Contributed by Joe Montero
The immediate impact of the US presidential election on Australia is that the need for a change in foreign policy has become a priority.
The rise of Donald Trump is part of the working out of that country’s deepening economic and political malaise. Americans want change. Trump got up with the Republicans securing a million fewer votes than they did going against Obama last time. The Democrats wore a greater part of the popular anger. They were the incumbents. More had been expected from the Obama administration and it did not deliver. They also chose a poor candidate. Many have commented on the rebellion against the political elite. It is true.
The rebellion has also meant the entry of a maverick loose cannon into the Whitehouse. Although it is a product of the existing instability, it promises to add even more instability. Therefore, exactly what is going to happen is unknown. What we do know is that the level of risk has risen. It affects the United states and the world. It certainly affects Australia.
This adds instability and risk to the world. It adds instability and risk to Australia.
The two most important centres of political tension are Europe, together with the Russian border and China. Conflict in the Middle East and Persian Gulf are related to the first two. American foreign policy has for some set the priority on encircling Russia and China. they are the two countries with the capacity to challenge American global supremacy.
Given the logistical problems, economic, military and political, of facing down enemies on two fronts, American diplomacy has been to get Europe to commit to supplying more armaments and troops to NATO deployment on Russia’s borders.
It is on the cards, given the difficulty the US faces in taking on more military interventions that the use of trade war will become more pronounced. Donald Trump has said he will do this. Trade wars cause economic damage and invite retaliation. They can morph into shooting wars. Australia’s involvement will hurt Australia. If conflict with China intensifies, the Australian economy stands to be seriously hurt, our living standards will decline, and as a nation become a global pariah.
Meanwhile, American naval presence has been strengthened in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The present conflict in the South China see over a group of islands is an outcome of this. It is bound up with controlling and arming the waterways on China’s southern border and to control major trade routes that China uses in its trade with threat of the world.
A weakening of American diplomatic power and the unpopularity of entering into new wars at home has seen an increasing shift to conflict by proxy. WikiLeaks has shown through the Clinton emails how far this had gone in Syria, and Libya and Iraq before. The proxy approach has led to the arming of ISIS and other terror groups.
Other countries will be pushed to become more involved. Australia is already an American proxy. Trump has announced the intention of taking pressure on China up to a new level. Australia will be pushed to take a part in this. An abrasive American foreign policy will increase the risk of escalation. China happens to be our number one trading partner.
We live in the Asian region and it is moving towards exerting greater independence from Washington and developing as the new global economic power house. Australia needs to be part of this. Instead, Australia continues to serve as deputy sheriff to what is seen as American corporate interests, working to hold back the emergence of Asia. The rise of Asia is not limited to, but bound up with the rise of China.
Australia’s existing foreign policy of all the way with the USA, no matter what, is not in Australia’s interest, Asia’s or that of the rest of the world. Australia’s deputy sheriff foreign policy has to be replaced by an independent foreign policy.
Today’s priority for the world is to secure a peaceful environment in which all nations can exist, without external threat to their national viability and where the citizens of each country can, choose their own future, without being dictated by big power politics. The world needs to raise respect between nations treating that treats all as equals; where all are working for mutual advantage and not the exploitation of one by another. Australia’s new foreign policy must adopt these principles.
Only on the basis of securing these principles, can a more peaceful environment come into existence and the threat of war brought down. The alternative, is to continue along a path that will lead in the direction of a new world war.
A more peaceful environment will not only prevent war, but will provide the conditions to properly tackle poverty and inequality and the building of a sustainable future global economy. These goals must also be in Australia’s new foreign policy.
Australia’s military is integrated into the American military and often acts under the command of the Pentagon. No nation should allow so much control over tis own military. Australia’s military should be designed to protect our people and nationhood, not to secure another’s economic and political interest elsewhere.
Australia also has a long list of communication and spy centres that are used in shooting and trade wars. They have to go for our own safety.
Australia must also be freed from negative trade links that inhibit our capacity to make our own choices and deal with other countries in a fair and mutually beneficial way. Existing foreign policy gets in the way of this.
Since the dominance of the west is coming to an end and Asia is emerging, Australia’s new independent foreign policy has to be geared towards further integration into our region and doing this on the basis of equal and mutually beneficial partnerships.