At a joint White House press conference this afternoon with US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gave unalloyed support to the eruption of American militarism all over the globe.
On such visits, Australian leaders have invariably done everything they can to demonstrate their alignment with US imperialism. Even by those standards, however, Albanese’s remarks were of an extraordinarily fawning and ingratiating character. He was at pains to emphasise that there was no daylight whatsoever between his Labor government and a US administration that is on the warpath in every corner of the world.
Speaking of the crisis in the Middle East, Albanese said: “Mr President, we applaud the personal resolve you have brought to this troubled part of the world. You have spoken with moral clarity and you have stood up for a simple principle.”
Those remarks were obscene. Historical analogies have their limits, but such a description of Biden’s role in the Middle East would be akin, 80 years ago, to congratulating Hitler for the “moral clarity” and “principle” he had brought to Eastern Europe. Albanese presented the arsonist in chief as the firefighter.
Biden’s administration has greenlighted Israel’s unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, which has the unmistakeable character of a genocide aimed at completing the dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Albanese frothed over the October 7 military action of Hamas, but said nothing about the more than 6,000 Palestinians who have been killed in little over two weeks since then. His vague references to the sanctity of civilian life were an exercise in gross hypocrisy given that Australia, together with the US, has given total support to the Israeli onslaught.
A joint statement issued by Biden and Albanese after their meeting fully backed the further crimes of the Zionist regime, proclaiming: “Our countries will support Israel as it defends itself and its people against such atrocities. We affirm Israel’s inherent right to defend itself. In doing so, in line with the values we share as democracies…”
As if to drive home the point, shortly after the joint conference, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong angrily denounced suggestions that Israel’s carpet bombing constituted collective punishment and a war crime. Wong has similarly rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire, instead issuing a statement yesterday politely suggesting “humanitarian pauses,” i.e., brief intervals between bombing raids to dampen down public outrage.
Notwithstanding Albanese’s paeans to Biden as a peacemaker of the Middle East, the US is scrambling forces to the region as it moves towards a broader confrontation, including with Iran.
Australia is joining these preparations, with Defence Minister Marles announcing earlier this week, during Albanese’s Washington visit, that two military aircraft have been dispatched to an unspecified location in the Middle East in anticipation of “contingencies.” Marles confirmed they would be accompanied by a “substantial” troop deployment. The exact numbers are shrouded in secrecy.
The full backing for militarism in the Middle East was just one component of Albanese’s remarks, which hailed the role of American militarism all over the world.
“American leadership is indispensable, but it is not inevitable. It takes a leader to deliver it,” Albanese declared, praising Biden.
He made clear that the US-Australia partnership centred on military and defence collaboration, which he previously described during his Washington visit, as “the first pillar” of the alliance. Albanese stated: “And it is our people that we honour when we remember the generations of Australians and Americans who have fought and fallen together. Our veterans and all those who have given the cause of peace their last full measure of devotion.”
Albanese gratuitously cited Biden’s deceased son: “[I]n reflecting on this century of service, I’m reminded of a sentiment you have shared before from an American soldier talking about his time in Iraq: ‘You know when there’s an Australian with you, they’ll always have your back.’ A generous thought from a man of courage and character, Major Beau Biden.”
The reference to Iraq was hardly accidental. In choosing to highlight one of the worst atrocities by the US and its allies, an illegal war for oil that claimed more than a million lives, Albanese was signalling that there is no line Australia will not cross in its support for US-led operations.
This includes Australian support for the US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. While in Washington Albansese committed another $20 million in arms and equipment, bringing the Australian total to over $900 million.
The central focus of the US-Australia alliance, however, is on American imperialism’s escalating preparations for war with China, which Washington views as the chief economic threat to its global domination.
While Albanese said little on this score, Biden launched a broadside against Beijing and openly touted US confrontation against it. “China has engaged in activities, that Russia and many others have engaged in, in terms of intimidation with other countries,” Biden declared, without providing a skerrick of evidence. The likening of China’s actions to those of Russia is highly threatening insofar as Washington is already engaged in a de facto military conflict with Moscow.
Pointing to the real thrust of the US concerns, dominance over the strategically decisive Eurasian landmass, Biden denounced China’s Belt and Road economic and infrastructure initiative as a “noose.” He added, the “Belt and Road Initiative, well, we’re going to compete on that, and we’re doing it a different way.” The US was and would remain a “Pacific nation,” Biden declared.
While in Washington, Albanese has lobbied for Congress to pass Biden’s massive $105 billion military spending package, especially that part of it that will fund AUKUS, the US, Australian and British military pact directed against China. Albanese is pressing ahead with the plans for Australia to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, at a cost of $368 billion, as one plank of a vast militarisation of the country.
The joint statement underscored the breadth of US-Australian collaboration and the extent to which it centres on preparations for war. Among the measures announced are further cyber-intelligence capabilities in a deal involving Microsoft and an expanded partnership relating to critical minerals, a key area of competition with China. The statement emphasised the need to protect “supply chains,” a measure that emerges in the context of imminent armed conflict.
It hailed the ever-greater integration of the Australian and US armed forces, including a multitude of military exercises and vastly expanded basing access of American air, land and sea assets and personnel in Australia. The statement also promoted the deepening military collaboration with other regional powers such as Japan, and emphasised the need for expanded influence throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Since coming to office in May last year, the Labor government has carried out a continuous campaign in the region, pressuring its leaders to line up behind the confrontation with China and warning them of “consequences” if they do not.
Albanese’s visit represents a deepening of this program. It is of particular significance that it is a Labor government that is completing Australia’s transformation into a frontline state for US-led war against China. Albanese, moreover, and other senior leaders in his administration, such as Foreign Minister Penny Wong, are from Labor’s so-called “left” faction.
That only underscores the fact that in the fight against war, including the unfolding genocide in Gaza, workers are confronted with the necessity for a struggle against the entire political establishment. Amid a breakdown of global capitalism, all of the official parties, whether nominally of the “left” or “right” are hurtling humanity towards catastrophic wars and are imposing an associated onslaught on fundamental democratic rights.