Today I carry on with my recent deconstruction of the writing of Professor James Curran who has swiftly risen in place of Geoff Raby as the AFR’s China apologist de jour. Over the weekend he argued that:
- The Morrison Government is lost in a dying Anglospheric dream.
- Recent moves by Dutton to increase American presence are a response to “the China threat narrative generated by this government”.
- Why is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan not enough to secure protection from ANZUS forever?
- Canberra is incapable of imagining an Asia without American power but it is coming.
- Australia is giving up too much independence to Washington.
- We need “creative policy energy needed to build up security with, and not against, Asia.”
Let me ask you, which frame of reference is more lost in a dream here? The acceptance that China has made an autocratic shift and is threatening Australia daily, or, that we need more Keatingesque engagement with Asia? Cripes.
The rest of Professor Curran’s points are thin-sliced at best:
- Being dependent in defence is hardly a new situation for Australia. Nor is it new to most of Asia. Just about all of it sits under the US nuclear umbrella. Then there are the deep and abiding relationships between the US and ROK, Japan, Philippines and Thailand, plus the growing relationship with India.
- Nor is it new that Australia has had to beg, borrow, cajole and nudge its great and powerful strategic allies. Go read the greatest single greatest work in Australian strategic history, Dependent Allie, by the great Coral Bell, who I sorely miss.
- Nor has Australia ever paid anything like it should for the protection afforded by ANZUS. On the contrary, it has enabled us to run spectacularly low military budgets for decades as we soaked up the many trade advantages of US-protected markets and waterways in Asia. Which, I might add, were gamed relentlessly by Asian nations who fixed currencies, stole IP and pursued mercantilist settings. The very worst being China.
- Nor is it new that Asia is dominated by an Asian power. We’ve seen Japan do it twice. Once militarily and once economically.
It might be argued that the US is less reliable these days. But I don’t think so. Trump and Biden disagree on everything EXCEPT China. Biden has kept and deepened the trade war. He is rallying the global alliance network to the task as well. Trump relaunched the US First Fleet to patrol Asia. Biden is readying another. Competition and containment of China is the one area of complete agreement between wildly different administrations that have both reinforced strategic power projection in Asia rather than undermined it. Australia is an integral asset in US pacific command power projection which is why we’ve always paid so little for ANZUS.
Moreover, the entire basis of Professor Curran’s argument is a false assumption on two fronts. China will certainly rise some more. So what? It will also sink into the middle-income trap, capping its power. While the global liberal bloc has the entrenched advantage of freedom and soft power to keep it richer, more innovative and ahead in defence technology.
Second, Australian suspicions of China have not been aroused by a few months of Morrison foot-in-mouth. They are based upon six years of scandals in universities, government, media and business around malign CCP influence seeking to bend Austalia to Bejing’s will. Not to mention seizure of the South China Sea, destruction of Hong Kong, warmongering over Taiwan, border wars with India, the global plague, cyber attacks and trade war upon ourselves and, of course, being spat upon daily by wolf warriors.
If the good professor wants to make friends with this tide of shite then go right ahead. But leave the rest of us Aussies out of it, thanks. The CCP’s wolf warriors have made abundantly clear their terms for friendship:
Which clampdown upon our freedoms is Professor Curran happy with to deliver his sadly obsolescent “creative policy energy needed to build up security with, and not against, Asia.”?