Championing war with China

Mar 15, 2023
Sydney Harbour Bridge in the colour of red and reflections turn the harbour vivid red too.

In an extraordinary editorial that was labelled as warmongering by former prime minister Paul Keating, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) called for China to be labelled a clear and present threat, argued for the reintroduction of conscription and for long range missiles armed with nuclear weapons, and urged Australia to prepare for war with China in three years.

The editorial was accompanied by a massive 8000-word article called “Red Alert” by an SMH “expert panel” that ran on the front page and spilled over to occupy four inside pages. The SMH’s expert panel was convened by noted China hawk Peter Hartcher and included fellow China hawk, Peter Jennings.

Jennings had previously been CEO of the Australian Strategic and Policy Institute, (ASPI), before he was replaced by Peter Dutton on the 29 February 2022, twelve days before the writs for the 2022 election was issued and the government went into care-taker mode. Dutton and Morrison then fought the election on their coming War with China policies and the LNP suffered its most massive electoral defeat ever.

Dutton replaced Jennings with Justine Bassi, whose previous job was chief of staff to foreign minister LNP senator Marise Payne. Before that Bassi had worked in Malcolm Turnbull’s office and before that for LNP attorney-general, George Brandis. As well as appointing this ex-coalition staffer to replace Jennings as head of ASPI, Dutton also appointed former LNP ministers John Anderson and Michael Keenan to the board of ASPI.

ASPI is supposed to be an independent, non-partisan body that provides military and strategic advice to Australian governments. Dutton’s stacking of ASPI’s board with former LNP ministers and staffers, weeks before an election the LNP were expected to lose, shreds any lingering doubts about ASPI’s bi-partisanship. Dutton’s selections were bipartisan only in the sense that he chose both a former Liberal and a former National party minister! All jokes aside, it was surprising that John Barilaro wasn’t appointed to the ASPI board!

Besides Paul Keating, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, (IPAN) were also not amused by the SMH’s China scare propaganda. Their media release called the article ‘rabid media war propaganda’ and ‘an appalling misuse of media ownership intended to create fear and to justify a massive increase in military spending’.

Bevan Ramsden, a spokesperson for IPAN, said that Australian involvement in a U.S. war against China would be a catastrophic disaster for the Australian people.

“If the US got into a war with China the main threat to Australia would come from our hosting US military bases and forces in Australia that were supporting that war. We are talking about Pine Gap and North West Cape in West Australia, which gives the United States communication access to its nuclear submarines in the Indian ocean.

“Even more dangerous is the Force Posture Agreement with the US signed in 2014 by Julie Bishop and David Johnson. This remarkable sell-out of sovereignty provides the United States’’ military with unimpeded access to our ports and to our airfields for their navy and their aircraft. It provides unimpeded access to agreed facilities and places and allows their contractors to build structures and facilities in Australia that will be under their complete control for pre-positioning of their spare parts and their ammunitions in Australia at these facilities, which are entirely under their control.”

Bevan Ramsden said that the militarisation of the Northern Territory was going on at this moment. It enabled the US to park their B52 bombers at the Tindal air base in Darwin, said Mr Ramsden:

“Our government doesn’t even know if they are bringing in nuclear weapons or not because, as Penny Wong admitted in a recent senate estimates committee meeting, the US does not confirm or deny if its aircrafts or ships are carrying nuclear weapons. So apparently, they don’t care whether they bring them in or not. They could be storing them at the moment in these facilities that are under US control,” he warned.

The massive increase in military expenditure, doubling Defence spending, that the SMH expert panel recommended, he added, would divert spending from urgent community needs such as bringing our hospitals ‘up to scratch’, the urgent need for affordable housing, and addressing the impact of climate change.

Articles by former prime minister Paul Keating

If only our current PM said this…

Capital city newspapers urge nuclear war by Australia against China: God help us


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