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Is it time to review our alliances?


old man emu
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I'm wondering if it is a good time to review Australia's alliances in view of the increasingly open aggressiveness of the United States, and the reaction to that aggressiveness by other political/religious ideologies.

 

For nearly 175 years, Australia has shown a friendly face to the United States. During their Civil War, we welcomed some of their Confederate Navy ships, and Australian-resident British subjects even enlisted in the Confederate military. (To preserve the cheap source of cotton required my the weavers of Manchester). Our troops provided guidance and advice to the Doughboys when they eventually reached the front lines in the Spring of 1918. Australia was the base for the defeat of the Japanese in WWll. We backed the Yanks in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it has been in those last four areas of conflict that we seem to have been swept up by a mania that prevents us examining who actually was the agressor and whose political and empire-building goals are we supporting.

 

We grew up being warned of the threat of Chinese Communist invasion - the Domino Doctrine. (Just forget those few years when Indonesia was the wolf at the door.) Our alliances have been molded by that doctrine. But how far can we trust the USA as a back-up if anyone tried out military action against us on home soil? I'm of the opinion that we would become the Poland of World War lll. But which regime is the war-monger now?

 

China is expanding its empire by means of its cheap manufacturing costs and disregard for the protections afforded intellectual property. They don't need to shed blood. North Korea is the "Mouse that Roared" The Mouse That Roared - Wikipedia . Russia need to be able to trade grain, oil and minerals with Europe. They know the effects of war. That just leaves the United States - a society where moneyed lobby groups prevent their many governments from protecting their own children in school; where a "Me first, last and every other time" allows drunks to kill and maim with impunity using motor vehicles; where "In God we trust" doesn't mean "We follow God"; where racism and sexism are rampant; and where use of military force is accepted as a means of meeting Imperial goals.

 

So, should we be like New Zealand, and tell the Yanks to bugger off with their weapons of mass destruction? Should we align ourselves with those countries whose aim it is to make the lives of their citizens better? Should we tell the world that Australia will stop adding to the disruption of peace on behalf of Imperialists.

 

 

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So, should we be like New Zealand, and tell the Yanks to bugger off with their weapons of mass destruction? Should we align ourselves with those countries whose aim it is to make the lives of their citizens better? Should we tell the world that Australia will stop adding to the disruption of peace on behalf of Imperialists.

In a word, yes. But we won't because our politicians don't have the courage and intelligence to do so.

 

Apologies for being a bit pedantic old man emu, but Britain showed anything but a friendly face to the United States during the American Civil War. By materially supporting the Confederate States, we were a de facto enemy of the U.S.. Technically we were neutral, but in reality were working against the U.S. in that war.

 

If Britain and her colonies had officially recognised the CSA, we would have been at war with the U.S.. Our ports hosted both U.S. and C.S. ships. Around the time the CSS Shenandoah was in port in Melbourne, Russia, the ally of the U.S., sent most of their navy here on a so called good will tour. After they sailed to international waters, the Russian officials notified us that if Britain recognised the CSA, their navy would open fire and shell Melbourne. The truth is that during the Civil War, the U.S. didn't like us one bit. We were seen as a potential enemy in the conflict. The Shenandoah sunk a lot of U.S. ships and we were giving it safe harbour. On top of that, our colonial parent, Britain, was supplying a lot of material to the CSA and a lot of arms to kill U.S. soldiers.

 

Cheers, Willie.

 

 

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Just think about the wars in our history and there was not one where it was a good idea to be involved.

 

What was there in it for Australia to be part of the Boer War? And WW1 was worse. In WW2 it was we who declared war on Japan, not the other way around.

 

If Turnbull etc make us part of some anti-chinese thing, they are worse than stupid.

 

Who thinks badly of Sweden or Switzerland for being neutral in WW2 against the nazis? Well I do just a bit, but my opinion isn't taken much notice of in Canberra.

 

 

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In a word, yes. But we won't because our politicians don't have the courage and intelligence to do so...

