Tag Archives: Morrison and China

Afghanistan-did we learn anything at all?

The Taliban over-ran Kabul last night. They had been advancing throughout Afghanistan for weeks, ever since the Americans called a halt to the Afghan War. When the Americans ceased operations, so too did all their allies.

Australia was one of more than 40 countries which had signed up for the conflict, and which is still scrambling to tie off the ‘loose ends’ of twenty years of war. The loose ends include Afghanis who assisted us, or the Americans, during those twenty years.

As an advanced democracy, we also bear responsibility for the backlash which will inevitably fall on those we leave behind. Admiral Chris Barrie (retired) commented today that we announced our decision to leave in April, and yet, here we are four months later, still trying to arrange the retrieval of our support staff. Too little, too late, again?

The current situation resembles Vietnam in the final weeks, as the Americans strive to get out. Their Afghan allies have been abandoned, military supplies left to the victors, collaborators are in extreme danger of retribution. There is also another large group, which finds itself in dire peril-women and girls.

The Taliban is an extreme and pre-modern Islamist movement, and women and girls can expect, at the very least, the re-introduction of arranged marriages, the removal of hard-won rights and personal freedoms, the abolition of education for girls, and the mandatory dress code, which includes the most extreme version of the burqa. They have also threatened all divorced women in the country, for being divorced.

When you invade a country, any country, you must win the war, or, even if you retreat with honour, you lose. The enemy surges if you abandon the field of battle, and the ideology you were battling against, wins. The Vietnamese are still Communist, and the Taliban will continue to be Islamist fundamentalists.

Why were we there?

Eighty years ago, Prime Minister John Curtin prepared a New Year’s Eve message for the Australian people. It was written three weeks after the war with Japan had begun. It was published in the Melbourne Herald on 27 December, 1941: 

‘Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom.’

With this message he informed the world that Australia’s foreign policy direction must change, in response not only to the military situation with Japan, but to Australia’s location in the Pacific. From then on, he states, Australia will be proactive, the architect of her own interests. 

Australia disengaged from the ‘general war’ to concentrate on the Pacific conflict. Both Churchill and Roosevelt were surprised, and dismayed, but the die was cast. Australia survived the war, but only with massive assistance from the U.S. America has been the cornerstone of our foreign policy ever since. The alliance between Australia and the United States was formalised through the ANZUS Treaty in 1951.

John Howard took us there

John Howard signed us up for this war. He invoked the ANZUS Treaty. He was in Washington on September 11, 2001 and Australian troops were committed to Afghanistan within a month, by October that year. On the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. he stated that “the decisions I believed were right. I still believe they were right, and I believe history will vindicate them.” Sadly, every Australian Prime Minister since then, has kept Australia in this fruitless, endless war.

Not even Joe Biden thought the Alliance should still be there. The original mission was to hunt for Osama bin Laden, and the second to deny Al-Qaeda a foothold. Both had been completed. The Americans should stop the nation building, and mind their own business. Look what they have done to every country they have tried to ‘save’. Scenes from the airport at Kabul are a sobering reminder of their folly.

Australians have fought alongside Americans in every major US military action since World War 11. They include Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, and lately, Syria.

Many have used the “shared history, and shared values” argument to justify our continued relationship. Others question the value for Australia, which has stood loyally by its mighty ally, through its many wars, with not much to show for the effort, except in terms of lost lives, and wasted military resources. We were never there as equal partners. 

Realpolitik suggests that there is an element of coercion in the relationship, in that the U.S. is understood to reward its allies, and to punish those who are not. Self-interest is also clearly evident. We consider ourselves too small to defend ourselves in a dangerous world, and so being friends with the richest and most powerful nation on earth, adds to our international weight.

Is Morrison committing us to a war with China?

Last year our Prime Minister ramped up the hysteria and the rhetoric concerning China. He even committed a sum of $270 billion to defence, which included funding for long range missiles. These are presumably to warn China that we are deadly serious about defending ourselves, militarily, against our largest trading partner. 

This can be traced back to a slavish desire, on Morrison’s part, to please Donald Trump. The ex-President, in an attempt to divert attention away from his own criminal negligence regarding the pandemic in America, had sought to demonise China for somehow ‘inventing’ Covid19.

So by jumping onto Trump’s bandwagon, Australia is now in the uncomfortable position of having antagonised our largest trading partner, and then by clearly choosing the Americans over China, in a geo-political struggle which we should have stayed out of.

So we probably do need the relationship with the Americans, because we chose to be China’s enemy. Or is the American Empire heading toward its inevitable end? In Australian terms “have we backed the wrong horse?”

