Since 1901, the often-self-appointed gatekeepers of Australia’s defence and diplomacy have had the greatest difficulty with the idea of accountability.
So much so, they always seem to operate as if it is an absurdity for their own actions and decisions to be exposed to the light. When their dishonesty and opportunism etc. is occasionally exposed, they are typically outraged that their motives and reputations should be impugned. If their questionable decisions and actions can be ignored and quietly covered up, they are always happy to serve up some sacrificial lambs.
Give them their due though, they are certain of their cause and dedicated to their goals. There can be no alternatives and no genuine debates. They crush opposition and save their worst for those who expose their secrets or folly. Retribution is most severe for whistleblowers who reveal the gatekeepers to be dishonest, wrong or incompetent. Yet for most of us, access to the inner sanctum of grand strategic decision making is not allowed. We, the mere citizenry, must simply accept the outcome of the gatekeeper’s secret decisions, and soak in the propaganda they disseminate via an obsequious and mendacious media.
It is indeed fortunate for the gatekeepers that on issues of vital importance and enduring significance, such as war, intelligence operations or foreign policy, the general will of the public is of no real importance. Unless of course the support of the ignorant masses might prove useful to change the constitution, such as with the failed pro-conscription referenda of WW1, or if the occasional bursts of public protests prove troublesome for politicians. Parliament cannot prevent any executive government from going to war, or even from pursuing foreign policy objectives that contravene international law. As I write, an Australian journalist/publisher rots in a maximum-security British prison while Washington attempts to extradite him for allegedly breaking US laws. Our parliament does nothing.
Australian governments and unelected mandarins have regularly lied, deceived, and misrepresented themselves to pursue their goals. Given the strict secrecy and restrictions placed on our archival collections through censorship and other forms of archival manipulation, or indeed all the folders, files, telegrams, letters, faxes, facsimiles, minutes, emails, and other official notes that do not at least officially exist, I can offer only a brief and superficial 1-3 categorisation of their worst behaviours. The gatekeepers of Australian foreign policy have:
- made agreements with foreign governments (primarily the UK and US) where they willingly made (and make) us subservient to the greater strategic interests of others.
- lied and deceived the public, and even parliaments, to send our military to expeditionary wars (and campaigns) on the basis that our security interests are best served by solidifying military alliances on the battlefield.
- made it feasible in our own region to accept potential genocide, mass murder and crimes against humanity, should it advance Australia’s corporate or security interests.
The gatekeepers do not need approval from the public for the AUKUS deal, or for the procurement of nuclear-powered submarines. They have never needed to secure support from the Australian public for such minor things as declaring war, entering security treaties such as ANZUS (1951), or allowing the UK to test weapons (including atomic bombs) on Australian soil (1950s). There was no democratic mandate from the Australian public supporting the establishment of US spy bases on Australian soil (1950s), the Korean war, Vietnam war, Afghanistan, or Iraq etc. There is no mandate for us to be spying on the world as a member of the Five Eyes, or for engaging in espionage against our nearest neighbours. My criticisms cannot of course be taken seriously by the great and the good. The gatekeepers know best, after all, the plebs could never be trusted to understand the vital importance of pursuing such sensible policies.
The usual suspects in our mainstream media praise the AUKUS deal and have already begun sounding the trumpets of war. The wars they support are always necessary, always unavoidable. We must always stand up. Yet the bipartisan support for AUKUS, where they each try to outdo the other with their fear-mongering about China and deference to Washington’s hegemony, is instructive.
To secure our precious US alliance, we make ourselves a military adversary to our largest trading partner, China.
If this threat is so pressing, how can we still be trading with China?
You need not worry about that obvious contradiction; the gatekeepers would never sacrifice anything so important as the accumulation of wealth. Many of their corporate friends and acquaintances would be mortified. After all, we traded with the USSR and China during the Cold War, who we were assured wanted to wipe us from the face of the earth. Somehow, we courageously overcame our fears of potential annihilation to accept their cash. So, the gatekeepers will cleverly eke out every possible export dollar from China for our coal, mining and agricultural sectors while simultaneously preparing the Australian military and public for a future US war against China.
Does this not sound more than a little insane?
Washington’s era of absolute hegemonic control over the planet is fading and a more unipolar world is starting to emerge. Whatever our feelings might be about this, it is surely obvious given our geography and independent security interests, that a war between China and the US over Taiwan would be a catastrophe of biblical proportions. We should be pursuing every means to ensure peaceful dialogue, de-escalation, and mediation not only for our own benefit, but for all the human beings who would certainly die in the cataclysm. But for our servile media, bureaucrats, and politicians, AUKUS and the submarines are of course a sensible and mature approach to our national security needs.
For the gatekeepers, it would be irrational even outrageous to suggest that AUKUS is a bad idea. Two nuclear armed submarine fleets (UK and US) will regularly dock at our ports. They will be coordinating joint operations with their Australian colleagues, soon to have their very own nuclear-powered submarines. What could possibly go wrong? I mean, how could anyone think that AUKUS might encourage the possibilities of a regional arms race on Australia’s doorstep? The idea that the entire region, including millions of people in Taiwan, China, Japan, the US, and ourselves might end up as smouldering cinders is best ignored. Let’s not think too closely about that sort of nonsense.
In the meantime, we can sell everything we can put on a ship to China and congratulate ourselves most heartedly on the AUKUS deal. After all, how awesome will it be for us to have all those shiny nuclear-powered submarines?
The gatekeepers have spoken, and they have decided. They always know best.