The Drums of War – Again

Written By: - Date published: 4:12 pm, March 20th, 2023 - 38 comments
Categories: australian politics, China, defence, FiveEyes, helen clark, military, Pacific, Peace, Peace, Propaganda, thinktank, trade, us politics, war - Tags:

On 20 March 2003 the US invaded Iraq, on the basis that it had and could use weapons of mass destruction. That was a lie. Australia joined President Bush’s ‘coalition of the willing’, New Zealand did not. The drums of war beat strong then, and are doing so again now. This time China is the target.

One year earlier, in March 2002, I was in Ottawa speaking at a conference  on relations between unions and political parties, and watching US TV in my hotel room in the evening. Back in New Zealand I reported on the conference to the Labour Party caucus, and based on the strident media coverage I had seen in Canada said as an aside “the US is going to invade Iraq.” Helen Clark got up immediately and said “we will not be following them.” Her strong leadership then proved to be correct and is something for which all of us can be very grateful.

The media drums of war are beating again, this time with China in the sights, and they are concerted across the FiveEyes. From the US, various senior officers have been predicting war with China in the next few years. From Australia last week, Nine Media papers Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age ran a three-part series titled “Red Alert”, warning of the threat of an invasion by an aggressive China.

On the same day front-page stories in the Dominion Post and Herald variously showed a door-stepped Chinese person denying he passed information to China, and a Herald headline “Threat of trade use as a weapon – Exclusive – Hostile foreign powers, likely China, could put billions in jeopardy.”

Another former Labour leader, Australia’s Paul Keating, savaged the Nine series, as only he can, in a memorable Press Club interview with Laura Tingle in Sydney and the Press Gallery in Canberra on the AUKUS submarine deal. It is well worth a  watch. The series was put together with five so-called experts. Keating rightly defined them as right-wing hawks. You can watch them conversing here.

Two things stand out for me. Firstly, the ‘experts’ identify that their task is ‘psychological.’ They ask is Australia prepared for what is its ‘near future,’ and say no.

Critically, the group emphasises that this is a responsibility for the whole nation, not for the military alone: “Most important of all is a psychological shift. Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs, but an aberration. Australia’s holiday from history is over.”

In other words, their self-appointed task is war propaganda. And it is succeeding, as opinion about China in Australia (and New Zealand) has shifted markedly negative in the last five year, not by accident. For me it is the  Iraq war prelude redux.

Secondly, they raise the question of whether Australia should discuss the hosting of nuclear weapons in Australia. This goes well beyond the question of nuclear propulsion in the eye-wateringly costly submarines. If we thought the nuclear debate was settled for us, it clearly is not.

The experts did not discuss the consequences of war. The potential costs in money is massive, and in human lives is horrendous. The illegal Iraq war cost the US $3trillion according to Oxford Professor Neta Crawford, as 2000 civilians were killed in the first few days of the war. Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon describes its consequences in the Guardian:

The ‘new Iraq’ that the warmongers promised us did not bring Starbucks or startups, but car bombs, al-Qaida and Islamic State

Coming back to war with China, in Morning Report today, Corin Dann asked Professor Robert Ayson of the Institute of Strategic Studies, another war-focused think tank, “if the AUKUS countries for some reason got into a military exchange conflict with say China, how difficult would it be for New Zealand not also to get involved? Would we have to support Australia if they attacked.” Ayson’s response was:

If Australia ends up in conflict in East Asia supporting the United States, and this was seen as a response to Chinese activities, it would be very difficult for New Zealand to just sit on the sidelines.

We need to talk about all this – urgently and thoroughly.

We did not follow the US into war with Iraq, and we should not follow Australia into war with China, just because it has tied its apron strings to the US. We took the US out of the ANZUS alliance over nuclear weapons and nuclear propulsion in the 1980s; if Australia is going to go down this track I think we should get rid of the A as well.

We are a Pacific country and a proud pacific nation.


38 comments on “The Drums of War – Again ”

  1. Mac1 1

    Agreed, Well said, Mike. I am pleased to see we are sending ministers to China. Let's keep up the contacts and two way visits, people and politicians alike.

    I've been there. My daughter lived there. Who goes to war with people one has danced with, sung with, eaten with?

    • Phillip ure 1.1

      @ macl..

      I second your last sentence..

      I traveled there just before tianenmen square..

      And came away with much respect and admiration of/for the chinese people I met..and the culture in general..

      I travelled quite widely in china..up into provincial areas..that had not seen many people that looked like was a wonderful life/changing experience..

      And you are right…the thought of going to war against these people..who you have eaten/laughed with…just fills me with dismay..

      • tWiggle 1.1.1

        And undoubtedly those people don't want to go to war with us. It's not people but States who start wars. China has made its positions regarding absorption of Taiwan and expansion into the South China Sea clear. The US has growled back, and surrounding SE Asian states are pretty unhappy too.

