Preparing Australia for War
America is not preparing to go to war against China. Instead, it is preparing Australia to go to war against China. The 2014 Force Posture Agreement (FPA) between Australia and America provides the basis for US militarisation of Australia. AUKUS has greatly facilitated US war preparation in Australia. There are many indications of this militarisation, including, 2,500 US Marines stationed in Darwin; the stationing of six nuclear weapons capable B-52 bombers in Tyndall NT; and the proposed acquisition of eight nuclear-propelled submarines at a cost of $170 billion for “hunter-killer” operations in the Taiwan Strait. American service personnel are embedded in Australia, and American military assets in Australia are now “interchangeable” with the ADF making it possible to use them against China.[i]
Australia’s Defence Minister, Richard Marles contends that this militarisation “enhances” Australia’s sovereignty by strengthening its war fighting capability! Others say that these arrangements effectively cede Australian sovereignty to America. Almost all agree that if the US goes to war against China over Taiwan, Australia will immediately be at war. Putting aside the merits or demerits of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, almost all Australians recoil with horror at the brutality and loss of life that this war brings. And yet, few seem to envisage, or even think about the developing risk and consequences of Australia engaging alongside the US in a war with China.
This is what Malcolm Fraser wrote in his 2014 book, Dangerous Allies (no prize for guessing who the dangerous Ally is): “Our relationship with the United States has become a paradox. Our leaders argue that we need to keep our alliance with US strong in order to ensure our defence in the event of an aggressive foe. Yet the most likely reason that Australia would need to confront an aggressive foe is our strong alliance with the United States. We need America for our defence from an attacker who is likely to attack us because we use America for defence!” In his book, Fraser also argues that “Giving America the power to say when Australia goes to war is the most dangerous position that Australia can bear.”
Preserving US Supremacy
America’s territory is not threatened by China, but its “pride” is threatened and America is willing to pick a fight to preserve its global domination. The US is determined to prevent the rise of any power which could challenge its global supremacy but this determination has morphed into a strategy of fighting its adversaries by proxy, as demonstrated by the war in Ukraine. America has told Ukraine, “Your war is our war and we are in it for as long as it takes.” However, US Congressman Adam Schiff (among others) has said “We support Ukraine …. To fight Russia over there, so that we don’t have to fight it over here”.
In the case of China, the proxy of choice is Taiwan. The US strategy envisages leaving Taiwan to conduct its own defence relying on a constant supply of arms and equipment from the US and its allies.
Australia’s Security Strategy
Australia’s National Security Strategy is comprehensively reviewed in a four-part analysis published in early February 2023 in Pearls & Irritations.[ii] Australia’s foreign and strategic policy has shifted from cooperation with China to pushing back and containment, alongside the US.
The review authors contend that China has undertaken a massive build-up of its military capability at a time when it was under no obvious threat! Indeed, the threat from the US could not be clearer nor greater.
The review offers nothing new. What about peace? There is no mention of peace initiatives, arms control measures, neutrality or non-alignment. There are neutral countries in the world, including Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland in Europe (even as the Ukraine war rages). The 120 member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement are not aligned with or against any major power block. This Movement came into being in 1971 through the initiative of the leaders of India, Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Ghana. 53 out of 55 African countries are members. However, none of the members of the Five Eyes group including, America, Australia, and the United Kingdom are members.
Although Australia’s foreign policy objectives are not the same as those of the US (which is to preserve its hegemonic superpower status) Australia’s military alliances are primarily directed, together with America, at deterring the “China threat”. The Australian government claims that the alliance with America is “based on our shared identities and values and the desire for a peaceful way of life.” As for a “peaceful way of life” the record could not be clearer - the US has been at war for 97% of the time of its existence, while China has not engaged in military activity outside its borders for 40 years, and it does not project military power, while the US does so with 800 bases around the globe.
Until recently, US policy (followed by Australia) has been one of “strategic ambiguity”, but that has now changed and the US makes no pretence about its intention to support and “defend” Taiwan if China pursues unification. This is the case even though Beijing is recognised by 170 nations (including USA and Australia) as the ultimate sovereign of China (including Taiwan). Taiwan has been an intrinsic part of China for over 300 years, well before the creation of the US and long before Australia was first settled by Europeans.[iii]
It would be ludicrous to deny Australia’s commitment to support the US in any such action, even though Paul Keating has emphasised that Australia has no strategic interest in entering into any such conflict. Without US intervention, China and Taiwan would almost certainly find a solution which works for both of them, without bloodshed, but that would not suit US objectives, and it is US interference (aided and abetted by Australia, NATO and others) that provokes the risk of war.
