US Diplomacy, Aims and Objectives
In mid-November, President Biden and China’s President Xi met in San Francisco. That did not prevent Biden from describing Xi as a “dictator”. Insulting a foreign guest, the president of a country which is your leading peer competitor is neither smart, nor diplomatic. The US appears to have rejected Xi’s offer to “enhance solidarity and cooperation, to join hands to meet global challenges, and to promote global security and prosperity”. Biden will go down in history as the oldest US President ever. He might also have been remembered as the Old Man who brought vast experience and wisdom to secure a peaceful world. Instead, he has contributed to violent conflict in Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Hamas, and potentially China.
The US has always mixed ideologies with naked power struggles and claims of good versus evil; democracy versus communism.
In October 2023, Biden spoke of the need for a “new world order” saying the current system had “run out of steam”. However, what he really meant was a world order revolving around the US which is at odds with the sentiments of countries in the Global South. The UN Security Council currently consists of 15 members, 10 of which serve for two-year terms and cannot veto resolutions. Only the five permanent members have the power of veto, - the US, UK, China, France, and Russia. Many world leaders have called for the reform of the Security Council but to no avail.
The “China Threat”
In a recent speech by Chinese President, Xi Jinping to an audience of 300 American business leaders in San Francisco, he received a standing ovation. What he said was: “Just as mutual respect is a basic code of behaviour for individuals, it is fundamental for China-US relations. Our paths are different, but both are the choice of our peoples. They should both be respected”. Xi added that China would be glad to see an ever-growing and prosperous United States but the US should not bet against China nor interfere in China’s internal affairs. Xi encouraged the US to welcome a peaceful, stable, and prosperous China. However, anything China says or does is automatically treated as an indication of its hostile mindset and aggression.
Wars and Violence
The US has repeatedly invaded and pursued military aggression and proxy warfare against other nations. These include Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. No other government has surrounded the planet with hundreds of military bases, targeting populations with deadly force around the world.
Tufts University reports that the US has undertaken more than 500 international military interventions since 1776. Brown University has reported that the “Global War on Terror” after 2001 produced more than 900,000 direct war deaths and caused an additional 3.6-3.8 million indirect deaths in post-9/11 war zones. While US imposed economic sanctions are intended to serve US interests, it is widely recognised that they disproportionately hurt the poor.
The United Nations General Assembly has once more called on Washington (for the 31st time) to end its decades-long economic blockade of Cuba. The US initially broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1960, after Fidel Castro and the Communist Party took over. Restrictions were eased during Barack Obama’s presidency but were reimposed by Trump. Biden has doubled down and has done nothing to end the trade restrictions despite international condemnation.
As of October 2023 there have been more than 560 mass shootings across the US this year and in the previous three years, there were more than 600 mass shootings each year. The National Rifle Association is the most powerful gun lobby in the US. In June 2021, Texas legislated to allow its citizens to carry handguns without a license and in April 2022, Georgia became the 25th state to eliminate the need for a permit to carry a firearm. American gun control is out of control!
According to former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder, a compromise peace to end the war in Ukraine was well within reach in the European spring of 2022. Former Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, among others has revealed that the West, led by Biden blocked those peace efforts.
The world is consistently told that NATO expansion was irrelevant to Russia’s invasion, but in an unguarded moment, NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg admitted in September 2023 that Putin had launched his war as a reaction to the threat of NATO expanding into Ukraine. Stoltenberg also acknowledged that Putin had submitted a draft treaty calling for NATO to promise no further enlargement as a precondition for not invading Ukraine, but Biden flatly rejected negotiations. Russia could not accept a US/NATO military presence on its 2,300 km border with Ukraine. Zelensky’s former adviser told him, “with a 99.9% probability, our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia”.
In March 2023, Fiona Hill (who served as an intelligence analyst under Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama) told the German newspaper, Die Zeit that “It was always obvious that NATO’s enlargement to Ukraine and to Georgia was a provocation for Putin”. And yet the claim that the invasion was entirely “unprovoked” has become an article of faith in Western discourse. Even Biden recognised that NATO’s eastward creep was a fundamental source of Russian unhappiness and would provoke Russian hostility. However, any suggestion that the Russian invasion was “provoked” is now verboten.
Australia – Quo Vadis?
The “China threat” narrative has become so hardwired that a world without American global leadership is beyond Australia’s imagination. As China became more successful, Canberra became alarmed and the Gillard government agreed to host a US Marine rotation in Darwin making Australia even more integrated into the American military. In 2021, as the Trump administration hardened its language on China Defence Minister Peter Dutton said that “It was inconceivable that Australia would not join the US in a war with China over Taiwan”.
Only five years ago, in 2018 Prime Minister Morrison said Australia did not have to choose between the US and China. That changed with lightning speed and by 2019 China was being depicting as an existential threat. Canberra looked to its Anglosphere cousins for protection. Then, in 2021 Morrison announced the secretly negotiated AUKUS nuclear powered submarine deal, describing it as the single greatest initiative in Australia since the ANZUS alliance. When the Labor government, led by Anthony Albanese took power following the 2022 election, Australia’s China policy barely changed and the “China threat” narrative continued to pulse through Australia. Labor unhesitatingly endorsed AUKUS. Australia’s decision to purchase the nuclear powered submarines makes it virtually impossible for Canberra to say no to Washington.
Labor Government in Power
The Labor government has come in for scathing criticism. According to Greg Sheridan in The Australian, the Albanese government is coming apart in foreign policy, national security, and defence and its biggest moral failing has been its response to the Israel-Hamas war. This government seems incapable of saying the word “anti-Semitism” for fear of alienating Muslims. As Sheridan wrote, “You can almost see it (the government) calculating - what’s the minimum we can say that will get us past criticism by the Jewish community. What is taboo to say if we want to keep Muslim votes in south-west Sydney”.
On 29 November a small group of Israelis who were in Australia to talk about their trauma were targeted by two dozen pro-Palestinian protesters as they entered their Melbourne hotel. The protesters had placed fake babies covered in blood on the hotel floor! It was reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany! Prime Minister Albanese said their actions have gone beyond the right to protest. Where was Penny Wong? Victoria’s Premier, Jacinta Allan was similarly muted. A Victoria police spokesman said there would be no further investigation into the incident because there was “no criminal element” adding that “No one was injured during the incident”. Was it really necessary for someone to be injured or killed before the police acted?
Peter Dutton was outspoken, saying the protesters were clearly intending to intimidate the Israeli visitors and they should have been arrested, adding that “Only by holding those accountable for hate speech can we ensure we turn back the tide of anti-Semitism in Australia”. Many voices were calling for Dutton to be Prime Minister, saying he was the only one showing true leadership.
The same fence sitting applies to Labor’s China policy. When Albanese went to Washington he stood beside Biden and pledged to de-risk supply chains which were overly dependent on China. He then went to Beijing and lavishly praised China, promising Australia would do every bit of trade with China it could. The Albanese government walks a tightrope in its discussions around “national interest” versus “national security”. The ridiculous, repetitive mantra of Albanese and Penny Wong that “We will cooperate where we can, disagree where we must, and vigorously pursue our national interest” is just “Babble and Squeak” and fails to approach any kind of policy position.
It is unsurprising that this government, only half way into the job, is already experiencing plunging opinion polls.
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