The largest ever Australia-US joint military exercises have just finished. Talisman Sabre 2017, the seventh of these expensive biennial war games, wound up in Brisbane on July 26 on the USS Ronald Reagan — a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with capacity for 5000 troops and 200 fighter jets.
Last Sunday I was arrested while attempting to obstruct war rehearsal operations at Lee Point.
Despite standing in the water off Lee Point, right in the path of the US Navy LCAC amphibious craft, it continued to rush back and forth past me until I was removed from the area by water police. Its final pass, before I was plucked from the water by police, came so close that the bow wave knocked me over. I was disappointed that I was unable to present enough of a hindrance to at least delay them while they waited for my removal.
As part of Peace Convergence 2015, three “Quaker Grannies for Peace” set up a tea table on July 13, blocking the access road to Queensland's Samuel Hill military base, which is being used for the Talisman Sabre military exercises.
They set up a table and chairs and invited soldiers to have tea and cake in order to engage in dialogue with them.
The Defence Department’s website says: “Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 is a biennial combined Australian and US training activity, designed to … improve the combat readiness and interoperability between our respective forces. This exercise is a major undertaking that reflects the closeness of our alliance and the strength of the ongoing military-military relationship” and is “focused on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity ‘high end’ warfighting.”
The US has been at war for all but 17 years of the 239 the nation has been in existence.
Successive Australian governments have hastened to send troops into every war the US has provoked in the past 70 years. Many people consider Australia's strategies, priorities, and interests have been subsumed by those of the US.
In November 2011, US president Barack Obama announced that the military focus of the US was “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, as part of this “pivot”, he announced that US marines were to be stationed in Darwin.
Following those announcements, a ripple of discontent spread around the nation. Numerous peace groups, academics, faith-based groups and unions began talking to one another about this “pivot” and the threat it represents.
The Julia Gillard government has committed Australia to closer war ties with the US, more US bases and billions for US defence contracts at the annual AUSMIN talks in Perth on November 16.
The Gillard government is well aware of the huge public opposition to the US-led wars in Iraq and now Afghanistan. It knows that a majority is critical of Canberra’s unquestioning policy of “all-the-way-with-Obama’s next wars”.