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Mr Hawke and the American dream

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Deputy Leader of the Opposition NEWS RELEASE BY JOHN HOWARD MP D27/85



The Prime Minister is receiving plaudits for putting his job on the line over the Australian-American alliance.

This praise is quite undeserved.

Mr Hawke should have put his job on the line over the MX Missile. This he failed to do. Instead he caved in.

The time to be tough is when issues are being decided - not after they have been conceded.

Last Tuesday Mr Hawke publicly proclaimed that he would not be "a Prime Minister of a country ... where issues of central continuing importance to our security are at risk". He specifically referred to "the hosting of the joint facilities

in Australia" and "visits of American ships to our ports".

Mr Hawke conveniently overlooked the fact that he has already sold out to the Socialist Left by effectively declaring Australia's opposition to President Reagan's strategic initiatives - i.e ., the MX Missile and the Strategic Defence


The Australian public is entitled to regard Mr Hawke's, decision to get tough only after he had backed down as little more than a theatrical gesture,

Mr Hawke's surrender gave the Socialist Left (which he once described as a "canker" and a "telephone box minority") its greatest political victory in living memory. There is no reason to expect that Mr Gerry Hand and his cronies will seek further concessions in the short term. The Socialist Left is patient. It is prepared to wait before it strikes again.

The Prime Minister has been fortunate in that his cave-in to the Left has been overshadowed by the antics of Mr Lange and the New Zealand Labor Government and by the serious deterioration in the ANZUS alliance.

In the current debate on ANZUS and New Zealand one central fact has been obscured.

On the MX Missile and the Strategic Defence Initiative, the Hawke Government has effectively lined up with the Soviet Union and against the United States. ,

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This is a deeply disturbing development - especially in view of the ever increasing build-up of Soviet military force in South East Asia. .

MX Missile -

The USSR has a massive superiority in Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).

The MX Missile was an initiative of the Carter Administration designed to overcome the Soviet Union's awesome preponderance in long range nuclear weapons.

It is an uncontestable fact that the USA's long range nuclear weapons are becoming obsolescent:

. the Titans are over 20 years old - by 1986 they will be scrapped;

. the Minuteman Ills are, on average, 15 years old. They were designed for a 15 year life span. They are, ironically, the United States' most modern land-based missiles; .

. the Minuteman IIs were first deployed in 1965 - and are already 5 years beyond their planned life.

The US Administration plans to have one hundred MX missiles - with a total of 1000 warheads.

The Soviet Union already has over 600 long range nuclear missiles (SS18 and SS19) that are the size of the MX or larger - with a total of 5000 warheads.

Viewed in this light it is completely false to label the MX a "first strike" weapon - as many in the Socialist Left do.

It is obvious why Moscow is fervently opposed to any further development of the MX Missile program.

But it is far from clear why the Hawke Government is unwilling to allow United States planes monitoring an unarmed MX missile splash-down to be serviced from Australian airfields.

The Prime Minister's claim last Tuesday that his cave-in on the MX was a "minor, passing thing" does not stand up to serious analysis.

Strategic Defence Initiative

The SDI is a research program the aim of which is to intercept and destroy launched missiles before they reach designated targets. ,

The SDI should be supported by any Australian government.

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The SDI is designed to be a defensive, not offensive, weapon. Even if only partly successful, it could lead to a substantial downgrading in the role and importance of offensive nuclear weapons. The aim of the SDI is to

shift deterrence from mutual assured destruction to mutual assured security by means of non-nuclear defences.

If we assume that the United States and the Soviet Union will remain rivals for some years, it appears that the development of strategic defences offers the only possible path to a process of nuclear disarmament suitable to both


In the short term, a space-based defensive system is the only known means by which the United States could counter a first strike launched from Soviet land-based ICBMs.

Moreover, an SDI type defensive system would provide protection against any accidental launch of a missile. Also it could offer protection against small, but militarily aggressive, nuclear powers.

Opponents of President Reagan's Strategic Defence Initiative conveniently overlook the fact that the USSR is currently developing its own strategic defences. At the moment the world's only anti-ballistic missile system is deployed

around Moscow. And the Soviet has constructed a large radar installation in Siberia designed to facilitate the interception of ballistic missiles.

The Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies has offered a coherent defence for President Reagan's Strategic Defence Initiative:

"The question to which Western strategists should now be addressing themselves is clear and direct: is the free world to acquire a system of strategic defence before the Soviet Union, or will it accept

the immense risks and uncertainties posed by those who would prefer to take the Soviets at their word?

