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Going Nuclear in the Antipodes: Australia’s Megadeath Complex

Binoy Kampmark

The antipodes has had a fraught relationship with the nuclear option.  At the distant ends of the earth, New Zealand took a stand against the death complex, assuming the forefront of restricting the deployment of nuclear assets in its proximity.  This drove Australia bonkers with moral envy and strategic fury.

The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987 made the country a nuclear and biological weapons-free area. It was a thumbing, defiant gesture against the United States, but what is sometimes forgotten is that it was also a statement to other powers – including France – who might venture to experiment and test their weapons in the Pacific environs.

The Lange government had made an anti-nuclear platform indispensable to an independent foreign policy, one that caused a fair share of consternation in Washington.  The satellite was misbehaving, and seeking to break free from its US orbit.

“If we don’t pass this law, if we don’t declare ourselves nuclear free,” insisted Prime Minister David Lange, “we will have anarchy on the harbours and in the streets.”

An important provision of the Act remains clause 9(2):

The Prime Minister may only grant approval for the entry into the internal waters of New Zealand by foreign warships if the Prime Minister is satisfied that the warships will not be carrying any nuclear explosive device upon their entry into the internal waters of New Zealand.”

The reaction from the US Congress was a cool one: the Broomfield Act was duly passed in the House: an ally had been recast as a somewhat disregarding “friend”.  It urged New Zealand to “reconsider its decision and law denying port access to certain US ships” and “resume its obligations under the ANZUS Treaty.” /em>

Various “security assistance and arms export preferences” to New Zealand would be suspended till the President determined that the country was compliant with the Treaty.

As Anglo-American retainer and policing authority of the Pacific, Australia has had sporadic flirts with the nuclear option, one shadowing the creation of the Australian National University, the Woomera Rocket Range and the Snowy Mountains hydro-electricity scheme. 

Australian territory had been used, and abused, by British forces keen to test Albion’s own acquisition of an atomic option. The Maralinga atomic weapons test range remains a poisoned reminder of that period, but was hoped to be a prelude to establishing an independent Australia nuclear force.

Cooperation with Britain was to be key, and Australian defence spending, including the acquisition of 24 pricey F-111 fighter bombers from the US in the 1960s, was premised on a deliverable nuclear capability.

During John Gorton’s short stint as prime minister in the late 1960s, rudimentary efforts were made at Jervis Bay to develop what would have been a reactor capable of generating plutonium under the broad aegis of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission.  Gorton’s premiership ended in 1971; Australia slid back into the sheltering comforts of Washington’s unverifiable nuclear umbrella.

The influential chairman of the AAEC, Philip Baxter, who held the reins between 1956 and 1972 with a passion for secrecy, never gave up his dream of encouraging the production of weapons grade plutonium.  It led historian Ann Moyal to reflect on the “problems and danger of closed government”, with nuclear policy framed “through the influence of one powerful administrator surrounded by largely silent men”.

Nuclear weapons have a habit of inducing the worst of human traits.  Envy, fear, and pride tend to coagulate, producing a nerdish disposition that tolerates mass murder in the name of faux strategy.  With the boisterous emergence of China, Australian academics and security hacks have been bitten by the nuclear bug.

In 2018, Stephan Frühling, Associate Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University fantasised about adorning the Australian coastline with tactical, short-range nuclear weapons.

It was a fantasy he was happy to recommend to audiences tuning in to the ABC’s Late Night Live. 

In air and naval battle on the high seas, nukes can now be employed without significant risk of collateral damage much like conventional warheads.”

Such thinking has the hallmarks of redux insanity in the field of nuclear thinking, the sort that deems such weapons equivalent in their characteristics to conventional types.

And what of the much vaunted US nuclear umbrella? 

By stepping out of it, Australia was surely making a statement of cranky independence. Frühling’s suggestion is symptomatic of a field filled with syndromes and disorders.

Before investing in a nuclear program I think we would have to make a genuine attempt at trying to draw closer to the United States and its nuclear arsenal.”

By stepping out, you have to be stepping in.

His work exudes a lingering suspicion that the ANZUS treaty binding both Australia and the United States remains foamy and indistinct on the issue of territorial defence.

Since Vietnam, there has been little by way of joint operations in the Pacific between the two. The treaty’s preamble outlining the allies’ need to “declare publicly and formally their sense of unity, so that no potential aggressor could be under any illusion that any of them stand alone in the Pacific Area” remains distinctly free of evidence and logistical heft.

