17 Nov 2011

Can We Serve Two Masters?

By Aaron Fernandes
Obama's speech might have emphasised our cultural closeness to the US, but the divergence between Australia's strategic interests in the US and China could not be more stark, writes Aaron Fernandes
Today US president Barack Obama announced the strengthening of military ties between America and Australia. It is the latest step in Washington's coordination of Asia Pacific nations into a containment strategy aimed at limiting China's growing influence.

The Asia Pacific security region is on the brink of profound change, with China's rise likely to bring to an end four decades of unchallenged US primacy.

For Australia, opinions on how to deal with these changes are divided between those who support a strategy aimed at defending the continent independently through advanced sea and air forces and those who advocate strengthening support for US power in the expectation that the defence of Australia would be provided for by our great and powerful friend.

Both sides of politics appear to favour the latter view but recent history suggests that an over-reliance on the United States puts Australia at risk of a defence policy that has little relevance to the country's unique geostrategic position in Asia.

In the aftermath of 9/11, many in Australian security circles, such as former Defence Minister Robert Hill and academic Alan Dupont, argued that the primary responsibility of the Australian Defence Force in the initial decades of the 21st Century would be to make "niche contributions" to US-led coalitions far beyond Australia's immediate region.

Such assessments lead to capability acquisitions intended more for supporting the US than for protecting Australia. The decision to buy 59 American Abrams tanks at a cost of about $550 million in 2004 is one example. As analyst Gary Brown writes, the impetus for Australia's decision to purchase the tanks came "not from any real strategic (concern), but from ... the desire to turn the Australian Defence Force into a fully-fledged subsidiary of the US Armed Forces".

Only 10 years after September 11, both Washington's political and economic capital for fighting interventionist wars in the Middle East appears to have run out. In hindsight, Australian reactions to the threat of international terrorism and support for the US in the War on Terror raise serious questions about the government's ability to balance the US alliance with the requirement for independent strategic thinking in times of crisis.

As the Lowy Institute's Rory Medcalfe notes, "one of the strategically damaging consequences of 9/11 was that the US and other countries like Australia were diverted and distracted from the Asian strategic picture".

Far from the overstated threat of international terrorism, the current rise of China heralds a meaningful and fundamental change in strategic affairs, with profound implications for the way regional countries think and act about defence priorities.

China's economy is expected to overtake the US in real terms by 2016. This growth has already been converted into a significant military capability with Beijing developing the "A2/AD challenge", pursuing anti-access (A2) strategies and area-denial (AD) operations to limit the options available to US military planners operating in the Pacific.

This force structure along with confidence in continued economic growth have provided solid ground for China's increased assertiveness toward the US in recent years.

It comes at a time when China is Australia's most significant trade partner, with combined imports and exports worth $105,945 million in 2011, or 23.1 per cent share of total Australian trade activity. The majority of exports come from the resource sector with $39,956 million, around 60 per cent of total exports, coming through iron ore. Conversely, Australia represents only the 14th largest destination for Chinese goods.

China's continued industrialisation represents Australia's only plan for economic prosperity. However, defence and diplomatic interests are dependent on US primacy remaining unchallenged. The divergence between Australia's two primary strategic interests could not be more stark and places Australia at a strategic dilemma.

It is for that reason that robust debate and objective reassessment of the US alliance and Australia's position in the Asian Century is critical at this point in the history of Australian strategic affairs. Failure to do so over the past decade has lead to the situation we are currently in, pressured by the US to increase support for its military operations and risking diplomatic backlash from China if we respond.

And with US relative power declining, Washington will likely be less able and less willing to project power for the security of allies especially at great distance from the US. Instead America's allies will be expected to do more to ensure the advancement of US and alliance interests. This will be especially acute in Asia.

For Australia this likely means further increases to numbers of US forces stationed here and increased military activity in our immediate region. This will undoubtedly raise questions about Canberra's capacity to think and act independently in accordance with Australia's own national interests.

With Obama's announcement, this trend has already begun. Ahead of the most significant announcement on these issues in recent years, decisions were made in Canberra and Washington without any form of prior parliamentary or public scrutiny.

According to Radio National, the Chinese government was informed of this decision before the announcement was made to the Australian public and debate of the issues could begin.

Instead, the Australian people were offered a view that the US alliance is less a policy instrument orchestrated after robust debate on the nation's strategic interests, and more a natural cultural and diplomatic exchange between two age-old friends.

However the responsibility of government is to develop an independent foreign and defence policy based on objective assessments of Australia's geostrategic position. To avoid this responsibility risks Australia taking on a strategy that has little to do with the national interest and more about supporting the interests of a major power.

Despite its longer association with free-market economics, democratic political systems and cultural liberalism than many of its neighbours, Australia is likely to fall further behind the surging China, India and Indonesia in most aspects of state power: militarily, economically and diplomatically.

The US alliance and Australia's membership of the Anglosphere stands in contrast to our geo-strategic reality in Asia. Addressing this is a long overdue priority for Australia.

Professor Brahma Chellaney from India's Centre for Policy Research has highlighted this, writing, "Australia tends to be part of Asia where its economic interests are concerned but it's not seen as being part of Asia where political and cultural interests are concerned".

More than simply playing host to an increasing presence of foreign armed forces, Australia should seek to provide for its own defence and work to establish peace and security within its immediate region. Such a response would enhance Australia's contribution to an alliance and not detract from it.

When we shared western cultural traditions with the biggest powers in the world, this ability to overlook Asia did not present a significant failure of strategy. Now, however, it's time for a new approach.

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David Grayling
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 13:16

Well, Aaron, we may well need 'a new approach' and commonsense tells us that we do but, alas, our Government does not think so (I use the word 'think' very broadly, even facetiously).

No, they (our politicians and military brass) believe that surrendering to American demands for marine bases and opening up our naval bases and airfields to America, no questions asked, is the only way to go.

We have finally given up our virginity to Obama and it can't be undone. The word is out about Australia now: it's America's lapdog and it will do whatever America asks!

As an Australian, I reject this nauseating servility to an imperial warmonger. I want Australia to be neutral, to be independent, to be a nation that aspires to bring about peace in our war-filled, greed-driven world rather than sending our troops to wherever the U.S. wants them.

I want us to be friends with our neighbors, to have them admire us for our passiveness, our wisdom. I would like us to be the true 'Beacon on the Hill' for our region not some pathetic imitation like America has become.

Do I stand alone in this wish? What do you think?

www.dangerouscreation.com

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 13:35

Who the heck is the Lowy institute anyway? Did anyone elect them to represent Australian interests? Whose interests do they actually serve? Who funds them? What right do our politicians have to even consult with them on these massively important issues?

And who the hell does Minister Steven Smith think he is to lie to the Australian people by saying ""There are no United States bases in Australia and no proposal for such bases" just a few weeks ago?

When are Australians going to criminalise the lies and deceipt of our politicians and have them serve jail sentences for lying to the public about policy?

Does anyone realise how powerful the Chinses liberation Army is becoming? Are the Australian people being made aware of the issues at hand before these potentially disastrous decisions are made for us?

Does nobody listen to the experts like Professor Hugh White or Prof Michael Hintze of Sydney University who warn how risky it is for Australia to become involved in the USA attampt to encircle China at a time when the USA can no longer economically justify its military and Imperialist global strategy.