Sad but true, Willedoo. We are right to be concerned about the spread of Chinese influence in Australia, but we've been under the American thumb for generations. Our leaders have got our economy (and military) so enmeshed with the US of A that it would take enormous trauma to break free. We shouldn't kid ourselves that good old America doesn't play dirty to pull strings in Australian politics (The USA has done this in dozens of countries; if that fails they just invade and install a "friendly" regime- even if that means replacing an elected government with a dictator.)

 

This week our PM is under enormous pressure to take sides with the Americans in provoking our biggest export customer in the South China Sea. Should we leave our economic future in the hands of Donald Trump?

 

What Australian government would have the backbone to conduct a cost/benefit analysis of the US alliance?

 

Would we be better off buying the excellent warplanes built by Russia or Europe, mobs cheaper than the suspect F-35?

 

If we'd shown as much backbone as NZ or Sweden the Americans might actually respect us.

 

If Whitlam's minister Rex Connor had been allowed to limit foreign ownership of our resources, perhaps we'd be like tiny Norway, with the world's largest savings fund. Instead, we have enormous debt; foreign corporations dominate our economy, spend lavishly to influence our politicians- and pay no tax.

 

 

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Apologies for being a bit pedantic old man emu, but Britain showed anything but a friendly face to the United States during the American Civil War. By materially supporting the Confederate States, we were a de facto enemy of the U.S.. Technically we were neutral, but in reality were working against the U.S. in that war.

 

If Britain and her colonies had officially recognised the CSA, we would have been at war with the U.S.. Our ports hosted both U.S. and C.S. ships. Around the time the CSS Shenandoah was in port in Melbourne, Russia, the ally of the U.S., sent most of their navy here on a so called good will tour. After they sailed to international waters, the Russian officials notified us that if Britain recognised the CSA, their navy would open fire and shell Melbourne. The truth is that during the Civil War, the U.S. didn't like us one bit. We were seen as a potential enemy in the conflict. The Shenandoah sunk a lot of U.S. ships and we were giving it safe harbour. On top of that, our colonial parent, Britain, was supplying a lot of material to the CSA and a lot of arms to kill U.S. soldiers.

 

Cheers, Willie.

I quite agree that Britain was on the side of the Confederates. It had to be because they were Britain's source of cheap cotton, which the British mills needed. And the Union hated that. The Russians were on the side of the Union because the Ruskies hated Britain for killing off Russia's expansion plans into Crimea and thence through Afghanistan to India and China.

 

The US Civil War was an example of an industrialised state overcoming an agrarian one. An example that had proven successful in opening up China, Japan, Thailand (Siam) and a host of other kingdoms.

 

 

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The richest people in America were from the south and cotton did it coupled with SLAVERY. That's not a very proud heritage to boast about. They have never come to grips with that especially since the white s are about to become a minority. When you see some of these white supremicists they don't look too supreme to me.. America has grim days ahead of it.. The low wages regime is not far removed from slavery even now. The gap between rich and poor grows by the day. They should study French History, or they will relive it in a worse form. Nev

 

 

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The geopolitical landscape has definitely moved. But it still appears to be divided betwen the west, the east, Asia and the middle east (I am not sure on what level African countries are). There's a difference between not agreeing to everyting the US does and not being an ally - being an ally does not mean that one comply with everything other allies ask. Switzerland can hardly be said to be neutral - they simply are not willing to side with a particular country in a war. However, as I understand, Switzerland provided economic assistance to Nazi Germany in return for not being attacked and their banking system allowed laundering ilgotten gaiins by the Nazis and movement of considerable wealth to other countries such as Argentia, etc. So, while they were armed-neutral, they weren't exactly nuetral and Germany was moer-or-less an ally or sorts. Although they did shoot down both German and US/UK planes that violated their airspace.

 

The point i am making is that I don't think it is time to change the alliance. Trump is full of a lot more bluster than any of his predecessors, but has yet to strike, except against the Syrian Airforce base in response to a suspected Srin attack on the Syrian populaton. He has maintained operations aythorised by his predecessors. In fact, George Dubbleyer was far more aggressive.

