MUNGO MACCALLUM. Morrison prepares for war

Scott Morrison is not too keen on history.When it comes to politics – or at least the politics of the Liberal Party, which to him is all that matters – history began with his election as Prime Minister. Everything that happened before then, and especially in the three years before then, is utterly irrelevant – it should, must, be forgiven and forgotten.

But one might have hoped that he had at least a vague recollection of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – the various conflicts in which Australia forgot, or worse, deliberately ignored, its national interest to support American adventures which have led with disastrous unforseen consequences.

But if he has the awareness, he obviously does not care – he is about to plummet from the precipice yet again. History repeating.

The apparent hesitation is entirely confected. Even before Donald Trump’s chief warmonger, Mike Pompeo, arrived in Canberra to issue his marching orders, it was already clear that Morrison was ready, indeed eager, to agree to follow the United States into the forthcoming war with Iran.

Of course, that is not the way it will be spun: we will be told – we already have been told – that it is all about de-escalation. Give us a break – sending a military task force is de-escalation?

And this is a confected crisis, a conflict of Trump’s personal devising. All America’s serious allies – not some, but all – begged him to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran. But alliances and treaties are irrelevant when Trump’s ego is involved. The Iran pact was successful legacy of his reviled predecessor Barack Obama so obviously it had to be trashed.

And the only ones egging him on were, and are, Saudi Arabia, whose murderous Sunni dictators are determined to crush all Shia, and Israel, whose aggressive, authoritarian, ultra-nationalist Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to crush all opposition, whether real, potential or imagined.

And in any case, for Trump conflict is the default position – it is as natural to him as tweeting and lying. And Morrison, for all his phoney amiability, is not far behind him. He may talk of temperance and restraint, but his current mantra is: “Whose side are you on?” When The Donald blows the whistle, ScoMo will be in it with his ears back.

But he will still refuse to talk about the war – it will be all about freedom of navigation, a coalition of the willing to protect our national interest – and Australia’s oil imports in particular, although we won’t hear so much about that. We are defending democratic values, and we have absolutely no intention of actually going to war.

But for those of us who remember a little history, the idea that we can only put it in a little way and if it hurts we will pull it out again is a dangerous lie.

When Robert Menzies sent Australian military advisers to South Vietnam, he solemnly assured us that actual troops would never be involved. But soon, as soon as Washington asked us, he enthusiastically sent in the troops and later, disgracefully, conscripts who were sent to fight and die before they were allowed to vote. We only withdrew from the bloody morass shortly before our great and powerful friend retreated in disorder, defeat and humiliation.

A generation later, John Howard invoked the sacred alliance to embroil us in Iraq after Saudi terrorists domiciled in Afghanistan attacked the United States. This tenuous link was spun as the need to eliminate entirely mythical weapons of mass destruction. And once again it ended in disaster – the rise of the hideous Islamic State, whose aftermath remains today and whose reach now extends to Australia largely because we fell in with the folly. But hey, it wasn’t all bad – it became the phoney rationale for a raft of oppressive laws in the name (as always) of national security.

This is a cause dear to what Morrison calls his heart. So who knows what useful additions may emerge as the forthcoming war against Iran may develop? But it is probably giving ScoMo too much foresight, too much intelligence to believe that he even thinks he know what he’s doing. He is just tagging along, convinced that his quiet Australians are now up for any thought bubble he may float. If he and they can ignore the past, why worry about the future? And a khaki election in 2022 won’t hurt either.

And the real horror is that Iran may be just the entree. Trump’s belligerence against  China is rising to a critical point. And the trigger will, as before be freedom of navigation, this time in the South China Sea. If – when – this leads to a serious  incident, or one is deliberately manufactured, (as happened in the Gulf of Tonkin back in the Vietnam days), there will be real risk of nuclear war.

Unthinkable? Not for some. Pompeo and his fellow crazy, John Bolton, are already getting close to the ”Better dead than red” mentality of the previous cold war. Trump himself, a couple of years ago, complained that there was no point in having nuclear weapons unless he could use them, and has just ditched yet another disarmament treaty.

And closer to home, Morrison’s hard right ally, Andrew Hastie, has compared China to Nazi Germany and warned that Australia must be prepared to hit back. He apparently casts himself as Winston Churchill in a party of Neville Chamberlains – he can’t wait to fight them on the beaches.

This is the mindset, to give it a flattering term, of those we have just re-elected – a party which, having no discernible agenda for peace, is now preparing for war. And not even its own war – the war now being orchestrated by an idiot egomaniac half a world away, a psychotic who seems to regard Armageddon not as the end of the world, but as some kind of victory. redemption.

From an Australian point of view, it all sounds horribly Pentacostalist. And for Scott Morrison, there is always a bright side: not only does he get to go to his chosen heaven, but he won’t have to worry about climate change any more. That will just about make annihilation worthwhile in itself.


Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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13 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM. Morrison prepares for war

  1. Great publication.
    Makes one feel as if one actually has a voice in this turgid miasma of mainstream media and misinformation.
    I also must agree with (Dr) John Carmody… it does not seem that a comparison with Nazi Germany was made…merely, as far as I can tell, mention of the Maginot Line…another folly perpetrated and foisted upon the long suffering, by stupid white men.

