If we spit the American dummy, what becomes of us?Mar 29, 2023
Very simply, we have to shake out cobwebs and think for ourselves. While it sounds simple, it is actually hard when trying to separate from a dominant ally and the “illusory truth effect” which envelopes us daily.
In recent years there have been hundreds of contributions here from writers urging that we withdraw from the defence alliance with the United States. But it’s easier said than done.
In February 2017 I wrote on “the complexity of saying no to the Americans” but practical difficulty continues to be a neglected subject, in contrast to the gentler or firmer calls for taking the step away in policy. Unless we want insurrection and disobedience in the ranks, we have to articulate a new vision for the ADF. To achieve a shift in perspective among those in all ranks who see no difference between Australian and American strategic perspectives will be far more difficult and more important because of its scale and because… well, because we won’t be getting off the Hollywood tit any time soon.
There has long been difficulty in some areas of the Defence Force distinguishing education from training. Training is how you give an order, what you do when you receive an order, what skills you bring to bear with what technology to kill people. Education is what should be provided so officers and other ranks alike understand the constitutional fabric of Australia and the place in that of the defence force; and the human and political geography, cultures and languages, of our national circumstance. And the legal positions of those who give and receive orders and act to kill people. Education becomes more important now as we are at hinge points, change moments, in regional and global affairs.
At the same time Australia is dealing with various policy and practical, social, economic, and environmental issues that have to be addressed as part of our contribution with other nations to improving rather than destroying the habitability of the planet for our species and others. We are hampered by the extent of couldn’t-give-a-stuffery and I’m-not-gunna-change-nuffin attitudes in the country; also simple addiction to the words that fall from the frown of John Howard.
The changes in our strategic circumstance are projected by some conservatives with focus on threats imagined: from China especially, with hostile vocabulary also for Russia. Thinking in terms of conflict. The rise of conflict, threat-and-killing-focused computer games builds young minds. In the binary structures with which IT, commerce, and economics run day to day, win or die are dominant notions.
It is difficult therefore for people to comprehend change in the strategic balance as other than a shift in military dominance. At tertiary education levels we have seen a shift from teaching international relations and strategic studies to institutions of conflict and security studies less given to understanding the world, more concerned, as are defence strategy studies, with identifying enemies and ways to whack ‘em. And the Morrison government made it more expensive to study humanities than theories and practices of killing.
If we stay with those directions, we may be comfortable within the White Mens Domains in the US, UK, EU and here. But we will lose our understanding of, and opportunities to interact with the other 90% of the world’s population. We will be disadvantaged because our aggressive fraction (about half) of our 10% of the world will no longer be facing economic, political or military “non-peers”. As more countries become economic peers or near peers, as they become military peers or near peers, we will have to grow up, become less callous, less arrogant… and more human. Iraq, Afghanistan and Ukraine would not have been possible had they been near-peer, had we been more cautious—and more respectful of life. We have the childish expectation that, increasing its defence force, China must have aggressive plans. Yet for Australia we have drummed in that our defence forces are just for defence. With a population of one third of one percent of the world population we spend 3.3% of global defence spending, excluding the US; 1.6% including the US.
We need to put aside expectations that, in the new multipolar world, defence forces and military action will shape the world. We should, as it were, come down from the trees. There will still be conflict, but less of the first-fine-carefree-disregard-of-human-lives as shown by the NeoCons.
There is a considerable number of regional economic groups around the planet, from RCEP, to which we belong, through the great array of organisations in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America, for which this valuable paper from the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research provides a good introduction.
Of especial importance as a force for change in this hinge era is BRICS, whose members bring together 40% of the world’s population. Many more countries have expressed interest in or applied to join BRICS. This briefing gives information about the candidates: note that it comes from an Asian regional business professional advisory company Dezan Shira and Associates. We should look for information sources like that outside the White Mens Domains. And we should get away from our childish woohoo-bad-guys view of BRICS etc. Assess as they are, not through dark glasses.
Our news is full of the fragility of the global financial system and the turbulence in the US political system. We need to see more from outside the White Mens Media, Think on these:
- the BRICS countries and Arab states (BRICS candidates) are shifting their transactions and reserves away from the US dollar into their own currencies
- the steps towards peace and normalisation of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been facilitated by China
- Saudi and Syria are teetering towards normalisation; the illegal US military occupation in Syria is more isolated in support
- The discussions between Messrs Putin and Xi in Moscow, portrayed in White Mens Media as military, were mainly about economic cooperation and global development
- and so on, make a start with different media:
- and for a quality, different, coverage of the US financial situation, follow Ellen Brown, for a start HERE and HERE, and for more refreshing FACTS out of the US by subscribing to scheerpost.