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Australia needs an urgent reappraisal of its place in a changing world

James O’Neill

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It seems likely that the Australian House and Senate will pass the governments legislative proposals, ostensibly aimed at alleged foreign interference in Australia’s electoral process. Despite denials to the contrary, the legislation is manifestly aimed at alleged Chinese interference, although the scope of the proposed legislative provisions amounts to a sustained attack upon the ability of critics in the media and elsewhere to do their job of holding governments to account.

The cynic might argue that such legislation is hardly necessary, as serious and sustained criticism of the policies of successive Australian governments, and certainly in the “defence” and “national security” areas has been conspicuously absent for many years both from the mainstream media and the Labor opposition.

There has been a noticeable increase in the barrage of one-dimensional propaganda in recent decades, and a corresponding reduction in the presentation of fact based analysis. As equally insidious as the propaganda nature of much of what is termed “news” is the systematic ignoring of actual events. A stark illustration of this is in the initial coverage of the alleged assassination attempt upon Sergei and Yulia Skripal and the almost complete disappearance of this story from the news cycle as the original absurd claims of the British government have been systematically destroyed.

The fact that the British government issued a “D” notice after the Daily Telegraph

referred to the existence of Skripal’s MI6 “handler” (whom they did not name) living in Salisbury is significant, but the Australian media have completely ignored that fact. That Skripal and his MI6 handler were also associated with the author of the so-called Trump dossier through the same company (Fusion) is important to an understanding of the Skripal incident and the likely motive for the attack upon Skripal and his daughter.

Instead of investigating these issues, the media have simply repeated parrot fashion the British claims. The Australian government has been no better. It simply expelled two Russian diplomats when the investigation into the Skripal incident had barely begun, and certainly before there was any evidence to support the British government’s allegations. Foreign Minister Bishop’s statement at the time was merely a repeating of the British claims made in a memorandum circulated to 80 foreign embassies in Moscow.

A further variation of the media’s inability to present an objective analysis is the use of language that denigrates the object of ridicule by pejorative adjectives. The Assad government of Syria is invariably described as a “regime”; Russia’s President Putin is “brutal” or “authoritarian”; and China’s policies are “increasingly aggressive” or “assertive.”

Such terminology is never applied to the actions of allies such as the United States, Israel or Saudi Arabia, although by any objective measure the actions of those three governments over the past seven decades far exceeds in brutality and ruthlessness anything that could be attributed to either Russia or China. William Blum among others, including John Menadue in these pages has provided chapter and verse on the wholesale carnage wrought by the United States.

The violent exercise of “regime change” by bombings, invasions, colour revolutions, sanctions and bribery is now in excess of 70 countries, with a death toll of more than 30 million and counting.

In many of these exercises in regime change Australia has been a willing participant. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are only some of the better-known examples. What is especially galling is that these illegal wars are invariably accompanied by the relentless mantra of Australia’s support for the “rules based international order.”

The subtext of this mantra is that it is our definition of “rules” and “order” that is applied and any alternative view is denied any legitimacy. Even on its own definition however, the actions of Australia and its allies fail the legal test. The invasion of Afghanistan and it’s continuing occupation after that more than 16 years is an ongoing violation of international law. The recent revelations of alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan are merely the latest in a long line of reported atrocities by the occupying forces.

The same is true of the 2003 invasion and the occupation of Iraq, also ongoing after more than 15 years. That invasion was based upon a particularly blatant set of lies. The illegality is compounded in Australia’s case by a continuing refusal to hold the perpetrators accountable, or even to hold a Chilcot type inquiry.

The current involvement in the Syrian war is an another example of illegality, compounded by a lack of proper parliamentary accountability, and a veil of secrecy over military operations that at the very least involved Australia as a party to war crimes being carried out by United States forces.

The free pass given by the mainstream media to such terrorist aligned groups as the “White Helmets”, and the constant reiteration of the “Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons” when such allegations have been comprehensively debunked, illustrate the abysmal state of journalism in this country.

Another favoured mantra is the exercise of so called “freedom of navigation exercises” by United States warships, vocally supported by Australia. The “peaceful” transit of shipping is guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which China is a party and the United States is not.

There is not a single demonstrated instance of China impeding the transit of shipping in the South China Sea. If free passage was hindered, the biggest loser would be the PRC itself, for whom the South China Sea is a vital facility for both exports and imports. It is not difficult to imagine what the American reaction would be if China were to conduct similar exercises off the American coast or in the Gulf of Mexico. One has only to recall the 1962 Cuban missile crisis for an intimation of the likely reaction.