The most important development here is the manner in which Australian citizens are removed from all influence over their own destiny as a nation and how we have all become threatened as a nation without the slightest involvement in this rather serious and important issue.

If we do not begin to involve ourselves in the affairs of our nation we are going to die very tragic deaths at the hands of those interests who care less for us than they do for their profits and political power.

Neil James - Au...
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 14:15

Aaron's article makes some good points but also contains some huge factual and conceptual howlers.

As but one of many examples of factual error:

Anyone who bothers to study why Australia finally upgraded its tiny and obsolete tank force in 2004 soon realises that it had nothing to do with supposedly deploying with the US.

For a start, the numbers of tanks actually dropped from 105 to 59. Given the rule-of-three about capability maintenance and deployments (1/3rd deployed, 1/3rd preparing to replace them and 1/3rd reconstitution after just being deployed, Australia can only ever deploy a sub-unit (squadron) of tanks at most. Not a regiment (of three squadrons).

Australia would never contribute a sub-unit of armour to a US tank unit because of the operational risks involved in integrating at that level.

The tank repacement actually resulted from lessons learned in the 1999 East Timor intervention where our (too) light infantry were heavily outnumbered and making them a combined-arms combat team (infantry - plus tanks) would have seriously reduced the risk.

It also related from a DSTO study of casualty rates in Vietnam where infantry supported by tanks were six times more succesful on average and sustained significantly lower casualties.

More broadly, US forces have exercised and trained in Australia for decades.

Finally, there have been no US bases in Australia since the Whitlam government changed the command and control arrangements . There have been no US combat forces based in Australia since 1945.

Due to an impending electricity cut-off, I shall address the broader strategic issues in a second post.

Neil James
Executive Director
Australia Defence Association
execdir@ada.asn.au
(02) 6231-4444
www.ada.asn.au

Jaza
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 14:19

On the one hand I agree with what's being said here, because it is pathetic that our nation's foreign policy continues as: "be the lapdog of Uncle Sam, consider everything else later". The Howard-Bush backside-kissing days were nauseating, and the current Gillard-Obama display offers precious little contrast to it.

But, then again, what realistic alternative is this article presenting? Sure, China has overtaken the US as our biggest trading partner, and it looks likely that China will be the great superpower of the 21st century. But does that mean we just abandon our friendship with the US, built up over more than a century? Is Australia the kind of friend that ditches its best mate, the minute a bigger and stronger kid appears on the block?

Sadly, the answer to that (rhetorical) question is "yes". We need only look back 70 years, when it became clear that Britain was no longer the biggest kid on the block, and that our nation was to have a new BFF (Best Friend Forever). Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Primer Minister John Curtin announced: "Australia turns to America".

Of course, Australia will never "turn to China". The cultural and political gulf is enormous - it would be incredible if it could be breached within 100 years. At the end of the day, we trust America, and we don't trust China. Xenophobia is alive and well Down Under, and when it comes to the crunch, we want the Yanks to continue protecting us from the Yellow Peril. With an increased US military presence, we've made it clear that China is a great customer, but it's not our friend.

Not that this should be breaking news to anyone.

Brooza
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 14:21

The US/Aussie loyalty/brothers argument is a farce. If the super rich in America made money from sacrificing Australia, they would do it in a heartbeat. They already blithely grind their own into the war machine. The US government/army is simply attempting to protect the last frontier of multi national western greed as it gorges on Australian resources. Why wouldn't it antagonise China and Indonesia? It's all a bit scary.

Bennite
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 14:39

The fact of China's economy surpassing America's in 2016 is totally irrelevant. Who are China's allies? Laos and North Korea. Add America's allies to the GDP figure you speak of. South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, Canada, New Zealand. All would be allied with America against China. Add Indonesia, Phillipines, Taiwan and India. Measuring China's GDP against America's is no measure of anything. To speak of abandoning our long alliance with America in favour of a Communist dictatorship and a country we know little of with no common history or culture is just appalling rubbish that doesn't bear serious consideration at all. China is not our master at all. It is a trading partner. We lived without China before and we will again. The other failing in this article is to measure current economic conditions and extrapolate them to 2016 and beyond. Europe wont be in recession forever, neither will America and India continues to grow as does Indonesia. This supine appeasement of China reminds me of Britain's attitude to Germany before World War Two and we know what happened there. America is our future as an ally. China will remain an important trading partner but to call it our master is arrant nonsense.

David Grayling
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 14:43

All Australians should remember that it took America nearly two years to enter WW2. It just sat there while the blitz hit London and Hitler rampaged across Europe and the Japanese were busy raping and killing in China, etc.

Australia should also remember that America started off its imperialism with Korea and Vietnam. Once the Cold War with Russia ended (because Russia went bankrupt much like America has just done), America got the idea of taking over control of the world, part of its 'born to rule' fantasy. It has been working towards this end ever since.

Whether, if push came to shove, America would come to save Australia in the future, is a vexed question.

They didn't rush into it in WW2, did they?

mark71
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 14:44

"The US alliance and Australia’s membership of the Anglosphere stands in contrast to our geo-strategic reality in Asia. Addressing this is a long overdue priority for Australia."

Agreed and what just happened now with Obama needs more then governments getting cosy but the public discussing this and then coming to a conclusion.. - the last bit has not happened and its has been sprung on the public.
Its funny how Obama came and its like the visit had less todo about us - maybe Im just too naive.
Hope and change - great :(

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Rockjaw
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 15:24

@ Neil James - aren't you the bloke who ran out in enthusiastic support of Australians jingoistically churning out Australian troops into the failed Anglo-American attempt to stop the Afghan resistance to the illegal occupation of their country?

When blokes like you become anywhere near as tough and dedicated as the Afghan fighters resisting this illegal Afghan occupation, well then perhaps you might also find that the same courage will teach you to learn the difference between the term "warrior" and "warmonger".

Neil James - Au...
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 15:52

It helps to not think of Australian defence and security strategy in terms of specific countries at first. It is better to approach the problem conceptually before going to specifics because controversies can then be considered objectively (and the contributions of the ideologically biased or the single-issue motivated can be filtered out more easily).

Australia's whole way of life (society, economy, political system, liberty, sovereignty, national freedom of action, etc)depend, in the final analysis, on our ability to export mainly bulk commodities and import manufactured goods successfully and unhindered. Over 99 per cent of our exports by volume are carried in ships. Using value as the measure it is still over 75 per cent.

The oceans and more specifically the sea-lanes that these ships travel on need to be secured. This security arises from a combination of international law, national self-interest and mutual co-operation by different countries, and strategic stability.

In large part the strategic stability factor depends on beneficial military power. This is normally achieved through alliances with like-minded states. Friendly warships obeying international law help enforce that law, prevent piracy, deter war and successfully win control of the sea if conflicts unfortunately eventuate.

Australia's strategic security is and always has been mainly a maritime problem geo-strategically but we are a country with a continental mindset. Even though we largely cluster in cities around our coasts we tend to think of our coasts as just beaches, not as the sea surrounding Australia being a two-way highway for the passage of commerce and, occasionally, strategic challenges to our sovereignty.

