Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, who is among the country’s most well-known and influential political thinkers, has shocked the establishment by coming out with a blistering attack on Australia’s AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine deal with the United States and the United Kingdom. He blasted it as the “worst international decision” by a Labor government since the conscription order of World War I.
He said in written statement on the occasion of addressing the National Press Club on Wednesday that the submarine deal is fundamentally about “US strategic hegemony in Asia” and that Australia has now unwisely hitched its wagon to Washington. Keating wrote in the rare critique that “China has committed, in the eyes of the United States, the great sin of internationalism. And what is that sin? To develop an economy as big as the United States.”
“The Americans will never condone or accept a state as large as them. That’s what China presents. They would have preferred that [China] – 20 per cent of humanity – remained in poverty forever. But the fact that China is now an industrial economy larger than the United States … it is not in the playbook.”
That’s when he concluded that ultimately, “This is what [Aukus] is about, the maintenance of the US strategic hegemony in Asia.”
In reference to the deal announced and confirmed by President Joe Biden on Monday in San Diego while standing beside his Australian and British counterparts, Keating wrote, “For $360 billion, we’re going to get eight submarines. It must be the worst deal in all history.”
He took direct aim at the current Australian PM and other top officials, writing the following:
“This week, Anthony Albanese screwed into place the last shackle in the long chain the United States has laid out to contain China.”
“No mealy-mouthed talk of ‘stabilisation’ in our China relationship or resort to softer or polite language will disguise from the Chinese the extent and intent of our commitment to United States’s strategic hegemony in East Asia with all its deadly portents.”
“History will be the judge of this project in the end. But I want my name clearly recorded among those who say it is a mistake. Who believes that, despite its enormous cost, it does not offer a solution to the challenge of great power competition in the region or to the security of the Australian people and its continent.”
Australians who don’t want a war with China are still unclear about how to respond to this deluge of mass media war propaganda our country is being smashed with, and Keating showed exactly how to respond. He provided a solid model for us all.https://t.co/noXxKehvpB
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) March 16, 2023
Keating emphasized that Australian sovereignty must comes first, but Washington is aiming to become the “primary strategic power in Asia” despite having “no land in the metropolitan zone of Asia” given that it’s some 10,000km away.
English-language media in some instances was quick to suggest he’s playing into Chinese and Russian propaganda while not dealing with his actual arguments. Anthony Albanese also said the former PM has “diminished” himself. “It is unfortunate that Mr Keating chose such a very strong personal statement against people. I don’t think that that does anything other than diminish him, frankly,” the prime minister said. “We’ll continue to do what we need to do to defend our nation,” he added, but without addressing how the government hopes to pay for the massive decades-long nuclear submarine program.
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