Australian Commentary (6)

This Senkakus dispute, which has warships and planes of both nations circling each other around and above the islands, could bring on a shooting war. And if it does, America would be in it.[1] – Patrick Buchanan.               

The international tensions that have spiked again between China and Japan concerning ownership of the Senkaku Islands, should be a warning to Australia: the world is a volatile place. To us it seems rather silly that this should be happening in a mature world. But who said people and nations are mature?

It’s not just China and Japan. China has territorial points of conflict with both South Korea and the Philippines. China’s leaders seem quite content to ride their people’s nationalist sentiment in relation to Japan, and the US is obligated by treaty to back the Japanese, as it is with South Korea and the Philippines.

Conclusion? This sounds rather like the Europe of 1914, which got ugly, very quickly. The Bible warns us: “Keeping away from strife is an honour for a man, but any fool will quarrel” (Prov.20:3). It also says that “…He [God] has scattered the peoples who delight in war” (Ps.68:30).

Australia started on the foolhardy process of needlessly supporting allies in South Africa against the Boers, went on to the shores of Gallipoli, then the mud of the Somme, the deserts of North Africa, the snow of a South Korean winter, then the jungles of Vietnam, and the mountains of Afghanistan. Have we learnt much?

Washington has had the US at war for 12 years: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and almost Syria, which could still happen, with Iran waiting in the wings. These wars have been expensive in terms of money, prestige, and deaths and injuries of both US soldiers and the attacked civilian populations. None of these wars appears to have any compelling reason or justifiable explanation.[2]

All of this should be grounds for Australia to be seriously re-thinking our security, and just how we would respond if these two rather belligerent superpowers decide to muscle up in Asia.

Northern Asia is an area important to us, but Australia does not need to commit itself to military action, in the event of a crisis. We have tended to do that way too often in the past, and our commitments tended to encourage allies. We followed that path with the US in relation to Korea and Viet Nam, and what did we gain from those? A commitment based on guilt or bravado could easily lead from silliness to stupidity and on to disaster.

Maintaining calm in a crisis is essential. The ANZUS treaty commits Australia to “consult” with its allies in the event of an incident. “Consult” is not the same as “commit.” When there are tensions between nations fuelled by belligerence, you don’t need much to bring on military action, and Australia really doesn’t need that over some uninhabited islands in the South China Sea.

If there is military conflict between the US and China somewhere in Asia, and the US ambassador calls on the Australian Prime Minister asking if we’ll support them, he should say this:

Mr Ambassador, your leaders have gotten your nation into a fine mess now, haven’t they? Couldn’t your government see this coming? This is not a matter relating to a defensive alliance that we’re both part of, it’s simply a terrible US foreign policy bungle. You’ve thrown away George Washington’s wise advice about avoiding “entangling alliances” for a century now, got yourselves into a right pickle, and Australia wants nothing to do with it. You’ll have to paddle your own canoe on this one. Perhaps it’s time your people ate some humble pie.

And there’s more. When national leaders are troubled by domestic problems, what better way to divert people’s attention than by getting embroiled in some international incident, which you can self-righteously blame on the other nation?

Hermann Goering explained this perfectly in 1946. He said:

Why, of course, the people don’t want war…. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship….

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.[3] 

This is another reason why standing armies can become a serious liability to a nation. Ostensibly, they may be for national defence. But if there are international tensions building, leading to an incident, it’s very easy for political leaders to say, “We’ve got all these men, trained with their weapons, and ready to go. Don’t give me this right and wrong stuff. Let ‘em off the chain! The people will back us.”

The Americans love their military; in fact, they just about revere them. Come what may, regardless of what’s taken place, they want to “support the troops.” This leads to a staggering willingness nationally, to go to war over almost anything. It also tempts struggling Presidents to manufacture incidents for political gain. This has happened repeatedly for 150 years.

The extent of the U.S. global empire is almost incalculable. The Department of Defence’s “Base Structure Report” states that the Department’s physical assets consist of “more than 600,000 individual buildings and structures, at more than 6,000 locations, on more than 30 million acres.” There are over 700 U.S. military bases on foreign soil. There are U.S. troops stationed in 159 different regions of the world in every corner of the globe. There are 285,000 U.S. troops stationed in foreign countries, not counting the 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Europe to face a non-existent Soviet Union. The United States has commitments to provide security to over 35 countries. The United States still maintains 64,000 troops in Germany, 33,000 troops in Japan, and 10,000 troops in Italy – sixty years after we defeated them in World War II. We have, in fact, never stopped mobilizing for war since World War II, manufacturing enemies where we could find none. [4]

Since 1945, the US hasn’t been attacked militarily, but has gotten itself involved in multiple wars with reckless abandon, and the cost (in dollars and lives) has been astronomical. This is another reason we should resist pressure from the US, and the temptation to once again throw in our lot with them militarily if there is another drama.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                              

Wars may seem glorious to begin with but inevitably, they are not like a sporting Grand Final. People (including civilians) get killed and maimed-for what?

Do Australians really need to learn again, the futility of foolish wars?



[1] Patrick Buchanan, “Are the Senkakus Worth a War?” (www.lewrockwell.com), 13/12/2013.

[2] Paul Craig Roberts, “Washington Drives the World towards War,” (www.lewrockwell.com), 16/12/2013.

[3] Hermann Goering from his Nuremberg cell, interviewed by Gustave Gilbert.

[4] Lawrence Vance, “War, Gunboat Diplomacy and the Church,” p.1, Lew Rockwell website, 24/7/2007.

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