The foreign ministers of Australia, the US, India and Japan will be greeted by anti-war protests as they arrive in Melbourne this week for a meeting of the Quad.
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad was founded in 2007 and got a new lease of life in 2017, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump agreed to revive it.
Their aim was to contain and counter China militarily, economically and diplomatically. In other words, the Quad is an alliance to prepare for an eventual war.
In a joint statement in March last year, the Quad members pledged to collaborate against China’s claims in the South China Sea.
Yet they are conveniently silent on Taiwan’s similar claims to the South China Sea (and the East China Sea islands currently ruled by Japan).
For Australia’s rulers, the Quad sits alongside the AUKUS agreement between Australia, the US and the UK, which includes Australia buying nuclear-powered submarines.
When Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne visited Washington in 2020, The Australian reported that the meeting had established a new “top-secret defence co-operation framework to counter Chinese military aggression”.
The signing of the AUKUS agreement and now the Coalition’s announcement that it will buy tanks for $3.5 billion are further signs that, as Defence Minister Peter Dutton never tires of telling us, the drums of war are beating.
Quad ministers will talk this week of a free and open Indo Pacific and about distributing vaccines. This is dishonest rubbish. Their sole aim is dominance of the region by the US and its allies.
The success of Chinese businesses in the global economy has driven the Australian and American regimes to turn to military power to strangle a new rival.
This is where capitalist competition leads: to military rivalry and war, and ultimately world war. The world will not survive the war our rulers are planning.
Xi Jinping’s regime is brutal and corrupt, but domination by the governments that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan would represent a new defeat for the workers and ordinary people of the world.
This week’s anti-war protest is a modest contribution to rebuilding an anti-war movement in this country. The ministers will soon leave but the work of stopping the Quad and AUKUS is becoming ever more urgent.
Who is meeting this week?
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne (Australia)
Talked on Wednesday about “shared values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and open markets”.
But she has nothing to say about the human rights of refugees locked up for almost nine year, or about Indigenous children being imprisoned in record numbers.
When it came to the furore around the rape of Brittany Higgins, David Crowe from Nine newspapers wrote: “Marise Payne, the Minister for Women, has been as visible as a submarine. Very quiet engine, no torpedo.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken (US)
Blinken was a top aide to Joe Biden when the then senator voted to authorise the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He helped Biden develop a proposal to partition Iraq into three regions based on ethnic and religious identity, which led to years of civil war.
As deputy national security adviser, Blinken supported military intervention in Libya in 2011.
In 2018, while out of government, he helped launch WestExec Advisors, whose clients included major US defence and IT companies and an Israeli surveillance startup. Blinken is now worth $10 million.
Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (India)
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar supports India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which offers Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist, Christians, Parsis and Jains who arrived before 2015 from the Muslim-majority neighbouring states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
It is widely seen as an assertion of Hindu supremacism, or Hindutva, by the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Narendra Modi.
He also supported revoking in 2019 the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. India deployed tens of thousands of troops across the Kashmir Valley, banned public movements, shut down schools and colleges, suspended phone and internet services and detained hundreds of local politicians. At least 96 civilians were killed in 2019 alone.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (Japan)
He’s denied that he’s soft on China, saying: “We can be those who know China well, but we should not be those who cozy up to China.” He also quoted Sun Tzu, the famed Chinese general and military strategist: “If you know your enemy and know yourself, in a hundred battles you will never be defeated.”
Elsewhere he’s supported remarks that “when it comes to China or Russia, we must assert what needs to be asserted”.
By David Glanz and Phil Griffiths