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War over Taiwan: Australia’s Gang of Five

Diligently, obediently and with a degree of dangerous imbecility, a number of Australian media outlets are manufacturing a consensus for war with a country that has never been a natural, historical enemy, nor sought to be. But as Australia remains the satellite of a Sino-suspicious US imperium, its officials and their dutiful advocates in the press seem obligated to pave the way for conflict.

The latest example of this came in articles run in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Melbourne. The premise is already clear from the columnists, Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott. Australia faces a “Red Alert”, and, to that end, needs a warring fan club. Not since the domino theory bewitched strategists and confused military planners have Australians witnessed this: a series of articles featuring a gang of five with one purpose: to render the Australian public so witless as to reject any peaceful accommodation.

First, the provocative colouring for the article, “How a conflict over Taiwan could swiftly reach our shores.” The Australian continent is shown bathed in a sea of red. Various military bases and facilities are outlined. For good measure, there is a picture of Australian soldiers firing an artillery piece in “military exercises in 2018 at Shoalwater Bay, Queensland.”

Then, the blistering opening lines of terror. “Within 72 hours of a conflict breaking out over Taiwan, Chinese missile bombardments and devastating cyberattacks on Australia would begin. For the first time since World War II, the mainland would be under attack.” The authors already anticipate a good complement of US troops to occupy the Australian north, some 150,000 “seeking refuge from the immediate conflict zone.”

The Red Alert panellists, anointed as “defence experts”, brim with such scenarios. All, as they state in a joint communique, agree on one thing: “Australia has many vulnerabilities. It has long and exposed connections to the rest of the world – sea, air and undersea – yet is incapable of protecting them.”

Leading the gang of five is Peter Jennings, who has had an unshakeable red-under-the-bed fantasy for years. A former deputy secretary for strategy in the Australian Defence Department, and steering the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) for a decade (that’s Canberra’s revolving door for you), Jennings is adamant and steely. “As I think of a conflict over Taiwan, what I’m thinking about is something that very quickly grows in scale and location.”

There is no reason at all why such a growth in scale or location should happen, but this is not the purpose of the exercise. The point of the Red Alert fantasy is to neutralise the significance of Australia’s natural boundaries – some of the most formidable on the planet – and dismiss them in any conflict with Beijing. “Distance is no longer equivalent to safety from our strategic perspective,” ponders Jennings.

Jennings inadvertently reveals the case against war, which can only be an encouragement to activists and officials keen to reverse the trend of turning Australia into a US imperial outpost of naval and military bases that would be used in any Taiwan conflict. “If China wants to seriously go after Taiwan in any military sense, the only way they can really contemplate quick success is to pre-emptively attack those assets that might be a threat to them. That means Pine Gap goes.” Pine Gap remains that misnamed joint US-Australian signals facility that has facilitated illegal drone strikes in foreign territories most Australian politicians would fail to find on a map.

Oddly enough, the columnists then suggest that Jennings is breaking the “powerful unwritten rule in Australia” which involves not mentioning war. This is fabulous nonsense, given the trumpeting and screeching for conflict that has come from ASPI for some years now.

Lavina Lee, another Red Alert panellist, is also into the business of softening the Australian public for war, or at least “the possibility that we might go to war, and what would happen either way. We should talk about what we would look like if we win and what it would look like if we lose.” And what about peace, a word finding its way into Canberra’s garbage tip of taboo words?

Australia’s former chief scientist, Alan Finkel, dolls out his own catastrophic scenario. “Airlines in particular can be taken down very, very easily.” He goes on to suggest that the challenges to electricity will be more resistant, as “most of our generators are not that sophisticated in terms of cyber. They will be [more sophisticated] five to 10 years from now. Things like the telephone network and airlines are very obvious targets.”

Retired army major-general Mick Ryan makes his contribution by wishing Australia to be readied for war. In a message common to most military officers, the civilians should really do more about giving his brethren more cash. “Like most other Western militaries, we believe in the cult of the offensive, so we have underinvested in defensive capabilities.” He also fears that any war over Taiwan would “involve strikes on US bases, on fuel and munition holdings, ships across the region, including our own country potentially.”