Australian security has always depended strategically on an alliance with a major maritime power. First the UK and then the US. Moreover, for all our history from 1788 until recently our major trading partner was also a major stategic ally (UK, post-war Japan, US).

We now have the challenge that our major trading partner, China, is not (and cannot) be our major strategic ally. Even excluding all the political, human rights and cultural differences, and China's marked lack of transparency about its strategic intentions, China remains a Eurasia-based continental not a maritime power.

Going it alone strategically is not a viable option. We cannot depend solely or even largely on the UN system of collective security for the foreseeable future. With no alliance with a major maritime power we would have to resort to some form of attempted armed neutrality. The economic costs of this would be prohibitive (probably a tripled defence budget) and so would be the social and indirect economic costs through universal conscription to maintain the defence force we would need. Australia would be a very different place and Australian society would be very different (look at Israel and Singapore for example). Even if we were to pay all these costs, it would probably still not work because the risk is that our actions would be regarded regionally as destabilising not stabilising.

Our grand strategic alliance with the US is unavoidable for the foreseeable future. It also meshes in very well with the strategic intentions of our regional neighbours throughout maritime and mainland SE Asia. They all want the stability that stems from the US strategic presence to continue.

The rise of China is only a problem if the Chinese continue to cause instability because of their lack of transparency internationally and the regime's marked lack of accountability (and credibility) internally.

China is the problem not the US. That is why virtually all the countries across the Asia-Pacific prefer the US to be the ultimate guarantor of regional and global strategic stability, not China.

Even Vietnam and Burma are leaning that way.

Finally, much of the public discussion of increased US training in northern Australia has reflected the pre-occupations of the Sydney-Melbourne-Canberra triangle. Australians living in the Top End in particular have seen US forces exercising across northern Australia for decades. The recent announcement is no surprise to them but has been for those in southern Australia who do not pay much attention to anything outside that region.

Neil James
Executive Director
Australia Defence Association
execdir@ada.asn.au
(02) 6231-4444
www.ada.asn.au

GocomSys
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 16:27

"Can We Serve Two Masters?"

This headline pre-supposes that is what we have to do. What a silly thing to say. It is indeed discouraging to realise again how immature many ordinary Australians and some media commentators are. Even though Australia so far has not managed our underlying national “identity crisis”, we are smart enough to realise that we can not survive as a nation in isolation in the Asia/Pacific region. Unfortunately compromises have to be made in the interim before we find our footing.
We live in a world of increased globalisation. We have merely begun to understand how inter dependent the world has become. Many adjustments have to be made. If we do not succeed we ALLl suffer the consequences.

As exemplified in posts on a variety of NM topics there often is a disconnect from reality, a basic lack of understanding of the difficulty to gradually, incrementally effect improvements to a variety of life's circumstances. It takes time and determination, especially in the current political, economical and financial world environment, to make the long overdue and necessary changes in order to insure a future for ourselves and for mankind.

Previous comments again emphasise the desperate need to overcome simplistic issue stereotyping and in this instance dispel the myth of a prevailing adversarial “cold war mentality”. The Aussie media's coverage of these events is not unexpectedly underwhelming. This is how the china daily sums it up.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2011-11/17/content_14109261.htm

This user is a New Matilda supporter. ErikH
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 16:33

All of this seems to beg the question: Why do we have to show our allegiance to the US by allowing US troops to be based on Australian soil?

What's wrong with the joint exercises we have been engaged in? Isn't it enough that we have also supported the US in Iraq (monstrous error, in my opinion) and Afghanistan? (Not to mention Vietnam)

This appears to me to be one of the worst decisions this government has made.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. ErikH
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 16:43

@ Neil James

You may be technically right when you say that there are no US military bases in Australia but I suspect that most people you talk to would consider Pine Gap an example of a US military presence. Just because it's staffed by "spies" rather than Air Force, Army or Navy makes little difference.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 16:45

Can we serve two masters?
I answer that with a question: Should we serve any masters (or slaves)?

As I see it - and many may not agree with me - :
* Australia has been involved in all major conflicts/wars of the 20th century and beyond, always as an ally to some other force (US or UK). There was never a war on Australian soil (that little bit of air-raiding of Darwin notwithstanding.) Australia was never under threat of invasion, irrespective of the 'angst' expressed.
Australia's youngest and best died for someone else's glory.
(I cringe at the death of every Australian soldier in Afghanistan, especially when they have young children)
* Geologically Australia is a unique continent confronted in the north by the Asian mass.
* Anthropologically, Australia houses the oldest societies still alive (short of calling First Australian societies civilizations)
* Modern Australia is firmly rooted in European culture (not just the UK)
* Geographically East Asia is the closest neighbour.
* Australia's population is relatively small and will remain so due to the land not having the carrying capacity to do so otherwise.

Is it not time for Australia to become neutral, independent? I envisage a Switzerland of the Southern Hemisphere or the Pacific.
And why should that not be respected by other nations? Switzerland remained neutral over centuries, surrounded by warring nations. Sweden's neutrality was respected during WW2. In fact, these countries turned into temporary havens for many a fleeing person.

Strengthening our ties with the US (will we be the next star on the US flag???) will only antoganize our Asian neighbours. Better to be neutral, be the negotiating partner in conflict situations rather than taking sides.

Finally, America is being challenged by others. So be it. History is taking its course. Live with the new reality. Of course, it is hard to accept for an empire that it can no longer rule supreme. (The UK still does not accept that it is, and always has been, part of Europe; and it took Rome till the Reformation before they lost all control)

aaronfernandes
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 17:16

Compelling responses to this article which further states on of my key points; where was the debate over these issues prior to the President’s visit?

My argument is that strategic alliances, like all other aspects of security planning, are instruments of policy that must be based on objective assessments of the security environment. They should not be subject to temporary changes in political moods or the views of individuals.

With the complete absence of debate over US-Australian military ties this week, that guiding principle for the conduct of decision making in these matters has been grossly undermined. Instead of robust debate Australians received vague political laurels that the US alliance was simply the natural course of two old friends, Australia and America.

Incoherence in Australian defence policy is precisely what happened in the post-9/11 security environment, in which a far greater priority was accorded to fighting international terrorism than was warranted by the actual threat. The result has been deployment of the ADF to fight small groups of relatively poorly armed insurgents at great distance from Australia in wars that have cost mounting Australian and countless Iraqi and Afghan lives.

(* I would invite Neil James to comment on the coherence, or lack thereof, of Australian defence policy in the post 9/11 environment to add to the already extremely informative views expressed.)

In my view, the arguments made by Robert Hill and Alan Dupont about the changing nature of conflict and the role of the ADF demonstrate why Australia needs greater independence in strategic decision making.

The question has been raised as to what alternative Australia has to dependence on the US alliance. In fact, several options exist that would boost Australia’s independence within or outside of the alliance, should that be considered. Highly credible research has been undertaken to outline exactly what they would look like.

Click here and view the pdf http://www.aspi.org.au/publications/publication_details.aspx?ContentID=193.

Had the debate occurred this week, I believe three key aspects to Australian strategy should have been addressed:

The importance of geography and Australia’s place in Asia

Force structure options for defending Australia

The changing strategic environment signaled by China’s rise and US relative decline.