 

But what are the options:

 

- Largeley western alliance consisting of the US, NATO countries, Australia, NZ, Singapore, maybe a couple fo African Countries, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, etc. Largely democratic (but at the moment, admittedly looking corruptable) and the main financier - the US generally has a philosophy of as long as you don't threten us, we will leave you in peace..

 

- Eastern bloc - Russia, Ex Communist states, most middle eastern states, Pakistan, etc. Very totalitarian under a veil of democracy and wanting central control. More openly oppressive of the population. I am not sure how China fits in with this anymore - Xi Jinping is a tactical and consumatte leader and statesman, but behind all of the progressive liveralisation and capitalisation, there appears to be an undercurrent of the old communist ways.

 

- The rest, which in all honestly doesn't really bode much on the political stage.

 

I know who I would still like to have an allegiance with - and NZ, while resisting many of the yanks demands, have not relinquished their particiaption in the alliance.. they are just doing it on their terms. And I think this is the nub of the issue. In all fairness, the US finances a lot of the western world's defences - albeit there is a return in that they US defence suppliers reap great rewards as a result. However, if I was financing NATO and other countres' defences, I would like something in return, too. The quesstion is how much and whether those other countries should accept the cost. Do we leave our current alliance? Probably not (at least in a political sense). Do we change the terms of that alliance - probably yes..

 

 

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Don't agree with your summary of US policy. It's now... If you in any way threaten our way of doing business (exploiting you through our form of capitalism) , we will bully and threaten you till you change your mind.) Recall George saying IF you are not with ME you are against me.. No middle ground allowed. No heed of the UN concerns. Faked the weapons of mass destruction investigation and "GOD speaks through MY lips" Bullied little New Zealand which is a DEMOCRACY. where all can vote unlike the US. where all sorts of shenanegens are utilised to restrict some from voting .Nev

 

 

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My term. "if you don't threaten us.." was not limited to militarily...

 

I was on a flight fom San Francisco to London (or was it the other way) many years ago - sat next to a US government lawyer (attorney) and got talking. His job was to prosecute companies that violated US interests in IP (i.e. onsold US technology to organisations in countries where it was not authorised to do so). A couple of his stories about the U S pursuit of protecting its financial interests were interesting, indeed. However, the one thing that rings in my memory was a spat between Aus and the US regarding sugar tariffs, effectively stopping Australia selling sugar to the US. The response from the US agri minister to assertions the US were not following WTO rules and creating a distorted playing field was that the US ministers job was to serve US agriculture including sugar farmers, and maybe the Aussie counterpart should do the same (of course, the resources available to do so are somewhat tilted in favour of the US).

 

 

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I think the alliance with the U.S. is a bit like marrying into the Mafia. You wake up one day and realize that you can't really get out. You become bound to favours; you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. It would be nice to be a non aligned state, but how to achieve that, I for one have no idea how to. We are so economically tied to both the major rivals that it puts us in a tight spot.

 

 

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We are so economically tied to both the major rivals that it puts us in a tight spot.

I can see the economic ties with China - minerals and agricultural produce - but I can't identify what it is that we export to the USA.

 

Don't forget how the USA did the dirty on us by closing down the automobile manufacturing industry.

 

 

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I can see the economic ties with China - minerals and agricultural produce - but I can't identify what it is that we export to the USA.

Don't forget how the USA did the dirty on us by closing down the automobile manufacturing industry.

We used to export Ugg boots. They've been on sale and well advertised in the USA for decades. Then some enterprising American registered the name (in doing so claiming nobody was using the name). Then his lawyers threatened to close down our Ugg boot manufacturers. Another export market lost to our good friend and ally.

 

 

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I can see the economic ties with China - minerals and agricultural produce - but I can't identify what it is that we export to the USA.

Don't forget how the USA did the dirty on us by closing down the automobile manufacturing industry.

