Turning Damocles’ Sword against the people

Mar 25, 2023
Large group of people forming Australia map and national flag in social media and communication

In an unprecedented way, Australia’s government has now risked both the country’s prosperity and safety in the service of a foreign power, with the setting in stone of AUKUS by a Labor government.

While John Mearsheimer warned us some years ago that we will sacrifice prosperity for security, we have actually managed to risk both, reaching a zenith in our identity as a Sub-Imperial power, a term aptly coined by Clinton Fernandes.

In signature style former Prime Minister Paul Keating continues to lacerate Labor’s enthusiasm for an agreement that sacrifices Australia’s interests well into the future in the service of the strategic ambitions of the United States.

This determination to economically kneecap the country largely responsible for our own prosperity, ostensibly by policing sea lanes, is justified by the Rules Based Order where the US makes all the rules and gives all the orders, and is referred to by diplomats and staff at the UN as ‘hypocri-sea’ because the US has refused to ratify the Law of the Sea.

As Keating points out in yesterday’s AFR, Labor has now clarified the justification for the choice of submarines – it has shifted from defending Australia (which these vessels cannot do) to a ‘forward defence policy’ – in other words, a policy of aggression not defence.

We will be prowling the coast of China as a fully integrated part of the US war machine in an escalation of an already belligerent posture, a more intense poking in the eye for China.

Coupled with the increased presence of US military personnel, US vessels and bombers both of which may carry nuclear missiles, our contribution via existing spying facilities, and the modified function of an Australian port like Port Kembla which will be producing such vessels, Australia becomes a target in any war between two nuclear powers. A situation entirely of our own making because Australia has been so eager to be subservient to the United States.

Penny Wong’s defence that we are not in breach of international laws we have signed banning nuclear weapons because the US bombers will not be stationed permanently on Australian soil, is simply being cute – an ongoing ‘rotation’ means in effect a continual and indefinite presence and not in the spirit of the law to which we are a signatory.

Mike Pompeo, possibly the Republican candidate at the next US election, called for the US to recognise Taiwan as an independent country. Our next Prime Minister may be a Peter Dutton. The Australian people will have no say in whether we go to war – a war of unprecedented consequence.

Any assurance by Labor we have not committed to joining a US war with China is meaningless – such a decision would be made swiftly and with no debate as is the custom and no one seriously now believes our participation in such a war would be less likely under a Labor government. After what Labor has committed to, there has been a serious breach of trust it is acting in the interests of the Australian people – neither their prosperity nor their safety.

We were largely (unless you were indigenous) a nation of people who felt safe, away from the world’s trouble spots. People migrated here to get away from violence and political upheaval, and for economic opportunity. AUKUS is trashing the lot. It crept up on us and we are only just realising fully what the consequences are likely to be, the full potential for horror. Keating is right – the government had no mandate for this.  It is as if, in its fear of the US, and the Damocles Sword that has hung over Labor since Whitlam, the government has wrested that Sword and turned it against the people. Pity Cavafy is not alive. He would pen another brilliant poem.

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