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Australia’s Eschatological Diplomacy

Eschatology is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as “the end of the world” or “end times”. – Wikipedia

WHY ARE THE AUSTRALIANS behaving so provocatively towards China? What makes a nation of 25 million think itself the equal of a nation of more than a billion? China’s economy is second only to that of the United States’. Technologically, it is well ahead of the best Australian science has to offer. Militarily speaking, the Peoples Liberation Army dwarfs the Australian Defence Force. Oh, and China possesses its own nuclear arsenal, with rockets and guidance systems more than equal to the task of delivering a 20 kiloton atomic device through the front doors of the Australian Parliament and detonating it on the Speaker’s Chair.

A government would have to be mad to set itself and its people against a foe so huge and dangerous. Unfortunately, madness, might just turn out to be the most robust explanation for the Australian Government’s eschatological diplomacy.

Let’s begin our diagnosis with Australia’s frankly insane belief that China needs Australia’s iron ore more than Australia needs China’s iron ore purchases.

The most likely source of this delusional thinking is the undeniable fact that Australia holds nearly 54 percent of the world’s iron ore reserves. The problem with this figure is that, if China is removed from the equation, Australia’s huge quantities of iron ore could not be absorbed by any other market. Nowhere else on the planet is there anything like China’s demand for iron and steel. The USA, Europe and Japan are essentially sated economies, and the rest of the planet is simply too poor to take up the slack if China suddenly stopped buying – from Australia.

Because, of course, while Australia owns most of the world’s iron ore, it does not own all of it. At a pinch (and Australia has been pinching China pretty hard of late) China could turn to Brazil and South Africa for its iron ore supplies. Yes, it might take Beijing a little while to reorganise its mineral imports regime, but this minor inconvenience would inflict far less harm on the Chinese economy than the collapse of iron ore exports would inflict upon Australia’s.

The Aussies are fond of pointing their accusatory little fingers at New Zealand on account of the Kiwis’ extreme reluctance to offend the largest purchaser of their country’s crucial dairy exports. Truth be told, however, Australia earns an even larger chunk of its export receipts from China than New Zealand.

If Beijing were to impose a ban on the import of Australian iron ore, the economic impact would be devastating. In very short order, Australia would slide into a deep recession, generating political consequences inimical to the incumbent Liberal-National Coalition Government. The likely election of a Beijing-friendly Labor Government would not only bring the diplomatic and economic stand-off to an end, it would also deliver a harsh, but necessary, lesson in the realities of international politics to a (hopefully) chastened Liberal Party.

That’s the hopeful scenario. An alternative explanation for the current madness of the Australian Government is that, within its ranks, there exists a righteous gaggle of evangelical Christians for whom politics is no longer “the art of the possible”, but eschatological: facilitating the Second Coming of Christ.

The prospect of mutual nuclear annihilation was crucial to the refusal of both the United States and the Soviet Union to push their diplomatic competition beyond the point of no return. Neither side wished to see its people incinerated in a nuclear flash, or succumb slowly to the effects of radiation poisoning. Irrespective of their capitalist and socialist ideologies, Washington and Moscow remained essentially secular, scientific and rational. Had they not, the world would not have survived the First Cold War.

Much has changed, however, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the consequent ending of the First Cold War, in August 1991. In the United States, the ever-increasing influence of evangelical Christianity over the political process, especially over the Republican Party, has seen the practice of politics become radically less secular, less scientific and less rational. It has also undermined the political system’s capacity to respond self-defensively to existential threats. If the end of the world is perceived as a good thing: as the fulfilment of the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation; what incentive does a true believer have for trying to prevent it from happening?

It is a sobering fact that between 1995 and 2007 Tim LaHay’s 16 “Rapture” novels repeatedly topped the bestseller lists. In 2016, alone, over 65 million copies were sold worldwide. No less an authority than Jerry Falwell reckoned the impact of LaHay’s novels on American Christianity as second only to the Bible itself. Believers in the Apocalypse look upon the end of the world – and fear no evil.

On 5 July 2005, the Sydney Morning Herald published a story headlined “Politics Goes To Church At Hillsong”. According to the SMH:

“They were all there – NSW Premier Bob Carr and federal ministers Alexander Downer, Kevin Andrews and Peter Dutton, as well as NSW Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile, Liberal MP David Clarke and other state parliamentarians.

“But the 20,000-strong crowd of evangelical Christians reserved their most enthusiastic applause for Treasurer Peter Costello, who received an almighty welcome – just as he did last year”.

