JOHN MENADUE. Tugging our forelock again and again to our dangerous ally. An update

The US has coming calling again. Not an Admiral  this time but  the Pentecostalist Secretary of State Mike Pompeo . He is whistling us up as a faithful dog to join with the US in tackling the problems which Donald Trump created with Iran and presumably to soften us up to host  missiles to protect the US marines and port facilities in Darwin. And Pine Gap.

We are  being softened up again step by step to support the US military and industrial complex that promotes  perpetual war.

The US is the greatest threat to peace in the world. It is an aggressor across the globe. It is the most violent country  both at home and abroad. And people know it. The Pew Research Centre found in 2018 that 45% of people surveyed around the world saw ‘US power and influence as a major threat’

Retired US Defence Secretary Mattis complained that President Trump should show more respect for allies. But the US shows most respect for allies that do what they are told or supinely comply, like Australia. Our PM even gets an invitation to dinner with Trump and Scott Morrison cannot contain his eagerness. Our media join in the vicarious thrill of it all.

Apart from brief isolationist periods, the US has been almost perpetually at war; wars that we have been foolishly  drawn into. The US has subverted and overthrown numerous governments over two centuries. It has a military and business complex,  a ‘hidden state’, that depends on war for influence and enrichment. It believes in its ‘manifest destiny’ which brings with it an assumed moral superiority which it denies to others. The problems did not start with Trump. They are long-standing and deep rooted.

Unfortunately, many of our political, bureaucratic, business and media ‘elites’ have been so long on an American drip feed that they find it hard to think of a world without an American focus. We had a similar and dependent view of the UK in the past. That ended in tears in Singapore.

Conservatives rail about Chinese influence but they and we are immersed and dominated by all things American,including the Murdoch media. Our media do regard Australia as the 51st American state. Just look at the saturation coverage of the Democrat primaries with the presidential election  still 15 months away! Easy and lazy news. Its harder and nowhere near as interesting to cover much more important news in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In this blog  (Is war in the American DNA?), I have drawn attention to the risks we run in being ‘joined at the hip’ to a country that is almost always at war. The facts are clear. The US has never had a decade without war. Since its founding in 1776 the US has been at war 93% of the time. These wars have extended from its own hemisphere, to the Pacific, to Europe and most recently to the Middle East. The US has launched 201 out of 248 armed conflicts since the end of WWII. In recent decades most of these wars have been unsuccessful. The US maintains 700 military bases or sites around the world including in Australia. In our own region it has massive deployment of hardware and troops in Japan, the ROK and Guam.

US fleets patrol in strength off the Chinese coast. The US would have mass hysteria if the Chinese fleet patrolled off the Californian coast or Florida Keys,as it is  legally entitled to do!

The US led illegal invasion of Iraq encouraged by John Howard has resulted, directly and indirectly in the death of  a million people and the displacement of  millions of  people. It has exposed historic religious,tribal and ethic tensions. World wide terrorism and ISIS are the direct result of US aggression and our complicity.John Howard is never held responsible for the massive calamity that he helped facilitate. He remains a national hero at least in the Liberal Party.

The US has been  meddling in other countries’ affairs and elections for a century. It tried to change other countries’ governments 72 times during the cold war. Many foreign leaders were assassinated. In the piece reproduced in this blog (The fatal expense of US Imperialism)Professor Jeffrey Sachs said

‘The scale of US military operations is remarkable. … The US has a long history of using covert and overt means to overthrow governments deemed to be unfriendly to the US. … Historian John Coatsworth counts 41 cases of successful US-led regime change for an average of one government overthrow by the US every 28 months for centuries”.

The overthrow ,assasination,or interference in foreign governments are diverse, including Honduras, Guatemala, Iran, Haiti, Congo, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently, Syria.

And this interference continued with the undermining of the pro-Russian government in the Ukraine by the US-backed Maidan coup in 2014. Gorbachev and Bush agreed that in allowing the reunification of Germany, NATO would not extend eastwards. But with US encouragement, NATO has now provocatively extended right up to the borders of Russia. Not surprisingly Russia is resisting.

Despite all the evidence of wars and meddling in other countries’ affairs, the American Imperium continues without serious check or query in America or Australia.

