The future of Australia’s freedom will be decided in the Pacific, yet history demonstrates free people will not remain free if they cannot defend themselves and their neighbours. Australia must make bold moves before this new Cold War turns hot. Let’s no longer allow the terms to be set by others for fear of some hyped-up offence. Australia’s strategic priorities in the Pacific should be, first, ensuring no hostile power establishes a base in the region from which it could launch attacks on Australia or threaten our maritime approaches; and, second, maintaining security, stability and sovereignty in the region. A third could be enabling private sector investment to thrive across the region.
Following the Solomon Islands security deal with the Chinese Communist Party, cancelling the lease on Darwin Port immediately would be a good bold start as well as removing the CCP’s ownership of the Port of Newcastle and Port Kembla. Building and deploying land-based long range missile systems to northern Australia would be another. And until such time as we have a sizeable navy of our own, US, UK and South Korean warships should be invited to refuel, berth and exercise using Darwin Port on a rotational basis. Wild ideas for some. Even down-right irresponsible in the minds of others. The Western world is full of people who will tell you why things can’t be done and end up doing nothing until it’s too late. Unless Australia plans on becoming a vassal state, there is not going to be a thawing of relations with the CCP. The locust years must end now.
Well-intentioned globalists have for a generation now disregarded the grubby truth that their ideals relied on security. This infected our political class who thought the security of Australia and the West in general could be obtained through statements, reviews and selfies. And trusting an authoritarian, Communist, anti-Western regime. In his work Second World War, Winston Churchill laments the fatal fallacies that beset the West during the interwar period, or what he describes as the locust years (1931 – 1935). The delight of politicians in smooth-sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the vital interests of the state. A pathetic belief that love can be the sole foundation of peace. And like many of our political class today, a picture of fatuity and fickleness which though devoid of guile, was not devoid of guilt, and though free from wickedness or evil design, played a definite part in the unleashing upon the world the horrors and miseries, beyond comparison in human experience.
Consider the Ukraine. Despite all the flashing red lights on our geopolitical dashboard, nothing was done. We didn’t need the NSA or the CIA. Russian President Vladimir Putin told us what he planned and has been doing it. Now the EU and Nato are triumphant in how unified they are. Now US President Joe Biden is prepared to fight for freedom down to the very last Ukrainian. For history not to repeat itself in the Pacific immediate action is needed. Not endless announcements more akin to shooting stars only seen at night.
To most armchair generals, not allowing states threatening our existence to own Australia’s strategic assets is a no-brainer. Perhaps we thought eventually they will love us. If we keep selling them our most important things, they will end their authoritarian ways. Now it makes even less sense as Newcastle, along with Port Kembla in the Illawarra and Brisbane are shortlisted as potential sites for a new submarine base. In 2014, China Merchants Port Holdings Company took a 50 per cent stake in the Newcastle Port. Not only does the CCP own our largest coal ports, they have stopped importing coal from Australia. We are being sanctioned for non-compliance. Stop selling our enemies the rope.
19th century Swiss military theorist, Antoine-Henri Jomini, who served for the French during the Napoleonic Wars and with the Russians, argued geo-political domination of the sea depended on control of chokepoints, sea lanes and coaling stations.
In 2022 and beyond this equates to control of the South China Sea, ports in the Indian Ocean, energy and infrastructure corridors through Pakistan, telecommunication and power systems in the Pacific and large land masses in Australia. Yet all this time Western leaders and elitist billionaires have been complicit in selling out what we value and extending invitations to where we are vulnerable. In Thomas Rick’s comparison of the lives of Churchill and George Orwell, when confronted with the advance of evil, others sought to make peace but Orwell and Churchill refused. During crucial moments in history Churchill and Orwell responded first by seeking and accepting the facts. This is not how globalists want the world to be. Appeasement never saved our freedoms then and will not save our freedoms now.
As one of Australia’s best modern-day military figures, retired major-general Jim Molan explains, we have a very good, small but fragile one-shot military lacking lethality (cannot fight nastily enough), sustainability (it cannot fight for long enough) and mass (it is not big enough). This is despite our wealth and despite our potential for being self-reliant through home-grown resources and an innovative population. We have enough missiles for an hour-long barrage and not a single armed drone. We have no new battleships in this decade; if we’re lucky we may have some in the next.
Yes, we have Anzus and now Aukus. Yet if the US is embroiled in a scrap with China at sea and in the air, we will be on our own. There are three lessons from the Ukraine conflict: First, allies will only help until it’s no longer in their strategic interests. Second, any help may be a while in coming. And third, it is up to you to fight to save your own skin.
The logistics operations to supply and sustain Australian defence capabilities with fuel, food, weapons, spare parts and people over large distances across challenging terrain, requires, at the very least, Darwin Port to be in Australian hands. Now. And a what-ever-it-takes attitude to ensuring not a single Pacific Island nation’s port becomes a base for the CCP. This does not mean condescending lectures, but working by, with and through Pacific Island leaders to understand what they value and where they are vulnerable.
Australia’s future will not be secured during this election or even in our generation, so let’s set our minds to sealing a 100-year deal for freedom and democracy with our Pacific Island and other Western democratic partners. The time for audacity, imagination and adaptability is now.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10