Shooting down an ANZUS enemy

Australia's ANZUS treaty depends on American superiority in the Pacific, and time is running out to fix the Joint Strike Fighter debacle that threatens both.

Our Foreign Affairs Minster, Bob Carr, is one of Australia’s greatest students of US history. Australia needs him to put that knowledge to good use because the effectiveness of our ANZUS alliance with the US now faces a long-term danger.

Bob should spend this ANZAC day going back into history to be reminded that his 1950 counterpart, Sir Percy Spender, realised that Australia needed a long-term alliance with the US. Spender’s view is just as true in 2012 as it was in 1950.

ANZUS was born because after many knockbacks from US defence and foreign affairs people, Spender gained a 15 minute audience with US President Harry Truman.

For most of the 15 minutes Spender sympathised with Truman over the press treatment of his daughter’s singing performance the night before.

With only a few minutes of the 1950 Spender-Truman discussion time still left, Truman asked Spender whether there was anything specific Spender wanted. It was Spender’s chance. In those few minutes Truman agreed to an Australia-US alliance and ANZUS was born.

The short treaty is all about peace in the region. Article three of the treaty says:

"The Parties will consult together whenever in the opinion of any of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened in the Pacific”.

If America loses air superiority in our the region ANZUS is effectively dead as protection for Australia. America’s long-term air superiority depends on the Joint Strike Fighter being successful. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out many times (Third strike in a defence debacle, December 16), the JSF development is currently a disaster – so we need to invoke article three and consult with the US. Time is running out.

The Canadian Press is now onto the fact that their parliament has been mislead by their defence department over the JSF. And the new elections in Holland are likely to see Holland pull out of its participation in the JSF program.

Most members of Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade understand the JSF danger (Time for a JSF dogfight, March 23).

In invoking clause three of ANZUS Carr needs to try to help the Americans, because when they realise what has happened to the JSF they could pull out of the program altogether, as whoever wins the presidential elections looks for defence cuts. For Australia that would be a disaster.

What we want the US to do is to merge the JSF program with the F22, which has been sidelined (some say to enable Lockheed Martin to earn greater profits via the JSF). The combination of the two will ensure air superiority of the US well into the future.

Bob, you came back to politics because you want to serve your country. Just as Percy Spender gave us ANZUS you can save it. And I think you are the only person in the parliament who can.