Australia, historical perspectives, latest, New Zealand, United States

More than Cognitive Dissonance

James O’Neill

The dilemmas in Canberra go beyond the respective roles of the American alliance and the China trade. They point to a failure to grasp historical reality and an equal failure to perceive the future.

In a recent article in the influential Australian website Pearls and the Irritations ( 8 January 2019) Richard Broinowski set out several reasons why the Canberra establishment (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Defence and Prime Minister and Cabinet) in what he described as cognitive dissonance, have adhered to a pro-American set of foreign policies.

This has been the case ever since then Prime Minister John Curtin’s announcement in 1941 that Australia was essentially switching its reliance on the United Kingdom to an equally dependent relationship with the United States.

Mr Broinowski then set out a series of factors why this has been the case at least up until the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, although he now detects some faint glimmerings of a possible policy shift. Such optimism in my view lacks a solid evidential foundation.

Rather than possessing a “clear-eyed vision of China” that Cairin Morris (Australian Outlook 25 November 2018) sees as part of the DFAT culture of antagonism, what is really needed is a clear-eyed analysis of the post-World War II period, of which adherence to the United States world view has been the dominant feature.

The actual benefits that have accrued to Australia from this stance are vanishingly small. It could equally be argued that the detriments outweigh the few benefits there might have been, of which “blowback terrorism” and reputational damage are only two elements.

As has been argued elsewhere, the purported reliance on the ANZUS Treaty by the Canberra political and public service establishment is misplaced. It is also wrong, as Mr Broinowski suggests, that the ANZUS Treaty obliges Australia “to join whatever wars the United States wants to fight.”

The operative clause of the ANZUS Treaty, Article IV, obliges the parties to meet the common danger an attack upon any of the parties would create “in accordance with its constitutional processes.” The location of the precipitating attack is limited to specified objects in the Pacific (emphasis added). It is a commitment only to consult.

What is always overlooked is that Article 1 requires the parties to settle any international dispute “by peaceful means” and in accordance with their obligations under the United Nations Charter.

The post-World War II locations cited by Clinton Fernandes in his book, (Island off the Coast of Asia, 2018) both reviewed by and repeated in Mr Broinowski’s article (Korea, Malaya, Viet Nam and the engineered overthrow of Indonesian President Sukarno) are not Pacific nations. Neither was there any attack upon the territory or assets of the United States, Australia or New Zealand (the latter then being a member of ANZUS).

The New Zealand decision to ban United States ships from its territorial waters by the Lange Labour government led to New Zealand’s departure from the ANZUS alliance, and its downgrading (as expressed on DFAT’s own website) from the status of “ally” to that of “friend.”

The New Zealand Prime Minister of the day, David Lange, had legitimate concerns about the United States response to New Zealand’s decision. He was not thinking that New Zealand would be invaded, subject to a colour revolution, or sanctioned in the manner there has been a standard United States response to any country that did not submit to its wishes.

Rather, he was very mindful of the Australian experience of November 1975 when MI6 and the CIA engineered a constitutional coup against the Whitlam government. That government had committed the cardinal sins (in US eyes) of recognizing the People’s Republic of China, withdrawing Australian troops from Viet Nam, and was on the verge of expelling the United States from the spy centre at Pine Gap. The dismissal occurred the day before Whitlam was to make that announcement in parliament.

New Zealand survived the departure from ANZUS and to this day has pursued a more independent foreign policy then could possibly be attributed to Australia. That includes being the first ‘Western’ country to sign a MOU with China over the Belt and Road Initiative. The failure of Australia to similarly align itself with the opportunities presented by the BRI is something that Ms Morris cites as evidence of Canberra’s hostility to China.

Mr Broinowski, with respect correctly, identifies Russia as the object of similar constant suspicion as to its motives and conduct by the Canberra mandarins. He is too polite. The United States and the United Kingdom have engaged in what American scholar Stephen Cohen (War with Russia? 2018) calls an unprecedented and singularly dangerous campaign of disinformation and vilification against Russia.

