Contributed from Queensland
Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has returned from his visit to the United states and chat with Donald Trump.
Although he is back to the political mess at home, a la Barnaby Joyce and a host of other issues, the big questions are what did Washington want from Australia and what was given?
There are some things we do know. Turnbull has committed Australia to go all the way with Trump’s aggressive stance on North Korea. It is reported that there was some talk about a blockade and the targeting of oil shipments to that country. Making such a move would amount to a declaration of war and escalate tensions. It would be an irresponsible act, calculated to invite a counter response.
It is gunboat diplomacy worthy of the eighteenth and nineteenth colonial period. This type of grandstanding is expected of Donald Trump. But for the Australian prime minister parading as the number one fan, it is a disgrace.
If this is not bad enough, there is the support for Washington’s effort to militarise the Pacific and turn it into an exclusive American sphere of influence.
Australia has been asked, or should we say told, to become further integrated into the American military machine and join in patrolling the Pacific.
The number of US Marines stationed in Darwin is to be ramped up.
Australia has also been asked to support the United states in flexing its muscle in the South China Sea. The danger is that Australia could be used as a surrogate to provoke China.
It is no accident that the United States wants control of a sea lane that accounts for one third of global shipping. There are territorial disputes among the countries in the region. Outside involvement of a big foreign power aggravates the situation and compels China into acting on what it sees as the security of its borders protection and shipping rights.
Given that China is the worlds biggest exporter of goods and control of the South China Sea will provide the United States with the means to wage a trade war against China, by blocking access to ships.
China is not going to allow this to happen and Australia’s involvement invites retaliation.
These foreign relations disasters also need to be financed and the push has been to use a higher proportion of the taxes paid by Australians. In fact, one aspect with the further integration of Australia into the American military is the export of costs. To date, the prime minister has not come clean on what Australia has been asked, sorry told, to pay.
The other reason for the trip was trade. What was discussed has been kept quiet. But we do know that the United States has been pushing for even greater access to the Australian economy than it presently enjoys. While it was suggested that Turnbull was going to encourage Trump and the United states to return to the TPP, the real content concerned the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Australia has been seriously disadvantaged by the free trade agreement between the two nations. Many Australian exports have been blocked as that country turned increasingly towards protectionism. American exports have largely met no restriction. The exceptions were those that clearly cause harm to Australia and were politically necessary during the period of negotiation. The United States wants action towards removing these exceptions.
You can bet there was no attempt to negotiate a fairer agreement.
Malcolm Turnbull has betrayed Australia.