Analysis 1 July 2021 - Celebrating 50 Years, to the Day, of China-Watching from Close Quarters … with nary a goalless one in all that time.

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Lockhart Road

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Mar 26, 2013
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1 July 2021 - Celebrating 50 Years, to the Day, of China-Watching from Close Quarters … with nary a goalless one in all that time.


PART 1 -
OUT WITH THE 1954 DULLES / MENZIES CHINA PLAYBOOK … AND IN WITH WHITLAM’S


The Australian delegation to China flew into Peking near midnight on 3 July 1971 through “a prolonged and spectacular thunderstorm.”
It was the week before (Gough) Whitlam’s fifty-fifth birthday.
The motley crew of Australian politicians, journalists and academics bewildered their Chinese hosts. Their tendency to communicate in rhyming slang compounded the confusion already caused by the Australian accent, “a thing of terror” to Chinese ears familiar with English spoken by Americans.

(Billy Griffiths, Monash University Press, ‘Inside Story’, 22 October 2014.)

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EDWARD GOUGH WHITLAM

Whitlam was at the Port Club one night as Guest of Honour invited by Mick Young, Labor Party representative for the Port District and the Club’s No. 1 Ticket Holder. My father derived genuine pleasure from listening to 5AN when Mick Young - as broad in the shoulder as an ex-shearer ought to be, with hair as curly as the sheep he used to clip - rose to his feet in Canberra. Pop could visualise Mick’s targets shrink like the next woolly victim in line while Mick turned them into second-raters. Pop took real pleasure, too, sitting at the kitchen table, gazing into the future as he talked up Whitlam as pioneer of an unforeseen generation of ‘educated’ federal Labor Party contenders, a generation essential to Labor’s recovery and survival, to take over from tired stalwarts like ‘honest but doomed’ Doc. Evatt and the tragic, eminently forgettable ‘two Wongs don’t make a white’ Arthur Calwell.

Another amongst Pop’s intellectual new breed of Labor rising stars was Don Dunstan. Young Don launched his career in state politics in early 1953 with a speech via loudspeaker from our front verandah at 9 Morris Street, Evandale. (In those days the fully-grown trees that now line the footpath were not there to interfere with the carry of Dunstan’s voice.) I was six years of age. I was captured. I recollect that heady summer evening very clearly. Dunstan was an instant hit. He took out the seat of Norwood, then made a point of taking a chair out at our kitchen table to sit down and thank my father for his advice and physical assistance. The red-brick terracotta-rooftile house in Morris Street remains the same. My parents rented it then bought it during the war years, having married in Wallaroo in 1939. I would stop the hire car outside each time I was in Adelaide and check out the place that had been my home for all my school years. The front verandah with its terrazzo floor my father put down one sweaty weekend is still there, the kitchen is around the back. I very much doubt the table is the same, never have I ventured inside to inspect. Once I did knock on the front door, perhaps a dozen years ago. No reply. Nobody was home but memories.

ARTLESS ART

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“I do not think we will be beaten. There are no circumstances which would suggest even a remote possibility of the opposition winning 17 seats.”

So said Prime Minister Robert Menzies on the eve of the 9 December 1961 federal election. On the surface, Menzies had every right to sound confident … even if not he, nor anyone, had any right to sound arrogant. But he always did. Labor had fallen out with its own Catholic power-brokers, who broke away to establish the anti-ALP Democratic Labor Party. The DLP consequently gifted to the Liberal & Country Party coalition their second-preference votes, just one of an unnecessary excess of idiosyncrasies in Australia’s idiosyncratic excessively democratic electoral system that clicked in on polling day. Accordingly, when reading the room, any room, Menzies had lapsed into the habit of not fully focusing, of identifying less than what was there to be read. An economic situation called a credit squeeze was making life tough all over again for the working-class, especially those who had lived through the Depression, then had survived the war years. The banks were okay. Oh yes, the banks that Menzies looked after, they were hunky dory; they simply put their rates up and threatened Bluey and Snow and Ocker and Mrs Ocker with bare-faced foreclosure on their mortgages. What really had Menzies not bothering to read all the room all the time, however, was his opponent. The moon would turn blue before Pig Iron Bob dropped an election to artless Art.

Ordinary through and through, narrow of mind, stubborn and a race relations amateur for an ex-immigration minister in the Chifley Labor government was Arthur Calwell. This bloke, however, was a dead set trier. For all his shortcomings and a profile that was inarguably hands-and-heels working-class and the antithesis of anyone in a morning coat and pinstripe trousers on the opposite side of the House floor, he was no lie-down-roll-over member of parliament. Never would a blink of sophistication visit either eye, not the lazy left one nor the other. Never did a rounded vowel make it past his cracked and colourless lips before being ground flat and ugly by the sandpaper Calwell pronunciation. Never could his single buck tooth render him photogenic. Nevertheless, underneath all that camouflage, the Leader of the Opposition had an ambush set to be sprung.

DOOMSDAY ENOUGH

In spite of his portfolio of negatives conspiring against him, in 1961 just one seat, a single swinging parliamentary seat, was the skin-of-the-teeth margin in the Australian federal election that prevented Calwell from beating Menzies. Just the one solitary parliamentary seat kept Labor from embarrassing the grandee who’d founded the Liberal Party in 1944 to within the last palpitation of his political heart. And this result went down despite the LCP coalition coming up short by broad daylight in the national vote in the House of Representatives. More about gerrymandering later.

The sitting LCP member in Moreton Bay eventually fingernailed what masqueraded as a win by a measly 130 votes. Such a hairsbreadth ‘majority’ provoked a panic-stricken Menzies into panic-stricken retaliation. He set about whipping up a hate campaign. His objective was for it to be emotional enough, fearsome enough, doomsday enough, to twist voters enough to guarantee him victory minus photo finish at the next poll.

His retaliative target: the People’s Republic of China.


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The notorious Domino Theory: another Big Lie, rendered so by the aftermath of its first test -
South Vietnam. Ironically … renowned Vietnam War correspondent, author and historian Stanley
Karnow was to observe … the real domino to fall was American public opinion. No less ironically,
considering Australia was co-promoter of the theory and the ultimate target for the March of the
Tumbling Dominoes, the LCP coaltion and Catholic-dominated DLP in Canberra looked on aghast
as public opinion Down Under did likewise. And then, in 1979, China turned the simple-minded
theory wholly inside-out by launching a three-pronged invasion into a by-then forcefully unified
communist Vietnam across the two countries’ common border. China came off second-best in a
fight that went on for two months. The PLA have yet to live that down, and should be wary of a
repeat embarrassment in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait in particular.


“With the black cloud of communist China hanging to the north, we must make sure that our children do not end up pulling rickshaws with hammer and sickle signs on their sides...”

For Menzies, the events of December 1961 have been called a ‘near-death’ experience. Anyone who lives through any such phenomenon invariably decides to make changes to their lifestyle. Menzies had long thought he was immortal. He had been since early 1960 not just Australia’s prime minister but also the country’s minister for external affairs (‘foreign minister’ in most other places), itself a full-time portfolio if done properly. This self-important wearing of two very important hats played into Calwell’s hands. Menzies’ near-fatal stumble, if not fall, indeed cometh after his excess of pride, made all the more dangerous for him by his excess of disregard for his Labor opponent, a mistake he never made again.

FROWN OF THE LUCKY COUNTRY

Menzies took his cue for a fresh pitch to the Australian voting public from some dubious scaremongering in 1954 by his perceived Liberal Party leadership rival and predecessor as external affairs minister, Richard Casey - himself formerly Canberra’s ambassador to Washington. (In 1965, aged 75, he would become Lord Casey, governor-general.) This fellow had sure been there, had sure done that, had pinned to his ceremonial tunic a Great War DSO plus a Military Cross that had been awarded to him for being in the right spots at Gallipoli and the Western Front. Casey had not been taking things easy, working his route up the power steps until at the top of his Xmas card list were names such as Ike, John Foster Dulles (U.S. Secretary of State), Anthony Eden (whom he closely resembled) and Winston Churchill on whose WWII war administration Casey had served from Egypt then Bengal, rare air indeed for an ethnic Australian to be breathing.

In April 1954 Casey brought the frown of the Lucky Country to Geneva for the international conference which would, consequent to the imminent massacre of the French military at Dien Bien Phu, determine what a partitioning of Vietnam might look like. Prior to leaving Melbourne, according to Paul Ham, historian and author of ‘VIETNAM - The Australian War’, published by Harper Collins in 2007, Casey warned a crowded room: “The world is very disturbed … The United States of America is on our side. It is on the side of democracy, decency and right, and the forces of darkness opposed to it are very apparent and very powerful.” Heavy stuff, but mild compared to what he came out with on returning home, having been thoroughly spooked by Zhou Enlai.

A RED HOT BLAST OF EAST WIND

Dulles and Casey looked on, or tried to, as behind closed doors Zhou - who spoke French as fluently as he did English - played like a piccolo the French prime minister, who was facing an election at home and negotiating under the added pressure of a self-imposed schedule as tight and touch-and-go as a noose around his neck and a trapdoor beneath his feet. The international compromise at the 17th parallel went against the demands of Ho Chi Minh whose forces had won the war, and who sought no compromise short of 100% of Vietnam. Imagine the state of panic Casey would’ve brought home if Zhou had been thoroughly on Uncle Ho’s side, instead of just being determined to keep the North Vietnamese under control. Imagine if Zhou had secured for Ho a lower parallel, or even the entire country. Zhou Enlai, it would seem, without the two having communicated via much more than a glance, had delivered a red hot blast of east wind up Casey’s fundamental orifice. So hot was Zhou’s performance at Geneva that Casey lost all sight, all grip, of reality. On landing back in Melbourne, his mood no doubt exacerbated by Dulles’s characteristic and flagrant hatred of all things communist, Casey lost everything else that hitherto had been tremulously holding together inside of him.

He started to rant and rave. One classic, again as quoted by Paul Ham, was:“With the black cloud of communist China hanging to the north, we must make sure that our children do not end up pulling rickshaws with hammer and sickle signs on their sides ...” China, ‘rickshaws’ and ‘hammer and sickle’ all in the same sentence? This was a long way short of Richard Casey‘s finest moment. A hammer and sickle was in fact the insignia of the PKI, the Partai Komunis Indonesia, the ‘largest non-ruling communist party in the world‘ at the time, its genesis dating back to pre-WWI when it was formed in opposition to the colonialist Dutch administration of the East Indies. Casey went on, as if to overcorrect himself: “International communism might be on Australia’s doorstep within eighteen months.” In other words, by the end of 1955 - in the excited and fatalistic judgement of this ‘external affairs’ expert, this imperialist Australian patrician whose first love was not Australia but the British Commonwealth as a whole - both the USSR and the PRC would conceivably, and jointly, be positioned, ready and able with sufficient hardened military personnel, machines of war, munitions, materiel and support services to invade and capture Australia, having already in just that year and a half gobbled up for the Comintern (Communist International) in quick-fire succession South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Borneo and Indonesia. This was just the sort of glossy ‘Eagle‘ magazine Dan Dare fantasy that Menzies was looking for, to over-emphasise and plant firmly in the mind of his geographically isolated, worldly unwise and vulnerable public - thereby insulating his one-seat majority for at least two years after 9 December 1961 … until he could safely call for a recount via a brought-forward follow-up election.

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Having a giggle at Geneva in 1954 - while Zhou Enlai was off negotiating in
French and getting the job done on Vietnam - are (from right) Australia’s
Richard Casey, America’s John Foster Dulles and Belgium’s foreign minister.
Neither Dulles nor his protege Casey had ever had any regard whatsoever
for the Chinese. Dulles infamously refused to shake Zhou’s hand in Geneva,
an affront that broadcast much about Dulles and his weaknesses, and also
gifted Zhou extra motivation to outwit the USA. As for Casey, he viewed the
Chinese, according to a paper published in Melbourne in 1931, as having ‘no
national spirit and no genius for government (but) sees prospects in China
for the Australian trade in wheat since “taste for bread … once on the palate
of a race, is liable to supplant the rather flat and insipid taste of rice.”’ This
observation by Casey was only slightly less absurd than his “our children …
pulling rickshaws with hammer and sickle signs” on his return home after
Geneva in 1954.


The south-eastern Queensland seat of Moreton in 1961, and those 130 LCP votes, precipitated what would turn out to be the strategic yet token assembly and delivery of an Australian Infantry battalion to South Vietnam. Menzies had to get the Army to grow in a hurry - and so be able to, in addition to supporting the USA in Vietnam, help Britain deal with the tense situation in Borneo where Indonesia and Malaya were in conflict over ownership of Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah). Thus evolved the reintroduction of conscription of select young men to serve in uniform … none of whom, Menzies assured with forked tongue, would be sent off to war. A few years later I would be one of those young men, despite there existing in Canberra an eyes-only ‘red file’ with my father’s name on the cover. In December 1961 the Australian Communist Party was still an unbanned institution; it received 25,429 votes. How ‘select’ was applied to me upon call-up, considering the regulation pre-enlistment security vetting - three background checks, each different, on each and every conscript - Pop never understood. He took it personally.

MORE REBEL THAN RED

Pop was not a communist. Impressed with what he said and the hard yakka he put in for the ALP, the SA branch of the communist party did what it could to recruit him. His decision in the end was not to trust them. They drank too heavily, womanised too openly and were only in the caper to party every night. My mother made sure Pop accepted that the ACP was no place for him. If he didn’t, she said, he would be there on his own. I recall the sparkling clear October night in 1957 when Pop took my brother and me out on the back lawn to watch Sputnik traverse the starlit sky. He was a proud man that night, proud of the fact that somebody - in this case the Soviets, but it could’ve been the Siamese for all he cared - had stuck it up the Yanks. And what did we all get as a consequential reward decades later? The Internet. No, Pop was more rebel than red, and much of him, looking back, rubbed off on me. As a result, through my life I have bucked the prevailing trend, disdained the beaten path, detested any retreat into mediocrity and barracked for Port Adelaide. My father was born in November 1904, in Wallaroo, and thus had watched Harold Oliver, Shine Hosking, Punch Mucklow, Bull Reval, Big Bob McLean and Bobbie Quinn play before I arrived on the scene by accident as a baby boomer when Pop was already 42.

He was a self-taught carpenter, cabinet maker, electrician, brickie and plasterer, and building site foreman. He taught me to drive on the firm sand of Wallaroo’s North Beach in the column-shift EH Holden that materialsed in the Morris Street driveway to announce Pop’s appointment as SA Carpenters’ Union Organiser. During the war he’d worked at Parafield repairing and refitting, rebuilding even, the insides of all-wood all-Australian-made Mosquito fighter-bombers that had malfunctioned and / or crashed during training flights; there were a lot, the plane was a death trap. He could sign-write, too, for kitchen money, and drew Disney characters on sheets of butcher’s paper and pinned them up on the bedroom wall so silently that they came to life as if by Disney magic the moment my eyes opened in the morning. Pop possessed one or two ornery West Country genes via his dad and a lot of artistic Shetland Island genes via his ma. Ever the atheist when he wasn’t being agnostic, he would quote in his mother’s accent this beloved line from Robbie Burns: “Oh wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us.”

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Robbie Burns mug shot.

A “monster brought forth to swallow and devour your Liberties and equal Rights”.

JERRY MANDA & PIG IRON BOB

A close second on Pop’s wish list of gifts from on high was to possess a vivid imagination and, most importantly, be able to put it to work. Imagination minus opportunity is a curse, like inheriting a Ferrari whilst serving a life term in prison for whatever. Pop, disillusioned, put down, roughed up and honed by the Depression and the war years, could nevertheless see through his mind‘s eye a world that was perfect - a world in which the Liberal & Country Party did not exist. Even more perfect: a world where the Master Manipulator … some bloke who’d never been caught on camera, whom no-one had seen, who reduced Pop to a snort when I asked him to draw this bloke’s face on butcher’s paper … a crafty cheating ruling-class bastard, the LCP’s ultimate infallible political fixer who hid behind the name of Jerry Manda … was caught, given a fair trial, stood against a wall, and shot through his non-existent heart.
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Genesis of the dreaded Gerrymander
University of Vermont, Joshua E. Brown, March 22, 2018:
In 1812, the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, approved a narrow and winding voting district for the
state senate that curved from Marblehead around to Salisbury. It looked like a long-necked salamander,
Federalist newspaper editors declared. They labeled the district “The Gerry-Mander” and the Salem-Gazette
warned that it was a “monster brought forth to swallow and devour your Liberties and equal Rights”.

Cambridge Dictionary: ‘gerrymander’ - to change the borders of an area in order to increase the number of
people within that area who will vote for a particular party or person
.


