Caitlin Johnstone: Australia’s Real Fear Isn’t China

Australia is not arming itself against China to protect itself from China. Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Surnak at a press event for AUKUS in San Diego, March 13, 2023. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

By Caitlin Johnstone
in Melbourne, Australia

As part of Australian media’s relentless onslaught of warwithChina propaganda, the government-run Australian Broadcasting Corporation just aired a radio segment on RN Breakfast about the newly revealed details on the AUKUS  nuclear-powered submarine deal, featuring two guests who are enthusiastic supporters of the deal, and hosted by another enthusiastic supporter of the deal.

One of the guests, Australia’s former treasurer and ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, made some interesting remarks.

“This locks us in with the United States for decades to come; is there a risk, as the smaller partner in this deal, we’ll just have to do what the U.S. tells us when it comes to future wartime engagements?” host Patricia Karvelas asked Hockey.

“Well we’re already fully integrated with the United States military, and arguably have been for more than one hundred years,” Hockey replied.

“We’re the only country in the world that has fought side-by side with them in every major battle for the last one hundred years. And already today a lot of our navy has the Aegis Combat System, which is an American combat system; our current Collins-class submarines use American torpedoes … and in every major way, communications systems and integration, we already have American technology, and we’re integrated with American systems. So there’s nothing new here in that regard.”

This is true; Australia is inseparably intertwined with the U.S. military and is in practice nothing other than a U.S. military and intelligence asset in every meaningful way, to such an extent that the U.S. navy is reportedly planning to use the country as a full-service submarine station for the entire range of undersea activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

In an incredibly brazen admission that the Australian government has fully given away the nation’s sovereignty to a foreign power, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of Defence Richard Marles said last year that the Australian Defence Force is moving “beyond interoperability to interchangeability” with the U.S.  military so they can “operate seamlessly together, at speed.”

Asked about the hundreds of billions of dollars this submarine program is going to cost Australians, Hockey said that “the cost of failure is far greater than the cost of investment,” citing Australia’s ports and shipping routes which could come under attack without the deterrence factor of the new submarines.

Protecting Ports from Trading Partner 

This claim is false. As has been humorously explained on the Australian TV series “Utopia,” China is the power that is supposedly being “deterred” from attacking Australia’s ports and shipping routes, and since China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner this means that we are effectively pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into protecting our trade with China, from China.

In reality, Australia is not arming itself against China to protect itself from China. Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States.

This dynamic was illustrated in all its grotesque glory by a 2019 presentation at the Australian think tank Centre for Independent Studies by American political analyst John Mearsheimer. In his usual uncomfortably blunt manner, Mearsheimer told his audience that the U.S. is going to do everything it can to halt China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the dominant power in the region, and that Australia should align with the U.S.  in that battle or else it would face the wrath of Washington.

“The question that’s on the table is what should Australia’s foreign policy be in light of the rise of China,” Mearsheimer said. “I’ll tell you what I would suggest if I were an Australian.”

Mearsheimer said China is going to continue to grow economically and will convert that economic power into military power to dominate Asia “the way the U.S. dominates the Western hemisphere”, and explained why he thinks the U.S. and its allies have every ability to prevent that from happening.

“Now the question is what does this all mean for Australia?” Mearsheimer said.

“Well, you’re in a quandary for sure. Everybody knows what the quandary is. And by the way you’re not the only country in East Asia that’s in this quandary. You trade a lot with China, and that trade is very important for your prosperity, no question about that. Security-wise, you really want to go with us. It makes just a lot more sense, right? And you understand that security is more important than prosperity, because if you don’t survive, you’re not gonna prosper.”

“Now some people say there’s an alternative: you can go with China,” said Mearsheimer.

“You have a choice here: you can go with China rather the United States. There’s two things I’ll say about that. Number one, if you go with China, you want to understand you are our enemy. You are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States. Because again, we’re talking about an intense security competition.”

“You’re either with us or against us,” he continued.

“And if you’re trading extensively with China, and you’re friendly with China, you’re undermining the United States in this security competition. You’re feeding the beast, from our perspective. And that is not going to make us happy. And when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can be. Just ask Fidel Castro.”

Nervous laughter from the Australian think tank audience punctuated Mearsheimer’s more incendiary observations. The C.I.A. is known to have made numerous attempts to assassinate Castro.

So if you’re confused as to why Australia is preparing to fight an unwinnable war against its primary trading partner, in direct contradiction to its own security and economic interests, that’s why. It’s because Australia is ultimately more afraid of the U.S. than it is of China.

