We’re not just being told to prepare for war with China, we’re being told to expect it. The determination with which our rulers and the media are beating the drums of war makes it clear that even if China does not strike first, we are still drifting into war. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
What a crude reminder that capitalism means war in the competition for profits. It always has and always will.
Of course, this is nothing new for people in the Global South. Our prosperity is at their expense and this exploitation is enforced by force every day of the week.
But for the 15% of the world’s population who live in the Global North, the period of unrivaled post-World War II United States military dominance, or Pax Americana, has quashed inter-imperialist war and fostered the illusion that peace is the norm.
This era is over.
The United States is determined to stop China’s growing influence and further economic development – by force if necessary.
With its vassal states Britain and Australia in tow, the US has used the invasion of Ukraine to garner support for a military escalation.
However, this has been the intention for some time. A major turning point was Barack Obama’s 2009 East Asia Strategy, or “Pivot to Asia.” This has been continued by Donald Trump, with all his off-kilter rhetoric, and now Joe Biden.
The agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) must be seen in the broader context of the quadripartite security dialogue and the proposal to extend NATO to the Indo-Pacific.
AUKUS will continue to militarize Australia and further turn the country into a US garrison.
That means: more use of US planes, ships and joint war games; four new military bases, two new bases for the militarization of space; and greater support for combined military operations in the region.
It also proposes greater cooperation on hypersonic weapons and cyber warfare, underwater systems, artificial intelligence and long-range attack capabilities.
Annual US military spending is three times that of China and has been for many years. In addition, China is surrounded by US bases, which the US plans to supplement with a network of precision missiles.
Any step China takes to break out of this military encirclement is presented by our media as further evidence of its aggressive intent.
China’s military stance is mostly defensive to protect its own coast and maintain its access to the world via the South China Sea.
However, it is also possible that she will overreact and take measures that will lead to a full blown war. The US seems to be provoking that.
The Socialist Alliance is absolutely opposed to any attempt by China to force reunification with Taiwan.
But the US policy of actively promoting such a conflict is utterly ruthless.
It is simply impossible to confront the existential threat of rampant global warming while pouring billions into a new Cold War with the expectation that it will one day become one.
This is becoming a defining issue in Australian politics and while we are still in the early stages, we need to go on the offensive and publicize the need to tackle climate change rather than preparing for war.
This is not just a slogan, but a crucial decision for humanity.
It’s one or the other, and right now Australia’s government is opting for war over serious climate action.
We need to find ways to really make that understanding known.
Unfortunately, we’re starting at the back. A propaganda campaign whipping up the “China threat” had real impact.
According to a 2018 Lowy Institute poll, 52% believed China would act responsibly in the world. In two years, that figure had dropped to 23%, and in 2021 it was just 16%.
It is truly frightening to see how easily public opinion can be manipulated. However, the small but growing networks and activities against AUKUS and the war course in general are a good sign.
We need to strengthen anti-AUKUS coalitions where they exist and start educating people about warmongering and where it’s coming from. In doing so, we must turn the language of the warmongers on its head.
The Australian government is committed to war, not security. We are the ones with a security policy – security based on demilitarization, uniting humanity in the fight against climate change.
[Sam Wainwright is a national co-convener of the Socialist Alliance.]