Politics for the underdog was Pop‘s passion in life. That and Port Adelaide Football Club. He subscribed to no religion, had no passion for any church, just the opposite. And he was no racist, not by the standards of my childhood. He often told me about the freak athleticism of Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936, and about the five balls of pure lightning Eddie Gilbert flung in 1931 at Bradman who saw not one en route to his dismissal off the fifth, a bumper hooked in blind, desperate self-defence that went straight up in the air … and he took me one balmy night to Memorial Drive to sit enthralled at the antics under outdoor lights of the Harlem Globetrotters. He looked up only to his fellow rebels, and down on any human demographic that dared to look upon itself as superior, or who interfered uninvited with the lives of others. Particularly deserving of Pop’s invective was Pig Iron Bob Menzies. He hated Menzies’ guts. In vain he dreamed of the opportunity to tell the despotic monarchist bludger all about it. Ne‘er had there been an instant, and never would there be, Pop would mutter, when Menzies dared to see himself as others saw him.

But perhaps he did. Perhaps there were moments when Pig Iron Bob did see himself as others saw him, and it was not a pretty sight. Menzies, born in 1894, was twenty years of age himself when the Great War broke out in Europe. Both his brothers enlisted, but he never did. He never tried to explain why, though he was asked many times. It was as if he had something in his closet that had to stay shut away. It is rumoured that his mother decided sending two out of three sons overseas to war was enough commitment for one ruling-class family. Bob was required, instead, from 1914 to 1918, to go through with his Law studies and content himself with compulsory this and that with the Melbourne University Rifles. Straight after the war he entered pupilage en route to admittance to the Bar as a barrister, specialising in constitutional law. But the twist in all this is that Menzies was a vocal supporter, during the war, during his studies, of conscription - just so long as it didn’t include him. Come the 1950s, as prime minister, he again supported conscription and saw that it was made law. In 1964 he did it yet again - and for the third time in his seventy years conscription was for others, not him. He was absolutely determined that conscription be reintroduced to bolster the Army and impress the Americans, and he imposed his will on his cabinet with all his might. There was a dictator lurking inside Bob Menzies, and in 1964, having been safely re-elected, he let it loose.

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Did Australians see Menzies as a fellow Australian? In February 1966 decimal currency was introduced Down Under.
I can recollect working through an entire weekend on triple-time in the accounts department at the Repat converting
war pension cards by hand from pounds, shillings and pence into dollars and cents, whilst a transistor radio gave out
ABC commentary of Bob Cowper grinding his way to 307 in the 5th Test versus England at the MCG. There had been
extended and intense debate in Canberra prior to the simple, logical nomenclature ‘Australian Dollar’ being decided,
under considerable public pressure. Menzies? Knighted by the Queen in 1963 he did his royal damnedest to make our
new national currency into the ‘Royal Dollar’ having at one time had it on the cusp of being christened, with blatant
disregard, the ‘Royal’. Oh no, no Aussie was the Pig Iron B.


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Whitlam’s trip to China started as an adventure
and ended with a coup

Stephen FitzGerald

(Excerpts from his opinion piece - published in the Australian Financial Review on 1 July 2021 - in italics below, with each excerpt separated by a personal commentary.)

FitzGerald, 1 July 2021:
It’s not the first time China has been “coming down” to “get” Australia, or “the Chinese” seeking to overrun us. It’s a paranoia that goes back to the 19th century of course, variously dormant or active depending in part on how much political oxygen it’s given.
In 1971 it was fed by a clamorous government invocation of a “downward thrust” (originally former prime minister Robert Menzies’ words) bent on invasion of Australia and now blending the old bogey of race with the new one of communism.
And with the Vietnam hot war on top of the Cold War, the politics were rough and often dirty. The anti-war movement, and Labor’s part in it, excited the government to frenzied attacks on Labor as dupes of Asian communism. In that environment, it was not an attack easily met with rational argument.

Since 1949, the invocation of a communist threat by conservative governments and the tarring of Labor with a communist brush had contributed to keeping Labor out of government. As then-prime minister Billie McMahon candidly boasted in 1971, China was “a political asset to the Liberal Party”. It was a liability for Labor.
We had no diplomatic relations, we voted regularly against Beijing taking the China seat in the United Nations, we recognised and promoted the defeated Chinese nationalists (Kuomintang / KMT) in Taiwan as the government of the whole of China. We had troops fighting in Vietnam, a war constructed by the government as prosecuted by China, and so by this construction we were actually at war with China.


Ramifications

Now for the coincidence that has prompted me to not only research these parallel yet interconnecting stories of not just Whitlam, China and me, also Menzies, Vietnam and me, and all their ramifications, but also format them into a single account and write it. As Gough and his party, including FitzGerald, were en route to Peking, to where there were no direct flights from capitalist airports outside China, certainly not Hong Kong, and would not be for a long time, I had landed at Kai Tak Airport - my fourth landing in the Pearl of the Orient. My first touch-down had been in May 1969 on a short R&R from Vietnam, my second in September that same year on pre-discharge leave for two weeks. My third had been in March 1971 when I took a month‘s holiday care-of the Repatriation Commission (now DVA) in Pulteney Street, separated from M.S. McLeod Tyres by a laneway in which I parked my white Morris 1100 prior to Army service, then my fire-engine red Triumph Spitfire Mark III post discharge. The Repat became my first employer when I qualified for my Leaving Certificate after four years at Norwood High, then did as the certificate suggested. I left.

In January 1964 I’d started work at the murky bottom of the mineshaft, not in the hub of bureaucracy called Registry, in the file room out back of the beige three-storey building (originally two-storey per photo below) that housed the men, women, clerks, comptometrists and paraphernalia of the Repatriation Commission, the good ol’ ‘Repat’ … the irony of which has never escaped me: I would be able to find my own thin file in there ere long. My fourth Hong Kong landing, at the start of July 1971, had been set up, though imperfectly as would soon become evident, during my month-long return holiday earlier that year. The adventure that I’d imagined and assiduously saved up for had been plotted well in advance.

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The Repat - Repatriation Commission, 186
Pulteney Street, Adelaide, next to McLeod
Tyres and directly across the road from the
Somerset Hotel.


Prospecting for gold

I landed with a six-month working visa stamped in my passport, issued on the guarantee of an American pyramid scheme shyster by the name of Chuck McKinley, who operated out of Asian House in Wanchai under the cover of an insurance company called Piedmont International. I did not pay the HK$1,000 deposit McKinley was due as part of the deal. I did not take delivery of the initial batch of BCI brand detergent I was supposed to on-sell. I stepped instead on to a different path, one not yet trodden, and went looking for a legitimate and permanent job in an East-meets-West wonderland that had far more possibilities in my imagination than it did in reality.

That job search turned into harder work than I thought possible. Actually, I didn’t think, I simply charged ahead from one contact to the next. As far as I was concerned I was prospecting for gold, digging into every crack in every wall I came across. Eventually I happened upon a flukey situation that I would massage into the perfect career for myself, but only after five hypertonic and hyper-educational months of priceless hyper-networking. By then all that remained in my pocket was a solitary red HK$100 note (as narrated in full in a previous ‘docudrama’ thread titled ‘Up the China Rabbit-hole’).

Somehow I managed not to be deported when I fronted up at Immigration to apply for a new working visa to replace the one whose restrictions I had not complied with. My fourth landing in Hong Kong thus was my last as a non-resident. My local ID card, first issued in October 1971, has since before the 1997 Handover to China classified me as ‘Permanent’.

To secure a convenience

FitzGerald 1 July 2021 (cont’d):
(July 1971 was not) the best moment to be launching a bid to engage (with Peking) some might have ‘thought, and many in Whitlam’s party said it was mad, and likely to lose them the next election, within Labor’s grasp for the first time in 23 years. He was the first Labor leader with the courage to take up this challenge. It not only flew in the face of Australia’s foreign policy, and Washington’s, it was at great risk to his own and his party’s fortunes. But his decision was calculated, and consistent with ALP policy since 1955 to recognise Beijing. Whitlam himself had first called for recognition in his maiden speech to Parliament in 1954. He saw this as rational, logical and in the nation’s interests. He believed we must accept that China is a permanent and significant part of the international landscape, whatever its government or what we think of it, and like Churchill he believed “the reason for having diplomatic relations is not to confer a compliment, but to secure a convenience”.

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The wheat silos at Wallaroo. I can remember, as a child, watching the first one being built.
Wheat. Richard Casey had foreseen a market for it in China as far back as 1931, but taste
had less to do with it than cost and availability. Australia’s wheat export to China could be
turned off or on at Peking’s whim. When Whitlam went to China in July 1971 it was off and
the Wheat Board was in a flap. When Whitlam left China a week later it was on.


Would you mind travelling economy class?”

… Whitlam, and ALP Federal Secretary Mick Young, had seen an opportunity. Quarantined from the politics of enmity and fear, Australia had quietly been selling wheat to China since 1960, worth over $100 million a year. But the Australian Wheat Board had returned empty-handed from China in late 1970, and this was public news. For the first time since 1949, the government was in difficulty on China.
If the trigger was trade, the opportunity was diplomatic engagement, and in the ALP’s cable to Premier Zhou Enlai, it sought discussion of diplomatic relations, not just trade.

Whitlam had also been reading the signs. Some other countries, notably Canada, were moving to recognition of Beijing, there were indications the US might be about to shift, and China itself had signalled a willingness to engage, inviting the US table tennis team to Beijing, the start of what became known as ping-pong diplomacy.

I was neither politician nor Party official, and had no expectation that I would be part of this adventure. But the day after the invitation arrived from China, Whitlam tracked me down in the Curtin pub, where I’d gone to meet Mick Young … . He asked me to join as China adviser, then added, with his familiar irony: “Would you mind travelling economy class?” Would I what! I spent the six weeks before departure and the two weeks on the road trying to meet the demands of (Whitlam’s) prodigious thirst for knowledge.


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Stephen FitzGerald

Confronting the beast

(Edited excerpt from the docudrama ‘Up the China Rabbit-hole’, narrated by Lockhart Road, published on BigFooty, 9 April 2019) :

Desperation is the mother of downsized ambitions. I’d been interviewed, had cold-called and applied in writing for all sorts of vocations: clerical, administrative, assistant-to, manual, a police cadet (eyesight failed me on the spot), TV newsreader, nightclub bouncer (two years infantry sounded good, but no), sub-editor for United Press International, reporter for an English-language newspaper - Hong Kong published four such dailies, the most prominent being the ‘South China Morning Post’ - then went back to ‘go’, virtually, via the Australian Commission and (another) Commonwealth Public Service-issue office desk, in admittedly a different hemisphere, that had fallen temporarily vacant.

This time, armed with a written introduction from somebody - it could have been Keith Hooper of Far East Advertising, previously with ‘The Advertiser’ - when I called on the Commission, 9th Floor, Union House, I’d been taken eastward down Chater Road to lunch at the Hong Kong Cricket Club (a year later I’d be myself a formally-introduced member, saddled with a HK$500 joining fee which today stretches to six figures) by senior administrator, Bruce Denham. He read to me the riot act - not in the least unreasonable in view of the DUI cropper of my predecessor and the fact that I was boarding in a house of ill repute: Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road, Tsimshatsui (TST).

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Looking west down Peking Road circa 1971 towards Chungking
Mansions, facing camera from the other side of Nathan Road, on
which British Leyland double-deckers travel to (south) and from
the Tsimshatsui waterfront and, next to the ‘Star’ Ferry pier, the
Kowloon-Canton Railway terminus of which only the clock tower
still stands.


Home to me was one big concrete box, a high-rise network of neon signage, a beacon, a kaleidescope, a place to be, a place to be from. Chungking Mansions was a multinational vertical Greenwich Village. The air I breathed was a living thing, marinated with a bittersweet cocktail of curry, kimchee, durian and Chinese medicinal herbs and cooking spices, the sound and sight effects of hustling Indian custom tailors, crammed-to-the-ceiling mini electronics marts, pop, rock and jazz music stalls, Cantonese opera stalls, girly magazine stalls and whatever other sorts of stalls, and that was just the lobby. A piquant muskiness of marijuana circulated, resupplied from skinny elevators when their doors opened, having travelled through floor after floor after floor of original sin. In spite of this smudge on my reference, Bruce Denham took me on as ‘local’ labour, nothing special, and had me paid HK$2,300 per month. What hooked me up to the gig was my instant availability, plus inbuilt employer’s insurance of sorts in that I was still on Canberra’s books as being absent on a year’s ‘special leave’ minus pay, could be checked up on, even intimidated. When I’d flown up to Hong Kong for my fourth landing, you see, I had not, in fact, burnt all my bridges behind me.

My six weeks under Bruce’s wing and Doubting Thomas eye brought with them a memory that has endured. There was the morning I was on my way to work, sitting next to the rail of the ‘Star’ Ferry as it filled up at the Tsimshatsui pier on Kowloon side with a boatload of commuters and tourists - including American servicemen on R&R as the war … though rapidly scaling down as far as Washington was concerned, maintaining artillery and air power but handing the fighting on the ground and even disastrous sortees into Laos over to the locals in what they called ‘Vietnamisation’ … was still in progress. My row wasn’t occupied, apart from me, until suddenly it was. A human shape featuring familiar white hair and thick bent black caterpillar eyebrows loomed from starboard, and lumbered with the help of a walking stick across the deck towards me.

You guessed it.

It was Bob Menzies … assisted by his better half, Dame Pattie.

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The ‘Star’ Ferry’s green and white Northern Star circa 1971 steaming south
across Victoria Harbour to Central pier and the CBD, Hong Kong Island.


Nobody worse to elevate

They deposited themselves right next to me. Menzies nodded, said “Good morning,” as he’d seen that I’d recognised him; Pattie said something similar, quite sweetly. I said nought. Here was the very ex-prime minister who’d reintroduced the draft, who’d drawn my birth date out of a barrel and sent me off to war. (In fact, I’d indirectly volunteered for service in Vietnam by transferring myself from 7RAR, which in April 1968 was on its way home after its first active service tour, to 9RAR which would be going to war that November, but I won’t dwell on that.) Here was the bastard, the very one, who’d slid open the first of my adult sliding doors, to have me, after twists and turns, detours and forks in the road, being sat there at the port rail on the ‘Star’ Ferry right up next to him … close enough to slip a sharpened bayonet under his ribs, give it a twist, and get away with it.

Menzies hadn’t been PM since January 1966 when he passed the poisoned chalice to Harold Holt. Holt was gone by the end of 1967, and now John Gorton was past tense to boot, usurped by Big Ears Billy McMahon and Sonia, his ubiquitous handbag with legs attached that swept upwards to her armpits and were the only agenda item Nixon would recall from the McMahons’ regulation visit in 1971 to Washington, DC. The LCP coalition was embroiled in an internal duel: McMahon versus the rest - the inevitable legacy, for them, of Menzies’ asphyxiating twenty-one-year grip on absolute power, as Liberal Party founder and leader since 1944, and as prime minister since 1949. If McMahon had his over-ambitious way he would’ve imposed himself as PM the instant Holt was declared a missing person. Paul Hasluck, essentially Menzies’ war minister when it came to Indo-China, had not a nice syllable for McMahon … ‘contemptible creature’ being two words too many in his assassination of the character McMahon didn’t have. To think that Big Ears Billy, prior to being grudgingly made acting PM by his party in early 1971, there being nobody worse to elevate, had been foreign minister: Australia’s caricature of an envoy to a world that knew nothing worth knowing about Australia and which, having experienced him, was glad of it.

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For the McMahons’ White House attendance in 1971 the dress Sonia chose to almost wear was indeed split all the way
up to her armpits, a two-inch gap at the hips there to render her anatomy a straightforward street map for Nixon to
read. The strategy to this, knowing McMahon’s reptilian predilections, may have been to use his wife as a distraction,
to render Nixon speechless enough to be incapable of discussing America’s withdrawal from, and defeat in, Vietnam.
Part of Menzies’ own and LCP coalition strategy was to not only get American combat troops into Vietnam in 1965,
but to keep them there indefinitely for Australia’s benefit.


Call it vengeance

For a long, long time I sat, thinking on all this, as the romantic, nostalgic, iconic, bow at the front and bow at the back double-decker putted and churned across the harbour - a trip twice as long and enjoyable then as it is today due to land reclamation along the Island waterfront - racking my grey matter to concoct something appropriate, biting and brilliant. Finally, when the journey was all but over, I had it. I knew word-for-word what to hiss out of the right-hand corner of my mouth.

“My father hates your guts.”

Pig Iron Bob did not react. Not a quiver. Not a sound, not even a sigh, not even a rustle of his dark-blue business suit. He hadn’t heard what I said … probably because I didn’t say it out loud.

