When the news that US Marines would be deployed to Australia hit the media recently, there was quite a lot of criticism. After all, Australia is not exactly one of the global hotspots of conflict requiring pacification. And seeing as how we’re trillions of dollars in debt, you would think that such military adventures might be deemed extravagant.
But Australia is indeed a hotspot – a geopolitical hotspot.
In September 2010, I was jarred when I came across this story of the first-ever joint Chinese/Australian naval exercises. Australia has been one of the USA’s closest military allies for quite a while, and has troops fighting and dying in Afghanistan.
So, what were the Australians doing exercising with the Chinese all of a sudden? Now, keep in mind that while our multinational corporations consider China to be a close ally, even a new homeland, the Pentagon has quite a different view. It considers China to be a rival power in need of containment.
And so the Pentagon responded to the Australians cozying up to the Chinese by deploying troops. I’m sure the Australians gave their permission and all, but you have to wonder if they really had a choice. Australia’s geopolitical situation doesn’t allow it to defy the USA.
The Chinese are apoplectic over this conquest of Australia (see the story here) and they are pressuring the Australians to choose sides.
To assuage the Chinese, the Australian frigate HMAS Ballarat just visited Shanghai. Here’s the welcoming ceremony:
Apparently, there were no live-fire drills this time; just search-and-rescue practice.
This is all happening as we are trying to figure out how to high-tail it out of Afghanistan after getting whooped by the Pashtuns. And there are consequences for loosing a war. When the Arabs saw us bleeding-out in Vietnam, they were emboldened to nationalize our oil properties. When the Soviet Union’s satellites saw the Red Army defeated in Afghanistan in 1989 (by those same Pashtuns!) they got ideas of their own. Two years later, poof!, no more Soviet Union.
Our allies in the western Pacific can see the handwriting on the wall. Economically, they know that they have to switch sides and join the Chinese. But containing China is matter of sea power, which we are very good at, as opposed to fighting shepherds in their mountains – never a good idea for any army.
So, will Australia stay conquered? Maybe in the short-term, but probably not in the long run. Perhaps they will just wait us out. Now that the multinationals have moved all the jobs to Asia, the unemployed American taxpayer can no longer keep the Pentagon in the style to which it has been accustomed. How much longer can it be before the tide of American military power must recede here at the end of this age of imperial overreach?
Note: George Friedman explains Australia’s geopolitical situation here.