  2. Avatar Simon Warriner says:

    Patience and obsfucation may well be our best tactic. Given it’s current trajectory, as demonstrated by the Epstain fluster cluck and numerous others, the USA will most likely be engaged in a very uncivil internal domestic war in the very near future, and what is left behind is unlikely to be capable of persuading the stink from a 3 days dead corpse, much less illegally interfering in anyone else’s affairs.

    Not that I expect Morrison or his advisers to understand that. Happy clapping and self interest obscure their vision.

    Meanwhile, my previous comment on a previous thread stands.

    Why is it that the strange way that USA foreign policy serves primarily the interests of Israel gets bugger all attention, especially when Australia is getting dragged into the action for little to no identifiable benefit to our interests?

    As I recall, Voltaire had a rather curt observation about who the ruler was that seems appropriate in this instance.

    Should THAT be at the forefront of this discussion? If not, why not?

  3. Avatar Andrew Glikson says:

    Those who compare their enemies to the Nazis have not read the history of the Third Reich, nor do they remember Albert Einstein’s warning “The splitting of the atom has changed EVERYTHING, except for man’s way of thinking, and thus we drift into unparalleled catastrophes” (Albert Einstein).

  4. Avatar A Kessing says:

    Des Ball, a hundred years ago… it seems, pointed out that this country is “a suitable piece of real estate” to the Septics – not for any sane purpose but for their main spybase at Pine Gap.
    Any ‘defence’ would be solely predicated upon that though, once the toys that go bang start flying, its akshal value will be SFA.

  5. Avatar Richard Ure says:

    “but he won’t have to worry about climate change any more” or how the impact of his love of coal will affect the lives of his hard-won daughters.

  6. Avatar Philip Ludington says:

    Thank you for an informative and timely article Mr McCallum. It was obvious that the Americans are rounding up a posse for their next manufactured middle east adventure. It was interesting to note that Mr Pompeo had barely left town when Angus Taylor, our federal energy minister, suddenly discovered that this country has bugger all petroleum reserves and almost zero onshore refining capacity. Almost simultaneously Angus had another Damascene conversion on the need for a quarantined domestic gas supply, a la Western Australia. It is almost as if somebody told him that there was an imminent threat to world energy supplies and the penny dropped that we are very vulnerable. Still, if they provoke a war that goes on long enough, we might even need to go back to the future and build Gus’s fantasy coal fired power stations. Talk about a win-win!

  7. Avatar Steve Jordan says:

    Foreign policy seems to be formed these days far too much by the military. Further, is one of those military elements the network of former SAS personnel who hold positions of power in government or in the federal bureaucracy?

  8. Avatar John Gray says:

    Yep! The more things change the more they stay the same, only much worse. There’s an excellent interview on ABC’s Big ideas with Eric Jensen about the “character” and “mindset” (although already this is a contradiction in terms) of Morrison.

  9. Avatar Max Bourke AM says:

    Spot on but could add one extra thing.
    The Scomo does not himself have to face any danger he sends our women and men to do that; and of course if one of those ships in the Straits of Hormuz does get involved in some sort of skirmish what better way to ratchet it up than that.

  10. Avatar James O'Neill says:

    Although the pessimism is well founded, there are some significant changes in the world since Australia’s disastrous foray into Vietnam at the behest of the Americans and based, as is usually the case, on a series of monumental lies.
    In the 1960s, China was a miniscule trading partner. It is now Australia’s largest, nearly 3 times the size of the next, Japan.
    China is now a formidable nuclear power in its own right. They could eliminate Australia with a single multi-headed Dong Feng missile, and it is delusional to think the US would rush to Australia’s rescue.
    China and Russia are now in a strategic alliance, and the Americans have no defence to the latest range of Russian missiles. Both countries are effectively guarantors of Iran, and not only because of Iran’s role in the BRI. An attack on Iran would have devastating consequences. There was no problem in the Gulf until Trump unilaterally abandoned the JCPOA. Does Australia really endorse that stupidity?
    One of the great tragedies in Australia is that there is no Labor opposition to these follies. One is very tempted to say: you voted for this idiot, live with the consequences.

    • Avatar James Ingram says:

      Indeed, James as you rightfully say ‘there is no Labor opposition to these follies’. That is the crux of our predicament. The Australian people remain distrustful of powerful or potentially powerful Asian states and deeply fearful of China. How could it be otherwise when main-stream media reporting on what the United States is actually doing is shallow and biased? For example the arrogant repeated resort to unilateral sanctions by the United States, made possible by the central role of the dollar in international trade and banking, and amounting to economic warfare in the case of Iran, is ignored by our media. Reports reflecting the complexity of issues seen from the perspective of those resisting, let alone challenging, American actions are infrequently and superficially reported. In our media, including the ABC, the Hollywood story is alive and well. The good guys are American and the ‘badies’ their badies. Poor bugger my country’ indeed, to echo Hal Duell.

  11. Avatar (Dr) John CARMODY says:

    Andrew Hastie, for all his faults, DID NOT compare or equate contemporary China with Nazi Germany.

    Mungo McCallum is following the instant and careless — hence inaccurate — reportage (by lazy journalists) of what Hastie actually wrote. It is unworthy of such an experienced political journalist.

  12. Avatar Hal Duell says:

    ScoMo is useful, but not essential. Australia is simply too big, geographically, to be allowed out of Five Eyes ( UK, Canada, US, Australia and NZ). AKA the Anglo-Zionist alignment.
    New Zealand is maybe (maybe!) just small enough to be allowed to slip into neutral. But we aren’t.
    Poor bugger, my country.

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