There are several reasons why the American record of war and interference has not been challenged.

The first is what is often described as America’s “manifest destiny”; the God-given right to interfere in other countries’ affairs. This right is not given to others because many Americans see themselves as more virtuous and their system of government better than others.

Despite their assumed world role, many Americans have a limited understanding of other countries’ culture and life. Only 32% of Americans have passports. In the UK and Australia it is 70%. Before he became President, George Bush had only been overseas once. That was to visit Beijing where his father was the Ambassador.

Professor Tom Nichols reported in this blog (How America lost its faith in expertise, and why that matters) Public Policy Polling that revealed that 43% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats supported bombing a place called ‘Agrabah’ which turned out to be a fictional place in a cartoon. Only an ignorant people could presume that their country should bomb a city that did not exist! To this day 70% of registered Republicans doubt that Obama is an American citizen.

The US has invaded countries it knew about and in many cases, cultures and people it knew nothing about, who were assumed to be less virtuous and wise than the US. In examining the failure in Vietnam, General Walter T Kerwin Jr observed that ‘we never understood the Vietnamese. We think we know best. We tried to force on them what they should do…’ The ignorance of ordinary Americans and its politicians, of other countries is legendary but possibly just as important is their resistance to any relief of that ignorance. That may not seem unusual – but it is dangerous for a country with overwhelming military power employed around the globe.

The second reason why the American Imperium continues largely unchecked is the power of what President Eisenhower once called the “military and industrial complex” in the US. In 2019, I would add  the intelligence community and politicians to that complex who depend heavily on funding from powerful arms manufacturers across the country and the military and civilian personnel in over 4,000 military facilities across the US. Democrats and Republicans  both court these wealthy arms suppliers and their employees.

The intelligence community, universities and think-tanks also have a vested interest in the American Imperium.

This complex which co-opts institutions and individuals in Australia, is often called “the hidden state”. It has enormous influence. No US president nor for that matter any Australian prime minister would likely challenge it.

Australia has locked itself into this complex. Our military and defence leaders are heavily dependent on the US Departments of Defence and State, the CIA and the FBI for advice. But it goes beyond advice. The ‘five eyes’ led by the CIA applied pressure to us on 5G as part of a broader campaign to attack almost all things Chinese.We willingly respond and join the US in disasters like Iraq and the Middle East. While the UN General Assembly votes with large majorities to curb nuclear proliferation, we remain locked in to the position of the US and other nuclear powers.

Our autonomy and independence is also at great risk because our defence/security ‘elites’ in Canberra have as their holy grail the concept of “interoperability” with the US. This is mirrored in  US official and think-tank commentary on the role they see for us in our region.   So powerful is US influence and our willing cooperation with it that our foreign policies have been largely emasculated and sidelined by the defence and security views of both the US and their acolytes in Australia.

The concept of interoperability does not only mean equipment. It also means personnel where increasingly large numbers of Australian military personnel are embedded in the US military and defence establishments, especially in the Pacific Command in Hawaii. The last US Commander in Hawaii  very nearly became the new US Ambassador in Australia. Instead he was sent to Seoul to keep the ROK in line.

The US military and industrial complex and its associates have a vested interest in America being at war and our defence establishment, Department of Defence, ADF, Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the ‘Intelligence’ community are locked-in American loyalists.

As Geoff Raby in this blog has argued , our security and intelligence agencies like ASIO and ASIS have led and bullied the Australian Government into hysteria over China. The collectors of intelligence have become the propagandists and policy  makers. Paul Keating calls them ‘nutters’ .  DFAT has been sidelined. With our intelligence agencies out of control it is not surprising to see the travesty of the prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K. The wrong people are being charged.

The third reason for the continuing dominance of the American Imperium is the way the US expects others to abide by a “rules-based international order” which was largely determined at Bretton Woods after WWII and embedded in various UN agencies. That ‘order’ reflects the power and views of the dominant countries in the 1940s. It does not recognize legitimate interests of newly-emerging countries like China who now insist on playing a part in an international rules-based order.

