Amid reports that the Solomon Islands, one of the world’s smallest countries in Oceania, are seeking to establish defence ties with China, calls in neighbouring Australia for military action up to and including a full-scale invasion and overthrow of the government have been increasingly widespread. With some Australian analysts likening the Solomons’ defence ties to a major non-western power to the Cuban Missile Crisis, after Cuba in the 1950s became the only country in the western hemisphere that was outside the American sphere of influence, former owner of Asia Pacific foreign affairs journal The Diplomat David Llewellyn-Smith was one of the leading advocates for an invasion. “There is no way that Australia can allow this deal to proceed. If it must, the nation should invade and capture Guadalcanal such that we engineer regime change in Honiara. There are other soft power levers to pull first and we should pull them forcefully. But we should also immediately begin amassing an amphibious invasion force to add pressure,” the influential commentator stated stated.
Llewellyn-Smith stressed that it “has to be us and Washington” – indicating that there would likely be a role for the United States in the invasion plans. While Australia and its Western partners maintain extensive military ties with China’s neighbours and those and other adversaries such as North Korea and Russia, they have consistently drawn a hard line against countries traditionally in the western influence and particularly those with strategic locations forming security ties with China. Llewellyn-Smith’s statements were hardly isolated and increasingly reflected consensus in Australia regarding the need to consider illegal invasions of neighbouring countries if it was the only way to prevent them from forming defence ties with China. Beyond a military invasion other the measures including influence operations, funding for pro-Western political candidates, and threats of economic warfare, are expected to first be used to attempt to coerce Oceanic countries and ensure they form defence ties only with partners that are approved by Canberra. Should Australia resort to an attack, it would mirror prior U.S. invasion attempts against Cuba and its invasion of Grenada in 1983 which had similar rationales behind them and were similarly considered violations of the United Nations Charter and international law.