World War I
In what must go down as one of the most disastrous amphibious assaults in history, on 25 April 1915 about 25,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers staged an attack on Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Turkish troops of the Ottoman Empire had seen them coming and began shooting them down on the exposed beach immediately. British troops and soldiers from British Inndia landed at Cape Helles. French troops later joined them. Less than nine months later, and after 56,000 dead on each side, the Allied troops withdrew with nothing to show for the effort. It was all part of World War I, a vast struggle between two great imperial alliances over territory, colonies and markets. It was a crime against humanity on all sides.
Australia is a minor imperialist power and its governments have historically sought to advance its interests under the umbrella of a great power – first Britain and later the United States. This requires Australian troops to be dispatched to assist in whatever wars in which its great ally could use some assistance. Soldiers have fought and died for Australian imperialism in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The quid pro quo is an Australian sphere of interest in the South Pacific and, in later years, Timor Leste. Here, Australian troops moved from a support role to centre stage, with the military being central to claiming Timor Leste as an Australian neo-colony in 1999 and maintaining it in the Solomon Islands in 2003.
The rise of China presents an unprecedented challenge to United States imperialism and the global order it created after World War II. With four times as many people as the US, China could achieve a GDP twice as large even with a per capita GDP half that of the US. For the United States to stay the dominant global power, it needs to keep China a poor country – by economic means if possible, but military means if necessary. AUKUS is at the pointy end of US military planning, with nuclear submarines to be deployed into straits and channels in the first island chain. The Chinese navy will need permission to leave the South and East China Seas and the Pacific Ocean will remain an American lake. And Australian governments of both political persuasions have signed on to help. While the ACTU want non-nuclear submarines instead, there’s no way they’ll fight AUKUS.
War or Peace
The great danger in the next few years is that the United States might launch a war on China, using Taiwan as a pretext, before China gets too strong for the US to defeat. AUKUS is a key part of US war strategy and Australian imperialism is key to the success of AUKUS. The working class needs to block Australian participation in AUKUS and put a spanner in the works of the US war machine. This requires taking on the ALP and the Laborite bureaucrats who run the unions, but when faced with the danger of World War III, we don’t have a lot of choice.
NO WAR ON CHINA
Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
PO Box 5108 Brunswick North 3056
25 April 2023