ADELAIDE – I’m struggling to see how the acquisition of American nuclear submarines necessarily binds us to its foreign policy, let alone fighting a war with it.
If the mere acquisition of US made hardware and very secret and sophisticated technology did that, then surely buying 75 F35 fighters has long since locked us into that role?
Similarly, I struggle with the idea that buying a genuinely potent weapon as a means of defence is a provocation.
This notion runs utterly contrary to the lessons of history, where the strong have always dominated the weak.
While I agree with 'The Age' that Morrison is a person who lacks much insight or foresight or even good judgement, this clearly has not been his decision alone.
Other much more knowledgeable and hard-headed operators will have examined this decision with clear eyes; eyes completely unconcerned about domestic political considerations.
They have made a judgement that the only viable option for the future, other than accepting a role as China's humble supplicant, is to create a defence force capable of inflicting real damage upon any aggressive power.
And also to closely align Australia’s foreign policy with what still are the world's greatest liberal democracies, the United States and the United Kingdom.
This is not a risk free strategy by any measure, but there is no reasonable prospect that Australia could play a role as a neutral 'honest broker' between competing powers in this region.
It lacks the economic, political and military heft to do this.
I have a great admiration for China, its history and culture.
Its people are incredibly enterprising and its achievements over the last 30 years or so are nothing short of breathtaking.
It will deservedly resume its historic place as one the world's great powers after what it regards as 'a century of humiliation' at the hands of European imperial powers.
But it is led by what I regard as the 'usual suspects' who collectively form the anti-democratic, doctrinaire, authoritarian and xenophobic Chinese Communist Party.
The CCP is led by a self-appointed 'President for Life', whose pearls of wisdom are regarded as sacrosanct and who will not tolerate disobedience in any form.
Let us all be really clear: there will be no reasoning with the CCP over what constitutes acceptable conduct in international affairs, any more than there was with Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin or any other of the long and terrible list of demagogues stretching back in human history.
This is the context within which the decision about submarines was taken, not the electoral cycle.
This submarine decision alone is not, and will not, be regarded as of great importance when the journalists settle down, and should not be invested with more significance than it deserves.
It’s easy to foresee vastly more important sources of risk in our region than a very long term plan to acquire eight submarines.
In my judgement, climate change can and will upset and perhaps overturn much of today's world order long before Australia's first nuclear submarine slides into the water.
The world faces a struggle for survival in the face of the now inevitable severe and challenging consequences of climate change.
This seems to me to be vastly more likely to trigger warfare than eight submarines.
By the way, there are an estimated 450 submarines in operation, 300 of them in four countries: North Korea, China, the United States and Russia.