What if Trump invaded North Korea?
Australia is discussing whether it should really support Trump in an emergency
Australian Prime Minister Turnbull pledges support to the United States in a possible war against the Kim Jong Un regime. But it's not that simple.
For Prime Minister Turnbull it seemed a matter of course what he said in a radio interview a few days ago. If a war broke out between the United States and North Korea, Australia would support the United States: “If North Korea attacks the United States, the 1951 Defense Agreement will be activated and Australia will stand by the United States. The US would help us in the same way if Australia were attacked. " Canberra is Washington's closest military partner. Australians have actively supported Americans in every war since World War II. In the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, around 17,000 Australians took part in the United Nations troops led by Washington, 339 lost their lives.
Trump makes stomach ache
The Australian people hardly question the close military alliance with the USA. In a recent survey, three quarters of those questioned rate Allianz as “fairly important” or “very important”. But the unpredictable President in the White House gives some Australians a stomachache. If Trump speculates and slips into a war against North Korea, should you really send your own soldiers to their deaths? Not to mention the fact that Australia is within range of Kim's latest generation of missiles. The giant continent would be easier to hit than the small island of Guam.
Under the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty - or Anzus for short - the parties undertake to coordinate with one another in the event of an attack on one of the partners and to jointly take action against the danger. There is no automatism under Anzus like with NATO. The first and so far only time that the treaty was applied was after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. The then Prime Minister John Howard applied Anzus just three days after the attack and then supported the USA in invading Iraq.
New Zealand, on the other hand, withdrew from the treaty in the 1980s because of differences over nuclear weapons. Even so, New Zealand supported America in Afghanistan, for example. The New Zealand head of government Bill English was much more cautious than Turnbull in connection with North Korea. Any request from Washington will be carefully examined, taking American actions into account, English said. Read: If Trump starts the war, New Zealanders are unlikely to die for him.
In Australia it is now being discussed whether Turnbull's advance was sensible. There are those who say that the prime minister only said the obvious. Others warn that Turnbull is thereby contributing to the spiral of rhetorical escalation. The Australian Foreign Ministry is taking a more cautious line and calling on all sides to be prudent. If you think the alliance question through to the end, Australia could find itself in an extremely uncomfortable situation: in a war against China, its most important trading partner. China has signed a treaty to stand by North Korea in the event of an American attack. If the USA and South Korea tried to overthrow the Pyongyang regime, China would prevent it, wrote the state-run Global Times in an editorial. At the same time, China's state media are trying to hold Kim back: the article made it clear that China's support does not apply if Pyongyang attacks the US on its own initiative.
Parliament should take part in the discussion
A former Australian army chief warned that a conflict with North Korea would be long and bloody. Even if the prime minister has the right to mobilize the army, he should consult parliament given the situation. A commentator for the Sydney Morning Herald called for the same. The Trump factor means that parliament has to be included. He recalled the Iraq war, which had been a terrible experience. The disastrous war was based on a deception. Australia brought in another Liberal Prime Minister - Turnbull's party - who wanted to prove his friendliness to America at all costs.
Follow NZZ Oceania correspondent Patrick Zoll on Twitter or Facebook.
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