In this they are willingly aided and abetted by a supine mainstream media, a criticism applied with equal validity to the Australian media. They have distorted, misrepresented or outright lied about events such as the reabsorption of Crimea into the Russian Federation, the shooting down of MH17, and the alleged poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

In addition to the foreign misadventures identified by Fernandes, one should add Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. None of these countries are in the Pacific. None of them attacked the United States (and that includes 9/11), and none of them posed the least threat to Australia, directly or indirectly. In each and every case United States and Australian intervention in the affairs of those countries was not only contrary to international law; they made their situation measurably worse.

As a lawyer it is particularly vexing to read and hear the constant reiteration of Australia’s alleged commitment to a “rules based international order”, ‘liberal’ or otherwise (although that distinction lacks any legal meaning.)

There is a body of international law, found for example, in the UN Charter, in treaties, Conventions, and rulings of international tribunals. It may not be perfect, but it is all we have. Adherence to its principles and obligations would be infinitely preferable to the alternative, which is all too frequently the case.

When one looks at the geopolitical and legal history of the past several decades, it is not Russia or China that is the serial violator of international norms of acceptable conduct. One country, the United States, has waged almost continuous wars and is responsible for the violent deaths of tens of millions of people. In this regard the United States is in a class of its own, the only real way it meets its self-description of being the “exceptional nation.”

One of the cornerstones of any legal system, international or otherwise, is that violations of its requirements are punished. Again, not only does the United States lack any meaningful sanctions for its misconduct, it refuses to recognise the jurisdiction of, for example, the International Criminal Court. It threatens violence and sanctions on any individual or country that seeks to bring United States violators of international law to justice.

The final point relates to Mr Broinowski pointing out that Canberra views the growing power of Russia and China as a threat to United States global hegemony. Those mandarins need to read Alexander Lukin’s book: China and Russia: the new rapprochement (2018). Dr Lukin has a sophisticated analysis of the relationship between the two superpowers. He acknowledges that there have been periods of difficulty, but points to a joint declaration signed in Beijing between Yeltsin (a western favourite) and then PRC chairman Yang Shangkun.

That declaration reiterated that the two states would develop relations on the basis, inter alia, “of mutually beneficial cooperation in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, based on the principles of mutual respect and territorial integrity, non-aggression………. peaceful coexistence, and other universally recognised norms of international rights.”

Several subsequent agreements between the two nations have reinforced these points, the importance of which, as Lukin states, cannot be overstated. Not the least of the factors driving those two superpowers to greater collaboration and strategic partnership is the unrelenting hostility of the United States and its allies. Re-reading that declaration more than two decades later, it is not difficult to determine who has respected those principles and who has not.

In the past two decades there have been a number of very important developments in Eurasia, most of which barely rate a mention in the western media in general, and the Australian media in particular. These developments include, but are far from limited to, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and the Belt and Road Initiative. The latter multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and investment program now extends throughout the Pacific, Africa and Latin America, in addition to its primary focus in Eurasia.

The “global hegemony of the United States” that Mr Broinowski refers to is not threatened. It is passé. Its former military dominance has now been surpassed by the vastly superior Russian and Chinese technology, as Andrei Martyanov details in his recent book (Losing Military Supremacy 2018) and President Putin reinforced in his 1st March 2018 speech to the Russian Parliament.

That superiority has been recognised at the highest levels of the United States, (although not in Australia which continues to buy their inferior military equipment at vast cost). That recognition has not as yet led the Americans to modify their hegemonic conduct in any meaningful way.

The world that Canberra seeks to maintain is an illusion. The choice therefore is whether or not Australia acknowledges the reality of the new multipolar world. The gravitational centre of that world, technologically, militarily, and in terms of setting a new agenda based on mutual respect, nonaggression and peaceful coexistence in accordance with international law is firmly in Eurasia.

Clinging to the coattails of what former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser called Australia’s Dangerous Allies (2014) would not only lead Australia to miss the boat on this rapidly changing new world; it is likely on the basis of past misjudgments to lead to US-led military entanglements that will be decidedly to Australia’s detriment.

