Friday 7th of October 2022

albo plays captain nemo, according to admiral scomo and bomber biden…..

Behind the militarese the professionals know this means that Australia will cough up as much money and forces as necessary to fight China in a high-intensity war on China’s doorstep.

In Washington, far from the people he serves, Australia’s Defence Minister Marles has unveiled a totemic security pivot for Australia, fraught with risk, costing far more than the kings-ransom nuclear submarines of AUKUS. Nobody can blame the previous government. The Albanese government is taking Australia deep into dangerous, fanciful security terrain in Asia without justification.


By Mike Gilligan


Our new Defence Minister Richard Marles was turned inside-out by ABC compere Sarah Ferguson on the ABC’s 730 Report on 4 July, unable to say what Australia’s position is if China attacks Taiwan. Asked whether Australia’s ambiguity on Taiwan was unambiguous in the light of US contradictions the Minister was evasive.

Soon after, our Minister found himself amongst friends – in Washington speaking to the Centre for International and Security Studies on 12 July. Speeches are composites of multiple sources, most importantly departmental officials. For a fresh Australian Defence Minister in a newly elected government delivering his first major speech in the United States it’s a fair bet that every word has been put into the Minister’s mouth. At this time security issues exist in Asia affecting Australia differently from its powerful ally. So the speech is a good test of how Australia’s own interests are being handled by the Department of Defence.

The Minister turned straight to the ANZUS treaty complaining about “realists” who saw issues in it:

“I’ve always felt realists have never quite understood: that the treaty that codifies our Alliance is less a piece of paper than it is a network of people. ….Professionals whose commitment to each other depend less on a treaty’s text than on a set of shared convictions.”

So networking amongst defence “professionals” (ie those in the room ) is more important than the substance of the treaty.

Officials who fitted-up the Minister know full well that the Treaty text matters above all else when the going gets rough. And at this moment it is an embarrassment. Article 4 of ANZUS does not commit America to come to Australia’s aid if we are attacked: just to consult its Constitution. So ANZUS permits the US to lead us into a fight with a nuclear superpower in China and then walk away. By contrast Article 5 of NATO binds the US to treat an attack on any of its many members as an attack on itself. Britain, our AUKUS pal. is right up there benefitting from this guarantee.

But little old Australia misses out. Our Minister proclaims this doesn’t matter: “shared convictions” are enough. Australia’s security is not about coldly weighing realities but joining hands with whatever “network of people” is in Washington at any time. Hereby our Minister discards Australia’s defence posture of self- reliance, dating back to Whitlam’s day and embraced bi-partisanly thereafter – the consequence of US eschewing a security guarantee in ANZUS. Our defence posture was negotiated and implemented with US collaboration as the only prudent way ahead for both parties. Nothing has changed to invalidate that. Until now.

What Minister would steer Australia towards war at US behest with a nuclear power knowing the reality is scripted that we could be abandoned? If this Minister is genuine about Australia’s interests he will challenge the Americans to deliver a proper treaty. And he will do it openly. So that all Australians know the score. His advisers will dissemble. They will say we’ve lived with this for so long, it will have to go through Congress etc. But Minister, this time it’s different. You’ve drawn the short straw. Australia has never been pushed to militarily confront a nuclear-armed superpower before. We have the choice not to. Lots of options exist.

Moving on, our Minister says another really peculiar thing:

Notwithstanding our strong foundations, we can’t afford to stand still…… This Government is resolved that Australia will take greater responsibility for its own security.

Our Minister is inferring Australia has been derelict in taking responsibility for its own security. Surely, the Minister knows that the deal done on ANZUS is that Australia takes full responsibility for its security. And we have been doing that for fifty years. And we have been productive and astute in applying large resources to that end. And we have gone well beyond the deal by turning up for America’s great military debacles, none of which ANZUS obliged. Thousands of our young dead and disabled attest to that. What unctuous words to have put in your mouth, Minister.

What the Defence Department is wanting to convey through the Minister is that Australia will now go well beyond what ANZUS requires, in an undefined way. We will take responsibility for, and pay for, America’s view of security measures required in “any number of places in the Indo-Pacific”.

“In particular we worry about the use of force or coercion to advance territorial claims, as is occurring in the South China Sea, and its implications for any number of places in the Indo-Pacific where borders or sovereignty are disputed.”

This “worry” raises big questions. But back to the speech. The Minister’s punchline – he signals to Washington that Australian forces will operate with American forces in Asia to deny China its security.

“We will make the investment necessary to increase the range and lethality of the Australian Defence Force so that it is able to hold potential adversary forces and infrastructure at risk further from Australia. This will include capabilities such as longer-range strike weapons, cyber capabilities and area denial systems tailored to a broader range of threats, … the logistics, sustainment and depth required for high-intensity war fighting, including guided munitions”.

Behind the militarese the professionals know this means that Australia will cough up as much money and forces as necessary to fight China in a high-intensity war on China’s doorstep.