Contrary to Joe Hockey’s claims, Australia is not paying hundreds of billions of dollars to knit itself even further into the U.S. war machine because “the cost of failure is far greater than the cost of investment.”

In truth those hundreds of billions of dollars are more like pizzo payments to the Mafia; we’re letting the boss wet his beak so he doesn’t trash our business and break our kneecaps.

From left: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, U.S. President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at an AUKUS meeting in San Diego on Monday. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

Nobody ever talks about this, even though anyone who studies U.S.  foreign policy knows it’s true. Australian propagandists make up stories about what China might do to us if we don’t play along with Washington’s brinkmanship against Beijing, but they never talk about what the U.S. would do to us if we don’t.

This is because they don’t want us thinking too hard about the fact that we are being coerced by the world’s most powerful government into preparing to fight a war of unfathomable horror under the tacit threat of inflicting even worse horrors upon us if we don’t.

Australia is caught between a rock and a Pentagon, and both are the fault of the United States. The U.S. is responsible for engineering all these hostilities between China and the Western power alliance in its desperate attempts to secure unipolar hegemony, and the U.S. is responsible for creating the fear other countries feel knowing what fate might befall them if they disobey its dictates.

The U.S. is solely responsible for creating a situation in which we are being forced to choose between (A) throwing our sons and daughters into the gears of an unimaginably terrible war while destroying our economy and risking nuclear armageddon, or (B) facing retribution and retaliation from a government that is far more violent and destructive than China.

This completely intolerable situation is why Australians are being aggressively hammered with war propaganda about China right now; if we were simply allowed to consume truthful information and think normal thoughts, no healthy person would ever consent to any of this.

But that’s where we’re at, and it’s not going to get better until people understand that that’s what’s happening. We’ve got to talk about this thing, and we’ve got to help everyone understand the reality of the situation we now find ourselves in. In the end, humanity will not have a chance at health until it has freed itself from the shackles of the U.S.  empire.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

35 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Australia’s Real Fear Isn’t China

  1. Bob Li
    March 17, 2023 at 06:45

    I think a lot of USA vassals are just trying to appease the mafia boss and buy time. USA is weakening and it’s running out of time. Most of the minions are just waiting for the right moment to free itself from the Criminal Empire. But for now, they play the game. When it’s really time to stick their necks out and when thousands of lives are on the line, we’ll see if they will accept to do the mafia boss’ bidding. I suspect they won’t. They are unlike Zelensky’s Ukraine, the most corrupt regime in the world.

  2. David
    March 17, 2023 at 02:45

    We need to rename AUKUS to USUKA. I am sure they thought long and hard about naming the Alliance!

    • Eric Arthur Blair
      March 18, 2023 at 07:08

      USUKA is pronounced “you sucker”.
      Who is the sucker?
      The Australian taxpayer…. to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars in the form of a blank cheque handed to the US military industrial complex.
      The greatest triumph of Scotty from marketing.

    March 16, 2023 at 21:13

    Read in full this recent “Force Posture” agreement with the U.S. and understand this; It means that Australia is now the major front line forward storage and supply base for the coming war with China. Make no mistake, The U.S. has been signalling this intention for many years. Australia, like it or not, is now a committed partner in that war. Some Australian Politicians still insist we shall remain neutral; this is an obvious oxymoron designed to propagandize Australians and mislead; they need to analyze more carefully. Given all the facts, we can expect the Australian Government to issue a General Mobilisation, that will call up many of our young able bodied Sons and daughters for military training, about two years from now, if not sooner. It will take two years, at least to train and integrate them into any form of credible military proficiency.
    The U.S. has well declared intentions, that War with China will come, once Russia has been “weakened”through the war with Ukraine and NATO. This conflict will end soon, I believe that Russia is in control there and they will end it on their terms. Transporting all the War materiel’s and equipment reserves into the Australian U.S. Bases will take just a few months. So, anytime soon we can expect the U.S. to rev up the aggravation against China with respect to Taiwan, because China must be provoked into acting first, then the U.S. will use that to justify their own intended retaliation. “Duck and cover” anyone?

  4. eddieb
    March 16, 2023 at 06:12

    Kissinger said, To be an enemy of America is dangerous, to be a friend is fatal!

  5. Hem
    March 16, 2023 at 04:03

    Allow me to disagree. Side with China is the smart move, even if that will piss off Washington and London alike. It would certainly hurt relations and might even bring down a government or two (although the timing isn’t too bad for a “switch” with the fast development of BRICS). But seeing where the world is heading, not just militarily but monetarily (if that’s a word), side with the US and Canberra will sink its country/continent.

