TUMBY BAY - Australia has always had an unfortunate predilection for getting involved in other people’s wars.
If there’s a war on somewhere, we seem to scrabble to be part of it. For some reason we think our involvement is a measure of our relevance as a nation.
We march off with great fanfare, get ourselves mauled and killed and then come home to congratulate ourselves in a never ending and macabre pantomime that seems to grow bigger each year.
Forget Christianity, war is quickly becoming the official religion of Australia.
Immanuel Kant and others have observed that war, with occasional outbreaks of short-lived peace, is the natural default position for human society.
In Australia we go to war because of the very dubious assumption that getting involved in the military adventurism of the big powers will somehow obligate them to come to our aid if we ever get into trouble.
This is a false hope and we know they will only get involved on our behalf if there is some advantage to them, usually economic.
On the one occasion when Australia looked like it was under real threat, the USA joined us in driving the Japanese out of Papua New Guinea.
They didn’t do it to save us however. It just happened that their war with the Japanese had spilled over onto our doorstep. They had started the war and we were unfortunate bystanders who got dragged into it.
It is worth noting that the tactics used by the Americans against the burgeoning Japanese to provoke that war are strikingly similar to the ones Donald Trump is currently exercising against Iran, Korea and especially China.
Apart from World War II our involvement in numerous other wars, starting perhaps with the Boer War and including World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been costly both in terms of resources and casualties for no obvious gain or purpose.
It is axiomatic among big powers like the USA that wars are best fought in other people’s backyards. The war with the Japanese was tailor made for this strategy, as were its other smaller wars.
A war fought this way not only reaps great financial and political benefits but makes a lot of the American government’s domestic supporters very rich.
If Donald Trump does something extraordinarily stupid, as he will, and provokes another war it will be fought somewhere outside the USA.
Now hold that thought and think about where Chinese expansionism is focused. Think about those countries that are currently cuddling up to the Chinese. That’s where any war will be fought. Also think about why this thought creates a distinct feeling of déjà vu.
The term ‘Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere’ is remembered largely as a front for Japanese control of puppet governments which manipulated local populations and economies for the benefit of Imperial Japan.
The Chinese Belt and Road initiative is "a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future". What that means is a push by China to take a larger, probably dominant, role in global affairs with a China-centred trading network.
Donald Trump and many others think this is a threat to American hegemony, just like they thought the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was a threat.
That’s right on our doorstep again and it involves our nearest neighbours again.
Whether it’s war in the literal sense, with guns and bombs, Trump’s cockeyed version of a trade war or something in between, it’s not going to be pretty.