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The LNP, led by the mendacious Morrison, is in a bad place. Morally bankrupt, it is destructive, by default and design. Many have followed, both blindly and with intent, and now find themselves equally bereft.

The Australian government is mean, mendacious, racist, selfish and cruel.

Morrison sets the tone. He insisted on getting the Pfizer Injection for Covid while the rest of the population have been allocated the inferior AstraZeneca. The government looked on while people committed suicide because of illegal debt demands issued by Centrelink. Legitimate refugees, including children, remain locked up, some for 7 years.

A crisis around the spread of Covid has been growing in PNG for the past month. The Government said and did nothing until, on 19 March, Médecins Sans Frontier, was strongly critical of the Australian Government.

The response was risible. The Government dispatched 3 medical aid workers and 8000 Covid vaccines. Following press reports that the virus had reached southern PNG, with a danger it might pass through the northern most Australian Island of Boigu into Queensland, the Government dispatched 17 AUSMAT specialists to Port Moresby on 9 April for 4 weeks. A small load of equipment, including stretchers, tents, vaccine refrigerators, cool boxes and aspirators was sent with them on an RAAF C-130. Shortly after arrival, the team leader, Dr Tacon, described the situation in Port Moresby as very concerning.

It is more than concerning it is a disgrace. At a Pacific Islands Forum meeting in September 2015, Dutton was overhead making disparaging remarks to Abbott about the Pacific Islands. It amounted to racism. As Immigration Minister, Dutton underlined his racism with cruel and unnecessary detention and medical regimes which brought about suffering and humiliation. When saddled with the same responsibilities Morrison displayed equivalent heartlessness and incipient racism. Not overt just sly, deniable indifference and neglect.

I make this point because both men have it within their ‘responsibilities’ to act with haste in respect to the humanitarian crises in Timor Leste and PNG. Floods and landslides have killed over 50 people in Timor Leste since 5 April. The capital Dili was under water. Many homes have been lost, businesses ruined, roads washed away, other infrastructure has been damaged and hunger and disease are looming. There has been nothing except a promise from the Australian government that it would help. In the meantime, the Timorese community in Darwin has put together enough relief supplies to fill a shipping container and raised $25,000.

Sitting in Sydney harbour are two vessels which could make an enormous difference, HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra. Both have fully equipped hospitals, auxiliary power plants, helicopters and extensive vehicle and supply capacity. One should be equipped and deployed to Dili and, on the way, pick up the relief supplies from Darwin. The other should be sent initially to Port Moresby and then other ports in PNG, to supply and administer Covid vaccines. One third of the AstraZeneca vaccines being manufactured in Australia could be set aside for this urgent task.

These vessels have the capacity to deliver aid to remote communities. As part of aid relief to Timor Covid vaccines should be administered. Australia has said from 19 April it will set aside 10,000 locally manufactured AstraZeneca for PNG, Pacific Nations and Timor. This is nowhere near enough. Nor has there been any indication as to how it is proposed to distribute and administer these vaccines.

Australia is paranoid about China gaining a toe hold in the region. China has offered 200,000 doses of its Sinopharm Covid vaccines to PNG. The vaccine apparently requires WHO and local approval. Sinopharm has been used in the UAE and Bahrain and throughout China. There is no evidence that Australia has intervened to prevent the use of Sinopharm in PNG. Rather than seeking to fight China on every front, Australia should act co-operatively for the common good of neighbouring people suffering from natural disaster and the pandemic.

But this mean spirited and selfish behaviour on the part of the LNP is part of a pattern. In order to gain advantage over Timor Leste in the carve up of undersea oil reserves, Australia, in 2004, under Foreign Minister, Downer, bugged the Prime Ministers office to learn Timor’s negotiating position with respect to the Greater Sunrise concession. Australia’s overseas spy agency, ASIS, then under the direction of David Irvine, undertook the bugging. The ASIS agent involved was eventually advised to make this information public. And on so doing was charged, brought to secret trial with his lawyer Bernard Collaery by none other than the former Attorney General, Christian Porter. The agent is known as Witness K. This action was vindictive and designed to punish Collaery and Witness K for having exposed the dirty dealings and moral failure of Downer and Howard. Australia, as a far more wealthy and powerful country, attempted to defraud and bully the small and poor nation of Timor Leste into giving up oil reserves that were right fully theirs.

Australia has bullied and tortured refugees for the past 25 years for no reason other than to deter  genuine refugees from coming to Australia. Boats have been turned back. Australia’s actions with respect to refugees transgress not only international treaties to which Australia is a signatory but also domestic laws. All the while it was arguing the case for the efficacy of deterrence the Australian government knew it was lying. It was paying people smugglers, officials, police, politicians and defence personal not to accept money from desperate refugees seeking to come to Australia by boat. So incredibly mean and wanting to punish refugees the Australian Government refused an offer from the New Zealand Government to resettle refugees held in detention camps in Australia.

From the NDIS to extensive cuts in Australian overseas aid, particularly to Africa, LNP governments have seemingly taken delight in harming the poor and disadvantaged. Why? It is hard to understand but there are indicators. There is the lack of morality and corruption illustrated by the sports rort and community programs scandal, paying Barnaby Joyce $600000 for a non-existent drought report and the billions of dollars paid to contractors charged with running refugee detention facilities. One can only guess at the size of possible kickbacks.

We are told by ABC 4 Corners on 12 April 2021 that the reason the government persists with pushing fossil fuels are the financial donations to the LNP. The government’s position flies in the face of the science on climate change and the viability of renewable energy.

But it is the absolute abrogation of moral responsibility, indeed it rates as moral degradation to cover for individuals, one a politician the other a staff member, accused of rape. There is no moral compass in evidence by Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, nor of other Ministers and advisers in relation to horrible crimes. They have taken the nation to the bottom of the barrel. Little wonder then that they cannot see and/or refuse to respond to humanitarian disasters in our neighbourhood. Morrison’s reaction to the Australian bushfires should have warned us. His reaction to the failure of the roll out of the Covid vaccine is a further indicator of a deeply troubling lack of empathy and compassion. Placing him on a parr with Trump.

Equally troubling is the failure of the MSM to respond and show concern with the plight of people in PNG and Timor Leste and the trashing of human rights in Myanmar. Even more troubling is the absence of voices from religious institutions and ordinary Australians on these issues. Where are we at and what have we become when we take our lead from the likes of Morrison.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and former Diplomat.

The political systems in China and America are not what their leaders claim them to be. However, Biden has embarked on a campaign to prove American Democracy can trump whatever China has on offer.

With missionary zeal Biden is out to prove to the world that Democracy trumps Authoritarian Chinese Communism. Although many academics, authors, journalists and an army of observers continue to tie themselves in knots by acknowledging that whilst China is not strictly a communist state, it most certainly is not a democracy.

