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Australia should join the non-aligned bloc of nations …

When big dogs bark, little dogs should keep their flapping yaps shut.

If there ever has been a saying that so clearly applies to Australia … it is that one. We may have a huge landmass, but as seen from the rest of the world we are a small country with a minimal population. We have little power to influence international geopolitical tides, and we are subordinate to the dictates of China and America.

China lectures us, and we swallow it with a mixture of anger and obsequious servility. America has no need to lecture us, it simply points, and we simply follow.

In the pretend political debates about whether or not Australia should join whatever the next iteration of the Coalition of the Willing may happen to be, the outcome of such debates is always a given. If the USA wants us there, we will be there, if they don’t want us there, we won’t be there. Either way it will be at America’s direction. We are not an independent country.

Such fawning acceptance of the will of America has led us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the resultant destabilisation of the nations and regions surrounding those two countries. Both of those long standing wars were lost and even now America is negotiating with the Taliban in order to pull out safely the remaining troops of the USA.

Our involvement in those two American wars cost our country dearly.

We now have far too many maimed and PTSD-ridden defence force personnel who are struggling to gain any sort of fair recognition and compensation for the ills they suffered from the very government that sent them there.

We now have a generation of refugees from our wars thrown into isolated camps and punished for fleeing the horrors that our wars visited upon their countries. We treat them as worse than criminals. But they are not the wrong doers. It is we who are the criminals by association.

How did it all come to this? How did we lose our way so badly?

All the Think Tank international relations and defence experts can wax on as lyrically as they like about our relative place in the world, but what they rarely say is that we are a very small country with ambitions and pretensions far greater than our abilities to deliver same.

We are an ex-colonial, nationalistic, and sometimes blithely ignorant small country sitting on the rump of Asia. Whether we like it or not we don’t matter much, or have much influence, on the world stage.

We have a compact and professional Australian Defence Force (ADF). One of the best in the world. But it is so small it has no hope of defending Australia in stand alone mode against any form of concerted foreign aggression targeted solely at us. We even have a Navy ship stranded in dry dock because we cannot find enough crew for it. All the hype and flag waving by our politicians will not change stark facts. We are unable to effectively defend ourselves.

If push ever comes to shove in the geopolitical arena we will not be attacked because of who we are as a people. We will not be attacked because we consciously stand as a threat to anybody else. We will be targeted because of who we align ourselves with, and who we act as war-fighting proxies for.

There does come a time in the history of a nation when courses embarked upon need to be changed, and when directions long taken need to be reversed. Should we wish to survive as a nation well into the future then we truly need to become independent.

We are under threat from China because of the militaristic alliances we make at the super-power level. Geographically we sit in China’s sphere of influence. It would pay us well to remember that two way appeasement and fence sitting have the historical record of guaranteed failure.

Many empires have arisen and fallen over the course of time within China, just as they have within Europe, South America, and elsewhere. The current version of a Chinese empire is on the rise, and one day like all its predecessors, it will also fall. Where Australia is concerned, it is wise to take the long view with such matters.

We are also under threat from the current leadership team in America because we are allowing ourselves to be drawn into a maelstrom of geopolitical ad-hoc decision making and deal breaking that is destabilising what was a reasonably settled, though decidedly imperfect, world geopolitical order.

For all its imperfections the current order of the world has, at least to date, saved us from the sort of catastrophic worldwide conflict last seen during the era of World War Two.

America seeks to maintain hegemony at a time when its super-power status is slipping, and it is turning inwards as it tries to arrest the receding tide of the worldwide dominance that it once had, and for all we know, may one day have again. China seeks to create hegemony at a time when its super-power status is becoming paramount, and it is far too easily beguiled by the false buttressing of its fawning satellite states. The long march of time will show how all of that plays out.

When you are one of the runts of the litter, and that is undoubtedly what we are, you simply cannot get between or please two big dogs who are viciously barking at each other and fighting for supremacy. The only answer is to remove yourself from the vicinity of the fight.

Australia should join the non-aligned bloc of nations.

Some will say that such a move will be used as a wedge by China against America. So what. Both super-powers wedge each other and us and everyone else every day, and they will always seek to do so. Neither super-power is subtle in manipulating us because of our economic reliance on one, and our defence reliance on the other. Self-reliance, and independence, affords some protection from such gross bullying.