The US only follows an international rules-based order when it suits its own interests. It pushes for a rules-based system in the South China Sea while refusing to endorse UNCLOS (Law of the Sea) or accept ICJ decisions. The invasion of Iraq was a classic case of breaking the rules. It was illegal .The resultant death and destruction in Iraq met the criteria for war crimes. But the culprits have gone scot free.

It is a myth that democracies like America will behave internationally at a higher level of morality than other counties. Countries act in their own interests as they perceive them. We need to discount the noble ideas espoused by Americans on how they run their own country on the domestic front, and look instead at how they consistently treat other countries. Consider how the Kurds are being treated. They led the fight against ISIS but are now largely abandoned by the US and other ‘allies’.  The Kurds are holding the Australian wives and children of ISIS fighters but we are so slow to decently help.The scrapping of the alliance with the Kurds is made the more dishonourable by the emergence of the new version of the US/Saudi alliance with its resulting tragedy in Yemen.

US claims about how well they run their own country are challenged on so many fronts. Forty three million US citizens live in poverty, they have a massive prison population with its indelible racist connotations, guns are ubiquitous and they refuse to address the issue. Violence is as American as cherry pie. It is embedded in US behaviour both at home and abroad.

The founding documents of the US inspire Americans and many people throughout the world. “The land of the free and the home of the brave” still has a clarion call. Unfortunately, those core values have often been denied to others. For example, when the Philippines sought US support it was invaded instead. Ho Chi Minh wanted US support for independence but Vietnam was invaded.

Like many democracies, including our own, money and vested interests are corrupting public life.  ‘Democracy’ in the US has been replaced by ‘Donocracy’, with practically no restrictions on funding of elections and political activity for decades. Vested interests  are largely unchecked. House of Representatives electorates are gerrymandered and poor and minority group voters are often excluded from the rolls. The powerful Jewish lobby, supported by fundamentalist Christians, has run US policy off the rails on Israel and the Middle East.

The US has slipped to number 21 as a ‘flawed democracy’ in the Economist’s Intelligence 2016 Democracy Index. (NZ was ranked 4 and Australia 10). It noted that ‘public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the US.’ That was before Trump!

Many democracies are in trouble. US democracy is in more trouble than most. There is a pervasive sickness.

 Our risky dependence on the US cannot be avoided or excused by laying problems at the door of Donald Trump. Malcolm Fraser warned us about a dangerous ally long before Donald Trump came on the scene. US obsession with war and with overthrowing or undermining foreign governments goes back over a century. So does domestic gun violence.

Donald Trump excesses are not likely to  significantly move American policies from what has become the norm over two centuries.

Hugh White has pointed out, the US has in effect now  given up looking after anyone but itself – “America first” . It could of course be argued that Trump is just being honest and saying what US presidents have always done, looking after their own interests even if they refused to admit it.

A major voice in articulating American extremism and the American Imperium is Fox News and Rupert Murdoch who exert their influence not just in America but in its sub serviant ‘allies’ like  Australia. In the media, Fox News supported the invasion of Iraq and is mindless of the terrible consequences. Rupert Murdoch applauded the invasion of Iraq because it would reduce oil prices. Fox and News Corp are leading sceptics on climate change which threatens our planet. In April last year the New York Times told us that outside the White House, Rupert Murdoch is Trump’s chief adviser. Rupert Murdoch runs  political parties as much as media organisations.

But it is not just the destructive role of News Corp in US, UK and Australia. Our media, including the ABC and even SBS, is so derivative. Our media seems to regard Australia as an island parked off New York. We are saturated with news, views, entertainment and sit-coms from the US. It is so pervasive and extensive, we don’t recognize it for its very nature. The last thing a fish recognizes is water.

Mike Keating described (as Hugh White pointed out) that, based on Australian Treasury figures, by 2030 Chinese GDP is projected to be 70% larger than US GDP. It is already 15 % larger. The US has record debt which the recent tax cuts, like those of Reagan and Bush, will only worsen.

One outcome of the declining comparative US economic power is that the US will ask its allies to do more. We saw the influence of US budgetary pressures in its launch of the pivot to the Pacific. We have seen the first step with Marines in Darwin. There are a lot more big steps to come.

The US may return ,hopefully,to its brief periods of isolationism and leave its allies to their own devices. Maybe they will do us a favour!