If the democracies are to gain superiority in the field of strategic defence the danger of war would be reduced accordingly. But should this superiority pass to the Soviet Union, the risk of nuclear

blackmail would be acute."

The Prime Minister, in his effort to appease the Socialist Left faction, has completely run for cover on the SDI.

On 19 February Mr Hawke went straight from a Labor Caucus meeting to a press conference and openly declared that Australia "could not support the SDI initiative" and that the USA-Australian joint facilities will "not be involved

in such research".

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The Prime Minister proclaimed that in his opposition to the SDI he had been "clearer" and "less equivocal" than "any other western leader". .

In other words, Mr Hawke has informed the United States that Australia will have nothing to do with present or future research into the development of a non-nuclear defensive weapon system. This contrasts with Prime Minister Thatcher who has given total support to the SDI and Chancellor Kohl who has favoured the continuation of the present research program.

At no stage has Mr Hawke explained why he is opposed to the Strategic Defence Initiative.

Less than nine months ago the Foreign Minister, Mr Hayden, publicly declared:

"President Reagan has asked that research be undertaken on the possibility of developing a US capability to intercept all incoming ballistic missiles. The purpose behind this

is a highly moral one. It is to seek to replace the doctrine of assured destruction, based on . attack with a morally much more acceptable concept of assured defence."

I call on the Prime Minister to fully explain precisely why Australia has backed away from any involvement in the SDI research program.

Why is it that a research program - described by Mr Hayden as having a "highly moral" purpose, and by Professor Brzezinski (a one-time adviser to President Carter) as "enhancing to deterrence and even helpful to arms control" - should be classified by the Hawke Government as beyond the pale?

It is obvious why Moscow is opposed to the United States developing an effective anti-missile defence system.

But it is far from clear why Australia should effectively line up against the United States on this issue.

The USSR, Australia and South East Asia

The Prime Minister’s cave-in on the MX missile, combined with his decision to throw in the towel on the SDI even before the internal party faction fight had started, underlines the Hawke Government's essential weakness on

foreign policy.

Senior Ministers have indicated the Government's intention to improve relations with the USSR.

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In January 1984 Mr Hayden stated that the Government had decided that Australia's "relationship with the Soviet Union would ... be conducted on a more mutually conducive basis". One month later Mr Keating said that Australian- USSR relations should be "more useful and productive".

Mr Keating had previously given some idea of his attitude to the Soviet Union when shortly after the brutal invasion of Afghanistan he declared:

"Afghanistan is ... far away from our area of interest and Australia is not threatened ... It is extremely unlikely that the Soviet Union will attack Pakistan or Iran. After all, who would want Pakistan? For

that matter who would want Afghanistan?"

Mr Keating's Neville Chamberlain style rhetorical question has been answered by the continuing presence of over 100,000 Soviet troops in Afghanistan who are actively torturing, massacring and starving the local population

into submission, exile or early graves.

When Mr Hayden had discussions with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko in Moscow in June 1984 he refrained from specifically condemning Soviet actions in Afghanistan.

The Australian Foreign Minister, however, has been anything but reluctant to pass up opportunities to publicly criticise the United States and France - both of which are part of the Western alliance.

In August 1984 Mr Hayden threatened the United States that its bases in Australia would be at risk unless Washington adopted our policies on nuclear disarmament. Some months later he rebuked the French Government for its alleged colonialism in New Caledonia.

But Mr Hayden has been the soul of discretion in his attitude to Soviet colonialism in Afghanistan and Vietnamese colonialism in South East Asia.

The attitude of key Hawke Government Ministers to the USSR is certainly not a matter of mere academic interest.

The Soviet Union is rapidly becoming the preponderant military power in our region - due to its massive military build up at its Cam-Ranh Bay and Da Nang bases in Vietnam.

The USSR naval and air forces in Vietnam are growing at an alarming rate and supplement the Vietnamese Army - which is now the third largest in the world.

About one third of the USSR's SS20 warheads are deployed in the Soviet Far East and are targeted on East Asia and the Pacific. If the USSR decides to base its nuclear

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capable Backfire and Bear long range strike aircraft in Vietnam, several Australian capital cities will be in reach of the Soviet’s nuclear strike capacity. An even more serious situation would develop if the USSR relocated

some of its SS20 missiles in Vietnam.

