JOHN MENADUE. We are joined at the hip to a country perpetually at war. Part 3

Next week I will be posting articles asserting that we are running great risks in being tied to what Malcolm Fraser called “our dangerous ally”, an ally almost always at war.  The risks, disasters and dangers pre-date Donald Trump.  Think Vietnam and Iraq.

In recent issues of P & I, I have posted many articles about how America has never had a decade without being at war, how it has subverted and overthrown numerous foreign governments and has a military, industrial, and intelligence and political complex that depends on continual wars.  We have become part of that complex.  

I repost below an article that I initially posted in July 2016 “Is war in the American DNA?”  

In his book ‘Dangerous Allies’ Malcolm Fraser warned us how we can be drawn into US conflicts that are of no concern to us. We have seen that in  following the US into disastrous wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan , Iraq and Syria. Malcolm Fraser spoke of  our ‘dangerous strategic dependence’.

We are ‘joined at the hip’ to a country that is addicted to  permanent war. In recent decades most of Americas’ wars have been  failures for themselves and countless millions of innocent people.

But the failure and torpor continues . Politicians and the military in both the US and Australia try to reassure us that it will be better next time or at least the time after that! As a  frightened country  we cling child like  to a declining,erratic and dangerous protector

What disaster is necessary to force a fundamental rethink by  Ministers,the Opposition and all their senior advisers.?

The US has a long history of involvement in wars. In the in May 2014, and which was carried by the SMH, it showed the number of wars that the US had been involved in since its independence in 1776. The data was well documented. According to this report, the US has been at war 93% of the time since 1776. It added –

  • The US has never had a decade without war. The wars have extended from its own Hemisphere to the Pacific to Europe and most recently to the Middle East.
  • The only time the US went five years without war (1935-40) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression.
  • The US has launched 201 out of 248 armed conflicts since the end of WWII.
  • The US is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending. The next largest spenders as a proportion of GDP are China 8.2%, Russia 4.1% and the UK and France 3.6%.
  • The US maintains over 700 military bases or sites around the world in more than 100 countries.In our region it has powerful military bases in ROK, Japan , a growing Marine basing in Darwin. and of course intelligence gathering at Pine Gap .

In 1953 the US ,with British collaboration overthrew the democratically elected Mosadeq government in Iran in the cause of oil interests. Just think how the region might be now if that had not happened. A year later the US engineered the fall of the Guatamalan government in the interests of the United Fruit Company

The US  has espoused anti colonialism but  the Philippine American War 1898-1903 was a classic attack on a republic that was turned into a US  colony.As American Indians tell us ,Americans speak with forked tongues when it comes to honouring treaties.

And the same war story goes on today. The US has spent over $3 trillion  in Iraq, made the situation worse and destabilised the whole region.

In 1961 President Dwight Eisenhower warned the US about the threat to democratic government posed by the military-industrial complex, a union of defence contractors and armed forces. He said ‘In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.’

The result is that profits and jobs depend heavily on America being at war.

In 2010, speaking at the Eisenhower Library, the former Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, a Republican, said ‘Does the number of warships we have and are building, really put America at risk when the US battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined – 11 of which are our partners and allies? Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the US will have only twenty times more advanced stealth fighters than China? What it takes is the political will and willingness, as Eisenhower possessed, to make hard choices – choices that will displease powerful people both inside the Pentagon and out.’

Add the powerful domestic gun lobby to the powerful military-industrial -intelligence complex spread across the country and it is not surprising that the US, even with its many admirable qualities, is geared to almost perpetual war and violence. We should stop pretending otherwise.

It is even more worrying that the belief is widespread in the US that American  actions in the world represent Gods’s will  in pursuit of it’s ‘manifest destiny’.

The US is a dangerous ally as Malcolm Fraser warned us. Too often we get caught in its slipstream as appears to be happening in the US relationship with China.

And it is not just politicians who join the US cheer squad. I fear that senior Australian officials and advisers , who should know better are also doing so.

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3 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. We are joined at the hip to a country perpetually at war. Part 3

  1. paul frijters says:

    I need some sense of perspective and goal setting to agree or disagree with these types of arguments. Indeed, if you are 100% right then we really do want to be the US ally (if they go to war with everyone else, we want to remain in their tent!). The more one has to worry about the US as an enemy, the less we want them as an enemy.

    Key questions:
    1. Relative to other globally trading empires of the last few hundred years, is the US more or less bellicose? My hunch is ‘less’ considering what I remember about imperial France, England, Germany, Russia, the Incas, the Ottomans, or the Moguls.
    2. Do the remote wars serve as a deterrent and feel-good factor in the US and amongst its allies? Hard to know, but again the hunch would be ‘yes’. Power-politics is an ugly business and gaining a reputation not be messed with does not come from having a huge but idle arsenal.
    3. Has the global trading system that has sprung up in the modern era reduced the frequency and severity of wars? And has the US been helpful, by and large, in that trading system, for instance by important a lot from China, India, and the emerging economies? Again, my hunch is lots of ‘yes’. This goes to the question of whether the modern trading era has been on balance a good or bad thing for global peace.
    4. Has Australia really been heavily involved in the US wars or has it been able to provide token assistance at a low price? The latter, methinks. John Howard got a bargain price for his support to Bush by sending a mere 1,000 special forces to Iraq.
    5. Is there any clear gain to jumping ship and becoming independent of the US or find a different big partner? Methinks ‘no’.
    6. Is defense spending way out of line historically in Aus or would we want to wind down our capabilities? Mwah. With 2% of GDP spent on military, lower than most of its history and well below the world average, one shouldn’t overstate the size of the industry. Of course the new subs are a ridiculous form of rent-seeking, but by the same token, they are totally useless and should be seen more as a form of corruption rather than a shiny new military capability.
    7. Is there a general benefit to thinking for ourselves whilst we continue on the current course that has so far had very few negative consequences? Sure.

    So my stylised understanding of international politics make me agree that Australia should a bit less bellicose and be more independent of the US in its own thinking. But I fail to see the reasons for a major break in international allies.

    The case for reduced level of militarism within Australia is much stronger, but it is independent of our alliances. We should keep close to the US, be nice to China, and develop more independent strategic thinking. There is no good reason to break with the US at all, and no support for it in the population that I know of. Is there?

  2. Ted Egan says:

    USA stood on the sidelines in WW1 and WW2, waiting to see who would win. They provoke wars to this day on the same grounds: they stand to profit by sales of armaments. Let’s name and shame the armourers, including the level to which Australia greedily participates

  3. Andrew Glikson says:

    The term “Empire” is not commonly used nowadays, but the underlying rationale of absolute power and global expansion, through wars, has not changed, all the way from Persia, to Greece, to Rome, to Britain, to Berlin, to Washington

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