A definition has not been determined. The role of capital, private ownership and accumulation of wealth that the Chinese Communist Party condones has them stumped. The Chinese state is something new. It defies definition because it is evolving. It will acquire a label but not until old frameworks are discarded. China is a political entity in the making.

ASPI and the Biden administration believe they have nailed it by referring to China as authoritarian, which is defined as a state enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom, entailing a reduction in the rule of law and the separation of powers. The Soviet Union between 1930 – 1970 was an authoritarian state.

China may embody aspects of an authoritarian state but other aspects defy that definition. The people of China are free to choose an education, to buy and sell property and other goods and, prior to Covid, travel overseas. They are free to live where they like.

China has been accused of genocide by the United States and Australia. Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular ethnicity, nationality, religion or race. For reasons of internal security, the Chinese Government has curtailed the freedom of many Uyghurs living in Xinjian Province. They have been placed in detention camps in order to be ‘re-educated’ in an apparent attempt to eradicate fundamental Muslim activism. It may work but is more likely to enhance the ideology they are seeking to crush.

Whatever is happening in Xinjiang, in so far as it has been possible to ascertain, does not amount to genocide. However, the Chinese do not welcome investigation of the Uyghurs by international humanitarian rights organisations or the UN. Nor has Australia in relation to refugees.

From 1995 until the present day, Australia placed men, women and children, coming to Australia by boat and seeking refugee asylum, in detention. Sometimes for up to seven years. The officially stated purpose of this state sponsored cruelty and torture was to deter other asylum seekers fleeing war and social unrest that threatened their lives. The Australian Government refused the UN and humanitarian NGO’s regular access to the detention camps. Reports they produced relating to conditions in the camps were vigorously contested by the Australian Government despite the overwhelming truths they contained. The hypocrisy of the Australian Government toward China is as breath taking as it is stupid.

It is against this that Biden wants to pitch American Democracy. The apple pie, turkey at Thanksgiving, white bread Democracy, as portrayed by artist Norman Rockwell.

The reality of American Democracy is somewhat different. American voters elect candidates to Congress, the Senate or as President. Candidates make promises in order to secure votes but once elected they are subjected to pressure, bribes and other forms of coercion to alter, change or abandon election promises. Democracy exists only on the day a ballot is cast. Once the result has been announced the lobbying starts and promises broken. It is an industry which in 2020 was worth $3.56 billion.

The biggest industry in the US is defence. The US arms industry has enormous power over the democratic process. It lobbies ruthlessly to maintain its pre-eminent position. It sucks money away from social need which electors have expectations, somewhat naively, of being addressed. Each election they have hope and after each election these hopes are eroded away.

US military spending is the largest item of expenditure in the budget. In 2020 it was $721.5 billion. From 2002/2018 the US sold $200 billion in conventional weapons to 169 countries. This constitutes 36% of global sales compared to 29% for Russia and 3.8% for France.

The US Military Industrial Complex, as President Eisenhower called it, has a vested interest in world tension. The US wars in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan represented a huge boost in profits. The Industry is currently pressing for confrontation with China; it feeds into and funds various academic institutions, faculties, bodies and think tanks, including ASPI an Australian defence lobbying organisation funded by US arms manufacturers and the Australian Government. ASPI lobbied and succeeded in getting the Australian Government to purchase a missile system for $1 billion for defence against the Chinese.

The American people did not vote to go to war in Viet Nam, Iraq or Afghanistan and they were not consulted. Indeed, young men were conscripted to fight in Viet Nam. It was an unpopular war. Citizens protested against going to war in Iraq. America is a war machine with a smoke screen democracy. It is a propaganda machine.

In the West, Conservatives, Christians and some Libertarians believe what America says about itself, through media, movies and music. The race divide and violence toward Black Americans is the antithesis of democracy and epitomised at the moment through the trial of ex-policeman Derek Chauvin for the horrible murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020. American racism, and the manner in which it is expressed puts the lie to American claims of democracy. Equality in America is threadbare.

Police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the US. One in every thousand black men can expect to be killed by police, this peaks between the ages of 20 and 35.

Gun ownership leading to gun violence feeds into fraught race relations. The Black Lives Matter movement has sought to address the ongoing, ugly and gratuitous violence directed against Black Americans which has been a permanent feature of the American democracy since Independence. The hatred and violent racism was born out of slavery and it hasn’t moved on. It most definitely puts the lie to the white bread narrative. For as long as it exists and for the reasons it exists America cannot claim to have a functioning, attractive or desirable democracy. America hides the slums and squalor of its democracy behind the tinsel of its flash Toys, Broadway and Disneyland.

Since 2013 there have been 2,218 mass shootings in the US. Mass shootings are defined as involving at least 4 people. The frequency of these shootings has tripled since 2011. The US population is 332 million. US civilian gun ownership is 393 million or 46% of arms held by civilians world-wide. That is not a positive indicator for resolving conflict by democratic means.

On 6 January 2021 thousands of white right-wing Trump supporters stormed and broke into the Congress. They acted on the advice from Trump that the election for President had been rigged. Many were armed. They caused death and grave injury. It was an assault on the symbol and institution of democracy. Many of the people who voted for Trump do not believe in or support democracy. Trump attracted 74 and Biden 81 million votes.

Following the Biden victory, the anti- democracy movement found expression in forty Republican controlled state legislatures who are looking to restrict voting access. This targets Black voters who mainly vote Democrat. On 25 March the State of Georgia passed laws to make voting more restrictive.

The Chinese Government is just as aware of these facts as I am. Biden has a big job on his hands, not convincing the Chinese that America has a functioning democracy but to make America into one.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and former Diplomat


China is the most powerful country in South East Asia. Short of nuclear weapons the US will find it increasingly difficult to project power and influence into the region. China is able to project that influence and power. SE Asian states are aware of the real politic. They will act and conduct their diplomacy and relations accordingly. Myanmar is a case in point. The US has few tools and limited influence to make a difference, China does. Australia believes, incorrectly in my opinion, that the United States will protect its interests.

That is naïve. The United States cannot build bridges for Australia into SE Asia and with China. Australian thinking and evolving policy amounts to isolationism.

White Australia has an apprehension about Asia and a fear of China dating back to the 1880’s centred on concern about cheap labour and invasion. Japan in WWII confirmed these fears.

The Morrison government does not realise the need to change its China policy. Weirdly and childishly, it says it will not allow Australian ‘values’ to be undermined by China, whatever that means. However other people in Australia deplore the Morrison government’s China policy. They include a cohort of former diplomats and academics, as well as people with first hand knowledge of China.


The US has dictated Australia’s China policy over the past seven years, first by Turnbull and then Morrison. Both sought to please Trump. Pleasing the United States is Australia’s default position with respect to foreign affairs and defence.

