Australian news, and some related international items

Taiwan not worth a mushroom cloud

Many talk about “national interest”; the need for security; and standing up for principles. But with Taiwan the choice may be more stark: allow the Chinese Communist Party to take it over or engage in a nuclear war.

Principles are meaningless amid nuclear devastation, and so is national interest and security. Crispin Hull 8 Aug 22,

The odd thing about the visit by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives to Taiwan was that it was done by a woman, Nancy Pelosi. Usually, women in government tend to be the negotiators and compromisers, not the aggressors and agitators.

Why not just leave well alone?

Why create for future schoolchildren (if there are any survivors) one of the “Ten Causes of the Third World War”: Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Just as we learned that the 10 causes of World War I and World War II included equally trivial misjudgments.

And, take note, as far as the Chinese leadership is concerned, Pelosi is not a legislator, separate from the executive government, making a visit off her own bat, because they could not conceive of such a thing. For them, she is part of the US Government. So, to them, the trip was a deliberate provocation.

The other puzzling thing about Taiwan is the way the US, on the one hand, talks the talk of defending democratic Taiwan against the bully China, but on the other hand officially accepts that Taiwan is part of China.

The US did that on January 1, 1979, when it recognised the People’s Republic of China and established diplomatic relations with it as “the sole legitimate government of China”. On the same day, the United States withdrew its recognition of, and terminated diplomatic relations with, the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the government of China.

In 1979, of course, Taiwan was not a democracy so it did not really matter in principle which of the two autocracies was the “sole legitimate government of China”. At the time, the US “national interest” suggested that the trade opportunities with mainland China were too good and democracy was not being undermined by the de-recognition of semi-autocratic Taiwan.

After Taiwan evolved into a democracy in 1996 with the first free, open, and fair election for the presidency, the US had a “whoops” moment, followed by nearly three decades of juggling three balls in the air: the principle of supporting democracy; supporting US national trade interests; and opposing ever-growing Chinese influence.

The three are hopelessly incompatible, even as the first and the third become ever more urgent. The solution for the US could have been dreamt up by the Chinese communists themselves: “deliberate ambiguity”.

The US should go back to that. More importantly, Australia should go back there, irrespective of what the US does. The west should play the long game with China and wait for it to go the way of the Soviet Union caused as the economic cost of not playing by the rules results in unsustainable pressure on the regime.

Already China is paying a penalty for its trade trashing of Australia. Australia has now found other markets. China has come back cap in hand for some of those goods and Australia has said, “No thanks, you are too unreliable because you do not follow the rules and legal principle.”

In any event, we should not, in the perspicacious words of defence expert Hugh White, “sleepwalk into war”.

If democratic Taiwan is so important to defend, why doesn’t the US officially recognise it as a nation? And if it does not recognise Taiwan as an independent democratic nation, why threaten military action if the central government of the nation that the US does recognise as exercising sovereignty over Taiwan sends in its army and police forces to physically exercise that sovereignty?

Not being a democracy is not a cause for war, nor is the overthrow of democracy in one part of a country a cause for war. If they were, the world would be in a constant state of war.

Pelosi’s visit coincided with the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise (RIMPAC), but to Chinese Communist Party chiefs it was not a coincidence. 

Twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, 170 aircraft and 25,000 military personnel took part.

From a Chinese perspective this is a tad threatening. To us it is benign. To Taiwan and Australia firing rockets over Taiwan and the seas around it is a tad threatening, To the Chinese it is a benign military exercise in its own back yard

Of course, China is jealous as well as threatened by RIMPAC. China has no friends, just nations it bribes or debt-burdens into military co-operation.

But the danger point comes when the US goes beyond seeking voluntary co-operation with allies and friends and aims for full military integration and interoperability.

The trouble here is that the US military exerts influence verging on control over the US Government. Its top military officer has a seat on the National Security Council (not just an advisory role). Both General Douglas MacArthur (Korea) and General Curtis Le May (Cuba) urged the use of nuclear weapons.

Mercifully, Presidents Truman and Kennedy stood up to them, but Biden is no Truman or Kennedy. Moreover, a change in Administration usually means little change in the military-industrial complex’s way of doing things.

In Australia, a change of Government has also meant very little change to the lock-step American Alliance – until now.

The new Defence Minister, Richard Marles, has ordered a Defence Forces Review. Maybe it will start questioning the pattern of blindly joining every major US military folly (Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, for example), irrespective of whether it has anything to do with us.

Many talk about “national interest”; the need for security; and standing up for principles. But with Taiwan the choice may be more stark: allow the Chinese Communist Party to take it over or engage in a nuclear war.

Principles are meaningless amid nuclear devastation, and so is national interest and security.

It is unfortunate that 23 million people would go under the Chinese Communist jackboot, but that is better than going under a nuclear mushroom.

We allowed them to imprison, murder, and torture the Uyghurs and Tibetans and did nothing. What is the difference with Taiwan? Maybe it is just a good case to bolster a profitable arms race.


August 9, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war

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