As the ferry passengers disembarked at Central pier, I hung back and studied Menzies as he was helped across the ramp by Dame Pattie up the steps and into the back of a black limo. A month or so later, at his home in Melbourne, Sir Robert was struck down, by a massive stroke, resulting in cruel paralysis which sentenced him to a wheelchair in public for the seven years he had left to live. Apparently I was already having a telling effect on people with whom I rubbed shoulders and rode ferries next to in the Pearl of the Orient.

Pop’s ornery carpenters’ union genes would’ve said: “Call it vengeance.”

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https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/pig-iron-bob/11116038


HINDSIGHT

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Looking back on that September morning in 1971 with Pig Iron Bob Menzies by my side crossing Victoria Harbour on the ‘Star’ Ferry … I can see it all. Fifty years later I can see everything, including stuff I had never realised was there. It was no accident, that incident. It was pre-ordained. It was all meant to tell me something. Now is an opportune moment to recognise how important it was … fifty years into the future. Now, today, as against then … looking back.

27 January 1971 to 14 February 1972 was, by the Chinese lunar calendar, the Year of the Pig. So there was Pig Iron in its human form next to me in a Pig Year. I was born in another Pig Year, two cycles of twelve years each previously, meaning 1947, meaning I was twenty-four. The twelve-year lunar cycle is made by the twelve animals, chosen by Buddha in the order of their arrival to greet him. The animals are mutiplied by the five vital elements to create the sixty-year greater cycle. These elements, in chronological order, own two consecutive years each per decade: Gold (or Metal), Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. So I am a Fire Pig and 1971 was the Year of the Metal (or Gold) Pig. Pig Iron is a metal. Pig Iron Bob came out of the blue to rub shoulders with me. It was an omen, I now realise in hindsight. I am a believer in Oriental omens, good and bad, the upshot of half a century of being on the receiving end.

Gold / Metal Pig Year plus Fire Pig meets Pig Iron Bob, in hindsight, was an omen of the good type for me in terms of my quest in 1971 to stay in Hong Kong, to make the place my home for the rest of my life. Outcome: I’m still here. Not so good for Bob. He is not. He is neither here, nor there. A month later he had that stroke and took to a wheelchair; sitting down seven years later reading a book he had a fatal heart attack. I wonder if something in the book reminded him of the ‘Star’ Ferry in September 1971 and the young Aussie male in a light-grey business suit, twenty-four years of age, old enough to have recently served in Vietnam, who gave him such an unwelcoming look as he took aim at the spot on the ferry bench right next to me and said: “Good morning.” Might’ve made him think, that look. Might’ve had him, just for a long overdue moment, see himself as others saw him. How’s that, Pop?

How bloody McMahon

A helluva lot of metal goes into building a Centurion tank. Sitting on the ferry with Bob - the man who sent the tanks, the troops, and me, to war - I wasn’t aware that, somewhat ironically, the last of our Centurions was being shipped home via Vung Tau … ‘against the commander’s advice that they should stay until the end to provide the infantry with the mobile firepower they needed against enemy bunkers.’
‘Canberra Times‘, Max Blenkin, 15 April 2020: Just how the risk had increased was demonstrated in the last major Australian action of the conflict, Operation Ivanhoe in September 1971. Soldiers of 3RAR and 4RAR/NZ attacked enemy positions without armour support, resulting in five killed and 30 wounded.

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Operation Surfside, April / May 1969. So named because it took place in dense jungle above the coastal
beaches south-east of Nui Dat. The objective was to find and destroy disused Viet Cong bunker systems,
to make it hard work for them to be rebuilt and reoccupied, hence the role of the Centurion tank (above)
from B Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, RAAC. I reckon I recognise these two diggers from Charlie Coy.
(the WTFRW) 9RAR, carrying heavy SLRs, per their role as riflemen spotting for the tankies. Another two
riflemen would probably be behind the tank, eyes to the rear. The remainder of the ten-man rifle section
(if it was at full strength, which would be rare) are up the front, behind the camera. Said remainder would
be the two forward scouts and an n.c.o. section leader with their lightweight low-velocity M-16 Armalites
(gimme an AK-47 any day of the war) plus the M-60 gunner and his No. 2 lugging bandoliers of 7.62mm
ammo, plus the section 2IC who would, at enemy contact, take charge of the gun crew, direct the gun to
high ground if there was any, and spread the four riflemen, who would be on the deck, aiming outward in
star formation. It goes without saying that such a choreography, rehearsed ad infinitum during training in
Australia, rarely went to plan in real life.


We were no longer really needed. By ‘we’ I mean ‘us’: the diggers, the grunts, the dinky-die Infantry. The Americans, their focus on the ground being on ‘Vietnamization’, had wholly forgotten we were there. They‘d lost the war, politically if not outright militarily. Therefore so had we. After relieving 9RAR in November 1969, 8RAR were themselves removed but not replaced at the end of their thirteen-month tour of duty. Big Ears Billy chose, to the day, the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan to announce 8RAR was superfluous to needs in Vietnam. How rude. How McMahon. 1971 carried on with what had been a rotating core of three Australian Infantry battalions cut to two. By March 1972, after months of those two units doing not much more than securing the base of our reduced task force at Nui Dat and facilities at Vung Tau, there would be none. McMahon, note, had been minister for labour and national service at the time he unveiled his Conscription Act. He did so, true to form, minus feel, on Remembrance Day, 1964. One critique of the act reduced it to ‘a political and legal abomination - vague, obtuse and ill-presented.’ How bloody McMahon.

The last impossibility

In 1964 Menzies had fronted up at the Pentagon with a scheme for the Secretary of Defense to muster American power to protect the Commonwealth of Australia, all of it, from invasion by communist China … for as long as possible, preferably indefinitely. There was something opaque called ‘ANZUS’ as a side issue: a deal, a treaty, a mutual defence mechanism. What it amounted to was that at the same time America was saving all of Australia and New Zealand from communist China, the diggers and our Centurion tanks, and the Kiwis and their artillery pieces, plus the SAS of course, would under the treaty metaphorically protect a few undefined acres of the United States of America from that same communist China … for as long as possible, preferably indefinitely. ANZUS was a deal struck between an elephant and two mice, one fat and flat as mice go, the other being New Zealand.

In December 1978 - Menzies having earlier that year kicked the bucket (what transpired is no consequence of him doing that, perhaps) - Washington put up its hand at the U.N. to recognise the PRC as the real ‘China’, and promised to relocate their embassy westward across the Taiwan Strait, from Taipei to Peking. In so doing, Washington belatedly imitated what Canberra and Wellington had done six years before. America recognising communist China in 1978, the year he died, was the last, the most treasonous, impossibility Menzies had in mind whilst lobbying at the Pentagon in 1964 - stirring up an Indo-Pacific pot of steaming hate, racism and determination which included an embargo on the U.S. embassy, also those of Australia and New Zealand, abandoning Taipei - indefinitely and if possible forever.

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Robert Gordon Menzies died on 15 May 1978. This poster appeared overnight
all over Sydney and Melbourne, attributed to ‘socialist’ sources. Technically it
was ‘screenprint on paper’, designed by Chips Mackinolty, Earthworks Poster
Collective, Sydney, New South Wales.

For Menzies, 1978 was the last angry shot. His hardened arteries could no longer deliver enough oxygen. His pump gave out. As his life flashed before his eyes, he would’ve watched a replay of the moment in time when it all began to go arse-about for him … when the long, drawn-out conclusion of his political overstay got its start. 9 December 1961. Artless Art. 130 votes. Moreton Bay. That single seat - won, not lost - which knee-jerked Menzies into his recovery mission, designed to rescue himself, not his country. Had he not fallen into the arms of the addiction he prioritised above all else: anti-communism … had he seen the political peril, not of communism, but in chess-moving his young countrymen into harm’s way - not caring to guarantee them one whit of beneficial consequence - maybe Forgiveness would’ve granted Pig Iron Bob a few extra months, instead of him being hustled off of this mortal coil in a handbasket to Hell in May 1978 and missing the main event the Devil had lined up for him: the horror of looking on as Ugly America raised its hand on the floor of the United Nations in recognition of communist China … as an equal. It would’ve, for Menzies, felt like he was watching his own public execution.

Whitlam’s world


The world of Gough Whitlam had, by September 1971, taken on a golden shine. It was time. It was His Time. He did his best to control his excitement, not to get overconfident, not to get big-headed. But it was hard. He could see the future, as clearly as he could see the past. And the future, too, had this golden shine to it. The world, and the future, had been like that for him for ten weeks, even since he’d done what John Foster Dulles, that ignorant American, had refused to do in Geneva in 1954 - look Zhou Enlai in the eye and read what was there, and shake him by the hand; treat Zhou at a minimum like an equal, like a superior in the areas where Zhou’s experience made him so; treat the Chinese Premier like any Chinese would treat their teacher, with gratitude and humility … not like an alien, certainly not like an inferior as Dulles had done. Zhou never forgot it. He told Whitlam all about it, in Peking, when they met.

Zhou had been master of ceremonies in Geneva, and the French prime minister, working to his tight deadline back in Paris, had been his dupe. Dulles had been oblivious to the real negotiations going on in the next room. Casey had been in the dark, too. Wherever America went, even if America went nowhere, that was good enough for Australia’s envoy to Geneva. Ho Chi Minh knew what was afoot, but could do nothing about it. Uncle Ho was overpowered, a distant second among equals. Vietnam, based on 2,000 years of experience, had never trusted China, and now had less cause to do so. It was just one of oh so many false premises upon which the Domino Theory was constructed - a house of straw put up on shifting sands.

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In September 1971 Gough Whitlam had another fifteen months of preparation in store before the federal election that would make him Prime Minister. Part of that preparation would be his pre-election speech, and sections of that speech would have been taking shape in his mind as early as September 1971.

The war of intervention in Vietnam is ending. The great powers are rethinking and remoulding their relationships and their obligations. Australia cannot stand still at such a time. We cannot afford to limp along with men whose attitudes are rooted in the slogans of the 1950s‚ the slogans of fear and hate. If we made such a mistake, we would make Australia a backwater in our region and a back number in history.

The world will little note, nor long remember, Australia’s part in the Vietnam intervention. Even the people of the United States will not recall nor care how four successive Australian Prime Ministers from Menzies to McMahon sought to keep their forces bogged down on the mainland of Asia, no matter what the cost of American blood and treasure, no matter how it weakened America abroad and even more at home.

… We now enter a new and more hopeful era in our region. Let us not foul it up this time. Australia has been given a second chance. The settlement agreed upon by Washington and Hanoi is the settlement easily obtainable in 1954. The settlement now in reach – the settlement that 30,000 Australian troops were sent to prevent, the settlement which Mr. McMahon described in November 1967 as treachery – was obtainable on a dozen occasions since 1954. Behind it all, behind those 18 years of bombing, butchering and global blundering, was the Dulles policy of containing China.

… Until barely a year ago, to oppose this policy, even to question it, was being described by Mr. McMahon – and even some other people – as treason. If President Nixon had not gone to China nine months after I did, Mr. McMahon would still be denouncing me, just as he was on the very eve of President Nixon’s announcement that he would go to Peking. This is the man, this is the party, which expects you to trust them with the conduct of your nation’s international affairs for another three years.

… A Labor Government will transfer Australia’s China Embassy from Taipei to Peking.


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(to be continued … )
 
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PART 2 -
EXPLODING THE BOOBY TRAP CALLED THE DOMINO THEORY AND, WITH IT, THE MYTH OF WHITE SUPREMACY IN ASIA AND THE INDO-PACIFIC


On stage with Zhou and Whitlam - Peking, July 1971


Stephen FitzGerald 1 July 2021 (cont’d):
It was not certain that Whitlam would actually meet Zhou until the night it happened, but this was critical to the success of his mission. He met other ministers, but Zhou was the commanding historical figure, strategist of foreign policy since before the Communists came to power, whose reputed intellect and diplomatic charm had made him a legend even on the anti-communist side of the Cold War.

And when it did happen, there was a shock. The Australian journalists who’d accompanied the delegation throughout, instead of being asked to leave after witnessing the initial introductions, were asked by Zhou to stay throughout the discussion, together with a large number of Chinese media. I had not prepared Whitlam for this. But when I realised it was to be “on stage”, I was thankful that it was Whitlam in dialogue with Zhou and not any other Australian leader I could think of, government or opposition. Once through the initial surprise, he had the intellect, skills and knowledge to play opposite Zhou. And did to such effect that the journalists’ reports next day were positive, even glowing.

And to cap it, as Whitlam was leaving China it was announced that Henry Kissinger had had a secret meeting with Zhou, four days after Whitlam. In Australia, Billie McMahon said: “Whitlam did not even know that Kissinger was there. That’s how much the Chinese trust him. It makes a mockery of the man”.

But the blind-siding was of McMahon, who’d been kept in the dark by Washington, and the vindication was Whitlam’s. He walked away from China with a commitment to diplomatic relations, and a resumption of the wheat trade. And in a full public discussion, with great diplomatic skill he had contrived to defend Australia’s alliance with the US, corrected Zhou’s understanding of the origins and intentions of the ANZUS Treaty, defended Japan against Zhou’s charge of revived militarism, and declined to be drawn into identifying with the Chinese view of the world.


The Ugly Americans

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The Super Statesman and the Super Spiv, Zhou Enlai and Richard Nixon, Shanghai, February 1972.
Less than eight months after my landing in Hong Kong en route to permanent residency, this event
changed the business world. America started setting up in Hong Kong, Britain staged an industrial
exhibition of substance in Peking, and Australia did not very much. The company with which I had
fluked a position as factotum in December 1971 imported top-shelf British engineering plant and
equipment. My timing proved to be perfect.


‘The Ugly American’ was a novel in the political intrigue genre published in 1958 and set in a fictitious South East Asian country that could have been South Vietnam as much as it was probably the Philippines. The book was not a commercial hit until touchy interests in the USA attempted to block its overseas distribution. Such a dumb act ensured the novel’s international success. It would add ‘further notoriety when the U.S. Department of State … attacked the truthfulness of the authors, hinting they were traitors. Thanks to the ensuing publicity, The Ugly American jumped onto the bestseller lists (and stayed there) for seventy-eight weeks, (selling over) four million copies.’

A sequence of ominous events took place in 1963. Release of the movie version of ‘The Ugly American’ was the least of Washington’s travails. It is generally accepted that Brando played the role of a true-life CIA agent provocateur in Saigon by the name of Edward Geary Lansdale, a successful ‘pioneer in clandestine operations and psychological warfare’ who’d cut his agent provocateur teeth versus the Huk agrarian rebels in the Philippines. The toned-down impact of the motion picture compared to the original book was the work of the US Agency for International Development who disapproved of the novel’s ‘theme of governmental incompetence.’

Indeed 1963 was an ominous year for America viz Vietnam. The film coincided with the CIA-manipulated assassination in Saigon of the South Vietnamese president, the highly unpopular anti-Buddhist Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. This was closely followed by the demise of JFK himself. He, taking note of the advice delivered by sources including ‘The Ugly American’, would surely have done away with America’s military presence in Vietnam - just 16,000 advisory personnel at the time of his death, with a plan for the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, to withdraw all of those within two years. American uniforms on the ground would’ve been substituted with flocks of C-130s each stacked with moolah for the Saigon regime, whichever one was in town that week, enough to assuage whatever fake guilt Washington might’ve fallen back on without altering the inevitable. Such a vicissitude would’ve meant that the NVA overran the south sooner than April 1975, perhaps as much as ten years sooner. Imagine, the CIA being abruptly denied ten years worth of black market lucre, illegal arms sales, and the arcane games they love to play in the dark.

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The broad Australian paranoia

FitzGerald 1 July 2021 (cont’d):
It started as an adventure and ended with a coup, of extraordinary significance and execution. From Opposition, (Whitlam) had effectively committed Australia to changing a China policy that had been in place for two decades and had seemed immovable.

What were the ingredients in this success? First was Whitlam’s unrivalled intellectual grasp of international politics and an ear attuned to our region, and then: a strong commitment to active statecraft and diplomacy as the most effective means of securing the national interest; a belief that if you engage with governments you don’t like you’ll have greater advancement of the national interest than if you isolate yourself from them; a conviction that you must find a way to engage even against great challenges and obstacles; and an understanding that as a leader you have to engage in person, at the highest level.

He wasn’t a “China-lover”. He just cared about Australia’s future in an emerging, post-colonial, Asian world, and his success was founded on judgement, courage, and political leadership. And of course, with Kissinger following on his heels, a bit of luck.

But in this one stroke he also took on the broad Australian paranoia: fear of China, fear of Vietnam, fear of Asia, and the fear of taking strong issue with the US on foreign policy without damaging the alliance. This opened the way to public acceptance not only of China, but of the Asia engagement which became the foundation of foreign policy, and of the legislated ending of the White Australia policy.


(Here ends the FitzGerald 1 July 2021 excerpts. The drawing below by Chris Grosz and the two short paragraphs of text by Shane Maloney that follow it are from their webpage ‘The Monthly’ published June 2006.)