Lesley Seebeck, former head of the Australian National University’s Cyber Institute, completes the crew of five, and laments the “state of our critical infrastructure” that has just been left to lie. “There is no sense of investing for the future.” Perversely enough, Seebeck’s view reads amusingly when considered alongside Finkel, who points out that more sophisticated cyber-infrastructure in the future, rather than clunkier systems with greater redundancies, would actually make Australia more vulnerable. Sometimes, it pays to keep the old.

A few things are worth noting in this frothy mix of fantabulation and establishment fire breathing. In the quest to gather such a panel, no effort has been made to consult the expertise of a China hand. That lobby, able to provide a more nuanced, less heavy-footed approach, is being shunned, their advice exorcised in any effort to encourage war.

Bizarrely, the panellists offer an increasingly popular non-sequitur that has creeped into the warmonger’s manual: Would Australia’s leaders, in war, pass the Zelensky test? This somehow implies that the Ukraine conflict offers salient lessons over a war over Taiwan, an absurd comparison that muddled strategists are fond of making.

Most of all, Beijing’s own actual intentions over Taiwan are to be avoided. The presumption in ASPI-land is that a war is imminent, and that Beijing would want to go to war over the island as a matter of course. China’s President Xi Jinping’s main advisor on the subject, veteran ideologue Wang Huning, suggests an approach at odds with such thinking.

The Red Alert exercise has drawn necessary and important criticism. Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating did not mince his words in a fuming column for Pearls and Irritations. “Today’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age front page stories on Australia’s supposed war risk with China represents the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over fifty years of active public life.” One might even go further back than that. The war times are coming, and as are those gangs seeking to encourage them.

 

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34 comments

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  1. Gus

    This is treason!

  2. Douglas Pritchard

    Diligently, obediently and with a degree of dangerous imbecility, a number of Australians are falling prey to these sentiments.
    Our favoured trading partner is being white-anted by an arms dealer who knows no limit to how, and why, it undermines its competitors.
    If it had less serious consequences, you may think its the “Goon Show” all over again.

  3. Canguro

    Of course, one way to resolve this seeming dilemma is to take a deep breath, tell the USA to pack its bags and piss off out of Australia, all & everything, shut down Pine Gap, send the marines home, thank the Yanks for their past support but inform them we neither want nor need their presence in our country in the forseeable future, perhaps give them a flick behind the ear on the way out by reminding them of the damage they have done to countries and societies around the world over the last ~150 years and make the point that further association with them carries the risk of a similar outcome in this otherwise peaceful continent, and then, somewhat cap in hand, engage in respectful and appropriate conversation with the PRC, tell them how much we appreciate being able to act as a significant partner in trade & commerce & intellectual exchange and make the point that Australia is willing and able to assume its role as a worthy member of the Asian community, and able to be trusted for the long haul in working with and developing relationships with all Asian countries. Win win, as I see it. It just take a willingness for the policymakers to step outside of the stultified paradigm, remove the rose-coloured glasses, and seek to develop a better vision of the future. The Chinese would welcome us with open arms, I’m sure.

    And a note to Gus, re. your ambiguous three-worder. Do explicate further.

  4. New England Cocky

    I remember the ”Domino Theory” when it was splashed over the front page of the SMH back in about 1955. It was a figment of American over-heated imagination and desire to be the imperialist replacement of Britain and/or France in SE Asia. In the process they destroyefd a self-supporting local international food market trading with the seasons to be self-sufficient in food supply.

    This simply would not do for the Americans who departed, tail between their legs like a cowardly dog, some 20 years later after poisoning thousands of acres of jungle and developed farmland, murdering thousands of innocent civilians in three countries and without commandeering the food market.

    American politicians prefer so-called ”allies” to be the cannon fodder for American imperialistic ambitions in favour of American owned foreign multinational corporations that fund both major American parties. Body bags do NOT win votes.

    The AUKUS ”deal” is a fraud and a vassal state response gifting national sovereignty to the USA (United States of America) for no reason that benefits Australian voters. PRC China is a major trading partner that Scummo was encouraged to ”annoy” by the Americans, who then became the suppliers of choice for the Australian commodities that PRC China applied sanctions.

  5. leefe

    Canguro:

    Indeed, and with knobs on. It’s scary seeing this country succumbing to the might of the USAnian military industrial complex.

  6. margcal

    Canguro, for months I’ve been writing to The Age along those lines, not cracking it at all. I was thrilled, today, to see The Age has finally published a whole swag of anti-war letters. May there be many more.