Fifteen years on, it’s 2021, and Peter Dutton is Australia’s Defence Minister. His deep-seated hostility towards China is undisguised, as is his belief that some form of military confrontation with Beijing is inevitable. Peter Costello, who lays claim to the title of Australia’s longest-serving finance minister, is currently the Chair of Nine Entertainment Co. – the television network responsible for the rhetorical question: “Has New Zealand become New Xi-land?” (As in Xi Jinping, China’s President – geddit?)

It is difficult to know how New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is able to deal sensibly with an Australian Government (and an Australian bureaucracy and defence force) in which evangelical Christian eschatology often seems to count for more than the rational assessment of national self-interest and self-preservation that has long guided New Zealand diplomacy.

One can only imagine what China’s politicians and diplomats make of Australia’s eschatological diplomacy. Or of the fact that the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is a member of the “Horizon” congregation – a “happy-clappy” evangelical community that just can’t wait for Jesus to win the Battle of Armageddon and carry up the righteous to glory.

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  1. Is Peter Dutton the best choice for the Australian Defence Minister as he has no diplomacy or tack, he spouts of at the mouth, he is divisive and he can be down right nasty and crass. We know this when he referred to
    the 501s as trash. As for the Aussies doco calling us New Xi-land its a bit like us referring to them as Arsetralia.

    • As far as calling NZ , New Xiland, this is quite a good bilingual bad pun for which the Arsies could be smiled at.
      NZ in Chinese 新西兰 Xīn xīlán (NZ in Taiwanese Chinese 纽西習 niǔ xīlán)
      Xi Jinping is 習近平 Xí Jìnpíng. So perhaps we can have 近習兰 Jìn xílán, except that Jìn xí would sound nothing like Xīn xī to a Chinese speaker!
      Now would former PM of Arsetralia and fluent Pǔtōnghuà speaker, Kevin Rudd try the same joke?

  2. We could help out the ozzies and the Chinese at the same time as becoming a broker for the ozzies iron ore.
    We could clip the ozzies ticket by becoming the broker for iron ore and help out our Chinese cuzzies at the same time and de-escalate the situation between them both.

    Or, fast-track more Chinese residents into Australia via a transit visa for those Chinese wanting to get into Australia.

  3. Armageddon outta here…

    This gives a whole new meaning to ‘little Aussie battlers’.

    And yes, these beliefs are in Godzone too…

  4. In New Zealand there is NZ National’s Mr Luxon who seems to be of a similar religious bent. I don’t know if Chris is involved in some factional fight here above the heads of us non believers, but I take what he writes seriously.

    Just the numbers alone are scary of fundamentalist swathes getting involved one way or another in politics. In NZ we have long had separation of Church and State for some rather obvious reasons, and long may that remain.

  5. I’m a great fan of Chris Trotter’s writing but in this article he has not provided a single piece of evidence that Morrison’s religious views actually influence his stance towards China. Many of those who look forward to Christ’s Kingdom via an apocalyptic “End of Times” don’t even vote (eg Jehovah’s Witnesses) on the grounds that it is up to God to bring things to that point, not his followers.
    In the 1930s, Winston Churchill recognised the Nazi threat to Britain and the democratic world. He constantly called for stronger action against the Nazi regime from his own and fellow nations.
    Some politicians understand that you can’t appease a nation like China and — to quote Churchill — “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.”

    • Scott Morrison is late to the game. He’s just a no hope cunt. Corona caught everyone’s ideology with there pants down. We can’t even laugh at the cunt because he’s so stupid.

    • But these views are dominant in the GOP and Morrison thinks like them and is allied to American leadership.

    • Who is trying to appease China and in what way.
      We appease the USA/UK and have done so for many decades.

  6. Well, there’s my trousers well shat. Thanks @ CT.
    Aliens…? Heeeelllllppp !? For Gods sake? ( Because I’m sure, the last thing God would want is a sudden influx of Australians. ) Come and invade us?

  7. Thank-you Chris for the interesting insights and well supported analysis. We can only hope cool heads prevail (especially in Wellington); so far so good!

  8. Nearly forgot… Ba Ha !
    Roll up a Chubby and settle in with this one?
    ‘This Is the End’
    “Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to visit old friend and fellow Canadian actor Seth Rogen, who invites him to a housewarming party hosted by James Franco. There, Jay is uncomfortable at the crowded party, so Seth accompanies him to a convenience store where beams of blue light suddenly come down and suck numerous people into the sky….”