        The crux will be in how militarily agressive the Chinese State will be in pursuing this expansion. No one else has the slightest interest in starting a shooting war. But everyone is pushing and planning their response to China's stated increase in arms and military spend. The sabre-rattling, I reckon, is to convince internal audiences, voters, the spend for an arms race is justified. China isn't constrained by the opinions of its citizens in quite the same way.

        • Sanctuary

          Well, the Chinese have probably got a bit of a beef with the US containment response, but at the end of the day I'd rather be Uncle Sam's mate than have China bossing us around.

    • Mike the Lefty 1.2

      The Chinese people certainly wouldn't want to go to war with the West.

      But they will also believe what their government tells them. My ex-wife was Chinese and totally uninterested in politics, but bring up the subject of Taiwan even she felt compelled to spit out the Chinese Communist Party line on the matter and would brook no argument on it.

      If there is any conflict between China and the West it will be over Taiwan, I think.

  2. SPC 2

    Neither the Quad nor the UK/US/OZ nuclear powered sub arrangement are part of a war with China policy, as per Iraq, but rather containment.

    You are right that we have a continuing defence and security relationship with Oz, despite being on the ANZUS sideline.

    However the Australian government has already made it clear that security/defence and foreign policy independence are not compromised in the sub arrangement. Thus they are in no position to infer any (foreign policy or security) obligation on us resulting from that arrangement.

    And all parties have stressed that the sub deal will not compromise Oz status as a non nuclear armed state – no weapons nor any enrichment of uranium.

    Existing ship and sub visits (neither confirm nor deny rules) would in the future include the US and UK subs using the Perth base until the Oz navy had their own nuclear powered (but not nuclear armed subs).

    The military enhancement is the range of the Oz (nuclear powered) subs and the addition of cruise missiles.

    The psychological factor is that containment is not appeasement of a wannabe regional power hegemony.

  3. Phillip ure 3

    Yes..respect to clark for saying no thanks re iraq..(that respect somewhat tempered by the headlong rush into the long grinding…and ultimately futile ..misery that was afghanistan.

    Another potent example of that drums of war was obama's darkest hour..the invasion of libya..

    Gaddaffi was no saint..but he used the oil profits to care for his people..

    Libyans had free health…free education to post-graduate level..

    They had subsidised housing…and every newly married couple were given u.s.$40,000…to help kick-start their lives together…

    Women had access to all education/jobs etc

    Libya was the most secular country in the region..

    Obama turned all of that info a fundamentalist hell-hole…to this day riven by civil war…

    And for what..?

    As I said…that was obama's darkest hour..

    • SPC 3.1

      And Obama opposed the action in Iraq. The problem was that the no fly zone designed to prevent the government air force being used on rebels (and civilian areas) became a NATO weapon turned on the governments ground forces in breach of the UN authorisation of their use only for a no fly zone.

  4. Steve Bradley 4

    Thanks again to Mike Smith. He's always at the forefront of calling out the mostly under-ground US foreign policy.

    In my lifetime, in late 1949 when the Chinese Communist army defeated the right-wing Nationalists under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, he evacuated his leadership cohort to the Chinese offshore island of Formosa/Taiwan and set up a government in opposition to the government of China and without the agreement of the natives of the island.

    Naturally, the government of China has never given up its title to the island and and will never give it up. Under constant provocation from the US and others the Chinese government has so far refused to be drawn into war.

    The Chinese have a recent history of their country being ravaged by war. Anti-Imperialist war against Great Britain, Japan, United States, et al, in the Nineteenth Century and the three-way war between the Kuomintang Government, Japanese Imperial invaders. and Communist revolutionary army in the Twentieth Century.

    War kills and maims people and destroys what humans have built up by their hard-work.

    The government of New Zealand and people need not fear war with China so long as they do not make war on China.

    • Jenny are we there yet 4.1

      The Chinese nationalists no longer rule Taiwan.

      The current Prime Minister of Taiwan is an indigenous Taiwanese.

      The indigenous people of Taiwan and the Chinese settler population have the right to self determination.

      Both China and Taiwan are capitalist countries. China is an authoritarian dictatorship, Taiwan is a liberal democracy.

      The Cold War between capitalist Nationalists and the Chinese Communists is old news. The capitalists won.

      Mainland China is no longer a communist state country, but is a state monopoly capitalist country with a capitalist growth imperative and imperialist ambitions, Just like the US.

      War between them is inevitable. Unless….

      He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

      The age of imperialist expansionism is dying, people are sick and tired of the wars the imperialist nations wage to divide and redivide the world.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    The best way to prevent war with China is to make it untenable for China to start war.

