Two grievous Australian policy mistakes-Israel and China

Jan 7, 2024
Canberra, Australia - View of The Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia, in bronze outside the old Parliament House.

Where fear of China is involved there is no conscience for the mistakes of the past. Nor can we expect any sensibility in the plans for the future.

As we move into the new year, two foreign policy mistakes need to be corrected.

First is the idea that Israel needs to be made aware of the harm to its reputation from its behaviour in Gaza and the West Bank.  But already it should be obvious that for Netanyahu and the extreme rightists dominating his Cabinet, that problem is minor.

They already have the US decision making machine sufficiently under their control not to have to worry too much. More importantly, the claim to be  suppressing Hamas has given them the golden opportunity to return to the1948 ‘tragedy’ – the move then to expel tens of thousands of Palestinians from the ‘sacred’ land of Israel.

Where those expelled will move to is not Israel’s problem – to Lebanon and Jordan again, or into the Sinai peninsula perhaps. And some no doubt will die from starvation and disease.That too is not Israel’s problem. One way or another they will be removed, as in 1948.

UN resolutions, media criticisms, hand wringing in the West or elsewhere will make no difference. Finally Israel’s leaders have the chance to full-fill the vision laid down in the holy books, to unite the sacred lands of Israel. They will not let it pass.

The other misconception from the past is the seeming belief that endless debates over strategic defence reviews, submarines and so on will somehow bring Australia to an enlightened view of what it should be doing or where it should be going.

Forget it.

We are dealing with an establishment – defence, media, academic, bureaucratic – which simply cannot handle the task of coming to terms with China.  These are the people who not so long ago told us in all seriousness that Hanoi was a puppet of China.

At the time it was already obvious that if Hanoi had any bias in any direction it was toward Moscow, not Beijing but overall it was very independent. The fear of China was too deeply ingrained in the Australian psyche to allow sensible judgement.

As in some cheap third world country its foreign policy could flutter from one direction to another without anyone noticing. Yesterday Hanoi was the enemy; today it is an ally.

Where did we find any soul searching after it became clear that the entire military effort in Vietnam – 543 Australians killed and 2,400 wounded – all justified by that fear of China, was an effort to destroy the very people upon whom today we depend to be a buffer to that never-ending China threat?

Where do we find any apology to the Australian public for the years of lies and indoctrination imposed during the Vietnam war years?

Where do we find any apology for the dead and wounded, both Australian and Vietnamese?

Where even do we find a honest conscience-stricken McNamara in the ranks of the well-paid bureaucracy that steered us into that senseless war?

Where fear of China is involved there is no conscience for the mistakes of the past.  Nor can we expect any sensibility in the plans for the future.

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