But wait, Minister. Surely an overarching issue should have been addressed first. What are the marginal benefits/disadvantages, risks and costs for Australia compared to our current longstanding posture? Nor should these be expressed just in defence terms. This is an  extraordinary foreign policy issue. With no clear advice to Australians, much less debate. Never mind that Australia is already quite secure through its own formidable capability. Never mind that no convincing evidence exists that China is a threat to us. Remember Iraq and the US ‘mistruths’ on WMD? Never mind that the financial cost will be crippling, yet our practical military contribution miniscule. Never mind that other options exist for Australia to contribute to US objectives, while remaining independent.

Finally, there is an ad for AUKUS:

“My first priority will be our trilateral partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom under AUKUS. For a three ocean nation, the heart of deterrence is undersea capability”

One day our Minister will realise that “deterrence “ is a well-worn term to avoid addressing cost and effectiveness. A military cover for cant. Only with the finality of nuclear weaponry is it apt. Germany failed to deter anything in the Atlantic with 3000 submarines.

If the Minister’s preparations for war with China proceed, Australia is placed on a narrow, logical long- term path. The US recognises how strategic and secure Australia has become. And its military basing in Asia will degrade. Australia, progressively, will be transformed into the home for the US to control the Indo- Pacific, to “compete” with China. Whereupon we have only token independence in foreign and defence policy. And in trade. And …. A priority nuclear target without nuclear missile defence. While America will eventually discover that leaving is in its best interest.

This decision is as critical for Australia as any government has faced. Nothing short of Chifleyan, utterly selfish, ungentle, knowledgeable clarity on Australia’s priorities is demanded. Let’s step back, think hard and consult Australians before dawdling into a sticky tunnel leading to a vassal state.




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china isn't going away…...


The tragic obsession with the Chinese threat By Joseph Camilleri


Seven weeks in government, and still no sign that Labor in office is prepared to rethink the relationship with either China or the United States. The two are not unconnected. The link is their common addiction to the China threat thesis.

The fact that Australia’s new defence and foreign ministers have met with their Chinese counterparts is no doubt a positive step. But it comes primarily as a result of China’s openness to the idea of resetting the relationship.

The Chinese statement released after the meeting between Wang Yi and Penny Wong on 8th July makes this clear. It reports Wang Yi as saying: “China is ready to re-examine, re-calibrate, and reinvigorate bilateral ties in the spirit of mutual respect, and strive to bring bilateral relations back on the right track.”

The Australian statement is far more guarded. It refers first to “Australia’s concerns about a range of bilateral, regional, trade and consular issues”, and then goes on to say “. . . it is in both our countries’ interests for the relationship to be stabilised.”

But what does “stabilised” mean? China can be forgiven for thinking that what Australia wants is to stabilise its highly profitable trade with China, while continuing to be fiercely critical of Chinese policies at home and abroad, and to support US actions and pronouncements, however provocative Beijing may consider them.

One sentence in Penny Wong’s opening remarks at the meeting with Wang Yi gives the game away: “Australia’s Government has changed but our national interests and our policy settings have not.” It is precisely these policy settings which became the trademark of Liberal governments and provoked China’s ire, eventually prompting a suite of sanctions targeting Australian beef, wine, barley, and coal exports.

If the policy settings remain the same, it is because the Labor government has still to distance itself from the politically contrived anti-China hysteria which has swept the corridors of influence in Washington and increasingly in Canberra.

Not surprisingly, both Albanese and Wong made it clear before and since the May election that they took great exception to the China-Solomons Security Pact. The Labor opposition was critical of the Morrison government for being caught off guard and not acting in timely fashion to forestall the signing of such an agreement.

The widely held view within Australia’s security circles was that the agreement would in time pave the way for a Chinese military base less than 2,000 km from Australia’s coastline. Mainstream media, not noted for their expertise on China, assumed a sombre tone: ‘Australia’s gravest fears were about to be realised’.

Repeated assurances by Prime Minister Sogavare that the Solomons had no intention of allowing a Chinese naval base seemed to carry no weight. Explanations offered by both China and Sogovare that the agreement was intended to foster social stability in the Solomons appeared to fall on deaf ears.

The subsequent tour by Wang Yi of eight Pacific Islands became further grist to the anti-China mill. Apart from concluding bilateral agreements with each of the countries he visited, Wang Yi proposed a multilateral economic and security agreement known as the “China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision”. His meeting with the foreign ministers of the ten Pacific Island countries that recognise China rather than Taiwan declined to support the agreement, at least in its present form. But none of this was enough to placate the ‘frenzy of concern’.

Since being sworn in as foreign minister, Penny Wong has made four trips to the Pacific. This whirlwind of diplomacy supported by additional promises of development and security aid is ostensibly meant to repair Australia’s long neglected relationship with the Pacific. The underlying and unconcealed purpose is to secure a regional framework able to contain the “dangers of Chinese expansion”.