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As the meeting ended, Zhou dispensed with his interpreter. In perfect English, the elegant 73-year-old remarked on Whitlam’s comparative youth. Whitlam replied that he was about to turn 55, the age at which Zhou represented China at the Geneva Conference (in 1954). Zhou recalled the occasion. Dulles, the US secretary of state, had refused to shake his hand.

Two days later, in Shanghai, Zhou sent Whitlam a birthday cake. In the interim, Zhou had met secretly with Henry Kissinger, shaking hands on a deal that ended China’s diplomatic and commercial isolation by the US. By the time Whitlam returned to Australia, the Labor leader’s high-risk gamble seemed an act of sublime prescience.


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China’s much admired Little Superman, appearing to toast in moutai firewater when his bladder cancer had already been diagnosed as advanced; the Big Sheila, and Gough the political pioneer on a follow-up visit to the Middle Kingdom.

The Uglier Australian

In April 1964, Bob Menzies flew to America. He was on a marketing mission. He sought to talk about war. His aim was to emulate General Douglas MacArthur who had ‘saved’ Australia from Japanese invasion in 1942 with a strategy not to dally, not to wait for the enemy to show up on our sandy beaches, but to take the fight to the southward-intent Asian aggressor and engage them in the off-shore jungles to the north. Menzies had, by 1942, been downgraded from prime minister to membership of John Curtin’s all-party war cabinet. He remains to this day the badly bruised target of an ALP accusation that his own strategy for the defence of our overgrown island, as devised during the sinister, uncertain and testing period leading up to the Pacific War, was as ignoble as MacArthur’s was successful.

Menzies intended, per the accusation, to prioritise above all else the safeguarding of what had become threadbare federal coffers as a consequence of financing Australia’s role in the world war thus far. This would be achieved by drawing a line directly across the map from Brisbane to the north-west coast, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean … by evacuating the disenfranchised population and scorching all real estate north of the ’Brisbane Line’ … then leaving that half of Australia to the Empire of Japan (to whose munitions factories in 1938 Menzies whilst attorney-general in the Joe Lyons government elected in October 1937, a few weeks before the Rape of Nanking, had authorised shipment of BHP ‘pig iron’ in ostensible support of the war Japan had been escalating in China since 1931).

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Whatever he did or he didn’t do … Pig Iron Bob attracted and absorbed mass ill will from the Australian working class. He did so as naturally and efficiently as the ubiquitous and odiferous corrigated iron dunny, struggling to stay upright in the farthest corner of the back yard, sucked in blowflies: big shiny blue bastards by the buzzing swarm.

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Dr Michael McKernan, historian, author and broadcaster, Adjunct Professor at John Curtin Institute of Public Policy and the Curtin University of Technology, has written:
By mid-1941 it had become apparent that Robert Menzies would lose the leadership of his party and thus would cease to be prime minister. It was also apparent that Menzies had lost the will to fight for what he was soon to lose. No great division on policy issues had caused the collapse of Menzies’s leadership. Nor was his direction of the war the cause of his failure. (Menzies) became Minister for Defence Co-ordination – that is, Menzies retained responsibility for the overall direction of the war.

The problem for Robert Menzies as he lost the leadership was that he had lost the respect and friendship of his political colleagues and of the people of Australia. Put starkly, no-one liked him enough to stand up for him. Menzies belittled his ministerial team, assumed an effortless superiority, boasted of the respect he had gained among the real war leaders in London, and gave his team the view that Australia was a real backwater. Stories abound to support the view that Menzies was sufficiently out of touch and dismissive of his colleagues for this in itself to have lost him the prime ministership.

… To be liked is not an essential quality for leadership; indeed seeking the esteem of the people or colleagues may, at times, interfere with true leadership. But in the Australian context, then, to be a ‘good bloke’ was an important element in leading the nation in war. ‘A good bloke’, people would have said that, in spades, of John Curtin; by mid-1941 no-one in Australia, intimates excepted, would have said that of Robert Menzies.


A piece of the promised land

Menzies come 1964 would have been shivering all over with self-inflicted deja vu. Twenty years in the past, Japan had been defeated, and Australia preserved - no thanks to him. All of the post-war conflicts in Asia, especially South-East Asia, can be attributed to a not unnatural lust for freedom among previously occupied communities presented with a window of opportunity, namely war’s end. Now, twenty years later, it served Menzies’ longevity in power - interrupted power thus far, to his chagrin - to prophesy it was communist China‘s turn to spread south out of Asia with a piece of the promised land Down Under in its crosshairs.

Asia! To Menzies it was a nebulous, multi-coloured, over-populated alien hemisphere for which, poisoned by an excess of vainglory on parade in a vacuum of commonsense, he had neither good word nor good intent. Again, thank the Almighty, the church-on-Sunday United States of America was at the other end of the emergency undersea cable - ready and willing and able, fervently did Menzies pray, to save Pig Iron Bob‘s bacon for a second time.

But Menzies had been forced to delay his mission to Washington. No way would he have been able to masquerade as his country’s popular democratic choice with only 130 banana-bender votes in his pocket as bargaining chips; he had to wait for the working parliamentary majority that a 1963 re-election, called a year early, was preordained to give him. Eight days before polling day JFK was assassinated in Dallas. 11/22/63 interfered with Menzies’ scheduling for his Washington pitch, but it advantaged him no end. The Kennedys, still deeply scarred by the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, were not in an election year going to go along with sending the Marines to Vietnam under any circumstances.

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JFK in Dallas: Just seconds to live, after which the world ‘turned on a dime’ per Stephen King in his superb novel ‘11/22/63’.

The abrupt demise of JFK brought with it a second lucky break for Menzies, occurring close enough to election day to swing late-deciders in his direction. Rife with conspiracy theories were those eight days. Who killed JFK? At the top of a long and imaginative list were the communists, ranging from Castro to China, from Kruschev to Hanoi. By the time the polling booths opened Down Under on Saturday, 30 November 1963, Menzies was a lay-down misere. He had two last wishes for his political career: 1) an unchallenged three-year term in power (1963-1966) during which he could step down and hand over to Harold Holt once 2) Washington had been cajoled into sending enough troops to Vietnam for him to be able to donate at least a token Australian Infantry battalion in support. Then Robert Gordon Menzies could retire, sit down and construct his memoirs. The Menzies legacy as saviour of his country would be engraved in eternal rock. And that’s sort of what happened, for a while.

”Down there, Mister Secretary!”

The photo below captures the Australian prime minister inside the Pentagon in April 1964 - seemingly laying down the law, selling an anti-communist used car called the Domino Theory, to Robert McNamara, who retained his post under LBJ as Secretary of Defense. Having called his re-election early on the obvious grounds that his single swinging seat majority from 1961 had, not unexpectedly, proved unmanagable, Menzies had won in November 1963 by ten seats over Calwell, and this time with a lead, though unremarkable, in the national vote. (The Australian communist party which remained legal as at 1963, had increased its vote to over 32,000.) The Commonwealth of Australia’s three-year-or-much-less federal lower-house parliamentary term, designed at Federation and maintained ever since to ‘keep the bastards honest’, combined with an equally popular yet atypical obsession with compulsory voting, played into Pig Iron Bob’s under the table, up the sleeve, stack the pack, Canberra-cunning card-playing hands.

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”Down there! That’s where we are! That’s where they’re coming! Down there, Mister Secretary!”

Menzies the Manipulator and McNamara the Mathematician. Bob and Bob, quietly doing the Two-Bob deal
in April 1964 that would sentence over five hundred young Australians to death in Vietnam, plus 3,000 to
suffer wounds - the price of keeping the Pentagon interested enough to sacrifice a hundred times more of
their own young men to block the Yellow Peril as far away as possible from the sunbathed shores of Oz.

It has proved impossible for Vietnamese casualties to be accurately tabulated. So many disappeared without
trace in their own country. ‘In 1995 Vietnam released its official estimate of the number of people killed during
the Vietnam War: as many as 2,000,000 civilians on both sides and some 1,100,000 North Vietnamese and
Viet Cong fighters. The U.S. military has estimated that 200,000 - 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died.’

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South Vietnamese regional force infantry on morning flag-raising parade in Ap Suoi Nghe, north of Nui Dat.
We trained with and lived among these people. I took this snap with my Kodak Instamatic, and have no idea
what happened to the men, women and children in the photo. Six years and two months after it was taken,
South Vietnam was no more. That I do know.


Fifty years ago today, Menzies’ call on Vietnam changed Australia’s course
‘The Conversation’ 29 April 2015.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Robert Menzies’ offer of an Australian battalion to the South Vietnamese government. Prior to the prime minister’s offer, Australia’s commitment to the Vietnamese conflict had been limited to fewer than 100 advisers. Menzies’ pledge significantly increased Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

The circumstances of this offer are shrouded in controversy. In 1965, Australia was involved in two crises in Southeast Asia, one in Vietnam and the other in Indonesia. The connection between the two was vital to Menzies’ decision to increase our involvement in Vietnam.

Having already committed a battalion to Malaysia to support resistance to the Konfrontasi policy of Indonesia’s Sukarno government, the logical next step for Menzies was to look to Vietnam. He did this with the support of his Cold War warrior and minister for external affairs, Paul Hasluck. They decided to send an Australian battalion to South Vietnam, partly to ensure continued American interest in the region.

A series of negotiations took place between Australian, American and Vietnamese representatives to secure acceptance of the Australian troops. The South Vietnamese government and the American ambassador in Saigon, Maxwell Taylor, were initially reluctant to receive more foreign troops. It seemed that the necessary South Vietnamese invitation wasn’t going to be forthcoming.

Fortunately for Menzies, the South Vietnamese government was persuaded to accept the Australian offer. A formal request was given just before Menzies made his speech in Parliament. By this time it was late evening on Thursday, April 29 1965. The Labor opposition leader … and his deputy (had) left Canberra for their home electorates. As many members of both sides had departed … Menzies made his announcement to a near-empty House of Representatives.

The reasons given to the Australian public were equally controversial. In an oft-quoted part of his speech, Menzies claimed: The takeover of South Vietnam would be a direct military threat to Australia and all the countries of South and South-East Asia. It must be seen as a part of a thrust by Communist China (!) between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Around 100 Australian troops were already in Vietnam at the time of Menzies’ announcement. They were generally support and training troops, comprising the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). Within months (subsequent to the addition of 1RAR) Australian troop numbers had jumped to over 1000 and would peak at almost 7000 by 1969.


In fact, at its maximum, all elements of the Australian military contribution to Vietnam - ground, air and sea - comprised closer to 10,000 personnel, including a core of three Infantry battalions at any one time, on a rotating basis. 9RAR in November 1968 relieved 3RAR, and thirteen months later were themselves relieved by 8RAR.

95 days

1RAR were not the first foreign combat troops to land in South Vietnam, however. Due to the delay in them receiving an official ‘invitation’ from Saigon, Menzies and Hasluck were beaten to their own punch by LBJ and McNamara themselves. Not by a lot: 95 days. ‘On March 8, 1965 … some 3,500 marines of the Ninth Marine Expeditionary Brigade came ashore on the beach at Da Nang … the first U.S. combat troops to enter the war.’ 1RAR landed on 10 June, and set up an HQ near Bien Hoa Air Base just north of Saigon. By the Battle of Long Tan in mid-August 1966, 1RAR had gone and 5RAR and 6RAR had arrived - with them the first national servicemen from 1st and 2nd intakes. A substantial Australian Task Force Base, sequestering a disused rubber plantation and its surrounds, including a hill with immense strategic advantage, at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy Province, an uncomfortable but thankfully short flight by Carabou steep take-off, steeper descent turbo-prop south-east of Saigon, was under construction.

The base would be complete with its own airstrip called Luscome Field (operational in December 1966) and its own outdoor concert auditorium for fly-in entertainment called Luscombe Bowl. It grew into a ‘sprawling bush fortress’ of rubber trees in parallel straight and shadowy rows, dirt-brown tarp tents, below-ground communications bunkers and walls of woven polypropylene sandbags, lethal razor wire pegged into multiple rows - head-high to the Viet Cong, chest-high to Aussie grunts - forming a solidly engineered defensive perimeter around the base complete with, buried under the wire, anti-personnel mines … which the Viet Cong, having crawled in after dark and dug up, then repositioned for any switched-off digger to detonate.

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Way past midnight

Menzies, relentlessly pursuing his recovery strategy from the embarrassment of 1961, got what he wanted. He came out on top. And then he quit, while he was on top, handing over to Harold Holt in January 1966, in good time for LBJ to be invited to tour Oz and thus influence the next federal election later the same year. Holt was a younger, fresher personable face, a risk-taker with a reputation as a ladykiller, a political star and a vote-winner; a worn-out dessicated Calwell at age seventy was past it, looked past it and performed past it … and the Long Tan warriors were the new nation-wide heroes - with absolute justification.

They were heroes because of their all-round fighting skill, their judgement and raw guts amid the blood, guts, red mud and jungle muck … the sudden tropical rain that belted into the earth in a stereophonic staccato and morphed into a lucky thick carpet of covering mist thrown up by the puddles that covered the floor of the derelict rubber plantation … the exploding rubber trees that spat globs of white latex goo … the surround-sound cacophony of gunfire, the deadly accurate blasts of the Kiwi 105mm artillery firing from Nui Dat as their cool, calm forward fire officer ‘walked in’ via his radio operator the big guns to fifty metres short of the diggers - a grenade throw away from whom he was himself … the surreal unending unspeakable dehumanising disorientation of it all.
Eighteen of them came home in coffins. Seventeen from Delta Coy., 6RAR were killed in action. Another, one of the carrier commanders with 1APC Squadron, died nine days later from machine-gun wounds taken in his turret firing his mounted .50-calibre heavy weapon during the armoured charge that turned the battle. Twenty-four others survived physical wounds, everybody who was involved in or close to that battle that afternoon and evening brought home mental ones. The youngest life lost, god help me, was only 19. The eldest was 22.
Eleven of the fatalities were national servicemen. They included a platoon commander, one of the first conscripts to graduate from Scheyville in NSW after a high-pressure truncated officer-training course tailor-made for them. He was shot through the throat, was later found grasping the AK-47 he had claimed as a war prize subsequent to the initial contact that heralded the battle. Two of the Delta Coy. lieutenants who led the three rifle platoons on 18 August 1966 were conscripts. This was less than two years since Menzies had introduced national service into law, and a little over a year after the first intake of ‘nashos’ went wide-eyed and wet behind the ears into uniform.


As a consequence the proud, popular, nationalistic vote was, for the time being, for a continuation, even escalation, of Australia’s ‘police-force’ role in the Vietnam intervention, confined to Phuoc Tuy Province (except when it wasn’t). The ALP made sure the 1966 federal election was a fait accompli for Holt by persisting until way past midnight with artless Art as its leader, setting up Calwell for his worst defeat, his third in a row, and leaving him with no alternative but to exit in 1967 for Gough Whitlam.

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Arthur Calwell was to the federal ALP what Ken Hinkley is today to the Port Adelaide Football Club - an overstayer and an under-performer ill-equipped to ever taste ultimate victory on the national stage. The only split-second Calwell got lucky as opposition leader was when he survived an assassination attempt, sitting in the passenger seat of his commonwealth car outside the Mosman Town Hall in June 1966. He’d made an anti-conscription election speech which instead set off an anti-Calwell fracas that motivated him to keep the car window wound all the way up, something he never did … until that night. A sawn-off .22 was discharged into the glass point-blank, shattering it, with the deflected bullet tucking itself into Calwell’s lapel.

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President Lyndon Baines Johnson in Australia, 1966 (above). ”All the way with LBJ” was the
catchcall of Menzies’ protege and successor, Harold Holt. In January 1967, South Vietnam’s
exceedingly flakey prime minister, Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky, and his young peruser-
friendly Air Vietnam flight-attendant wife (below) did as Holt directed and followed in LBJ‘s
tracks all the way to Australia on a PR tour which fell theatrically flat. Johnson had met Ky
a couple of times, had no problem lapping up his BS because Ky spoke in a form of English
(bottom). LBJ told aides that Nguyen Cao Ky was somebody with whom the U.S. could do
business - a sentiment that was rock music to the ears of the CIA.

By the end of 1967, Holt was shark bait, literally … Ky was destined for a business career out
of uniform as proprietor of a liquor store in California … and LBJ was a few short months short
of, consequential to the 1968 Tet offensive, acknowledging to the world the hopelessness of
his war in Vietnam with a personal scoop that he wouldn’t be running for re-election.

