Australia beckons a war with China

John Pilger 13 April 2017, 4:30pm

Australia risks sleepwalking into a deadly confrontation with China, writes John Pilger.

AUSTRALIA is sleep-walking into a confrontation with China. Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an “alliance” with an unstable superpower.

The United States is at a critical moment. Having exported its all-powerful manufacturing base, run down its industry and reduced millions of its once-hopeful people to poverty, principal American power today is brute force. When Donald Trump launched his missile attack on Syria – following his bombing of a mosque and a school – he was having dinner in Florida with the President of China, Xi Jinping.

Trumps attack on Syria had little to do with chemical weapons. It was, above all, to show his detractors and doubters in Washington’s war-making institutions – the Pentagon, the CIA, the Congress – how tough he was and prepared to risk a war with Russia.  He had spilled blood in Syria, a Russian protectorate; he was surely now on the team. The attack was also meant to say directly to President Xi, his dinner guest: this is how we deal with those who challenge the top dog.

China has long received this message. In its rise as the world’s biggest trader and manufacturer, China has been encircled by 400 U.S. military bases — a provocation described by a former Pentagon strategist as “a perfect noose”.

This is not Trump’s doing. In 2011, President Barack Obama flew to Australia to declare, in an address to parliament, what became known as the “pivot to Asia”: the biggest build-up of US air and naval forces in the Asia Pacific region since the Second World War. The target was China.  America had a new and entirely unnecessary enemy. Today, low-draft U.S. warships, missiles, bombers, drones operate on China’s doorstep.

In July, one of the biggest US-led naval exercises ever staged, the biennial Operation Talisman Sabre, will rehearse a blockade of the sea lanes through which run China’s commercial lifelines. Based on a Air-Sea Battle Plan for war with China, which prescribes a preemptive “blinding” attack, this “war game” will be played by Australia.

This is not urgent news. Rather, the news is the “threat” that China poses to “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea by building airstrips on disputed reefs and islets. The reason why – the “noose” – is almost never mentioned.

Australia in the 21st Century has no enemies. Not even the melancholy colonial imagination that conjured Asia falling down on us as if by the force of gravity can conjure a single contemporary enemy. No one wants to bomb or occupy Australia.  Well, not yet.

As Australian political, military and intelligence establishments are integrated into the war plans of a growing American obsession – the shift of trading, banking and development power to the East – Australia is making an enemy it never bargained for. A frontline has already been marked at Pine Gap – the spy base the CIA set up near Alice Springs in the 1960s – which targets America’s enemies, beckoning, of course, massive retaliation.

Last October, the Opposition Labor Party’s defence spokesperson, Richard Marles, delighted the US admirals and generals at a conference in Hawaii by demanding that Australian naval commanders should have the authority to provoke nuclear-armed China in the disputed South China Sea. What is it about some Australian politicians whose obseiquiousness takes charge of their senses?

While the Coalition Government of Malcolm Turnbull has resisted such a clear and present danger, at least for now, it is building a $195 billion war arsenal, one of the biggest on earth — including more than $15 billion to be spent on American F-35 fighters, already distinguished as hi-tech turkeys. Clearly, this is aimed at China.

This view of Australia’s region is shrouded by silence. Dissenters are few, or frightened. Anti-China witch hunts are not uncommon. Indeed, who, apart from former Prime Minister Paul Keating, speaks out with an unambiguous warning? Who tells Australians that, in response to the “noose” around it, China has almost certainly increased its nuclear weapons posture from low alert to high alert?

And who utters the heresy that Australians should not have to “choose” between America and China: that we should, for the first time in our history, be truly modern and independent of all great power: that we should play a thoughtful, imaginative, non-provocative, diplomatic role to help prevent a catastrophe and so protect “our interests”, which are the lives of people.

John Pilger’s new film, The Coming War on China, will be aired on SBS Australia on Sunday, 16 April, at 8.30pm.

Original post independentaustralia.net

****-END-****

Which Is More Important, China Or Syria?

Dan Crawford | April 12, 2017 7:58 pm

JOURNALISM

POLITICS

US/GLOBAL ECONOMICS

by Barkley Rosser {originally published at Econospeak)

Which Is More Important, China Or Syria?