    I’ve been badgering my MP on the topic … receptive but …keeping fingers crossed. No hope with Zoe Daniel though. I spoke to her at Melbourne’s Pride March and got the response, “We need America”. So she’s not yet shed her journalist’s skin.

    As for the authors …. they’d have to be in line for a job in the Merde-och stable. I’d thought Hartcher was better than that.

  7. Fred

    If the PM is off to sign a contract for some AUKUS subs in the US, then it would seem that we will get the US version for an eye-watering $100B (6.4% of annual GDP) which in reality is an “AUS” deal. One would expect that should the US venture into another skirmish we would be reminded about the weapons grade nuke sub deal and how “AUS” partners support each other.

    What would happen if Albo at the post contract signing media conference was to say “By the way, don’t expect Australia to follow the USA into an “Operation” initiated by you, unless there is real proof of a threat to the USA and please don’t mention WMD”? The contract would be torn up in seconds

  8. Douglas Pritchard

    Fred, I like your thinking.
    I have this dream that China will coax us into breaking this new contract in exactly the same way as US intervened to get us to break the French deal.
    If Albo is smart he will only sign if we can default, and NO compensation.
    And then we could start buying some really cool gear from China at half the price.

  9. Fred

    DP: Beware, the cheap ones leak.

  10. Steve Davis

    It is never revealed by the media that not only does China consider Taiwan to be Chinese territory, but Taiwan considers itself to be part of China.

    Which makes any dispute between the two an internal matter, and any conflict a civil war in which we should play no part.

    Interestingly, I read some time back (and failed to keep the link) that Taiwan has the same territorial ambitions, incl the Sth China Sea, as China has. Which means that when critics refer to this as Chinese aggression they inadvertently include Taiwan. So much for the picture of poor innocent Taiwan being bullied by its powerful neighbour.

  11. Terence Mills

    It is inconceivable that we should find it appropriate to interfere with dealings between mainland China and Taiwan : it would be akin to China interfering with Canberra’s dealings with Tasmania.

    Many perhaps most Taiwanese have family on the mainland and deep traditional and cultural roots. War between these countries, particularly sponsored by the USA, would be an absolute tragedy.

    The ties between Taiwan and mainland China include interdependence on trade and commerce and we would do well to stop sabre rattling in our media.

    It seems we need to find a reason to interfere in other peoples’ business when we would be better off maintaining a supportive and impartial role. For instance, this morning on the ABC it was suggested that Albanese should protest in India the raid by Indian authorities on the offices of the BBC. Have we so soon forgotten the raids by the Australian Federal Police on the offices of the ABC and journalist’s homes ?

  12. Steve Davis

    Terence, your final point is an excellent one.

    This pattern of hypocrisy is so widespread and prevalent that I can only conclude that notions of racial superiority persist in many Westerners who think of themselves as being free of such bias.

    The person who made the comment on the ABC would most likely be appalled if accused of any level of racism, yet how else can we explain such an obvious double standard ?

    Of course, we also have a culture of forgetting, which certainly doesn’t help, but which might also be a coping mechanism by those who detect undesirable personal traits at a subconscious level but are unwilling to admit so openly.
    Who can forget the disgusting hounding of Yassmin Abdel-Magied when she forced us to confront this culture of forgetting ?

  13. Steve Davis

    NEC, your point about the domino theory is a good one, and is related to the point I made above that our culture of forgetting is a coping mechanism.

    I think that the reason the domino theory had then, and has now such a receptive audience in Australia is that there is an unpleasant sub-conscious recognition that we were once the hordes descending to invade and conquer.

    Until we face up to that reality, and accept the consequences of facing up to it, we will not mature as a people and so will never have a truly independent outlook.

  14. Clakka

    The ‘gang of five’, along with their publishers …. what a bunch of arse holes. A bunch of self aggrandising morons splattering the front pages with unalloyed racist bullshit à la Joe McCarthy. Toadying to the militarist aristocrats responsible for murdering tens of millions and destruction of assets and environments throughout the history of imperialism and expansionism.

    It seems to me that their three year timeline has only one real purpose; a reverse engineered minimum-time calculus facilitating the promulgation of their crap now, so that when nothing of the kind eventuates they can let the story go cold and move on to an alternate drama-spin.

