The Guardian • Issue #2094

OP-ED

AUKUS expansion is a gift to three sets of war-mongers

  • by FK
  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2094
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Photo: Geoff Whalan – flickr.com (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“The defense ministers of the US, UK, and Australia will reportedly begin to talk about broadening the AUKUS military alliance, with Japan emerging as the leading candidate for inclusion. However, analysts have warned that such an alarming move marks the pact further turning into an “Asian NATO,” raising concerns over heightened militarism in Japan and potential destabilization in the region.”

Global Times

Thanks to a ‘peace constitution’ imposed after its crushing defeat at the end of World War II, Japan has the world’s fourth-largest economy but is the ninth-biggest spender on defence. A lot of Japanese people see that as a good thing – what’s wrong with being prosperous? Aren’t standards of living more important than keeping warmongers happy? The Communist Party of Australia has called for us to “give peace a budget.” Japan had peaceful budgets enforced on it, and has the world’s fourth-largest economy despite having no natural resources. Maybe they got something right.

Three sets of warmongers are delighted with the move to expand Japan’s military.

One such group is the Australian chicken-hawks who urge on a confrontation with China which is not necessary or wise. Hence, Peter Hartcher in the Nine papers is very chuffed that Japan is “simply pushing past” the constitutional requirement that it forever renounce war. Hartcher is too young to remember the Pacific War from personal experience, but too old to be drafted. He’s made the China threat his brand, but he has plenty of friends in this area (see in this issue: “What is ASPI?”).

Another group of militarists are in Japan. In contrast to the majority of their fellow-Japanese, they are a group that regards the Peace Constitution as an unacceptable humiliation despite the decades of prosperity since it was imposed. This group have strong links with ultra-nationalists, to whom they signal support with visits to the Yasakuni Shrine where the spirits of war criminals are interred. They have been working steadily to overturn the peace constitution. Foreign alliances are the perfect excuse for them.

At a time when the Chinese are being blindly stereotyped, it’s important not to stereotype the Japanese. That country has a long but often ignored pro-peace tradition. School teachers, with a courage that Hartcher will never know, risk their jobs by refusing to stand up for the wartime anthem, imposed by a right-wing PM without any consultation.

The third set of militarists need the military because dominating the globe is an expensive business. That’s right, it’s the US military-industrial complex. They are pushing AUKUS because it will be a boon for US arms manufacturers, and will further entrench the domination of a country with 800 bases outside its borders, while pretending to defend Pacific nations against a country with a single external base.

China doesn’t like AUKUS and doesn’t like the idea of being encircled by an Asian NATO. Any Australians who see this reaction as proof that an Asian NATO is needed, should remember how our politicians and commentators have the vapours any time China makes a friendly agreement with a Pacific Island nation.

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