James O’Neill is a barrister at law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at


  1. Antonym says

    A severe case of national cognitive dissonance closer to home; the total neglect of the private export of terrorists from the UK, started long ago – about 2000 fighters around the year 2000 so long before the mass exodus to ISIS. Note the religion of this sociopathic scum: neither Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist etc.
    The “Guardians” were dozing Off….

  2. Kerry F says

    Excellent article James and so sadly very true. I notice that John Bolton is paying Australia a visit in the next few days right on cue for the election.

  3. UreKismet says

    The whining neolibs of USuk don’t realise what a can of worms they have opened with all their crazy talk about the Trump and brexit votes having been bought by foreigners.

    Governments from both greedy shitholes have been openly interfering in every national election held in Australia and Aotearoa for at least the last 50 years probably considerably longer.
    Most of the time they didn’t even hide their interference well, so proving that every administration since 1960 was bought and paid for by USuk would be a piece of piss.
    The next step after that would be for a government with spine to declare every decision since that date which favoured either US or uk interests was therefore invalid and that all remaining resources will be returned immediately, while international litigation to recover everything that Australia and/or Aotearoa had been defrauded out of is mounted.

    The silly seppo dems have prepared the ground nicely.

  4. Cane Toad says

    The GiletJaunes are a state created phenomena. Their net address registered just one day after Macron came to power.

    DungOwner how does that make you look now troll boy?

    • DunGroanin says

      So what? Surprised that people were clever enough to realise that Macron was another banker clone being shoehorned into power? That maybe a mass movement would be required to resist? How many other names were registered? There are multiple variations of the same – the ones i briefly checked were registered at the end of last year.

      Coincidence also does not prove causation.

      You need to present more proof if you want to link that domain to the deepshits.
      Like say the Integrity Initiative/Ios hacked papers.
      Or the Cambridge Analytica / SCL /AIQ links
      Or whistleblowers.

    • DunGroanin says

      Trolling also considered following posters around on different stories…flatered as i am. It’s not a good way of getting your point across.

      Just to be clear – i am not a Macron defender. I have said he was a hot-housed Dauphin would be sun king from the moment he crawled out of the Elysee neptocracy. I have also long stated that the EU project was the target of the Pathocracy.
      I have also said that their plan has all but failed – even with the multifront attack of Brexit,Macron and the rest – because they failed to dislodge the best leader in Europe, Merkel. As i pointed out on the last article – she is deploying her muscle on Macron

      As she did when she and Putin decided how to solve Syria – no yanks, no Brits.


      Toot toot for now.

  5. Gary Weglarz says

    (“When one looks at the geopolitical and legal history of the past several decades, it is not Russia or China that is the serial violator of international norms of acceptable conduct. One country, the United States, has waged almost continuous wars and is responsible for the violent deaths of tens of millions of people. In this regard the United States is in a class of its own, the only real way it meets its self-description of being the “exceptional nation.”) —-

    —- this paragraph by the author sums up our predicament quite nicely. The Western nations aligned with we here in the oh so “exceptional” U.S. – have aligned themselves with a lawless terror State that with complete disregard for international law starves, invades, bombs, slaughters, sanctions, and sets our jihadist buddies loose to kill peoples who pose no threat to us at all – all about the globe and with complete impunity.

    The only way for the rest of the West to live with the “cognitive dissonance” inherent in this state of affairs is to create an entirely fabricated “reality” through the continuous production of propaganda in which it is “Russia” and “not the U.S.” that is portrayed as the grave threat to world peace and human rights. The level of complete MSM lunacy this effort requires seems to grow daily to the point now that here in the U.S. MSM simply doesn’t deal with the actual “real world” at all, but only in propaganda slogans and themes such as “Putin puppet,” “Assad toady,” “Russian stooge,” and “anti-semite” – in order to smear anyone who might publicly breath a word regarding the actual “truth” of these matters of grave importance to all of humanity.

    Watch the treatment Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard and Ilhan Omar have received from MSM and the U.S. political class for speaking simple incontestable truths and you will understand the very public form of insanity that is now embraced widely and quite feverishly here in America.