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Cast of tragics

The text of the caption to the photos above names just a few of the culprits in a cast of tragics. Lengthy indeed is the dramatis personae propped up when Bob Menzies dispatched young Australians to Vietnam - young Australians to whom he owed, being their marginally-elected prime minister, a duty of care … young Australians whose lives had been picked out of a rotating barrel in a crude televised lotto draw for perilous interruption, even termination, according to birthdate … young Australians, all denied the right at that time to vote, compulsorily or otherwise.

The original principal mission of these young Australians sent to war in South Vietnam from 1965 was to assist - and be seen to assist - the Americans head off at the pass the invasion threat to the Land of Oz posed by communist China. Just as Oz is a fairy tale, so was this threat. It germinated, grew and festered in the self-serving imagination of Menzies and his frantics who‘d made it up, had blown it up, to hang on to power. It was rendered both fiction and moot by the military victory of the NVA and the Viet Cong; it was undone by the unification of Vietnam - inevitable since Ho Chi Minh’s double double-crossing: 1) after the defeat of Japan in 1945, 2) at Geneva in 1954 after the ignominious defeat of France - which exploded the concomitant myth called the Domino Theory. South Vietnam, it would be revealed when the shooting had stopped and the smoke had cleared, was the only South-East Asian domino to fall. And when it did the game was ended.

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Moving the goalposts at halftime

Paul Ham, ‘VIETNAM - The Australian War’, pages 253/254:
’Saving South Vietnam’ was now the main goal of the war, declared the fresh rhetoric of Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1966. A majority of Australians still strongly supported the war in Vietnam, yet the stated reasons for our involvement were reshuffled and arranged in new priorities. People - (and the fickle, amateuristic national press endlessly seeking an action or something actively ‘feel bad’, whether true or false, to write about) - were growing sceptical of the Domino Theory and the threat of China. Hence the victory at Long Tan was particularly welcome (to the government) at a time of growing unease about the war. The government played down the regional threat, which had faded due to more stable governments in South-East Asia and focused on our moral obligation to the Vietnamese people and our allegiance to America.
… At a stroke, the Australian troops were cast as freedom fighters, linking arms with the Free World in saving South Vietnam from Marxism. In reshuffling the priorities of the war, the Prime Minister had tacitly acknowledged the fading relevance of forward defence against tumbling dominoes, the original raison d’etre for Australia’s commitment. China, steeped in domestic crises (the Cultural Revolution), was no longer considered a regional threat, and the Soviet Union preferred not to upset its delicate coexistence with the USA.


When Ham refers to ‘more stable governments in South-East Asia’ as from 1966, he means Indonesia, following the elimination of the aggressively nationalist President Sukarno by General Suharto. The power grab was absolute and brutal. It included the mass murder of the Soviet-inspired PKI, which had supported Sukarno, and which at its peak had over three million members and won fifteen per cent of the vote in 1955. (This potential outcome would’ve been very much on Richard Casey’s mind at Geneva in 1954.) Suharto saw that Konfrontasi had no hope of success - Sarawak and Sabah having shunned Indonesia to join an expanded independent Malaysian republic (which at its formation in 1963 included temporary member states Singapore and Brunei) - and promptly put an end to it.

Curtain raisers to the Big Dance

Australia already had troops in the area, available to contribute to the protection of the new Malaysia. The Malayan Emergency, provoked by the Chin Peng (local Chinese) communist rebels who were reacting to Malay discrimination and sought their own end to British colonial rule, had Canberra in 1950 dispatch the RAAF as Australia’s initial contribution. In 1955 (the year in which an election result in Indonesia revealed the growing influence of the PKI), the Navy was sent to Singapore; an Infantry battalion, 2RAR, landed on Penang then in early 1956 moved across to Perak and Kedah on the mainland peninsula, where Chin Peng’s small bands of ethnic Chinese communist guerillas were operating, without much effect. The Emergency was declared over in 1960, but Australian troops stayed put. In 1964, when a gang of Sukarno’s insurgents set foot on the Malay Peninsula, Menzies was able to send the in situ Infantry (including SAS) to confront the new threat, extending to (illegal) raids across the border into Indonesian Borneo, with orders to not leave anyone, alive or dead, behind.

This campaign was maintained as top secret for a very long time; Menzies, though elated at being able to sieze the opportunity to direct these two anti-communist offensives (Malayan Emergency and anti-Konfrontasi), did not want to be seen to be too enthusiastically involved in South-East Asia unless there was more in it for him. Britain was exiting the theatre having granted, or being about to grant, independence to her colonies, and serious co-operation with Whitehall so close to home wasn’t worth creating a parliamentary, and thus public, fuss. All that changed completely when JFK was zapped, and consequent to LBJ striding into the Oval Office as a wartime President in November 1963. A year later - with Konfrontasi comparatively a nasty skirmish to which Vietnam added the essential, for Menzies, of something substantial - conscription was imposed on Australia’s twenty-year-olds.

Thirty-nine Australians died as a consequence of service during the Malayan Emergency, although only fifteen deaths resulted from military operations. 22 Australians died either fighting Sukarno’s Konfrontasi, or were drowned, involved in a fatal car crash, caught a virus that killed them, or got in the way of a rampaging elephant. A campaign medal was struck to recognise service during both Malayan conflicts (including Borneo although our soldiers were not officially there until this was admitted in 1994). The colours of the ribbon included a shade of blue at each edge and a central thin red strip. A number of the instructors at Puckapunyal during my recruit training wore this campaign decoration. They were the toughest and most capable teachers of the lore of the Australian Army preparing for jungle warfare that any greenhorn could come off civvie street and come up against. My own corporal instructor was one. Halfway through Pucka training, in November 1967, he was promoted to sergeant and transferred to 9RAR at Woodside. Later, in March 1969, at the end of my ten-week in-country posting to a Mobile Advisory Training Team at Ap Suoi Nghe four kilometres north of Nui Dat and two short of Binh Ba, he reappeared as a replacement for the previous team sergeant … who‘d sampled too much of the local moonshine one lunchtime, felt like some action of the carnal kind, ordered our team driver to speed him to Vung Tau in our Land Rover with me riding shotgun, within minutes fell foul of the provosts whom he challenged to a fist fight, and spent the night snoring alone in the brig.



PART 3 -
NOT AN ITCH OF CHARACTER WORTH SCRATCHING


Agent Orange


The unreal threat of invasion by communist China, however, did not die with its original creators and its original hosts. In certain unsophisticated limited imaginations it seems to have been recreated, genesis 2016, the same year Port Adelaide Football Club signed seven-figure deals in Shanghai that were our first commercial successes with a China Strategy we‘d advanced out of a beach-head in Hong Kong just three years earlier. 2016 was also the year in which America sadistically, gleefully, inflicted on the world Donald Trump in all his orange flesh - Putin’s Agent Orange - no longer playing the role of the boss with the guillotine mouth in his own ‘reality‘ TV show, but as boss of a far more significant unreality show called ‘Make America Great Again‘. In Part 4, I will conject whether or not the Donald has been wholly or only 99% responsible for the internecine fractures that have subdivided the Indo-Pacific into three sad, xenophobic, not-a-good-word-to-say-about-the-other neighbouring hemispheres: America, China, and … Australia: not a hemisphere, but for the purposes of this forum an equal player in this tragedy that has interrupted, probably terminated, the great game of Australian Football in Shanghai, taking our Club’s China Strategy down with it.

Just as Menzies feasted on the communist China bogey to defeat Labor in 1963, his successors in Canberra are today seemingly reading from the Pig Iron Bob Playbook intent on doing the same. Just as LBJ refused to contemplate his name being entered into American history as losing a war against what he adjudged to be physically and philosophically and fiscally inferior Asian ‘communists’, Trump lost no time engaging in an anti-China trade / techno / psycho war, with zero intention of ‘doing an LBJ’ and losing … whilst being tormented from the start, as was Johnson, by a pathological fear of just that - losing. This scenario, this world-is-mine-alone mentality, has foisted upon us unfortunate others a modern cast of tragics with same-old characteristics and not an itch of character worth scratching. They have emerged, these tragics, each of them intent on inventing a media presence accompanied by a populist (the vote-winning buzzword of the time) identity for themselves while they search out old ogres in old caves, to be dusted off, demonised, and recycled.

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Richard McGregor, ‘The Guardian’, 24 October 2020:
The China challenge:
'To get a sense of how bad relations might get, look back to Menzies'

… one of Menzies’s (sic) Liberal party successors, Scott Morrison, got to his feet at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra for the country’s annual defence strategic update …. Speeches like the one delivered by Morrison are designed to peer over the horizon to threats that look uncertain and unformed today, but could materialise into something serious in decades to come. Morrison was anything but vague in his depiction of the coming storms in the Indo-Pacific. He went back (in time) for guidance, mentioning the 1930s four times. It’s an era, he said, that he’d been “revisiting on a very regular basis, and when you connect the economic challenges and the global uncertainty, it can be very haunting”.

… The virus (had) lifted the mutual acrimony to a new level. In Canberra’s telling, the Australian government’s call for an independent investigation into Covid-19 was an entirely reasonable response to a pandemic that had cratered the global economy. In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry denounced it as a “political manipulation” made at the behest of Washington. … This was a relationship headed downhill fast. … To get a sense of just how bad things might get, let’s go back to Australia’s longest serving prime minister ….

A cartoonist illustrating a column about the speech drew the (current) prime minister looking in the mirror and seeing Winston Churchill. Much as Morrison might have been thrilled, the comparison struck a lazy note for me, with, in the apparent absence of a local hero, a touch of cultural cringe as well.


Cringe

Talk about ‘cringe’. McGregor then goes into the origins of the ‘Pig Iron Bob’ monicker, the December 1938 Port Kembla dockers strike, etc. But the truth, the whole truth, about Menzies in 1938 goes deeper, much deeper, gets uglier, hideous even. He, as Australia’s attorney-general, sworn to practise and uphold English common law, was in terminally ill Europe and paid visits to Nazi Germany between April and August that year - fitting himself in between the 1937 homage paid to his Teutonic lineage by the abdicated King Edward VIII, with Mrs Simpson in tow, and the Munich appeasement ceremony on 30 September 1938 at which Britain and France so feebly signed another chip in the Continental mosaic over to Hitler … an exercise Neville Chamberlain described as no more than “a quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing.” It was for Menzies a particularly unsavoury set of bookends-in-time. Why he found such necessity in being there, and staying so long there, only he knew.

Australia’s attorney-general emerged from his dubious pilgrimage a more than borderline Nazi sympathiser pumped up with buzzwords, that included ‘spiritualism’ and ‘love of State’, and delusions of taking Australia on its own dictatorship management course, presumably without violence, anti-semitism, brown shirts and concentration camps. After Menzies’ visit to Naziland, and the snow job he received while there that awakened in him a passion for his own brand of absolute power, there is no way Churchill’s face can be substituted for his in any cartoonist’s mirror. Churchill‘s vision was 20:20 when it came to Nazis and assorted fascists; Menzies only saw himself snug in their jackboots. What a piece of work was this founder of a Canberra cabal misnomered ‘Liberal’ six years later - in 1944.

More genesis 2016

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2016 brought another first to Alberton, in the form of Holly Ransom as a young, female member of the Club’s board of directors. Her story has this month (August 2021) featured in high-quality depth in the SA weekend press, subsequent to Port Adelaide’s licence to field a national AFLW team being approved by the AFL. Holly, who played Australian Football herself as a girl, and has played a leadership role in this newest Club success, was asked by the interviewer what she thought of becoming Prime Minister of Australia at some time in the future, a suggestion that seems to have pursued her.

Ransom believes the next generation of progress will be driven more by the business sector than a political system which has left many Australians disillusioned after a dearth of genuine leadership in the past decade. She blames a lack of diversity among politicians, many of whom have no life experience outside of politics, and the toxic nature of a party structure that breeds power struggles and character assassinations for much of Canberra’s flaws.

In other words, Canberra has turned today into an ogre factory. So, too, presumably, has Washington DC consequent to the start of the reign of Trump. Beijing? Up there we have a Dragon more than an Ogre. And the mythical powers of a Chinese Dragon have yet to really be unleashed on the world. The Dragon’s powers can be used in the pursuit of evil or of global superiority, just as much, just as effectively, as they can be used in the pursuit of global harmony.

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Conscientious objection

Rowan Cahill never sat by the rail on a ferry early in the morning on Hong Kong Harbour in 1971 and had Sir Robert and Dame Pattie Menzies sit next to him; he surely would’ve decided not to let them off so lightly if they had. He is two years my senior, and also had his marble drawn in the birthday ballot. I went to Vietnam, for my own reasons, and my life has given me a lot to write about. Cahill opted for conscientious objection, did not confront the sliding doors that unrestricted national service would’ve had lined up for him, for his own reasons. And he, too, has written a lot. Here, quoted in its entirety as it deserves nothing less, is Rowan Cahill’s article titled ‘A forgotten address’, published by overland.org.au in July 2017.

On 22 May 1942, Robert Gordon Menzies, then a backbench conservative MP in the Australian Federal Parliament, stewing over the decline of his political fortunes and the darkness of socialism overshadowing the Curtin Labour (sic) Government leading the nation’s war effort, delivered a fifteen-minute radio address. Briefly Prime Minister in 1939–41, Menzies was yet to lead the creation of the Liberal Party in 1944–45 from an amalgam of conservative forces. The address has become known as the ‘Forgotten People’ speech, and an iconic moment in hagiographic histories of Australian conservatism.

In it he exalted the ‘forgotten people’, those hard working ‘great and sober and dynamic’ middle-class Australians, ‘salary-earners, shopkeepers, skilled artisans, professional men and women, farmers, and so on,’ who placed family, God, hearth and home at the centre of their lives, essentially alone, unprotected and not helped by the powerful trade union movement.

It was to these ‘forgotten people’, and what he saw as their ‘national patriotism’, and ‘spirituality’, that Menzies would hitch his political future to, promising a free enterprise future in a society in which there would be ‘more law, not less; more control, not less.’

In May 2017, seventy-five years later, conservatives gathered in Canberra for an Anniversary dinner to commemorate this speech. It was hailed by acolytes as ‘the greatest oration in Australian political history,’ the speech that ‘laid the philosophical foundation of the Liberal Party of Australia (and) defined post-war Australia.’

It is a cosy feel-good story about the Liberal Party, obscuring much about the Party, its ideology and the politics of conservative icon Menzies. For the latter we need to go back a few years.


Our own somewhat irresponsible population

From late April 1938 through to early August, Attorney General Menzies went on a lengthy tour of Europe. His itinerary included Nazi Germany, where the German Foreign Office was placed at his service. In private, as even his friendly biographers have to admit, Menzies regarded Hitler as a political dreamer, a man with many good ideas. In Germany, Menzies met with many Reich identities, including the polite and genial Dr Hjalmar Schacht, President of the Reichsbank, the economic fixer significantly responsible for stitching the deals and links between Hitler and German banking and industrial interests that helped put the Nazis in power.

Since the Enabling Act of 1933, antisemitism, fear, intimidation, incarcerations and torture had been loosed upon the German people; the labour movement broken along with organised opposition, and the propagandist brilliance of Dr Josef Goebbels deployed to cultivate and groom compliance, cooperation and a love for the nation state and its leadership. By 1938, for Hitler and his party, it was almost mission accomplished. Outside of Germany, the term ‘concentration camp’ was known and referenced in some mainstream media outlets and in leftist literature, some of the latter joining the extensive list of 5000 publications banned in Australia during the 1930s.

Before he left Europe to head home for Australia, a wistful Menzies issued a press release in which he said there ‘is a good deal of a real spiritual quality in the willingness of young Germans to devote themselves to the service and well-being of the State.’

In a private letter to his sister at the same time, he was a bit more expansive, writing that ‘The Germans may be pulling down the Churches, but they have erected the State, with Hitler at its head, into the sort of religion which produces a spiritual exaltation that one cannot but admire and some small portion of which would do no harm among our own somewhat irresponsible population.’

Democratic involvement began and ended at the ballot box

Back home, in an address to a luncheon gathering of Old Melburnians on 14 November 1938, Menzies expressed sympathy for the territorial aspirations of Germany; he told of how impressed he was by Germany’s industrial efficiency, and he returned to his spiritual mantra, describing as a positive ‘the exalted and almost spiritual worship of the State by many Germans.’ Personally, he told his audience, he looked forward to a system of democracy where we ‘can have real discipline and real efficiency and real cooperation’. It was a message he numerously repeated to small friendly gatherings … in the following weeks.

Soon he demonstrated how this could be done. In December, Port Kembla waterside workers on the south coast of NSW protested against Japan’s invasion of China and the bloody horrors that were unfolding. They banned the export of pig iron to Japan from their port, arguing it was a strategic materiel to an aggressive and expansionist Japan, and that in the near future Australia could well be on the receiving end of its militarist and expansionist agenda.