Other authors who claim to be doyens of Australian strategic thinking also fear the seize-the-prize intentions of the Yellow Peril and a half-hearted Uncle Sam keen to look away from “the Indo-Pacific and its allies.”

Paul Dibb, Richard Brabin-Smith and Brendan Sargeant, all with ANU affiliations, call for “a radically new defence policy,” which might be read as a terror of the US imperium in retreat. 

For Dibb, Australia “should aim for greater defence self-reliance.” This would involve “developing a Defence Force capable of denying our approaches to a well-armed adversary capable of engaging us in sustained high-intensity conflict.”broods over the end of extended nuclear deterrence, “not just for us but for other US allies in the Pacific, Japan especially.” This might well precipitate nuclear proliferation in the Pacific, requiring “Australia to review its own position on nuclear weapons.”

Not wishing to be left off the increasingly crowded nuclear wagon, Australia’s long standing commentator on China, Hugh White, has also put his oar in, building up the pro-nuclear argument in what he calls a “difficult and uncomfortable” question.  (Age does have its own liberating qualities.)

Having suggested in 2017 that the China-US tussle in the Pacific would eventually lead to a victory for Beijing, he has his own recipe for a re-ordering of the Australian defence establishment. 

How to Defend Australia suggests what needs to be done and, as is the nature of such texts, what the bunglers in the security establishment are actually doing.  It is also a paean about future loss. “We have been very fortunate to live under America’s protection for so long and we will sorely miss it when it is gone.”

White advocates an Australian Defence Force heavily reliant on sinking flotillas: “only ships can carry the vast amounts of material required for a major land campaign”.  Sell most of the surface vessels, he urges; abandon existing plans to build more; build a fleet of 24 to 36 submarines and increase defence spending from the current levels of 2% to 3.5%.

Then comes the issue of a nuclear capability, previously unneeded given the pillowing comforts of the US umbrella, underpinned by the assurance that Washington was “the primary power in Asia”.  White shows more consideration than other nuclear groupies in acknowledging the existential dangers. Acquiring such weapons would come at a Mephistophelian cost. “It would make us less secure in some ways, that’s why in some ways I think it’s appalling.”

The nuclear call doing the rounds in Canberra is a bit of old man’s bravado, and a glowering approach to the non-proliferation thrust of the current international regime.  Should Australia embark on a nuclear program, it is bound to coalescence a range of otherwise divided interests across the country.

It will also thrill other nuclear aspirants excoriated for daring to obtain such an option.  The mullahs in Iran will crow, North Korea will be reassured, and states in the Asian-Pacific may well reconsider their benign status.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

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Boot Hill
Boot Hill

There is a conspiracy theory that says Australia is in possession of perhaps half a dozen nukes delivered by the US as compensation for vital US bases such Pine Gap and so forth. Apparently it is the Australian government’s most closely guarded secret. I was told this by a psychic who knows these things, but it would not surprise me at all if it were true.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

In so named times of ‘Austerity’ and historic world record GovernMental Debt to GDP levels, across the globe, ‘it’ really does command a special branch of the ‘science of stupidity’ in any intellectually corrupted underdeveloped Politician’s mind, in any nation, to be having this absurd discussion on Nuclear anything,

Let alone weapons of mass destruction . . .

So, we have to ask ourselves the question, what is it that they, the PTB, do not wish to discuss,
happening elsewhere ?

Could it be the Photon Internet, which can circumvent all existing Fibre-Optic Cable Network’s ability to communicate ? With the capability from space satellites or land based Antennas, with a range of 1,200 km already achieved and full end to end encryption in quantum random bundles of Photons, I can certainly imagine that this has made all NATO Nation’s & Mossad’s Talpiot programmers for the PTB, extremely nervous for a wide variety of reasons … thus, ramping human fear & mind control, when government debts are fully out of control, would seem a logical knee-jerk reaction. Therefore, imho any politician discussing Nuclear proliferation right now, maybe categorised as a ‘JERK’-off on a path of distraction & human self-destruction 😉

Omar
Omar

How is it that the greatest weaponry is still based on technology developed in 1943? Surely something must have happened since then. The US Sec of Defense in 1996 referred to weather weapons setting of earthquakes and volcanoes. But that was almost a quarter of a century ago. What since then?

EarlofSuave
EarlofSuave

Lolz. Stephan ‘Mein Führer, I can walk’ Frühling. Life imitating art imitating life.

