The Guardian • Issue #2099

PEACE NOTES

PEACE NOTES

BIDEN MANOEUVRES TO SAVE VOTES

Facing fast growing opposition to the Israeli genocide in Gaza, US President Biden is manoeuvring to save votes in the upcoming election by making a concession – one which is unlikely to prevent massive civilian casualties in the threatened Rafah ground assault.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says shipments of bombs to Israel have been paused. The weapons could still find their way to the IDF in the future.

The shipment of two Boeing-made weapons – 1,800 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and 1,700 500-pound ground-launched Small Diameter Bombs – is being held up.

However, Austin added “We have not made any final decisions on this yet … . We certainly would like to see no major combat take place in Rafah, but certainly our focus is on making sure we protect the civilians.”

Better late than never, perhaps. However, it seems unlikely that Israel will take any notice of such a minor gesture.

PREPARING FOR WAR WITH CHINA

In other news, the Australian government has announced a “historic” shift for the Australian military to a focus on fighting in the Indo-Pacific, spin for rearming to follow the US into war with China.

The recently announced National Defence Strategy (NDS) commits the government to spending an additional $50.3 billion over the next decade. This will result in the military budget growing to more than $100 billion by 2033-34.

The government plans to buy new long-range strike missiles, and spend $28 – $35 billion over the next decade.

In the short term, the government will splurge an additional $5.7 billion over the next four years, with $1 billion of that being for long-range strike, targeting, and autonomous systems.

Cameron Leckie, who served 24 years in the Australian Army retiring with the rank of Major, points out that Australia has progressively locked itself into a ‘defence’ strategy based on the shaky assumption of the ongoing global military dominance of the United States.

By the 2023 Defence Strategic Review, it was acknowledged that the United States is no longer “the unipolar leader of the Indo-Pacific”. The United States imperial system is now in free fall.

However, it is clear that the NDS seeks some form of restoration of the US as the unchallenged superpower. The NDS demonstrates this, Leckie argues, in two ways. The first is the sell-out of Australian sovereignty to the United States. The second is the commitment to ‘upholding’ the global rules-based order (RBO).

The RBO is repeated like a mantra throughout the NDS. Yet there is not a single mention of the United Nations or the UN Charter and only three mentions of international law.

An international order founded on the UN Charter and international law “is a sounder recipe for peace than the amorphous and discriminatory rules-based international order,” Leckie stresses.

If the stated purpose of the NDS is to achieve regional peace and prosperity, enforcement of the RBO actually undermines this purpose.

The dichotomy between maintaining our prosperity via Australia’s crucial trade relationship with China, and aiming to maintain our security by excluding China as a key partner could not be starker.

Leckie says that the primary value that Australia shares with the US is an insatiable and amoral appetite for power.

Cameron Leckie describes the NDS as an ideology centred upon restoring the primacy of the United States, at a point in time when it is clear that the US imperial system is in a terminal and accelerating collapse.

He suggests that the RBO must be abandoned as it is the primary source of global and regional instability. It must be replaced by the global order as defined by the United Nations Charter and international law.

He says that there must be recognition that security is indivisible. Australia can only be secure if all nations of the region, including China, are also secure.

The most complex and challenging strategic challenge that Australia faces is disentangling from a corrupted alliance. Abandoning AUKUS should be the first step.

Finally, he stresses that it is imperative for Australia to actually deal with the fundamental issues, related to environment, energy, and inequality, that are the drivers for future insecurity and conflict.

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