Despite continual wars, often unsuccessful, the overthrow or subversion of foreign governments and declining US economic influence, US hegemony and domination of Australian thinking continues.

Despite all the evidence, why do we continue in denial?

One reason is that as a small, isolated and white community in Asia we have historically sought an outside protector, first the UK and when that failed, the US. We should not bury in Anzackery  the enormous price we paid for British ‘protection’. We have not shaken off that dependence and subservience to distant empires.

We continue to seek security from our region through a US protector rather than, as Paul Keating put it, security within our own region. Our long-term future depends on cooperation in our region and not reliance on a dangerous and distant ally.

Another reason why we are in denial about the American Imperium, is, as I have described, saturation of our media with US news, views and entertainment. We do not have an independent media . Whatever the US media says about tax cuts for the wealthy, defence or climate change it inevitably gets a good run in our media.

A further reason for the continuing US hegemony in Australian attitudes is the galaxy of Australian opinion leaders who have benefitted from American largesse and support – in the media, politics, bureaucracy, business, trade unions, universities and think-tanks. Thousands of influential Australians have been co-opted by US money and support in ‘dialogues’, study centres and think tanks. The US has nourished  agents of influence in Australia for decades. China is a raw beginner in the use of soft power.

How long will Australian denial of US policies continue? When will some of us stand up? When will our humiliation end?

Are our political leaders right in their assessment that any questioning of the threats posed by our interpretation of the benefits and obligations of the US alliance will lose them an election?

In so far as China is any sort of distant threat it would be much less so if we were not so subservient to the US. The US is determined to make China its enemy. We are cooperating in that process.

The US is a very dangerous ally. It is more likely to get us into trouble than out of trouble.

We are joined at the hip to the most violent and dangerous country in the world.

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23 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Tugging our forelock again and again to our dangerous ally. An update

  1. Thanks JM.
    It is one of the best incisive analysis of our current Australian foreign policy in this area. Paul Keating and other visionary leaders like JM and those in both Government and Opposition need to help the governments in Australia, waking up to the fact that we may one day be used by US. We have to point out the potential dangers Australia faces if we blindly follow US.
    US will have no hesitation using Australia as a battlefield against China and Indonesia etc if it suits her. We will be the one who will suffer most if we allow US to install ballistic facilities or play any major military role for US in Australia’s soil.
    We will be the war zone for US as the Korea and Vietnam in the past. That will be the real tragedy for Australian people.

  2. Anthony Pun says:

    I am privileged and honoured to read such an exemplary piece of writing in describing the Australia-US relations, the true nature of US foreign policy and how we are joined to the hip on these matters.
    Most writers would not reveal all he/she knows about any subject matter less it needs some of with for defense, ie. you do not fire all your bullets all at once and would like to save some for another occasion. I suffered the cowardice of not completely saying what I want to say for fear of being adversely labelled. Your article is indeed an artillery piece!
    In writing this piece, the 1.2 million Chinese Australians salute you for your courage and conviction in speaking out on the real truth and purpose of US foreign policy, We do not love it because it is “Anti-American Imperium” or pro-China; we love it because it gives us a useful and powerful reference when we write in rebuttal to “China Panic” in Australia. You have become the standard quotation that is credible and simple. Many thanks, John.

    • Sam Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      I’ve always appreciated your advocacy for equal recognition and treatment of Chinese Australians in Australia, on this blog and the SMH amongst others. And I second your comment in commending John for formalising what many of us have tried to shine a light on (often limited by the platform or censorship to piecemeal arguments) however, may I politely make the point that your view and advocacy are your own and not the voice of a unified single-minded bloc. I fear such a representation is exactly the seed and evidence needed for those othering and vilifying Chinese Australians as spies, silent infiltrators, disloyal citizens or simply potential turncoats.

      There may be 1.2 million Chinese Australians, most of whom are in fact Australian Chinese (assuming they are Australian citizens and Chinese ethnically) but I doubt many if even a majority of us would approve of being represented without our approval or even knowledge by any one organisation establishd on the myth of a monolithic brain-washed and unquestioning ethno-racial exclusive horde.

