Australia waits for the call from Uncle Sam

Saturday, 13. July 2019

GIVEN how little governments like to leave to chance, it was unlikely to have beena coincidence that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used Anzac Day to raise the possibility that Australia would accede to any US requests for more troops as part of a “long-term commitment” to the war on terror.
Nanjing Night Net

For if there is ever a time of the year that the Australian public feels patriotic about the military, it’s this week, when everyone from the PM down to the pet-shop galah –to pinch Paul Keating’s memorable description –is talking about how much the Anzac spirit means to ordinary Australians, and how the modern Australian soldier is the living embodiment of the diggers of past years.

And they are: there is no denying that. But as soldiers know, the decision to go to war in the first place is usually made by politicians and generals far from the front lines. Our leaders may not want to admit it, but having come this far with America in its military response to 9/11, there is little practical chance that we will do anything but support the US regardless of whether we have questions about the way our most powerful ally is prosecuting its war.

There will be a debate along the way –and there should be –but Australia is so enmeshed with the US (and not only through communications bases such as Pine Gap) that we are probably not in a reasonable position to turn down any requests that may come from US Defence Secretary James Mattis.

Especially, as Vice-President Mike Pence reminded us this week, after the Manus Island refugee deal that President Donald Trump agreed to on his arrival in office. The two issues –Manus Island and troop deployments –may never be officially mentioned in the same sentence, but if the Manus agreement results in most of its residents being given new homes abroad, then the Turnbull government’s gratitude will be palpable and heart-felt.

For the residents of the Hunter Region, the potential for further troop deployments has real meaning, thanks to the presence of the Singleton Military Area and RAAF Base Williamtown.Significant numbers of Hunter personnel have served in hostile theatres over the various phases of this war on terrorism, and the longer the battles continue, the greater this region’s contribution will be.

All we can do is hope that those who volunteer for duty come back in one piece, physically and mentally.

ISSUE: 38,477.

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