Editorial By Dr Alison Broinowski
The ALP Government’s first term presents us with more opportunities than Australia has had for years. Our interconnected opportunities are the three As: the ANZUS alliance, AUKUS, and AWPR.
This is the moment for policy change. Although Labor’s majority is slim, the ALP has strong polling support, and the Opposition is in disarray. We can promote the reform process in submissions to the Defence Posture Review, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, and the Committee on Treaties. We can back the anti-AUKUS campaign. We can encourage Independents, old and new, in both Houses, to support the reform process. We can join with other groups which support our aims, by building public pressure on politicians to take responsibility for how Australia goes to war, before it is too late. We can and are doing all this.
But the reasons to act now are not only Australian, but international.
The US and its NATO allies have avoided getting into another Afghanistan in Ukraine. Australia has not contributed much beyond financial, moral and technological support to the Ukranian side in its war with Russia. The looming war in the South or East China Sea, however, is a different matter. Both conflicts are intended to serve US interests, and war against China would not serve Australia’s.
Those Australians like Peter Jennings and Jim Molan who argue otherwise might consider the view of Republican statesman Henry Kissinger, who recently warned that Washington was on the brink of war with Moscow and Beijing. In a 13 August interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said, ‘We are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to’.
Kissinger could have been advising Australia’s government. He said, ‘You can’t just now say we’re going to split them off and turn them against each other. All you can do is not to accelerate the tensions and to create options, and for that you have to have some purpose’.
Surely Australia’s purpose is peace and territorial sovereignty in our region. But as Mike Scrafton wrote in Pearls and Irritations, ‘arguing that Australia should go to war over any attempt by China to recover control over its own territory would be intervening in China’s internal domestic affairs, and advocating a crime against international law; the crime of aggression.’ Such a war would repeat what we illegally did in Iraq.
If it was Australia’s purpose under the Coalition to back a US plan to maintain America’s global hegemony by weakening Russia and confronting China, with Ukraine and Taiwan as the proxies, that policy is now due for public review by our new Government. So is AUKUS. So is the 70 year-old ANZUS Alliance, which as hundreds of submissions to the ICAN public inquiry (2021-2) pointed out, was written to assure Australians of American defence against a re-armed Japan. Just as outdated, and dangerous, are the war powers under which a prime minister could send the ADF into a war against China which we would predictably lose.