    There is no consideration of the concerns of modern China pertaining to the 200-odd years of British, European and American assaults on Chinese culture and territory, and America’s close-quarters ballistic ring-fencing of China’s maritime borders. Do they think China has not been watching as America and a disguised Britain continued over the last 50+ years to make cultural and economic incursions with military menace into the affairs of sovereign states purely for imperial enrichment? Do they expect the modernising China to simply roll-over and accept such imperialist oppression?

    Whilst it appears the China can look over its shoulder at its deadly fiefdom wars to consolidation through Qing dynasty to the Republic and ongoing power struggles with the Warlords, the Japanese and the west (including Oz) and the tragic cost of Mao’s errors through the Marxist-Leninist approach and unreliable associations with Russia, and be proud if its recent emergence from poverty to modern dynamism. It has learned about the economic cost of internal vengeance arising from power divisions.

    It has also learned of the guile of outsiders seeking to gain via divide, exploit and conquer. And to that extent it is completely understandable that it should develop a military deterrent given the 200 years of incursions from the west.

    Whilst the west may not like the way China operates its governance and politics, from a point of view of scale, there is no sovereign block on the planet by which to compare the modes of China with those of the ‘democratic’ west. And there is little to say that the ‘democratic’ west has been all sweetness and light – to say the least America has massively bloody internal history, with the society generally only placated through the soporifics of bling and gains through exploitation and profits via war materiel and brainwashing about national military glory.

    Whilst it is fair to say that there are significant concerns as to the issue of ‘human rights’ in China, there is cause to have equal concern about issues of ‘human rights’ throughout the ‘democratic’ west. But we shouldn’t let hypocrisy get in our way.

    It is well known across the world that ‘culture wars’ result in loss of productivity, waste and destruction (latest eg, Russia and Ukraine), and the persistent 50+ years of ‘culture wars’ operated by the ‘democratic’ west have resulted in the demise of the liquidity of their economies and those of the rest of the world. With the main affect being the virtual collapse of the economy of America and Britain (not to forget Britain’s absurd racist imperialist Brexit) – Oh shit, oh dear, we don’t know how to manage anything, let alone peace.

    The notion of China attacking Oz militarily is absurd, and to what end, except to blow up American military installations. It ought be plain to understand that the ratcheting of fear mongering about China is a ploy to facilitate the west’s return to the old chestnut of economic growth through chauvinism and militaristic re-industrialization.

    It is no irony that Oz, caught by its own inaction on climate change, faces an economic dilemma in moving from a fossil-fuel based economy, resorts to AUKUS as part of an 3-way economic rescue pact disguised as protection from China.

    And of course it is no irony that Albanese is in India poking and prodding the divisive neo-fascist Modi (and his corrupt mate Adani) to speed up the financial spin from the Quad – all donations gratefully received.

    As usual, bullshit reigns supreme, as one relies on the gravitas of gangs of toads to promulgate a ripping yarn to disguise the intellectual incompetence and cowardice of the political class and the inconvenient truths associated with its modus operandi.

  15. Canguro

    On the back of the informed comments following Binoy’s post, it’s not been mentioned – perhaps too obvious to warrant comment – that the diligent Chinese here in Australia as well as abroad will be paying close attention to anything that appears in media publications or via televised news. One wonders how the esteemed Nine Entertainment Media journalists considered this as they pieced together their ‘Let’s get ready for war’ chest-thumper? Was there a note of concern as to how their presentation of the opinions of the gang of five would be received by the putative enemy? Was there any concern registered as to the knock-on effect of scribbling a major piece about the threats posed by our major trading partner? Where does the concept of nuance come in to these journalistic endeavours, or is nuance ignored or tossed out the window? Did these Entertainment journalists consult DFAT, or the PM’s office, or any other responsible body to get a second opinion as to the wisdom of devoting inches of press to the prospect of warring with the major trading partner, and consequences be damned?

    I sometimes think Australia is peopled by dills who can’t see beyond their next cup of coffee in relation to best practice behaviour. If Hartcher et al along with the Gang of Five turn out to be the spark that lit the conflagration, they deserve the Romanian outcome, no mercy.

