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This morning, Andrew Hastie channelled Winston Churchill, painting China as the greatest threat since Nazi Germany. History shows what happens when we remember similar nonsense.
For those who don’t know, Andrew Hastie is the head of the government’s intelligence committee. This morning, he likened our inability to contain China to history’s soft enablement of Nazi Germany, warning that “choices will be made for us” if we don’t choose beforehand.
“Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure but in our thinking. That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak,” he said. Furthering the point that, he wrote in an opinion piece, “The West once believed that economic liberalisation would naturally lead to democratisation in China. This was our Maginot Line. It would keep us safe, just as the French believed their series of steel and concrete forts would guard them against the German advance in 1940. But their thinking failed catastrophically. The French had failed to appreciate the evolution of mobile warfare.”
Clearly, there needs to be more committee and less of the head, as there’s a serious lack of intelligence afoot.
Hastie, a former SAS captain, spoke in the monochromatic tones that soldiers tend to, ignoring the expanse of history, and the very personal cost that the innocent, or the minor tend to play. I mean, putting aside the 20 million Chinese who died fighting the Axis and the hideous slur Hastie unfurled, what we have here, is our Churchill moment.
Which is not a compliment.
In 1946, out of a job, and out of a war, Winston Churchill travelled to Missouri to forever define the division between the United States and the Soviet Union, warbling out his famous “Iron Curtain” speech. As a result, his version of America’s great wartime ally became canon, as the Soviets became the world’s greatest evil. The Soviet Union were three years away from testing their first bomb, and two removed from the heavily publicised Czecheslovkian overthrow. In 1946, peace was certainly possible and was celebrated just the year before.
It’s worth mentioning that Churchill’s anti-communist rhetoric was well-known, with himself noting his ‘primal hatred of the Bolshevik revolution’, and as Secretary of State for War in 1919, he actively moved Britain to a war against the Russians in order to overthrow the communist government, with then-Prime Minister David Lloyd George noting that it was ‘a purely mad’ policy developed ‘out of hatred of Bolshevik principles’. So, a completely even mind to make that speech.
Putting aside the hideous slur Hastie unfurled, what we have here, is our Churchill moment. Which is not a compliment.
It’s worth mentioning that 1946 and 2019 share some parallels. Both parties were in the early throes of the relationship, and they both started fighting about money.
In 1946, the Soviet Union and America were starting to splinter, as they realised they were the largest pigs at the trough. The situation largely engineered by Truman, reneging on the promises made by Roosevelt to help rebuild Russia after the victory was won, and his choice to drop the bomb on Japan, which was, in the words of the head of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, was always aimed at the Soviets.
Manhattan Project physicist Sir Joseph Rotblat later recounted “…at a private dinner, when I was at Los Alamos in March 1944, said at that time to us, ‘You realise, of course, that the whole purpose of the Project is to subdue the Russians.’ And I remember the words to this day, because of the great shock which this gave me.”
In 2019, America and China (although they have their own history) are, again, the greediest swine at the farm. China clamping down on demonstrators in Hong Kong has the same historical equal as Czechoslovakia in 1948. To us, it seems like a heavy-handed approach to a democratically elected (and mostly independent) people. It’s easy to cry commie, but 1948 also saw the West doing the same, by funding the far-right government to overthrow the freely elected left government in Greece to ‘stop communism’. In 2019, you can readily point to the massive doses of violence we’re applying to the Middle East in order to stop a situation we made, and brutally, are looking to complicate.
2019 doesn’t have global conflict as the backdrop, but it does have similar overtones. Two parties of power with differing ideologies, looking for an excuse to fight. The ease of the antagonist is something we should be wary of. The shallow words of politicians, like Hastie, and like Churchill, are easy to digest and mangle, fashioning a people into an object, and a discussion into a problem.
Simply put, our situation is a delicate one. The United States is our largest ally, and China is our largest trading partner. What we need, is sense and logic. What we don’t need, is inflammatory comments and vast assumptions.
History shows that we’ve already been there, and the result.