party system participants on obedience to the USA. In truth they are fully integrated. To twist Noam Chomsky’s statement – Australia is a one party state. It has two factions. The ALP and the LNP. Whoever Australians vote for they get the USA Party.

  13. Gerry L Forbes
    April 25, 2023 at 06:15

    Seriously, Australia?

    PM Trudeau (no, the real one) said that living next to the US was like sleeping with an elephant: even if it meant no harm, if it rolled over you could be crushed. (Of course, now his son is making out with the elephant is almost certain to be pancaked.)

    I bet one of America’s selling points was that after a couple more fire seasons it won’t matter if China nukes their missile sites in the outback. Nobody would even notice the difference.

    This is Milo Minderbinder on steroids. At least you’ll die rich; everybody has a share.

    And it was all predicted by Randy Newman in 1972 in his song “Political Science”.

    We’ll save Australia
    Don’t want to hurt no kangaroo
    We’ll build an all-American amusement park there
    They’ve got surfing, too!

    • Valerie
      April 25, 2023 at 11:11

      “I bet one of America’s selling points was that after a couple more fire seasons it won’t matter if China nukes their missile sites in the outback. Nobody would even notice the difference.”

      New Zealand might lose their status of number 2 in the list of safest countries in the world. (Due to the proximity of nuclear warring factions. All those bunkers gone to waste; what a shame.)
      Love the song Gerry.

Comments are closed.