Around twenty people attended professor Virginia Tilley’s lecture, which focussed on plans by the United States to bring more guns and ships into the Pacific.
Tilley said the Pacific is attractive to the US government due to its large sea mass.
“Everyone is after your raw materials. Your land mass is small but your sea power is huge.”
Tilley said the US desire to militarise the Pacific is about making money and gaining access to resources, in line with global competition with China for resources such as oil. US interest in the Pacific is what Hilary Clinton has called a ‘pivot’, where the American’s focus of its military budget has shifted from the Middle East to Asia Pacific, said Tilley.
She said the USA’s military budget far exceeds that of any other nation.
“The US military budget is continuing to rise. The question is, why is it continuing to rise when most of the world is at peace?” she said. “The US is driven by something quite urgent. They need markets, they need places to spend that money and they need people to want (its military products).”
Tilley said increased militarisation will divert resources away from more important government projects.
“The problem is, when governments get sucked into (militarisation), the money needs to come from somewhere. And it’s going to come from the money governments would have spent on roads, on health, on schools, and all these things that we like to have.”
She said an increased military presence in the Pacific will contribute to a climate of fear and nervousness, which is more likely to lead to a military response.
“The US can’t just move in on you. They can’t just take your resources against your will. We haven’t seen that, and I don’t think we will see that. I think the risk is the region will become more tense.”
She said Pacific nations should be cautious in accepting militarisation.
“You actually have a lot of leverage in this kind of situation. You have huge sea power, and you have allies – you have allies in Australia, you have allies in New Zealand. Those allies might not all speak with one voice, but there is a great deal of concern (for small Pacific nations).”