It is my belief that Australia should stop fighting other people’s wars and that we should step away from our current super-power military alliance with America, and replace that with strengthened mutual cooperation arrangements with Indonesia, New Zealand, New Guinea, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Will Australia survive if we are no longer protected by America’s nuclear weapons umbrella? Will Australia be open to invasion by some large state player if the US forces are no longer prepared to step in and guarantee our safety? Good questions.

If nuclear-tipped missiles started flying, whether launched from America, China, Russia, North Korea, Israel, France, India, Pakistan, the UK, or some rogue non-state player, then there would be nowhere for anybody to hide. It would be dust and cinders for all. We live in a world where nobody would be safe from such a conflagration, and it is pointless thinking that Australia is a special place that would somehow be spared its share of the horror.

The best we can do as a small state is play our part in the international institutions that try to prevent such an unthinkable war from happening.

Australia is currently under no threat of mass invasion. Only a very large state player would have the resources and capability to transport a massive offensive military force across the oceans to our shores. Think back to D-Day, where it took the combined resources of the largest super-power in the world at that time and all of its allies to transport at great risk an offensive army across the very short reach of the English Channel to Normandy. There are big oceans between Australia and everyone else.

The only threat of invasion that we face is that of minor incursions along our long isolated coastlines by minor state players. As a citizenry we would have to accept that our ADF, our one and only line of mainland defence, would need to be greatly expanded and suitably resourced.

Also, as a people we tend to think that our defence is the role of somebody else, and we abrogate personal responsibility. Our ADF can only do so much, and it needs to be backed up by a well trained cohort, along Switzerland Model lines, of able-bodied male and female Australians who are prepared to be called upon when needed. We cannot have it both ways, if we become an independent country then we are either prepared to defend ourselves, or we are not.

The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that compulsory military training applies to all male Swiss citizens under a certain age, with women given the option of voluntary involvement. The Australian Model would include both males and females.

Such a thought of citizen soldiery was anathema in our past, and it was associated with National Service, the Vietnam War, and the unedifying sight of Australia doing the bidding of a larger imperial power and committing our forces to overseas service in order to fight other people’s wars. Under the new model our armed forces would be committed to mainland defence only.

In a geopolitical sense, Australia should be friendly to all and the servile best friend of nobody.

Our nation has arrived at an unavoidable crossroad. We either choose stagnation and remain a small, insecure, scared, and increasingly vulnerable country. Or we choose change.

Though the early worrying signs are there we are not yet fully swamped by the negativity of blind nationalism. We are currently a democracy in progress, with almost unlimited natural resources (if wisely managed), and it is not impossible to countenance that we could yet become a state and a citizenry sitting here on the edge of Asia that becomes a model of progressiveness for others to look at and think about.

I’m asking you to think about the meaning that sits beneath those words, the possibility that sits beneath those words. The as yet unanswered question for Australia is how bravely unique do we, as a people, think we can be?

It will take much change.

We will have to stop fighting other people’s wars. We will have to start treating refugees as human beings who are deserving of our protection. We will have to accept the responsibility of defending ourselves. We will have to become a stronger supporter of climate change activism. We will have to move away from the demonising notion that our poor, our unemployed, and our disadvantaged citizens are the way they are by choice. Our politics will have to move away from adversarial intransigence and towards collegiate engagement. We will have to stop standing in the road of the aspirations of Indigenous Australians. We will have to stop being a proxie for super-power force projection. We will need to change our flag to represent who we now are as a people. We will need to distribute the sovereign wealth of this nation to all of the citizenry, and not just to a select few. We will need to ensure that health care, and education from primary to university level, is free of cost for every Australian. We will need to move on from jingoistic nationalism and replace it with a quieter appreciation of our natural environment, our achievements in the arts and sciences, and of the fact that as a people we are no better or no worse than any other grouping of human beings on this planet.

Apologies to the ALP for pinching their line … but it is Australia itself that needs to become the Light On The Hill.

It is my belief that Australia should become a truly independent Nation. We should join the non-aligned bloc as the Republic of Australia. Beholden to, and scared of, none.

21 comments

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  1. Peter F

    Had an interesting chat with a Physics teacher for Ohio earlier this week. We just happened to sit beside him at the Sydney Opera House where he spent part of his last night in Australia listening to The Australian Youth Orchestra concert. In our ‘getting to know you’ chat, he was surprised to learn that Australia sent men to fight beside Americans in Vietnam. He was somewhat embarrassed, but we reassured him that we would not expect him to know this minor detail.

  2. Brad Golding

    Outstanding comment! Keith Davis you have nailed it. I would, however, contest one point. I do not think China is empire building nor attempting hegemony like the US has been doing. Maybe, one day in the future another leadership regime may attempt to do so, but not this one. Time, I guess will tell. However, your essay has brought up so many good issues it should be a must-read for all Australians. Thank you.

  3. Brad Golding

    Peter F

    As a Vietnam vet myself, I have communicated with US Vietnam vets and many of them didn’t know we were there either.

  4. Christopher J Ward

    Having displayed so much knowledge, I suppose thinking back to an earlier time we should not have endorsed John Curtin’s call to America in World War II. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant but Soviet and Allied espionage and military adventure lasted until 1989 and as the world becomes unravelled, there will be brushfire wars. When the PRC gets even closer to our shores, I suppose you will wave either the red flag with the yellow stars or the new national flag of a white feather on a yellow background. The fact remains that Australia has the same landmass as the US, except for the inclusion of Alaska, and the longest continual shoreline. A great deal of our land is unusable for agriculture; immigration is forcing out populations into what was once agricultural land, losing our crop bases, the cities have become heat banks and are contributing to climate change, we have no real infrastructure and everything that should be owned or run by the government is privatised to the detriment of us all. How you expect less than 26 million people to defend a continent without allies beggars belief and your second last paragraph is laughable. You are not on your own in this particular crusade and I remember a so-called top former diplomat Malcolm Booker, having taken his danegeld, proceeding to write a heap of similar nonsense. I’m 77 and during many years, I was prepared to enlist and fight in our defence. As multiculturalism has been and still is a dismal failure, we are faced with dystopian multinationalism If you want true independence, I suggest you go to Antarctica and stay cool.

  5. margcal

    The US will do as it has always done – what it perceives to be in its own interests. Should Australia ever be attacked, we can’t rely on the US coming to our aid. It will look at the situation to see what’s in it for them and act accordingly, treaty or no treaty.
    So yes, way past time for Australia to become independent rather than lackeys of the US. Time for us to judge situations on their merits, not automatically do as the US says.

  6. James O'Neill

    An examination of Australia’s trading figures in recent decades is instructive. The UK and US now play a minimal role. Asia accounts for more than 80% of our trade, and China for 3 times that of Japan, the next largest.
    The geographical reality has not been matched by a geopolitical reality. That is unlikely to change and any speculation to the contrary is delusional. The need therefore is to equate our behaviour with our interests. Neither the current government or its Labor alternative show the least awareness of this reality. The likelihood therefore is that Australia will continue to become involved in wars that have no resemblance to its interests but rather support the dying throes of a corrupt and belligerent US empire. Just compare the post 1945 figures of the major powers. One nation stands out for its record of invasions, government overthrows and destabilisation, not to mention a formidable number of casualties, by a very wide margin. That country is neither Russia nor China.
    It seems very unlikely that the current government or its likely successor will grasp these realities. Expect more pointless involvement in US wars and the inevitable sinking of what little remains of Australia’s independence.

  7. Peter F

    Brad G. , From what I have been told, the Americans made so much noise it is a wonder they noticed that anyone else was there. This is not to denigrate any of the good the ordinary soldier did, just that the average American appears totally oblivious to what has happened, and what is happening, in the world during their lifetime.

  8. New England Cocky

    Well expressed KTD an excellent read!!

    But you overlooked the Vietnam Debacle that Menzies invited Australia into because he wanted to assuage his conscience as he had resigned his Army commission on the first day of WWI and subsequently refused to volunteer of military service. [Yes, I have sighted the actual military record of Robert Gordon Menzies].

    An independent republican Australia with an Australian Head of State is the obvious way forward for thinking Australians. As Machiavelli notes this requires a strong competent Australian nationals defence force rather than dependence upon foreign mercenaries who have a bad history of abandoning their employers for others when offered a better deal.

    Presently in Darwin there is about a 2,500 strong US Occupation Force allegedly ‘protecting’ US BIG Oil assets on the NW Shelf. Silly me!! ….. thinking that US multinational oil corporations would recognise and respect Australian sovereignty when natural resources were available to be exploited at little real cost, thanks to over generous Australian taxation benefits for the imperialists from the USA (United States of Apartheid).

    @margal: Until 1939 England was going to have the British Navy defend Australia until Churchill became Prime Minister and Japanese airplanes sank the warships HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse in the Indian Ocean after the British general Jardine surrendered Singapore without a fight to a Japanese Army mounted on bicycles. Then Churchill quibbled about releasing Australian troops from the North African campaign to defend continental Australia against the Japanese. So much for depending upon “the great powers” in times of a national defence crisis.

  9. Brad Golding

    Peter F. True mate, very true. However, the vast majority of US troops in Vietnam were not well trained. There is a great book by Susan Faludi called, “Stiffed, The Betrayal of the Modern man,” which contains several examples of ways in which corporate USA has betrayed men, and women as a consequence, in the modern era. One of those chapters is on the GI’s sent to Vietnam, and it is a tragic story. A damned fine read and highly recommended.

  10. Phil

    ‘ Not well trained is an understatement ‘

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=_J2VwFDV4-g

    A presentation and reading by Hamilton Gregory, author of “McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam.” Because so many college students were avoiding military service during the Vietnam War, Defence Secretary Robert McNamara lowered mental standards to induct 354,000 low-IQ men. Their death toll in combat was appalling.

    The above was also revealed in the excellent documentary about Vietnam the 10000 day war. Journalists interviewing the grunts on the ground were astounding that many of them didn’t know where they were in the world. Just ‘ Cannon Fodder. ‘

    As for Australia joining the ‘ Non aligned bloc of countries ‘ Yea right. I’ll explain that to the Chinese troops as they swan around the suburbs picking out their new houses to live in. The alliance with America is for the time being is, a necessary evil.

  11. margcal

    NEC – I take your point re the UK. But it’s a long time since there was any pretence that they would ever do anything for us. It’s the on-going pretence that the US will protect us that needs to be challenged at every possible turn. A lot of Australian lives have already been lost to their follies. We don’t need any more. KTD’s point that we should become unaligned is the way to go. Way beyond time that we put truth rather then euphemism into “independence”.

  12. Stephengb

    Keith Thomas Davis,

    That Sir is the best summary and unapologetic ultimatum I have read since arriving in Australia (4 August 1978).

    It is time Australians stopped seeing themselves as so special that they are still, (after 241 years and 118 years of federation as a country called Austtralia) searching for their apparently so ellusive “identity”?

    I have witnessed over the preceding 41 years how Australia has morphed from an egalitarian decent country to an openly xenaphiic, islamaphobic, mysogenic, bigotted country of scared weird little guys, intent on taking their bully boy fear, out on anyone else who are :- smaller, less fortunate, sick, unemployed, disabled, aged, young, and or defenceless.

    I was once proud of the egalitarian nature of the Australia I first encountered but now I am just disgusted.

    I am sure we are going to go down the way of “A SCARED AUSTRALIA”

    I hope when I die my family move to a country with inherent self effacing pride, rather than stay in this country of scared cat bully boys.

  13. Wam

    If we were a thinking nation your writing would be accurate but as we are a bullshit racist nation, it misses some conservative strengths.
    Our spy agency sneakily trampled all over East Timor? We have driven Fiji towards China because their politics.
    We can bully most nations in the pacific and, according to my rabbottians, our new septic second class jets are far better(when the septics overcome the problems) than the Indonesian sukhois. Although I am sure most aussies think the Indonesians still fly Canberra’s.
    ps
    Wonder how we’d go if Nauru and PNG attacked?

  14. Strephengb

    PS

    As an Englishman I resent strongly the continued blame heaped on Britain over the gallipoli campaign and the diversion of Australian troops in the Second world war.

    Gallipoli was a disaster and there is no mistakng the fact that was a monumental failure, but almost all of the Gallipoli myths are just that myths, from the so called cutting down of troops on the beaches, the heavely defended Turkish positions, the landing on the wrong beach, the Englishman called Simpson, the success of the withdrawal. All recallection of BS facts.

    Of course the Australian troops were diverted to the northern hemisphere that is where the major theatre of the war was being caught (even the entry of the USA recognised that defeato9f Germany took precedence over the defeat of Japan and at that point America had actually been attacked whereas Australia was not in imminant danger)

    As I said before Australians as a country are pretty devoid of morals.

    Australians as soldiers are without doubt very very brave, but your leaderships recallection of historical facts are lacking honesty.

    I am 71, surrounded by bully boy Australians but still have more back bone than the average Australian.

  15. Stephengb

    Before you lot have a go at me.

    Just look at how many were actually killed in Gallipoli compared to Australians. 80,000 compared to 20,000.
    Just check the total number of civilians killed in the London blitz the industrial cities blitz and Southern England, compared to the number in the bombing of Darwin.
    And ask yourself how many naval men women and civilians were killed at Pearl Harbour compared to your Darwin.