Critics of China point to the building of artificial islands in disputed waters and their fortification in some cases. That identical cases of creating artificial islands and their fortification have been done by Vietnam and Taiwan among others is never mentioned in the mainstream media.

The media is similarly silent on the annual joint US- Australian military exercise code named Operation Talisman Sabre, one of whose objectives is the blockading of the narrow (2.5km) Malacca Strait through which more than 80% of China’s oil imports pass.

That China might have legitimate security concerns as a result of Operation Talisman Sabre, the carrying out of regular military exercises in or near Chinese territorial waters or land borders, and the existence of 400 US military bases whose primary purpose is to “contain” China or act as a springboard in the event of an outbreak of war, is never conceded by the mainstream media. China is also acutely aware that in recent decades major wars (Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) have been fought on or near China’s borders.

Australian politicians and media have been similarly silent on the blockade of Gaza and Yemen, both of which are illegal under international law and have been nothing short of genocidal in their consequences. Australia’s continued support of Israel in the United Nations is completely inconsistent with any sincere belief in international law, yet such support is one of the dominant features of Australian foreign policy.

Ironically, it was the Americans and the Israelis who have expressed concern about the government’s anti-interference laws, as it would inhibit their own activities. There is a steady procession of Australian legislators to Tel Aviv, yet no one in the media is willing to discuss the relationship between that fact and the support given to Israel by Australia in the UN and elsewhere.

Australia’s voting record in the United Nations and its constant involvement in other people’s illegal wars that should be the basis of a discussion of “foreign interference. Interference is a two way street, and Australia’s record in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, East Timor and Nauru provide ample evidence.

That Australia is essentially a United States colony reflected in Malcolm Turnbull’s “joined at the hip” supine characterization of the Australia-US relationship is far more a legitimate concern than alleged Chinese “interference”.

One suspects that what is at the root of this manufactured panic about China and Russia is a dawning realization that the era of US hegemony and the unipolar world is rapidly disintegrating. The past 300 or so years of western domination is an historical aberration and a reassertion of the traditional dominance of the East is underway.

Australia has actually been a beneficiary of this transition, as the trade, education, tourism and investment figures attest. What has been lacking in politics and the media, has been a comparable transition in Australia’s strategic thinking. The time for an informed and subtle reappraisal of that transition and its longer-term implications is well overdue.

The current myopia and ill-informed hysteria manifestly does not serve Australia’s national interest.

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at joneill@qldbar.asn.au

22 Comments

  1. ned1880 says

    It seems the intended audience of George Orwell’s 1984 and the horror of one world government despotism, did not heed the warning. Instead it has been adopted by politicians, or probably more accurately their puppeteers, as a book of How-To.
    In my younger days I thought Australia might have been immune to such things, but alas.

  2. George Cornell says

    The poodling fartcatching country of Australia has no shame, and would have voted for Trump whose values it shares enthusiastically.

  3. I would tend to agree, but the points raised could be applied equally to all of the Western countries. This is not just an Aussie problem.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Austfailure is one of the Real Evil Empire’s most groveling stooges. ANY criticism of US genocide and aggression is VERBOTEN in public life. I mean utterly forbidden on penalty of expulsion from public life and a relentless vendetta of hatred and vilification from the Murdoch cancer. Any time that the Empire is preparing a genocidal aggression eg Korea, Indochina, Iraq, the Austfailian stooges are there, slavering with loyalty and enthusiasm. And after decades of operating in tandem with US ‘Special Forces’ death-squads, in Afghanistan and Iraq most recently, it is emerging that our own ‘elite’ soldiers have begun aping their US ‘comrades’ in committing atrocities against civilians. Just, ironically, as former ‘elite’ soldiers begin infesting our Parliaments as members notable for their Rightwing fanaticism, ‘Christianity’, Sinophobia and Islamophobia and TOTAL loyalty to the USA and Israel.

  4. End of an Era says

    Philip Giraldi explained, in his recent article ‘Jewish Power’, how the US has become ‘a moral cesspit’.

    Australia is in exactly the same position. It effectively ceased to be a place for freedom and democracy (not sure if it ever were).

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Everything good and sane in Austfailure has been euthanised by the Right, led by the Murdoch cancer, in league with the USA, since our one and only decent Federal Government, that of Whitlam, was destroyed from 1973-5.