Viewed in this light, the Hawke Government’s proposal for a nuclear free zone in the South Pacific makes little sense since it would not affect Soviet nuclear capability in Vietnam. Rather the Soviet nuclear build-up in East Asia underlines the necessity of the United States deterrent

in our region. .

Again, it is not surprising that the Soviet Union supports the nuclear free South Pacific proposal.

But ordinary Australians are entitled to ask why the Hawke Government is pursuing this initiative and for what reason - i.e., apart from placating the Socialist Left.

The Lange Factor Not An Isolated Phenomenon

Regrettably the Lange phenomenon is prevalent in the Australian Labor Party - and not only in the Socialist Left.

In October 1984 ACTU President Cliff Dolan suggested that ANZUS should be scrapped and something different put in its,., place.

Last month Senator Susan Ryan, a senior Minister, openly queried the value of ANZUS. In doing so she breached the Prime Minister's instructions that Ministers should not publicly comment on matters outside their portfolios

in circumstances which involve disagreement with established Government policy.

But Senator Ryan has yet to be publicly rebuked or disciplined by the Prime Minister for querying what is proclaimed to be a cornerstone of Australia's foreign policy. It seems that Mr Hawke is now prepared to resign over ANZUS but does not

expect Ministers who publicly question the validity of the alliance to do likewise.

Senator Ryan and Mr Dolan appear to adopt the Lange view on ANZUS - i.e., an ally is entitled to take all of the benefits but pay none of the costs of an alliance.

Prime Minister Lange epitomised this view in his recent performance at the Oxford Union debate.

According to Mr Lange, New Zealand is entitled to deny to the United States port facilities for its warships. That's democracy.

But the USA is not entitled to respond by refusing to pass on to New Zealand its intelligence information. According to Mr Lange, that's totalitarianism.

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It is little wonder that the United States has railed at this one-sided interpretation of treaty commitments by an ally that spends even less on defence than Australia.

The Peace Movement Is An Anti-Defence Movement

This year, we remember the fortieth anniversary of the end of World War II. "

The Second War came about after the Western allies had variously declared themselves for disarmament, peace, appeasement and neutrality. The end result was the most atrocious war in human history.

Those who today declare their faith in the USSR's willingness to disarm would do well to remember that World War II started immediately after the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact by means of which the two totalitarian dictatorships divided

up Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1941. It is also worth remembering that whilst Hitler and the Nazis were defeated in 1945, Stalin's heirs still rule in Moscow.

I totally reject the view repeatedly advanced by Senator Chipp and Peter Garrett, and on occasions by Mr Hayden, that democratically elected governments in the United States are somehow equally responsible for the arms race as the totalitarian Soviet Union. · ' · · . . · ’

The current nuclear deployments are such that only the USSR has, or is likely to develop in the short term, a first strike capacity.

Those who advocate unilateral nuclear disarmament should ask themselves one central question: is it likely that an atom bomb would have been dropped on Japan in 1945, if the Japanese had possessed nuclear weapons themselves and the capacity to retaliate?

If the answer to this question is in the negative (and. I sincerely believe it is) then this demonstrates that the possession of nuclear weapons may well be the best means of preventing a nuclear war - short of there being an

effective disarmament agreement in existence.

What is termed the "peace movement" is really an "anti­ defence movement". All rational and decent people believe in peace. The crucial question is whether peace is best achieved through strength or through unilateral acts of disarmament.

The United States Government is of the view that peace will best be achieved through strength - not weakness. This is an attitude which I completely share.

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The Reagan Administration's tough line on defence and security is working. This may be an unfashionable comment - but it is true nevertheless.

The Soviet Union decided to return to the negotiating table in Geneva only after Moscow became convinced that the Reagan Administration was determined to proceed with its Strategic Defence Initiative research program and with

further development of the MX Missile.

In other words, the SDI and the MX have facilitated talks between the Super Powers aimed at mutual arms reductions.

And yet the Hawke Government has totally dissociated Australia from the MX and from any participation whatsoever in the SDI research program.

The cost of appeasing the Socialist Left and humouring the Centre Left is high indeed - especially when the defence of the joint facilities in Australia depends on the effectiveness of the capacity of the United States to deter unprovoked military attacks.

The Prime Minister should have placed his job on the line when the MX crisis first arose. Such a move would have been strategically correct and politically popular. But the Prime Minister chose the relatively easy tactic of

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Mr Hawke's weakness in the face of the Socialist Left has done long-term harm to Australia's security.

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