Andrew Wicks

About Andrew Wicks

Andrew Wicks is a country boy with a penchant for movies and sport. After a few years working in health, he decided he'd rather work with today's youth and studied arts and education in rural NSW. His main interests are religion, health and lairy shirts.

With Donald Trump potentially visiting Australia, we have no reason to follow America into Iran, or against China in matters of trade. We have our own needs, thanks.

 

 

2010 saw Hollywood immortalise the union between America and Britain with The Special Relationship, a movie that told the story of a great complicated love between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, with a digestif of George W. Bush. Ostensibly, the movie winds past Kosovo, past Lewinsky, and ultimately to Baghdad and the white horse named hell that rode in after.

It’s a fairly well-documented tableau, Britain and America forever linked in political handcuffs, one that is so part of the zeitgeist that it can now be parodied, as Richard Curtis can place Hugh Grant in parliament, showing up the cocksure American invaders. It’s a complicated relationship. A shaky alliance between an antiquated colonial empire, and those who fled 200+ years ago, who (in theory) despise the colonial subjugation of the people, and love freedom most of all. After WW2, the British grip on the world reverted to the Americans (which was a financial revolution more than anything), and since then they’ve attempted to get along through the medium of proxy war and fighting a greater evil, whether that be communism, terrorism, et cetera. It’s difficult, but they’re getting along. For now.

However, what is far less complex, and far less noted, is our relationship with the United States. This morning, the United States embassy uploaded the following image to Twitter.

 

 

David Crowe of The Age this morning noted that “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has invited US President Donald Trump to visit Melbourne as the two leaders canvass rising security concerns with Iran and the danger of a global trade war.”

Crowe also notes the overtures of the Americans potentially asking Australia to join in their crusade against Iran, with Scott Morrison stating that “…it certainly wasn’t sought. We talked about these issues and we have been watching them very closely as well but there are no requests and at this stage, I think those issues are a bit premature, but we are obviously concerned.”

The embassy’s post is a fair definition of our union. While we’re not their primary suitors, we’re the easiest. The kind to drunk dial at 3 am, because you know they’ll pick up.

The populace has a right to fear Australia following America into Iran, as we’ve been dragged into numerous proxy wars since the close of World War Two. We’ve eagerly followed them into Korea, Vietnam, The First Gulf War, Afghanistan, The Second Gulf War and the war against Islamic State (in Iraq, Syria Lybia), one that was authored by George Bush’s Iraq sequel.

Clearly, we do all these things, because we value them as a regional ally. The fear China, so do we. After all, we fought China with the Americans in The Boxer Rebellion of 1900-1901, The Korean War, and the Chinese-backed Viet Cong in Vietnam. What is particularly notable, is China’s growth since those wars, morphing into a massively consumerist one-party state. Since throwing down our guns, we’ve done well, with Australian exports of goods and services to China in 2016-17 were worth $110.4 billion. That accounts for nearly 30% of total exports. This compares with $20.8 billion for the US, or 5.16% of total exports.

In fact, the La Trobe’s Adjunct Professor at School of Communications, Tony Walker notes that “nearly one-third of Australian goods and services trade is hinged to the China market…no other country, relatively speaking, has benefited to quite the same extent from China’s extraordinary development since it began opening for business to the outside world.”

Clearly, Donald rolling down here (and congratulating us for our offshore processing policy, and Morrison’s “Trumpian” victory in the recent election) is a clear move to goose us under American covers for the duration of this “global trade war”.

Frankly, we don’t have to be quite so easy, as we really don’t have to pick up Trump’s booty call.

Dr Giovanni Di Lieto, who teaches international trade law at Monash University, notes that “Australia is relatively safe from any retaliatory action from the Trump administration thanks to a negative trade balance with the US. As long as the trade war does not escalate to full-blown military conflict; on the face of it, Australia can still afford to sit on the commercial fence. The US-China trade war gives Australia an unprecedented chance to expand its economic footprint in the geopolitical agendas of both global superpowers. At such uncertain times, even more than pure economic profit, this strategic improvement will be the sweetest fruit for the lucky country.”

Clearly, what we need to do, is to not commit. Let them take us out to dinner, but don’t invite them in afterwards. Play them as they’ve been playing us.

Di Leito believes that “we are in the presence of a paradox. What in ordinary times used to be Australia’s vulnerabilities (distance, a lack of military might) may instead prove its strategic strength in the context of a trade tug-of-war between the US and China. Deeper investment ties with China will make an increasing negative trade balance with Australia more acceptable to China over the long term. Also this dynamic places Australia’s economy in pole position to take advantage of the improving quality of Chinese financial markets. This is evident in the ongoing rebalance of the Chinese economy, as it moves towards more reliance on growing consumer demand and away from inefficient, debt-fuelled investment.”

Following our default, which would be getting back in bed with the ex and rolling into Iran, would be not only a crisis of morals, but also place us firmly in the American camp as far as the bigger picture is concerned.

We have the power to choose, and that certainly means choosing neither.

 

 

 

 

 

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