… this rabble of a Government

“Jesus I am sick of this rabble of a government of ours – if it is not making an ass of itself in its handling of relations with our biggest trading partner it is attacking the little bloke’s Super – all of this is inspired by the twisted ideology of the IPA and the ASPI that leads it to think that we will all go to Heaven in the long run if we just follow Donald Trump and stamp out Communism and foreigners in general and anyone who does not contribute funds to the Liberal Party” Terryroger#2

That is taken verbatim from the comments section of either The Age, or The Guardian, on December 15, 2020. I can’t re-find the article it commented on, but I thought it might be interesting to fact-check the comment. It is, without doubt, one pithy statement of despair.

… if it is not making an ass of itself …

So far Scott Morrison has managed to dig, deeper and deeper, the hole he started back in April 2020, and is covered here Morrison, China and Aged Care. In short, he went out, on his own, repeating Donald Trump’s deranged accusation that China had manufactured the coronavirus in a laboratory. He then called for an enquiry into China, and the World Health Organization (WHO), because Donald Trump didn’t like them that day.

He has continued to challenge China at every step, as Australia, which has an economy less than one quarter the size of the Chinese economy, struggles to repair the damage caused by Morrison’s lickspittle approach to foreign affairs. China has decided to wage an informal trade war with Australia.

Some of the products affected include barley, beef, wine, coal and cotton. Each one of those industries is suffering hardship, due to a shocking drought, bushfires, a global pandemic which caused at least a global recession, and mass unemployment. But never fear – our anti-Communist warrior steps up the rhetoric, demands apologies over cartoons printed in China, takes them to the World Trade Organization (WTO) court because other coal is even worse than ours. His Trade Minister cannot get through on the phone to even discuss the dispute. Result – factual.

… attacking the little bloke’s Super

There are some really stupid policies which defy reason. While Morrison was throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at the likes of Solomon Lew and Anthony Pratt, he allowed his unaccountably innumerate Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to allow Australians to prematurely raid their Superannuation balances. This is known as the ‘let them eat cake’ response to hardship, and it showed the utter contempt that this rabble of a Government feels for its citizens. Let them eat crumbs when they retire, from people sitting on 15.4% superannuation benefits while gutting the country. Good work if you can get it!

They then decided that they would not allow the already legislated rise in the Superannuation Guarantee from 9.5%, arguing that it would hold back wages growth. As Paul Keating explained, that amounts to about $8 a week, which in some parts of the country means two coffees.

Their next step is classical double-think. They want to allow the retail super funds to continue to under-perform, while raking off millions in profits, from fees for underperforming. Remember the Banking Royal Commission. Well, they don’t.

And in a government which describes itself as pro-market, they want to hobble the Industry super funds, with specious enquiries, led by such intellectual titans as Tim Wilson and James Paterson. These two were produced by the twerp factory, otherwise known as the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which specialises in turning out otherwise unemployable spivs in shiny suits, who constantly whine about organisations such as the ABC and the Industry super funds, which out-perform their market-based competitors every day of the week.

So, allowing the disadvantaged to access their super early, reducing the Super Guarantee, setting the Italian greyhounds onto the Industry super funds really DOES amount to attacking the little bloke’s super, so result of fact check – Correct.

… twisted ideology of the IPA and the ASPI

Many current members of the Liberal Government are also members of the IPA. Here is a roll-call. Abetz, Birmingham, Cash, Christensen, Cormann, Evans, Fletcher, Frydenberg, Hawke, Hunt, McGrath, Morrison, Paterson, Porter, Roberts, Ryan, Stoker, Dean Smith, Tony Smith, Tehan, Tudge, and Tim Wilson. All are affiliates of the Global Atlas Network, supported by right wing loonies who hail from the U.S.A.

That would be where they get the passion for no minimum wage, and no health care. Past members include Abbott, Howard, and let us always remember that one can be a member of any number of cults at the same time. Scott Morrison is also a current member of the IPA. To read up on their policies, start here IPA is wrecking our democracy

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is a think tank, based in Canberra. It appears to be funded by several foreign countries, with an anti-China thread running through its fabric. It is also funded by arms manufacturers, and there seems to be a bit of old-fashioned anti-Communism thrown in.

ASPI’s 2018-19 annual report stated that it received some funding from the Embassy of Japan and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, as well as from state governments and defence companies, such as Lockheed MartinBAE SystemsNorthrop GrummanThales Group, and Raytheon Technologies.[7][8]

Most of the policies of these two ‘think tanks’ appear to present at least a danger to Australians, and our peaceful pursuit of a good life. These ideas are mostly imported from the U.S. The Morrison Government is clearly captive to foreign influence, and it is unashamedly drawn to the American neoliberal experiment. The entire Government should be forced to register as an agent of foreign influence. Twisted ideology? – Correct

We will all go to Heaven in the long run …

… if we just follow Donald Trump and stamp out Communism and foreigners in general and anyone who does not contribute funds to the Liberal Party.

I don’t know about this last statement. Clearly Scott Morrison believes it. Fact check – inconclusive.

Morrison, China and Aged Care

It has always been difficult to read Scott Morrison’s motives. Many attribute his hard line policies and actions, and his intolerance of dissent, or criticism, to his religion, but that seems too simplistic.