Monobazeus
Monobazeus

NZ is a shithole. No workers compensation for work injuries. A catshit between your toes kind of place filled with Masons and thugs. Stupid Maori’s think themselves nobles but by and large they are ignorant thugs the lot of them. They claim NZ as their own but can’t admit they stole the place and ate it’s former inhabitants. The Maori are half cast Taiwanese and north coast Papuan. Lange did the Pacific a favour banning nuke carrying vessels from NZ waters. It put a brake on French testing too.

Tash McAndrew
Tash McAndrew

Aha that is what this thread is missing garbage generalisations from an ignorant to and from who judges entire races of people using lies spread by some of the original english invaders.
Aotearoa’s South Island saw the indigenous population plummet by 85% between 1820 and 1850 and rather than own up to what really happened, that is a combination of introduced diseases and deliberate genocide wiped out the population a lie about one of the last traditional chiefs was spread alleging he and about 40 of his comrades wiped out more than a hundred thousand other indigenous people with muzzle loaded muskets.
eating them is an added distortion.
Anyone who bothers to do the maths can immediately see the outrageousness of the lie.
How many years would it take for a few men with muzzle loading muskets take to kill off so many people – did they get days off? It is just a variation on the same lies told about indigenous Australians, native Americans (eg the Incas who had been practising human sacrifice for centuries suddenly up and sacrificed everyone – coincidentally at the same time as the spaniards arrived.)

If I remember correctly the kiwis have a universal accident compensation scheme which covers everyone, whether or no their boss has been paying his insurance and without having to sue anyone – unlike a lot of places & that is why there is no private workers comp. It used to be great but the tories wrecked it tho still it covers better than many people get in a lot of other countries. It needs fixing but it is a lie to say there is no workers compensation there.

Monobazeus
Monobazeus

You are joking. There is no workers compensation in New bloody Zealand.!

Tash McAndrew
Tash McAndrew

NZ has a universal no fault injury compensation scheme. A system that dates back to the 1970’s it is under continuous attack by muti national insurance company lobbyists seeking to grab workers comp premiums for a lesser program. Is that you – an insurance corporation lobbyist?

Simon Warriner
Simon Warriner

NZ has a no fault injury compensation system that covers everyone. That is why it was able to become the adventure sport capital that it is. That system covers workers in the workplace and employers contribute to it based on the risk level of the tasks their employees perform.

William HBonney
William HBonney

There’s nothing more effete than a nuclear free zone.

George
George

Yes, there’s nothing more effete than life itself.

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

George: There’s nothing more ‘effeminate’ & sickeningly servile, than an intellectually & scientifically weak man: who must troll for his masters daily and believes therein, that
he has harnessed any form of self respect, (let alone from others), when he’s a plain ole’ sick pimp, with a sick sense of humour, subservient to Psycho-&-Sociopaths,

Left wanting, lifelong, afraid to engage his own mind, simply said a ‘Coward & Cuckold’ 😉

You know the type George, the kind of man that Jordan Peterson thrives upon, today, having or reflecting an attitude of social superiority, pretentious & snobbish to the core …
living in LaLaland 🙂

George
George

Could this be Billy HB?:

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Could well be 😉 LOL Thanks for that, George: without a good laugh, there is no release from … aaah, you know 🙂 & you furnished exactly what i needed . . .

Your thought provoking comments on many matters, have been widely appreciated, (not just by me I assure you): so, a big thanks for the thoughtful input here @OffG, where it is at least clear to see a mindful movement of peoples of various nationalities, in a positive constructive light,

Globally,
warmest
regards,
Tim

Jim Scott
Jim Scott

It could be George or it could be John Bolton although Dr Strangelove might make a better pairing.

Wilmers31
Wilmers31

This Australian has no say.

I would close down Pine Gap, Woomera, and all that expensive and pointless space exploration.

UreKismet
UreKismet

Kampmark makes a number of cogent points when he discusses the current & historical problems faced by Australia, but like many other Australians he rather misses the point when he considers Oz’s cousin to the east, Aotearoa.
The sort of error many make when they express envy at Aotearoa’s current neolib in chief, the canny airhead, Jacinda Ardern. (the description is apt rather than self contradictory for anyone who studies our current PM)

Typical of 99% of neolib policies, Aotearoa’s antinuke policy was a cheap to deliver. Gay marriage, apologies for historic wrongdoing, hug-a-moslem, laws against hate speech and anti-nuke policies are much loved by neolib pols and their corporate puppet masters because not only do they distract citizens from the other stuff which pols are getting up to, they do so at zero cost, freeing up all that lovely tax revenue for important things such as heavily padded contracts to private enterprise.

