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Weekend Feature:


    Fortress Australia: The US-Australia Alliance In The 21st Century
The Australia–US alliance is often described as being founded on shared values and bonds of friendship, but this ultimately means little without tangible evidence of collaboration.

The USA goes to the polls in a couple of days. President Trump is seeking a second term, and if he wins, what will that mean for Australia?

If Biden wins, what will that mean for Australia.

The 'Special Relationship' we currently have with America, and have had for 100 years, is, arguably, in a state of flex.

The trade relationship we currently have with China supports our prosperity.

Given the way the real world is today, what should Australia do ? We could move more towards China, our mayor trading partner, and in doing so incur the wrath of the Washington? Or do we strengthen our bonds with America & in doing so alienate ourselves from our major trading partner and face more economic peril as a result?

Trumps tough stance with China has already had a deep impact on Australian trade with China. The Chinese have clamped down on Australian exports - everything from wine to coal.

China, our 'One Customer', is now looking to Brazil as an alternative source of iron ore supply. Iron ore exports to China represent approximately 50% of all Australian world trade.

Specifically, in the third quarter of 2020, China's share of Australian exports reached an all-time high, rising to 48.8 per cent - meaning almost half of all Australian exports go to one customer, China, giving China great leverage over our economic future and, perhaps, our relationships with the rest of the world.

The Australia and US defence relationship:

The nature of the current Australia-US relationship increases information sharing, personnel exchanges, combined exercises and shared engagement with partners nations across the Indo-Pacific, except China.

Yet despite the Australia's perceived continued enthusiasm for such a collaboration with the US, the alliance is fundamentally flawed given the confrontational nature of the China-US relationship, and the ramifications of that relationship for Australia.

The Rise of China:

Over the past decade, Australia’s need to contextualise its alliance with the US appropriately has come into stark focus, because of China’s increased economic power and strategic influence.

Australia’s enduring diplomatic ties with the US and increasing economic links with China have led some commentators to question whether Australia will eventually have to choose between them.

Although the Australian Government’s public answer has been a resounding ‘No’, China’s growing dominance, particularly in Southeast Asia, will undoubtedly challenge the status quo, and accordingly, have an impact on the Australia-US alliance.

But as John Pilger, noted Australian journalist & film maker noted in his documentary 'The coming war on China', perhaps that country has a good reason for it's stance - China is 'Surrounded by more than 400 American military bases equip with long range missiles, strategic bombers, warships and nuclear weapons', enough to make anyone paranoid.

The biggest challenge for Australia will arguably be whether or not it is sufficiently adaptable to respond to whatever the US (and China) determine as the way forward in their own diplomatic relationship.

Although the Australia-US alliance has effectively served the interests of both nations for decades, the US will continue to prioritise its own intrinsic national interests, and it is these (largely strategic) factors that will determine its future dealings with China.

Accordingly, commentators have contended that the US alliance will be forced to evolve, whether Australia likes it or not, especially as the Asia-Pacific is in ‘A state of strategic flux’.

Implications of the US rebalance:

Australia’s welcoming of a rotational deployment of US Marines to Darwin as part of the US rebalance into the Asia-Pacific provides a further example of a growing US alliance and highlights the geographical significance of Australia for the US.

This deployment will likely benefit the Australia-US defence relationship through exposing the respective militaries to combined training and interoperability.

But Australia's involvement in the 'Quad' naval exercises involving the US, Japanese, Indian & Australian navies, planned for November 2020, show that Australia is already looking outside the US for Asia-Pacific based military co-operation partners.

History of Australia-United States Defence Relationship:

Australians have fought alongside Americans in every major US military action of the last century, including World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Australians and Americans first fought together under unified command at the Battle of Hamel in France in July, 1918 under Australian General John Monash. 

That Battle was the beginning of the first 100 Years of Australian-US 'Mateship'.

The alliance between Australia and the United States was formalised through the ANZUS Treaty in 1951.

More than 60 years later, the Treaty remains the foundation of our security relationship with the United States.

The ANZUS Treaty - The 'Mutual defence clause':

The mutual defence clause of the ANZUS treaty was invoked by Australia for the first time in 2001, after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Australia remains a strong ally and coalition partner with the United States in the global coalition to defeat groups such as ISIS, and in global efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism.