Biden was stung by the strong stance taken by Director Yang Jiechi and State Councillor Wang Yi at Anchorage. Biden has declared that what is now at stake is ‘autocracy or democracy’. What this fails to address is good governance. It has been reported that US leaders have vowed to ‘intensify competition with Beijing in the wake of the acrimonious anchorage meeting.’ It seems that rather than learn from Anchorage the Biden administration is going to maintain if not ramp up Trump’s anti- China policies.

The inexperienced Blinken, has repeated criticism that China has undertaken ‘blatant economic coercion of Australia’ which he said was an example of the ‘urgent threat posed by a resurgent authoritarian regime’. At the same time the Australian Ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, addressing the Australia/China Business Council said China was being ‘vindictive’ toward Australia. He claimed ‘the escalating pattern of trade punishment had generated sympathy for Australia and hardened attitudes toward China around the Globe.’

This is in accord with instructions from Canberra and no doubt passed from Washington. The trade and diplomatic problems faced by Australia are as a result of complying with the US. The ‘support and backing’ promised by the US is welcomed by the LNP Morrison government. It will continue to follow the US in relation to China even though that by doing so it is harmful to Australia’s fundamental interests. The Murdoch media which control 70% of the flow of information in Australia backs this position.


Biden seems to have some sort of grand alliance in mind based on the premise that China is dangerous and seeks to dominate world affairs. For as long as that narrative is accepted there will be some countries who will continue to follow the United States. Australia will follow the US position on China for as long as it has an LNP government. An Australian Labor government will have a different and more positive perspective on China, but will still adhere to what is termed the American Alliance.

The current LNP government will maintain a defensive and negative position toward China even though Australia suffers as a result of trade boycotts. It does not have the imagination or courage to do anything else. It lacks the maturity to negotiate.

The impasse between China and the United States should be resolved through negotiation. These might take place under the auspices of the UN, along the lines of earlier nuclear arms negotiations.  Agreement governing the mutual deployment of arms and the nature of future relations between the US and China might be a primary objective. The use of arms by both countries would impact on the world order more negatively than WWI and II combined.


The United States, faced with declining power and influence, is angry.  It believes itself to be a force for good, despite Viet Nam and Iraq. Its diplomacy has traditionally been underpinned by the threat or use of arms. It takes white superiority to the negotiating table. Who can forget Kissinger? It is a crusader for democracy underpinned by Christianity. It is a champion of free speech, which has within it the free exchange of ideas. Not a bad thing when it works to the benefit of people. However, the reality is that many people in the United States live in poverty and the gap between rich and poor is growing. Guns, race and intolerance divides and weakens America and may further do so. However, it remains a powerful country.

The United States criticises China over the South China Sea, yet it maintains thirty offshore bases specifically targeting China. It has underwater listening devices in navigation channels and a host of other defence undertakings ranged against China. All on the basis that China is a hostile state.

Australia lacks leadership and has done so since Howard became Prime Minister in 1996.

It was a colonial settlement that displaced the local Indigenous inhabitants. It allowed the United Kingdom to dictate foreign and defence policy until 1942 and then in the face of a threat from the Japanese switched its alliance to the United States who has dictated Australian foreign and defence policy since then. It has a foreign head of state who is based overseas. It is a rich country, or it was, with a small population which lives off agriculture and mineral extraction. It is inwardly focused and narrow in outlook. It seeks to use the United States as a buffer against the rest of the world, particularly Asia and China which it fears because of enterprise and numbers of people.

Morrison is an extreme example of all that is wrong with Australia. His policy toward China is not in Australia’s interest from an economic, scientific, educational and cultural perspective. He is possibly the worst Prime Minister that Australia has had since Federation in 1901.


Since the ending of the Cold War the US Alliance has been of decreasing value for Australia. In fact, it has cost us in terms of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, two totally unnecessary undertakings in terms of Australia’s national interest.

If Australia had the courage, it has the capacity for an independent foreign policy. New Zealand has demonstrated that.

Australia has ceded sovereignty to the United States for the reasons mentioned above plus the cultural dominance effected by the common language of English, whether through movies, music, magazines or Murdoch.

The Quad is a hasty and hopeless attempt to contain China. Only the current Australian government believes in it. Five Eyes is a western intelligence turn on but it delivers little because the US is not an honest broker. It with holds information. And it seeks to spin the information it gleans. Reading Five Eyes information is like reading a newspaper in Saudi Arabi, one must learn to read between the lines. And remember Pine Gap. A US spying facility in Australia where the host country only receives 60-70% of the information obtained.


Australia must treat China with the same respect it accords the United States. That is just a normal diplomatic courtesy. But there is more. There should be respect for China’s history, culture and military achievements, particularly in WWII and for the transformation of Chinese society over the past 75 years. There ought to be respect from Australia for what China has achieved for the people of China and for the Chinese contribution to mankind over those short number of years. There was a time when there was tremendous respect within Australia for China dating from Prime Minister Whitlam in 1972 which existed until Howard took power in 1996. There are many in Australia who still hold China with the greatest of respect, which contrasts with their attitude to Morrison and the LNP. We are in a bad place and seek the indulgence and understanding of old friends. There are people speaking for us who belittle us and break our hearts.

At Anchorage the Chinese drew a line telling the US the old dialogue is finished. They are no longer prepared to be bullied. Either future dialogue is conducted with mutual respect or it will not be conducted at all.

China and the United States stepped into the ring in Anchorage, Alaska, and China won the bout on points. China is the world’s newest, and shortly to be the biggest, Super Power.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, failed to distinguish himself in front of Yang Jiechi, Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the CCP, top Diplomat under Xi Jinping and Wang Yi, State Councillor. Also present was US National security Advisor, Jake Sullivan.

Blinken, completely misreading the room, if not the change in global strategic politics, lambasted China’s increasing authoritarianism and assertiveness, ‘at home and abroad’. He claimed allies of the United States were united in this view, and hiding behind Japan and South Korea, which he visited this week, claimed they shared the view that China was authoritarian. Neither Japan or South Korea have issued statements to that effect.

Blinken cited concern over China’s human rights record in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang as well as concern over Taiwan and ‘assertiveness’ in the South China Sea and the Covid pandemic, cyber-attacks on the United States and economic coercion ‘of our allies’, presumably Australia. He claimed that these issues threaten ‘the rules-based order that maintains global stability’. Sounding a lot like Morrison carping on about the rule of law, which he breaks on a daily basis. And so, it is with the United States and it’s 800 military bases worldwide.

Yang Jiechi was having none of it and most refreshingly took Blinken to task on the extent of American hypocrisy. Something informed observers have been fed up with for years but have been forced to accept through the craven acceptance of these double standards by Western leaders including our own. Sections of the media referred to Yang’s speech as a tirade which it was not.

America has met its match. Today, in my opinion, marked a turning point in International relations; China drew a line in the sand, did not bend at the knee nor tug its forelock. It was a shock to Blinken and has not yet been digested by analysts, nor has its significance registered on the media.