  5. The author mentions that “Australia’s continued support of Israel in the United Nations is completely inconsistent with any sincere belief in international law, yet such support is one of the dominant features of Australian foreign policy.” This dominant aspect of the Anglosphere in general may also be due for a change: here is a US newspaper with an old fashioned name, The American Herald Tribune, which actually feels pity for Palestinian crippled by the Zionazi turkey-shoot in Palestine.

    https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/palestine/2300-myths-six-day-war.html

    “The times, they are a’changin”

  6. From Pepe’s report, linked below:

    The Singapore joint statement enshrines exactly what the Russia-China strategic partnership – formalized in the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit – was suggesting from the beginning: a double freeze.

    The DPRK holds off on any new nuclear and missile tests while the US and South Korea stop the “war games” (Trump’s terminology).

    This logical sequence of the Sino-Russian roadmap is based on what South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed with Kim Jong-un at the inter-Korean summit last April. And that ties in with what North Korea, South Korea and Russia had already discussed at the Far East summit in Vladivostok last September, as Asia Times reported; economic integration between Russia and the two Koreas, including the crucial connectivity of a future Trans-Korean railway with the Trans-Siberian.

    Once again, this is all about Eurasia integration; increased trade between North Korea and Northeast China, concerning mostly Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces; and total, physical connectivity of both Koreas to the Eurasian heartland.

    That’s yet another instance of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meeting the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). And not by accident South Korea wants to connect deeper with both BRI and the EAEU

  7. Nouveau Roi says

    Contemporary Australia is marching steadily into an Apartheid regime.

    Immigrants have been brought in but today most of them, especially those who are not wealthy, are essentially ruled the same way as colonized entities. They are not allowed to question what the government is doing overtly and covertly, or have an independent voice.

    With obedient media, entire sections of certain communities have been steadily silenced.

    Public debate into foreign policy is off-limit to basically the whole population.

    You can sense a vicious war against those with higher IQ.

    Only the government version of events is allowed to be heard.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      In Austfailure the ignorant, arrogant, moron is king. This sad, sick, travesty of a society is infested with rabid anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialists, deniers of ALL ecological crises and enemies of renewable energy (in favour of coal)that are only surpassed anywhere by the knuckle-headed omnicidists of the Trump regime. And these malignant cretins dominate the Federal Turnbull regime, simply because Turnbull, the bankster multi-millionaire, values his grip on power far more than the futures of his grand-children, who he loves to parade with in public. What should he care-when they are grown and living in a Hell of runaway climate destabilisation, he’ll be dead.

  8. No need to add much more here than has been said by James and commenters – except this caution: I believe that Australia is much more fundamentally involved in the “Anglo-zionist” coalition than it appears to be, and in a way that most Australians have no idea of. Not only have our forces, or those in control of them, been partners in the US coalition support of Da’esh in Syria, and in fostering the cancerous White Helmets, but Australia’s role in hyping the anti-Putin, anti-Russia campaign over MH17 was fundamental – and of courses with partners Murdoch and co controlling the media narrative in the G20 visit to Brisbane subsequently.
    But also the actions of Australia just after the Douma stunt, in cyber warfare and information control, centred in Brussels and London, have continued to drive the juggernaut forward. All that and Australia’s undying support for the Zionist entity, which remained solid during the IDF’s recent barbaric outburst. And the gas and oil.
    Only Australians and foreigners believe it is the country of sea and sand and bush and nature, with some laid-back and home-focused populations in the multicultural cities…

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      To understand Austfailian politics, and the groveling servitude to Israel in particular, just peruse the Austfailian ‘Rich List’, particularly the billionaires.

  9. What James O’Neill describes about Oz is not restricted to Oz; it is the global war of Anglo-Zio-Capitalism for total control — not only of the world’s resources but of what Jung called the world mind. And its opponents are not countries but people with minds; people like the ones who contribute to this independent site for news and opinion. The war is ‘a-symmetrical’: on the one side the global Anglo Zionazi financial network, its armed arm NATZO, and a billion ANZAC-type zombies marching willingly on auto-pilot to their death; on the other, a dispersed set of individual minds and individual consciences; and a few general principles that have stood the test of time — Don’t kill, Don’t Lie, Love God and the Creation.

    Also a few countries fortunate enough to have Leaders with such principles: Castro in Cuba RIP, Putin in Russia, Dr.Assad in Syria, Rev.Nasr’Allah in Lebanon. And one huge country with independent mass, tradition and energy enough to counter the mass, tradition and energy of Anglo Zio Capitalist global network. Wither China is the big question; already it has received the vampire kiss: agents of the principal Anglo Zio Capitalist city — the City of London — have infiltrated the Bank of China.