    Former prime minister Keating minces no words: Capital city newspapers urge nuclear war by Australia against China: God help us

    ps: perhaps links aren’t allowed, so let me post it without

  6. Hem
    March 16, 2023 at 04:01

    Allow me to disagree. Side with China is the smart move, even if that will piss off Washington and London alike. It would certainly hurt relations and might even bring down a government or two (although the timing isn’t too bad for a “switch” with the fast development of BRICS). But seeing where the world is heading, not just militarily but monetarily (if that’s a word), side with the US and Canberra will sink its country/continent.

    Former prime minister Keating minces no words: Capital city newspapers urge nuclear war by Australia against China: God help us


  7. Anon
    March 16, 2023 at 02:43

    Paul Keating for PM.

  8. rosemerry
    March 16, 2023 at 01:30

    I am Australian and now live in France, another of the 26 vassals of the USA (Hungary may be an exception in the “EU”) who have doomed themselves to follow the obvious loser in the coming multipolar world. 80% of the world’s people live in nations which are now learning that the USA is doing its best to ensure peace, stability, cooperation are avoided, though the media in the West manage to keep quiet the recent epoch-making deal in the China-brokered Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement.

    March 15, 2023 at 21:49

    Australia needs these missiles like it needs a hole in the head! We are not threatened by any other Nation, We do not need them! The U.S.A. needs to sell them because it is operating a weapons of war economy! Further, it offends my sensibilities that the U.S. is developing and expanding it’s military presence in Australia; we are now an “occupied” Nation, we have ceded our Sovereignty to the U.S. and will never get it back. Look at history: at the end of World War Two the U.S. refused to remove it’s two massive military Bases in Germany, they have also been extensively modernised and enlarged over time since; there are others. This has resulted in loss of Sovereignty for much of Europe/NATO/EEC, though they claim otherwise. Even a cursory review of European history since WW2, informs that they can do nothing of importance unless with consent of the U.S..The problems in Ukraine are all engineered by and for the U.S. interests and intentions. Now Australia will have Nuclear weapons, whether we like it or not! The U.S. recently announced it had invited Japan to also lodge with their Bases in Australia. All of this is developing Australia to be a huge frontline target in any future U.S. War entanglements; soon you will learn that many more of our sons and daughters are needed for military training, for defensive purposes , of course. However, The only enemies Australia has, are those generated by the U.S. aggressions. I respectfully request anyone that knows, to tell me how Australia can be rid of U.S. Bases and to regain our independent Sovereignty? First call would be, not to vote for any spineless Politician beholden to the U.S..

  10. graham
    March 15, 2023 at 20:10

    yes Caitlin, right, Oz, along with many others, is a captured entity, Gough Whitlam’s fate serves to remind…

  11. Mike
    March 15, 2023 at 19:59

    Great articlw Caitlin
    The rallying call has to be GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
    We are fed a never ending stream of war mongering designed to make us fear other nations.
    Look at the track record of America in foreign adventures such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Is Australia still so lacking in confidence that we are still going all the way with LBJ ?
    Paul Keating can serve as a rallying point for all people of Australia

  12. Carrie
    March 15, 2023 at 18:33

    What a bunch of suckers …. by 2040, World War III will be over. One way or another. Paying money now for weapons after the war …. brilliance.

    The real key to the AUKUS deal is Australia willing to become a target for incoming nukes by hosting UKUS nuke bases.

  13. Carrie
    March 15, 2023 at 18:30

    Australia …. one of the few countries who lacked the guts to rebel against the incompetent English.

    Aussies like to get drunk and talk tough, but in reality they are the world champion submissives trailing along at the end of the English leash. There are a lot of countries that have managed to successfully throw out the Brits, quite a few, but Australia is not on the list. They even let the English overthrow their elected governments at the English whim.

  14. shmutzoid
    March 15, 2023 at 18:16

    “You’re either with us or against us”. …… this piece of bravado was uttered by GW Bush after 9/11. As I’ve said in a few posts already, it’s also shorthand for US foreign policy, in general. To the US, Australia is nothing more than a staging ground for war with China.
    …… i wonder how many Aussies recognize they’ll be as vulnerable/sacrificial as Germany when it comes to the US provoking hostilities and later escalating any military conflict with China. I dunno – probably not enough. The propaganda/media environment there might be even more intense there than the US.
    ….. Aussies must consider the unlimited perfidy of US machinations when it comes to instigating war. ….. They should expect anything from a naval blockade cutting off all trade with China—to—- the US staging a massive false flag event in Australia. …..and everything in between. ……. Indeed, the US Imperium operates a la Mafia.