Yang said, ‘Let me say here that in front of the Chinese side, the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.’ And in so saying he threw down the gauntlet.

‘The United States uses its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and supress other countries. It abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges, and incite some countries to attack China’. Read Australia and ASPI.

‘We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States’. He said in a reference to right wing anarchy that the US stop pushing its own version of democracy when it was dealing with discontent among its own population.

And then straight to the solar plexus on an issue that has angered many for as long as I have been familiar with the United States, ‘We hope that the United States will do better on human rights. The fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the US itself’. He said Black Lives Matter had not just emerged over the past four years. American discrimination against Black people remains almost as bad as it was in South Africa under Apartheid. The demographic relating to deaths from Covid in the US will attest to that.

Yang might also have noted gun ownership and the civilian deaths from domestic shooting which are the highest in the world and the socially crippling uneven distribution of wealth.

The Chinese are fed up with threadbare American arrogance. They want to shape the world in their image. They have not sought an end to American democracy nor our own, but from Yang’s statements they would like a little less posturing. Over the past week the Chinese have drawn attention to our own appalling record with regard to refugees, Indigenous Australians and war crimes and they are, of course, right. Australia has double standards.

Australia can’t answer these charges or address the issues raised because we are leaderless. We have an immature and disturbed individual as Prime Minister who is enthralled with a demanding religious cult. His warped and twisted personality finds solace and relief in lying. He cannot face or admit that his statements have cause considerable and probably irreversible damage to Australia’s relationship with China, financially and culturally. He, along with most in government, continue to believe in the value of our relationship with America even though it has delivered nothing but tinsel, drugs, rock and roll and 150000 mentally damaged, dead and wounded from three totally ill-conceived American wars in which Australian politicians, who had never been in uniform and enthralled by the USA, sent our young off to fight with no objectives other than those spelt out by the US which were wrong. How could we?

The talks ended with the US facing the reality of a considerable Chinese push back. The Chinese outlined a new reality, all future exchanges will be conducted with mutual respect or not at all, they said as much. Some issues and matters are not up for discussion or negotiation. Australia has still to learn that lesson. Bruised, the Americans made a final statement, the Chinese did not. Sullivan said they had expected tough talks and the conversation was candid, he noted that the dialogue would continue.

The MSM has bought into the cult of American exceptionalism, none more so than Hartcher of the SMH. His belief in all things American has him suspending his limited judgement to advocate, as truth, senior US figures on matters relating to the bilateral relationship and China.

He reports the US Presidents, Indo-Pacific co-ordinator and unqualified showman, Kurt Campbell, recently in Australia, as saying the US would not improve its relationship with China until China improved its relationship with Australia. What a joke, what a clown. At the talks between China and the US in Anchorage Blinken said he felt an obligation to raise economic coercion against Washington’s allies. That’s it. He did not put the American relationship on the line.

Hartcher quoted the lightweight Campbell as saying, ‘President Biden was very direct with Prime Minister Morrison that we stood together on this. So, we have indicated both to Australia and China at the highest levels that we are fully aware of what is going on and we are not prepared to improve relations until those policies are addressed and a more normal interplay between Canberra and Beijing is established.’

Hartcher said, ‘It is the first known intervention of any nation to take substantive steps in support of Australia in its confrontation with Beijing.’

What nonsense. On several counts. The first being that it was not raised as a substantive issue at Anchorage by Blinken and why should it be. The US has enough problems of its own with the relationship. The second being, as Yang made perfectly clear, the US does not have the leverage.

The US has already demonstrated that it will take advantage of Australia’s trade difficulties with China by filling the orders itself. Grow up Hartcher.

How long will it take these besotted US disciples like Hartcher and Sheridan to realise statements and guarantees by US officials have never been more than sops. The problem for Australia is that people like Hartcher, Howard and Morrison believe them.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired Diplomat.   

The Australian Government first discussed the need for a second airport in Sydney in 1969. A decision to locate it at Badgerys Creek was made by the Hawke Labor Government in 1986. Twenty-five years later the first earth works were being undertaken, amidst the usual allegations of corruption and dirty dealing.

In China eight new airports are being opened every year, with time from decision to final construction averaging two years. The Chinese look at us askance. Australia simply doesn’t cut it and it knows it. Why can’t Australia get it’s act together? Easy money from minerals, wheat, meat, tourism and students. Sound Chinese investment knocked back to please the US, who laugh at us behind closed doors.

Hedonism and corruption dominate the LNP, which Morrison encapsulates. Australia has never had a lazier Prime Minister and for him money grows on trees. He along with many of his contemporaries have no idea about real work or the real economy. Posed photos of Morrison building chook and cubby houses says it all.

The LNP fears the dynamism of China. They fear the Chinese work ethic, particularly when observed amongst the Chinese who live in Australia. The answer of the LNP and those they mix with has been to embrace industrial scale corruption. To use their political power to make hay while the sun shines, place themselves across the money trail. The dominant Murdoch media lets them off the hook, as long as the LNP gives the equally corrupt Murdoch what he wants, which they have, including tax payers unreceipted dollars.

The Chinese observe this. The staff at their Embassy in Canberra are highly trained. More literate and intelligent than most members of Morrison’s cabinet, they read what is published as news, listen to radio and watch TV. They have come to the same conclusions that I have along with other Embassies in Canberra. Like minded embassies talk amongst themselves. In addition, China monitors all news services reporting on Australia and in order that we should not feel too important they do it for every country in the world. The point being they know us better than we know ourselves.

They also spy on us, as we do them, but they do it more effectively. And we also get information from the US which is tainted. They put spin on their intelligence to try and lock us into their view of China. And they have been successful, just as they were with Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? An overwhelming desire amongst Australian policy makers not to take responsibility for foreign and defence policy, founded in an inferiority complex grounded in not believing in the unique and innate worth of the country they represent.

China is aware of this in spades. They know us a lot better than we know them and ourselves. They knew exactly what was behind Morrison’s ill-considered Wuhan, Covid accusation. They have watched and listened and lost respect. As have many thoughtful and considered Australians. Inept, thoughtless, crude and indeed arrogant attempts to bridge Morrison stupidity by Australian politicians and officials have only made matters worse.

From everything I have been able to glean Xi Jinping thinks Morrison a fool and has written him off. He sees no hope of reviving the relationship while Morrison is in power, so the Chinese will not bother. But they will take further punitive trade measures were Australia to make sillier and more thoughtless ASPI inspired anti-China statements and undertakings such as giving asylum to CIA backed dissidents from Hong Kong.

The Australian government has no idea of what is happening. China is cutting us loose. We will hang below Asia as neither fish nor fowl. Asia will cut us loose. We have no understanding that China is the major power in the region, if not the world, and to put it crudely, in the absence of getting our own act together we have to acknowledge them as we acknowledge the US. China seeks the same respect we give to the US. Is that hard? Yes, given the racism of the LNP.