    Australia itself is ‘just there’ no urgency; has been ‘just there’ for billions of years, since the beginning of Life on Earth; with some of the oldest rocks, the oldest life forms, the oldest human groups out of Africa, and a superficial new breed of Giant Subtropical Cockneys. Good luck to you cobbers!

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        The plan for China is that the ‘Real Evil Empire’, as Chomsky bluntly described the USA, the greatest purveyor of death and destruction in all human history, will do everything in its power to subvert China and attempt to break it into pieces, like Yugoslavia and the USSR (and future plans for Russia). A unified China under whatever regime will outdo the US economically, so vivisection it must be. The USA already spends billions annually subsidising separatists in Xinjiang, the Tibetan renegade Dalai claque in India, in Hong Kong, and there have already been mutterings about secessionist forces to be subsidised in Inner Mongolia and even, hallucinatorily, ‘Manchuria’. And the US has kept its puppet Taiwan separated from China by force, for 70 years. If these efforts prove futile, it must be war, because China’s scientific and technological progress is advancing so rapidly that US military superiority cannot be guaranteed beyond the next ten years.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      None of the Anglosphere ‘Five Eyes’ regimes are in any way independent. All are stooge states completely controlled by the USA, whose military and intelligence elites and most of politics and the fakestream media owe their first, and most enduring, loyalties to Thanatopolis DC. Any time any Government emerges that displeases the capo di tutti capi in Thanatopolis DC, the USA’s stooges will mobilise to sabotage that Government, by any means available.

  10. Fair dinkum says

    With hundreds of refugees imprisoned, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fading from the public consciousness and terrorist attacks on Australian soil virtually non existent, governments manufacture ‘enemies’ to feed the insatiable Military Industrial Complex and psychopathic corporations addicted to continuing conflicts.
    ‘The enemy is over there’ is the catch cry of ambitious, money hungry, sycophantic politicians and journalists who seek personal profit from divide and rule propaganda.
    The Bloodocracy continues.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says

    Australia is not much but a stooge regime of the Thanatopian Empire of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ over ALL the world, forever. Its vile political, business and media ‘elites’ are nearly universally groveling and obedient to Thanatopia, and its master, Israel. No Austfailian politician dares criticise Thanatopia in any way, else they will be assailed by a veritable tsunami of abuse as ‘anti-American’. The two PMs who attempted to achieve some degree of independence from TOTAL Thanatopian control, Whitlam and Rudd, were gotten rid of by local stooges of the Empire, amidst hysterical hate campaigns led by the Murdoch machine, a cancer on the country for forty years and more. So hopeless is the situation that we are joining, ferociously, hysterically and quite treacherously, in the campaign of abuse and threats against China, as dictated direct by our masters in Thanatopolis DC and executed by its stooges in the local military-intelligence-think tank apparatus, where the prime loyalty, unambiguously, is to their Imperial Masters, not whatever regime the Austfailian idiocracy ‘elects’. So totally obeisant are these creatures that the plain fact that any war on China or successful destruction of the country’s unity (the fall-back position)would destroy our economy and plunge the region and the world into chaos, does not seem to matter. Any voices raised against this mania of, basically, racist hatred (the Chinese student population and the long-established local Chinese community have both, already, been directly targeted)is instantly silenced, vilified, and side-lined, and truly fascistic ‘security’ legislation to criminalise any support for China is being introduced with bi-partisan enthusiasm by the two major parties, both stuffed to the gills with Imperial arse-kissers.

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  12. bevin says

    Most western governments- run by people who really want to be, if not Americans then at least respected by them- are operating on auto pilot. They have yet to adjust themselves to a ;post Cold War world.
    Just as Canada’s government called a jingoistic meeting of former Korean War UN partisan states to jack up tension, sanctions and childish warmongering words, earlier this year. And Britain’s employed Porton Down- which has been maintained, at enormous expense and at considerable risk, for decades largely impress US Presidents- to justify sanctions on Russia.
    In all these cases we see the last pathetic repetitions of the sort of imperial enthusiasm which led millions of Canadians and ANZAC young men to volunteer as cannon fodder in the wars, with the addition of the UK, formerly a principal, anxious to show the big boss how clever it is. Or, as in Kandahar or Basra, how they have become pallid reproductions of all that is stupid, nasty and brutish in American culture.

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