FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Australia Beckons a War With China

Photo by Marko Mikkonen | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Marko Mikkonen | CC BY 2.0

 

Australia is sleep-walking into a confrontation with China. Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an “alliance” with an unstable superpower.

The United States is at a critical moment. Having exported its all-powerful manufacturing base, run down its industry and reduced millions of its once-hopeful people to poverty, principal American power today is brute force. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria — following his bombing of a mosque and a school — he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.

Trumps attack on Syria had little to do  with chemical weapons. It was, above all, to show his detractors and doubters in Washington’s war-making  institutions — the Pentagon, the CIA, the Congress — how tough he was and prepared to risk a war with Russia.  He had spilled blood in Syria, a Russian protectorate; he was surely now on the team. The attack was also meant to say directly to President Xi, his dinner guest: this is how we deal with those who challenge the top dog.

China has long received this message. In its rise as the world’s biggest trader and manufacturer, China has been encircled by 400 US military bases — a provocation described by a former Pentagon strategist as “a perfect noose”.

This is not Trump’s doing. In 2011, President Barack Obama flew to Australia to declare, in an address to parliament, what became known as the “pivot to Asia”: the biggest build-up of US air and naval forces in the Asia Pacific region since the Second World War. The target was China.  America had a new and entirely unnecessary enemy. Today, low-draft US warships, missiles, bombers, drones operate on China’s doorstep.

In July, one of the biggest US-led naval exercises ever staged, the biennial Operation Talisman Sabre, will rehearse a blockade of the sea lanes through which run China’s commercial lifelines. Based on a Air-Sea Battle Plan for war with China, which prescribes a preemptive “blinding” attack, this “war game” will be played by Australia.

This is not urgent news. Rather, the news is the “threat” that China poses to “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea by building airstrips on disputed reefs and islets. The reason why — the “noose” — is almost never mentioned.

Australia in the 21st century has no enemies. Not even a melancholy colonial imagination that conjured Asia falling down on us as if by the force of gravity can conjure a single contemporary enemy. No one wants to bomb or occupy Australia.  Well, not yet.

As Australian political, military and intelligence establishments are integrated into the war plans of a growing American obsession — the shift of trading, banking and development power to the east —  Australia is making an enemy it never bargained for. A frontline has already been marked at Pine Gap, the spy base the CIA set up near Alice Springs in the 1960s, which targets America’s enemies, beckoning, of course, massive retaliation.

Last October, the opposition Labor Party’s defence spokesman, Richard Marles, delighted the US admirals and generals at a conference in Hawaii by demanding that Australian naval commanders should have the authority to provoke nuclear-armed China in the disputed South China Sea. What is it about some Australian politicians whose obsequiousness takes charge of their senses?

While the coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull has resisted such a clear and present danger, at least for now, it is building a $195 billion war arsenal, one of the biggest on earth — including more than $15 billion to be spent on American F-35 fighters already distinguished as hi-tech turkeys. Clearly, this is aimed at China.

This view of Australia’s region is shrouded by silence. Dissenters are few, or frightened. Anti-China witch hunts are not uncommon. Indeed, who, apart from former prime minister Paul Keating, speaks out with an unambiguous warning? Who tells Australians that, in response to the “noose” around it, China has almost certainly increased its nuclear weapons posture from low alert to high alert?

And who utters the heresy that Australians should not have to “choose” between America and China: that we should, for the first time in our history, be truly modern and independent of all great power: that we should play a thoughtful, imaginative, non-provocative, diplomatic role to help prevent a catastrophe and so protect “our interests”, which are the lives of people.

John Pilger’s new film, The Coming War on China, is available in the US from www.bullfrogfilms.com

More articles by:

John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman - TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail