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.