  15. Marie-France Germain
    March 15, 2023 at 18:10

    One needs to see what is happening in Europe to appreciate how we vassal states are all performing monkeys for the USA hegemon. All the US has to do is roll over and we in Canada are crushed economically just like Germany which is being led like a docile cow down the “primrose path” as Meirsheimer likes to say of Ukraine.

    Meirsheimer is wrong about the Chinese having the same hegemonic ambitions as the USA. Only the USA and possibly some former European empires see the world in a winner take all mentality. It is not the mentality of Eurasia, sorry, China is very much win/win. We in the global west are idiotically following the wrong path and refusing to find a new one. If we want change and have our leaders care about our own economic security rather than that of the Americans, maybe we should change our leadership to those who believe in peace and stability. Let’s join the 80% of humanity that is not supporting the USA in its wars to maintain its hegemonic. cruel and barbaric empire. Maybe we could also save the remaining Ukrainians from dying needlessly in an attritional war of American choice.

    • Bob Li
      March 17, 2023 at 07:23

      I agree with you. The USA global hegemony is a historical anomaly. China knows this. Also, colonialism and capitalist neocolonialism are very contrary to Chinese ideology. The underlying religion is very telling. The dominant religion in the west sought to convert and control peoples via crusades. The natural evolution of the practice is colonialism. China and buddhism do not have such “tradition”. So, it is hard to believe that after thousands of years, China would start doing it. Claiming that China has global hegemonic ambitions is very much a western projection.

      China seeks trade to enhance its prosperity but it’s okay if the other side of the trade also benefits and prosper. That is very much China’s tradition. While it may emerge as an economic “hegemon”, it would be very different from the hegemony we have today.

  16. Rob Roy
    March 15, 2023 at 16:14

    Another great article by Ms. Johnstone…can’t get a clearer look at Australia’s predicament than this.

    Larry McGovern’s comment made me think of something Albanese could have said, to retain a shred of dignity:, “We’ll accept US weapons in Australia on one condition: Let Julian Assange go free.”

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 15, 2023 at 18:50

      US weapons are already here. Our ultimate shame is how Albo & Co do nothing as the US Godfathers kill Assange. Julian is in solitary as you read this.

  17. Piotr Berman
    March 15, 2023 at 16:07

    It seems that Australia will pay 50 to 100 billion dollars per submarine. Three boats with the option to have five, in early 2040-ties. How those costs will help, especially given the hellish scare of imminent Chinese danger, presumably materializing less than 20 years from now…

    There was a guy named Parkinson describing, with historical examples, how public and private bureaucracies work. One rule is that the discussion on budget items invariably is most animated for smallest items, and for items above certain size, there is a short announcement that everybody accepts. Thus the cost of submarines was bloated beyond (a) any shred of sanity (b) any ability to discuss it.

  18. Kiwiantz62
    March 15, 2023 at 15:47

    Sorry I agree with some of your article’s narrative logic but not all of it? That Australia is buying US Military assets like Nuclear Submarines to provide pizzo payments just to appease the Mafioso Yanks to wet their beaks, like a extortion Mark paying protection money is nonsense! Australia is a willing partner in America’s Hegemonic ambitions & has hitched its wagon to the dying US Empire many times before despite all the evidence & signs that shows that the US Empire is headed for Collapse & which continues to self destruct into Military & Financial decline & Banking ruin! If Australia had any brains or self respect it would reject American Warmongering ambitions & say NO to the US & be neutral & have a Nuclear free stance like NZ & be like Switzerland, NEUTRAL? But Australia loves playing with the Big boys & puffing out its chest, Aussies seriously believe in their own self importance & the delusional thinking that what Australia says & does MATTERS in the World? Australia lacks the moral courage that other small Nations like Cuba & others have done by standing up to US Imperialism & saying NO, even to the detriment of their own economic wellbeing! Australia has also been bought up on the phoney myth of the Anzac Digger, the noble loser from the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign of WW1 & Australia will follow America wherever it goes & will do whatever it wants like the willing vassal it is, even if that path leads to its economic & Military destruction & to the detriment of its own Interests, Australia is the Germany of the South Pacific & it’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is the latest Aussie version of Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholtz? Just another quizzler Leader who takes orders & sucks up to the Americans! Australia has demonstrated with this lousy & stupid AUCKUS Submarine Deal that it is completely captured by the US, it has no Sovereignty & will follow America like in the Thelma & Louise Movie, hand in hand, straight off the Cliff to its doom & death?

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 15, 2023 at 18:54

      OMG! You slandered our sacred Gallipoli myth. You must be burned at the stake.