The ANZUS Treaty
The cornerstone of Australia’s security policy remains the 1951 ANZUS alliance. Australia had hoped for a security guarantee but that was resisted by the US, in stark contrast with the security guarantees enjoyed by both Japan and South Korea. ANZUS provides only for “consultation” in the case of an attack. Despite the absence of any security guarantee, the ANZUS Treaty is invoked as justification for Australia’s participation in almost every American military venture since WWII. Now, America has been granted the right to wage war from Australian territory, making an attack on Australia more likely. Australia’s Pine Gap and other facilities provided to America have made and continue to make Australia a nuclear target.
The Albanese government has stopped beating the “drums of war” and looks cautiously towards “respectful cooperation” with Beijing, but it also underscores its strong commitment to the policies of the Morrison government, including its commitment to the US alliance and increased defence spending. Defence Minister, Richard Marles is clear: “Our alliance with the United States is completely central to our national security and to our worldview.”[iv]
If Australia were to make good on its commitment to be involved in a war over Taiwan, its Navy would likely be obliterated and its command centres wiped out by Chinese missiles. The US is unlikely to directly defend Australia although it would “support” Australia through arms sales to replace Australian losses just as it does in Ukraine. There is a strong whiff of a “no boots on the ground” defence for Australia.
The strategic review concludes that the mainstay of the AUKUS agreement was the acquisition of nuclear-powered attack submarines by Australia, conditioned by the rapid increase in China’s military capability and “assertive” behaviour in the South China Sea. The major area of operation for these submarines would be the waters surrounding China’s naval bases.
Building these boats presents major challenges for Australia: Australia lacks the necessary skilled workforce; the cost, estimated to be $170 billion is astronomical (where will the money come from?); the prospect of Australia having “sovereign control” of these submarines is remote; and providing trained operating crews is highly problematic. That does not even address the more important question of whether it is in Australia’s national interest to engage in a war with China which is the clear reason for these subs which would become a division of the US fleet.
Kurt Campbell, the US Coordinator of the Indo-Pacific is quoted as saying that with AUKUS, America has succeeded in “getting Australia off the fence. We have them locked in now for the next 40 years.” What has become of Australia’s sovereignty?
The China “Threat” and the Media
The China threat is based on the false premise, constantly promoted by the Western media, that China presents a “military threat”. As Australian author, Caitlin Johnstone writes: “Australians are uniquely vulnerable to propaganda because our nation has the most concentrated media ownership in the Western world, the lion’s share of it by Rupert Murdoch.”[v] Her article is worth reading in full. Here is the link: https://johnmenadue.com/murdoch-propaganda-pushes-australia-to-double-its-military-budget-for-war-with-china/ The Western world (including Australia) is divided into believers and sceptics (of which there are few). This is not surprising. The media pervades every aspect of our daily lives.
There is no real evidence, only conjecture that China proposes to use force against any other country, including Australia. It is true that China has increased its defence capability in response to the US naval presence just off China’s coastline. However, the bases which China has constructed in the South China Sea pale when compared to the hundreds of bases that the US has ranged all around China. The real threat comes from Australia’s great and powerful ally – the USA.
The increasing size of China’s economic and military strength (from which Australia benefits by contributing its resources) is portrayed as a “threat” to Australia, but this has Australia trapped in an absurd policy paradox of preparing to go to war against China despite Australia’s trade with China, providing it with the iron ore and other resources which China needs for its military and other purposes!
[i]The US is preparing Australia to Fight its War against China, John Lander, 1 Feb 2023 [ii] Australia’s National Security Strategy, by Michael Keating and Jon Stanford [iii] Australia's Taiwan Nightmare, by Richard Cullen,6 Feb 2023 [iv] Deciphering Australia's new Tune on China, James Curran, 10 Jan 2023 [v] Murdoch Propaganda Pushes Australia to Double its Military Budget for War with China, 16 Feb 2023