US IS TALKING ABOUT A WAR WITH CHINA
US intelligence guru David Gompert “has warned a war between the US and China would be long, destructive and could erupt if regional disputes already underway overheat.” Both sides “have ample forces, technology, industrial might, and personnel to fight across vast expanses of land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace."
“Mr Gompert said the US should make sensible preparations to wage a 'long and fierce' war with China but argued it must also develop plans to limit the scope, intensity and duration of such a conflict. He said if such a war broke out today, China's losses would greatly exceed that of the US.”(1)
CHINA IS TALKING ABOUT WAR
Since the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled against China’s claims in the South China Sea, there has been serious talk in China about a war in the Pacific between China and the US. For example, the AFP reported a Beijing minister urged the Chinese to prepare for a “people's war at sea”. China’s Global Times has even challenged Australia directly, saying: “If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.”(2)
Mr Gompert did not explain exactly what kind of war it would be, but the Chinese are talking about a war at sea, and this is the most likely alternative. The US simply does not have enough soldiers to even think about a direct assault and occupation of the Chinese mainland. Among other things, the US would probably use its navy and aircraft to stop all cargo from being shipped into or out of Chinese ports and seize the disputed islands in the South China Sea. If all goes well, this naval blockade would damage the Chinese economy and force its leaders to make peace on US terms.
AUSTRALIA IS NOT TALKING ABOUT WAR WITH CHINA
There is little doubt that Australia would be deeply involved in such a conflict. The Australian navy works as part of the US navy, and the rest of our military and intelligence services are fully integrated into their US counterparts. Australia hosts several bases like Pine Gap that are essential to the US both in peace and war. The leaders of both major parties follow the US on foreign policy and reject China's claims with respect to the South China Sea. Let us examine what such a war would this look like for Australia.
First we need to consider the two different ways such a conflict might play out. Would it be a short war or a long one? Mr Gompert claims it would be a long war, and I will focus here on Gompert's idea of a long war with China. I will explain in the article "Any War With China Will Be A Nuclear War" why I think this assessment is mistaken. (http://australianvoice.livejournal.com/21429.html)
WHAT ABOUT AUSTRALIA'S ECONOMY?
Since China is our largest trading partner, our economy would go from bad to worse with a US naval blockade of China. No more shipments of iron ore, coal, etc. to China, and no more revenue from such sales. No more shipments of everything from air-conditioners to zippers from China to Australia. Perhaps Chinese subs would try to stop our other exports and imports. As people lost their jobs in mining and agriculture, they would be spending less and less. At the same time there would be less to buy in the shops, so retail employment would fall. Small businesses on the edge would be forced to close their doors.
And there is more. Many people who have had regular jobs would suddenly have lost most or all of their incomes. How could they pay their rent? If they were paying off a mortgage, many would face severe “mortgage stress”. This could in turn have wider consequences. If house prices began to fall as home buyers worried about the failing economy, some would find they were paying off a home loan for more than the current value of their house.
EVEN THE BANKS COULD BE IN TROUBLE
Even the big four banks could find themselves in trouble. Australian banks have over 60% of their loans in residential real estate. This is the highest percentage in the world. The Norwegian banks are the second highest in the world at just over 40%. As more people become unemployed and cannot meet their mortgage payments, the banks themselves could face bankruptcy.
This should be a worry for all of us. At the November 2014 G20 meeting in Brisbane a very important policy on banking was adopted by Australia and other Western countries. This new policy was explained in a paper entitled "Adequacy of Loss-Absorbing Capacity of Global Systemically Important Banks in Resolution." This completely obscure title hides a new way to make sure too-big-to-fail banks did not fail. Instead of being helped with taxpayers money, it has been decided to allow them to use the funds of their depositors to pay off their debts.(3) This may sound crazy, but it has already been done. In 2013 depositors at Cyprus' largest bank lost 47.5% of their savings exceeding 100,000 euros ($132,000).(4)
What does this policy mean? The analysis given in ZeroHedge is that our deposits are now considered part of a commercial banks capital structure. Now these private assets can be "bailed in" or confiscated to save the megabanks from bankruptcy. Under this policy, the funds of depositors, public and private, and pension funds can be used to cover the debts of the banks. So if the big four banks find themselves facing bankruptcy due to defaulting home loans, they can draw on the funds deposited with them to keep themselves out of trouble. This approach is really theft or confiscation of private assets, but this is the kind of world we now live in. The banks themselves are the robbers.
WHAT WOULD THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DO?
In the economic situation explained above, clearly tax revenues will fall drastically. We have seen in the last decade that all political parties are determined to lower taxes and make smaller payments to people in need: the unemployed, disabled, single parents, age pensioners, etc. With rapidly falling income and rising numbers of unemployed and failed businesses, can we imagine the cost-cutting bureaucrats and politicians in Canberra will be suddenly overcome with sympathy for Australians facing hardship? Will they dig deep to help a greater number of people in need?