Extrapolations of economic and military power signify that Australia and eventually the US will likely fall behind Asian powers such as China, India and Indonesia in coming decades. Whilst the US can easily withdraw from Asia when engagement no longer suits its strategic interests, Australia is here to stay and addressing Australian relations with Asia is indeed a long overdue priority.

In response to David Grayling, “to be neutral and to be independent” is a completely rationale strategic objective for Australia and “to aspire to bring about peace” is a worthwhile national ambition. Doubtless, many people share those views. Whether these ideals stand in contrast to the US partnership or indeed whether Australia will eventually be accepted in Asia, on Asia’s terms, depends on the approach Australian decision makers take to defence and economic policy over the coming decades. They are also questions of the ambitions of the Australian people and at what cost they are prepared to go to implement them.

In addressing the comments by Neil James that the Abrams Tanks were not purchased out of contributing to the US alliance I would refer readers to the official announcement by former defence Minister Robert Hill:

“The Government made the decision that it would seek a tank that was a capable and credible element of ADF capability, available for deployment within the region and in coalitions further afield”.

The full text can be found at http://www.defence.gov.au/minister/22tpl.cfm?CurrentId=3645

Certainly, your perspective here matters provides a more complete recount of the purchase of the Abrams tanks.

David Grayling
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 18:10

"Now, children, gather around and Uncle Neil, who is an <b>Executive Director</b>, wow, will tell you the only truth that you need to know, that is the truth deriving from discussion between the Defence Association and Australian Politicians. Know this, children, we are the holders of all truth! What we say is always right.

Now, some of you have been silly, asking questions about our alliance with <b>America</b>, say it together now, AMERICA! That's pretty good but say it with a bit more reverence, as if you were speaking to GOD.

Now, AMERICA, is a nation that claims to be a 'Beacon on a Hill.' Well, Uncle Neil says it <b>IS </b> a beacon on a hill! It leads the world in warmonger...er... seeking peace by waging war, yes it does. The kind of peace it seeks needs soldiers, its soldiers, to ensure no one gets out of line, does naughty things like question. American soldiers are coming here to help us, to keep us safe from our biggest purchaser of our coal and steel, China.

AMERICA has a huge army, did you all know that? Yeah, lots of planes and warships and military bases and it uses them to invade and occupy nations with oil...er, with cruel leaders who aren't very nice, not like President Obama, who is like the father of us all.

Yes, I know he's black but it shows just how the Americans have changed since the days of slaver...er, the humanitarian uplifting of Africans by transporting them to the cotton plantations and giving them the chance of gainful employment. What, Uncle Tom's Cabin, you've read it! Well, you can't trust books, Uncle Neil says, only if Julia and I approve of them.

What was that? What about the Red Indians? Children, you must not judge a nation on a few mistakes. Only God is perfect. What was that? Your Dad says the Americans came late to WW2! They were thinking of the people in Europe and China all that time, thinking how best to help them. Would I lie to you?

And what about the burning of Vietnamese children with napalm and the killing of the trees? Depleted Uranium you say, well, it melts metal and it does cause birth defects although the link is not definite...what, America uses torture and keeps people in cages! What nonsense!

Look, Uncle Neil has to go now. Questions are bad things sometimes. They interfere with the truth and give me a headache. Off you go now and play with your guns!"

GocomSys
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 18:39

aaronfernandes posted Thursday, 17 November 11 at 5:16PM

“To be neutral and to be independent” is a completely rational strategic objective for Australia and “to aspire to bring about peace” is a worthwhile national ambition.
Agree.
Whether these ideals stand in contrast to the US partnership or indeed whether Australia will eventually be accepted in Asia, on Asia’s terms, depends on the approach Australian decision makers take to defence and economic policy OVER THE COMING DECADES. They are also questions of the ambitions of the Australian people and at what cost they are prepared to go to implement them.
Agree.
That is why the emphasis must be for Australia to grow up as fast as possible, find our "national identity" and adopt best practices already readily available. Unfortunately it often seems we have our eyes "wide shut".
Best of luck OZ.

GocomSys
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 19:10

Re: Post on Thursday, 17 November 11 at 6:10PM
No comment necessary. Sick.
As I said earlier:
Some comments again emphasise the desperate need to overcome simplistic "one-sided" subject stereotyping and in this instance dispel the myth of an adversarial “cold war mentality”.

GocomSys
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 19:25

David Grayling Posted Thursday, 17 November 11 at 6:10PM

Please tell us another "gruesome" story about equivalent awful cruel things the following countries have committed in the past:
Australia
England
Japan
Any other country, take you pick!

Why only the US? Why stop there?

A "reasonable", "balanced" answer would be appreciated! Thanks!

Betty
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 19:59

Betty
By the way the USA Ambassador to Australia talked on a recent Lateline program it was as if our Government had already been romanced out of Stirling Base on Garden Island, A Queensland site as well as a Darwin site from our sovereignty! What does 'joint' facility mean? That we bear costs and make the coffee for American staff??

I've already pointed out to our BIG 4 - PM, Attorney-General, Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers - that Garden Island is within walking distance when the tide is out from our major Perth heavy industry at Kwinana. One bomb/missile dropped there or alternatively an explosion of their own on Garden Island would set the entire industrial area ablaze. This in turn would contaminate the entire city of Perth because that is the way the prevailing winds blow. In fact the meteorology department personnel advised successive governments of both political persuasions not to build the industrial facilities south of city but to go north of the city because of these prevailing winds and this advice was ignored. An explosion near Kwinana on Garden Island would set the entire area ablaze and, because of prevailing winds, poison the entire city.

Since Gough Whitlam, Australian heads of our Government can be romanced out of anything by USA and they become blind to our place and responsibilities in our region.

We should be training for peace in all our tertiary institutions and with local and overseas students what a positive difference we could make.

David Grayling
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 20:07

<b>"...take you pick!"</b>

There must be a subliminal message there. I can't work out what it is. Can anyone else suggest what it might be?

P.S. I think the problem stems from reading too many SUPERMAN comics!

GocomSys
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 21:01

DG, Perfectly reasonable one moment and extremely paranoid the next. Why?
What happened?

fightmumma
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 21:32

Anatol Rapoport "Strategy and conscience" In "The Human Dialogue" F. Matson and A. Montagu (eds.)(1967): "...the essential features of a dialogue..., namely 1) the ability and willingness of each participant to state the position of the opponent to the opponent's satisfaction (exchange of roles) 2) the ability and willingness of each participant to state the conditions under which the opponent's position is valid or has merit (recognition that any position whatever has SOME region of validity) 3) the ability and willingness of each opponent to assume that in many respects the opponent is like himself...that a common ground exists where the opponents share common values, and each is aware of this common ground and, perhaps of the circumstances which have led the opponent to the position he holds (empathy)"(p79-80)

"In a dialogue the efforts of the participants are actually directed toward changing or at least modifying the opponent's point of view."(p79)

re strategists:

"The rules of the balance-of-power...1) act to increase capabilities but negotiate rather than fight 2) fight rather than pass up an opportunity to increase capabilities 3) stop fighting rather than eliminate an essential national actor 4) act to oppose any coalitions or single actor which tends to assume a position of predominance with respect to the rest of the system 5) act to constrain actors who subscribe to supranational organizing princliples 6) permit defeated or constrained essential national actors to re-enter the system as acceptable role partners or act to bring some previously inessential actor within the essential actor classification. Treat all essential actors as acceptable role partners."(p85-86)

"The over-all objective of the balance-of-power game, then...was not the preservation of peace but the preservation of the system."(p86)

"For the strategist's deeply internalized conviction is that he takes the world "as it is." To the critic, however, the world looks somewhat as it does to the wisest of three umpires. The first umpire, who was a 'realist', remarked "Some is strikes and some is balls, and I calls them as they is." Another, with less faith in the infallibility of the profession, countered with, "Some is strikes and some is balls, and I calls them as I sees them." But the wisest umpire said, "Some is strikes and some is balls, but they aint nothing till I calls them."" (p95)

fightmumma
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 21:49

Neil James 17/11 3.52 - you mention the regionally destablising effect of Oz making a triple-strength defence force - is the US military presence NOT going to similarly create such regional instablity?