Kurt Campbell, yet another US special representative, this time for the Indo-Pacific has said the Biden Administration will not resume normal relations with the Chinese until they treat Australia better. How humiliating and what rubbish. We do not need the US to conduct our foreign policy and the fact they think they can, demonstrates how weak and ineffectual Morrison appears to them.

The Morrison government has dragged us out of Asia and the Pacific, just as Vorster, the Apartheid Prime Minister dragged South Africa out of Africa. The reality is soon to hit.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and former diplomat.

The maintenance of national sovereignty requires vision and leadership; sovereignty will evaporate without it.  Sovereignty requires a level of consensus. Without vision and national direction, sovereignty is likely to be ceded, sold and stolen.

By that definition Australia is without sovereignty. It has ceded defence and foreign policy strategy to the United States and in the process alienated it’s largest trading partner, China. At the insistence of the United States, it blamed China for the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, resulting so far in loss of trade amounting to around $50 billion in the agricultural, mining, investment, student and tourism sectors. It was not a smart move and has some way yet to run, particularly as under direction from the CIA, the Minister of the Australian Homes Affairs Department, Dutton, agreed to give asylum to US backed, Hong Kong activist, Ted Hui, last week.

This move has further angered China and has probably put paid to talks seeking to repair damage to the relationship and restoring normal trade. Mimicking the United States, Australia has decided to become paranoid about China and to officially dislike it. Australia has no reason to do so. Any attempts by the Chinese to undermine Australian sovereignty can be countered by the many intelligence agencies Australia sees fit to foster.

America, on the other hand, has worked itself into a slather, based around the fact that it wants to remain the World’s top dog. With the Chinese economy strengthening year by year and the American economy declining it has looked for someone, anyone, to blame other than itself. China became the whipping boy. Instead of looking for co-operative arrangements with China leading to mutually positive outcomes, America took China on. It wants to contain China. It wants to weaken China; it wants to reduce competition.

American diplomatic skills are weak. It has not sought to seriously negotiate with China. When American diplomacy breaks down it quickly resorts to the threat of force, or it engages in military exercises designed to intimidate. And Australia has given up sovereignty to assist, such as patrolling shipping lanes in the South China Sea with or on behalf of the US. There is no threat to Australia from Chinese claims in the South China Sea. There is from banging our little drum on behalf of America.

Certainly, regional dynamics have changed with the aggressive leadership of Chinese President, Xi Jinping. With growing wealth comes increased well-being and power. Xi is keen and determined to carve out a new place for China in the world. He seeks respect for China, perhaps not always in the most subtle of ways but understandable at the hundreds of years of humiliation at the hands of European and Japanese occupying powers. If you don’t understand that about Hong Kong then you understand nothing of Chinese history.

There has been absolutely no reason to be part of American foreign policy toward China. At a time when America was vilifying China and blaming it for stoking the war in Viet Nam, Australia, reclaiming its sovereignty under Labor leader, Gogh Whitlam, from the craven LNP, opened relations with China. It parlayed successfully with Mao Zedong, a leader infinitely more aggressive than Xi Jinping, and with skilled diplomacy turned it into a most enduring and productive relationship for nearly 50 years before being trashed by Morrison. Ceding sovereignty to the US over China has cost us dearly and maybe costlier if the US in its infinite stupidity goes to war with China.

And war is a possibility with the US arms industry pushing policies of confrontation. To assist the United States in their competitive paranoia we purchased from them a flying lemon, the F35, foisted upon a gullible and sycophantic John Howard, who became a major seller of Australian sovereignty, all the time hiding the sale behind the so called Anzac tradition and Australian jingoism. Australian diplomacy has been a victim with senior appointments going to LNP politicians and resource cuts to overseas posts, language training and aid. Regional posts have been particularly hard hit with Australia being unable to influence adverse political developments, most recently the military crack down in Myanmar. A diminution of diplomatic influence represents a diminution of sovereignty. One actor who benefits from this is China. And America will not protect our interests in Asia because we have different interests and because its influence is limited. Again, Myanmar is a case in point.

As we know Morrison is a blustering bully. He is not a nurturer; I doubt he would even understand the meaning of the word. Having sold and ceded our sovereignty to the US on the international market, all but rendering Australia incapable of making independent decisions, Morrison is now hellbent on squandering domestic sovereignty. He is dividing the nation on the most basic of issues, the rights of women. And it centres on the most ugly and cruellest of reasons, denial of rape, concerning people and environments he is directly responsible for. An issuing looming is the likely failure of timely Covid vaccinations of the Australian people. The infection of a doctor in Brisbane this week is indicative of the coming Covid corruption that may yet put us all at risk. Morrison had himself injected with the superior Pfizer vaccination which is not available to the rest of the population. How will that play out? It is deeply divisive, which is the antithesis of fostering sovereignty.

Without domestic sovereignty, which requires a clear consensus on how to handle fundamental issues, whether natural disasters, climate change or a significant social problem, a nation is weakened and open to exploitation both from within and without. Morrison is squandering, indeed exploiting social capital for his political survival. His behaviour and his instincts are dictatorial. Australia’s loss of internal cohesion at the hands of Morrison further undermines what remains of our limited sovereignty.

Bruce Haigh is a retired diplomat and political commentator.

America is calling the military take over in Myanmar a coup. Not quite. Myanmar’s fragile democracy always existed at the pleasure of the military and the military became displeased when it appeared the people wanted to strengthen democracy.

The major, but not ruling party, the National League for Democracy, NLP, won a landslide victory in national general election held in November 2020. The NLP won 86% of the vote, up from 79% in 2015, representing 396 seats, the Union, Solidarity and Development Party, USDP, the party of the military, won 6.9% of the vote, representing 33 seats.  No doubt spurred on by Trumps leadership in these matters, the military declared the election rigged, an impossibility considering their control of the country, and on 1 February moved to place under house arrest senior members of the government including State Counsellor (Prime Minister) Aung San Suu Kyi, President, Win Mynt and 24 other ministers.

The military reluctantly moved to elections in 2015 but in so doing made their agreement conditional on holding 25% of seats in Parliament and retaining the ministries of Defence, Border and Home Affairs. In the wake of the take over they have claimed eleven additional ministries including finance, health, interior and foreign affairs. The military moved toward greater democratic freedoms in 2014 as a result of Chinese over reach and US blandishments in response. The US made their generous assistance conditional on the Myanmar military moving down a path to democracy and the elections of 2015 were the result.

Since 2015 much has changed in the region. After Trump became US President in 2016, he progressively undermined America’s standing in South East Asia. He imposed trade sanctions on China at a time when Xi Jinping was increasing and consolidating his power. Trump’s sanctions assisted the process. Where America stood in 2015 and now are two quite different places. America is not as powerful economically and militarily. Covid19 imposes restraints on the US military that did not exist before Trump unleashed it. The US has the defence materiel but it does not have the men and women to man it.

