The recently-announced buildup of U.S. military presence in Australia is unlikely to make the Asia-Pacific country more of a terrorist target, according to terrorism expert and University of Queensland Professor Marianne Hanson.
“In theory, of course, it can be (a target) and it’s quite possible, but you have to see it in context,” Professor Hanson said. There is nothing in particular that makes the new U.S. base standout in the target priorities of terrorists.
The comment is notable first in that it is an implicit acknowledgement that permanent U.S. military installations in nonthreatening countries is one of the primary motivations behind Islamic terrorism, as opposed to the hating-our-freedom line of thought so often proffered by Washington.
Secondly, it isn’t clear the threat of Islamic terrorism was a part of the controversy regarding the newfangled expansion military presence in Australia. Instead, issues of profligacy in times of austerity, needless provocation of China, and realities on the ground at the new base were paramount.
As Brown University Professor Catherine Lutz has said, “The United States has a vast and expensive network of roughly 1000 military bases around the world. To add another in Australia flies in the face both of organized calls from many quarters to reduce that number as well as the certainty that this will stimulate further military competition and spending by China in response.”
“U.S. military base expansion in Guam,” Lutz explained, “has faced much local resistance including lawsuits and protests largely because of land taking, disruption of sacred sites and concerns about environmental damage. In Okinawa, Japan, one of the main issues has been abuse of local women by U.S. Marines posted there.”
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