war / defend

Tomorrow, if the War Began, Would You be Ready?

14 July 2023

5.8 MINS

Australia faces the real prospect of a war with China within three years that could involve a direct attack on our mainland, but Australia’s defence force is woefully unprepared, the population complacent and the nation’s political leaders unwilling to address the dire threats we face.

That is the verdict of a panel of five experts assembled recently by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age for Red Alert, an in-depth examination of the most pressing national security challenges facing Australia. All agree that China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, is far and away its most dangerous security threat.

Many senior analysts and leaders in the US have echoed this concern. US Air Force General Michael Minihan famously wrote the following to all the troops under his command earlier this year:

“I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me we will fight in 2025. [Chinese President Xi Jinping] secured his third term and set his war council in October 2022. Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. The United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America. Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”

While many of us might baulk at this talk of war, it’s hard to deny that the rhetoric and actions of President Xi’s communist government have been increasingly aggressive.

And so, what should we prepare for?

This is what many analysts with their finger on the pulse of a Xi-led China are saying:

 1) War with China is at Its Highest Risk Within 3 years, Not 10 or 20

While both sides of Australian politics have signed onto the AUKUS agreement, which will begin delivering nuclear-powered subs to defend our nation by the end of this decade, those subs won’t be here on time for the expected conflict. Analysts predict that a Xi-led China might attack Taiwan by 2027, if not sooner. The expert panel convened by the SMH wrote the following:

Xi has repeatedly said he sees the “complete reunification of the motherland” as a central goal for his regime and that China will never renounce the option of using force to seize control of Taiwan.

CIA director William Burns said last year he knew “as a matter of intelligence” that Xi had ordered the People’s Liberation Army to be ready to capture Taiwan by 2027. Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of US naval operations, has said an attack could come as early as this year.

War in our region has moved from ‘highly unlikely’ to ‘possible’.

While it’s uncertain how such an attack might take place, some argue that it won’t be through a D-day type build-up, but a different strategy altogether. And in this scenario, Australia will be a target, whether we like it or not:

2) Australia is a Prime Target: for both Cyber and Missile Attack

According to the late Senator and former Army Major General Jim Molan in his 2022 book Danger on Our Doorstep, an attack on Taiwan will not be preceded by a significant build-up of the Chinese military, but will come literally out of the blue. He writes:

“It is more than likely that the first thing we will know about a Taiwan war is that we will not know much about it at all. All our depended-on means of receiving information through the internet and satellites will fail in a single event [by Cyber attack].

And if China decides to act very seriously, at the same time as it attacks us in real space and through cyber space, it will use its extraordinary rocket and missile forces to attack US forces [and Australian bases] in the region. Having done this, China will have pushed the US out and will become the dominant power in the Western Pacific.”

 What might this mean for Australia? He continues:

“As for Australia, for the first time since 1942, we will face a region dominated not by our great and powerful friend America, but by a superpower that has since 2016 openly indicated its dislike of us, and twice indirectly threatened us with nuclear attack.” (pp. 8-9)

In this view, Chinese strategy will be to knock America out of the Western Pacific before it moves on Taiwan.

A Cyberattack would cripple our internet and communications, railways, and everything that now relies on electronic comms. Life would ground to a halt. Think no trains, electricity, internet, credit cards, or mobile phones for days, if not weeks. And rockets paralysing our critical defence infrastructure.

Armed conflict is horrifying — both for civilians and soldiers alike. Just look at Ukraine or any other conflicts across our globe, past or present.

And so, the urgent question becomes: what can we do to prevent such a frightening reality?

3) Preparing for War is the Best Way to Prevent War (and Love Our Enemies)

When it comes to war, prevention is much better than the cure.

The key to preventing war — in line with the role of government in Romans 13:1-6, and the harsh lessons of history (think Munich 1938) is to deter war. And the best way to deter war is by giving our nation — our government — as powerful a sword (Rom 13:4) as possible.

We must be so well armed and defended that any potential aggressor would think twice before attacking us. (Will this lead to a ‘Cold War’ and arms race? Yes, but a Cold War is infinitely better than a hot war — better the Cold War of the 1940s–1980s than the hot war of World War 2.)

If we can prevent such a conflagration, we’re doing everyone in our region an immense service (including the Chinese military, which would also be adversely affected by any conflict).

In other words, we love our enemies through deterrence, not pacificism.

But arming ourselves as a nation is not easy, not least because of our complacency as a nation.

4) Our Greatest Danger is Our Complacency: Australia’s ‘Holiday from History’ is Over

We’ve had peace in our region (at least regarding major conflicts) since 1945.

In the words of Midnight Oil’s song Forgotten Years:

‘Our shoreline was never invaded
Our country was never in flames
This is the calm we breathe’

This calm has meant we’ve taken a ‘holiday from history’.

Now, yes, we’re more aware of the threat of a CCP-led China; we’ve signed AUKUS. But if we’re to see the end of the decade without much chance of becoming a vassal state to China in the event of war, we need to drop our national complacency and realise that the spectre of war is increasingly possible in the short term.

Otherwise, we risk sleepwalking into armed conflict.

What Might Preparation Look Like?

Here are some things that we can do to prepare for the possibility of war in our region:

  • Pray for peace, even as we prepare for war. May God in His mercy see fit to spare our region from war. And through it all, trust that our wise and gracious Heavenly Father has it all under His control (Psalm 46).

  • Change our mindset. Remember that war and conflict are the norm in our sinful fallen world, not the exception. Yes, we’ve had 75+ years of peace in our region. But we must not think that war is impossible in our globalised, digitised, interconnected world. Just look at Russia and Ukraine. Let’s prepare for tomorrow’s world, which includes a world filled with the potential for war, not the peaceful world of yesterday.

  • Understand the consequences of war. If America is pushed out of the Western Pacific due to a Chinese attack, we would likely become a vassal state of China: economically and politically at the mercy of a totalitarian state. This would involve economic coercion on steroids. Our standard of living and our political freedom would be severely compromised.

  • In line with the above, we need an urgent conversation as a nation about the immediate threat of war. Getting AUKUS through Parliament has been good, but not good enough. More thought and public discussion is required, if we’re to maximise our chances of deterring armed conflict in our region.

  • Sacrifice our comfortable living standards now for the sake of peace. We can’t have generous government services and also a powerful defence force to defend us. Again, we need to think through this issue as a nation. But can we do it fast enough to prepare for war in the next 3 years?

 And on a more practical level:

Alert But Not Alarmed

My prayer is that cool heads will prevail in the Chinese Communist Party, and that the CCP doesn’t resort to armed conflict.

But Australia (and the US) need to take greater responsibility for ensuring peace, through armed deterrence, if we’re to maximise the probability of peace continuing throughout our lifetimes.


Originally published at AkosBalogh.com. Photo by Pixabay.

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