Jaza - we trust America? huh? I don't! They have their own interests at heart and our government sees the symbiotic (parasitic??) relationship? Didn't American economic "wisdom" witness its financial institutions display apalling management, enjoy all their profits/perks welath power and privilege, send the average Joe broke and then wipe out their debt with the average Joe's taxes? Free market ideology, "the invisble hand of the market" that is until the beneficiaries aren't benefitting and then that hand turns into a big fat average citizen's tax payout!

Marga - imperialism...second time in Oz if you count we Brits invading "Terra nulus."

As to my quotes from the book about communication above - I listened on ABC radio to some of Obama...sounds like he's read these words too...is gonna use them with China and utilise whatever powers/resources he can to do so.

Independent, mature Oz...possible but not probable. For a start none of us know what the hell is goin' on and secondly all the decisions are made before we get a say!!...I know China isn't transparent ie "play by the rules" but how's our own transparency goin'? Not so brilliant?

It is a worry, whatever the perks of USA "protection," that a president we don't get to vote for, nor truly benefit from policy decisions - gets to influence our nation - maybe we should all argue for USA voting rights??

David Grayling
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 21:55

Fightmumma, thanks heavens you contribute to this forum. You bring intelligence, wit and wisdom to it (unlike some)!

Your last sentence is wonderful. I join with you in asking: why is this foreigner, Obama, shaping our history?

Perhaps we're still penal convicts?

Cheers.

GocomSys
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 22:05

fightmumma posted Thursday, 17 November 11 at 9:32PM

You quoted:

"The ability and willingness of each person to assume that in many respects the other person is like himself…that a common ground exists where the other person shares common values, and each is aware of this common ground and, perhaps of the circumstances which have led the other person to the position he holds".

Note: "opponent" replaced with neutral "person".

It'll be valuable to find out what happened to the person in question to hold these extreme views.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. ErikH
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 22:16

Betty, I can't let your comment about Gough Whitlam go without reminding you about "all the way with LBJ".

I think it's a bit ingenuous to think it all started with Gough.

Nadejda Letat
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 00:44

Neil James has sprouted on a lot about nothing. Is he allowed to do 2 long comments on drivel? OK .. never mind ... but this private alliance between Julia and Barak is not just about how many tanks the Australian Army has got stashed. Stop trying to divert the issue, Neil James, Executive Director of ADF!!

This fiasco is about lies and deceit - plain & simple. USA is not our friend!! How much longer do we fool ourselves? This is a case of "The Emperor's News Clothes" once again! USA is good at "fooling all of the people all of the time"! Are we really that stupid in Australia? Who still believes in Mickey Mouse aka Barak Obama, Georgie Bush, Nixon, LBJ, etc. ...... "USA can't handle the real truth!" For some time now, they had been on a down-ward spiral! And I know it must be hard to face the reality of having spun past the "use-by date"! Must have been fun though - before the end big crash! and my god! without a helmet!

But now Obama has suddenly revived and come up with a plan to fix the big crash! He's got the gall to come begging to us! Like we are stupid or something! Suddenly he knows about us and our war history? Google is a wonderful thing! Or did he by chance, spot that big expansive land mass south of China and somewhere across the Pacific - as he was Googling "China"? God dam'! Never realized that big "island" was there before! Thought that was Fiji!! Seriously, Americans often confuse Australia with either Austria or Fiji!! Obama actually was probably Googling "Austria" but mispelt by chance and got "Australia"!

And seriously again, I'd laugh if this was just another Mickey Mouse Adventure in one of those "Istan" places but it isn't! Sadly this "comic adventure" is about to take place in Australia (where we live!) - many miles from USA across that big expanse of water, the Pacific Ocean! I think we need to call in Tin Tin & Snowy for help!
(Don't call M.M.!)

Nadejda Letat
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 01:28

ErikH:
I think Betty meant that Australian Prime Ministers elected after Gough Whitlam, sucked up to USA! In other words, Gough Whitlam was the only
Prime Minister who told USA to f..k off!!

fightmumma
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 04:53

Hi GocomSys - yes good point - dialogue is different from monolgue!! There were quotes in there about monologue too, and communication being about power. I was wondering how mch we will end up with discourses that are more like monologues when what I believe is needed is for Australia to stand tall and lead DIALOGUE a bit less about competition (but I am naive about the harmony that could be achieved if we tried this approach - I fear) and perhaps mutual gain for us (that's we not U.S.)and our NEIGHBOURS.

Also from what I heard coming out of Obama's mouth - it wasn't sounding like he wanted dialogue...that's a worry.

I have to say...the photo up top kinda looks a little like a wedding picture where the happy couple cut the wedding cake...and even if you don't like Obama (I don't know what I think of him personally as I know little about him) doesn't he have a smile wider than a cheshire cat - maybe that one off Alice in Wonderland...dare I make comparisons between our 2 nations' relationship and this strange story (that gave me nightmares as a kid!!?). He has enough charisma that he could say the most insane of comments, or insult someone, flash that wide smile, and have people swooning still!!

Any viability in moving to Antartica?

Betty
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 06:41

Betty
fightmumma
No gain in going to Antarctica to get away from it all - USA would be your neighbour. They have territory there too!

David Grayling
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 10:25

Nadejda, Whitlam had the vision to see the danger that America posed to the free world.

Since his demise, the parade of P.M.s has been desultory at best, pathetic at least. How many Australians have died because of their blindness and lack of courage?

www.dangerouscreation.com

Olivier
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 13:53

We sure have let our fear of China and Communism turn us into a sidekick for the USA- a bad thing since the last legitimate war the US waged was in the early 1940s. Our alliance with the USA looks more like a fear-driven, unequal, marriage of convenience with a slick gangster who wears a sherrif's badge. The hate and fear sown professionally (Military Intel, Psy-Ops- the MIC) and voluntarily on TV & radio, is harvested when the now-paranoid support another bloody regime change, or another gratuitous arms race.

I do see China as a potential threat, but then so is Indonesia, yet our Euro and Amero 'allies' feed both sides of the arms race between us and Indonesia. Our resources and land appear self-evidently tempting. But if China invaded our nation tomorrow, they'd be in control in a month. and the enormous United Nations invasion fleet it would take to drive them out, would probably not form.
I think we are in a decentralizing Era, where Petrol is dissapearing, and strategic paradigms must alter enormously.
Chinese military expansionist tendencies should be initially distracted by the improved lifestyles of Capitalism,
but a focus on greed and short term glory should soon follow,
which in conjunction with a overpopulation of young males,
should see high pressures for military expansionism.
We know China will take small, close states (Tibet).
Diplomacy is the solution. Peace is the road, not the destination.

