Australian prime ministers fudging the real reasons for committing our military to Washington-led escapades is nothing new.
Sir Robert Menzies lied when he said the south Vietnamese asked for our help in the early 1960s.
John Howard was at it again with the weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
And now Scott Morrison is telling us it is important we keep the Strait of Hormuz – one of the world’s biggest oil sea routes – safer for shipping and it is just as important “to separate this particular initiative from the broader issues of any tensions that relate to Iran on other matters, particularly on nuclear proliferation”.
The Prime Minister says he is carefully considering American requests to join a coalition to “protect shipping in the Persian Gulf”.
While the United Kingdom is now deploying its warships to accompany British-flagged tankers through the Gulf, it – along with France and Germany – has not joined Donald Trump in pulling out of the Obama-initiated nuclear non-proliferation deal with Tehran.
It is President Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions and his bellicose rhetoric that have triggered Iran – a state actor, not pirates – to retaliate.
Australia’s former army chief, retired general Peter Leahy, unlike the PM, says the two issues cannot be separated.
He says it is time for the US “to do a bit more talking before we start putting our warships in and around the Strait of Hormuz”.
At no time over the weekend or on Monday did the PM or the defence and foreign ministers indicate they had put this proposition to the visiting American Secretary of State and Secretary of Defence.
General Leahy says putting our stretched navy in harm’s way yet again in the Middle East is not, in his opinion, serving our national interest.
“We have plenty of other things to do back here in our region,” he told ABC radio.
The so-called Pacific Step Up is the main one.
It is all about containing and competing with China in the Pacific.
General Leahy says he understands that it is unfunded and putting enormous strains on the departments of defence, foreign affairs and trade.
After the AUSMIN (Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation) talks, Mr Morrison was eloquent about the beefed-up regional policy.
A lot of time, he said, was spent in dinner discussions with his US guests talking about “how we can work together for an independent sovereign Pacific”.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who these days is president of the prestigious foreign policy think tank Asia Society in New York, is unimpressed.
He told the weekend Byron Writers Festival that Australia does not have an “effective” China strategy.
“We did,” Mr Rudd said, referring to his government.
He believes a lot more effort needs to be applied to defuse the Trump-inspired trade war with China.
Here, the targets of those efforts should be the protectionism of China and the US.
Australia, rather than tugging the forelock to Washington, should be working with Japan, South Korea, Germany and others in the G20 with greater purpose than we have seen.
The Greens say the time has come for an independent non-aligned foreign policy.
Despite Mr Trump’s erratic behaviour and three different defence secretaries in four years shaking confidence, the Labor opposition has no appetite to go down that path.
But the accommodation the Howard and Rudd/Gillard governments managed to achieve between our biggest trading partner – China – and our most powerful ally – America – is looking more problematic by the day.
Australia is being railroaded to a confrontation with China by a swaggering ally who is acting against our economic and strategic interests in the region.