Australia is plunging headlong into catastrophe and we are utterly unprepared. In fact, we may be past the time when we can prepare.
The time-bomb is ticking and it will explode in our lifetimes.
All certainty will be lost, our economy will be devastated, our land seized, our system of government upended.
This isn’t mere idle speculation or the rantings of a doomsday cult, this is the warning from a man who has made it his life’s work to prepare for just this scenario.
Admiral Chris Barrie was chief of Australia’s Defence Force between 1998 and 2002.
He has seen war and sent troops into battle.
Now, he says we are sleepwalking towards a conflict that will alter the world as we know it.
Australia, he says, will be invaded. He fears for the country his grandchildren will inherit.
Admiral Barrie delivered his warning to me over a Korean barbeque meal in Western Sydney.
I was interviewing him for The Link to get his assessment of the North Korean nuclear threat, but his fears expand far beyond the hermit kingdom.
Over kimchi and slices of beef, Admiral Barrie guided me through our region’s many tripwires.
A miscalculation or misunderstanding, he said, could tip us over the edge, countries would be backed into corners and we have no way right now of talking our way out.
This is a warning that comes from our past, and if unheeded, will shatter our future.
“History doesn’t repeat but it does rhyme.”
That quote is often attributed to the great American writer Mark Twain, but its sentiment speaks to us through the ages.
History can appear as inevitable even as we fail to see it.
The French diplomat and political scientist, Alexis de Tocqueville, said of the French Revolution:
“Never was any such event, stemming from factors so far back in the past, so inevitable and yet so completely unseen.”
In a new century, simmering tensions and geo-strategic alliances would tip the world into all-out war.
Historian Christopher Clarke’s book Sleepwalkers reveals how the assassination of Habsburg heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, on June 28 1914 in Sarajevo triggered a domino effect that pitted the reining global power Britain against the rising Germany.
The world thought it couldn’t happen — Germany and Britain were each other’s single biggest trading partners; the royal families were blood relatives — yet it did.
How? Clark says political leaders become hostage to events.
“Causes trawled from the length and breadth of Europe’s pre-war decades are piled like weights on the scale until it tilts from probability to inevitability,” he wrote.
Admiral Chris Barrie says he has been reading Clark’s book and thinking how events then mirror events no…