Frank from Frankston
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 14:51

Oliver, you must be dreaming. The day the PRC attacks Australia, our pollies would run up the white flag prior to any PRC missile being fired or carrier borne aircraft launched.
What would the UN do? Nothing.
What would the US do? Probably nothing.
Because successive US presidents have insisted on sending consumer funds to the PRC, a practice which promotes both the expansion of US debt and supports the nuclear arming of the PRC, the greater the probability that a US president will decide that the Pacific isn't worth risking a nuclear attack on New York.

I agree with some of the thinking of many other writers above.
The only nation that Australia can rely upon to defend Australia is Australia.
This must be the mindset to get across to all Australians in this, a world soon to be dominated by a ruthless, totalitarian, communist state - run by and for the benefit of Generals.

The US presidents promise of 250 marines, passing through Darwin, is just a promise.
As a direct result of that promise the increasingly belligerent PRC have promised this:
"CHINESE defence analysts have condemned ... noting that Darwin is comfortably within range of Chinese ballistic missiles."
And the direct threat of regime approved "analysts" is repeated again:
''Chinese strategic missiles can reach Australia,'' he added.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/analysts-say-china-stung-by-defence-pa...

Anyone in Any doubt that Australia needs own effective nuke deterrent: Just read the above article by sinophile john garnaut. You'll never see this article or its content repeated or themed in our censored media. I'm amazed it was printed at all...

And remember, the next time you spend money at Bunnings, some of your dollars may come back to you in PRC hydrogen bombs...

This user is a New Matilda supporter. guywire
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 15:12

"The Asia Pacific security region is on the brink of profound change, with China’s rise likely to bring to an end four decades of unchallenged US primacy." Maybe it is, but what do we do? We bring the biggest warmonger further into our confidence and support their strategic interest in Australia. If we had any common sense we would also invite China our closest superpower, biggest trading partner and a nation which has not invaded, destroyed, infrastructure on pathetic evidence of Nukes and is always threatening others eg Iran... and dont give me that China's Human Rights record stuff when the US tortures (Abu Graib)kills civilians regularly (in sovereign states), and pillages (Museum of Antiquities), expects everyone except themselves to abide by UN mandates. Executes presidents for genocide and Bush is still immune from prosecution because they havent signed the ICC. And we are still too scared to do anything except send our boys to war for them. Thank Mitra for the Greens dominating our Human Rights agenda.

I dont see China or Indonesia as a threat because of their records being less stark than the US. Our biggest potential threat is from Islamic nations reprisals for us siding with the US in its search for Empire and its paranoid view that Commies or Islam are going to change our way of life. Well I wish they could, maybe we wouldn't keep killing whoever the US tells us to.

I have to say that some of my best friends are from the US it's their successive administrations who are evil, sanctioning covert operations on Sovereign nations.

Just for good measure "Chinese military expansionist tendencies should be initially distracted by the improved lifestyles of Capitalism,"
I cant see how we have improved when we are destroying our home planet with Inconsiderate greed and the spoils of illegal wars.

Frank from Frankston
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 16:30

guywire, if you are worried about the destruction of our ONLY planet, then I suggest you activate against Free Trade and the WTO. Manufacture locally for local consumption.
The only reason the PRC has embraced "Free Trade" and membership to the WTO and so called capitalism, is to fund their war machine.
Everything else is small potatoes.

Note, PRC emissions are set to increase by 500% - doubling the world's output in the foreseeable future. If you are not a skeptic, then you ought to Fight the WTO regime.

The brown muck, serving as atmosphere over much of China, is created in the interests of a PRC empire.

This empire has directly threatened us over a 250 marine contingent.

This sort of sabre rattling is what Vietnam and the Phillipines and Taiwan have been treated with for some time.

Not to mention Tibet...

David Grayling
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 17:18

Guywire, thank heavens someone with rationality and commonsense is entering this debate.

Already America has achieved what it set out to do: get its heavy imperial boots on our soil and have Australian citizens go into a state of panic about the imminent arrival of the Yellow Peril.

The non-expansionist history of China over thousands of years suddenly counts for nothing. The existence, over centuries, of Chinese people who have spread all over world and who've been hard-working, peaceful, model citizens counts for nothing either.

And the murdering, bloodthirsty activities of the U.S. since its inception are also swept aside and forgotten as we, or at least our politicians, cling to the hard, silicon-filled, American tit, sucking for all we are worth at the thin, bitter milk it provides. That America is bankrupt is also forgotten.

Australia is lost I'm afraid. China will cut us off, deservedly so, and we'll become just another failed country that no one pays any mind to all because we backed the wrong horse.

Poor fella, my country! It will end up friendless in this region, nothing surer.

www.dangerouscreation.com

GocomSys
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 17:51

It is always fascinating to observe the reactions of the "reactionaries". Three weeks from now the political amnesia effect will set in and only one individual will continue a relentless, repetitive and predictable anti US vendetta.

www.dangerouscreation.com

Frank from Frankston
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 18:27

David Grayling, you are kidding?
The US, because of its debt and lack of a viable economy, (thanks to various greedy lobbyists and former Presidents doing the bidding of the PRC), will have to retire from much of the direct action we have seen in the last 20 years.
Eg, Libya, being the template.
"Non expansionist history"? haven't you heard of Tibet?
Now that the PRC has the tools for projecting hard power, it is now claiming whole oceans of mineral and fisheries rights.
The tooled up PRC military/industrial complex is chomping at the bit for some action, some conflict.
The fools in Australia, who have pinned our defence hopes on the US alliance have done so out of a desperation borne by being a small defence force, having to look after an entire continent, dependent upon the longest sea lanes in the world, parked between the largest Muslim country in the world, an increasingly bolshie, nationalistic and jingoistic India, and of course, those nasty types up in the PRC.
None of this desperation would have been needed had Robert Menzies taken the option of going nuclear. It was offered and he demurred. Preferring to spend billions importing low tech car assembly plants and the like, along with bloating our cities with an unproductive population.
China will cut us off? Good.
It wont happen though.
And we are already friendless in this region David.
As John Howard once proclaimed in a candid moment "They hate us!".

David Grayling
Posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - 18:48

Frank, it's nice to hear from a human with a brain (instead of a carping, infantile parrot called Cystitus) even if there is not much you've said with which I agree.

Yes, I have heard of Tibet. If that is the extent of Chinese imperialism, the world has little to fear.

I'm glad we didn't go nuclear otherwise we might have ended up like America, a warmongering nation that is run by people who are obviously deranged and love the smell of fresh blood.

I do agree that for us to try to defend this continent is hopeless. That's why I've been urging us to declare ourselves neutral and side with no one.

I guess the other alternative is for us to go back to where we came from with our tails between our legs.

Thanks for your intelligent comment!

