As Morrison declares war on China, US retreats

It’s not very well thought-through. It’s largely for domestic political consumption. And only accidentally in the national interest. But I’m loving the Australian sabre-rattling over Taiwan triggered by a desperate and dateless Morrison Government.

After a few weeks of warmongering by top defence brass, the AFR joins in today with an interview with Taiwan’s foreign minister, a bloke you will never have heard of because until today he was utterly toxic to a China-centric, self-censoring media:

  • Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu says China is preparing for a “final assault” on his island.
  • He praised Morrison warmongering fulsomely.
  • But no invasion is imminent!
  • We share the value of freedom, he said.

Resonances with a “final solution” for Taiwan is a nice touch. But this isn’t news except to the extent that it has appeared at all. That tells you the AFR is now fully on board with both Morrison China warmongering and the defence of Taiwan. Indeed, it followed up with an editorial that declared it outright:

Australia has now signalled that its collective pushback to manage China includes drawing the line at the defence of Taiwan.

Oorah! Oorah! One might ask, then, why are we shipping iron ore over there to build the very weapons that will kill our brave young men?

It’s great stuff to the extent that it will undoubtedly further accelerate our China decoupling as Beijing inevitably pushes back, even if it achieves it accidentally!

While the tip of the anti-China spear Downunder thrusts itself manfully forward in the mirror, it is ironic to watch the grown-ups of global affairs hose off war and prepare for a different kind of conflict. The Biden administration’s key Indo-Pacific advisor, Kurt Campbell, had a very different message at the FT:

  • The US sees the maintenance of present conditions as paramount.
  • Any war would scale catastrophically.
  • “I believe that there are some significant downsides to the kind of what is called strategic clarity that you lay out,” he said. Meaning straight up that the US will not provide Taiwan with a security guarantee.
  • Weapons will be forthcoming but “strategic ambiguity” will remain.
  • Diplomacy and defence innovation were the keys to containing China in Taiwan.
  • Beijing and Washington need to keep talking.

In short, this is to be a cold war not hot. I sincerely doubt that even if Bejing is mad enough to invade Taiwan eventually that the US will fight the war (barring a severe accident and maybe not even then). It will use the war to contain China economically. And, given such a conflict is only likely in the event that the Chinese economy is already failing, that would spell the immediate end to any putative illiberal Chinese empire, at a brick wall.

The contours of the real war are taking shape in Europe:

  • The European investment deal with China is now officially on ice as Europe bridles over Chinese genocides and sanctions.
  • More rules to prevent Chinese SOE’s conducting takeovers came down in the EU parliament.
  • Semi-conductor production is being boosted to a strategic priority.

Then we got the G7 hammering China as well for genocide, unfair trade, Taiwan and cyber attacks.

Suddenly, the entire free world sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump. It goes to show what a flawed genius he was. First for entirely changing the China narrative but then by entirely cocking it up by pissing off the alliance network. The Biden administration has grabbed the Trump baton and is doing a much better job with it.

Anyways, back home, the Morrison Government wants a khaki election to give itself a chance, after fatally upsetting the female half of the electorate. Its methods are crude and only accidentally in the Australian national interest as China will push us further away economically in response.

But the real war over Taiwan is most likely not going to be fought with weapons in the hands of great, or even pumped-up, little powers.

Houses and Holes
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  1. Hey BlokeMEMBER

    “I believe that there are some significant downsides to the kind of what is called strategic clarity that you lay out,” he said. Meaning straight up that the US will not provide Taiwan with a security guarantee

    Don’t see how that interpretation is justified.

  2. sps179MEMBER

    Then there’s the “independent” China Matters line, in today’s Pearls and Irritations, like “sitting at the same table as Beijing and discussing the security of the region together”. Heck yeah.

      • I see they published a piece by Godfree Roberts. Godfree [email protected] Roberts! He is an arch anti-western, anti democracy, fur-lined, ocean going ar$ehole. An Australian living in Thailand he is the tankie’s tankie. To publish stuff from him is inexcusable.

        Just my 2 cents worth.

    • SnappedUpSavvyMEMBER

      Wow that website is seriously messed up, didn’t know there could be that many eel butt compromised

  3. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    The US is not going to fight a war with China over Taiwan. The US doesn’t even recognize Taiwan as a country. The US will assist Taiwan with building its defensive capability, but it won’t directly involve itself. Additionally, the Pentagon has war-gamed the Taiwan scenarios, and the US loses. The US can no more control the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait than China can control the Straits of Florida.

    The State Department’s own site clearly spells out the approach to Taiwan:

    “The United States does not support Taiwan independence. Maintaining strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan is a major U.S. goal, in line with the U.S. desire to further peace and stability in Asia. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act provides the legal basis for the unofficial relationship between the United States and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan in maintaining its defensive capability. The United States insists on the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences, opposes unilateral changes to the status quo by either side, and encourages both sides to continue their constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect.”

