From our readers: Australia’s dangerous commitment to US alliance

Nov 13, 2021
US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden: a lot more must be done to regain the region's confidence in the consistency and reliability of US policies. (Image: AP/Andrew Harnik)

In letters to the editor: Australia’s unwavering commitment to the US alliance, China and Taiwan, and the value of independent MPs.

Last week, John Menadue reflected on how the US’s dependence on continual war, and how it’s found a new enemy in China. The article prompted letters considering Australia’s commitment to the alliance. China and Taiwan is always a hot topic for Pearls and Irritations contributors and readers, and the interest in Hugh Mackay’s call for more independents in the House of Representatives is still high.

We welcome your responses to our articles. To submit a letter to the editor, please email us at, including your full name and town or suburb, and the article to which you are responding. Letters should be no longer than 200 words, and may be edited for clarity, style and length.

United States of warmongering — John Menadue

America’s never-ending war on the world

John Menadue’s comprehensive essay on the warmongering of the USA should be required reading in every Aussie newspaper. It throws into sharp relief our purchases of F35 fighters and proposed nuclear submarines. Due to our unswerving alliance with the USA and the closely intermeshed interoperability of our armed forces, we are, in effect, using billions and billions of our taxpayer dollars to effectively fully finance an extra arm of US military forces. They are laughing all the way to the bank! We are being overtly lured into conflict, cold or hot, with China, whose brief military excursions outside China since 1945 can be measured on less than the fingers of one hand, compared to over 200 overseas military incursions by the USA over the same period. Much noise is made by our government about supposed increasing Chinese influence in the country, which pales into insignificance compared to US influence. Even the establishment of bases on islands in the South China Sea should be considered in the light of the West’s continual presence of warships just outside territorial waters. The time is long overdue that Australia adopted a position of armed neutrality, and concentrated its efforts on establishing respectful relations with all the countries of our region. This would start by this country reviving its diplomatic resources, and abandoning the megaphone (non)diplomacy of our increasingly disrespected prime minister. — Bob Fleming, Wheeler Heights

Thanks for another excellent critical article on the US and the military connection. However you left the impression that the situation is due to domination/capture by the military. But the military works for the capitalist class; it is the force behind constant striving for new markets and resources, which provides nice work for the military and the arms manufacturers. — Ted Trainer, Voyager Point

Thank you for this article with which I agree wholeheartedly. I was surprised however that in mentioning a list of countries in whose political processes the US interfered, that you didn’t mention Australia. There is no doubt about that US interference in the “coup” that removed the Whitlam government on November 11, 1975. Whitlam made a statement to Parliament in 1977, recorded in Hansard, in which he said he had been visited by an envoy of the president of the United States and in a breakfast meeting in the Sydney Qantas lounge he was told that the president (Jimmy Carter) apologised for the interference in Australia’s domestic politics by the United states and that it would not happen again. I don’t know how Carter could give that assurance on behalf of future presidents and government of the US but he did. — Bevan Ramsden

A question of war — Teow Loon Ti

A long march: China’s unfinished business on Taiwan reunification

Teow Loon Ti’s offering on Taiwan is interesting, but human settlement and political authority are moving pictures, not settled facts. The Chinese came to Taiwan at about the same time as the English came to Australia.  The long-established aboriginal population, of Malay origin, were the source for the settlement of the islands of the Pacific. From the 17th century on, the Dutch, Spanish, French, Japanese and the Chinese (both Ming and Qing rivals) sought to establish political control, against aboriginal resistance. The Qing formally annexed the island, but did not consider it a true part of China, contemplated selling it back to the Dutch, and in 1895 ceded it to Japan. But a flow of Chinese settlers had reduced the aboriginal population to a small minority (today, less than 3 per cent). In 1945, the World War ended, but the Chinese civil war resumed, but (like the Korean War), ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty: the communists won on the mainland, but had no navy, so the nationalists were able to retreat to Taiwan (which had been restored to them), under US protection. Eventually, Taiwan shook off the Kuomintang heritage and became a small, modern regime, infinitely richer per capita than the mainland (to which it contributes much foreign investment and managerial expertise — and the People’s Republic of China recognises the Taiwan passports of its imported labour). In 1930, the UK recognised that its cultural and economic links with Australia did not have to mean political control; the question is when Beijing will get to this point — or whether they think it’s worth a major war. — H.K. Colebatch, Hawthorn

A better House of Representatives — Hugh Mackay

How an influx of independents could change parliament for the better

No doubt a number of factors have brought our politics to its current deplorable state, including the relentless 24-hour news cycle and the malign influence of the Murdoch press. However the decay that is most pertinent to Hugh Mackay’s argument I think is the way the main political parties have become career structures for aspiring politicians. By the time they arrive in Canberra they may be skilled in the dark political arts but their interest or expertise in policy shaping is sadly deficient. Since political survival is all, they staff their offices with young political wannabes who share their priorities. The balance of influence between political staff and public servants has shifted to the detriment of good policy. I am about Mackay’s age, old enough to remember when the parliamentary benches represented a much greater variety of occupations and life experience and this accumulated wisdom had a healthy influence on the policies developed. In other times I would have valued the stability of the two party system more highly but I do not see how we can make our parliament more representative except by the election of more independents. I would also hope that independent members would place more value on the institutions so vital to accountability and good government, institutions that have been so shamefully neglected derided and debased by the current government. — Madeleine McPherson, Wollstonecraft

As ever, Hugh Mackay does not waste words while identifying the core of a matter. His suggestion of seating in parliament by alphabetical order is brilliant. Simple and brilliant. It is unlikely to be adopted, as are the other suggestions, given the reluctance to any sort of change exhibited by any “party”o the largess distributed by membership of the parliamentary club. However, adopting it at the farcical question time seems “doable” and might give some opportunity for cross party communication and, maybe even co-operation to build. — Allen Roberts, Croydon, NSW

Hugh Mackay is right on the money. My only worry is we need to emphasise that when voting in the House of Representatives we need to fill in every square with our preference numbers right to the final square so our vote does not exhaust and be wasted. In the Senate, it’s easier. But remember that Pauline Hanson needs 14 per cent of the vote for a quota this time. Don’t give it to her. — Graham Turvey, Muswellbrook, NSW

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