      • Kiwiantz62
        March 15, 2023 at 23:53

        As a a Kiwi, NZ celebrates Anzac Day but it’s not held up as some Religious & sacred event & mythologised in the over the top way that the Aussies worship it as? In NZ, Anzac Day is remembered as a anti war, cautionary tale for us not get involved in the Imperial wars of others & to try & remain neutral, which is a difficult juggling act to do as we don’t want to upset both China or the US? The AUKUS deal puts NZ on the outer with this Warmongering Triad of the US, UK & Australia, our anti-nuclear stance, excludes us from this ludicrous alliance, exactly like our exclusion from ANZUS, which makes me extremely happy!

    • Daniel Fry
      March 15, 2023 at 18:56

      I agree with Johnstone. The ‘strayan bravado and complicit enthusiasm for being a vassal and a yokel of the US mafia state amongst its corrupt self invited political class is exactly to *hide* the spineless, impotent, and amoral cowardice of our ‘leadership’ dating back to the colony’s establishment.
      Most of the ‘plebs’ here are racist anyway, so the anti Chinese drivel in medias is right down their alley, and “who cares about what is really going on in the world anyhow, as long as house prices keep going up”.
      BS Australians deserve whatever they get.

    • George Philby
      March 15, 2023 at 22:31

      Reply to Kiwiantz62
      Great mentions of Cuba, NZ, and Switzerland regarding neutrality and standing up to the US in various degrees.
      Anzac Day coming up when Oz annually celebrates its defeat as Britain’s poodle (specifically Churchill’s).
      Love your terrific bit about Chancellor Scholz. He stands beside Biden as POTUS says, ‘Hey, Scholz, we’re gonna blow up your cheap, good Russian gas, which keeps your industry going and warms your homes.’
      Instead of smashing his fist into Biden’s face, Scholz grins imbecilically like a dog tickled behind the ear.
      Then he dashes off to Washington to learn how to spin a ludicrous lie about Nord Stream.
      How did the intelligent Germans elect such a quisling? But then, as you say, Australia’s the Germany of the South Pacific.

  19. vinnieoh
    March 15, 2023 at 15:46

    Caitlin that was brilliant!

    Your style is great too – no unnecessary adornment or redundant overstatements, then quickly to the point, and see ya’.

    Perhaps it’s OK to go along with this protection racket and let the big dog just exhaust itself and collapse? I understand Mearsheimer has a reputation of credibility, but the totality and strength of US power is probably somewhat less than he states. No, I do not underestimate US ability to bring death and destruction, as well as extortion and intrigue, but I’m not so cock sure as Mearsheimer.

  20. lester
    March 15, 2023 at 13:48

    Hasn’t the US removed one annoying PM already? Whitlam? It could easily get worse.

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 15, 2023 at 18:57

      Thanks Lester. That’s ground zero, the central issue. The ALP will never let that happen again.

    • Tony
      March 16, 2023 at 09:04

      And, possibly, Harold Holt back in 1967. He was a strong swimmer who knew the beach from where he disappeared very well. An extensive search failed to find the body. And so, this does have to be seen as a suspicious death.

      One possibility is that he was assassinated by the CIA because he wanted to withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam. This was reportedly the subject of a 1968 newspaper report in the Sunday Observer.

      And then there is this very curious comment reportedly made by President Johnson:

      “The death of Prime Minister Harold Holt can be seen as the Australian version of John F Kennedy’s assassination”

  21. MirrorGazers
    March 15, 2023 at 12:27

    “Australia is not arming itself against China to protect itself from China. Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States.”

    A popular choice not always perceived by some mutating the fear of others.

  22. Jose Gomez
    March 15, 2023 at 11:41

    If Australians wanted a glance into their immediate future, just look at what the empire is doing to Ukrainians. Regarding Australia economy, look no further than Germany that has started to stop growing precisely for following the empire’s marching orders. After reading this article, it is hard not to concur with Miss Caitling.

  23. Larry McGovern
    March 15, 2023 at 11:37

    Australia a vassal of the USA? Oh come on, Caitlin Johnstone. Why, just look at that Aukus photo. I believe the camera shutter clicked just after Albanese told Biden to free Julian Assange? No? Oh – ok, I guess not!

    • Mikael Andersson
      March 15, 2023 at 19:02

      Yes, as Albo stood at that lectern Julian was held prisoner by the bloke on his left. Submarines show Australia’s loyalty. Julian shows our abject subservience and craven complicity.

    • LarcoMarco
      March 15, 2023 at 22:34

      AUKUS is an anagram of U SUKA!

  24. malcolm thomas
    March 15, 2023 at 10:49

    Too right Caitlin!

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