Much has been written on these Cat pages about the need for Australia to invest in and pursue nuclear energy. Perhaps. However, a more pressing need may be for Australia to invest in and pursue nuclear weapons.
In 2007, Harvard political science professor Graham Allison published a book titled Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap. In this book, Allison posited the question, as the title suggests, as to whether the US and China are destined for war.
Allison’s “framework” for analysis was Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides documented and described the conflict between Athens and Sparta. The fundamental question Allison asks is whether the intersection of a rising power with an incumbent power leads to war, and specifically, whether the intersection between China (rising) and America (incumbent) will lead to war.
Allison looked over history and found 16 examples of rising and incumbent powers intersecting, but only leading to war 12 out of the 16 times. Allison only counted “hot” wars in the 12; he did not consider the Cold War one of the 12.
In the case of US/China, Allison did not make a prediction about what might happen between the 2 powers, but offered a number of hypothetical examples that might lead to conflict.
TAFKAS read Allison’s book in 2017 and did not think that a US/China conflict was inevitable. TAFKAS is not sure he feels the same way anymore.
The current frictions and tensions are increasing every day. And demonstrating that timing is everything, WA MP Andrew Hastie wrote yesterday in the Australian about Allison’s book and Thucydides’ trap and the risks posed to Australia. Hastie recounted the tale of Melos as a metaphor for Australia:
For if we, as Australians, draw historical parallels with this ancient Greek war, we will find more in common with the people of Melos than with the Spartans or Athenians. Athens crushed Melos mercilessly in 416BC for refusing to side with the Athenian cause.
And Australia is at the pointy end of this – a military ally of the United States and a major trading partner of China (significantly resources and food).
On the other side, recent decisions of both the Obama and Trump administrations to forsake friends and allies (Georgia, Poland, Baltics, Kurds) should make Australians nervous. Not a lot nervous, but a little nervous. Would the US go to war with China over Australia?
Australian defence analyst Hugh White has suggested that it is time for Australia to revisit the nuclear weapons question:
it raises the question of whether we might need to consider building nuclear forces in the future, and if so what kind of forces they might be
Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and have a serious and public discussion on developingAustralian nuclear infrastructure; for energy and defence. Ok not build, we have Lucas Heights, but enhance. Infrastructure for both energy generation and weapons production.
The costs would not be small, but the benefits could be large.