The Lange government may be famous outside Aotearoa for the anti-nuke policy, but inside the country they are more remembered for ‘rogernomics’ – a cruel brand of monetarist policy which destroyed one of the most laid back parts of this rock. A society where everyone had a home, food was cheap and most endeavours that were natural monopolies eg railways, electricity generation and reticulation, telecommunications, shipping, forestry and many other wonderful institutions were quickly ‘privatised’.
That process made billionaires outta a mob of sharp-suited, silver tongued dunderheads, who happily destroyed kiwi icons by sacking staff, flogging off all the real estate assets then selling the result to overseas ‘investors’.

A once egalitarian society where my father, a dentist, earned about twice as much as the chap who mowed the lawns for the council, became a society where a major problem is big income gap, mass poverty and all the associated inequalities which our forebears had come here to get away from.

In the 19th century no one picked ‘New Zealand’ as it was known, to get rich, that mindset preferred the US, Canada or Australia. The people who came here were Scots rendered landless by clearances who had been sold the lie that Aotearoa’s indigenous population had not been subjected to land confiscation (this was only partially correct – the treaty between Tangata Whenua and the english queen did stop some confiscations but the Tuhoe who refused to sign up to a treaty which said different things in english that it did in Maori, had 50% of their land, basically the province of Taranaki, removed with the stroke of a sleazy politician’s pen .
There was little discussion of this and simlar outrageous rorts at the time as the handful of major newspapers had been funded by the merchants to ensure that bad news was no news. A model since adopted just abou
In addition settlers from Ireland and england who valued other things ahead of material gain settled here and over many decades a system of agrarian socialism evolved.
It was far from perfect, being nosey and paternalistic but that was true of most administrations caught up in 20th century centralisation, altho it was as close to an egalitarian society as I have seen anywhere, there cannot have been many other nations that spent an entire meeting of the cabinet discussing the colour of fabric to be used on the national carrier’s (Air New Zealand) seats for the latest additions to the fleet.

Aotearoa was also provincial & boring as f++k so too many favoured change for changes sake, instead of analysing what they saw, preserving what was great and discarding that which wasn’t.

Then the Lange government used the anti-nuke policy to do what the tories would never have got away with, that is, distract from a ‘cure’ which exacerbated the flaws and removed values as a measure of a person’s probity, replacing that with wealth.
I imagine this was what Lange was considering when he said “If we don’t pass this law, if we don’t declare ourselves nuclear free, we will have anarchy on the harbours and in the streets.” Without all the self congratulatory tosh that went with the antinuke policy more kiwis would have paid more attention to the fact that the nuclear ships stance didn’t upset Australia or the US too much as they were buying up assets hand over fist, for a song.
The only good thing which came out of the mess was something which doesn’t balance the rort at all but does make it much more difficult to re-occur. Once the penny had dropped and kiwis worked out how badly they had been stitched up by politicians on all sides the people hit the streets and insisted a system of proportional representation replace the FPP farce; it is far from perfect but a helluva lot better than what went before.

David Lange who was a family friend, once claimed that he too had been distracted and missed what the monetarist’s in his government were up to until it was too late. Yeah, well maybe. I always liked the bloke who did me some good turns when I was young & before he became a politician, but isn’t that the point of being a national leader? To make sure one particular mob doesn’t profit from the iniquities inflicted on other groups? – Not that I believe a reasonably educated populace really need leaders, but that is a different debate.

As for Australia, what has happened there breaks my heart. I have a real love for that country and I lived in it for a long time. Australia like too many other essentially powerless nations is an unlucky country.
Unlucky because it is rich in resources and has had its entire political structure (right & ersatz left) captured by the thieving resource exploiters, one of whom just blew $50 mill on a faux election campaign which allowed him to totally discredit environment concerns and income disparity issues. The bulldust campaign contributed much to the crooked, far to the right LNP election victory.
It didn’t even really cost him much since he owes more than that to sacked workers at one of his enterprises and the return of a tory government means that he will not be pursued for the $70 million he owes his workers.

Honestly IMO, Australians would be far better off if their nation had no mineral resources. The population would be smaller and that will not be a bad thing, since a smaller population could be fed from a domestic food supply, now the population of Australia has surpassed the nation’s ability to feed itself. The land mass is huge but not much of it is sufficiently fecund to permit commercial agriculture other than thinly spread grazing type farming which can be incredibly destructive to a fragile environment such as Australia’s.