The United States has talked about imposing sanctions on the new military regime in Myanmar but it doesn’t have the volume of trade to make an impact and it doesn’t have the money to bribe the regime back into the barracks.

It is an early test for Biden. But then again, it’s not. The tragedy of the loss of democracy in Myanmar will underline the impotence of America in not being able to affect its restoration. It will also highlight the growing influence and power of China over Myanmar and the region.

America is talking of the restoration of democracy at a time when its democracy is fractured. It does not have the moral authority, after the attack by Trump supporters on the institutions of democracy. America is in no position to lecture dysfunctional regimes and press for change, if ever it was. America is unable to enforce its own rule of law.

Democracy should and must prevail in Myanmar. But the chances are slim. China controls the nominally democratic but chronically corrupt government of Sri Lanka, precisely because it is corrupt. It has significant influence in Communist Cambodia and Laos for the same reason. It has a complex relationship with Communist Viet Nam, which steadfastly maintains its independence. Viet Nam would like to see America remain a balance to China in the region but it is realistic and will do whatever it takes to maintain its sovereignty without compromising its national pride and integrity. Singapore can look after itself with respect to China but Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will, through greed and weak leadership, gradually be white anted by China.

China does not seek to occupy countries in the region, it seeks, like America before it, influence and through that influence a measure of control. China is playing America’s old game and succeeding. It is the game America learnt to play in South America. China is well placed to do the same in South East Asia. Over time, maybe a short period of time, it will mend its fences with India and Japan, particularly if it looks as if the United States is prepared to come to blows in the South China Sea in an attempt to reassert its role as the worlds leading power.

And all this is being further advanced by the greed and venality of the Myanmar military regime. How ironic. How sad, and how tragic for the beautiful people of Burma.

America is now in the position of the British Empire before the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore in 1942. The British were full of chutzpa after 100 years of being unchallenged in the region, used to bullying, but with little understanding of the decline in their power. And Australia’s wagon was firmly hitched to them just as it is to America, another likely loser in the region.

Despite Fox News, America has few real friends in the region. Its friends are fair weather friends, only as good as the strength of American influence and power. And that is declining. The only reliable friend America has in the region is Australia. We are the only country that lets America do our thinking for us, from economic, foreign and defence policy to religion.

It is a risky relationship because it is based on the presumption that America will always be a winner, which ignores Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan. There is not a successful US model despite the hype from gym bred US army Colonels with medals from failed engagements.

The US will fail to restore a corrupted democracy in Myanmar. It will be lacerated on the sharp shoals of South East Asia; wounded and humiliated will it turn it’s anger on China.

China can work with whoever is in power in Myanmar. It’s objectives in the short term are economic in the longer term it strives for influence. Xi Jinping is a hard man with a vision for China. He wants to develop an economic corridor to the Bay of Bengal. He wants oil and gas pipelines to the port of Kyankpyu which along with the port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia he wants to develop into a deep-water port for Chinese merchant and naval vessels. He wants to resume work on the massive Myitsonne Dam in Myanmar, halted by the NLD, which when completed at a cost of $3.6 billion will produce 6,000 megawatts of power.

America is doing nothing like this in the region. It is out of it. It is howling and seething from the sidelines but it has no influence. As always American diplomacy relies on the threat of the use of military force, but increasingly that looks unreliable.

The Chinese may broker an outcome with the Myanmar military which allows a façade of democracy to return but that is unlikely to include Aung San Suu Kyi in the short term unless she agrees to be a permanent figure head and over time she might.

The Chinese can work with whoever is in power in Myanmar and other neighbouring states, what they want most is stability in order to achieve their economic goals. ASPI and other rabid sabre-rattling lobbyist should note that.

Bruce Haigh

Projections on Australia’s future are bleak if it maintains its hostility to China and cloying dependence on America, particularly when coupled with Covid19 and a corrupt and incompetent LNP government.

Tell me, where do you think Australia will be in one, five and twenty years time?

Let me speculate. One year from now Covid19 will still be with us and may have increased its grip throughout NSW and perhaps Australia as a result of Premier Berejiklian’s ideological and irresponsible handling of containment. Nothing will have been resolved with China. Further trade restrictions will be in place and President Biden will have opened a dialogue with China to advance US economic interests. We will not be coat tailing on those discussions. The US will still be confronting China in the South China Sea but without harm to its moderately improved relationship.

The US will request that Australia overfly and conduct naval patrols and exercises in the South China Sea, which we will do, eliciting praise from the US and further perplexing and angering the Chinese who in addition to restricting the import of iron ore will limit tourist and student arrivals.

The Australian economy will be shagged. With an election approaching Morrison may well take a pragmatic and irresponsible decision and borrow more money. A lot more money. Initially scared of debt the LNP will have come to see the political and electoral advantage of doing so. They will take the view that short term LNP gain will be long term Labor pain.

Which is all very well except that Albanese is unelectable. Nice as he may be, he does not have the leadership skills or strength of character to handle the crises Australia is now facing and which will only intensify over the next year. Murdoch will back increased debt, so will the US.

Australia doesn’t have a clue where it is going and has not for many years, probably a hundred. Tucked under the umbrella first of Britain and then America we did not have to think. We had no need for independent foreign or defence policies. When I was in the Department of Foreign Affairs, we would not move on making a major decision without the approval of Washington and London.

Secure under this imaginary umbrella Australians were free to acquire wealth, wreck the environment, indulge in sport and feed their insatiable hedonism, ‘Where the bloody hell are you.’

If Australia had some idea of self, outside of self indulgence, Abbott and Morrison would not have been Prime Ministers and Albanese would not be leading Labor if the unions had not been emasculated by Hawke and Keating.

Australia will not find sufficient new markets to replace Chinese imports, certainly not from the UK and Europe. Faced with a deteriorating economy and increased debt the dollar will fall. This under normal circumstances would aid exports, except that Tehan will not turn things around. He neither has the wit nor wisdom to negotiate, he is a dud.

Australia’s credit rating will be marked down, adding to the cost of borrowing and the economic downward spiral. Morrison will win the election and the Labor Party will go into an even bigger funk because Albanese will resign with no obvious successor. Labor, bereft of leadership, will assume long term opposition, much as the failed opposition in white South Africa, which Australia will increasingly come to resemble. What small policy changes occur will be as a result of external pressure.

Morrison’s spin and jargon will increasingly be detested but accepted in the absence of an opposition and functioning MSM. He will try and revive Australian exceptionalism, sporting prowess and beaches but it will not wash overseas. The EU, Japan, China and other nations will slap a tax on our goods in the absence of functioning and effective emissions control and again, as with Apartheid South Africa, Morrison will attempt to spin his way out of it. But by then we will be on the nose, a pariah state.