  9. I don’t think it’s so much Armageddon as less astute people than John Howard trying to emulate his strategies under different and more dangerous circumstances. I think that Howard sought to protect Australia’s standard of living to some degree by enthusiastically supporting US military adventurism in exchange for being left in comparative peace economically. It seems to have escaped the notice of Morrison and Dutton that we are no longer in the noughties (pre 2008), that offending China is likely to lead to far more damaging consequences for Australia than offending Iraq, and that their own political instincts are no match for Howard’s.
    For myself, I was opposed to the Iraq war, and am opposed now to this hostility toward China. I prefer a world in which differences of interest are peacefully negotiated. But I could see a logic to Howard’s actions even though I didn’t agree with him. I don’t see any sense in what Morrison and Dutton are doing.

    • What the fuck??? No way John Howard protected the economy. He opposed all the economic reforms that has made Australia a G20. Dafuq is this bullshit history. If it wasn’t for Labour Party, Australia would be fucked.

      • Note the qualification “to some degree”. I do not mean to suggest that he was anything other than a Tory. But you should remember that upward of half a million New Zealanders migrated there around that time, because they could make a living there that they could not here.

        • As the incumbent Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has the responsibility to hand over the office to its rightful owner.

          Apart of it is that Scomo brings great shame to Australia, misguided in his efforts to advance the interests of Christianity.

          With all of Scomo’s desires it is this nothing that has to advance the interests of Australia to chuck off backwards views of isolationism, anti climate, hate towards aboriginals believing that there is a great place in the world for people who molest and genocide its indigenous inhabitants.

          Now the opportunity to integrate Australia into the post corona rules based order is presented to this smooth headed shmuck as we have with in him a willfull mind, a commanding set of unwavering opinions and hidden retardation ready to be unleashed as the desire to acquire one thing only which is to acquire power.

    • The Oz view is informed by alliance with the US and dependence on them for security. They’ll take whatever line the Americans do.

    • Olwn
      They are lackeys doing as instructed.
      The Ozz govt is not allowed to set foot into Pine Gap. That was set up by the US years ago with a purpose in mind and that was nothing to do with the good of Australia.

  10. I think CT is blaming on Christianity what is happening for a bunch of other reasons:

    1) I’ll wager America had Australia’s back re nuclear weapons in the event of invasion. They are a key US ally and big part of US balance of power in the Pacific.

    2) China instigated a bunch of sanctions against Australia to make an example of them for merely asking for a covid enquiry, Aussie didn’t start this.

    3)Australia unlike NZ has been attacked by an Asian power sweeping down from the Pacific, don’t underestimate the effect on a national psyche

    4) Aussies tend to say what they think, much more so than a stereotypical passive aggressive kiwi.

    5) There is a lot more going on that you and I are not privy to – detention of Aussie journalists, expulsion of Chinese spies (massive Chinese embassy in south Australia rumoured eavesdropping on Aussie naval sub building), government sponsored hacking, political infiltration.
    I’d wager someone somewhere busted someone red handed and kicked this off.

    It would also pay to not cheerlead the demise of Australia/USA from our pathetically weak position.
    Being poodles to China is not going to improve our lot if the Chinese achieve pacific and world domination.

    • Keepcalm’ you are parroting an oldie but a baddie, from US Imperialism’s play book. Gerald Hensley used to say that kind of thing during the Nuclear Free movement period of the 80s. New Zealand can never have a truly independent foreign policy the hawks said because NZ is tiny, weak and dependent and we have shared Anglo-spheric interests.

      The reality was a US/Soviet nuclear exchange would likely have meant the end of us all, so it was false logic.
      The likes of New Zealand joining the 120 member state non aligned movement, could demonstrate that small nations co-operating on a mutually beneficial bilateral basis could have significant influence with the imperialist powers rather the status of pussy cat to that of Australia’s US Deputy Dog.

      • If you look,at your history you will find that Australia was directly attacked by Imperial Japanese forces during WW2. There were the air attacks Darwin in 1942, the submarine raid on Sydney Harbour the same year, and in 1945 a landing by an Imperial Japanese Army reconnaissance group on the Kimberly Coast searching for evidence of a secret USAAF air base. They didn’t find anything because the bases were a few hundred km inland. Those attacks were burned into the soul of the Australian national being and they will never forget them. That’s what drives their thinking and concerns about defence.

        Just for your information, there are two recorded accounts of torpedo attacks by enemy submarines on ships in NZ territorial waters. The first was in 1943 by an Imperial Japanese Navy in the Hauraki Gulf targeting a ship leaving the Waitemata Harbour. This same submarine also flew an aircraft over Wellington and Auckland. The second attack was in 1945 by a Kreigsmarine U-boat off Gisborne when it attacked a ship with a torpedo. In both cases the attacks were without success. In the first case the submarine was attacked with depth charges but not damaged. In the second case, nothing was known about the submarine being here until well after the war and the U-boat Captain published his war diary.

