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In the latest instance of the Australian media's deluge of propaganda geared toward manufacturing consent for war with China, Nine Entertainment-owned newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have brought together a panel of "experts" to assess how well-prepared Australia is for a hot war with its primary trading partner. The question of if that war is necessary or should be prepared for is left completely unexamined.
In a report titled "Australia faces the threat of war with China within three years – and we’re not ready," we learn the names of the five "experts" SMH and The Age have recruited to make the titular claim, and you're never going to believe this but it turns out they tend to work in professions that are intimately intertwined with the western imperial war machine.
This first "expert" is Mick Ryan, whom I have written about repeatedly because he seems to feature in literally every single Australian news media piece geared toward propagandizing Australians into accepting war with China as an inevitability which must be prepared for. Ryan is an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is funded by military-industrial complex entities like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, and is also directly funded by the US government and its client states, including Australia and Taiwan. SMH and The Age make no note of this immense conflict of interest.
The second "expert" is Peter Jennings, who is a Senior Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), where he was the executive director for ten years. Like CSIS, ASPI is a think tank that is funded by US-aligned governments and the military-industrial complex. It has played a major role in manufacturing consent for the foreign policy agendas of the western empire, particularly in escalations against China. ASPI has been described as "the propaganda arm of the CIA and the US government" by Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh.
The third "expert" is Lavina Lee, an academic who is a Council Member with ASPI and an Adjunct Fellow with CSIS, so when it comes to pro-war punditry she's what they call a twofer.
The fourth "expert" is Australian defense insider Lesley Seebeck, a regular ASPI contributor. Seebeck is the chairperson of a swampy warmongering think tank of unclear funding called the National Institute of Strategic Resilience, which publishes woke-imperialist articles with titles like "First Nations Drone Network Project Initiation," "Solomon Islands – time to take an Indigenous perspective," "Building Australia's Strategic Resilience: A Spotlight on Military and Gender in the Pacific Region," and "Key to Australia’s Strategic Resilience: An Australian Feminist Foreign Policy," the latter two authored by Seebeck herself.
The fifth is Alan Finkel, a scientist who works for the Australian government.
Again, none of these conflicts of interest were mentioned by The Sydney Morning Herald or The Age, which as we've discussed previously is an egregious act of journalistic malpractice. This is a little like gathering Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders and the Taco Bell chihuahua to discuss whether the government should employ fast food outlets to supply school lunches. Except these guys aren't selling junk food — they're selling mass murder, human suffering, ecological disaster, and the violent deaths of our children.
There are rivers of tax money at stake here; delicious, Reserve-backed dollars straight into the old bank account, mountains of them! And essentially these people are the forward-facing public representatives of those companies whose job it is to sell the public on an outcome that directly benefits their backers. This is an elaborate advertorial and it is incredible that The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age not only ran it as news, but hosted it.
These five "experts" conclude that Australia needs to do much more to rapidly prepare for a hot war with China, saying that "The need to dramatically strengthen our military and national security capabilities is urgent, but Australia is unprepared.” They say Australia must make these dramatic changes not to defend itself from a Chinese invasion, but to fight a war over Taiwan.
"The war Xi is preparing for, they say, is one fought over Taiwan, a prosperous self-governing island of 24 million people that sits about 160 kilometres east of mainland China," the report reads.
This is entirely in line with the appalling propaganda piece put out by Murdoch's Sky News last month, which said Australia must double its military budget to prepare to back the US in a hot war over Taiwan.
The panelists paint Australia's participation in this war as a settled matter, an inevitability should the US wage war on China.
"We have made our choice. If the United States goes to war with Taiwan, we are going to support them one way or the other," says Mick Ryan.
"Neither the Australian military nor the public are presently truly prepared for the outbreak of war and Australia’s inevitable participation," says Lavina Lee.
These military industrial complex-funded pundits are lying. Australia's participation in an American war against China is not an inevitability, and is not necessary.
In reality, the best way Australia can protect itself from China is not to prepare for war with China. A hot war with our primary trading partner would destroy our economy and would likely cut off most of the imports we require to function as an island nation. We've got no business preparing to throw our nation's sons and daughters into such a conflict, and we've got no business stealing from our nation's most needful in order to effect that preparation.
An unresolved civil war between two adjacent bodies who both call themselves "China" is none of Washington's business, and it is certainly none of Canberra's. Let the Chinese sort out China, because China poses no threat to us.
That last point isn't actually debatable, by the way. As Antiwar's Daniel Larison recently noted on Twitter, China's military budget consistently sits at around 1.5 percent of its GDP, which is less than half of the USA's. If China were preparing to conquer the world as so many hawks falsely claim, this would not be the case. The US is a nation with an interest in global domination, and its military budget reflects this. China is not a nation with an interest in global domination, and its military budget reflects this.
In reality the US has been encircling China with more and war machinery for years in ways it would never permit itself to be encircled, and has been preparing for a confrontation with Beijing for a very long time. The US is plainly the aggressor here, and Australia now has an existential interest in militarily uncoupling from that aggressor before it gets us all killed.
The report by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age — which former Prime Minister Paul Keating just called "the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life" — actually comes close to actually admitting that there's a concerted propaganda campaign designed to increase hysteria about China and manufacture consent for war. The "expert" panel asserts that there needs to be a "psychological shift" in the public toward this direction which they must be actively persuaded to accept.
“Most important of all is a psychological shift," the report says. "Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs, but an aberration. Australia’s holiday from history is over.”
The report cites Seebeck as saying "the nation’s leaders should trust the public enough to include them in what can be a confronting discussion," and that the public must be regarded as "smart enough to talk about defence and national security.”
The reason they are saying the public needs to be spoken to and persuaded to psychologically accept hawkish escalations against China is because no sane person would consent to such madness if they weren't psychologically manipulated into it. No sane person would consent to agendas which threaten to kill our sons and daughters, impoverish us all, and even turn us into nuclear targets without copious amounts of propaganda.
That's why we're seeing all these "news" reports about how urgent it is to prepare for war with China all of a sudden. Not because China poses a threat to us, but because we are allied with an empire that is planning to start a war of unfathomable horror.
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“The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other - instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals.”
~ Edward Abbey
If China wanted a war with Australia, Australia's best bet would be total capitulation, and nobody in his right mind would blame it: because Australia could be dispatched like a rock in a bucket of water. But China has no such intention because 1) China is a reasonable and humane country with an operating rule of law- unlike the West's patchy approach, and 2) because there would be nothing to gain but world war, and China's operating principle is lasting peace and prosperity for all, not just a self-limiting run at it for the military industrial complex - and hangers-on.