China hates it when a country makes an effort to defend themselves against Chinese aggression.  When in 2017 South Korea installed a Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, a purely defensive protection against incoming ballistic missiles, China launched an economic coercion campaign against South Korea.

Japan has been concerned about a Chinese nuclear attack since the 1960s. Japanese prime ministers keep asking U.S. presidents if the nuclear umbrella is still in place, starting with Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, who asked President Johnson twice — in 1965 and in 1967.  In February 2017, Prime Minister Abe was the first foreign leader to visit President Trump to ask him the same question. Trump reassured Abe of the U.S. nuclear deterrent in an unambiguous statement: “The US commitment to defend Japan through the full range of US military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, is unwavering.” China is well aware of how important Abe has been to Japan arming itself against China; so in late 2023 some high school students staged a re-enactment of Abe’s assassination to much applause:

Nevertheless, Japan has been preparing for the withdrawal of the U.S. nuclear umbrella for some time. In 1969 the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs adopted a policy guideline:

Japan will take a policy not to possess nuclear weapons for a while, but maintain economic and technical potentials for nuclear weapon production and pay attention to not being restricted from doing so by others.

That is why Japan developed its own nuclear reprocessing industry which could be used for a weapons-based program. As a result of that reprocessing, which runs at a loss, Japan has accumulated 47 tons of reactor-grade plutonium. This is useless for making weapons because its Pu240 content is too high at about 20%. Weapons-grade plutonium has a Pu240 content of 7% or less.

Japan did have 320 kg of weapons-grade plutonium the United States had lent them in the 1960s. That would have been enough for 50 fifty-kiloton weapons (assuming that they were tritium-boosted). China was upset by this and so the Obama regime insisted on its return in 2014.

The Obama regime had also considered a No First Use policy for nuclear weapons in 2016, meaning that the United States would not respond to an attack that wasn’t on U.S. soil. Japan was agitated by that because it meant that their nuclear shield would be down.

And for some reason China is acting as if the nuclear shield provided by the US to Japan is down. In 2021 China released a video stating that if Japan supported Taiwan, China would “wage an all-out war against Japan. We will use nuclear bombs in the first battle and we will use nuclear bombs continuously until Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time.”

Forcing Japan to return that weapons grade plutonium was one of the most consequential geopolitical acts so far this century. Just as ‘mutually assured destruction’ keeps the peace, unilateral disarmament is an invitation to attack. It was a stab in the back for Japan.

A number of Obama’s staff in State Department, now in the Biden regime, spent the Trump interregnum in a consultancy called WestExec Advisors. WestExec’s major client was China. Perhaps it still is because the renewal of Compacts of Free Association (COFA) of the United States with Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands has been scuttled.

The background to those countries is that islands in the Western Pacific were unwanted as colonial possessions in the 19th century because they weren’t capable of producing anything worth having. When Germany went searching for a colonial empire worthy its status as a major power at the start of the 20th century, it seized a lot of the Western Pacific because these islands were the only things available. In turn they were taken over by Japan at the beginning of WW1 so that when WW2 started, the US and its allies had to fight through them to get to Japan.

Three republics were created post WW2 in a belt across the middle of the Western Pacific: Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands. They still produce nothing worth having so they need economic assistance to stay afloat. This has been provided under the COFAs with the United States but the current COFAs are about to expire and need to be renewed.  Legislation to that end had been prepared with the sum involved being US$2.3 billion over 20 years or US$120 million per annum. China has also approached the three island republics with an offer of funding.

What do you get for US$2.3 billion? What you get is exclusive military access to the ports, anchorages and airfields in a belt 1,200 km wide and 5,000 km long. For the cost of one of our near useless Hunter class frigates. The airfields will be particularly useful in fighting China in China’s war coming up. Or particularly useful to China if they replace the US in the affections of the COFA states. Actually, none of them like China but they do need money to keep operating.

Renewal of the COFAs was included in legislation with respect to funding Ukraine and Israel. But on 13th February, five treacherous Senators – Democrats Chuck Schumer, Chris Coons, Patty Murry met with Republicans Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins – and after that meeting the renewal of the COFAs was no longer in the bill. This group has form

What should Australia do? We should step up to the plate and with Japan and South Korea replace the United States in those COFAs to avoid creating a vacuum that China will fill. If the burden was spread equally, our outlay would be US$40 million per annum – about the same cost as keeping Albanese airborne. It might be more than that but would still be small change in the scheme of things. Cooperation with South Korea and Japan on this matter would then be the template for nuclear cooperation.

A great song and dance was made about the AUKUS agreement but, in case people haven’t noticed, the United States is undergoing controlled demolition by its own government. Even Tucker Carlson is aware that the United States is being destroyed.  The army in the UK is now the smallest it has been in 300 years.

In Ukraine, in 1994 the United States had talked Ukraine into giving up its then 1,400 nuclear warheads under the premise that Ukraine would enjoy US protection. Now that Russia has actually invaded, the United States is now modulating supplies to keep the war going in order to effect regime change in Russia. It doesn’t matter how many Ukrainians die in the process. Richard Fernandez has noted the parallels with T.E. Lawrence’s campaign against the Turks in WW1. From The Seven Pillars of Wisdom:

“We must not take Medina. The Turk was harmless there. … We wanted him to stay at Medina, and every other distant place, in the largest numbers. Our ideal was to keep his railway just working, but only just, with the maximum of loss and discomfort.”

The United States may yet recover from its self-inflicted malaise but we cannot bet Australia’s future on the possibility of miracles. We need sensible friends soon. We have what South Korea and Japan need to continue operating as high-level economies: iron ore, coking coal, carbon sources including lignite, wheat, rare earths, gallium, uranium, thorium. The list is only raw commodities; Australia used to be better than Japan at manufacturing some things once. For example, the steel plant in Newcastle used to make rolling mill rolls that were better than the Japanese version. Alack, alas, that plant has now closed due to the effects of Net Zero.

Japan, a nation of 120 million, only produces enough food to feed 70 million. It imports 30 million tonnes per annum of grain and soybeans. South Korea, a nation of 52 million, imports about 10 million tonnes per annum of those things. Western Australia, with a few dams in the north, could produce another 11 million tonnes per annum of grain. The east coast would be good for an equivalent amount. After invasion, starvation is the second most existential threat. And we will earn our place in an alliance because there is a lot of anathema on part of South Korean toward Japan that needs to be overcome.

Those who have spent their lives railing against the United States will miss it once it is much diminished, because they won’t like the new rules. We need to make sure those rules won’t apply to us.

David Archibald is the author of The Anticancer Garden in Australia