My children who are citizens of both nations (not because their forebears fought in both ANZAC forces which they did, altho that is indicative of how both nations were once regarded as one by inhabitants) are trying to resolve this dilemma now.

Like me they love living in Australia, but have begun to worry about how close Australia’s leaders are to fascism eg raiding journalists to uncover sources, openly expressing racist points of view, regarding the wealthy as somehow more worthy citizens while indoctrinating the masses with jingoistic nonsense.
I have been trying to point out the only difference in Aotearoa is that there is a lot less for greedies to eye up and steal, that the people are pretty much the same, but there is increasing concern in Australia that given the increased rate of resource exploitation, the time when there are literally no more holes to dig is not that far off, when that happens the next stage will be awful particularly if the sectionalisation of the population by neoliberal identity rubbish and tory racism continues up to that point.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

There’s zero chance of real change in Oz or NZ until the smug middle class start to feel the pinch. Or should I say the bloody, salivating JAWS of the Corparasites ?

Gezzah Potts

Agree with your sentiments FD. All over Melbourne while out flogging the mag, I see a lot of smug, arrogant, middle class people who have lost their sense of humanity, and even basic manners. This is the pysche of the Neoliberal death machine: winners and losers, them and us; the poor havn’t tried hard enough therefore they deserve their fate, etc etc. You’re right – until a lot more people are feeling economic pain, and under pressure, not much is going to change.

Boot Hill
Boot Hill

All I see when going on the occasional jaunt to Melbourne is that the genuine Australian culture it once possessed has been replaced by the multiculturalized fake version seen globally. They call it diversity I believe.

Gezzah Potts

“although it was as close to an egalitarian society as I have seen anywhere”…. Thanks Urekismet for your poignant comment. I’m a New Zealand citizen living in Australia, I grew up in NZ in the 60s and 70s, when it was a much more cohesive, caring society, and one of the most equal societies in the World in terms of income. I came to Aussie the first time in late 1985, went back to NZ in 94, and came back to Australia after 10 years back home. By then ‘Rogernomics’ had well and truly done its damage to the fabric of Kiwi society. So have lived in both countries. The incredibly low wages bought me back here – $8.50 an hour at one job, $10 an hour at another job in the early 2000s, all casualised, no penalty rates. Could barely afford to pay my rent and utilities. Everything privatised and flogged off to overseas ‘investors’ as you said. User pays. Basically, New Zealand was raped by these slime parasites. What it once was is gone forever. I really appreciate your comment.

Boot Hill
Boot Hill

Working for a grain merchant I can assure you that Australia exports a lot of grain, also I believe beef, mutton, dairy products etc. In fact the low price of milk on the domestic market (which is killing a lot of dairy farmers) is set by the export price to overseas markets. Therefore the assertion that Australia cannot feed itself is something I would not necessarily take seriously at face value.

James O'Neill
James O'Neill

As one who was intimately involved in the NZ Labour government policy to ban US nuclear weapons from its territory my recollection of the process is somewhat different from that of Dr Kampmark. PM David Lange was very conscious of what had been done by the Americans to the Whitlam government in Australia only a few years earlier. He was naturally nervous that the Americans would try the same in New Zealand.
A decisive factor in keeping the Americans at bay was the crucial role played at that time by two NZ electronic spy systems. In short, the PM was told that “they need us more than we need them.”
Dr Kampmark also needs to read the ANZUS alliance. It is no more than an agreement to “consult” in accordance with the constitutional procedures of each country. It differs in this vital way from the NATO treaty.
The NZ decision led to the Americans effectively excluding NZ from their defence arrangements. As any observer of the past 30+ years may have noted, NZ has not been invaded, by the Chinese or anyone else. It has signed free trade agreements with China (well ahead of the Australians) and generally has excellent relations with all of its neighbours and trading partners.
Australia by comparison is little more than an American colony with an ever increasing number of US military bases. At the last two G20 meetings, the Chinese president refused to even talk to his Australian counterpart.
There is a major price to be paid for Australia’s choice of alliances and one which successive governments in Canberra singularly fail to grasp, along with the majority of so-called political commentators whose adherence to the US view is painfully obvious.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

Well stated James.
But what will happen when the rest of the One Per Centers start building their climate chaos shelters in your beautiful country ?