    The Chinese know this. Australia’s belligerent saber rattling must be hilarious to the CCP, Australia being an almost irrelevant small power on the other side of the globe with almost no ability to project force. Meanwhile, Australia is doing precisely nothing to diversify its trade away from China… all the heavy lifting there is being done by the CCP slapping tariffs on Australian products. The Chinese know that Australia is hopelessly addicted to their money, and that no matter how much noise the Australian government makes, it won’t affect China’s access to Australian resources one bit.

    • The Taiwanese are probably developing nuclear weapons as fast as they can. They already have suitable missiles. That is why North Korea could thumb its nose at the US.

    • Basically this. Taiwan is the same as the Ukraine and Russia scenario. China is willing to drop nukes over it and go to war….the
      US and everyone else isn’t. Case closed.

  4. DingwallMEMBER
    Perhaps Smirko is listening to the voice (surely God he thinks) in his head for his strategies ………….or he left the earpiece in after a big sesh at the “conference” and brother Nathaniel is in control.
    I, for one, feel very uneasy seeing photos etc of anyone on a stage swaying in some sort of hypnotic fervour egged on by other like-minded fans (you know what that is short for) .

  5. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe the Chinese have the heavy lift or assault craft assets to take Taiwan from the sea. Blockade, cyber attack, economic sanctions, fostering unrest, sabotage and similar 4GW measures will be the name of the game.

    Meanwhile, the US armaments manufacturers will make bank be selling the Taiwanese guns and bombs. Beaucoup guns and bombs.

  6. I don’t think either China or the USA want to expose the fact that their very expensive blue water navies are relics of world war 2, but in this age of super sonic missiles , are obselete floating junk yards.
    Mind you if Motor Mouth Morrison isn’t careful he may find Sydney hosting another unexpected Chinese navy friendship visit.

    • Cynical snake

      The people of the falklands and even the argentinians may disagree with you on that fact…

    • I don’t really think the CCP will send another vessel that close to Australia, like that, again.

      I can think of few cultures in the world that are more likely to tell a superpower to ‘get effed’ than Australians, especially when it all gets too close to home. We’d probably ‘escort’ the vessel, and think about the consequences later…

      I’m not saying the above is good or bad, but I can hear a country of stoics getting very upset and telling the CCP where to stick it, regardless of the consequences – but it would have to get a long way before we’d be willing to sacrifice our iron ore revenue and house prices, I’ll admit…

  7. For the kiddies on here- the libs have been in power in this country for 19 of the past 25 years. So for more than three quarters of the past 25 years we’ve had these clowns driving the country into the ground. The clusterf$#k situation Australia is now in has not occurred overnight. It has happened because of the shortsightedness, utter greed, laziness, incompetence, arrogance and failure to accept any responsibility, that the so called “leaders” of this nation have repeatedly displayed and embodied.
    In 1996 this country decided to take a dark voyage. If the youth of Australia want to lead any semblance of a happy, healthy life they best get the hell out of here as soon as the insane outgoing travel restriction is lifted.

    • DingwallMEMBER

      In those 25 years the opposition has also worked hard at doing absolutely nothing positive and in fact have tried to be like the other party. The leadership and basis for all parties have been abysmal. No wonder this is where we have arrived……….. a cesspit.

  8. whats the chance that aus is mouthing off under direction of others, just to keep a different kind of pressure on china, and see if a reaction can be provoked.
    if china reacts, they lose some advantage of the (supposed diplomatic?) stealth that they currently harbor.
    aus is never going to be in a position to initiate a primary response from china, and china keep mouthing off in reply, but it may initiate a mistake.
    it has already through some of china’s self inflicted trade / tariff decisions.
    i’d think there are many moving parts to this, and some or much of it may be co-ordinated.

    i doubt many ‘know’ exactly whats going on.
    remember, assumption is the mother of all f*ck ups !

  9. darklydrawlMEMBER

    The Oz media do seem to be ramping up with this rhetoric. For example, I notice the story in the link below was widely reported on multiple Oz outlets. Sure, the twitter post was distasteful and mean but what surpised me was this story was seemingly ignored in other international media (at least when I went looking for more details – I am talking Washington Post, Al Jazeera, WION etc). Most of those outlets are not bashful about doing that kind of story, but nothing. Crickets. What is going on?

  10. Denis413MEMBER

    So the choice is between the labor comrades (aka the reds) and ‘grab em by the pussy’ libs? I still think I know who will win.

  11. >One might ask, then, why are we shipping iron ore over there to build the very weapons that will kill our brave young men?

    The same reason the US kept trading with Nazi Germany right up to the bombing of Pearl Harbour – greedy businesses wanting their profits. And they’d have kept on pressuring FDR to go easy on the Nazis had the Japanese not launched their strike, and so outraged the community that businesses had no choice but to STFU and oppose the fascists.

    I have far less faith in this happening in our situation though. We’re not going to be bombed by China anytime soon, and until that happens there’ll be plenty of quislings stalking our politicians and public servants, hoping they can go back to the old normal of sucking up to China and ignoring its insidious influence over us and the rest of the world.