The current alliance technically increases Australia's ability to protect itself and its interests by providing Australia with access to world-leading defence hardware and technologies, training (Backed up by combined exercises), as well as vital intelligence capabilities.

It is presumed that both countries share the same objectives, and thus are equally committed to working together to help shape international norms to advance vital 'Shared interests' in the domains of sea, airspace and outer space, as well as cybersecurity.

For Australia, continued American engagement could mean the ongoing development of our defence capabilities and the maintenance of the same strategic situation that has been in force in the Asia-Pacific region for the last 70 years.

Arguable, the need for such a relationship only remains true just so long as we believe that there is a threat to Australian from an Asian entity.

Alternatively, perhaps such a relationship is passed it's use by date if we acknowledge the reality of a new world order, where global power and economic dominance is shifting from Washington to Beijing.  

For the US, Australia is a key ally in regional and global security efforts. But  from an Australian perspective, the US could be seen as an ongoing cause of instability in the Asia Pacific region.

So, with a potential change of President pending in the USA, what happens next? And where does that leave Australia?

The more allied to the USA we become, the more hostile towards us the Chinese are likely to be. Should our 'One Customer' decide to ostracise us and tariff our raw materials, such as iron ore, out of the marketplace, we'd be economically stuffed.

If we back away from supporting US policy 100% in the Asia-Pacific region, xenophobic Washington will be much less inclined to be there for us in a crisis.

As we rush to develop new customers for our exports (Think India), we need to ascertain exactly where we stand today, who our friends are, how far we are prepared to bend over to accommodate their interests, and where the breaking point is.



Australia’s alliance with the United States is long-standing, powerful and unique, but why?

  • This Weeks 'Featured Stories':
    How to Defend Australia, by Hugh White

     

    How to Defend Australia, by Hugh White (La Trobe University Press, 2019)

    Defence commentator Hugh White never shouts from the rooftops, and his new book How to Defend Australia is written in the same measured tone that has long driven his more strident critics crazy.

    Yet if White is correct, he has uncovered a colossal scandal at the heart of Australian government. Both major parties are responsible but neither is ready to fix it. In fact, according to White, our politicians, the Australian Defence Force and the Defence Department are basically agreed on a course that will make the problem worse.

    Before we get into that, let’s step back a moment to consider the premise on which this book is built.

    White begins by recapitulating the argument he made in his 2017 Quarterly Essay, Without America, which is that in the struggle for strategic leadership in Asia, China will win and America will lose.

    The course of this struggle has been evident for some time, given China’s growth trajectory and its ambition to be the leading power in Asia, as well as America’s half-hearted efforts to maintain its leadership against a challenger stronger than any America faced in the 20th century.

    Thanks to the 9/11 attacks and the faith of our political class in the strength of the US alliance (I use the term “faith” advisedly; belief in the alliance has acquired a near-religious quality among our politicians), Australia has failed to grapple with the consequences of this power shift. How to Defend Australia aims to address this failure.

    White’s argument for China’s rise and America’s diminishing status in Asia is built on a dispassionate analysis of the historical and contemporary facts. It is, in my view at least, convincing.

    So is his diagnosis of what is wrong with the current and planned Australian Defence Force, and the central premise that Australia needs a defence force which can independently defend the continent against a major power.

    No public intellectual has done more to lift the Australian gaze so that it faces squarely the challenges of the Asian century. Many still prefer to look away, and perhaps that’s what Australia will continue to do. In that event, 'How to Defend Australia' will at least ensure that there is one thing we can never say: that we haven’t been told.

    The Funny & The Weird:

    Spy Jokes For You!

    I told my wife that our phones where spying on us.

    "Nonsense" she said. I laughed. She laughed. Siri laughed. Alexa laughed

    A Chinese man, a communist and a spy walk into a bar.

    He orders a drink.

    What do you call two female lovers spying on the government?

    Lesbionage

    What's a British spy's secret fetish?

    Bondage, James Bondage

    Don't be worried about your smartphone or TV spying on you...

    Your vacuum cleaner has been gathering dirt on you for years.

    What does a spy do when they go to bed?

