“We’re in a period very similar to the 1930s now, and I think there are a lot of people in the 1930s who wish they had spoken up much earlier in the decade then they had to at the end of the decade,” Australia’s chief warmonger defence minister Peter Dutton told Sky News on April 25.
He repeated this throughout ANZAC day, telling Channel Nine’s Today Show: “The only way that you can preserve peace is to prepare for war and to be strong as a country, not to cower, not to be on bended knee and be weak …”
Intoning the 1930s, in which authoritarian regimes took power in Germany, Italy and Spain on the back of the Great Depression and a political void, not only shows how ahistorical Dutton is, it reveals his maniacal plan to take Australia into another war.
A war with China would be World War III.
Since becoming the minister for offence, Dutton has used every opportunity to spruik Australia’s “need” to prepare for war against China; ANZAC Day provided another opening.
We are right to be skeptical, but his hyped-up campaign is having some success, helped along by compliant mainstream media.
The Solomon Islands security treaty with China does not include a base. But who cares about that detail?
Australia has a security arrangement with the Solomon Islands, most recently signed in 2017, after decades of Australian military and police presence on the Pacific Island nation.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has dealt with Canberra’s paternalism for years. Against then-foreign minister Alexander Downer’s wishes, the Sogavare government in 2007 pushed to exit from the Australian-dominated Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). That was set up in 2003, at Canberra’s insistence, after the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) declared the island a “failing state”.
ASPI proposed a colonial-style “Solomon Islands Rehabilitation Authority”, staffed predominantly by Australians, that would run the Solomon Islands’ police force and key government departments. That came to pass.
Canberra justified the RAMSI intervention, which initially involved 2200 troops and armed police, as necessary to prevent the Solomon Islands from becoming a “haven for terrorists”.
Downer was foreign minister in then-Prime Minister John Howard’s Coalition which, despite popular opinion and intelligence, went to war on Iraq based on a series of lies. Unlike Ukraine, that “shock and awe” war was kept away from our TV screens and we can only imagine the human toll.
Canberra’s lies about why Australia must prepare for war against China need to be called out, and alternatives must be put.
Global military expenditure has now passed US$2.1 trillion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a rise of 0.7% in real terms over 2021 and the seventh consecutive year that spending rose. Despite the pandemic showing up vast and systemic inequalities, including in rich countries, they continue to allocate significant funds to spending on weapons.
Dutton’s commitment to nuclear-powered submarines and a new base on the East Coast, as part of the new AUKUS alliance, will cost several billion dollars, money that should instead fund a jobs-rich transition away from fossil fuels.
Imagine if the $48 billion earmarked for “defence” over 2022–23 were allocated to such a transition. Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has estimated that green export industries could bring in $333 billion a year by 2050 with government support.
BZE says this could be developed through Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts in regional industrial centres. A zero-emissions economy needs green steel, green aluminium and renewable hydrogen, and a boosted skilled workforce to carry out socially necessarily jobs.
We have some stark choices at this election. But with the Coalition hanging its slouch hat on a khaki election campaign, Labor’s me-tooism and sycophantic media, many people are simply tuning out.
This election we need to demand an immediate halt to the slide towards another world war and build the movements for peace and climate action.
Green Left will continue to stand up against imperialist wars and for the rights of small nations to self-determination. If you like our work, become a supporter and make a donation to our Fighting Fund.