    China is actually very vulnerable, so would need to think they could survive the fallout from any war.

    China is highly dependent on trade with the west. And, China is a large net importer of raw materials. So, similar sanctions as have been applied to Russia would be absolutely devastating to China.

    China is highly vulnerable to military blockade via the Maccalla strait. So, could soon be nuetered without too much of a fight. Hence the importance of the Quad alliance.

    Hence, credible deterence should be highly effective in disauding China from military aggression because the costs will be too high.

    • tsmithfield 5.1

      Correction: Mallacca Strait.

    • Jenny are we there yet 5.2


      Blackadder Goes Forth (updated version)

      ….At present the British (US) Empire covers a quarter of the globe, while the German (Chinese) Empire consists of a small sausage (noodle) factory in Tanganyika. I hardly think we can be absolved from blame on the imperialist front….

      ….The real reason for the whole thing, it was just too much effort not to have a war.

      You see Baldrick in order to prevent war in Europe, (the Pacific), two super blocs developed. The French and the Russians (Americans and Australians), on one side, the Germans and Austro-Hungary (Russia and China), on the other.

      The idea was to have two vast opposing armies each acting as the others' deterrent. That way there could never be a war.

      "…credible deterence should be highly effective in disauding China from military aggression"

      Yeah right.

      • tsmithfield 5.2.1

        Jenny, you must be scratching around if you have to use Blackadder as an authority smiley.

        But effective deterence is really an essential of nationhood. Otherwise we wouldn't need a military.

        Various authorities I have seen have commented that Putin would have been much less likely to invade Ukraine if the west had given them large amounts of military support prior to the invasion as a deterence

        What do you think would have happened to the former USSR countries if they had disbanded their armies, and stood alone rather than in the Nato alliance? Do you think they would still be independent nations?

        It would be great if the whole world was all flowers and butterflies. But, unfortunately it isn't while power hungry dictators exist.

        • Jenny are we there yet


          21 March 2023 at 4:07 pm

          Jenny, you must be scratching around if you have to use Blackadder as an authority…

          As the saying goes; It's funny because its true.

          Parody and humour are an indirect way to challenge long held nationalist shiboliths or sectarian prejudices without causing offence or bruising fragile egos.


          21 March 2023 at 4:07 pm

          …..What do you think would have happened to the former USSR countries if they had disbanded their armies, and stood alone rather than in the Nato alliance? Do you think they would still be independent nations?

          Short answer is. Yes.

          Maybe Smithfield you could throw your mind back to recall how the former USSR countries became independent nations in the first place?

          A popular people's movement tore down the Berlin wall.

          It wasn't through armies or Nato. These forces stood on the sidelines. A popular people's movement that spread throughout Eastern Europe and inside Russia itself broke up the the Soviet empire.

          A popular people's movement in the US alongside the Vietnamese people's resistance ended the war in Vietnam.

          A popular people's movement brought down the US backed President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, A popular people's revolt brought down the Russian backed President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych

          A popular people's movement, in Russia alongside the Ukrainian people's resistance will end the war in Ukraine.

  6. adam 6

    When the only response is comedy, you know it's gone bad

  7. Ad 7

    Even with its consistently appalling human rights record and brutal authoritarian regime, I would respect China if it can pull off the start of a peace deal with Russia and Ukraine.

    That would be a shockwave through the UN General Assembly and Security Council, through NATO, and through Washington's intelligence and defence establishment and their media.

    The Saudi-Iranian handshake was a good start.

    But a Ukraine-Russia brokering would be a diplomatic earthquake.

    The chances of China doing this must surely increase as the frontline stalemate continues.

    Success in that peace deal would not only rapidly revive a nascent global Non-Aligned Movement, it might also just pull the Doomsday Clock back a few minutes.

    On the other hand China having played that peacebroker card runs a high risk that they will fail. That would simply underline US-Europe and NATO as a dominant order that will not change for many more years to come.

    Such fun if China reaps the diplomatic reward for the deep $$ commitment of US and Europe to Ukraine's survival.

    • Jenny are we there yet 7.1

      Blackadder again:

      …. two super blocs developed.

      "….Success in that peace deal would not only rapidly revive a nascent global Non-Aligned Movement, it might also just pull push the Doomsday Clock back forward a few minutes."

      There fixed it for you.

      Down with Russian imperialism – Slava Ukraine

    • lprent 7.2

      Such fun if China reaps the diplomatic reward for the deep $$ commitment of US and Europe to Ukraine's survival.

      Problem is that Russia and Putin are currently occupying something like 17% of Ukraine and claiming to have annexed something like 21%.

      Politically it is hard to see how the Chinese could convince Putin to give any of that up. It'd just cripple him in internal politics, and also any 'safe' successor to him.

