Thursday 11 Aug 2022 | 05:43 | SYDNEY
Thursday 11 Aug 2022 | 05:43 | SYDNEY

Cat among the carrier pigeons


Rory Medcalf


2 August 2012 12:09

Australia's Fairfax newspapers have set the cat among the carrier pigeons, with these dramatic reports about supposed 'plans' and 'recommendations' for a US nuclear aircraft carrier base in Western Australia.

What the news stories neglect to mention is that the relevant American report, prepared by independent think tank the Center for International and Strategic Studies for the US Department of Defense, does not in fact recommend such a base. Instead, the report, which has been on a US Senator's website for a week, simply considered this idea as one of many within four wider options for a rebalanced US force posture in Asia. Crucially, the Perth carrier base idea is conspicuously absent from the recommendations section, set out on pages 89-94 of the report (full text here).

The initial press stories had warned of such a base being hugely expensive. That, along with the obvious diplomatic and political dimensions, would seem a major reason why the option is less than feasible.

The CSIS report's principal authors have been giving Congressional testimony on these issues today, and will be writing for The Interpreter soon to put the report in context. But the political pigeons are already in full flight, with Chinese security analysts and the Australian Greens party quick to call for the rejection of a non-existent US plan.

Photo by Flickr user Kibbe Museum.