  16. Steve Davis

    We can be thankful there’s still some common sense at the ABC to counter the dogs of war.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-20/what-would-war-with-china-look-like-for-australia-part-1/101328632

    And Part 2 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-21/china-us-war-what-would-conflict-look-like-taiwan/101998772

    Plus a good article from Stan Grant a few days ago that is related;

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-05/ukraine-war-global-rules-based-order-china-democracy-2050/102050588

  17. B Sullivan

    Steve Davis,

    “It is never revealed by the media that not only does China consider Taiwan to be Chinese territory, but Taiwan considers itself to be part of China.”

    Nor that the USA also officially recognises Taiwan to be Chinese territory.

  18. Steve Davis

    Exactly Sully, good point, and Australia the same.

  19. Fred

    Submarines, submarines and even more talk of submarines. Sorry I’m suffering a mental blank, can somebody remind me of which conflict submarines were decisive in either securing victory or shortening the duration thereof. Let’s be clear, if we had 6 or 8 Virginia class subs today, when contemplating invasion of Taiwan, I’m not sure China would feel in awe of or be forced to the negotiating table under threat of annihilation from our fleet.

    SD: Nice ABC links. I’m impressed with Admiral Chris Barrie’s answers and the need for “Statesmen”. Unfortunately also reminded of “Former prime minister John Howard says he has no regrets about the war in Iraq or Australia’s involvement in it”, despite the lie of WMD.

  20. Steve Davis

    I agree entirely Fred, although from what I can gather, submarines are still a significant force, while surface ships have become floating coffins, sitting ducks, with the advancement of missile technology.

    My concerns with the subs is that we will not get value for money, and that they will be used to further US ambitions rather than Australian interests.

  21. Douglas Pritchard

    Whats the betting that there is a good reason why Albo is holding back on the submarine purchase contract supplier?
    Is it because India is now promoted to become our principal security partner.
    So we can release the strange compulsion to travel to USA, bend the knee, and expose the backside.
    Could this be a little surprise for us all, when he announces that the subs will come from India?
    Or best of all worlds, when we do a Zilensky, and just shout for help when its needed?

  22. Steve Davis

    Australian support for the US in its growing confrontation with China would be difficult to justify, both morally and legally.

    In April 2022 China published its Global Security Initiative, calling for a rethink of global security arrangements. In Feb of this year this GSI was complemented by the GSI Concept Paper. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s some points.

    “We believe all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. Their internal affairs brook no external interference, their sovereignty and dignity must be respected, and their right to independently choose social systems and development paths must be upheld.”

    That’s a broad outline of the principles, but the following is more relevant to this discussion; “Stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter embody the deep reflection by people around the world on the bitter lessons of the two world wars. They are humanity’s institutional design for collective security and lasting peace. The various confrontations and injustices in the world today did not occur because the purposes and principles of the UN Charter are outdated, but because they are not effectively maintained and implemented. We call on all countries to practice true multilateralism; firmly uphold the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law and the basic norms of international relations underpinned by the UN Charter;…”

    Needless to say, the Chinese initiative has been criticised by the West, with accusations of hypocrisy, and it is true that no nation can claim moral or ethical purity. But accusations from the West of hypocrisy are laughable. How can any nation refuse an appeal for global adherence to the UN Charter and look the world in the eye ?

    We all know that there’s a reason the US does not want adherence to the UN Charter. It has been a serial offender in undermining the charter; its illegal unilateral use of sanctions over many years being just one example.

    But more light has emerged on the undermining of the UN.

    The Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community has just been released. It’s also worth a read. The document refers to China’s Global Security Initiative that I mentioned above, as one of the means by which China will “promote modifications to international norms to favor state sovereignty and political stability over individual rights.” It takes some effort to get one’s head around that. The nuances and implications are so many that an entire article could be written around that single sentence.

    But here’s just a couple of points.
    The feared “modification to international norms” is a reference to the military alliances that are so favoured by the West, and which are regularly mobilised by the West. (My interpretation of “modification to international norms” was confirmed in a US paper released just a few days ago; Issue Brief, March 7, prepared by the research staff of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC.gov) which states “ The GSI’s core objective appears to be the degradation of U.S.-led alliances and partnerships under the guise of a set of principles full of platitudes but empty on substantive steps for contributing to global peace…”)

    So in essence the statement in the Threat Assessment about modification to international norms is a rejection of the protection of state sovereignty and stability that the UN Charter provides, as it is the UN Charter that China hopes to use to preserve sovereignty and stability.
    And the reference in the Issue Brief to “the guise of a set of principles full of platitudes but empty of substantive steps for contributing to global peace,,,” is a disgustingly disrespectful rejection of the UN Charter, as its principles are the ones China quotes as being the path to peace.

