Butler, Richard: The Alliance: the facts and the furphies

Richard Butler

The Alliance: the facts and the furphies‘, Pearls and Irritations, 19 September 2017

‘A review of how we conduct our alliance relationship with the US is urgently required’, says the author, ‘not simply because it has elected a President who is unfit for his job, but because of the US’ attachment to war’. Butler argues the United States is in disarray and divided, and its political system would still be dysfunctional even if Trump departed the scene. The United States is also attached to war.

Our close identification with US policy raises questions about our status as an independent nation. There is also the question whether Trump will undertake foreign adventures as a diversion from internal reckonings.

Under present Australian policy, we would presumably accompany the US, as PM Turnbull has promised, in whatever adventure Trump chooses, because our solidarity with the US is fundamental, all that counts.

The core assertion made to justify such unwavering commitment to US actions is that it will ensure US protection of Australia, through the alliance. Specifically, this means extended nuclear deterrence by the US of any attack upon Australia.

This is a fantasy. No nuclear weapon state will engage in conflict, which could become nuclear, on behalf of an ally. But, in our case, we will attract an attack upon our territory, if the US becomes involved in a nuclear exchange or threatens one, as it is currently doing towards DPRK [North Korea], because the US bases on our soil are integrated into US nuclear war fighting command and control system.

We need to review our relations with the United States, because it is a dangerous partner, on the basis of shared interests, and to preserve our own integrity.

For other pieces by Butler, please consult the Search function of the Honest History website under terms such as ‘Butler’, ‘Korea’ and ‘Alliance’. Pearls and Irritations is a blog managed by former senior public servant and businessman, John Menadue. Both Menadue and Richard Butler are among Honest History’s distinguished supporters. Butler reviewed The Honest History Book, which includes a foreign policy chapter from Alison Broinowski.

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