      Similarly having to pay reparations from Russia to Ukraine to repair the infrastructural damage would neither be believed nor credible. It would also harm the current RF administration in internal RF politics because it would have to accept that the RF attacked Ukraine without cause.

      I doubt that China would offer to pay for fixing the infrastructure of a rump Ukrainian state.

      China can't even wave a sanctions lift as an incentive. Because to do that they'd have to get the nations that have made the sanctions on board, and those nations have mostly already made most of the economic transition. Plus why would they want to go back to trade with a fickle aggressor who has been seizing assets without compensation?

      Nor could Russia or China offer a credible security guarantee to a Ukrainian rump state against future Russian invasion. Russia because they have already violated all previous guarantees repeatably. China because it has no significant way of preventing or helping a state in the middle of Europe without invading Russia from the east.

      I can't see them being able to or wanting to bolster or supply the Ukrainian military against future attacks (or the RF wanting it)

      Russia isn't in a position of managing to advance their positions significantly. or offer a credible military threat outside of using nukes. How many times has Bakhmut been proclaimed to have been taken over of surrounded by Wagner? When were the Russian army able to capture any significant territory? March last year.

      Basically the Russians have been incredibly useless are prosecuting the war after the first few weeks and are subsisting mainly on static defences, conscripted 'volunteers' from occupied territories and elsewhere, called up over-age reservists, and human wave tactics that were obsolete in the first world war. They are also slowing exhausting their large soviet area stockpiles of equipment and ammunition.

      About the only thing that the Russian armed forces have been successful in has been targeting civilian targets with missiles under the guise of targeting infrastructure. Most of which has been done with inaccurate anti-ship missiles from the soviet era and some drones. Both with a low success rate at damaging infrastructure for any length of time, but have proved pretty good at killing civilians.

      I guess that just adds to the rapes, casual shooting of civilians and kidnapping of children in occupied territories that the Russian army and FSB seem to specialise in.

      I can't see that the Chinese have any leverage. Unless they are simply communication the Russian intent to use nuclear weapons against civilian Ukrainian targets. Or they are planning to enter the war by supplying Russia with military supply – which seems unlikely.

      It just looks like a pointless publicity stunt. If I had to guess, I'd say that it is a ploy designed to forestall whatever offensive that the Ukrainian military are currently planning. Because they have been doing pretty well at their offensives.

  8. lprent 8

    For me the issue is pretty simple, it has to do with the time it takes to shift a defence posture.

    I'm not particularly a pacifist, simply because I read too much history including military history, even before I turned 18. It is replete with unexpected attacks by usually neighbouring states, colonial wars where a lack of military capability meant that some unscrupulous merchants or other pirates engineered a territory takeover, or there was just some dumbarse local political problem that waging an aggressive war against someone else would help solve.

    I'd place both the US invasion of Iraq 20 years ago and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and last year in that category.

    Even as a kid I had absolutely no mystical illusions about military – most of the Auckland War Memorial museum library is full of accounts about just how frigging gruesome armed conflicts are. It also made me determined that I was never going to thrown into a armed conflict as a barely trained conscript. So I joined as a territorial volunteer as soon after I turned 18 in my gap year before I went to university. It was just more training for a life along with working in a factory production line, milking as as farm hand, and doing the lambing beat on a sheep station.

    Anyone with a brain simply being trained as a soldier rapidly removes any dickhead warrior illusions. The army here makes absolutely sure that recruits have no illusions about just how nasty armed conflicts really are.

    But my key point and complete disagreement with Mike's view about the steady militarisation of the Asia Pacific region is also part of military history.

    It is to do with the inability of predict what can happen politically in other states, and the long lead times to increase military capabilities. I knew this factor even before doing 7 odd underpaid years working on contracts across the globe to supply military training simulators. It pretty much takes a decade to lift capabilities.

    You can't look at what the leaders of other states say about their intentions because they cannot bind their successors. I'm absolutely sure that Yeltsin meant everything that they said about guaranteeing Ukraine's security in the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 in exchange for Ukraine giving up their nuclear weapons.

    All that meant to Putin when he wanted to solve a internal domestic political problem 20 years later was that he needed to justify an invasion with some bullshit mythic nationalistic history about Russia and Crimea (ignoring the forced displacement of the Tarters). Then he created a myth about NATO expansion and Ukrainian 'nazis' (a tiny minority in the political structure of Ukraine at the time and now) as an external threat to keep maintaining his political stability. That political ineptitude got him into the armed quagmire that he has his citizens to.

    Military preparedness and capability planning is not done based on what leaders say in other countries. It isn't done based on how nice the citizens of that country are. That would be pointless and inexcusably irresponsible for both the people in the military and for the government that funds them.