  12. Actually the whole anti-China campaign which started about 5-6 years ago has been a carefully crafted fraud from the start. Someone playing on ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ again as they used to say years ago. China an ‘existential threat’ to Australia. What tosh ! I think that you are correct when you say that a lot of the verbiage is for local consumption. The politicians and the generals should be ashamed of themselves.
    Have just re-read Greg Lockhart’s book ‘The Minefield: An Australian Tragedy in Vietnam’. He goes into the politics behind our involvement in that tragedy from a military angle. Distressing to read what happened to people one knew for no sensible reason.
    And the same crew are trying to get us into a fight with China.
    No. No. No.

  13. MathiasMEMBER

    This reminds me of the Private Boys School I grew up in. Kevin Rudd would know.

    You wake up everyday to bullying. Punched in the head, taking on abuse and copping crap on an almost daily basis. Nothing to do but keep your head down, focus on whats in front of you because there’s really no future and you have no idea why you even do this stuff.

    A fight starts, you get a guy out in handball, he smacks you in the head because he doesnt like to lose. Your having a really bad day. The kind of day when you no longer care what happens because you’ve just had enough. As his hand comes to strike, your body turns and your fist slams into his face.

    Boys are standing in a circle yelling, ” Fight Fight Fight “. The teachers walk up, throw a pair of boxing gloves on the floor and say, ” Make it quick “. Your a peaceful guy. A loving Australian but somedays, the things you fear, Life / Death and everything just vanish. Somedays, you just dont give a sh*t.

    You charge into that circle, your body thrusts, you swing, you smash this guys lights out, blood comes pissing out of his face as he falls and you just keep on hitting. You dont want to stop. You’ve had enough. You’ve had enough of the bullying, the crap, the lack of importance in your life, the lack of a future and any kind of tommorrow.

    The fights never over. Your on your way home. Time to jump on the bus. The guy corners you for revenge. You dont want to fight but he has other ideas. He’s got mates. You’ve seen this story before.

    You know the speed is on you this time. You put down your bag, you dive in, pick this guy up and throw him over a two story balcony, nearly breaking his back. His mates are so mortified by what you’ve done, they run. He’s in an ambulance. Your sick of the bullying. You just dont care anymore. The only thing the teachers care about is, ” Will we be sued? ” but otherwise, ” What happens between boys stays between boys. These things are never talked about again. ”

    You dont learn kick boxing when your young because you enjoy it. You learn it because the bullying is everywhere. You do it to survive.

    Australias becoming just like that. Bullying is becoming pretty extensive.

    There are strong relationships between men in Private Schools. Loyalty is a big thing. You know your mates and you know the Bullys.

    Suicides? Happens all the time. The guy you spoke to yesterday, is today dead. It plays on your mind a bit. They drag you into church for the funeral. After the church, they say, ” Your never to think about this ever again “. Its like it just gets erased from your mind. Its like a switch you just turn off and on.

    Leaving school, Peer pressure amongst men. Its not much different to the girls. Its aggressive, its bullying, its power based and its hierarchial. Tow the line or you dont belong. You get to a point where you wake up to it. You realise its not worth it. You turf it all to go your own way. Its easier. Its simpler. Its a better way to live your life.

    When you understand what Private Boys Schools are, then you understand where Australias heading. I guess its all aimed at pushing you into the Military but smart men like me have seen all this before. You’ll find me making stew in some forest somewhere, because I wont have any part of it.

    These Liberals are going to get young men killed. They dont care one way or the other. They’ll be profiting off it while young men die. There’ll be no glory and no valor fort hose involved. Just more of the same. More hate, more bullying and more death. You’ll find me in the bush making a nice stew. Ill have no part in it.

    Boys School are great when your young but as you get older, people really should learn to grow up. You dont bring this stuff into real life, which is what the Liberals are trying to do.

  14. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    My sense based on what I’ve been reading is that while China is definitely hesitant to take Taiwan because of uncertainty about the US, it’s probably as much worried about whether it would succeed. Failing to take Taiwan would be such a monumental embarassment to the CCP that Xi would almost certainly be deposed soon after.

    The best thing that can be done is to sell Taiwan as many missile systems etc as possible so that their ‘domestic’ ability to make it uncertain and painful for China keeps things at a stalemate.

    As for Australia, annoying China could be transformed here into a deal with Taiwan to maybe set some sort of semiconductor manufacturing site up here. Not that I expect that level of smarts to be exhibited by our foreign policy or (cough) economic policy.

    And finally, even if the US is assumed to not really be prepared to fight for Taiwan, that assumes in the randomness of war that something unexpected doesn’t happen. A nearby Arleigh-Burke or some other reasonable concentration of American forces that happened to get caught up in an invasion by China (with hundreds or more American deaths) would probably force direct US intervention regardless of what the ‘intent’ prior actually was.