    Mind-boggling stuff.

    There is a clear statement of intent from the US here. It is not interested in stability. It is not interested in the principles outlined in the UN Charter. Its preferred vehicle is the “rules based order”, an imaginary, undefined, unknown set of rules that remove restraint from the powerful in a manner unseen since colonial times.

  23. Fred

    SD: Hear hear and nice article! The US really cannot claim the moral high ground, but how do you hold them to account? The world really would be the loser if the UN collapsed, but the UN is not without stupid idiosyncrasies. The “veto right” of the major powers in the security council is a problem that effectively lead to the Ukraine “issue” due to lack of censorship. If the UN achieved its “intent” (as opposed to its charter), then the US would have been called out about Vietnam, … (and a list of illegal non UN-sanctioned skirmishes) … and Afghanistan as well as being expected to pay for repatriation.

    If China keeps going with its current military spend trajectory, it will eventually exceed the US which for a country that “doesn’t invade others” begs the question “why the spend if you aren’t going anywhere”.

    Sadly, the political “leaders” that commit troops lives to “operations” do not put themselves in danger, but lies and posturing are par for the course (i.e. Powell taking WMD to the UN knowing it was a lie).

  24. Canguro

    Fred, re. “why the spend if you aren’t going anywhere”?, fairly simple I would have thought. China isn’t stupid. It recognises that the USA will do whatever it thinks necessary to maintain alpha primate position, and if that means taking on China militarily, so be it. So China has to be prepared to fight the devil, and prepare it will.

    It’s not a matter of begging the question.

    The USA’s intention is to maintain alpha position, whatever the cost. They’re that crazy, let there be no misunderstanding about it. China’s ascendancy is written in the tea leaves, and has been for a millennia. The upstart dysfunctional and immature republic known as the United States of America, surely a misnomer if ever there was one, has little or no perspective of any depth or capacity to acknowledge this historical unfolding. And woe be to them if they think that a military solution will deliver them the result that they crave.

  25. Steve Davis

    Fred, thanks for the comment.

    You mentioned the unwieldy mechanisms of the UN and the powerlessness of the UN to hold the US to account. All sadly true, but as we know, China takes the long view, and it’s my guess that they are patiently waiting for the day that a diminished US, (self-diminished I should add) is no longer in a position to oppose and undermine aspirations such as the Global Security Initiative.

    If I’m correct on this, it should not be seen as some cunning Chinese plan to become No. 1. The Chinese value the US as a trading partner, and have been openly critical of US actions and lack of action that they see as harmful to US interests, and by extension as the US is a major force, harmful to global interests.

    After suffering centuries of invasions and internal divisions, China does not only talk about global stability, it actively works towards it. Stability is impressed into the Chinese consciousness. Just a few days ago Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a peace deal that was thrashed out in Beijing. This was a major development for global stability and trade generally, as the Mid East was, is, and will be for some time, a major hub for world trade. But you will not see too much mention of positive Chinese initiatives like this in the media, where China is presented as a source of instability.

  26. Fred

    Canguro: So if two super powers are intent to stay/become no. 1 at what point of escalation does one say enough is enough – 10% or 20% … or 100% of GDP (how crazy can it get)? For China to defend itself from the US, it doesn’t need to spend as much as the US.

    Then when you have a vast military what are you to do with it?

    History shows the US has found ways to give parts of its military “live firing” experience and develop/test out weapons systems in battle (ref. Vietnam etc. etc.). Russia has flexed its military muscle in foreign lands. China’s military capability is at an unprecedented level and increasing. As we have seen recently, despots do make it to the head of power involving/followed by use of the military. China is not immune from this happening – only time will tell.

  27. Frank

    China has decided to stop all trade with Australia.Australia is now officially Bankrupt

  28. Canguro

    Fred: re. China not immune from this happening – vis-a-vis intervention onto foreign soils; possibly, but unlikely, is my conditional position. Yes, there was a cross-border barney with Vietnam that lasted four weeks, exactly 24 years ago (1979), in relation to Vietnam’s actions against the Khmer Rouge in 1978.

