It’s a season to be a warmonger

Dec 13, 2022
US Air Force Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft in flight.

It’s the season to be jolly and appreciate wrapped presents with surprises that are not true surprises. And the Christmas present most appreciated for a good number of the thinktank military establishment in Canberra will be conflict with Beijing. If not now, then when?

For years, blood lusting Murdocrats and garden variety reactionaries have been hoping for a conflict they have no reason to participate in, nor provoke. Australia’s blessings of distance, and its prospects of being a broker rather than a provoker, are matters of scorn rather than praise. The scented anti-China oils and myrrh from Washington have proved so seductive, we are repeatedly treated to the prospect that Australian personnel will commit to a conflict over Taiwan.

The trend continues, and even with a change in government, the China fear continues to lace and flavour the policy climate. The Strategic Defence Review is starting to look increasingly like a bauble tag-along report to the US military machine, with warnings from former chief of defence Sir Angus Houston that Australia is more insecure than ever. Like the child being left out of a carnival of grotesque celebration, figures such as Houston want crisis, demand to be involved, and demand to err in sending people to their deaths.

Figures such as Alan Dupont, who cuts his teeth on international security matters, are weapons crazed, yearning for ever more lethal complements in their targeting of pet phantoms. But in typical Australian fashion, one should find such things on the cheap. He does remain adamant that, “The days of the United States going it alone and Australia providing only niche capabilities are over. The US needs us more than ever.” Is Dupont implying more material and personnel for the next wasteful conflict?

Across the pond, US academics and pundits are also impressed by the unquestioned Australian commitment to the cause of war. Hal Brands, who, as a member of the US State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board is already anticipating battle with China, writes about a “latter-day Triple Entente – the pre-World War I coalition that sought to contain Imperial Germany – in the Western Pacific.” Any student of history will be aware how effective such containing strategies turned out to be.

Brands goes on to note how Canberra’s approach has changed from cautious calculation to slingshot bravado. “Less than a decade ago, Australia was the poster child for US allies who refused to choose between Washington and Beijing. How times change.”

Indeed, Brands invites us into a patchy pseudo-anthropological journey down under, revealing the view of an unnamed “defence expert” who claims that “Australia could not survive in a Chinese-dominated region.” In such a case, Australia would become “a satrapy” and at the mercy of Beijing’s wishes. Such a person ought to be put out to pasture for such latent idiocy, given that Canberra’s current satrapy status with Washington remains stifling and denuding.

Brands is also useful in revealing the fabulously deluded role Australia would play in any future war, again citing the view of various “Australian officials”. In cases of “conflict where the margin between victory and defeat would be razor-thin, their military would have a critical role. Envision a geographic division of labour – in which Australia uses air power and sea power to secure critical lines of movement through Southeast Asia, while Japan holds Northeast Asia, and the US busts the invasion or blockade of Taiwan itself.” Please, oh please, call the shrink.

Greg Sheridan, war provocateur and delusionist-in-chief at The Australian, is also one who believes that the time is ripe to prepare for war with the belligerent Yellow Tribes to the north. “The world is rightly transfixed by Russia’s monstrous aggression in Ukraine, but there is only one peer competitor for the US – China.”

It also follows that Australia must pull its weight to count in this imperial contest. “The bottom line is unless we finance a new US production line to build our first Virginias, before later building the ultimate AUKUS sub in Adelaide, we are not adding anything to allied military strength.”

All of this is seen to be China’s fault. The US imperium, and its satrapies, love peace. Beijing craves war. Sheridan cites figures about defence spending from the Chinese purse – roughly US$230 billion on its military, while never stating the figure from the United States, which dwarves the next five countries combined. Even then, those sneaky Orientals are probably lying about such figures, with Jane’s Defence Weekly wondering whether an additional $60 billion is not part of the mix.

Sheridan’s cradle coddled fantasies about capabilities Australia should have but has yet to acquire streak his commentary. If, for instance, Canberra was to acquire “thousands of medium-range missiles of our own, we could keep adversaries at distance, or at least pose real risks to them. At the moment, we can do none of that.” Such phallic inadequacy can prove crippling to the sabre rattling ego.

The brute reality remains this: an entire apparatus for war is being readied, goading, scolding, rebuking Beijing, insisting that they should make the next foolish move, storm the barricades in Taiwan and bring in the United States, Japan and Australia. It is a suicide pact of vast proportions that should start interesting any war crimes prosecutor.

Australian strategic real estate is being rented and developed into a garrison state, marked by a rotational presence of marines, air force and naval personnel from the United States. Nuclear capable B-52 bombers will be stationed in Northern Australia. Nuclear powered submarines will eventually find their way into the Australian naval inventory. The diplomats in this whole affair are gradually becoming obsolete; the militarists are preening themselves and sighing for war.

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