Cheers.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. dazza
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 12:20

Well, this one has really stirred the hornet's nest.
I tried to avoid listening to/watching anything to do with Our Master's visit to Australia. It was all so sickening and predictable.
Our Master who has the Gift of the Gab, can speechify to great effect with his fellow dingbats in the USA, but who is totally incapable of doing anything progressive. Who grovels on a daily basis to Bibi Netanyahu, who is insulted by his own Congress, and takes his frustrations out on a cowardly escalation of targeted assassinations of people around the world with drones controlled from, I think, Arizona. This is MURDER, or a regular basis, and I can not see how a man of principle can do such a thing. so, therefore he is not a man of principle, but a gutless wonder. But he does control Australia!
I was also much sickened by the way Gillard GROPED Obama. On the rare occasions I did see them on TV, she always had her hands on him. No wonder Tim The 1st. Bloke walked home, he was probably as much sickened as anyone else by her fawning adulation. One can well understand that in this situation, she just bent over and gave him everything he wanted. But then, she has been doing this now for some time, witness the gutless display of 'follow our leader' she played in the Untied Nations in relation to Palestine, against the advice of her Foreign Affairs Minister, so I have heard.
I also note Michelle Obama was absent this time.
So she has now GIVEN, lock stock and barrel, the Northern Territory of Australia to the United States of America as a base for waging war on anyone THEY please in this area. This after keeping the Howard total control of Aboriginal lives, and building on it, with her mate Jenny Macklin, who is a power and control freak, it seems.
So much for any plans of Statehood for the NT. This will never be now allowed by the new owners/occupiers.
Cluster Bombs. I note that Al Jazeera English gives credence to a suggestion that now Cluster Munitions will now be stored in this Base (OR at least staged) (and the idea that Aussies will be in charge is just pure clap-trap, just like Pine Gap) and more than likely Nuclear Bombs will be travelling over Australian skies on B52s. I heard some very big jets go over here yesterday, two lots, either jet fighters in formation or a B52 or somesuch, heading for Tindal from Sydney area. Were they Yanks already? Taking over as quickly as they can.
And Muckaty Station. I would not mind betting that in the secret discussions with Obama's mob, the permission has been granted for the Yanks to send all their waste Nuclear/Highly Radioactive stuff for storage there. The Yanks have been for years trying to get this, after their Yucca Mountain storage was denied them for NIMBY reasons. Martin Ferguson, the man who is working night and day to get rid of Australia to the lowest bidder, no matter what the damage to society, the World, our climate or whatever, has been quite open to this idea, and would have pushed it with Gillard, if she needed pushing.
Well, we can not be half pregnant, so now, we are fully locked into the machinations and warmongering of the United States, even more than before. When THEY decide to go to war against China, we will have to salute and follow, never mind that we will be the first to be destroyed. And this crap about the ANZUS treaty, spare me, I am not the only one who says that if say we were invaded by Indonesia, we would NOT be saved by the Yanks, they would look first to their financial/business connections in Indonesia, and they are large.
Anyone who believes Obama on just about anything is really in need of a shrink.
As also Gillard. Have Hospital sick bays been filled by people puking over the total garbage that has poured out of various mouths in the last few days? Gawd, where is the Bulldust Indicator? Missing in action?
And the Media, ho, the Media, especially the ABC, has been responsible for some of the very worst. Total, uncritical, unquestioning, fawning prostitution to the Obama Bandwagon.
I despair!
Dazza.

GocomSys
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 12:59

Reading some of the previous posts. One thing often stands out the lack of OBJECTIVITY and BALANCE!

It’s the ‘manic” pursuit in isolation of often complex interactions and other's not necessarily disagreeing with the merits of some of the points raised in these discussions.

When global issues are discussed it is too simplistic to engage in another s a US bashing exercise. Almost everybody here is painfully aware of the shortcomings of the US administration and “democracy” US style.

Let’s focus on Australia for a moment and be brutally honest.

For starters.

Let's face it, Australia is colony with a colonial mentality of it's citizens.
. Our constitution is out of date and in desperate need of an overhaul.
. Our flag contains the symbol of another nation.
. We are still a monarchy. How quaint.
. We have no idea who we are or where we are going,
. We have an identity crisis and many of us don't even realise it.

The good part is we "love" our cricket and our footy. That's really all that matters, isn't it? Another good thing, Australians for the most part are not racist, we are too lazy for that and simply couldn't be bothered..

We are endowed with this unique "gift" of tolerating mediocrity and accepting "CR*P" unquestioningly.
. We currently have a CR*P politician with CR*P policies who openly and honestly confesses to talking CR#P. That's why we vote for him!
. We have a media who for the most part is writing CR*P. That's why we read it and waste our money on it!
. We have CR*P shock-jocks. That's why can't stop listening to them.

The list goes on.

So, before we criticise other's let's get our own house in order. Why don't we!

gregrb
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 13:29

@ Neil James

Thanks for your comments. I was very angry hearing this news- I live in China now, and haven't checked the news for a few days. Your information puts things in perspective.

Your sea lanes background makes perfect sense, and the US obviously at present is the strongest gaurentee of sea lanes remaining open. But as other posters here have wondered, why do we need to have such a clumsy provocative series of photo shoots that antagonise our neighbours? It seems to be political defeat, even if it does strengthen our "friendship" with the US.

I question lots of the established wisdom on China as well. Its the established view, and it came out in your reply, that China won't be a close allie because:
- they are a "communist" country
- cultural values are very different
- lack of transperancy

First, while China is a "communist country" on paper, like the "Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea" the title doesn't really say a lot about the political reality of a very complex country. The "Communist Party" are changing all the time, have factions, and are actually becoming more transparent. In essence, Chinese leadership decisions are far more pragmatic than any other country I have heard of, almost ideologically free (save a nationalist tinge). Compare this to the US, with a very heavily ideologically charged debate, and a strong fundamentalist religious influence on the culture.I would choose as a partner a country that makes pragmatic decisions, which China does.

If cultural values were barriers to good relationships, then then the EU project would never have got off the ground. France and Germany, who fought two major wars against each other within living memory, while not perfect neighbours, get along pretty well. While the Eurozone isn't perfect, that relationship says a lot about the ability of very different cultures to work together. Indeed, our own country is an extremely ethnically diverse nation, and it works. We have also been very close to Japan for decades, and it is much more culturally different to Australia than China is. Anyone who has lived or travelled to China for a length of time will venture to tell you we have far more common with the Chinese than the Japanese. They are very down to earth people.

As to "transparency", I just don't see how that effects real relationships at high levels. As we have learned (already knew, but now know for sure) from the wiki leaks disclosures, no country is really that transparent. Our "friend" the US especially so. While even most Chinese people would like to see the place become more transparent (and it is becoming so each year), I don't understand how this is an argument against defence relationships etc. They have honored all their trade deals with us. Do we have any evidence they would walk out of a deal?

I think it's entirely possible to forge a healthy relationship with China, and I find the "common sense" view in Australia that we can only be friends with "anglo saxons' is not only a little sad to hear, but doesn't make sense historically. If you follow that logic through to, you end up with a world divided into cultural blocs on war footing, which is sad, but also not necessarily inevitable.