    And remember who was it that comandered the Australian troops at Gallipoli?

    And then of the total number of deaths of British troops to Australian troops.

    No one is doubting that Australians were not brave, nor that the cost in men was high for your population

    Don’t forget the original ANZAC volunteers at Gallipoli was made up of Australian, New Zealand, Anerican Canadian, English Welsh, Scotish, Irish volunteers, true the vast majority were Australian,

    I cannot understand how Australia’s defence of Australia was to be the Brisbane line, yes your idea was to sacrifice the north of WA, all of the NT and the north of Qld, it was only General MacArthur who took Australian defence to the Japs?

  16. Cool Pete

    In response to an earlier comment, tension between the USA and Japan had been high before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and unlike the USA, Australia had not declared war against Japan in retaliation to a strike against Australian soil or external territory. Yes, Japan had invaded what was then Dutch West New Guinea and New Guinea (Australia gained what was German New Guinea in 1919, and the southern half was British New Guinea (renamed Papua and merged with New Guinea in 1949)) but both Australia and the USA declared war on the same day. You cannot blame John Curtin, because Britain was fighting for survival against the Nazis, and it needed an ally. Having said that, the USA and Australia have become involved in ridiculous wars. The Vietnam War was a civil war, and Australia shouldn’t have been there, nor should the USA. Afghanistan and Iraq have been aggressive, unmitigated disasters, and one thing we need to remember is this, as much as I despise Dutton, as one example, if I went out to his electorate and said to people who voted for him that they’re bloody idiots, I wouldn’t likely cop someone saying, “Oh, yes, you’re right, we shouldn’t have voted for him.”
    The USA and Australia NEED to remember that ANZUS and AUSMINT are defensive alliances, and Afghanistan and Iraq are aggressive wars not defensive wars. We do not need an army of conscripts, for several reasons. One, if you want to join the Army voluntarily, you are not taken at your word, fitted up with a uniform and kit and assigned a regiment. You have to pass not just the physical, but the medical, the psychological and aptitude, and the Army rejects more applications than it accepts. I knew a guy who wanted to join the army, he passed the medical, physical and that, but the army decided he was “a bit young”. Two, you do not join the Army for three free meals a day, free medical and dental and cheap loans, you join the army to defend your country, so you want people who want to be there. Even on the day you report to the induction centre, they give you talks and say, “Are you sure you want to be here? If not, go now.” Yadda, yadda. “Okay, now, we’re going to break for lunch. Are you sure you want to be here? If not, go now. If you decide over lunch that you don’t want to be here, feel free to leave, you’ve had one meal on us.” And before you take the oath, even, they say, “Are you sure you want to do this? If not, don’t sign.” And thirdly, we cannot be sure that home only will be a condition.

  17. Cool Pete

    And to the one above, it was Australia’s defence to the JAPANESE, not the word you used.

  18. Phil

    As I said before Australians as a country are pretty devoid of morals. Bwaaahahaha.

    Yes Bawana

    I am 71, surrounded by bully boy Australians but still have more back bone than the average Australian.

    Bwaaahahahah. What a load of twaddle.

    A Monty Python sketch.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L220PFMkunI

  19. Zathras

    What our troops do and where we send them is fairly irrelevant.

    Politics is always local and all that matters is the spin our leaders put on it to make us all feel better about ourselves and seem bigger than we really are. It’s the eternal battle between Good and Evil.

    In any case we’ve had a military involvement in some form in the Middle East for 18 years and nobody even seems to care anymore.
    It’s the price we paid for a Trade Agreement with the USA and perhaps another installment is due.

  20. David

    There is no need for a greatly expanded ADF. The essence of a professional defence force for our defence only is that it can be rapidly expanded in a genuine national emergency. What would be more important would be genuine engagement with Asia as equals.

  21. Anarchy rules

    Non aligned countries have far fewer wars than those that choose to be allied with major powers . Costa rica is the only stable country In central America because it bans a standing army in its constitution. Thomas Jefferson one of usa’s founding fathers was against establishing a permanent military force as he stated if you have one you will use it .General Smedley Butler stated that while he served in the USA military he was a gangster for capitalism . Gallipoli which has now become a sacred cow in Australia and heavily promoted by our political leaders whilst we enter even more wars with our allies was not about spreading freedom and democracy in the middle east but the carving up of the otterman empire by the western empires . The naming of the Australian force at Gallipoli ,the AIF stands for Australian imperial force it’s main aim was empire first .

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