8 March 2023
I confess I was flabbergasted at the SMH front page yesterday (7 March), which blazed ‘Red Alert: War Risk Exposed’ with an illustration of many aircraft taking off from China. On pages 4-6, there was more tub-thumping.
Today’s SMH has a front page ‘Conflict over Taiwan could reach our shores’; and pages 4-5 continue the story.
It might be noted that the Government in a foolish but bi-partisan (i.e. Liberal + Labor) decision will announce the AUKUS nuclear submarine delivery shortly.
Perhaps this silly story is to mute any criticism of the AUKUS decision.
To make a few relevant comments:
There is sadly not a Peace voice that is consulted. To be blunt the activist groups have not structured themselves effectively.
China is now a rising world power and will overtake the US, which like many declining powers is spending too much on arms, largely because the privatised US arms industry needs markets. China does not need to be belligerent. Its expansion to the Belt and Road initiative is to take it all the way across Asia and Europe by land, and merely relies on people wanted to trade with it. It is effectively the biggest market in the world. China has fortified some islands in the South China Sea, but it is the US that has bases close to China, not China to the US. No Chinese warships sail around the Caribbean.
China will eventually reach an accommodation with Taiwan, whether the world likes it or not. The US may want to delay this as the Taiwanese have the world’s best microchip technology and they do not want this to fall into Chinese hands, but most technological secrets leak eventually. The US has accepted a ‘One China’ policy for years so it can import Chinese goods. It is concerned about the ‘democratic rights’ of the Taiwanese, but the US has been very selective about whose democratic rights they support or don’t. If they seek to have a war ‘sooner rather than later’, this would seem to be a bad long-term strategy. Germany continued to rise after its WW1 defeat because its economic fundamentals were right. Militarily Taiwan does not have the manpower to hold out against China in a military conflict, 24 million v. 1.4 billion says it all. The US has aircraft carriers, but hypersonic missiles will sink them as soon as their guidance systems improve, so the carriers are soon likely to be as obsolete as battleships were in WW2.
As far as Australia is concerned, we can be a quarry, a food bowl and manufacture as we are able in the world economic system, and we should retain control of our resources and bargain intelligently with our customers. China, however powerful, is likely to accept this situation.
The AUKUS submarines are a very expensive step into nuclear confrontation. We are buying submarines at top dollar with an uncertain delivery date and huge opportunity cost for other projects, defence and civil. We will have to have a base that services them, and no doubt the US will want to use that base for its nuclear fleet. So we are being sold subs that we do not need and being locked into a US confrontation that benefits no one but the US arms industry. Since China is unlikely to attack us, and our subs would not be decisive in any highly improbable direct conflict with the Chinese, they are merely a needless insult and a decisive move into the American camp in a polarised paradigm.
It is probably true that our defence has been neglected for a decade; the decadent Liberal government had precious little coherent policy on anything, but that is not an argument for AUKUS submarines.
The Herald has been extremely disappointing. Paul Keating has said some sensible stuff. Will no one in power speak some realistic truth?