At this point Australia should reinvent itself, it should break free from the cloying, constricting, confining, controlling and humiliating embrace of the United States and negotiate our place in Asia. But we won’t. We don’t have the courage. Australians are good on physical courage. Physical courage impresses coaches, other teams, the media, observers and military opponents. Moral courage is something Australians, by and large, do not understand and place little store in. It is obtuse, invisible and for the Right it demonstrates a weakness of character.

Australia does not have the moral courage to break free of the declining and decomposing US. We have determined that we will go down with the ship. In the absence of courage and imagination we have decided that we will be martyrs to the declining and decaying American dream of gun ownership and the desire to ‘go it alone’. The all American, ‘stuff you – who needs consensus’. Just as an aside, American diplomacy has always been a weak tool, relying on and standing just behind American military might. Yes, ‘we are happy to negotiate but if you don’t comply, we will blow your brains out.’ Just look at the Paris peace talks between Viet Nam and the US. Kissinger.

The US did not come to the assistance of Australia or the East Timorese at the time of bloody independence. They said they gave us information but we had our own better sources through Australian intercepts. John Howard was dragged, in his own inimitable way, kicking and screaming into East Timor. It was public opinion that pushed him. He wanted American involvement, they told him to do it himself. That sat a couple of ships off shore but they did not honour ANZUS. And this after all we had done! The Americans made a point which we have failed to notice.

Having got away with corrupt practice the LNP will continue to bend and break the rules to keep themselves in power and in pocket. They will continue to pay Indonesian and Sri Lankan military, police and officials to stop refugees in boats, a practice begun under Howard. The white dominated LNP feel Australia is theirs they take offence at refugees seeking solace and protection. They are affronted by ‘outsiders’ taking a piece of the action. They demand forelock tugging, unless new arrivals are very rich and they can get a bit of the action.

Five years on and Morrison’s borrowing will only have benefited the top end of town. Unemployment will have increased; poverty will be visible and social unrest will be making the north shore and eastern suburbs uneasy. Many will have copied Johannesburg and surrounded their houses with razor wire and electric fences. Security companies will be in demand.

Dutton will declare demonstrators ‘enemies of the state’ and deploy terrorism laws to round them up for periods of detention without trial. They will spend time on Christmas Island and other former refugee detention centres being re-educated.

Leadership will not have improved, if anything it will be worse, as the LNP remains cowering under US command. China will have asserted it’s influence in the region, which will be prospering, and internationally, as American influence declines.

The inevitable conflict between the US and China will occur toward the end of this period with Australian losses of aircraft, ships and troops who were deployed to take several islands in the South China Sea but repulsed. America will get a very bloody nose. It will consider using nuclear weapons but will be restrained by threats from Russia, France and Germany. America will slink away, concluding a face saving ‘peace treaty’ that concedes China’s control of the South China Sea.

Anywhere between then and twenty years down the track, Australia, by then a virtual one-party state, with draconian police powers in play, will be the visibly poverty stricken poor white neighbours of Asia. China will offer loans and grants in exchange for ownership and equity. These will be accepted. Political life and the economy will be controlled by China through a thoroughly corrupt LNP puppet government, very much reflecting the government of Sri Lanka.

China will address the issue racism through the state-owned newspaper, The Australian. They will explain it is far more entrenched and subtle than calling a person of Asian appearance a chink. It is middle class mothers asking their sons if they marry that Asian or African girl, do they really want their children to look different. They will explain the pain of a sugar coated racial slur and the deep seated and insidious nature of white supremacy.

All this might have been avoided if Australian politicians had voluntarily moved from under the wings of the eagle and engaged in an open and honest way with China. But that would require intelligence and courage which they have been sadly lacking.

To strike a more optimistic note. The future of Australia is in the hands of the people, not the politicians we have become used to. We must change the nature of our political discourse and leadership, we must reinvent ourselves.

If you believe this projection far fetched or too harsh, please indicate what you think the next twenty years holds for Australia.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat. He is also a former Jackaroo, Roughneck, Taxi driver, Tank gunner and farmer. His honours thesis was on Australian political cartoons 1960-69. In Afghanistan he took photographs of Russian military equipment. He was portrayed in the film ‘Cry Freedom’ and was a friend of Steve Biko. He was a confidant of Benazir Bhutto. He served on the Refugee Review Tribunal.

Racism, fear and lack of moral courage sees Australia tied to a declining America, suffering, as a result, a lack of self-respect, independence and a viable and progressive relationship with our largest trading partner.

In 1909, at the urging of Great Britain, Australia organized a local section of the Imperial General Staff (IGS). In light of the foreseeable European war, Britain wanted to mobilise and control the armed forces of what were termed the Dominions, through the IGS.

In 1910 Lord Kitchener inspected troops in Australia and urged the establishment of a military college to train officers. This occurred on 27 June 1911, in a former sheep station, Duntroon, on the edge of Canberra. It was modelled on the British Military College, Sandhurst, and staffed with British officers and senior NCO’s including my grandfather.

The training, mindset and philosophy was to prepare officers to fight alongside or within British units for British objectives. This proved successful and lasted unchanged until the British withdrew from Asia and the Pacific in the 1950’s. Luckily for Australia the Americans moved to fill the gap. The conservative Australian Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, encouraged and welcomed the Americans and adopted their world view which included a hostile China. It was accepted, without debate, that China was promoting the downward thrust of communism through Asia.

Ever fearful of it’s environment Australia signed a collective defence agreement with the US in 1951 to cover the security of the Pacific. Known as the ANZUS treaty it has been invoked more broadly than originally intended. Lacking self confidence Australia has clung to the treaty which it views as an insurance policy requiring regular contributions. The first of which, eagerly grasped by Menzies, was to offer troops for service in Vietnam to help the US contain communism. The US had misread the situation, it was in essence a civil war, but we did not question them. Menzies was keen to pay his dues.

Another conservative Prime Minister keen to pay his dues was John Howard. He sent Australian troops to join US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the case of the latter without strategic objectives other than to bust up Muslims which had the unintended consequence of Australian special forces committing war crimes. To date the conservative government which sent them there is having trouble getting its head around this and has shown every inclination of sweeping the initial investigation under the carpet. This is a terrible consequence of having stupidly followed the Americans into a meaningless war.

Why do we follow the Americans so blindly and before them the British? As noted above a lack of self-confidence has been a motivating factor but equally an inferiority complex which has seen Australians gawk at American exceptionalism and braggadocio. A lack of self-respect is also in play as evinced through the treatment of Indigenous Australians and refugees.