Antipropo
Antipropo

Much of what you write has some-if somewhat- slanted truth to it but the article is about nuclear weapons. I was never a “family friend” of Lange but lived there all through that period. Born Dunedin 1955, helped vote in the Lange Labour govt. One of the times I have and will always be proud of my heritage is when NZ banned nuclear armed warships and sent a NZ Navy frigate to Mururoa Attol with Matt Rata on board to stop a French nuclear test. Rata was a cabinet minister, has anything like it been done anywhere ever? I to this day have a set against France for bombing the Rainbow Warrior in Aukland Harbour. Thousands of New Zealanders died fighting in Europe in two world wars to keep France free and that is how they repaid us. I spit on them and all they stand for. As an ex Royal Marine put it to me “the French haven’t won anything on their own for hundreds of years”.

Brian Meynell
Brian Meynell

The problem with complying completely with the USA these days is, the USA has become “The Problem” in the World today. Anyone who can remember the “American War” in Vietnam, and the lies that resulted in MASSIVE Carpet bombing of a third World country(and the millions killed in the process) knows that, that war was started by the lies of the American Government.

We’ve since had “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Iraq, The public slaughter of Colonel Gaddafi, and destruction of his country, by NATO/USA. The War by “Rebels” in Syria(financed, armed and supplied by the USA),which is still in progress, but largely defeated by Syria’s allies Russia and Iran.

Then there’s the American backed ‘troubles’ in Ukraine, America’s ‘secret plan’ to oust Mr Maduro in Venezuela, using Economic Sanctions to squeeze the life out of that country, and the constant menacing of Iran, again using economic sanctions to weaken that country.

Why would anyone trust anything that came out of the USA Military Industrial Complex these days? The USA Government is not much more than a Criminal Gang that NOBODY can Trust.(And, they have refused to joint the International Criminal Court, thereby showing that they have NO INTENTION of behaving like a civilized country
Who can trust the USA today?

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

Evangelists ?

With Neon signs saying Jesus is coming to Nevada Again, to reflect on the renewed growth potential in Nuclear Tourism and all the hotel mafia bosses in L.V. are happily chanting…

“You wanna’ bet …?”

Great comment, Brian, to the point. 😉

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

And just who are the potential invaders ?
The foreign economic invasion began back in the sixties, was ramped up under the guise of gobbleization, and is approaching its zenith with Chinese imports, property investments and business leases.
Why would anyone bother invading Australia when they already have us by the balls ?

mark
mark

These would be nuclear warriors need to try reading Neville Shute’s “On The Beach.”

Molloy
Molloy

Might help…. (from storgy.com review of On The Beach):

“When I think back on it, two of the books that stick out from my childhood are the brilliantly moving graphic novelby Raymond Briggs When the Wind Blows and Robert Swindellsgritty mid-grade novel Brother in the Land. I’m partial to a bit of end of the world fantasy as much as the next homo sapiens, and so it was I came across On the Beach by Nevil Shute in my search for a new voice on the topic.

On the Beach is not new, first published in 1957, but how refreshing it was. It is perhaps one of the most moving books I have ever read. Set in Australia after a nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere, the novel follows the fate of two naval officers, their family and their friends. One is Australian, the other an American submarine captain.

What made the book so wonderful is what made it so terrible. It is a masterpiece of dramatic foreshadowing. From the outset, we and all the characters know they are going to die because the fallout from the Northern latitudes is slowly making its way South. The question then becomes, how would people live out the last six months of their life, of all life, on Earth?

Even though set after a terrible holocaust, On the Beach is not a book of violence or terror or even angst. Its at times heart wrenching melancholy is in the goodness of people, in their tender care for each other. The reader is left wondering, how would I live if not only I but everyone had months to live, and when the inevitable horrible end came, how would I choose to face it.

It is in this delicate presentation of the most tragic that On the Beach manages to be an indictment of war on a par with Slaughterhouse 5 as well as a celebration of humanity at its very best. A book as moving as it is personally reflective. Profound and gentle. A must read in these hysterical times (polysemy intended).”

Tim Jenkins
Tim Jenkins

A timely reminder, mark: Thanks, perhaps one of the few books truly worth re.reading in these times; now on my list of things to still do, as is

“The Grapes of Wrath”.

Sometimes we read these works of art, sweat & tears, far too young to grasp the full beauty in the depiction & choice words of profound significance.

No names, no pack drill, (lol): it takes a special kinda’ cuck. & coward to down vote this empirically sound observation & comment of yours, mark,

Scrolling on up 🙂

again thanx, m8

N.B. the absence of the word ‘bucket’ was most deliberate, after kicking cans of worms & the marching orders, down the road to hell, long ago . . .