    Leadership changes, often for the worse, like Russia after Yeltsin, or the US when they got George W Bush and Trump. Populations and the people within them can be swayed by outright lying and propaganda. Just look at the nonsense that the US ran about WMDs in Iraq. Or Putin's demonising of mythical external threats to Russia when it was his previous posturing and border actions that meant that so many ex-Warsaw bloc states went through military and fiscal torment to join NATO.

    That is where I consider that both Paul Keating and my fellow author are pretty much naive fools. It takes decades in peacetime to build a fleet capable of attacking neighhbours. China has spent the last decade building the capabilities through modernisation and increases in of their fleet size. They have been projecting that into areas that are part of other states economic zones and creating bases to try to annex area from other states.

    There are currently no signs that the Chinese increase in capability is decreasing in intensity. Keating didn't bother to mention that, instead depending on some half-baked optimism about no change in future leadership intentions and economic theory.

    I'm unsure what Mike Smith thinks on it – because he didn't address anything beyond the now for China and instead targeted some relatively small increase in Australian defensive capabilities – that won't arrive, at the earliest, for more than 12 years. That is how long a change in military capabilities can take. It will probably be at least two decades before the new design submarines get finished being built.

    For almost any national military within range of Chinese future military capabilities, they are trying to build their military capabilities and alliances to provide a deterrence against them. Like Australia, they will also try to move their capabilities to move their defence further forward as the probable range of Chinese attack increases. Which is why Australia wanted to shift from diesil/electric attack subs to nuclear powered ones.

    These are all prudent military measures based on an potential aggressor's increase in seafaring military capability. These same kinds of increases are taking place in just about every nation in the Asia Pacific, from Japan to Indonesia, from Singapore to the Russian Federation Pacific fleet as a response to increases in Chinese military capabilities.

    It simply doesn't matter what the current military and political intentions of China's leaders or citizens are now. Leaders change. Alliances change. Propaganda is a great tool to change citizens minds. You have to work on what their military are capable of over the next few decades and act prudently with your own military defence – it is your only realistic insurance for the future against military aggressors.


    I'd also point out that Mike is once again conflating two different things. I guess it isn't surprising as many journalists and opinion writers are doing the same thing.

    If conflict over a Chinese invasion of Taiwan arises, it is likely to happen well before any Australian nuclear submarines are ready for combat. Those boats are unlikely to be in use until 2035, and the full capability of the current program won't arrive until some time in the mid-2040s. Many analysts are picking that any invasion of Taiwan by China is likely to happen before 2033.

    The reason for that is that Taiwan is starting to increase their defensive capabilities. The cultural genocide of the Chinese Uighur concentration camps, and the collapse of any Chinese leadership support for the concept of one nation / two policies in Hong Kong has been the deciding factor. That has clearly signalled to the Taiwanese government, their citizens and everyone else (including me) just how the current Chinese leadership will treat the citizens of Taiwan if they gain control of the island by any means.

    Yet, somehow Mike doesn't deal with it at all, and Paul Keating appears to just dismiss it as anything to do with Australia's future interests when questioned. I guess that neither have looked at exactly how dependent either of our states are on the technical innovation that comes from, and will probably still come from them over the next few decades. Having been part of our tech sector for the last 30 odd years I'm acutely aware of it. So is China. However their actions in destroying the Hong Kong economy and the their handling of minorities quite clearly signal that they won't be able to maintain that innovative economy.

    • Adrian 8.1

      And if their armaments and ships are anything like the standard of their shitty appliances in our house then we have little to fear as longevity is certainly not a design feature. P.s I lost the argument on cheap versus quality, I don't think that's going to happen again.

      Iprent, in your opinion, do the Chinese have designs on Siberia, after all wasn't it a Tsar who took it off them, and is Russ/Ukraine conflict playing into their hands, even for a peace deal to work it must diminish Putins Russia?.

      • Scud 8.1.1

        Since the expansion of the PLAN from a Brown Water Navy to a Blue Water Blue has come in leaps & bounds.

        It's 1st & 2nd Gen Blue Water Fleet were completely rubbish & it's Sub Fleet apart from it's Whisky Class U Boats were like going to a rock concert.

        Since the end of the CW their capacity to learn from their mistakes & their ability to under take espionage operations went up another level in conjunction with the fire sale of Russia Military Hardware allow them to expand their knowledge.

        Come to the 2000's when the West got sidetracked with the Sandpit, it allowed them to step it's espionage operations, further enhance it co-operation with Russia. Which allowed the Chinese to produce ships & subs at standard to similar to the west.

        This also allowed the Chinese to start out producing West in Navy Surface Ships (incl Coast Guard Ships), Subs but also more importantly Merchant Ships.