As Attorney General, Menzies vigorously retaliated, implementing the draconian provisions of the Transport Workers Act. The wharfies stood their ground, until forced back to work in early 1939, in the process christening Menzies with the lifelong scarifying nickname ‘Pig Iron Bob’. As Menzies explained to readers of the Argus, 22 December 1938, the Port Kembla workers were trying to influence Australian foreign policy towards Japan, a friendly trade partner, and they had no right to do this. In a democracy, a citizen’s democratic involvement began and ended at the ballot box. The ‘essence of democracy,’ he explained, ‘is that obedience should be rendered to government founded upon a popular vote.’


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Ming the Merciless, from ‘Flash Gordon’. This secondary epithet for Pig Iron Bob was inspired by the Scottish
pronunciation of ‘Menzies’ - Mingzees - also the matching eyebrows and obsession for sadistic omnipotence.


Conscience above the law

Eminent Australian jurist Sir Isaac Isaacs, and a former Governor General of Australia, had other ideas. In 1939, in support of the Port Kembla wharfies, he explained that in a democracy, the law could be used to bind people to immoralities, compelling them to act against their consciences, and that when this arose and it became a matter of conscience above the law, then people had the right to act accordingly. To demand otherwise, he explained, was ‘Dictator’s rule’. But Isaacs’ constitutional understanding was not part of Menzies’ weltanschauung (philosophy).

Menzies was not alone in the period between the wars in regarding Hitler sympathetically as a political dreamer and a man of vision. It was an affection shared by many other Australians, and in other democracies, amongst the rich and powerful and a galaxy of anti-socialists and anti-trade unionists. But it is something that acolytes of Menzies prefer not to acknowledge. And remembering the long rule of Menzies as Prime Minister (1950–1966), hagiographers airbrush ‘Ming the Merciless’ (check Flash Gordon for this derisive moniker) and his comprehensive Cold War plans to deploy the armed forces against militant unionism, his use of ASIO – militarised under his administration, as a political police force – and his plans to put communists in internment camps.

While the 1942 ‘forgotten people’ radio talk by Menzies is celebrated by conservatives as a centrepiece in the Liberal Party foundation story and as the bedrock of its faith and vision, the 1938 ‘forgotten address’ is closer to the party’s realpolitik past, present, and no doubt, future.


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(to be continued … )
 
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Lockhart Road

Cultural Attache
Mar 26, 2013
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PART 4 -
TERROR AUSTRALIS - FEAR OF WHATEVER COMES FROM THE NORTH


Channelling Dean Koch


Port Adelaide Football Club chairman David Koch’s father Dean shipped American coal across the Pacific from California to China at the time Peking was deciding whether or not to catch the world napping by suddenly flinging open its door to the West. Koch Sr. shipped coal to Zhou Enlai as Zhou was classifying all the pros for China versus the USA and the Soviet Union should he invite Gough Whitlam, a mere Leader of the Opposition in Canberra - one with a future so Zhou’s spies told him - to make the long journey to Beijing a week before the no less subtle materialisation in the Middle Kingdom of Henry Kissinger. ‘Come in July’ was the Chinese premier’s succinct Zhou-like reply to Whitlam’s unsolicited request via the ALP for an audience. It was a week that changed the world, for the benefit of all - save the USSR whose future was in any case limited - because leading its cast were probably the three boldest visionaries on the planet. Fifty years later that week persists in making the heart of an historian beat faster.

Dean Koch - having qualified as an accountant at the School of Mines by night whilst working for ETSA by day, which by association would’ve educated him in the science of coal, then trading in the dirty black stuff from Sydney for R.W. Miller - was headhunted by Kaiser Corp. in San Francisco. Before all that Dean had worn the Prison Bars rucking for Port Adelaide seconds who won five consecutive SANFL premierships in the fifties, one less than the legendary Port seniors. What goes around comes around, so they say. David Koch - seen below chaperoning Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the SCG on Saturday afternoon, 25 March 20178 - was keen to make sure that it came around for him and his historic football club, established in 1870.

Koch Jr. started off like a little boy given a new toy, a big new toy, fitted with a klaxon and bells and whistles and other noise-makers galore. His burst of positive energy from October 2012 was just what our Club needed to propel its come-back. He charged head-first, him-first, into season 2015 and blindly disrupted our on-field recovery. By 2017 he was still overdoing the Chairman Moi thing, but had succeeded in hustling PAFC into China. In the period leading up to the SCG soiree, and our 28-point win over the Swans, my focus was on what I optimistically recognised as similarities in character, competence and personality between Li Keqiang and Zhou Enlai. But where was our new Whitlam? Where was Kissinger? Over the eastern horizon, across the Pacific divide, however, Donald Trump and his maniacal populist strategy advisor Steve Bannon had already been installed in the White House for two months and wouldn’t have been enamoured with what was going down Down Under viz our China relationship, nor what was going on in Shanghai viz Australian Football. Koch Jr. was unaware, as were all of us involved in the PAFC China Strategy, of the consequences of the paradigm shift heading for a tectonic shake-up between the land Dean Koch had shipped coal from and the land he’d shipped coal to.

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Act of Parliament

That Saturday late in March 2017 was the zenith of our Club’s own China adventure, I recognise in hindsight. Interpreting Andrew Hunter, it was in fact 48 hours past the zenith. We were at the top of a steep downward slope, and didn’t know it. Premier Li Keqiang’s laughing exterior was an act. It was the sort of false front that would’ve done Zhou Enlai proud in 1954 in Geneva, where the partitioning of Vietnam was being negotiated after France’s abject and gory defeat at Dien Bien Phu. Dire anti-communist John Foster Dulles, the U.S. Secretary of State, refused to shake the Chinese premier by the hand. Two days before the SCG, Li Keqiang had been, less publicly, delivered his own rebuff, this time by his Aussie hosts. As any China hand knows, to cause an honoured guest from an Asian power loss of face is no minor misdemeanour … it is an affront that invites repercussion. Yet, behind the scenes, that’s what had happened. Seemingly at it again on our side of the Pacific were the reincarnations of the ugly Americans and their pecking-order obsessed proteges, the uglier Australians.

(Page 72/73, ‘Port Adelaide to Shanghai’ by Andrew Hunter, published November 2020 by Wakefield Press.):
As we focused on our big event two days later, an event transpired, I have been reliably informed, within the confines of Parliament House that would affect the Turnbull Government’s relationship with China. According to this account, the Australian Government had, prior to Li’s arrival, agreed that Turnbull and Li would sign an MoU during the state visit, regarding its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative. Following the lunch held in the Premier’s honour at Parliament House on 23 March, a meeting took place between Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce, then leader of the National Party and Deputy Prime Minister. The full Cabinet was not present, according to this account, but a tense discussion ensued, during which it was decided Australia would ask to remove this signing and announcement from the program.

Australia would have been the first Western country to agree to participate in BRI. At the time of writing, BRI remains a divisive issue in Australia, with Victoria a target for those who see it as antithetical to the national interest, It remains interesting, in retrospect, to consider the apparent incoherence within government at the time. If the account was accurate, the government’s reversal would have caused the Chinese Premier embarrassment. This alleged incident was never made public and, on the surface, the bilateral still appeared to be in reasonable shape at the time. But by the end of the year, it had deteriorated substantially. And further deterioration would follow.


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The logic of chronological order

The logic of chronological order is too readily misinterpreted as coincidence. It is a logic that renders Donald Trump and Steve Bannon suspected accessories to the engineering of the second and final demise of Malcolm Turnbull … helped by Turnbull himself and his inability to work at the same low altitude of those around him. None of his cabinet could decide or accept who deserved to be there more than the other, the PM included. The truth is, none deserved to be there, and that is still the root of the problem.

A lunatic like Trump being elected and inaugurated when he was, and installing as his international strategist a lunatic like Bannon - who instantly paid attention to a place called Australia which looked to him a lot like a part of America that had broken off and secretly crept westward into the same time zone as China and its manmade island outposts - should not be discounted as coincidence. Australia: the perfect expendable forward scout on the jungle track towards economic and, if provoked or considered necessary, military conflict.

A framed photograph that used to hang in the Beijing office of Premier Li Keqiang was proof that he and Turnbull were developing a beneficial relationship. The photo captured them together at the SCG wearing their football scarves. Li told Turnbull about the photo at an October 2017 ASEAN conference in Manila … but by then the premier-to-premier thing was already headed for nothingness. Clearly, Turnbull was not in charge. It - all of it - was the greatest of shames.

America will fight China to the last Australian

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Below: China’s ‘Global Times’ published the following caption to this photo (VDC) taken a week after Trump’s inauguration: Steve Bannon (right), watches as President Donald Trump (left) speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, in the Oval Office on January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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’Independent’, 6 February 2017:
(PRC) newspaper China Daily has featured a cartoon of Steve Bannon in a Nazi armband standing beside
Donald Trump. The cartoon depicts the pair re-enacting the famous “I’m the King of the World” scene from
1997 movie Titanic. The cartoon mimics this, showing Mr Trump with his arms aloft and Mr Bannon next to
him … with a red armband and a green jacket - synonymous with Nazi uniform.
Mr Bannon had previously warned that war would erupt in the South China Sea between the United States
and China in “five to 10 years”. … "They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft
carriers and putting missiles on those. … They come here to the United States in front of our face—and you
understand how important face is—and say it’s an ancient territorial sea."


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In May 2018 at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium, the just-elected Liberal Party Premier of South Australia, Steven
Marshall (right), Official Ambassador for Port Adelaide Football Club, and Gui Guojie of Shanghai CRED - the Club’s
long-term sponsor and benefactor - emulate the Trump / Bannon ‘King of the World’ salute prior to the start of the
second AFL match to be played for premiership points versus the Gold Coast Suns.

Kings of the World does not apply to Port Adelaide, but we are the Kings of China at Australian Football, having won the first three matches in Shanghai from 2017 to 2019, inclusive. The COVID pandemic has stymied the fixture from 2020 onwards. Not only will it require the end of COVID for AFL matches to resume, should Port Adelaide be willing to take up where it left off, it will require a new Whitlam : Zhou Enlai nexus between Canberra and Beijing to begin to repair the fractures brought about by Trump : Xi Jinping - which was less a relationship, more a histrionic game of thrones.


Capitalism for campaigners

Turnbull was too tall-poppy suave, a little too proud to be so, a little too brittle on the inside, on the outside he was a splinter-free smooth polished length of carpentry in a shed with too many chisels; while Trump and Bannon, and their like-minded disciples in Canberra, Peter Dutton (Liberal Party) and Barnaby Joyce (National & Country Party), are just common or garden chisels - blunt, chipped, sweat-stained and available, left lying on the bench within reach of anyone with tall poppies to bring down. This gang of four attacked from different directions, backed up by Murdoch media armour, in an international campaign to penalise China for its excessive success and in the process win votes from a predictably gullible public ingrained with the doctrine of Keep the Bastards Honest and accepting of enforced voting. The aim was, to use plain language, to make Beijing mad. Blind mad. Reactionary mad. And, no credit to East nor West … it has worked.

Beijing fell into the trap … never having come across an offensive orchestrated quite like it before, in the forty years since Deng Xiaoping declared the PRC’s door open, set up special economic zones along China‘s southern and south-eastern coastline closest to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, on which they were modelled - plus a fourth SEZ which encompassed Shantau (Swatow), heartland of China’s Sicilians, the Chiu Chow. Deng next called upon Overseas Chinese to enter into business joint-ventures with newly-registered Mainland corporations, and invest the fortunes they‘d accumulated overseas in this enlightened, unshackled, profit-motivated Motherland. He flew to America and in Texas pulled on a ten-gallon hat big as he was small, reached out and up from under it and grabbed Reagan‘s fist in his own, grinning ear to ear. “To be rich is glorious!” quoth Supreme Leader Deng. It signalled full speed ahead for Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics.

Speed? It has been breakneck, its velocity too forceful for a blind-sided, suddenly disadvantaged West to comprehend let alone keep pace with. Hence the reactive obsession of Donald Trump - an American something-or-other forever in limbo somewhere between bankruptcy and buying time, even while president - to shoot first and take aim later, per the code of Capitalism with Trumpian Characteristics as taught to him by his late mentor Roy Cohn, another lunatic, a particularly evil one who post-war in his twenties had been Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist legal counsel, and conjure up a dirty-tricks offensive intended to bring China back to the pack.

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Roy Cohn was dirtiest of dirty tricks legal
advocate for Fred Trump, then the Donald.
AIDS put an end to Cohn in 1986. At his
funeral service, Donald stood in a corner,
not because of Cohn himself but … AIDS?
Also in attendance was another of Cohn‘s
‘special’ clients - Rupert Murdoch.

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It is ancient Chinese custom, once wealth has been attained, to erect a strong, high, fortified wall all around the family home. This is what we see happening in the South China Sea. Beijing, having shown the West the Chinese are better than they are at the game, the science, of capitalism, now seek to safeguard their gains. The strong, high, fortified wall is by tradition positioned as far away from the family home as constraints permit. And what means constraints? To pragmatic Chinese psyche they are no more than elastic intangibles to be stretched in all directions. Ask the British. In 1982 Mrs Thatcher tried to tell Deng: “The leases (on Hong Kong) are legal documents!” More fool her. There was no such thing as ‘leases’ to Deng. There were pieces of paper signed under duress by corrupt Chinese mandarins who, in the meantime, had been put in the ground and the world, China in particular, had changed irrevocably. Pieces of paper? Ta ma de! The inevitability of British failure was foretold by an omen of omens. On exiting the Great Hall of the People that September morning, Thatcher lost her balance, stumbled, slid on her knees all the way to the bottom step … was helped up, looked up and caught sight of the mausoleum of Chairman Mao looking back at her. She could only imagine his laughter.

Bits of broken china

Why does Rupert Murdoch hate China? He met Wendi in Hong Kong in 1997. They married two years later, on a
luxury yacht. After their divorce he spread a rumour she was a spy for Beijing. Having fallen into their honey trap,
in that case, it’s little wonder Rupert laid his own trap for China as payback.


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.

On page 109/110 of ‘Port Adelaide to Shanghai’, Andrew Hunter writes:
In December (2017), 10 consecutive editions of our national daily newspaper (Murdoch’s ‘The Australian’) carried a negative headline about China on the front page.
… The (bilateral) tensions clearly impacted several conversations (we had) underway with SOEs. The breakdown of one discussion particularly stung … just when an incredible outcome had appeared to be within our grasp. The SOE was the biggest power corporation in the world, with 1.5 million employees internationally, it ranked second in the Fortune 500 pecking order.
… What we believed to be the largest deal in the history of the AFL, which would have delivered a modern, world-class training facility to the Alberton Oval Precinct, was an unrealised vision.


Our Club went from Kings of China at Australian Football to collateral damage in a war of poison gas between Trump and his cohorts and Beijing, with Canberra sucked in - again - for the roughest, most disadvantageous, of rides … while the Murdochs wrapped the reins around their wrists, and pulled them this way and that.

The Sino-Australian relationship, having operated brilliantly for both partners since Gough Whitlam and Zhou Enlai first made it work - carefully, lovingly and expertly, as if it was an item of priceless antique pottery - cracked … and then it shattered into bits. Like broken china.

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‘The Guardian’, 18 September 2018:
Steve Bannon: Australia is on ‘frontlines’ of economic war with China
Bannon’s interview with Four Corners took place before Malcolm Turnbull was removed as Australian prime minister by his own party. He said Turnbull had been too timid in standing up to Beijing.
“I’m a hawk on China because eventually I believe that ... if this regime is not confronted, bad things are going to happen, and I think they have to be confronted now. I think Turnbull has been way too much of an appeaser, and I think that’s not going to turn out well … Australia is at the tip of the spear of this.
… Bannon said the worldwide “populist” political surge – which has delivered results such as Brexit and Trump’s election – would continue and would gather strength and supporters of those disaffected by the current global economic and political order. “This revolution is global … it’s coming to Australia.”


‘The Guardian’ has now reported a poll conducted in Australia and Taiwan by a thinktank called the Australia Institute, which discovered that the average Ocker is more hypertensive about invasion from far distant China than the average Taiwanese is worried about the PLA crossing the narrow strait between their island and the Mainland. This sampling of primitive hysteria is a consequence, the Institute has deduced, of published ‘drums of war’ scaremongering from such attributable sources as Peter Dutton. Who is Peter Dutton? Look around the room. See the tall cartoon character with zero eyebrows, a head like an artillery shell and a face like a … cartoon character? That’s him. Robbie Burns would have a night out seeing Dutton as Dutton; Dutton sees himself as prime minister, reporting to Washington.

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ABC, Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Malcolm Turnbull has unveiled a massive reorganisation of Australia's intelligence and security
agencies, with Peter Dutton to head a new Home Affairs ministry responsible for ASIO, the AFP,
Immigration and Border Security.