Why not a great southern Switerland? :)

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Marga
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 14:58

GoComSys:
"Let's get our own house in order". Precisely, what do you propose?
Do you have a blueprint?
At least 'gregrb' and I (in an earlier post) proposed a Switzerland of the South, giving our reasons.

gregrb:
Rightly said.
Communist threat: Communism - a 19th century idea played out in the 20th century, but really superseded by - as yet a very imperfect - social capitalism (if there is no such a term, that it is one I just made up)

Lack of Transparency: Hardly unique to China. All governments, all corporations, and countless individuals are guilty of that.

Different cultural values: Sometimes there is no common denominator for cultural values, especially where people want to impose their views on the rest of the world, or are inflexible and don't want to change but expect everyone to change (a case of the mountain coming to Mohammed).
I think Chinese Culture (Far East Asia) and European Culture (Far West Asia) have common denominators, especially when it comes to works ethics. We have to work on what binds us not what separates us. My personal experience is/was (coming from a North European background) that I have always worked well with Chinese, alas Indians absolutely frustrated me. I met many who shared that sentiment.
You mention France/Germany. They are siblings, as are all North Europeans, sharing a common Germanic-Celtic background. And they fight as only siblings can fight.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. guywire
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 14:58

GoComSys says "only one individual will continue a relentless, repetitive and predictable anti US vendetta".

repetitive, we repeat our worst fears so others wont suffer. Dont you?
predictable, Nothing new here.
vendetta, vendetta strongly suggests a blood feud (from David, I dont think so).

"Poor fella, my country! It will end up friendless in this region, nothing surer".

People dont tend to blame ordinary people for the politicians they vote for, especially when they find out that those politicians have been secretive and self serving.

"But if China invaded our nation tomorrow, they’d be in control in a month. and the enormous United Nations invasion fleet it would take to drive them out, would probably not form".

The predictions by boneheaded or lying politicians eg, George, Dick, Condy, Wolfowitz, the Sec Defense (forgot his name) and the military in the Iraq invasion was three weeks and they had a rag tag Army and no Navy or Airforce to speak of and most importantly no Nukes. China has Nukes but is more likely to protect its lucrative investment in Oz. Also it depends a little on the time of year - in Oz an invading army from North to south have only one decent road 2,000 miles long and not much cover and the heat in summer is intense. Besides we have all those sickeningly patriotic rednecks, with their Utes perfect for bolting on a 50 Cal. No! they are more likely to do it legally and buy Australia. Hell, they have already started.

But help from the US!? we may be more likely to get help from Cuba. How long did it take the US to join WW2? Pearl Harbour and they were in, in a flash.

scottyea
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 16:22

"Stupidity got us into this mess ... why can't it get us out?"

GocomSys
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 19:48

Marga posted Saturday, 19 November 11 at 2:58PM

You asked:
“Let’s get our own house in order”. Precisely, what do you propose?
Do you have a blueprint?

Yes. Become a strong determined confident united "Australian Federal Republic". First we have to overcome our deep seated inferiority complexes.

Refer to my previous comments where I said:

Let’s face it, Australia is colony with a colonial mentality of it’s citizens.
. Our constitution is out of date and in desperate need of an overhaul.
. Our flag contains the symbol of another nation.
. We are still a monarchy. How quaint.
. We have no idea who we are or where we are going,
. We have an identity crisis and many of us don’t even realise it.

Once we have fixed those we have a chance to stand on our own two feet and we may even be able to go it alone.

If we don't, just keep on dreaming about us becoming a "Switzerland of the South".

Hope this helped. Cheers.

David Grayling
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 19:53

What happened as a result of the visit by Obama is a catastrophe for Australia.

We have, thanks to Blind Julia and the mindless politicians that infest our Federal Parliament, turned our back on the hand that feeds us and thrown in our lot with a nation that is trying to control the world purely for its own benefit.

Gregrb, was right to be angered. I am not so much angered as filled with despair as I watch our world drift further into a state of endless war, something that the U.S. encourages because it makes a quid from it. It spreads fear and hate wherever it goes, to say nothing of the smell of death!

Guywire, you are right to question whether or not we would really get help from the Yanks. WW2 and their late arrival gives us a clue. And regarding China turning imperialistic? Their long history suggests that imperialism is low on their agenda which is more than you can say about the U.S. which has been 'imperializing' ever since its inception.

The U.S. is indeed a world leader. The problem is that it is leading the world to hell in a hand-basket!

P.S.It is great to see N.M. members rejecting the ramblings of Senator Cystitus. Perhaps he or she may be a plant from the American Embassy.

This user is a New Matilda supporter. guywire
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 19:57

'Australians for the most part are not racist, we are too lazy for that and simply couldn’t be bothered.."

The US Like all of the Americas with the lesser exception of
Canada arent terribly bigoted, they just cant accept that there are other gods aside from the Judeo Christian ones. But the US actually targets the infidels even more than they target South and Central American countries, usually with the excuse that they supply Cocaine and dont cooperate with US oil policy. With lies and other deceptions our politicians are able put the arms dealers and corporations they outsource to first in the queue for cash and power. I believe that the Occupy Movement is partly about this, as is the Arab Spring. If these movements had identifiable leaders (like Assange) they would be up on Terrorism charges in secret. But to say Australians are not racist is a patriot's fantasy. Howard and his policies belied racism and a vacuum of human rights toward other nationals in detention and got re-elected for it.

The answer to the question can we serve two masters? is that we cannot serve ourselves so we rely on those we think will have our interests in mind and go back to watching football and neighbors on the box and let the ADF fight our unnecessary wars. We help kill millions for the US as we did for Britain but dont make the mistake of discriminating against China because our economic social and military isolation from the West might prove stark.

jackal01
Posted Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 09:11

Neil James, your blowing in the wind. I can agree with some things but these Bits, come on.

"Anyone who bothers to study why Australia finally upgraded its tiny and obsolete tank force in 2004 soon realizes that it had nothing to do with supposedly deploying with the US."

My take:
We had German Leopards, what bridge can one of these American lumps of Iron run across.

This point of yours nullifies your argument:
"Australia would never contribute a sub-unit of armour to a US tank unit because of the operational risks involved in integrating at that level."

Your point:
"The tank replacement actually resulted from lessons learned in the 1999 East Timor intervention where our (too) light infantry were heavily outnumbered and making them a combined-arms combat team (infantry - plus tanks) would have seriously reduced the risk."

My point:
We were fighting young kids, it was a Policing action to put the Portuguese back into power, the indigenous Guy wouldn't give as the Gas Fields.

Your point:
It also related from a DSTO study of casualty rates in Vietnam where infantry supported by tanks were six times more successful on average and sustained significantly lower casualties.

My point:
Vietnam was a war like no other, we lost more Diggers to American Personnel Mines, that the V.C dug up and stole. The Yanks were told.
Besides if we had not gone there in the first place we would have lost 0.
Vietnam taught the Allied side what terrorism and Insurgency really meant and what the German Army faced.
So it wasn't as if we didn't know. We just got done by our own morals and tactics. We have gone to war 15 times in 143 years, more then anyone else, more then all the bad guys. 90% were for Mother England so it could rape, Pillage and Plunder, so as to remain the Empire. Our record itself states that we should be the most expert, we are not, never were, never will be. We can't even bring our boys home without loosing their bodies.

Your point:
More broadly, US forces have exercised and trained in Australia for decades."

Mine:
So that makes it all alright?. Buddy you need a job, a real job. You have gone soft in the head for the sake of an income.