        • Ngati
          Yes WWII is not what we are looking at in 2021.
          World peace will never by achieved by taking a parochial view..

    • “Australia unlike NZ has been attacked by an Asian power sweeping down from the Pacific, don’t underestimate the effect on a national psyche”

      China has been attacked for a century by Western powers, particularly the Anglo Saxon powers. Don’t underestimate this on their national psyche, LOL!

    • KCCO
      Oz backed the US demand of being able to investigate the covid19 origins in China.
      Meanwhile the USA resigned from WHO and still refuses to allow investigation into its very early civid19 like systems mid 2019.
      China rebuked the demand but Oz continued with the smears on China so retaliation with trade restrictions took an interesting turn. The alleged dumping of wine was an early Chinese move.

  11. KCCO has well alluded to the wider picture. So far the US is the winner here because The Aussies are poking a stick at China for them, and paying heavily for the privilege. Aus feel safe firing shots at China from the safety of USA’s arsehole where they are keeping themselves warm and safe. The US is very happy with this arrangement I would think. I would be happy to give Aussies a medal for courage ( stupidity) if it wasn’t for their lousy treatment of us and their own awful human rights record. Their hypocrisy is jaw dropping. The Brits aren’t much better as they call us out but were happy to flick us off after using us in the wars then leaving us stranded economically, and with their colonial past are way ahead of China currently with human rights abuses. We are guilty because we make whiny noises that annoy The Chinese but mean nothing. At least the Aussies are prepared to take an economic hit even if they didn’t mean to. We should say nothing or stop trading with China. We can’t have it both ways without looking as if we have no moral values. Which of course we haven’t as money supersedes human misery.

    • JE. Simply we trade with China knowing the Uyghurs people are being victimised by China. Don’t get me wrong we have to trade but the reason we haven’t spat the dummy is trade. (Money).

      • No we want observers in because we want to take any accusation of a crime against humanity to the international courts. And if a nation does not comply and harbours war criminals then we go to war. Don’t be a pussy.

      • The only reason we would keep trading through a war crime is if we are simultaneously gathering evidence.

      • NW
        The US alleged treatment of Uighurs has been well and truly debunked many times.
        I could put up links here but you may benefit is searching for your own, Hint , try the grayzone for one.

        Anything connected with Adrian Zeng is so unreliable you wouldn’t wipe your boots on it.

  12. WHY ARE THE AUSTRALIANS behaving so provocatively towards China?

    Sorry, that sounds like a standard line from the Chinese Criminal Party.
    The Australian government simply, and rightfully stated that there needed be further investigation into the origins of the pandemic, and the series of actions afterwards, and for a very valid reason – to mitigate the potential for it happening again in the near future. A request that numerous countries, including NZ supported and enforced straight away afterwards.
    Ever since then, the CCP has been on the warpath throwing everything at the Ozzies, from insults in the media, to trade wars and threats of military action. The Australians are only bring realistic in their stance and defending their sovereignty and dignity.
    Meanwhile, NZ keeps licking China’s jack boots. History shows, that doesn’t pan out well.

    • BM
      “The Australian government simply, and rightfully stated that there needed be further investigation into the origins of the pandemic”

      The US resigned from Who then demanded that they be able to investigate the “Wuhan virus”.
      China is a sovereign country and the US demand backed by Oz is right out of order and hypocritical as the US would not open their labs to WHO inspection.

      Get the timeline of what actually happened clear.
      Where and how has NZ licked China’s boots. .

  13. On a smaller scale, we have all those who go round saying that when industrial civilisation collapses, we can go back to self-sufficiency. A prevalent attitude on the left, which once used to deal in hope.

    • Chris if you are up with the situation that we have consumed over 71% of the world’s Non Renewable Natural Resources that industry is dependent on, and the last 25% are increasingly more difficult and expensive to harvest, then collapse is not far away. Food shortages are already evident as is water to grow food in many extensive agricultural systems.

  14. As with the Cross, a sign for those who needed a sign of survival after death.

    So is end time prophecy, a sign for those who needed a sign of ultimate justice – the imperial power oppressing the people gets dealt to by God (for too many women its patriarchy and personal experience of male abuse of power – the age of the woman as battered fishwife unless they are empowered to be equals).