For years our leaders have been fixated on increasing profits for large multinationals at the expense of everyone else. If they continue with the same policies, there could easily be increasing public anger and civil unrest. The burning issues would be the war itself – Why did we get into this war in the first place? - and the politician's indifference to the suffering of ordinary people caused by the war.
MARTIAL LAW OR WORSE?
What would our government do in the face of a massive increase in public protest as the consequences of a long war with China hit more and more people? The last resort in such situations is martial law. We should remember there are some 1,250 US marines in Darwin, increasing to 2,500 in 2017. The unit is a fully equipped Marine Air Ground Task Force used for rapid force projection.(6) They could hardly be used to occupy mainland China or protect Australia from a direct invasion by Chinese troops. However since they have begun to work closely with Australian Army units, they could be very useful in proving “backbone” to an Australian military that never imagined they joined up to keep down popular unrest in their own country. The marines might even be useful to “convince” Australian political and military leaders not to support any withdraw from the US war on China if they began to have second thoughts about it.
WHAT IS WORSE THAN MARTIAL LAW?
An article reposted in ZeroHedge describes how Western governments might react in such a serious breakdown of the social order in a way far beyond the usual understanding of martial law. The article by Brandon Smith concentrates on a total economic collapse in the US. However the circumstances he describes can arise anywhere due to a financial, political or military situation in which the usual legal and political systems, including the police, cannot function to sustain normal. He draws on the writings of Max Boot, a US military historian and member of the Council of Foreign Relations. To understand how a ruling elite might deal with a complete collapse of central government he looks at Boot's discussions of methods for quelling insurgencies.
“Post-collapse, when rule of law in many places has broken down and resources can no longer be transferred safely from region to region, the name of the game will be control of necessities and the producers of necessities. This is also used by totalitarians when the danger of unrest is present.
“The fact is, successful rebellions in occupied nations tend to grow in rural surroundings. Cities are often strongholds for totalitarians because they offer more means of surveillance, a more passive population and, once taken over, they are easier to secure and defend. I call this the 'green zone doctrine;' the use of locked down cities as pivot points to launch attacks on rural people.
“The elites do not need to own every inch of ground in order to launch an effective campaign of martial law. All they need to do is own key cities through surveillance technology and troop presence, then use these cities as staging grounds to confiscate resources in surrounding areas from people they do not like. (…)
“It is vital to recognize that in a post-collapse world governments and elites may no longer be subject to public scrutiny, and are thus free to act as maliciously as they want. All contingencies have to be considered.”(7)
Boot concentrates on the British success in Malaysia against the very effective communist guerrillas. He attributes their success to several factors, and explains them in detail to explore the kind of thinking that might guide our leaders in such a situation:
“The British used large-scale concentration camps to separate production centers from rebel influence. These were massive camps surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard towers, primarily used to house farmers and other workers and their families. This stopped the guerrillas from hiding among the working class and recruiting from them. This follows the 'green zone doctrine' I described above.
“The British implemented a sophisticated identification system for all Malaysian citizens including fingerprinting. They then set up numerous checkpoints across the country at which citizens had to produce their paperwork. Anyone who did not have their papers was held on suspicion of being an insurgent. The rebels in Malaysia attempted to counter this by forcefully taking over busy buildings and buses, then burning everyone’s IDs. This would not be a very effective tactic in a digitized world where identification is accomplished through advanced biometrics.
“Instead of fielding massive lumbering military brigades in a useless effort to cover large stretches of ground, the British used spies and informants to locate rebel strongholds, then sent special forces units in to neutralize them. Again, they did not need to control every inch of ground; they used military assets wherever the rebels were, then left. Their goal was not to control a lot of ground, but to kill rebels. The British used considerable brutality in their efforts, including a mobile gallows that traveled the country, and the public display of rotting corpses to strike fear in the insurgency.
“The political elites in Britain fought the psychological war by offering promises of peace and prosperity to the Malaysian commoners if they supported the effort against the insurgency. They did not necessarily need to follow through on these promises, all they needed to do was create a few examples of reward for cooperation, and sell this to the public in a convincing manner. Once enough of the population was in the hands of the British, the insurgency lost supply resources and also had to worry about informants.”(8)
TIME TO START TALKING ABOUT THE RISKS OF A WAR WITH CHINA
The situation discussed above may seem completely far-fetched when applied to Australia. However what would have happened in the 1940s if the Japanese reached the Australian mainland? History shows that long periods of peace are followed by intense military conflict. Australia has not been invaded since 1770, but in a world with increasing tensions between the US and Russia/China, it would be naïve to think that we will experience another 100 years of tranquil economic growth. We are sailing into very dangerous waters while the crew are all down in the mess having a wonderful feast. They are getting what they want, but what about us?
If nothing else, we should take note of Brandon Smith's advice to his fellow Americans:
All we have to worry about is our own local organization, our own moral compass, our own survival and removing the traitors from political power.