    They go under cover

    Indian army have arrested a pigeon - on suspicion of being a Pakistani spy

    Apparently he was trying to stage a coo

    What do you call a spy in a bath tub?

    Bubble 07

    When Trump is outed as a Russian spy...

    Can we call him Agent Orange?

    As I sat there scratching my ass, and spying on my neighbor washing her beaver, one thing crossed my mind.

    We have really weird pets in my neighborhood.

    What type of shoes do spy's wear ?

    Sneakers

    My neighbour thinks I spy on her..

    I would tell her otherwise, but she's in the shower right now

    I'm writing a Bollywood take on a spy movie, about a taxi driver who's really an undercover agent.

    His catchphrase is, "the name's Shaw - Rick Shaw".

    Twitter has banned "foreign spy" as hate speech.

    The acceptable term now is "undocumented knowledge worker."

    A komodo dragon works security cameras at a store for other komodo dragons. Mostly, he makes sure no other dragon is spying on the customers.

    He's a monitor monitor monitoring a monitor for monitoring monitors.

    A Russian spy, a Klansman, and televangelist walk into a bar.

    Bartender says, "Sorry. Republican Convention is next door."

    Boom - Boom!!


'The Coming War With China' | Documentary

The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is news buried and distorted: a drumbeat of propaganda that echoes the psychopathic campaign embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.

Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an ‘existential threat’ to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.

To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.

Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, ‘The perfect noose’.

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled 'War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable'.

Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the Cold War when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn – ‘thinking the unthinkable’.

Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a ‘winnable’ nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the US: the Pentagon militarists and their neoconservative collaborators in the executive, intelligence agencies and Congress.

The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says US policy is to confront those ‘who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us’.

'Punish' China

Amitai Etzioni is a distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University.

The US, he writes, ‘is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress.’

This war would begin with a ‘Blinding attack against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers, satellite and anti-satellite weapons’.

The incalculable risk is that ‘Deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into 'A terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma' [that would] lead to nuclear war.’

In 2015, the Pentagon released its Law of War Manual.

‘The United States,’ it says, ‘has not accepted a treaty rule that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons per se, and thus nuclear weapons are lawful weapons for the United States.’

In China, a strategist told me, ‘We are not your enemy, but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.’

China’s military and arsenal are small compared to America’s.

However, ‘For the first time,’ wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, ‘China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack".

"This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy. Indeed, the nuclear weapon policies of the United States are the most prominent external factor influencing Chinese advocates for raising the alert level of China’s nuclear forces.’

Professor Ted Postol was scientific adviser to the head of US naval operations.

An authority on nuclear weapons, he said, ‘Everybody here wants to look like they’re tough. See, I got to be tough, I’m not afraid of doing anything military, I’m not afraid of threatening; I’m a hairy-chested gorilla. And we have gotten into a state, the United States has gotten into a situation where there’s a lot of sabre-rattling, and it’s really being orchestrated from the top.’

I said, ‘This seems incredibly dangerous.’ He said ‘That’s an understatement.’

Andrew Krepinevich is a former Pentagon war planner and the influential author of war games against China.

He wants to ‘Punish’ China for extending its defences to the South China Sea.

He advocates seeding the ocean with sea mines, sending in US special forces and enforcing a naval blockade. He told me, ‘Our first president, George Washington, said if you want peace, prepare for war.’

In 2015, in high secrecy, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War.

This was Talisman Sabre; an armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an ‘Air-Sea Battle Concept for China’ – ASB – blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is such a provocation, and the fear of a US Navy blockade, that has seen China feverishly building strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Recently the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s claim of sovereignty over those islands.

Although the action was brought by the Philippines, it was presented by leading American and British lawyers and can be traced to then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2010, Clinton flew to Manila. She demanded that America’s former colony reopen the US military bases closed down in the 1990s following a popular campaign against the violence they generated, especially against Filipino women.

She declared China’s claim on the Spratly Islands – which lie more than 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometres) from the United States – a threat to US ‘national security’ and to ‘freedom of navigation’.

Obama in 2009

‘I state clearly and with conviction,’ said Obama in 2009, ‘America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.’ Under Obama, nuclear warhead spending has risen higher than under any president since the end of the Cold War. A mini nuclear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, it will mean, says General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that ‘going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable’.

Story By | John Pilger

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