Williams' Word with Ray Williams


Australia’s decision-makers must be worried about our future when that strange man Donald Trump was even nominated to be president of the United States. It would – or should – certainly mean a change in our relationships with the US and, maybe, that would not be a bad thing for Australia.

Maybe it is time we reconsidered our unquestioning loyalty to our long-time friends in the US. It all started in WWII when, it is said, America came to save us from the Japanese – but that is not quite correct. Sure, without the US, the Japanese could have easily conquered us, but the fact is that although we were at war with Germany and Italy at the time, Australia was not at war with the Japanese. It was only after they attacked the American bases in Hawaii. In other words Australia backed America in its war against Japan, not the other way around. This led to a close military alliance between Australia and the US, which has led to Australia becoming involved in a series of unwinnable wars initiated by the Americans. 

But Mr Trump has shown scant knowledge of this recent history with the statement that ‘We defend countries but they do not pay us. They should be paying us because we are providing a tremendous service. And we are losing a fortune’. Australia was not singled out. but there was no mention of the times Australia has backed the US in a series of unwise, unwinnable and unnecessary wars. We went to support the US, not the other way around.

So, what of the future? Since WWII we have not been threatened by any nation. There is no reason why any small nation would consider attacking us, and our only apparent concern should be the niggling that is going on between the three hegemony countries, China, Russia and the US, each of them believing that they should be the leader of the world. And, with someone like Mr Trump as its leader, who can say what the US would be likely to do?

One thing is certain. We must change the rules in our Federal Parliament about who decides when and if Australia should go to war. Why should you and I elect someone to represent us in the Federal Parliament if they are not given the opportunity to vote on our involvement in another war? This is probably the most important issue any parliament could face.

But we suddenly found the RAAF was going to be involved on one side of that centuries’ old religious/cultural war in the Middle East. Who made that terrible decision? It was not debated in parliament, there was no public debate on our involvement, no exit strategy – it was such an important decision but someone in power decided that they, not the people we elected to make decisions on our behalf, would take this most important action.

Involving us in someone else’s war has been a bad decision and we are not even told who made it. It should surely not be ‘an executive’ or ‘captain’s choice’ decision. Is it asking too much of our elected leaders that they change the rules so that everyone we elect to run our country has a voice about our involvement in any future military conflict?


If Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan were around today they would surely create some hilarious musical comedies about the so-called ‘leaders’ of our world. There would be some classical comedy routines – if only the situation was not so serious.

Imagine the characters they would create with, say, Mr Putin strutting around with his Superman impersonations. There would be a clown with a strange hair-do dressed in the American flag skiting about being the leader of the free world, while at the same time selling arms and other killing machines to anyone who has the money.

The big arms dealers – they would sit together at the United Nations mumbling words such as ‘peace’ and ‘freedom’ while giggling about the fortunes they make from selling weapons. And there would be the mysterious Asian character who is a clever industrialist and money manipulator who would also like to control the world. The Asian character would be the mystery man in that G & S comic opera. There would also be a cast of minor characters representing all the other nations who suddenly realise they really have no say in how the world is run. 

Off stage, and in reality, it is terribly sad the way our world is being run, or not being run, For example, the UN Security Council is directed by its permanent members who are not only the world’s biggest arms dealers, but also have the right to veto any decisions the rest of the world might favour. And their record so far is simply dismal.

Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan would have a ball – but we are talking about the real world we live in. Isn’t it time that someone in power in our Australian Parliament started a move to make the UN and its Security Council more democratic? That mess in the Middle East is an example of the need for great changes. We need someone to start rallying all the middle-weight nations to force a change to that important decision-making body. And why shouldn’t Australia lead that charge? It should not be a political issue. It is simply a case of creating a more democratic approach to world peace because the present system is not working.

We live in a world where our daily news is dominated by killing sprees that not only affect the Middle East itself but unrest is forcing millions of refugees to leave the many trouble spots – while the Big Boys keep selling killing machines to anyone prepared to pay for them. Making vital changes to the Security Council is too important an issue to be a party-political football. What is needed is a cross-party group of younger politicians who consider world peace as being more important than political point scoring and because the present system is just not working.

Ray Williams has been a Post columnist since retiring from the newsroom in 1993.