April 04, 2012

America in Australia

The U.S. occupation of Australia has begun. U.S. officials claim the occupation has nothing to do with the behavior of China, leading defense analysts to conclude this has more to do with helping Australia counter the well-publicized scourge of baby-stealing dingos down under. The problem with this kind of dingo-centric "strategy" -- can you even call it that, or is it just a collection of tactics? -- is that it's hard to see how the U.S. Marine Corps will maintain its core competencies while in Australia. I have made a careful study of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1945, and based on that study, I have concluded that amphibious landings are really the heart and soul of the Corps. The history of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1775-1941 and from 1946-present is also quite interesting and may well have included some other stuff, to include counter-dingo operations, but it is largely irrelevant as far as Marine culture and doctrine are concerned. No, amphibious operations are the only thing that really matters, which is why I am also concerned the costly deployment of Marines to Australia will endanger the long-term health of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, without which the U.S. Marine Corps would surely decide to turn in their uniforms and weapons, grow out their hair and take up hemp farming in Idaho.

There are other things that trouble me about this deployment. How many cultural advisors, for example, have these Marines deployed with? How many Marines in each platoon speak the local language or have any training in the tribes and customs of the Australians? How many Marines know that an "Australian" is what you call a native, whereas an "Australiani" is the local unit of currency? (I predict that ten years from now, it will still be possible for esteemed professors of international relations at Harvard to get these two terms confused in the pages of the New York Times.) I understand that U.S. Marines believe "Fosters" is the Australian word for beer, but I worry that few of them know that it is also the Australian word for "cat urine." 

Finally, it may make sense today to limit the U.S. mission in Australia to a struggle to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the dingo menace. But inevitably, U.S. Marines will be drawn into adjudicating the petty internal rivalries of Australia. Without a proper understanding of Australia's culture or troubled history, U.S. Marines will create winners and losers among the population, which will eventually tire of our heavy-handedness. Equally inevitably, well-meaning U.S. Marines will offend Australians by asking awkward questions, like, "Why are all your rugby players from Fiji?"    

Australia is a land populated by criminals, which is why Alexander the Great stopped well short of there. (Alexander the Great understood defense in depth.) The British Empire has been humiliated in Australia time and time again, and there is no reason to imagine that we Americans will have any more luck. I fear we are embarking on another fool's errand.