By Jim Hayes
The United States has appointed Admiral Harry Harris to be the next ambassador to Australia, after his coming retirement from military service.
This should be of serious concern, given his recent call to the American Congress to prepare for the possibility of war with China.
A war to enforce ongoing American domination in the Asia-Pacific region is wrong. It would bring immense destruction and suffering, and the appointment of a principal champion of the military path is a provocation to China and poses a threat to Australia.
Harris claims that China’s military might could soon rival US power “across almost every domain,” and accesses that Beijing aims, to control the South China Sea. What he neglects to say is that up to now, the South China Sea has been under the control of the United States naval presence. To put this into perspective. This is one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, carrying one third of world shipping, and extends to China’s mainland border. The Chinese see that American dominance of this stretch of water, poses a major security threat to China’s sovereignty and international trade.
It is not so strange that China should introduce its own military presence near the border of its own home turf. How would the United States react if the Chinese sent war ships into the Gulf of Mexico? This is no different. We saw during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis that the Gulf became a United States exclusion zone, although there are a number of other nations on the borders and inside the Gulf.
Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee that the US and its allies should tackle China’s rising influence. He talked about the threat to the existing “international rules based order.” What are these rules, other than those imposed by the United States after the Second World War, to underline its dominant position and global policing role?
It is clear that the old rules no longer apply and that a new mechanism for the settlement of territorial disputes needs to be put in place. This needs diplomacy and not military threat.
The world has changed, and the United States is a diminishing power. This means other nations are starting to assert themselves and the age of a single dominant power has come to an end. A section of the American elite cannot stomach this and push to maintain American dominance through increasing reliance on military means. They pose the biggest threat to peace on this planet.
Harris has praised Australia as one of America’s staunchest allies in the Asia-Pacific region and referred to Australia’s cooperation, allowing American air force bases in the Northern Territory and participation in joint naval and air exercises. He could have mentioned the growing presence of marines in Darwin.
Harry Harris’ appointment as ambassador to Australia, marks the rise of the pro-war faction in the United states, and it will work to further lock Australia into the military ambitions of that power. A direction that regards Australia as a base for increasing American offensive hardware and troops in the region, as well as a major communications outpost.
Australia’s alliance with the United States also means the use of Australians as proxies to fight wars. This has already happened in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. Unless there is a change in direction, Australia could escalate from involvement in the American flotilla in the South China Sea, to direct shooting provocation of China.
Consequently, Australia is being put at risk. Our interests lie not in supporting one dominant power, but in embracing working towards a positive and fruitful relationship with all, and drawing closer to the nations in our region as equals and not as a western outpost in Asia.
Having Admiral Harry Harris as United States ambassador to Australia is not in our interests and the Australian government should insist that a more suitable candidate be put forward.