      • Anthony Pun says:

        Dear Sam: Thanks for your kind comments and critique. Xenophobia does not distinguish what part of the Chinese diaspora you are from. One brush taints all. As spokesman for the community for nearly decades, the conventional wisdom is to be forthwith with representation, otherwise, it telegraphs disunity among the community. You are not the first to point out about representation and won’t be the last, and your opinion is respected and acknowledged. This debate has been going on since the 1970s in the Chinese community and I would be happy to shoulder the responsibility of my statements. If any one complains, they have to say that the statements were incorrect or bias. Not many Chinese Australians are vocal and I do not wish to stand alone if there are more people like you willing to stand up and possibly groomed to be the next group of leaders. My experience as Chair of the ECC NSW (2 terms) & current Chair of the Multicultural Communities Council of NSW, in making public statements (all media outlets) and with the support of the ethnics leaders, have always claim to speak on behalf of all the diverse communities. Please contact me thru my Facebook page for a conversation.

  3. Tony Kevin says:

    John Menadue’s essay is comprehensive and pitches the tone just right, as the warm reader response confirms. How do we move our political elites towards reason, when our MSM are for the most part locked into mindsets of ‘ dependent belligerency’, to borrow David McIlwain’s useful phrase?

    There are signs of hope . Reading today’s AFR, one sees glimmers of balance in PM Morrison himself. Referring to China as a great and powerful friend as well as trading partner was imaginative.. There are the signs of a real foreign policy debate beginning. John’s essay is a major reference point in this much-needed debate.

  4. Michael Flynn says:

    Thank you JM for the wise words and the comments- sadly all true. Dr HC Coombs in the 1970 Boyer Lectures published by the ABC with the title “The Fragile Pattern Institutions and Man” at page 27 refers to the farewell speech of President Eisenhower as “wise words..to be heeded by us all – even in countries where the concentration of military and industrial power is not yet so overwhelming”. He adds ” There is a third element which is even more disturbing – the degree to which science ( the search for knowledge and understanding the Universe ) is itself geared to the military complex”.

  5. Richard Butler says:

    Thank you for an outstanding survey of the realities of US conduct in international relations. It is clear that how we conduct ourselves, in the context of the Alliance, is a matter of deepest political importance and needs to be reviewed in a manner freed from the erroneous and dangerous notion, that we cannot live without the protection of a larger, heavily armed power. The truth is that our ever deepening such a dependency, on the basis that we need such protection from external attacks, increases the likelihood of such attacks. Any review of the kind that is needed will be opposed by the weapons manufacturers and their allies in much of the media. So it would be tough and frighten the political parties. The answer to this lies in mobilising public opinion. Your modest piece should provide significant help with that task.

  6. Jocelyn, In my understanding Andrew Hastie was comparing our appeasement of China to Europe’s helplessness against fascism. I would like to hear more from Andrew. It will be interesting to see if the crisis precipitated unnecessarily in Hong Kong leads to the removal of President Xi by moderate forces in the Communist Party and Chinese business leaders. I can’t see the Orwellian suppression of Tibetans and Uighurs being necessary for Chinese prosperity or even for Chinese ego and the Hong Kong riots are not good for business. The chorus against the United States falls on deaf ears in the Liberal and Labor Parties.

  7. Kien Choong says:

    I like to tell my Christian and Muslim friends that our loyalty to religion make us vulnerable to being exploited by other – e.g., deposing Jakarta’s Christian governor, allegedly for blasphemy. It seems that Australia’s loyalty to the US is being exploited.

  8. Simon Warriner says:

    Everything you have written is totally correct, John.

    However

    As a very smart man once taught me, in order to get to the truth of any matter you need to ask why 7 times.

    Here is one question that needs to be answered in that exercise:

    WHY is the foreign policy of the USA so heavily influenced by those lobbying on behalf of a small nation who cannot get along with it’s neighbours and which insists on running a form of aparthied that should have died with the end of white rule in South Africa.

    I started my career as a draughtsman, John. Competence in that profession requires an ability to consider all perspectives in order to properly describe the object in question. Understanding politics and international relationships is no different. Far too often there is a single perspective that is ignored, often with a determination that would do a randy bull elephant proud. Lets see if it gets ignored, yet again.