  6. wardropper says

    Yes. This is all very well. But to the USA, the UN Charter is toilet paper.
    Every day we read about the wickedness of the US´s refusal to abide by the codes of decent human behaviour, and every day we hear about no solutions.
    It’s like watching molten lava flowing at a man’s running speed down towards his home.
    The media, like most of the rest of us, are mesmerized and petrified, while those who actually DO have some solutions are systematically ignored and marginalized, because their solutions entail some drastic changes to our society.

  7. DunGroanin says

    Talk of coagnitive dissonance

    The Graun lets loose the gimp Monbidiot to gnash and wail like a paid mourner even as they struggle to understand how the grassroots (5star,podemos,momentum) uses simple tech against the megatech of the overlords and WINS.

    The high tech / AI / artic server farms that are developed and deployed by the very very few aganst the rest of humanity and all life on earth, to surveille, control and kill from the skies even, fails, when it runs into one geek with one computer, using a simple program. Cyberguerilla has further revelations.

    The begining of the end is underway – the mighty are bricking it – they are not able to fool all of us all of the time.

    • mark says

      Thanks. Good article. The only problem is that the “US Power Elite” are identified as “Wasps.”
      We all know who the real power elite are.

  8. John Giles says

    Australia’s political class are pretty much all craven US agents. Billy Boy Shorten gets his marching orders direct from the embassy.

    The ALP overthrew Rudd because he wasn’t sufficiently hostile to China in US eyes.

    But NZ is really no better in substance. The nuke ship thing was PR.

    • Gezzah Potts says

      John Giles: we’re all up shit creek together John, regardless of whether we’re Aussies or Kiwi’s or British or Americans. The doomsday clock sits at 2 mins to midnight. The Anglo Zionist Empire continues its blood drenched rampaging around the globe, and yes, New Zealand is very much part of the Five Eyes and yes Jacinda Ardern was at Davos and yes NZ, like Australia adopts Neoliberal economic policies, and yes, you’re right about Australia’s political class, that they are so utterly subservient to the United States, even when it goes completely against their mantra of ‘rules based international order’ and ‘international community’ which is just code for Australia being another vassal state of the Empire. And the media here, as elsewhere thruout the West is as craven and contemptible as the politicians. How many Aussies are even aware that Canberra takes its orders from Washington? As I said below, its embarrassing and cringeworthy. I disagree with you on NZ’s anti nuclear policy. I believe that was genuine, however the reason Lange got away with it was his Govt went full bore on privatisating and implementing a hardcore Neoliberalist agenda that would’ve made Thatcher proud. And remember, this was long before 9/11, and Dubya’s “you’re either with us or against us”.

    • wardropper says

      Indeed. Howard was the first one I noticed to put some strange priorities ahead of normal human ones during his political career.

      • Jen says

        Selling off Australia’s gold reserves when they had hit rock-bottom prices in 1997 was one strange priority and a decision that flies contrary to most financial / investment advice that tells people not to follow the herd when the share-market is in bear market mode and stocks are falling.

        Another was privatising national assets and then doling out the money gained to the wealthy instead of funding infrastructure and stimulating the economy by generating work and jobs.

        Alan Austin, “We really must talk about the Howard and Costello economic disaster” (September 2013),5686

        Australia currently holds 80 tonnes of gold reserves, at least 99% of which are held at the Bank of England. That’s less than 1% of what the US holds.

        Erm, hmm, what’s going to happen if Australia were to pursue some mildly social-democratic policies in the near future and wants some of that gold back?

        “Australia Has 80 Tonnes of Gold, How Much Gold Does New Zealand Have?”