Old Man Emu, I'm not referring to our limited exports to the U.S.. It was a reference to the level of U.S. investment in Australia. I could be wrong, but I think they are still the biggest foreign investor in Australia.

 

 

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A big hidden export is Australian real estate. Chinese investors are making the news these days, but it may well be that US investors are bigger. They certainly were in the past.

 

It is the Chinese investment in our real estate that fills Bunnings with all those Chinese goods we like so much.

 

One little-known consequence of the Iraq war was that Australia lost its biggest middle-east market for meat to US interests.

 

 

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US is the biggest foreign investor in Australia and we export approximately half in value of what we import from the US: https://dfat.gov.au/trade/resources/Documents/usa.pdf. Beef other non-beef meats, aircraft spares and parts and pharmaceuticals are the biggest exprots. Mind you, it does not give a breakdown of ownership of those resources we export.

 

On the Ugg boots thing, the US is a very aggressive commercial competitor and fosters a higher level of entreprenuership than most other countries. If there is an opportunity to muscle in on someone else's turf, then they will. That is a long-honoured tradition in US business and is seen as positive as it fosters competition (I am not saying it does - it is one of the reasons) and promotes wealth. While government institutions and the courts will favour US companies in a legal dispute (as can be seen in the recent Bombardier case as well as foregin banks being fined on average double that of US banks for the same misconduct issues), the US courts will uphold the law in international cases fairly - that has been seen in the aforementioned issues where state appeals courts removed the punitive tarrifs on Bombardier and told the Commerce Department they were treading in thin ice in terms of liability to Bombardier; and the state appeals courts halved thef ines of the foreign banks and in no uncertain terms issued warnings to the Fed their actions may have been illegal.

 

I don't know the details of the Ugg case, but my guess would be, depending on how far it went to appeal and how much resources the Aussie company had, that the courts upheld Ugg Boots were not established as a generic term for the type of boot on sale outside of Australia and NZ and therefore, outside of those markets, the term could be trademarked (it is not trademarked in Aus/NZ as I understand). If this is the case, this shows to me a little more accumen by Deckers (who owns Ugg, the brand) to get something that their Aussie counterparts didn't. As an aside, I am helping an Indian company try to break into the US market and the first thing was trademark and patent their poduct Thanlfully for them, for genuinely innovative products, the Indian government subsidise the costs of doing so.

 

At least the US provide protection of IP - we aren't even bothering with marketing to China at the moment because of the risk of being ripped off. Although, other companies have done very well out of a slight twist on the Ugg model. I think it was Kambrook who have basically transformed themselves from a manufacturer to a designed, and licence a Chinese manufacturer to make the stuff. Kambrook own the Auz/NZ and possibly other smaller markets and the Chinese compny own the rest of the workd markets. Kambrook make a small royalty off each item sold to the RoW. Stops them Chinese company simply ripping them off (fair warning - this was reported many years ago - no doubt has changed since them).

 

Losing the meat (and I think wheat and wool) markets to the middle east was hardly surprising. Europe lost a lot of its markets there, too. The US were the biggest investors in money, resources and military lives in the campaigns in the ME (some unjustified, agreed). They set up and ran administrations and then installed local representatives paid for by and sympathetic to the US. It was not wholly inconceivable it was for them to secure access to oil and then for their non-regulated administration to favour US companies. The UK complained to the US government that a disproprtionate amount of contracts and trade was going to US companies on the basis of the proportion of investment the UK made to the peace-keeping exercises (er., wars). Some concessions were granted on that basis, but not much.

 

Re the car companies - Chrysler shut up shop years ago. Arguably, they were like the Channel 10 of the motor industry - never made cars that really hit the spot. But of late, it was three major Japanese manufacturers that shut up shop (admittedly, Nissan looked to be the Chrysler of the Japanese manufacturers here) and the two US ones could be argued to have held on until the last minute. The Aussie car market is fairly small and Australia is not the cheapest place to manufacture cars. Car manufacturers of high-cost countries keep some of their manufacturing in their home country for political and market reasons but move to have most of their manufacturing in low cost, "flexible" countries.

