Australian prime minister expands war commitments during Washington trip
26 February 2018
From start to finish, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s three-day visit to Washington, which ended on Saturday, was dominated by the Trump administration’s preparations for war against North Korea and, ultimately, China.
Behind all the smiles, platitudes and mutual back-slapping between President Donald Trump and Turnbull, the prime minister was clearly under intense pressure to intensify Australia’s participation in US military operations, and to align the country economically more closely to the US.
Turnbull’s trip, and his obsequious praises for Trump, came just a month after the unveiling of a new US National Defense Strategy, that signals direct military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia and China. The document accuses China of seeking “Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future.”
This looming conflict has enormous implications for the Australian corporate and financial elite, which depends heavily on China, by far its largest export market, but relies overwhelmingly on the US for military and geo-strategic support, as well as on American corporate finance and investment.
The pressure on Turnbull was all the greater because his precarious Liberal-National Coalition government, torn by factional rifts, shows signs of unraveling. On the very eve of his arrival, it was further destabilized by the forced removal of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Turnbull set the tone by beginning his trip at the Arlington national war cemetery. Accompanied by the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, he paid tribute to “America’s war dead,”…