When Will the Blood-Letting of Australians Stop?

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel… (James 4:1-2).

I had two great-uncles killed in the First World War, on my father’s side. When my father was born in October 1918, my grandparents named him Robert Charles, after each of their lost brothers.

How had this war come about? It’s convenient for us in Australia to blame the Germans, but there was a lot more to the origins of the First World War. Before it started, things had come to such a pass that Colonel Edward House, Woodrow Wilson’s confidant, travelling in Europe to gather information for the President, reported in May, 1914:

The situation is extraordinary. It is militarism run stark mad…. There is too much hatred, too many jealousies. Whenever England consents, France and Russia will close in on Germany and Austria.[1]

World War I accomplished nothing but a successful blood-letting in Europe, and at its conclusion the Treaty of Versailles resolved nothing either. The underlying European tensions and resentments continued, leading to another war in 1939.

But the 1st World War cost Australia 60,000 dead. What did all those deaths achieve?

In 1940, my mother’s brother Dick (an Englishman) was killed when the bomber he was in crash-landed on return from a bombing run into Europe. My father (in an Australian squadron flying out of England) was shot-down by German fire over Norway in February 1945, but he managed to survive when he ditched his plane in a Norwegian fjord. When he later married my mother, he discovered that she’d had an uncle killed in the First World War, too. That made it three great-uncles, and an uncle for me, killed in conflicts in some far-away land. Nothing to do with Australia.

My eldest brother Dick (again, named after our deceased uncle) was conscripted and sent to Viet Nam in 1970. He made it back OK, but 521 other Australians didn’t. The total Australian deaths in Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq (so far) comes to over 900 deaths.

Had Australia been invaded or attacked in any of these conflicts? No. We were engaged in these post World War II fights, largely because of the ANZUS treaty. But this treaty doesn’t require us to go to war, but to “Consult.”

Why were we fighting? Here’s my suggestion. After the debacle of 1941-42, we found that we’d been completely unprepared for an attack on our nation. We had relied on Britain, but she was seriously preoccupied with a war in Europe, and didn’t have much capacity to help us when we were attacked by the Japanese.

Australia wanted to retain the services of a strong ally, in case there was a serious threat to our security in future; someone we could call on in time of need. So Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt could promise American President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1966 (in relation to sending troops to Viet Nam), it would be “all the way with LBJ.”

Anything wrong with that? I say, “Yes.” In foreign affairs, we should always determine the limits of our commitment, and if we should be making any. Should we be sacrificing Australian lives in conflicts that are nothing to do with us, just to remain in the good graces of the Americans? I say, no. Furthermore, if we are really invaded by a foreign power, is there any guarantee that the US will come to our aid militarily? No.

Australia has become a subservient nation to the US. Ever since 1966, where do Australian Prime Ministers tend to rush off to, immediately on gaining office? Washington. We lick the boots of US Presidents, because we perceive them to be the biggest kids on the block, and on our side. When they want us to go somewhere to support them and give their activities legitimacy we go, and some of us die.

But this approach is deeply flawed. Not only is it subservient, unprincipled and disgusting, but it rests on the perpetual continuation of US military power. But like all empires, the US Empire (for that is what it is), will collapse through debt and war. It’s well on its way. As we did in 1941-42 with Britain, Australia will once again find itself effectively abandoned by the nation it had placed all its hopes in. An undeveloped understanding of national liberty, along with a bad case of economic blindness prevents us seeing some international fundamentals.

Today, there is another aspect that draws into question our subservience to the US. The United States has a very poor reputation now in terms of how it deals with other nations, extending back some fifty years. Frankly, the United States has become a degenerate bully, that throws its weight around. Consider this list:

a)“Lyndon Johnson wanted to escalate the war in Vietnam [in 1965]. He needed Congressional support. So, he invented a fictitious attack on American ships off the Vietnam coast. Congress sailed into war on the paper boat.”[2]

b) Madeleine Albright [former U.S Secretary of State, 1997-2001]: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”

Albright was asked by Leslie Stahl regarding the U.S. sanctions on Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”[3]

c) Then there is Guantanamo Bay, abandonment of habeas corpus, the treatment of hundreds of prisoners never convicted of crimes but incarcerated for years, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” water-boarding of  “suspects,” and “confessions” made under duress. (See the ABC’s “Four Corners,” 1/8/2011).

d) …the men on white horses who lead… are now permitted to label any person sufficiently evil so as to eradicate all legal protections that normal civil process has long considered necessary, appropriate, and universally applicable.[4]

e) The [U.S.] President does not obey the War Powers Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, US and international laws against torture, or any of the laws and procedures that guard civil liberty…[5]

f) People with power use it. And power attracts the worst kind of persons. As Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prove, democracies are not immune to the evil use of power…Preventative war, indefinite imprisonment, rendition, torture of people alleged to be “suspects” (an undefined category), and assassination are all draconian punishments that require no evidence… Punishment without crime is now the American Way.

The concepts that the Bush/Obama regimes have institutionalized are totally foreign to the Anglo-American concepts of law and liberty. In one decade the US has been transformed from a free society into a police state.[6]

A nation’s defence is its own responsibility. Australia has the capacity to come up with a serious plan of self-defence that draws on the ability of its whole population, not just professional soldiers. That’s what the Swiss have done for hundreds of years. Despite its position in central Europe, and Europe having two world wars last century, ever heard of anyone attacking Switzerland? Though it shares a border with Germany, the Germans on both occasions avoided it.

What if Australia completely changed our approach to national defence? What if we said,

 We’re a nation of 22 million. We’ve had enough of fighting other people’s unnecessary, stupid wars all over the world now, for a century. We’ve seen enough men leave here, never to come back alive. We’ll stand on our own, we’ll make our own arrangements, thanks very much.

With a modest amount of training and lead time, we could put 400,000 men in the field here in the event of a genuine crisis, to competently defend our nation. With a bit longer, that could be a million men. Wouldn’t that be a far superior defence strategy, than seeing our men and women sent off on expensive, foreign missions of international subservience, and needlessly killed?

It’s time to change the plan.

[1] Charles Seymour (Ed.), “The Intimate Papers of Colonel House,” 1926, vol.1, p.249.

[2] Gary North, “Iran’s Nukes: Gulf of Tonkin Politics, 2012,” 13/1/2012

[3] Mike Rozeff, “The World, American Style,” Rockwell website, 26/3/2011.

[4] Ridgeway Knight Foley, “The Essence of the State,” Lew Rockwell’s website, 20/6/2011.

[5] Paul Craig Roberts, “Hail Caesar,” Lew Rockwell’s website, 2/6/2011.

[6] Paul Craig Roberts, “Power Captivates the Worse Sort,” Lew Rockwell website, 4/1/2012.