- Robert Menzies blundered horribly when he back Britain in the Suez crisis.
- The parallels today with Australia’s “questions of identity” regarding China are “uncomfortable”.
- “Morrison is now as fixated on the Americans as Menzies was on the British.”
Readers will recall I recently took on this argument when it was also made by Niall Fergusson and equally filled with errors:
- A Taiwan conflict could be the equivalent of the Suez crisis for the British Empire when it was exposed as a paper tiger.
- When Britain failed to take it back there was a run on the pound.
- The US probably wouldn’t fight the Taiwan war. It would probably fail to rally boycotts.
- It would confirm Chinese hegemony in Asia, breach the first island chain and hand semiconductor production to the CCP.
- It would trigger a run on US treasuries and US dollar, ending the US empire.
As I said at the time, this is melodramatic stuff:
- In 1956, the UK was an irrelevant 6% of global GDP. Today the US is a still dominant one-quarter of it and well over half of global equity.
- Sure, US public debt is approaching similar levels to post-war UK but there is no servicing issue and it is not on its Pat Malone which matters to forex.
- Any time that China invades Taiwan over the next decade it will be shockingly outmatched in blue water naval capacity anywhere more than few kilometers from the Taiwan coast. How, exactly, is the Chinese empire going to police its own commodity and trade supply chains?
- The first thing that the US will do if China blockades Taiwan is to counter-blockade Chinese maritime trade routes.
- If China invades, the second thing that the US will do is bomb TSMC out of existence just as Churchill sank the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir when France fell to the Nazis. Why do we think that Intel, TSMC and Samsung are currently planning $80bn in new semiconductor factories on the US mainland?
So on and so forth. Historical analogies of falling empires are easy to find. Analogies that also happen to yoke differing outcrops of similar cultures are particularly attractive to the racially obsessed.
But that does not make them accurate.
The US liberal empire is vastly more strong than the British version in 1956. China’s illberal empire is an impressive competitor but it has many more structural deficiencies than does the US including its demographics, development model, tawdry alliances, commodity vulnerabilities and illiberalism. That means it will very likely be much more challenged in its ongoing rise than the US will be in protecting its patch.
Curran’s dismissal of the battle of ideas that underpins the collapse of Sino-Australian relations is typical of this ilk: Hugh White, Geoff Raby, Jane Golley, Stan Grant etc. All are economically limited, fear-mongering and prone to a partial analysis that sees the rise of the Chinese economy, as well as Australia’s exposure to it, as inevitable and irreplaceable.
Deliberate or not, this is a perfect match with CCP propaganda. It was not China that made Australia what it is today. It was liberalism. Liberalism was here before China when we were already rich. And it will be here afterward, to keep us rich.
Protecting that is not some peripheral identity issue. It is everything.