Low life with Dexter

The setting up of an intelligence and security tzar in Canberra came just two months after Port Adelaide played the Suns for AFL premiership points for the first time at Shanghai’s Jiangwan Stadium, an extraordinary breakthrough consequent to an MoU signing ceremony in Shanghai’s Peace Hotel in April 2016 that Turnbull witnessed, and then enthused about during his first visit to China as PM. Dutton is an ex-drug, ex-sex offenders and national crime squaddy from Queensland. He thus has hands-on experience with the lowest form of life.

There are similarities in his c.v. with that of the Donald, who was groomed in the tenement development caper in New York by his father Fred Christ Trump who’d learnt it working with his savvy German immigrant mother, Elisabeth Trump nee Christ. I’m told that Christ, pronounced Krisst, is not an uncommon family name in parts of Germany. The Donald has for some Trumpian reason, as if it represents a skeleton in his closet, kept his Bavarian bloodline a secret, preferring to hint that his father’s parents were Scandinavian. Research reveals his paternal grandmother as the real star, the real real-estate pioneer, the gutsy groundbreaker of the Trump clan.

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Web of intrigue. Like the evil spider sizing up the
unsuspecting fly, spy chief now defence minister
Peter Dutton slyly checks out his victim - the PM
who appointed him - an image that epitomises the
‘toxic nature of a party structure that breeds power
struggles and character assassinations’: an honest
recent critique of Canberra per Holly Ransom.


Dutton quit the police after rolling his unmarked car chasing an escaped prisoner then taking legal action, unsuccessfully, against the escapee’s insurer for the injuries inflicted upon himself by his own driving - exposing a litigious, even bullying, personality that Trump would applaud. (Dutton, as if to confirm this, has been dividing his time between out-Frenching the French on matters submarine and energetically suing some poor so-and-so for defamation.) Post-police he teamed up with his father in establishing a business under the family moniker which, quoting Wikipedia, ‘operated under six different trading and business names. (They) bought, renovated, and converted buildings into childcare centres’ - some of which the Duttons leased out and / or sold off.

Peter ‘Dexter’ Dutton is today this country’s Defence Minister and potential overseer of our involvement in any war in the South China Sea of a type predicted by his potential role model Steve Bannon. In my childhood, ‘Life With Dexter’ was a popular radio sitcom on the Macquarie network, with Dexter Dutton characterising the archetype 1950s doggedly-in-debt Aussie breadwinner most at risk of being hoodwinked by namesake politicians peddling hysteria, and re-imagined invasion threats from communist China.

Sunday Herald Sun, 14 August 2021:
Australia alarmed by China nuke site.
Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton has
hit out at China for building silos capable of
firing nuclear missiles.

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“This latest act by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)
contributes further to creating great uncertainty in the
Indo Pacific region,” Mr Dutton told the Sunday Herald
Sun. “We are living in the most uncertain time in our
region since the Second World War.”


Grotesque delusion

In being quoted as per above, Dutton overlooks the crisis his party predecessors exagerrated in the ‘uncertain’ 1960s. Australia went to war in Indo-China for seven years, committed nearly 10,000 military personnel at the peak of the conflict in the late sixties, sacrificed over 500 young soldiers and wounded 3,000 others - supposedly to head off the advance south of communist China. To Dutton this crisis and this war either didn’t happen or were not of sufficient importance to mention. We were in Vietnam for nothing. Either that or we were never there. Oh yeah, Vietnam: the forgotten crisis, the forgotten war. Skip it, move on to something we can exagerrate today.

Short memories beget long sentences of repetitious suffering. Think Afghanistan. Only the black-humoured British via Rudyard Kipling know why they dubbed it the Great Game. A ‘Guardian’ contributor has today, Tuesday, 17 August 2021, eloquently substituted ’grotesque delusion’ to describe with acuteness what Afghanistan has always actually been to the West.

So this is Peter Dexter Dutton, himself a grotesque delusion. This is what there is of Australia’s Minister of Defence, the most Intelligence oxygen thief in Canberra, the most ambitious warmonger in the land, winding us up, ratcheting us up an extra cog or two via the Murdoch machinery … to make himself look indispensible to those who know no better, to make himself look in the right, to himself. This is the last candidate we should choose for the ostensibly omnipotent roles to which he has been appointed. This is akin to casting Lex Luther, another cartoon character, as boss of Fort Knox.


The tea lady’s tongue

“This is his last cuppa, Mrs Leckie,” piped up Dave Mayers, sitting facing me in the cosy two-man office with ‘Secretary, Procurement and Contracts Board’ stencilled on the door; Dave would be moving to my desk the next day. “He’s going back to Hong Kong tomorrow.”
“Hong Kong?” The tea lady blanched. “Why would you go there? Those horrible little people killed my son.”
“You’re talking about the Japanese, Mrs Leckie,” I pointed out. “Chinese people live in Hong Kong, not Japanese.”
“They’re all the same aren’t they? All Asians aren’t they?”
After Mrs Leckie had indignantly pushed her trolley bearing stainless steel tea urn and trays of rattling porcelain out the door, I dared to take a sip of my morning tea. Mrs Leckie’s tongue had lashed it to death. Worse, rigor mortis had set in. It was turgid. It was stone cold. I couldn’t drink it. My last cuppa, and I couldn’t drink it.

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Ken Hinkley, PAFC senior coach from season 2013 until hell freezes over. Hinkley perseveres despite not one Grand Final appearance, exacerbated by primitive off-field gaffes such as this stunt in Shanghai for the international TV camera pre-
match, June 2019. For an organisation such as PAFC returning to Shanghai a third time seeking to cement its PRC nexus
for commercial gain essential to secure its future, having survived financial crisis, Hinkley’s behaviour was an abomination.
Only a cave man would find it funny. Beijing has yet to welcome Port Adelaide Football Club back. No China entry visa for
Kenny the King of Goalless Quarters next time … if there ever is a next time. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, care less.


Wednesday, 30 June 1971 was my final day in the Repat. 24 hours hence I would be past the breakaway process and be on my adventure aboard Qantas, Singapore Airlines, whatever, out of Sydney, heading north, to Asia. I have often, over the past fifty years, thought about that deathly parting exchange with Mrs Leckie and her cutting Scots brogue. What would she say to me today, if she were still alive? What would she have said about Whitlam when she heard the news virtually next day that he was on his way to Peking? What would she have thought when word got out that Zhou and her next prime minister had agreed on a schedule to discuss bilateral engagement, and create a formula that was to survive for - almost - a half-century of professional friendship, and ultimately be highlighted by home and away season matches of Australian Football being contested for AFL premiership points on Chinese soil by Port Adelaide Football Club?

Leckie, by chance, was the maiden name of Dame Pattie Menzies - with whom I was destined to ride the ‘Star’ Ferry a few months later. Was that the message, the warning, Mrs Leckie the tea lady had for me? “We know where you are.”

From this …
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To this …
Image_4.jpeg


Spies to the left of me … secret agents to the right …

I doubt that I thought at all about Mrs Leckie at the gala dinner as I sat in between State Grid Corporation of China and China Southern Airlines in the Portman Ritz Carlton, Shanghai that Saturday night in May 2017. At my left elbow was an executive from the largest airline in the world; he’d flown north from Guangzhou (Canton, pre pinyin). On my right was a senior director of the International Division of the largest power corporation on earth and his interpreter (I subsequently discovered she was in fact the divisional CFO, her card had indicated no such seniority); they had flown down from Beijing and would be at Jiangwan Stadium next day to watch Port Adelaide play the Suns. It’s more likely I thought about Gough Whitlam sitting with Zhou Enlai in 1971 … and Nixon sitting with Zhou the following February: Nixon, whose election to the U.S. presidency in 1968 was confirmed a week before troopship HMAS Sydney left Outer Harbour bound for Vung Tau … with 149 conscripted pounds of me aboard.

Whitlam, who lived to 98 and died in October 2014, would lie in his grave and lick his lips to rediscover the taste of the diplomacy cake Zhou Enlai had delivered to him in Shanghai for his 55th birthday. But he would roll in that same grave in shame and distress at the metaphorical dregs that have floated to the top of cold turgid cups of Canberra coffee, where they slowly circulate for the media, and dare to learn nothing, and do … for the Australian public who elect them, because they have to, and pay the taxes that keep them there … nothing. He would roll, too, and groan in agony, at the national decline in quality and quantity of leadership, in Australian character and intellect. He would grind away what was left of his hind teeth in horror at a mentality that has again surrendered itself to ugliness and returned to a past bereft of the vision he had painted - as distinct and joyful as Disney characters on butcher’s paper on my boyhood bedroom wall - in July 1971 … in China.

Gough Whitlam, whatever he otherwise failed to do, taught Australia - and America - a lesson minus precedent or parallel in how to go about bridging a great and greatly complicated divide.

Image_5.jpeg



EPILOGUE

So what are the lessons in all of this? What have I learnt in fifty years with regard to what might or might not happen in the South China Sea with Biden in the White House providing relative sanity compared to his predecessor, with an Asia-ignorant slow-mo ScoMo in Canberra as temporary PM served by a temporary minister of defence who is all of untrustworthy (ask the French), racially prejudiced (ask the French), radical (ask the French), Anglo-American white supremacist (ask anyone), and in too much of a hurry to be proved infallible (ask anyone who gets in his way or who calls him rude names on social media)?

What have I learnt?
Any military decision taken by America will be wrong.
Any military decision taken by Australia will be in support of America and will consequently be wrong.
Any decision taken by Beijing, in the absence of any military decision by America / Australia, to materially upset the status quo in the South China Sea will be wrong.

The last correct decision taken in Washington was in 1962 during the thirteen-day Cuban Missile Crisis; the President who stared down the will for war of his military bosses and took that decision had the back of his head removed by an insane ex-Marine marksman thirteen months later.

The most significant decision taken by Beijing since 1949, as far as Australia is concerned, was in 1971, fifty years ago, when Zhou Enlai invited Gough Whitlam to come to China that July.

Whitlam, however, was not permitted by his enemies to survive as a political force for long enough to make this world a better place as he saw it. Indeed he was elected in December 1972, promptly cancelled conscription to close the file on Australia’s Vietnam trespass, and was re-elected in 1974 after a 17-month term during which an LCP-dominated Senate abused democracy and betrayed Australia by refusing to ratify the new laws promised by Whitlam and referred to it by his Lower House. His majority was cut from nine seats to seven. And the Senate blockade persevered. The anti-Australian conspiracy that inevitably brought Whitlam down in 1975 roped in Buckingham Palace via a colonial relic of the British Empire called the governor-general who exceeded his authority and was manipulated by this s.o.b.:

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But that’s another story.
 
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RussellEbertHandball

Flick pass expert
Nov 16, 2004
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Thanks for the entertaining read and history lesson - your's and the country's LR.

Whenever I think of Whitlam opening up Australia to China I think of Mick Young and his role, and then as Port's number 1 ticket holder and member for Port Adelaide being bloody proud of what we have achieved with our China strategy.
 

Lockhart Road

Cultural Attache
Mar 26, 2013
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Thanks for the entertaining read and history lesson - your's and the country's LR.

Whenever I think of Whitlam opening up Australia to China I think of Mick Young and his role, and then as Port's number 1 ticket holder and member for Port Adelaide being bloody proud of what we have achieved with our China strategy.
Many thanks REH.

This was ten days or so work on and off, more off than on.

I enjoy doing the research; learn stuff I never knew or stuff I’ve forgotten in the process.

There were, as you know, a couple of recent posts on the certified legendary China thread on the subject of drums of war with China, etc. None of the posts did justice to the thinking behind them. We’re on complex turf at present, and it‘s no time to do, say or write anything half-cocked and not thought through.

I trust I have given enough substance in my three-part composition to answer questions, provoke others, provide a start point for posters and readers interested in the odds for or against reverting to professional friendships between Australia / China / America.. before not too long.
 
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RussellEbertHandball

Flick pass expert
Nov 16, 2004
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Below is a additional quote to add to LR's opening from The Inside Story website which had a large extract from Billy Griffiths' book The China Breakthrough: Whitlam in the Middle Kingdom, 1971, which Stephen FitzGerald, whose Fin Review article LR quoted several times and then added his personal commentary to, has said of Griffiths' book, it is - the best and most forensic account to date… eminently readable’.

It shows 2 things to me;
1. How bereft both countries are of great leaders and statesmen in foreign diplomacy compared to 50 years ago
2. How China has been able to deal with Oz and yes use us, first to explain herself to the world 50 years ago, and today use us as an example what China will do if you piss her off.

If the current leaders met today, I think it could be described as a meeting of two blowhards not 2 statesmen, like back in 1971.

Buggered if I know how the current impasse gets solved. 50 years ago a ping pong match or two helped. I don't know if today a footy match can have the same impact.


The premier greeted the Australians individually in English. Then, after the customary photographs with the delegation, he surprised the travelling pressmen by inviting them to stay and “bear witness to the fact that the people of China want to be friends with the people of Australia.” His words transformed the supposedly “private” meeting into a public performance, staged in front of Australian and Chinese press and a dozen television cameras. Zhou was issuing a challenge to the Australian opposition leader.

Whitlam’s initial unease was palpable. “The political risks became intense,” Whitlam later wrote, recalling his nerves. The twenty Australian and Chinese journalists joined forty officials who were already in the room, sitting expectantly in a horseshoe of cane chairs. Whitlam took his seat next to Zhou Enlai at the centre of this scene. Beside him sat the official members of the Labor delegation; beside Zhou sat many of the ministers and senior aides the Australians had met since arriving two days earlier.

The 105 minutes spent in that grand room with crimson carpets and opulent chandeliers defined the political outcome of the visit. It is the centrepiece of this drama. And this is precisely because the Chinese chose to make it so. Why, we must wonder, did the Chinese grant such a high-level meeting to a visiting delegation from the Australian opposition?

The timing is one reason. The publicity of the event and the obscurity of his interlocutor gave Zhou Enlai the opportunity to broadcast internationally his views of the contemporary world situation. In the unfolding discussion, Sino-Australian relations took a secondary position on the agenda: Zhou meant for his statements to be heard in Tokyo, Moscow, and, especially, Washington. Then there was the importance China now attached to relations with “small powers,” like Australia. The new outward-looking foreign policy that China had been cultivating in 1970–71 was focused largely on building ties with “small powers,” or the “second world.” It was only through the increased international participation of “small powers,” Zhou reasoned, that the dominating and dangerous bipolar environment that had been created by America and Russia could be defused.

Leaning back in his wicker chair, Zhou sat relaxed and at ease in this public environment. His arms rested limply beside him, becoming animated at intervals for effect: there was little wasted motion, either in his words or his actions. Whitlam, at a comparatively gargantuan six feet four, sat stiffly beside him, leaning forward in the chair, his hands clasped: a giant hunched in concentration. The exchange was polite but blunt. Whitlam’s direct style suited the premier’s own.

Having led most of his discussions with the Chinese so far, Whitlam allowed himself to be guided by Zhou Enlai. After all, he did not want to be presumptuous; his host had a famously penetrating intellect. For forty-four years Zhou Enlai had been a member of the inner circle of the Chinese Communist Party – even longer than Mao. The breadth and depth of his experience and knowledge was unparalleled in China. On the world stage he was feared and respected. “His mind ranged back and forth over issues over time,” Stephen FitzGerald told me in 2011. “He had a context for talking about international issues which was enormous. It was analytical and pretty unusual.”

FitzGerald paused for a moment, and then in a soft voice he continued. “Gough has a similar kind of mind. It was apparent to some extent in that meeting but it became more apparent when Gough became prime minister. If Zhou talked about great power relations going back into the forties, Gough was also with him on that instantly.”

Whitlam’s initial discomfort quickly passed. The conversation was both a high-stakes game and a rich historical discussion.........
 

Lockhart Road

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I have just added the following sentence to close Part 2:

‘Arthur Calwell was to the federal ALP what Ken Hinkley is today to the Port Adelaide Football Club - an overstayer and an under-performer ill-equipped to ever taste ultimate victory on the national stage.’

I have also added reference to the assassination attempt on Calwell at Mosman Town Hall in June 1966 prior to the federal election later that year.

Don Dunstan was not alone in coming to 9 Morris Street to sit in our kitchen and talk Labor Party strategy with my father in the 1950s. Frank Walsh and Norman Makin were also regulars.

As was Mick O’Halloran, Walsh’s predecessor. If Calwell was federal Labor’s Ken Hinkley, O’Halloran was state Labor’s Hinkley clone. He could never win anything either.
 
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Festerz

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Excellent reading. Thank you. Had me looking through my bookshelf for my copy of Fitzgerald's 1997 excellent analysis of our troubled relationship with our Asian neighbours, book "Is Australia an Asian Country?".