 

Getting back to the alliances, we are allied to the US, Western Europe and those ME/Asian countries consistent with our ideals. Yes, our alliance is dominated by the USA. It's not perfect and the way the world is heading, it is every dog for itself, but when I compare to joining alliances dominated by Russia or China, I know which alliance I would currently want to be in. It doesn't mean we have to do as we are told all the time; it should be a little fairer in many respects - and we should adopt a NZ approach of being more independent in our political and economic pursuits. But I think NZ is still an ally of the western alliance - just more on its terms than we are on ours.

 

 

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You make some good points there Jerry. I don't think the non aligned path is viable for us. So that leaves two choices - the Russia China alliance or what we have, the U.S. alliance. It's not going to happen that Australia will drop the U.S. and fully embrace their opposition.

 

The best we can hope for is that we can break out of our lap dog status and reach an agreement with the U.S. that we can disagree in our own interests at times. It's not a matter of whether the U.S. respects our weaknesses or strengths. They don't respect anyone. Other nations are just convenient to them. All this talk about a great bond and friendship since WW2 is just a lot of waffle for the gullible punters and the press. If it suited them, they'd screw us just as quickly as anyone else.

 

They're our friends because strategically and politically, we're very handy to them, and we need them to help ensure our security. Personally, I think it would be good if we could strike a deal that we would only help them make war if it was U.N. approved - no more unilateral abuses of other countries sovereignty, no more breaches of international law and no more killing civilians just because they want us to give them a hand so they can claim some legitimacy by having a couple of mates help them. Over the years, Australia's support and involvement in non U.N. sanctioned unilateral attacks and warfare on other countries is a national shame and disgrace. If we limited our involvement in Uncle Sam's war adventures to those actions only sanctioned by the international community via the U.N., we could once again have some pride in what we do. We don't have the balls to tell them to f**k off, so it's the next best alternative.

 

 

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willedoo, you are so in my camp.

 

However, I'm a bit wary of even going along the road of being involved in UN-sanctioned military intervention. As you say, the USA doesn't respect anyone. They no doubt would bully lesser members on the UN Security Council to start action against countries that are not allies of Russia and China.

 

The alliance should be very clear: We'll help you if someone attacks your home soil, and you'll do the same for us. But we won't go attacking any regime operating within its own borders.

 

Jerry raises an important point: Beef, other non-beef meats, aircraft spares and parts and pharmaceuticals are the biggest exports. Mind you, it does not give a breakdown of ownership of those resources we export. That's the thing. Are Australian-owned businesses exporting, or are we only supplying the workforce for US businesses?

 

 

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The Kiwis seem much more sensible than us. Not only do they tell the US to take a flying leap, they have a good economy with 63% of GDP from the service sector. They have 70%+ renewable energy. And they still have their humanity - offering to take refugees from Australia's concentration camps.

 

 

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Note that media generally, as part of their 'dumbing down' policy, seem to avoid giving air to the benefits of Australian Owned businesses. Sometimes they spruik 'Made In Australia', but if the business happens to be Foreign owned (USA is foreign, too), then most of the profits are spirited away with little if any benefit to our economy. It doesn't take much research to find that a lot of brands that we all assumed to be Aussie are in fact foreign owned. That kind of globalisation doesn't benefit us at all. For instance, I always thought John Holland was Aussie, but it's apparently owned by China Communication Corp (is that government owned?) And they, along with a USA Halliburton mob, own most of the Ghan Railway. Is there a connection with Chinese wanting to buy Darwin harbour?

 

 

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I liked the way the New Zealanders said "no" to nuclear ships in their main harbors. This was a dreadful thing to do, we were told at the time, but I since found out that nuclear ships are not allowed into New York and San Francisco harbors.

 

We have just had 2 nuclear reactors in Melbourne harbor and I am disgusted with the greens and their mates in the labor party.

 

Why were they not protesting? They have stopped us having a much safer in design and much safer in siting reactor to supply electricity to Victoria.

 

 

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