His religion, for example, did not seem to hobble him when he imposed his will on asylum seekers, and their children. It has never softened his stance on any social issue. In his own words, “the Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one.” The mistake observers make is to expect Christian values to colour his political ambitions.

In fact, in November 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission delivered a report to the (Abbott) Government, which found that Morrison failed in his responsibility to act in the best interests of children in detention during his time as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

This was also the era of his nonsensical, and contemptuous, insistence that he would not “comment on operational matters” when asked about boat turn-backs. They were “on-water matters”, which is in itself preposterous, as he was actually sending armed patrol vessels out to duel with overloaded, leaky fishing boats. He used many Australian flags as a backdrop, but was that merely marketing, or was he using nationalistic fervour to legitimise his callous disregard for vulnerable human beings?

Morrison was responsible for Aged Care in 2015

In December 2014 he became Minister for Social Services. At the same time Aged Care was transferred into that portfolio.

The Shadow Minister, Jenny Macklin, indicated that “Scott Morrison was appointed to clean up Kevin Andrew’s (the previous Minister’s) mess, but left behind more chaos, confusion and cuts“.

It was during this period that the free market Aged Care Roadmap was introduced, and regulations were drastically cut under the guise of reducing red tape. Needless to say, during Morrison’s time in the role, there was rapid deterioration in an already flawed aged care system.

Morrison is an avowed neoliberal, and the signposts are there for us all to see. Free market, roadmap, cut regulations, reduce funding, user pays, the market will right any wrong, less state involvement. As his rise continued, there was no impediment. He was to be the Treasurer the following year, so the decisions were his to make. He was not a victim of a cost-cutting Leader; he was the cost-cutter. Was this another episode of callous disregard for vulnerable human beings?

Morrison on the international stage

Scott Morrison has never been an expert in foreign affairs. His first foray into the area was in October 2017. That was when he blundered into supporting Donald Trump, by controversially recognising West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with the intention of eventually moving Australia’s embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem.

Again, his motive is difficult to read. Was he merely slavishly follow his mentor, Donald Trump, who had flagged his intention to move the U.S. Embassy; or was his announcement made to sway voters in the upcoming Wentworth by-election? The Liberals lost.

Morrison was forced to back-track, but not before he had upset Palestine, Indonesia, most of the Muslim world, and most of South East Asia. But he had pleased Trump.

Morrison and China

By April 14, 2020 Donald Trump was in the midst of a war of words with China. He was claiming it had released the virus from a laboratory, and that it had been hiding facts about its origin, and any(?) treatments. He had accused it of either duping the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) or of working hand in glove with them. This was at odds with his earlier praise for their efforts to defeat the virus. He announced that he would withdraw funding from the W.H.O.

Morrison then weighed in on Trump’s side. His Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, presumably at Morrison’s behest, demanded an “independent, global investigation” of the virus and its origins, on April 19. Morrison and Trump spoke by phone on April 22, and Morrison then went global with the demand. The problem was that Australia went it alone, with no supporters.

Not surprisingly, China responded badly. It saw Australia as supporting Trump blindly. At a time when China had suffered over 3000 deaths from the virus, as opposed to our less than 100, it was an insensitive and stupid move. In one fell swoop, we had made the choice between the U.S. and China. This was the choice we had always refused to participate in. For good reason.

To make matters worse, Morrison and several of his Ministers have dug the hole deeper for us. Rattling the saber, exploiting Australians’ larrikin nationalism, he even signalled a change in our defence orientation, from insular defence to long range offensive capabilities. Against China?

One of the Coalition Government’s perceived strengths has been on security matters. It is playing to that advantage when it exploits community fears about the rise of China, and China as a threat. It also takes the public’s mind off the pandemic.

Morrison has blown national consensus away

Morrison and his Cabinet have gradually, but inexorably, withdrawn their support from Daniel Andrews. and Victoria. National consensus has been thrown overboard, in the interest of deflecting attention away from Morrison’s ultimate responsibility for Aged Care. And that is not a recent responsibility. It stretches back, to 2015, and even further, to 1997, when the sector was essentially sold off, by John Howard. Aged Care is a millstone around the Coalition’s neck, and most of us have someone who is affected.

Background Paper 8 – A History of Aged Care Reviews, prepared by The Office of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, 28 October 2019 posed this:

The overarching question that arises is why, after all these reviews, the aged care system still fails to support an appropriate quality life for the most frail and vulnerable members of our community.

So the question is whether Morrison is destroying our relationship with China, our largest trading partner, as a means to flatter and mollify Trump, or is it just another cynical deflection, so that he can duck accountability?

Either way, he is sabotaging our response to the pandemic, sabotaging our economic recovery, and risking us being drawn into a hot war. Because as the U.S. election draws nearer, nothing would suit Trump more than a ‘little war’ with China. And as we all know, if America goes to war, so do we.