Contributed by Joe Montero
Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State invites Australia to Washington for a ministerial consultation. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds fly there, ignoring the Covid-19 epidemic rules. They touch down Meet the Secretary of State and Defence Secretary Mark Esper. There is a carry on about best of mates standing together over democratic values.
Reality check. This is more like vassals being summoned to appear before the emperor to display their total obedience. The sucking up is so obvious, that it makes Australia a joke in the world’s eyes, especially when this is the latest show of similar annual gatherings called AUSMIN. This time, it took place in extraordinary circumstances.
AUSMIN is about telling Australia what to do and not a conferring of equals.
It’s high time a government purporting to represent Australia found some backbone, had an independent thought, and stoped behaving like a colonial lackey.
And what is this about uniting to defend democracy?
Reality check two. The Trump administration is going overboard to show that it doesn’t defend democracy on its home turf. The militarisation of American society moves along. Disproportionate force is used against the Black Lives Matter Protests. State legislators are bullied and threatened. Members of minority communities are treated as third rate citizens. Immigrants are hounded. Poverty is rampant.
This is a nation that has imprisoned a far bigger proportion of its citizens than any other nation on Earth, leads the count of those executed, and where each year, more die from violence than in many wars. This is where the gap between the few haves and many have nots has become a chasm.
The United Sates has been at war with someone every year, bar about a decade, since the American Civil War. Mostly to impose itself as the ruling power over others.
Today, the United States is engaged in several wars and gunboat diplomacy, kidnaps of nationals of other countries for torture, and sometimes executes them. This is the nation that has troops on every continent except Antarctica, and patrol every ocean with its navy, acting as masters of the world.
The United States declares itself immune from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Geneva Conventions and more, while others should be subject to them; employs the practice of exceptionalism, where no foreign jurisdiction has authority over it, while the rule is different for everyone else.
Sanctions are being used against 54 other nations, because they do not do as they are told. The United States seeks to put governments of its own choosing on a growing list of targets. This is called regime change.
Now it declares it wants to impose the same on China.
Is this the kind of democracy being defended?
Not that Australia is innocent. Governments have followed unquestioningly and entered into every United States initiated conflict since World War Two. They have backed everything from the use of sanctions, to kidnappings and murders. Just take the example of Julian Assange. The Australian government is happy to hand him over for a farce of a legal process.
Australia is also witnessing, even if at a lower level for now, the increasing militarisation of society, the mistreatment of minorities, the curtailment of basic rights, Australia has a history of locking unwanted arrivals into concentration camps. There is the matter of First Nations deaths in custody. Australia is not much of a model when it comes to democratic practice.
Payne and Reynolds have not gone to Washington to fight for democracy. They are there to take part in the the war against it.
Despite the theatre of candid discussion, they are there to receive instructions, and find ways of making them a little more politically palatable.
Australia is to be more firmly locked into the war against China. Worse. Australia is to play an expendable proxy, to irritate our northern neighbour.
The reason for the is that the united States is isolated in the family of nations. Most want no part of it. Many nations are forging closer ties with China. Even Europe vacillates between criticism and engagement. Only those English speaking countries firmly locked into the American sphere of influence,obedient, and dubbed as the Five Eyes, are going along on the ride.
If Mike Pompeo has a virtue, it is that he tends to tell it like it is. He made it clear last week, and made it clear again to the two Australian ministers. The goal is to remove the Communist Party of China from government and to replace it by one selected by Washington.
This is a dangerous goal, and dangerous for Australia to be caught up in it. The Chinese government is not going to accept this treatment and has the ability to stand up to it.
Diplomatic pressure and economic squeeze are not going to make the Chinese government step down. On the contrary, it will strengthen its support among its own population. China is the world’s second biggest economy, has a population of one and quarter billion, and is capable of looking after itself.
In any case, isn’t the right of a people to choose their own government and destiny supposed to be a pillar of democracy? How does denying this right to the Chinese people equate with defending democracy?
No one suggests that the Chinese population wants the United States to intervene. The Chinese population also carries the memory of being humiliated by the Western powers, and is not going to take kindly to those trying to repeat history.
The usual retort is that the Tibetans and Uygur in Xinjiang are to being treated well. And there is Hong Kong. All these stories have another side, and resolution is an internal matter.
Even if they didn’t, this still does not justify driving towards war.
It remains that the mistreatment of peoples is carried out by other nations. The United States, France, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Philippines, and Turkey are a few examples. Why is China the only one being targeted?
Washington has been pouring in money into stepped up covert operations in China since at least 2016, aimed at stirring up political instability, in preparation for launching the new cold war. This has included racial vilification, on a scale not seen since the rise of Nazism in Germany. It is a cold war against a people, not just a government.
Australia’s involvement in this operation is a major violation decency and of our national security, risking political damage, economic catastrophe, and the horror of major war.
The current scene is the sending out of war ships to joining the United State’s effort to exert control over the South China Sea, backing its extensive land based military presence aimed at China.
Australia’s designated role includes deeper immersed in global high tech and space war capabilities, through American installations on Australian soil. Australia is to accept more marines being stationed in Darwin.
The biggest danger, is that a misstep could propel the standoff into a global war. This is no joke. It would lead to the slaughter of tens of millions. At the worst, it could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. Armaments and delivery ssystems have become much more sophisticated and their reach is longer. War has been made deadlier.
Alternatively, this could be fought as a proxy war to avoid mutual destruction. For example, the United Sates attacks a weaker ally of China, and China returns the favour and attacks a weaker ally of the United States. Gues who’se in the firing line?
Australia’s interests do not lie in being a player in the new cold war and contributing towards increasing the chances of a world war.
Australia should be working towards decreasing tensions, against war, and for peace, and must stop using the race card.
Our government intends to do none of this. Australia and the world need the rising of a new peace movement. It happened during the Vietnam war and to try and stop the invasion of Iraq. It can happen again.