Wednesday, March 02, 2005
News Makes You Cynical
Mainstream coverage of the scarcely calculable catastrophe of the Asian tsunami has by now long been firmly consigned to "human interest" stories. Scroll right down the page to find out one way in which responsible journalists responded to the ill-bred malcontents who wondered aloud what the disaster meant politically.
Thank Sheldon, then, for the military press, to which it's again fallen to report what might be important news. Under the headline "US turns tsunami into military strategy" Jane's "Foreign Report" from mid-February reports:
"In the flurry of rushing international aid to the devastated region, Washington quietly furthered its national security strategy of increasing its military bases in the Indian Ocean region. Its aim - dominating the international stage and, more importantly, containing its potential rival China."
At the risk of violating the intellectual property rights of a journal I like and respect very much, I shall quote loads more. I do so on the understanding that Jane's and all its mates are free to quote me or the ape any time they like. Just don't get military on us.
"the US revived the Utapao military base in Thailand, which it had used during the Vietnam War. Task Force 536 is to be moved there to establish a "forward positioning" site for the US Air Force and cargo.
During subsequent tsunami relief operations, the US re-activated its military co-operation agreements with Thailand and the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines. Alongside this, in keeping with previous treaties, US Navy vessels used facilities in Singapore.
The US Marines and the US Navy also arrived to bolster relief measures in Sri Lanka, despite the tsunami-hit island's initial reluctance to permit them entry. Washington has long wanted a naval presence in Trincomalee, eastern Sri Lanka, or, alternatively, in Galle, further south, to shorten the supply chain from its major regional military base in distant Diego Garcia, the British Indian Ocean Territory leased to the US in 1966 for 50 years.
Alongside this, the US was continuing its survey of the Strait of Malacca, through which nearly 90 per cent of Japan's oil supplies passes and over which China exercises considerable influence."