        Atm the Chinese Surface Navy is an unknown quantity, because of a lack of bilateral and multilateral exercises to understand how they work ie TTP's, (SOP's in old money) but we have a rough idea what the Chinese doctrinal thinking is on how it might use it's Surface Fleet.

        As for it's Sub Fleet, from what information I've gathered before 2018 & I believe not much has changed since then. Its not all Beer's & Skittles for the Chinese expect for it's Kilo Class U Boats. In fact I believe they are up shit creek we a couple of Classes (some information is in the open about), but in saying that it's the size of the Chinese Sub Fleet that has everyone worried!

        Because a Sub is the most effective & effective way of sinking ships & if it's stays undetected it can delivering missiles, Sea mines (going a bit old school) & SF units to undertake Strategic Operations. This last sentence also concerns me from a logistic/ supply chain POV. Because if it's done right, it can reep a huge pay day for the Chinese & they have been studying what the Japanese did right & wrong in WW2 & same same for the Allies in the Pacific as well.

        Now the question of Siberia.

        Not sure if you are on Twitter? As there is a map of Siberia doing the rounds from China of late, saying all official maps in China must show the traditional Chinese names of Siberia.

        Speculation atm, that Xi might be looking at some low hanging fruit given that Taiwan might be one island too far atm given what has happened in Ukraine when Tsar Poot's in invaded 🇺🇦.

        Now that Tsar Poot's is in the shit & has pretty much stripped out most of his Air & Land Forces out of Siberia to sustain his so-called "Special Military Operation" in Ukraine.

        One would say that Siberia is probably a better option & less riskier than trying to mount an Joint Amphibious Operation on Taiwan. Given that China's economy & other vital statistics like a falling birth rate with an increasing elderly population is very shaky atm. But in saying this, I did mention this prior to Tsar Poot's Invading Ukraine & I thought Poot's was nuts to invade Ukrane. Xi would be nuts to invade Taiwan as well given, that Amphibious Operation is decided within the D+1/ D+2 (24 to 48hrs).

        In the end who's knows what goes through these guys heads sometimes, even the illogical makes sense to them.

        • tWiggle

          Pretty sure the Chinese State will have forking strategy paths, which let them benefit whatever direction they decide to go. South to secure Thailand's food-producing capacity, for example.

    • Jenny are we there yet 8.2

      A spectre is haunting the world. That spectre is imperialism.

      Extrapolating trends he saw developing post World War II, George Orwell in his novel 1984 renamed the UK 'Airstrip One'

      Airstrip 1:

      Oceania, as defined by Orwell, is one of three superpowers that control most of the world. The others are Eastasia and Eurasia. Airstrip One is all of what used to be the UK

      …..It will probably be at least two decades before the new design submarines get finished being built. Lprent

      If ever…

      But that of course is not the point.

      The whole point, (which I feel many commentators have missed) is that until that mystical far off imagined day when Australia is manufacturing its own nuclear submarines. Western Australia is building at least two permanent support bases to house US nuclear powered and armed submarines on both the West and East coasts of the country.

      Airstrip 1.0

      It has been announced that 5 US nuclear powered and armed submarines will be based permanently at HMAS Stirling Naval base in Perth which will have to be upgraded at a cost of A$8 billion. As well as the A$8 billion nuclear capable upgrade for the HMAS Stirling naval base, a brand new dedicated nuclear submarine base is to be built somewhere at a yet to be decided location on the East coast.

      Australia to Build New Sub Base for Nuclear Attack Boat Fleet

      By: Dzirhan Mahadzir

      March 7, 2022 5:38 PM

      …..The government is considering three possible locations for the new base – Brisbane, Newcastle and Port Kembla – down from 19 initial candidates

      Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement in a virtual address to the Lowy Institute, followed by a joint media release with Defence Minister Peter Dutton. Morrison stated in the address that the decision was made to support basing and disposition of the future nuclear-powered submarines, but at the same time stressed that the new base would not replace any existing Fleet Base West facilities, “This is about additional national capacity, not relocating any existing or planned future capacity for Fleet Base West. Fleet Base West will remain home to our current and future submarines, given its strategic importance on the Indian Ocean” said Morrison….

      So why all this talk of Australia one day building their own nuclear powered submarine fleet?

      Commonly; when governments and/or corporations are trying to sell some thoroughly dirty anti-environmental or anti-human policy they talk it up as creating thousands of jobs.

      If the Australians ever do manage to build their own nuclear submarine it will only be as a stalking horse for the US nuclear armed fleet in this part of the world.

      • Adrian 8.2.1

        Thanks Scud, the map name changing is a new one but par for an intended invader. I can't remember where I read it, probably the Guardian but some of the cities on the Siberian side of the Sino border have reportedly almost reached a majority of Chinese residents mostly by the old trick Chinese of putting money into development and insisting the workers come as well, quite presient as well given Putin has thinned out a largish proportion of the young males from the Eastern provinces.

