On War With China, Australia Is Caught Between A Rock And A Pentagon

Caitlin Johnstone
7 min readMar 14, 2023

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As part of Australian media’s relentless onslaught of war-with-China propaganda, the government-run Australian Broadcasting Corporation just aired a radio segment on RN Breakfast about the newly revealed details on the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal, featuring two guests who are enthusiastic supporters of the deal, and hosted by another enthusiastic supporter of the deal.

One of the guests, Australia’s former treasurer and ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey, made some interesting remarks.

“This locks us in with the United States for decades to come; is there a risk, as the smaller partner in this deal, we’ll just have to do what the US tells us when it comes to future wartime engagements?” host Patricia Karvelas asked Hockey.

“Well we’re already fully integrated with the United States military, and arguably have been for more than one hundred years,” Hockey replied. “We’re the only country in the world that has fought side-by side with them in every major battle for the last one hundred years. And already today a lot of our navy has the Aegis Combat System, which is an American combat system; our current Collins-class submarines use American torpedoes… and in every major way, communications systems and integration, we already have American technology, and we’re integrated with American systems. So there’s nothing new here in that regard.”

This is true; Australia is inseparably intertwined with the US military and is in practice nothing other than a US military and intelligence asset in every meaningful way, to such an extent that the US navy is reportedly planning to use the country as a full-service submarine station for the entire range of undersea activities in the Asia-Pacific region. In an incredibly brazen admission that the Australian government has fully given away the nation’s sovereignty to a foreign power, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of Defence Richard Marles said last year that the Australian Defence Force is moving “beyond interoperability to interchangeability” with the US military so they can “operate seamlessly together, at speed.”

Asked about the hundreds of billions of dollars this submarine program is going to cost Australians, Hockey said that “the cost of failure is far greater than the cost of investment,” citing Australia’s ports and shipping routes which could come under attack without the deterrence factor of the new submarines.

This claim is false. As has been humorously explained on the Australian TV series Utopia, China is the power who is supposedly being “deterred” from attacking Australia’s ports and shipping routes, and since China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner this means that we are effectively pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into protecting our trade with China, from China.

In reality, Australia is not arming itself against China to protect itself from China. Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States.

This dynamic was illustrated in all its grotesque glory by a 2019 presentation at the Australian think tank Centre for Independent Studies by American political analyst John Mearsheimer. In his usual uncomfortably blunt manner, Mearsheimer told his audience that the US is going to do everything it can to halt China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the dominant power in the region, and that Australia should align with the US in that battle or else it would face the wrath of Washington.

“The question that’s on the table is what should Australia’s foreign policy be in light of the rise of China,” Mearsheimer said. “I’ll tell you what I would suggest if I were an Australian.”

Mearsheimer said China is going to continue to grow economically and will convert that economic power into military power to dominate Asia “the way the US dominates the western hemisphere”, and explained why he thinks the US and its allies have every ability to prevent that from happening.

“Now the question is what does this all mean for Australia?” Mearsheimer said. “Well, you’re in a quandary for sure. Everybody knows what the quandary is. And by the way you’re not the only country in East Asia that’s in this quandary. You trade a lot with China, and that trade is very important for your prosperity, no question about that. Security-wise, you really want to go with us. It makes just a lot more sense, right? And you understand that security is more important than prosperity, because if you don’t survive, you’re not gonna prosper.”

“Now some people say there’s an alternative: you can go with China,” said Mearsheimer. “You have a choice here: you can go with China rather the United States. There’s two things I’ll say about that. Number one, if you go with China, you want to understand you are our enemy. You are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States. Because again, we’re talking about an intense security competition.”

“You’re either with us or against us,” he continued. “And if you’re trading extensively with China, and you’re friendly with China, you’re undermining the United States in this security competition. You’re feeding the beast, from our perspective. And that is not going to make us happy. And when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can be. Just ask Fidel Castro.”

Nervous laughter from the Australian think tank audience punctuated Mearsheimer’s more incendiary observations. The CIA is known to have made numerous attempts to assassinate Castro.

So if you’re confused as to why Australia is preparing to fight an unwinnable war against its primary trading partner, in direct contradiction to its own security and economic interests, that’s why. It’s because Australia is ultimately more afraid of the US than it is of China.

Contrary to Joe Hockey’s claims, Australia is not paying hundreds of billions of dollars to knit itself even further into the US war machine because “the cost of failure is far greater than the cost of investment.” In truth those hundreds of billions of dollars are more like pizzo payments to the Mafia; we’re letting the boss wet his beak so he doesn’t trash our business and break our kneecaps.

Nobody ever talks about this, even though anyone who studies US foreign policy knows it’s true. All the Australian propagandists always make up stories about what China might do to us if we don’t play along with Washington’s brinkmanship against Beijing, but they never talk about what the US would do to us if we don’t. This is because they don’t want us thinking too hard about the fact that we are being coerced by the world’s most powerful government into preparing to fight a war of unfathomable horror under the tacit threat of inflicting even worse horrors upon us if we don’t.

Australia is caught between a rock and a Pentagon, and both are the fault of the United States. The US is responsible for engineering all these hostilities between China and the western power alliance in its desperate attempts to secure unipolar hegemony, and the US is responsible for creating the fear other countries feel knowing what fate might befall them if they disobey its dictates. The US is solely responsible for creating a situation in which we are being forced to choose between (A) throwing our sons and daughters into the gears of an unimaginably terrible war while destroying our economy and risking nuclear armageddon, or (B) facing retribution and retaliation from a government that is far more violent and destructive than China.

This completely intolerable situation is why Australians are being aggressively hammered with war propaganda about China right now; if we were simply allowed to consume truthful information and think normal thoughts, no healthy person would ever consent to any of this.

But that’s where we’re at, and it’s not going to get better until people understand that that’s what’s happening. We’ve got to talk about this thing, and we’ve got to help everyone understand the reality of the situation we now find ourselves in. In the end, humanity will not have a chance at health until it has freed itself from the shackles of the US empire.

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