The threat posed by China now pervaded every facet of Australia’s foreign and security policy. A clear indication of this was Prime Minister Albanese’s decision to attend four international summits in his first seven weeks in office.

The first of these was the QUAD Leaders’ meeting in Japan. Predictably the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting pointedly called for a maritime rules-based order – codeword for continuing US military supremacy – that would include the East and South China Seas. Without referring to China by name, the statement pointed to China’s numerous sins, notably “the militarisation of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”

A few weeks later, Albanese joined NATO leaders in Madrid for what was billed as “the most important summit in generations”. For the first time in its history, it was attended by leaders of four key US allies in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. The message was clear. Though the summit would direct most of its venom against Russia, China would not be spared.

[accused China link out in word]]The declaration issued by member states explicitly accused China of challenging NATO’s “interests, security, and values” and seeking “to undermine the rules-based international order.” But there was more to come.

The denunciation of China assumed vitriolic proportions in the much heralded NATO Strategic Concept adopted at the summit. It merits quoting at length:

The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security. The PRC seeks to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains. It uses its economic leverage to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence. It strives to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains. The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.

Comments made by Albanese before and during the summit left little doubt that he concurred with the letter and spirit of these admonitions. To dispel any doubts, he launched a diatribe against China for its failure to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, drew a parallel between Ukraine and Taiwan and invited China to learn from Russia’s “strategic failure”. He went on to commit Australia’s participation in NATO exercises later in the year.

China’s response was swift and direct. The parallel between Ukraine and Taiwan was vehemently rejected. The Chinese Foreign Ministry accused Albanese of gross ignorance with regard to China’s stance on the Ukraine Crisis and Taiwan’s status. “Taiwan”, it emphatically asserted, “is not a sovereign country.”

The China Daily’s assessment was brutally frank:

From deliberately playing up and smearing China’s normal security cooperation with the Solomon Islands to eagerly jumping on the US bandwagon drumming up support for its containment policy against China, the current Australian government has displayed no signs of changing the course set by its predecessor.

This latest unfortunate episode raises unavoidable questions: When it comes to China, does the Labor government have any intention to distance itself from the dictates of current US policy and strategic rhetoric? Will it continue to despatch Australian warships and aircraft to the contested waters of the South China Sea and East China Sea? Recent incidents suggest that increased military activity of this kind heightens the risk of military confrontation, whether by accident or miscalculation.

It is difficult to see why Australia should entertain such risks, not least the prospect of a indefinite freeze in its relations with China. And this, simply to give credence to a threat scenario whose main objective, at best elusive and ultimately unattainable, is to ensure America’s regional and global dominance.

There is little evidence to support the claim that China is intent on using military force against its neighbours. Taiwan is a possible exception, but even here such a military thrust is unlikely to occur unless Taiwan foolishly moves towards a unilateral declaration of independence.

The fact remains that, despite its remarkable economic growth and a rising defence budget, China’s capacity to project military muscle pales in comparison with America’s global military reach.

The possibility, however distant, that the Chinese navy may gain access to one or more port or basing facilities in the Indio-Pacific region, routinely raises eyebrows and provokes deep consternation in government and media circles. The fact that the United States, thirty years after the end of the Cold War, still has well over 700 bases in at least 70 countries is accepted as normal, and in keeping with an international rules based order.

The same holds for China’s efforts to establish links with Australian institutions and political, business and community leaders. These are viewed with suspicion verging on hysteria. By contrast, the longstanding networks of influence which the United States, Britain or Israel have developed across Australia’s political, military and intelligence landscape are viewed with equanimity.

The carefully orchestrated threat scenarios that currently underpin Australia’s China policy offer few benefits. They simply feed on public fears, fan the flames of militarist discourse and policy-making, and heighten tensions in already troubled waters.

A rethink is more urgent than ever. It is unlikely to be facilitated, let alone initiated, by our moribund political parties or blinkered mainstream media. For now, only civil society, in its diverse expressions, can stimulate the mature public conversation we need to have.







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their subs and crews — our war?…...


MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The United Kingdom will deploy a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in a bid to contain China's influence in the region, UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported on Friday.

The head of UK armed forces, Tony Radakin, is expected to reach an agreement on the issue at a naval conference in Sydney next week, thereby accomplishing London's commitment under the AUKUS security alliance of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, according to the newspaper.

The submarines will be stationed on the west coast of Australia in the city of Perth until 2024 to carry out patrol operations. Australian submarine officers will be integrated into the UK crew to enhance their skills, the newspaper added.


The Royal Navy has declined to disclose how many of its submarines may be dispatched to Australia saying that all operational details regarding the UK submarine fleet are classified. The UK defense ministry has also refused to comment on the issue, the Daily Mail said.

The AUKUS partnership, established in September 2021, aims at providing Australia with its own fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, with at least eight submarines planned to be delivered. Russia and China have raised concerns about the security challenges in the region stemming from the AUKUS establishment, saying that could result in the collapse of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.