        The timing is almost perfect for Xi as Putin must be a bit too stretched to effectively respond.

        • Scud

          No worries, wish I could've said more & had some more updated information.

          Even though Taiwan is the jewel in the crown for Xi & the CCP, is it worth stating the entire future of the party on one sole objective? Especially when the key numbers to waging war are not in your favour long term especially if goes sth very quickly & depending on what book/ staff manual you read Amphibious Operations is one of the hardest operations to plan for & under take besides a fighting Withdrawal under fire/ in contact with the enemy because so many things can go wrong at the same time.

          Is Taiwan really worth it, when there is more attractive low hanging fruit like Siberia & the SEA Fool Bowl (given Laos & Cambodia are already in Xi's back pocket) of Thailand & Sth Vietnam.

          Then onwards Sth to secure Malacca Straits as what the Japanese did in WW2 to obtain Oil & Raw materials. Plus it can the control the Sea Lanes Of Communications to Taiwan, Sth Korea & Japan but also disrupt both NZ's & Oz's Exports to those as well including their respective imports from those countries as well.

          Or Nth to Siberia as previously discussed, given that Poot's is up shit creek in Ukraine atm & a few Countries like Georgia etc are eying up their chances of recapturing loss territory back from Russia as well.

          I wouldn't say Xi has squirrel grip Poot's atm to have him sing like a canary just yet, but it's getting close I think.

          There is alot to think about and discuss at which way the dice fall & it's not good either way & the banker (diplomacy) may not be winner on the table either especially for NZ atm.

      • Jenny are we there yet 8.2.2


        "More frequently from now on"
        Channel 9 News:

        "….already there is a nuclear powered submarine at the Stirling base in Perth. It is the USS Asheville…

        ….it is here for an extended period"

        USS Asheville

        USS Asheville (SSN-758), is a Los Angeles-class nuclear powered fast attack submarine….

        …..commissioned on 28 September 1991.

        Asheville was fitted with a developmental Advanced Mine Detection System (AMDS) high-frequency active sonar array with transmitters and receivers in the sail and in a disc-shaped chin sonar dome beneath the hull at the bow. The system is used for target detection, mine avoidance, and bottom navigation. After a highly successful testing period the system was removed during overhaul in 2003.[5]


        4 × 21 in (533 mm) bow tubes, 10 Mk48 ADCAP torpedo reloads, Tomahawk land attack missile block 3 SLCM range 1,700 nautical miles (3,100 km),….

        The Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is a long-range, all-weather, jet-powered, subsonic cruise missile that is primarily used by the United States Navy and Royal Navy in ship and submarine-based land-attack operations….

        ….At least six variants and multiple upgraded versions of the TLAM have been added since the original design was introduced, including air-, sub-, and ground-launched variants with conventional and nuclear armaments…

    • Sanctuary 8.3

      We are entering a high risk period.

      If one thing characterised the decision making of the great European powers to go to war in 1914 it was fear that if they didn't they would be in a worse position five-ten years down the line. The Germans worried if they waited Russia would become too strong for them to be able to overcome the French in time to send their armies east to defeat Russia, the French worried if they waited the Germans would grow ever stronger relative to them, the Austrians were fearful of waiting while their slav subjects grew ever restive, the British fretted over the growing German fleet, the Russians worried about revolution at home. Everyone had a reason to want to strike sooner rather than later.

      China may have peaked industrially – globalisation is breaking down, the war in the Ukraine has woken up the liberal democracies to their weakness in heavy industry. Xi may decide now is the time to strike, while China is at peak strength relative to the west. The USA may decide now is the time to force the issue from a similar sense of weakness, and a need to re-assert it's world dominance.

      There are distinct 1914 vibes, although of course we all know history doesn't repeat – but it does rhyme.

  9. tc 9

    Medias doing a great job here of spreading fear against a military which is geared towards its own waters with very limited reach.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      This Caspian Report speaks to your comment. While the US Navy is unquestionably more capable in a global sense at the moment, a simple comparison of tonnage and budgets does not tell the whole story. CR is a relatively even-handed commentator with a solid track record in geo-political commentary – and I suggest you will find the style of his narrative palatable:

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        Red, I know that there is predictions of war with China in the fairly near timeframe. I think wargamers often project to war in 2027.

        But, I am doubtful it will happen that soon for various reasons:

        They would need to find a work-around for international sanctions that would be absolutely crippling for them. Secondly, they need to be able to solve the problems of the inevitable naval blockade that would starve them of resources.

        So, I think these are two difficult problems they can't answer quickly. Yet alone the military challenge they would face, which is not clear that they would win at this stage.