    Unfortunately Christians do not get that it could be their political power (God and mammon – prosperity religion for capitalists) in the world that oppresses others and leads to war, famine and disease. In part because of the rejection of the social gospel as socialism.

    Of late the problem has been Christians seeing in the arrival of the state of Israel as a sign of end time prophecy being fulfilled and thus the Cold War against those not of white western Christendom as a righteous struggle for dominion on earth – akin to the Crusades era. Rather that than fully confront the legacy of colonialism and oppression of indigenous peoples and its perpetuation through the primacy of corporate crony capitalism.

    This informs much of what passes for leadership in the US, UK and Oz.

    So the born again types think they have God on their side to take down the USSR, back Israel to annex and ethnic cleanse, expand the EU and NATO into former Tsarist Russia territory (which seems to some Russians as an existential threat) and only allow a one China if it is democratic – starting with Hong Kong.

    It’s a third attempt to make the world in their own image (first the crusades, then the missionary imperialism) – a Judeo-Christian world Zion. To those of the cause, there is victory with God, even with defeat on earth because kingdom comes for the righteous even with death.

    It’s white supremacism, it’s arrogant and it’s stupid. Pale, male and stale.

    • SPC
      Many important thoughts well presented.
      I have never found fairies at the bottom of the garden

  15. As far as calling NZ , New Xiland, this is quite a good bilingual bad pun for which the Arsies could be smiled at.
    NZ in Chinese 新西兰 Xīn xīlán (NZ in Taiwanese Chinese 纽西習 niǔ xīlán)
    Xi Jinping is 習近平 Xí Jìnpíng. So perhaps we can have 近習兰 Jìn xílán, except that Jìn xí would sound nothing like Xīn xī to a Chinese speaker!
    Now would former PM of Arsetralia and fluent Pǔtōnghuà speaker, Kevin Rudd try the same joke?

  16. It is my belief that part of the Australian push is its brashness which has always stood it in good stead. However with the American Christian fundamentalists exporting their extremist intolerant visions and views to political and business elites in other countries, it had to happen that eventually such people would rise to positions of power. Whether ScoMo is openly pushing this agenda or not is subject to debate, but Dutton definitely pushing it.

    It is difficult to see what the endgame is for Australia by deliberately provoking the PRC, however its call for an independent investigation into the source of the COVID-19 pandemic is the correct one. The PRC action of coercion by way of trade sanctions is not doing anything to help its and its 14 demands are a direct attack on Australian sovereignty. It also overreacted when challenged about its illegal activities under UNCLOS in the South China Sea.

    Unfortunately there will be a war between the PRC and the USA and it will be of the PRC’s making. History shows us that because it is only on rare occasions where a rising great power has replaced a declining great power without a war between them. Australia will be involved because of ANZUS and we will be involved because of our bilateral defence treaty with Australia if Australia is directly attacked. It would impact upon us anyway whether we liked it or not. The sea and air transport disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic produced would be a mere storm in a tea cup compared to a peer on peer war between the PRC and the USA.

  17. The commodities markets are a merry-go-round. Sure China can stop importing Aussie iron ore & coal then source them from somewhere else. But what happens then is that the people their new supply supplier was supplying is short and Aussie can sell to them instead. Nothing is gained in the long run but higher prices because supply lines are longer.

    I think Morrison was bit bit naïve when he led the charge against China. I suppose he expected the rest of the (relatively) free world to back him up and underestimated the level of supine cowardice of western politicians. More fool him.

    A better plan is to reach an agreement among the western nations to slowly free China out of world trade. Nothing official. Nothing on paper, just spend the next decade walking back the access we gave them when Clinton let them into the WTO because they helped finance his election campaign.

    We can do inscrutable too!

    • With this lot we are going to require 4 Frigate replacements, an air combat force and 4 full time battalions. We add on your whims we’ll require 6 Frigate replacements, 3 air combat wings and 8 battalions. Which one is more realistic to you, Andrew??? Have a thunk.

    • Freeze China out of world trade? Hmmm.

      So, you think its possible for the western world to re-create their radically downsized working-classes and start making things on their own soil again?

      Good luck with that!

  18. 33 comments on this trash. China is worth being stood up to, and Oz lead. Out of their many, many neighbours and trade partners who hate their bullying. Russia, North Korea and Burma like them.

    Now the prick who made them hateable tells his diplomats to be ‘loveable’. There’s an end to ‘telling’ people. And I’m sure the Chinese, above all, are over it.

    He made his comment from ‘on high’ after Jace, the most submissive of sorts, joined with Morrison in their joint statement.

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