    Yes, there is ongoing rock-throwing against the Indians along the disputed border regions in the Himalayas, or Xǐ Mǎ Lā Yǎ Shān as they are known in Mandarin. The Vietnamese skirmish is historical and unlikely to be repeated. The Indian border dispute is also unlikely to escalate… both countries have nuclear capacity and there is too much at stake to allow skirmishes to grow into major military confrontations.

    Southern Asian countries are in dispute with China over territorial possession of large swathes of the South China Sea. I don’t have a crystal ball to enable predictions as to outcomes there but suffice it to say that it’s a Goliath v David or Elephant v Mouse situation and difficult to see the smaller nations prevailing in the longer term.

    It’s worth noting that China is not, essentially, a martial nation, unlike the USA. The American adventurism across the planet is well-documented and doesn’t need to be noted here, as is their willingness to send in the troops for whatever purpose they deem necessary – often enough for self-centred reasons as for altruistic and appropriate ones. The criticism of the United States in this context is not mean-minded or ill-spirited, it’s simply a matter of cold hard fact that America has a long and bloody record of merciless intervention in other country’s affairs for self-interested objectives, and their aggressive stance towards China is yet another iteration of this pattern of behaviour.

    What should China do, other than prepare for the worst? They’re as keen observers of history as anyone, and perhaps more than most. They would view the Americans as barbarians, and they know barbarians in a way the Americans have so far failed to recognise; psychologically, the USA views barbarians as ‘not them’, failing to cognise that they, themselves, are, in fact the very barbarians they so despise. The Chinese history is deep and complex in a way that is not shared by the USA, and they know all too well what happens when they have shown generosity to outsiders and have been exploited by allowing this show of kindness to then be used against them.

    I don’t see Xi Jinping as a despot. Others may disagree, and the term itself needs careful attention, but he’s certainly a powerful ruler and he’s probably the right person at the right time given the risks that country faces from a militant America that’s increasingly paranoid and unstable in relation to its imminent toppling from the top of the perch per Number One Country on the planet.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’. [Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, January 1849]

  29. Steve Davis

    Fred, you’ll like this from the Betoota Advocate – “Government Spends $368 Billion On Some Submarines That Will Halt China’s Invasion By 14 Hours”

  30. Fred

    SD: Thanks for the heads-up, I didn’t hear about Albo’s reassurance of the value of the effing subs. Clearly that is not enough spend. Analysing the trend … assuming we lump in with the US if they get involved with “defending” Taiwan, the campaign time is expected to max out at about 21 days – ref: p90 of
    https://www.csis.org/analysis/first-battle-next-war-wargaming-chinese-invasion-taiwan

    Twenty one days equals 504 hours and if correctly reported we would need to only spend $13.9 Trillion to keep China at bay during this time. There’s only $3.3 Trillion in super, say $85 Billion at RBA, $3.6 Trillion held by all the banks … oops coming up a bit short.

    Easy solution: sell Australia to China.

    Does this sound ludicrous? It does and I would argue that this whole submarine saga is lacking critical thinking. For starters the pollies should shelve all current defense “advisory” committees/boards and consult their constituents as where $384B can be better spent.

    Would we be attacked if we didn’t have submarines at all? I doubt it.

  31. Steve Davis

    “Would we be attacked if we didn’t have submarines at all? I doubt it.”

    That sums it up nicely Fred.

  32. wam

    Albo has the right perspective about a war with china? For the AUKUS waste of cash is accompanied by $8b for perth where the subs are protected by a 3 week journey to reach the pacific. The septics, to my memory, have never undertaken the starting of a war except against people it expects to defeat. They, like the poms, are destroyers, are ingnorant of their victims’ culture and have left chaos behind. They confonted russia when nuclear missile were coming close and had a rare victory. Ukraine is noT dissimilar, but putin can’t win. What will he lose is the question.
    expect that NATO will agree not to install nuclear weapoms in the Ukraine.
    China will not go to war unless the septics do a “NATO” on Taiwan.
    Are the septics stupid enough to take on china? Not on your nellie.
    ps I have 3 family members at Osborne and they are confident that they will build but, silently, I think we will kill the SA unions and buy off the rack. Then, following the LNP strategy,use WA because there are more seats???

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