Sadly it seems I have gifted it to the local Goodwill store. I may have to buy it back from them if it is still there; something I have done more than once.

The Australia-China relationship is at its lowest point at any time in my life. Morrison, Albanese and their likely successors provide nothing in terms of leadership, wisdom and understanding of international history and relationships to suggest that is likely to improve in the near future.
 

Relativity

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Forgive my diplomatic ignorance LR but I once read that, among many very complex Sino negotiating issues, the Chinese respect strength in their trading adversaries. Could what is happening politically now between us and them not be seen as another level of "argy bargy" or do you believe the disputes go much deeper?
 

Lockhart Road

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Forgive my diplomatic ignorance LR but I once read that, among many very complex Sino negotiating issues, the Chinese respect strength in their trading adversaries. Could what is happening politically now between us and them not be seen as another level of "argy bargy" or do you believe the disputes go much deeper?
It’s all about power. The Chinese Communist Party owns a one-party dictatorship complete with vast military support yet has to demonstrate to its people that, though they have no vote, their approval is required for the CCP to stay in power. The average Chinese in China desires stability above all else. A strong leadership in Beijing equates to stability, one-party dictatorship or no. It has always been that way in my experience.

You are correct. Beijing will seek to exploit any weakness they perceive in any foreign government with whom they are dealing, and they will tell their people all about it. As far as identifying weakness in Canberra is concerned, this came about when Chinese ‘investment’ interests were given far too much rope - especially in the fields of energy and infrastucture with the Port of Darwin lease being the last straw - with the rope being reeled back in without warning or due diplomatic procedure. Beijing took full advantage of that long slack rope, were surprised that Canberra allowed the rope to stay so slack for so long, and were not surprised when it was eventually hauled in.

The real complication came with Trump’s election. When Canberra, having rudely jerked all the slack out of the rope at once, then at the same time vocalised fealty to Trump America as the Chinese saw it, the reaction in Beijing was to denigrate Australia‘s leadership as lackeys of Washington. Australia was thus weak, but not dangerous; we are stable, predictable and thus managable. America under Trump was weak, but extremely dangerous in business terms because he was born unpredictable and the country he ran became unstable. But Trump eschewed any involvement in any new foreign war, so the U.S. military with the Donald as its chief could be disregarded by Beijing. Bannon, as I’ve reminded in the OP, seemed to think it was okay to suggest that Australia do America’s fighting.

And who was actually running the show? In America for four years it was Trump - plain as day. In Australia? There seemed to the Chinese that there was a different voice on the Canberra phone every time it rang. Beijing’s disrespect for us grew at every backstabbing. Xi Jinping told Trump: “You have too many elections.” We have a maximum three-year federal parliamentary term. This is not enough time to govern a country properly. Hawke tried to change it with a referendum but failed. Keep the bastards honest is ingrained Down Under. Keep the bastards unstable, more like.

You ask Relativity ’do the disputes go much deeper’? That depends on two developments: 1) the attitude to Beijing of the Biden administration and its willingness or unwillingness to communicate (I expect the former) and 2) if and in what style the current Australian administration follows suit (there will be another election soon).

But what about the PLA? It’s generally forgotten that in early 1979 the PLA invaded Vietnam in force across the two countries’ common border. Why did that happen? The popular rationale at the time was punishment for Hanoi‘s intervention in the civil war in Cambodia that removed Pol Pot and his Kmer Rouge. The alternative reasoning, the one I like, was that Deng sought to put Moscow to the test. China was having issues on its northern border with Russia, and Moscow liked to remind Deng that there was a mutual defence treaty in force between the USSR and Vietnam; if one was attacked the other would respond with military support. So Deng attacked Vietnam, and what did Moscow do? Nada. It was then that American intelligence knew the Soviets were focused on developments in Afghanistan and had no resources with which to cause major trouble anywhere else. Whatever. The relevance this has to this thread is that the PLA, once Hanoi had rallied to respond to the surprise invasion, got soundly beaten in its border war with the Vietnamese army who were battle-hardened and defending home turf. The PLA troops were untried in action. 28,000 of them were killed and 43,000 wounded. Today the PLA is still untried, and the painful memories of China’s 1979 military experiment in Vietnam remain as a deterrent.


It is ironic that the Menzies anti-communist doctrine sent Australian troops to Vietnam in 1965 to help America defend against Chinese military aggression travelling south via Indo-China and Indonesia towards Australia, yet in 1979 the PLA could not get past the Vietnamese themselves in the country’s northernmost provinces.

1626700154878.jpeg
 
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Festerz

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Interesting little tale in today's Age about Kissinger's secret soiree to China paving the way for the Nixon visit that turned McMahon's attempt to play old fashioned cold war politics with the Whitlam visit on its head.

 

Lockhart Road

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Interesting little tale in today's Age about Kissinger's secret soiree to China paving the way for the Nixon visit that turned McMahon's attempt to play old fashioned cold war politics with the Whitlam visit on its head.

Thank you Festerz
This thread commemorates the 50th anniversary of those events so I’ll add to the record a short excerpt of the article you kindly linked:

‘Then there is July 15, 1971, and the revelations of that day which upended the dynamics of global politics. The events ultimately helped enhance Australia’s prosperity, but turned the immediate fortunes of Australia’s political leaders, Billy McMahon and Gough Whitlam, inside out. … ’

‘… It was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that an Australian leader learned the brutal lesson of just what it can mean to be the junior partner in the US alliance.’

‘Whitlam, in Tokyo on his way back from Beijing (told) David Barnett, one of the reporters who covered his trip: “They’re f---ed.”
He was right.
Within 18 months, McMahon had lost the 1972 election and Whitlam was prime minister.
Australia recognised Communist China almost immediately after Labor took office; the United States completed the process in in 1979.’
 

Lockhart Road

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Kochie has reiterated his personal desire to maintain the Club’s China position and connections there and in Oz.

According to the ‘South China Morning Post’ today the Wendy Sherman talk with Wang Yi in Tianjin closed no doors.

1627375870690.jpeg


China, US draw lines in the sand at top-level meeting but agree to keep talking

 

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Festerz

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Kochie has reiterated his personal desire to maintain the Club’s China position and connections there and in Oz.
To be honest it is more important now than it was prior to covid for the Club to maintain ties with China. Not just because of the fact that our financial position must be in in dire straits with the ongoing interruptions to games and activities, but because business and community communications and connections below the political level play will play an even more vital role for Australia and our state during a time of heightened political tension.

This is well understood within diplomatic and business circles despite the political rhetoric. Nevertheless I am sure Kochie understands full well the sort of uninformed hostility he is likely to face from certain footy journalists, especially in SA, with this position. I am equally sure there is a large chunk of PAFC club members who will have severe doubts over the China connection continuing.

Even if it does continue it is stating the obvious to say that the relationship will need to be completely reworked in the light of growing strategic tensions between the Chinese and Australian Governments. And greater emphasis will need to be placed on communicating the message of why this relationship must continue.

When the dust settles on the 2021 season I wonder if consideration could be given to approaching the incoming Governor of South Australia, Frances Adamson, for an honorary position with our club given her unparalleled contemporary knowledge and expertise in relation to Australia's relationship with the PRC? She and I studied economics together at Adelaide Uni in the early 80s but that is the extent of my contact with her.
 

Lockhart Road

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To be honest it is more important now than it was prior to covid for the Club to maintain ties with China. Not just because of the fact that our financial position must be in in dire straits with the ongoing interruptions to games and activities, but because business and community communications and connections below the political level play will play an even more vital role for Australia and our state during a time of heightened political tension.

This is well understood within diplomatic and business circles despite the political rhetoric. Nevertheless I am sure Kochie understands full well the sort of uninformed hostility he is likely to face from certain footy journalists, especially in SA, with this position. I am equally sure there is a large chunk of PAFC club members who will have severe doubts over the China connection continuing.

Even if it does continue it is stating the obvious to say that the relationship will need to be completely reworked in the light of growing strategic tensions between the Chinese and Australian Governments. And greater emphasis will need to be placed on communicating the message of why this relationship must continue.

When the dust settles on the 2021 season I wonder if consideration could be given to approaching the incoming Governor of South Australia, Frances Adamson, for an honorary position with our club given her unparalleled contemporary knowledge and expertise in relation to Australia's relationship with the PRC? She and I studied economics together at Adelaide Uni in the early 80s but that is the extent of my contact with her.
I will be very surprised if Frances Adamson is not guest of honour at our first available home game after she takes up her gubernatorial post, which is as imminent as it is hard to pronounce.
 

TeeKray

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Maybe some of the people over in the covid thread who think the only problems that lockdowns cause are people not being able to go for coffee or dinner every now and then might realise the true cost when their footy club ends up $20 million in debt by the end of all of this.

I think the path forward should be to ramp up our China commitment - aim to play 2 games per season there and commit as much capital to the China engagement as we can.
 

Lockhart Road

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Maybe some of the people over in the covid thread who think the only problems that lockdowns cause are people not being able to go for coffee or dinner every now and then might realise the true cost when their footy club ends up $20 million in debt by the end of all of this.

I think the path forward should be to ramp up our China commitment - aim to play 2 games per season there and commit as much capital to the China engagement as we can.
The path least trodden.

Catch em all by surprise.

Like it.
 

Lockhart Road

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I’ve added quite a bit of text to the three-part OP and made it a pictorial article.

If you are among the .01% of posters interested in the full China story, please take a look, make that another look if appropriate.

I learnt a lot myself doing the extra research.
 

Lockhart Road

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I’ve been reading with sadness reports on what is happening in Afghanistan, Kabul in particular. Emotionally, I am back in Vietnam, it is April 1975, and it will become obvious that America is learning nothing.

They have done it again. Australia, by tagging along, has learnt nothing and has done it again, too.

There is a particularly relevant paragraph from Holly Ransom’s published interview over the weekend, quoted below.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/life...w/news-story/cda716270c49c22d9cb7d3c7e1e9c164

Ransom believes the next generation of progress will be driven more by the business sector than a political system which has left many Australians disillusioned after a dearth of genuine leadership in the past decade. She blames a lack of diversity among politicians, many of whom have no life experience outside of politics, and the toxic nature of a party structure that breeds power struggles and character assassinations for much of Canberra’s flaws.
 

RussellEbertHandball

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I’ve been reading with sadness reports on what is happening in Afghanistan, Kabul in particular. Emotionally, I am back in Vietnam, it is April 1975, and it will become obvious that America is learning nothing.

They have done it again. Australia, by tagging along, has learnt nothing and has done it again, too.

There is a particularly relevant paragraph from Holly Ransom’s published interview over the weekend, quoted below.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/life...w/news-story/cda716270c49c22d9cb7d3c7e1e9c164

Ransom believes the next generation of progress will be driven more by the business sector than a political system which has left many Australians disillusioned after a dearth of genuine leadership in the past decade. She blames a lack of diversity among politicians, many of whom have no life experience outside of politics, and the toxic nature of a party structure that breeds power struggles and character assassinations for much of Canberra’s flaws.
I was watching the news with my father and the scene from the airport as the Afghani's were trying to get on the departing American plane, and then a couple of marines had to fire in the air to scare people away from the plane, and he said something like bloody hell those poor people, and I said to him, its the same as happened in Vietnam in April 1975, when people tried to get on the choppers inside the US Embassy as the Vietcong tanks were approaching.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
 

Tibbs

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I was watching the news with my father and the scene from the airport as the Afghani's were trying to get on the departing American plane, and then a couple of marines had to fire in the air to scare people away from the plane, and he said something like bloody hell those poor people, and I said to him, its the same as happened in Vietnam in April 1975, when people tried to get on the choppers inside the US Embassy as the Vietcong tanks were approaching.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Just awful scenes these ... people trying to stow away & falling from the sky!

Very hard to watch this unfold from afar, never mind being there!
 

1954

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I’ve been reading with sadness reports on what is happening in Afghanistan, Kabul in particular. Emotionally, I am back in Vietnam, it is April 1975, and it will become obvious that America is learning nothing.

They have done it again. Australia, by tagging along, has learnt nothing and has done it again, too.

There is a particularly relevant paragraph from Holly Ransom’s published interview over the weekend, quoted below.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/life...w/news-story/cda716270c49c22d9cb7d3c7e1e9c164

Ransom believes the next generation of progress will be driven more by the business sector than a political system which has left many Australians disillusioned after a dearth of genuine leadership in the past decade. She blames a lack of diversity among politicians, many of whom have no life experience outside of politics, and the toxic nature of a party structure that breeds power struggles and character assassinations for much of Canberra’s flaws.
Agreed, once again despite warnings that could have been seen from the moon the yanks have been asleep at the wheel, and after installing a puppet president and wasting billions of dollars and thousands of lives they have left another country in absolute f****** turmoil.

I fear that by the time the Taliban have finished exterminating those Afghans with western connections, or are from different ethnic groups, plus destroyed any hope of education for women they will make the Pol Pot regime look like the salvos by comparison.
 

SureBuddy

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Agreed, once again despite warnings that could have been seen from the moon the yanks have been asleep at the wheel, and after installing a puppet president and wasting billions of dollars and thousands of lives they have left another country in absolute f****** turmoil.

I fear that by the time the Taliban have finished exterminating those Afghans with western connections, or are from different ethnic groups, plus destroyed any hope of education for women they will make the Pol Pot regime look like the salvos by comparison.
Billions? More like Trillions.
 

Lockhart Road

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1629627852336.jpeg



White House backtracks after Biden appears to say US would defend Taiwan against China
The Guardian (originally from Reuters, Washington) 21 August 2021

A senior Biden administration official said US policy on Taiwan had not changed after (the) President appeared to suggest the US would defend the island if it were attacked, a deviation from a long-held US position of “strategic ambiguity”.

In an interview aired by ABC News on Thursday, Biden was asked about the effects of the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and responses in Chinese media telling Taiwan this showed Washington could not be relied on to come to its defence.


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...wB5TAzOGoB_Lq7eKJ1ms1y3yas#Echobox=1629447118
 

Lockhart Road

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HERE WE GO AGAIN?

This current AFR opinion piece (edited down per BF posting rules) contains shades of my four-part OP to this thread (which I have edited up and fleshed-out since it was first posted in July).

Morrison turns China ‘threat’ into an election wedge.

Borrowing from the Coalition playbook of Menzies and Holt during the Vietnam War, the Prime Minister is putting domestic politics ahead of long-term policy for dealing with Beijing.


James Curran Columnist, Australian Financial Review, Nov 21, 2021

https://www.afr.com/policy/foreign-...threat-into-an-election-wedge-20211120-p59alf

Scott Morrison has taken a provocative approach to China that first appeared under Malcolm Turnbull, sharpened its edge and has now grabbed the loudspeaker.
His government makes foreign policy a critical wedge against Labor as the election approaches: tactics drawn from the Coalition playbook of Robert Menzies and Harold Holt during the Vietnam War. Opinion polls appear to confirm support for this recycling of the China “threat”, despite the Prime Minister’s adverse polling on a two-party preferred basis.
Disapprove as one may of this approach, it is unarguably consequential, and Australia may pay the cost for some time.

… The consequences belie Morrison’s rhetoric. A long-term policy for dealing with China does not exist. This as President Biden avoids the stampede towards a “new Cold War”, looks to limited co-operation with Beijing and tries to avoid military conflict.
Reflect, then, on the unforeseen consequences that can occur when a ruthless politician opts for headlines exploiting hostility to an Asian power.

… Yet the Morrison government now has an investment in continuing bad relations between the US and China, and with it the risk of an inadvertent or deliberate outbreak of war. It willingly dials itself into Washington’s martial calculations against the Chinese state. Canberra tumbles once more into an overexposed, lonely prominence.
A day after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stressed that competition with China need not lead to conflict, Defence Minister Peter Dutton basically committed Australia if there is a war over Taiwan. Whatever restraint there was in the government’s language on China is abandoned. No consideration is given to the catastrophic effects of any conflict on the region.

… Everything is now seen through a “China threat” prism. Relations with the Pacific, south-east Asian countries and Japan cannot be viewed on their own terms. All are submerged beneath the politicking on “pushing back’ against Beijing, on the apparent gratification of Australia being the model for “standing up’ to China.

… Morrison fails to understand that what appears tough on the home front can look in regional capitals to be a lack of sophisticated diplomacy. Look no further than when, before heading for Cornwall, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reminded his Australian visitor that China is always “going to be there”, that countries will have to deal with Beijing.

… Indeed, the China debate here, for all its claims to novelty, echoes more and more the rhetoric of the late 19th century and the 1960s, especially its obsession with “invasion”, “threat”, “subversion” and “containment”. Much of this flows from the continued emphasis that Australia now straddles the front line of a “new Cold War”. Well may we rightly express unease at how China uses its power, but Australia must find the courage to look into the mirror too.
 

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