The ugliness of racism sits just beneath the surface in Australia. The white political, business and military establishment is comfortable in dealing with America and Europe, far less so with Africa and Asia. It was easy for Australia to wage war in Vietnam, for at that time the Vietnamese were seen as a lesser and crude race. During my army training we were taught to refer to them as gooks, slope heads and Charlie. Equally derogatory racial stereotypes have made it easier for Australians to wage war against the ‘rag heads’ of Iraq and Afghanistan. The racism of the troops was aided and abetted by the racism of the LNP government which treated refugees as a lesser group and referred to them as terrorists.

The training of ADF officers occurs within the framework of going to war with the United States. There is no independence of thought because Australia has no independent foreign or defence policy. Defence procurement is similarly governed. Whatever is purchased must have interoperability with US defence hardware. And our defence spending is profligate.

Defence analyst, Brian Toohey, describes it as mind boggling and ill thought through. We are purchasing submarines not yet designed, for delivery between 2030 and 2050 to operate with US submarines in the South China Sea for a current cost of $90 billion. We purchased F35 fighters off the design board and 20 years later due to innumerable design failures and difficulties only a handful have been delivered. New frigates have undergone extensive design changes to fit particular radar systems. And together with the US we are developing hypersonic cruise missiles.

In terms of our region this is a massive overspend unless we see our major trading partner as our enemy. And if we do, why is this so? Is it because our erstwhile military ally does? It makes no sense. Instead of recognising the dynamics of our trading relationship with China and upping the level of our diplomatic and cultural ties we have downgraded them.

Morrison talks about defending our sovereignty against China but that has already been ceded for no good reason to America. I wonder if Morrison and Dutton realise how much of our sovereignty, we have passed to the US with their base, known as Pine Gap, in the Northern Territory? We only have partial access and there are other US bases and facilities in Australia to which we have limited access. There are American B52 bombers at Tindale RAAF Base ready to bomb Chinese submarine pens on Hainan Island. What are we doing? What have we been conned into?

The government’s attitude toward the Chinese government and people is condescending and racist. They are seen as inferior compared to Europeans. Morrison and Dutton have had limited exposure to life outside of white Australia. Their racism is exemplified by their treatment of refugees. Their contempt was there for all to see in the tone and thrust of their call for an international inquiry into the origins of Covid19 in god forbid, the wet markets of Wuhan. The sneer of ‘wet markets’ and the desire to punish amplified in the arrogance of the underlying message, ‘who do these uncivilised people think they are foisting a deadly virus on us.’ This was not lost on 1.6 billion Chinese, particularly the government.

So, despite our best interests white Australia will cut off it’s nose to spite its face. White America and white Australia remain members of a dwindling club. America is worried that the family firm is under threat but can’t bring itself to modernise. Australia as shareholders on the farm are going to be taken to the cleaners.

It might surprise Morrison, Dutton, Birmingham, Porter et al, that the Chinese would like the same respect as that shown to Donald Trump by the LNP. They would like to be on an equal footing with the new American administration. They are angry. They do not want to be spoken down to.

Asia sees Australia much as Africa viewed white Apartheid South Africa. They are waiting for basic change to take place. They are waiting for Australia to find the guts to establish its place in the region, and the world, independent of the old failing firm.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired Diplomat.

Many American’s believe that, in the words of Tina Turner, America is ‘Simply the Best’. The notion of American Exceptionalism can be traced to the founding fathers, it evolved through the crucible of WWII into a belief that America’s destiny was to lead the world. A notion that became a propaganda crusade deployed to fight the Nazis, Fascists, Japanese Militarism, Communists in Korean and Russians in the Cold War. In reality it is all about power. With the birth of American Military Exceptionalism grew the need to maximise international outcomes favourable to America, particularly the acquisition of wealth. To do this it needed to see off rivals.

America has sought to control outcomes worldwide in order that its economic advantage will not be lost and new opportunities gained. It secretly sided with the apartheid regime to stop what it saw as the downward thrust of communism into South Africa by socialist government’s in Angola and Mozambique. It sought to protect its trade in gold, diamonds and market for oil.

For the same reasons of trade, it fought for the South in the civil war in Viet Nam and it invaded Iraq for oil. America has sought to preserve its hold over the world’s financial reserves. It has sought to control the movement of capital, which it believes is the unique preserve of the USA. It fights to protect Capitalism. Any diminution in trade and finance is viewed by the US as a loss of power.

The current dispute with China has little to do with the South China Sea and a lot to do with seeing China as an economic rival and competitor. The US, in my opinion, is seeking to contain and intimidate China. It is seeking outcomes through bullying rather than negotiation. American diplomacy since WWII has been conducted through the barrel of a gun. Unfortunately Australia has followed.

There are strands to American exceptionalism, some are idealistic, believing that America with God’s will could create a better world. That view was held within churches but is fading in the face militant right-wing Christianity.

Another is held domestically and broaches no criticism. It is narrow, inward looking and holds that America can achieve whatever it wants, whenever it wants. It is blind and exists in the face of reality. It is a view held on the right of American politics which continues to believe in the superiority of American arms and believes they should be used to maintain American prestige and pre-eminence.

Another is held outside of America and dates back to the visits of European intellectuals and industrialists in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century. They were awed by the wealth and power displayed by the furnaces of Pittsburgh, the trans-national railways and skyscrapers of New York; they wrote about America with envy. It was a view held by Thatcher and now by Johnson.

With American exceptionalism finding its apotheosis at the end of WWII, wartime propaganda was refined into promoting all things American by Hollywood and the media from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Life, Newsweek and Time magazines.

The media in Australia, mainly controlled by Murdoch, has been worshipful and sycophantic in its reportage of all things American. American exceptionalism had a strong currency with my generation. It has diminished, hastened by Trump.

The American hold on technology expressed through the automotive, aviation, space industries and Silicon Valley was exceptional but the lead and reputation gained has been whittled away by competitors such as Germany, Japan, South Korea and most recently China – a source of great anxiety to America.

Many churches support exceptionalism, particularly in the south where it co-exists with white supremacy. Educational institutions support the notion along with the armed services where it is linked to patriotism. Success in sport is an extension of the exceptionalism battle ground.       

The ignominious US defeat in the Vietnam war, together with unsuccessful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan has put paid to international perceptions of American exceptionalism. Nonetheless the American defence establishment continues to believe in its own invincibility which is dangerous when set against wounded pride and diminished prestige, not helped by Trump.

There are hundreds of US bases around the world with 200,000 troops deployed. There are four US bases in Australia, with the US also having access to ADF bases and training areas. Since 9/11 the US has spent $6.4 trillion on wars in the Middle East and securing what it regards as its right to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, even though those rights were never under threat.  The US has fifty bases ringing China with the intention of containment and control; all of this to maintain American supremacy, which is itself based on the notion of exceptionalism.

Australian exceptionalism is shrill, shallow, showy and superficial; it does not stand up under scrutiny.  

Bruce Haigh

Retired Australian Diplomat and political commentator.