  9. David Macilwain says:

    The subservience of our media to American thinking and influence, and the way this affects the popular consent – or blind cooperation – in US wars is evidently increasing, and just in the last months since the provocations in the Persian Gulf. On SBS now there is one and a half hours of American news at lunchtime on SBS 1, and repeated on SBS 2 at 4.30 every day. The addition of ABC news to PBS newshour has only happened since July. At the same time, the presentation of the intended US coalition in a blockade of the Persian Gulf as a “peace-keeping” or “freedom of navigation” exercise by all our news services and politicians is drawing Australia into a war with Iran and her allies, Russia and China, without this even being recognised.
    That this is the actual intent of “Operation Sentinel” is clear once it is understood that the US and UK were responsible for the attacks on tankers, and provocations that framed Iran. The “generous offer” from the US that it would help us out with strategic oil supplies if those from the Persian Gulf dried up, was presumably made to persuade us to join the US operation against our interest and that of our greatest trading partner China, who it should be noted also has an interest in protecting shipments of Iranian oil.
    We need to wake up to this “inversion of reality” pretty quickly, as I have written recently.

  10. Robert Kent says:

    Don’t forget playwrite Harold Pinter. For years he described the US as the world’s Great
    Rogue state. When he died, what happened? The media was forced to applaud his literary achievements, but tut-tutted his oft expressed idiocy about America.

  11. Jocelyn Pixley says:

    The slavish appeasement of the USA, and before it the UK is part of the problem, and thank you John. The mis-uses of history proceed rapidly, so we see non-historians seeking of the ‘lessons of history’ with non-facts. If Hitler ‘had not been’ appeased, in fact what ‘would have happened’? No one knows. This counterfactual is used relentlessly to justify further aggression, mostly ill-advised to disastrous. The Vietnam War was only one example. Aggressive talk against China is couched similarly (check an op-ed piece in the SMH 9 August, not by a former foot soldier but academic). Teaching actual history is hard to find today, because there one finds no comfort, only grim debates about terrible uncertainty in specific situations. These are so worthwhile, though, because some events have been met by principled, socially-supported positions. Would there were those positions again today!

  12. Rory McGuire says:

    “Attitudes were polarized as never before. . . . . first in the propaganda and finally in the everyday thinking of both sides.” These words were written in 1980 by ANU historian Laurie Fitzhardinge. Now, to show that the human frailties John has so accurately described above have not improved much over the past two and a half millennia, and that the media has not lost its power to condition our thinking, here is what was left out in the first line above: “Sparta and Athens, oligarchy and democracy, Dorian and Ionian, were presented as stark antitheses, . . .” The late Professor Fitzhardinge was writing about the long war between these two states “which as it went on drew in all Greece on one side or the other and left both sides exhausted and embittered.” Does this sound familiar? (See his book The Spartans, Thames and Hudson, p144.)
    As further support for John’s claims of our extravagant subservience to US whims just look at the enthusiasm with which we have signed up for the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, cost unknown but expected to be largely obsolete before it gets into service.
    Finally, I wrote my earlier comments on another post before reading this post of John’s.

  13. Cameron Leckie says:

    Brilliant!

  14. Rob Stewart says:

    Yep. All very excruciatingly true John and it will continue on ad infinitum. I like your addition of “intelligence” to Ike’s military industrial complex.

    Actually, I would include “intelligence” under a suite – Surveillance and Intelligence Technology; I would also add Finance as a broad category (including Ponzi scheme stock and debt markets – mis-regulated and out of control. Big pharma, banking, insurance, agri-business, real estate, other asset bubbles etc, oh and buying politics – could all be included under this category); I would add Entertainment (for the bread and circus role it plays); and finally I would add Prison (or the punishment system) and we would have a more detailed Orwellian, or perhaps I should say Huxwellian, updated overview version of Ike’s “complex’ here in our little patch of Oceania. The crude acronym would be the MISITFEP complex, but I am sure a bit of creative thinking would come up with a less cumbersome, memorable and perhaps even amusing acronym.

    I guess all of the contributing factors ultimately resolve down to money and power – after all, that’s what the neocapitalism era of the Anthropocene is all about. And thanks to Big Brother’s magnificent and benevelont omniscience we are winning the war against EastAsia, or is it Eurasia, or……. whoever, whatever, but there’s always been war, has to be war and we have to do our bit.

