Belligerent denunciation of North Korea and steadfast defence of whatever latest lunacy appeared on Donald Trump’s Twitter feed has become standard practice for the Australian government.
That period when you wondered if a particularly insane Trump tweet threatening nuclear Armageddon might spark a mild rebuke from Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop has long since faded into history. It’s all aboard the Trump train, as far as the Liberals are concerned.
But when it comes to North Korea, Labor is no better.
In the wake of Trump’s September UN speech, in which he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, Turnbull embraced Trump’s comments, saying, “I mean, president Trump and I have said exactly the same thing”.
A week later, Shorten said: “The government has been doing good work to encourage an international response” to North Korea.
Speaking to Radio National after she and Shorten visited the demilitarised zone on the South Korean border, Penny Wong, Labor’s shadow foreign minister, also refused to condemn Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, despite heroic attempts by Sabra Lane to get a mild criticism out of her.
Wong also refused to countenance accepting North Korea having nuclear weapons: “To suggest that we can simply concede that what North Korea has done, you know, and bring them into the international order, is not the option … We need to continue to work to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula”.
That might sound innocent enough, but if it remains the policy of the US and its allies, it’s guaranteed to lead to war.
There is no way the North Korean regime will agree to give up its nuclear weapons, which it sees as crucial to its survival.
Instead of joining the chorus of voices cheering on the war drive, Labor should be denouncing the rhetoric coming from Trump and from the Australian government.
But there’s little point hoping for Labor to adopt an anti-militarist foreign policy. If even the belligerent madman currently occupying the White House doesn’t give them the courage to move an inch from the government’s total embrace of the US alliance, what will?