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Australia's U.S. alliance is leading us down a path of war against China

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Our alliance with the U.S. is bringing us closer to war and now is the time to look to alternatives, writes Cameron Leckie.

THE FIGURES are staggering. A low-end estimate of Chinese deaths in World War Two saw 15 million dead. China is a country that understands the true costs of war. Australia’s casualties and experience of war pale into insignificance in comparison.

Few Australians have any real conception of the consequences of a war with China. Our experiences of conflict in the post-World War Two era would be no guide. It would include mass casualties amongst the military on a scale not seen since World War One. It would likely involve direct missile attacks on key targets on Australian soil. It would certainly result in the breakdown of the supply chains critical to the functioning of society and subsequent privations that the citizens of countries such as Syria could relate to.

We could very well be on the losing side to top it all off. Multiple wargames by organisations such as the RAND Corporation suggest this would be the case. Assuming the conflict does not turn nuclear and humanity survives, we could find ourselves subject to terms as humiliating as those imposed on the Chinese during the Opium Wars.

These are the potential costs of war with China. Thus, the seemingly ever-increasing talk of war with China in Australian political circles should chill the blood of all Australians.

China (and Russia) are a threat to the United States not because of what they do, but of what they are. They offer an alternative and increasingly successful development model which threatens that euphemism for the global hegemony of the United States, the rules-based global order.

At its root, this is what the tensions between the United States and China boil down to. China is not the aggressor. China’s lifting the best part of a billion people out of poverty has been achieved by avoiding military conflict; it is unclear why these hard-won developmental gains would be risked through military adventurism.

Conversely, many millions of Americans have been forced into poverty as the war machine of the United States Government continues its many decades-long military interventionisms across the planet.

The story of the modern world is the story of the rise and fall of great powers. The current chapter sees the rise of China and the decline of the United States. The warning signs of decline have been evident for a decade or more. The indicators of actual decline are broadly based and obvious, only masked by hubris and the sophisticated smokescreen that is the modern media environment.

Toppling China is the last roll of the dice for the United States. With its belligerence being inversely proportional to its power, the United States has launched a series of “grey-zone” operations in a desperate attempt to defeat China without resorting to overt military conflict. It is no coincidence that so many of the world’s “hotspots” are on the peripheries of China or in countries that are key nodes of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The conditions required for victory in this contest are asymmetrical. China wins simply by doing what it has been doing for decades. The United States, on the other hand, must force China and its comprehensive strategic partner Russia to capitulate. A most unlikely scenario.

The anti-China hawks in this country are doing their very best to frame current tensions as being a binary choice between kowtowing to the Chinese Government and being willing to fight China, in coalition with the United States, to defend Australia’s inconsistently applied “values”.  The binarisation of choice, an age-old but still effective technique, leaves little room for nuance in debating the issues at stake or reflecting upon the ineptitude of the Government’s handling of the China relationship or the nature of our relationship with the United States.

We have doubled down in both our rhetoric and policies towards China because of our alliance with the United States. It seems that we are willing to pay an enormous price in blood and treasure to maintain this alliance even when the outcomes do not serve the national interest. The alliance, rather than being a means to the national security end has become an end in and of itself.

With Australia currently acting against its own best interests, it is entirely appropriate that the costs and consequences of our alliance with the United States be publicly questioned and debated. Thus the current Independent and Peaceful Australia Network’s (IPAN) Public Inquiry into Australia’s alliance with the United States could not come at a more important juncture for our national security, prosperity and sovereignty. 

If you would like to submit your thoughts on the costs and consequences of the U.S. alliance, click HERE. IPAN will be conducting a webinar titled ‘Australia-U.S. Alliance Webinar Series: Political and Democratic Rights' on 3 June 2021 at 6 PM.

Cameron Leckie joined the Australian Army at age 17, attending the Australian Defence Force Academy and Royal Military College. He is currently a PhD student whose research is focusing on soil physics.

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