  15. Lawry Herron says:

    “But when I look ahead up the white road
    There is always another one walking beside you.” Eliot.
    Our ultimate existential safety depends on Australia’s not being a co-target with the US. A minimum first step is to negative any and all expansion of emplacement of US military and strategic assets within Australian sovereignty (though it is already too late!). Such only ensure that we will be targeted with – probably before – US homeland targets, meaning death.

  16. John O'Callaghan says:

    Great piece of writing on the past present and future role of the US………time to sever the ties before they get us all bloody killed.

  17. Cavan Hogue says:

    Spot on in every way. It is interesting that nobody has asked how basing US marines in Darwin differs from Chinese troops in Cambodia? And the usual suspects tell us that the views of the ultra conservative Mr Hastie are valuable because he risked his life for his country. So did the SS troops. The views of an SAS Captain on complex politico-strategic issues are surely not worth more attention than those of anyone else.

  18. Geoff Miller says:

    Secretary Pompeo was not the only American visitor to Australia in the last week. Another was John Mearscheimer, Professor of International Relations at the University of Chicago, and a noted “realist” in international relations. Speaking both privately and on ABC Radio National he said, with reference to China, that the US “can not tolerate a peer competitor”. If that is true, what are the Chinese expected to do, apart from knuckling under to the US, which they won’t do, and which shouldn’t be required of them?

  19. Jocelyn Chey says:

    Andrew Hastie’s comments on China show he wants Australia to toe the US line. His call for us to develop deep understanding of China and its policies is of course correct, and he should go back to class himself. It is outrageous to compare China with the Third Reich. China is not an expansionist power. It is a rising economic and political superpower. We may not like its activities in the South China Sea or in Myanmar or Central Asia, but we need to understand its motives. We may not like its lobbying and cyber threats, but we can put measures in place to guard against these. As John says, China is a “raw beginner” in the use of soft power. The US is the arch expert. Let us not be taken in by either power.

  20. Michael Hart says:

    I agree completely John, you outline our dangerous predicament accurately and lucidly.

    I agree – no more! Time to say ‘NO’, no more foreign folly, no more participating in wholesale murder and slaughter of innocent civilians, Asian or Middle Eastern or African. Time to stand up as a civilised human and say NO! No we will not participate nor foster pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, No we will not allow you to station such weapons or facilitate their use on our land and NO we will not longer allow our young men and women to be maimed, damaged and killed in your evil service. No we will not sacrifice our country for the selfish ends of your own.

    Time to say YES well will live peacefully with our neighbours, YES we value good commerce and civility with Asia and Asian business. YES we have enough love and compassion left in our souls to be mature, independent but friendly peoples who seek but the same for all our fellow human beings.

    Simple.

  21. Ramesh Thakur says:

    A great piece and great to have it re-posted. A few random comments in response.
    1. ‘ It is the most violent country both at home and abroad’. A timely reminder, given the spate of recent mass killings. Add to this: It is the most violent country for people killed by police shootings. Increasingly I wonder if the violence at home and abroad are not manifestations of the same underlying pathology.
    2. The US media has a dominant influence in the global English-language media, which itself has the dominant presence in all global media. Yet even while all the rest of us are constantly bombarded with US-sourced and oriented news reports and commentary, Americans are the least exposed to and interested in reading what others have to say, no matter how knowledgeable, experienced and insightful they might be.
    3. Given the reality of the second factor, it is a further tragedy that the Americans should dominate the senior ranks of the UN system as the only truly global multilateral organisation we have.
    4. Recently the judges of the International Criminal Court declined to give permission to launch a formal investigation of criminal misconduct by US forces in Afghanistan, as requested by the Prosecutor. This came after Bolton and Pompeo publicly threatened to put the ICC and its judges and officials under US sanction and threat of prosecution in the US criminal justice system if American soldiers were investigated. Imagine the hue and cry about the threat to the rules-based international order if China or Russia had behaved so outrageously. Yet I could find not a single editorial or op-ed in the big four of the US media (NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today) on this.
    In sum, with allies like this, who needs enemies?

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