For the world as a whole and the US in particular, when it is put like that it is pretty obvious: China.  It has the world’s largest population, largest economy in PPP terms, a rising military, expanding interests around the world, including making territorial demands on several neighbors, not to mention being a nuclear superpower as well as cyberpower, and more.  Syria has a population of 22 million and an economy half the size of Puerto Rico’s.  It is not a major oil exporter.

However, last week it certainly looked like Syria was more important.  President Trump meets with President Xi at Mar-a-Lago, and almost nothing is reported about the meeting other than some vague remarks.  Important matters such as trade policy (the US has initiated an  anti-dumping suit against China in steel), South China Sea issues, North Korea nuclear testing issues (US has just sent a major naval group towards the place), issues over currency management (with Trump long charging China with currency manipulation, even though it is now widely accepted that while they did it in the past the Chinese are not doing so now), climate change (where China is becoming world leader on the international policy stage while Trump claims that global warming is a “Chinese hoax”).  They barely had a press conference, and what really went on in the meeting remains largely mysterious.

So, wow, much better to have the headlines and the commentaries taken up with the apparently one-shot firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a base in Syria, after apparently warning both the Russians and the Syrians we were going to do it, in response to a chemical attack in Syria that killed about 80 civilians, including some children.  This was certainly a bad attack, but it remains unclear if it was the Syrian military or some rebel groups, although probably it was the government, and if it was the government, it is unclear if it was done by some local commander on his own or with the explicit orders of President Assad, and if the latter, was it done with the foreknowledge of their allies, the Russians, and most especially President Putin.  The Russians and Iranians are claiming that the rebels did the chem weapons attacke and are denouncing the US attack.  But who really knows?  I sure as heck do not, and I  am not sure anybody in the US government knows either, especially given the 25 reasons that have since been given for this by various administration officials.

There is also the weird matter that if it was the Syrian government, they probably did it in response to Trump declaring that we did not favor overthrowing Assad, which was previous US official policy, alhough in fact little had been done in a long time to do that, with the US effectively cooperating with the Russians and Syrians against Daesh/ISIS, if quietly and not fully.

So on the relation between this stuff and China, once Xi Jinping got home the Chinese media jumped all over Trump for the missile attack, saying almost certainly accurately that a major reason Trump did it was to distract people from all the investigations of his Russia ties.  See?   He is doing something Russia does not  like, and Putin has announced no more cooperation on saying where planes are flying in Syria.  Wow, what a great outcome. And that Xi appears not happy with Trump probably means that Trump was as unpleasant on trade to Xi in private as he was to Merkel in public, not to mention to  the Mexicans.  And we know Xi is not happy with this new naval maneuver with regard to North Korea.  Indeed, some people think Trump did the missile attack to scare North Korea and China, although it is unclear Trump is really smart enough to think that one through.  So for all the official happy talk, it looks like this very important meeting did not go well, although it is not clear that not having all those commentators praising Trump for “being presidential” while shooting off missiles in Syria would have helped on this more important matter of US-Chinese relations.

As a final point I want to remind people of something that I have seen zero commentators mention, even the astute Juan Cole who does at least note that what is going on in Syria looks like classic power politics not driven by economics.  That is that the Russia-Syria alliance is a strategic and deep one.  The only Russian naval base outside of Russia is at Tarsus in Syria, in Latakia Province where the ruling Alawis are dominant.  It was rebel advances into that province threatening their base that led the Russians to engage in massive bombing raids to support the Assad government, and Cole does note that not using chemical weapons (which the Syrians were supposed to have gotten rid of) will mean they will bomb a lot instead, and horrible as chem weapons are, thousands of children were killed in the bombing in Aleppo. In any case, that naval base has been there since 1971 in Soviet times.  This is a deep strategic relationship, and this must be kept in mind. Source angrybearblog.com

China ICBM range

Image: .businessinsider.com

Anti-Carrier BGM range

Chinese Submarine Fires 2 Nuclear JL-2 Missiles off American Coastline near Oregon: Here

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