        But the other problem is that they may have much bigger problems to deal with if they wait much longer. As you know, from reading Peter Zeihan, they are facing huge demographic and economic problems that could result in the break-up of China.

        So, this may be a war that never eventuates. I certainly hope so.

        And imagine the environmental impact of a large sea war with lots of sinking ships and oil etc. It would be an absolute catastrophe. So, I certainly hope it never happens.

        • Adrian

          Annexing Siberia would solve most of Chinas raw material problems most notably oil and ore.

          • tsmithfield

            Yes, I have heard that as well. I don't know that it would do Xi's everlasting friendship with Putin much good. And I don't know that China would try that on given the amount of nukes that Russia has.

        • RedLogix

          There have been a lot of good comments on this thread, and while there is no obvious consensus I think we can all agree that while this is a time of very high risk no-one can know the future. As PZ has pointed out, all three historic zones of global conflict, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Far East are all balanced on the cusp of falling into unconstrained catastrophe.

          The root cause can be expressed in broad terms – the lack of democratically accountable and trusted means of global governance, and the failure of the nation states to cede their unilateral capacity to wage war.

          There are two broad paths this multi-facetted crisis can take – either we take the relatively easy path and through a rational fear of the consequences of failure, we take effective actions on these root causes – OR we don't and arrive at the same conclusion but later, and much diminished.

          Trust me I do not underestimate the scope of such a challenge. Most people so distrust the nation states we have at the moment, that the mere thought of a single federated world authority strikes them as far, far worse.

          Yet by crude historic analogy the world is more or less at a similar state to that period of European history, roughly the Late Middle Ages which saw roiling conflict between local statelets and warlords and expanding monarchies. One group valued their local identity and autonomy, while the growing nation states needed more cohesion and centralised authority. Eventually this conflict morphed into events like the French Revolution as the demand for more accountability over the newly power monarchies became irresistable.

          I would suggest we face a parallel challenge today – and I find it helpful to set aside my modernist mindset to understand how people of that era were thinking about these issues. The modern nation state we more or less take for granted was born out of a long and painful struggle – and to out ancestors accustomed to the social scale of village and town – it would look like a fearsome tyranny from their perspective.

          Which is of course how we tend to react to the mere contemplation of global governance.

  10. Stuart Munro 10

    I was in China in 2002, and discussed it at length back when I was studying 20th century Asian history. The issues are necessarily complex, and, as far as it goes, China is not exactly living in fear of the prospect of Australia equipping itself with a few nuclear subs.

    On the other hand, were China to embrace a policy of armed expansion, extending beyond Taiwan, or actively threatening Australia, NZ would be almost obliged to side with our traditional allies.

    It's important to remember that military stances rest on built capacity. It is no easy thing to determine the threats that may arise thirty or forty years out. But the rise of Xi should warn naive pacifists, that the current political structure of China is presently a monarchy, not in the strict European sense of bloodlines and ostensible divine right, but of concentration of political power in a single pair of hands.

    Monarchies have an ability that more representative entities lack, to make or change policies extremely rapidly. Further, monarchial transitions are much less stable than those of contemporary democracies. By 2040 China might be governed, all of a sudden, by a much less moderate leader.

    NZ needs to build its forces mindful of the need to monitor what might be an emerging threat, on top of our traditional relief and support of Pacific neighbours. And, were China to go off the reservation on as ill-judged an adventure as Russia's in Ukraine, invading those neighbours, it would not be something we could cheerfully support.

  11. Sanctuary 11

    Of course, from cardboard drones to high tech weapons like surveillance aircraft, advanced autonomous air vehicles to building warships the Australians have worked out there is coin in this weapons business, perhaps NZ ought to build factories making six inch ammunition and clever weapons and make some value added exports from this stuff.

    The thing is we will almost certainly buy 2-3 Hunter Class FFGs to replace our two current frigates anyway, so why not start making some of this stuff here?

  12. weston 12

    I watched a senate hearing recently some kind of briefing session with military generals present bristling with medals and other baubels chests puffed out importantly .I gather the meeting concerned the situation in Africa and it seemed the mighty USA had a lot of conflicts to deal with there as it does of course all around the globe so fond is it , indeed , addicted to , of meddling in the affairs of sovereign countries . Anyway the senators sat opposite all the generals and [ it seemed to me ] asked them patsy questions and whether they needed more funding i half expected a forklift to appear with a pallet of cash !!

    I couldnt help but think , these people are insane !! the myth of american exceptionalism has rotted their brains !! Is there any countries america hasnt fucked with or fucked over ??American foreign policy imo is a disease other countries should stay well away from .I havn't seen any evidence lately that we need to fear either China or Russia ive seen plenty to suggest the biggest threat to world peace by far is the USA .

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