        “RANKED: The countries with the 10 largest gold reserves”

        • mark says

          Dear Jen,

          Gold has been sold off at rock bottom prices quite deliberately on Washington’s orders, to depress the gold price.
          Over 1999-2000 Brown sold off 400 tons of Britain’s total of 750 tons at $250 an ounce. The current price is over $1,300. Gold was dumped on the market at bargain basement prices. This cost Britain several billion pounds. Brown has often been accused of incompetence, but this is incorrect. Gold was dumped deliberately to depress the price.
          Shortly after, in 2001, Washington ordered Switzerland to sell off 1,300 tons of its holdings of 2,500 tons, at depressed prices. I think Switzerland lost around $40 billion by doing so.
          This sort of market rigging occurs all the time. It was the same story with Australia’s gold.
          What is this all about?
          Bankers don’t like gold. It is the canary in the coal mine.
          Prior to 1933, gold was $20.86c an ounce, when it was raised to $35.
          It is now $1,300. But for market rigging, it might now be $5,000 or higher.
          But gold doesn’t increase in value. It just holds its value.
          The dollar, pound etc. have lost at least 99% of their value since 1914, and often around 99.9%
          They have effectively become worthless.
          Gold hasn’t become more valuable – you just need a bundle of depreciated toilet paper money to buy an ounce of gold.
          Nixon took the US off the gold standard in 1971. Since then the dollar has been fiat currency, supported by nothing but hot air. The trading of oil in dollars has created an artificial demand for the currency. So when Iraq and Libya stopped trading oil in dollars, they were immediately invaded. The first action of the new regimes was to revert to trading oil in dollars. Venezuela and Iran may be attacked very shortly for precisely the same reason.
          America had over 21,000 tons of gold in 1949. This fell rapidly because of its military adventures in Vietnam. In 1971, US gold reserves were said to be 8,133 tons. This figure has remained unchanged since 1971. It has never been audited and it is highly unlikely that much, if any, of this gold remains.
          The US has always looted other countries’ gold whenever possible. 140 tons of Libyan gold disappeared after 2011. A large quantity of gold bullion disappeared from the vaults of WTC 7 on 9/11. Ukraine’s gold reserves have vanished. They were flown out of the country on US transport planes.
          A lot of gold plated tungsten has turned up in different places. Gold and tungsten weigh almost exactly the same, though gold is very soft and tungsten is very hard. It is highly likely that a lot of the “gold” in western central banks is tungsten.
          Gold has been flowing to Russia, China and India for many years. Nobody knows how much they actually hold. Russia and China are both major gold producers. China is the world’s largest, with 400 tons a year. No Russian or Chinese gold has been exported for years. They are heavy buyers abroad.

      • Jen says

        Indeed, for someone who spoke Mandarin Chinese fluently, Kevin Rudd as PM was often more hawkish against China than the rest of Canberra put together, and would sometimes try to flag the attention not only of the rest of the Australian government but of Washington DC as well in relation to what China was doing or supposedly was doing.

        My personal belief is that Washington couldn’t tolerate an Australian leader who kept pre-empting it all the time rather than wait submissively in the queue and take his orders like everyone else.

  9. vexarb says

    A stream of clear fresh water, drink deep. A welcome echo of Putin’s call to respect International Law (and Law generally), because “it is all we have” to protect us from a Hobbesian world of All against All where human life becomes “nasty, brutish and short”.

    “Nasty, brutish” — do those descriptions fit Western World Leaders of the past 4 decades? I think they do: BLiar, Brown, Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Obama, Sarkozy, Hollande, Micron and St.Theresa of Westminster; all of them “Nasty, Brutish and False”.

    I read this essay by O’Neill as a call to reason, realism and respect in public affairs. Qualities which are sadly lacking in the Anglo Zio Capitalist ethos.

    • Antonym says

      “Anglo Zio Capitalists”? How come most here forget so easily that the dollar float$ on Arab Gulf oil? The US military industrial complex on its turn runs on unlimited -because virtual- dollars, and petrol / diesel.

      PS: Pentagon army green & Eco green have two things in common regarding fossil fuels: 1) scaremonger with CAGW 2) do as we say, not as we do.

  10. A very prescient article based on sound historical analysis. Mr O’Neill says:

    “As a lawyer it is particularly vexing to read and hear the constant reiteration of Australia’s alleged commitment to a “rules based international order”, ‘liberal’ or otherwise (although that distinction lacks any legal meaning.)”

    I can’t agree more, as a lay person it is pretty vexing to read and hear about the “rules based international order” as if it was ever so…

    As for the constant reiteration of misinformation across the WMSM and the hermetic echo-chamber of the same memes within the political classes it was established a long time ago by the dumbing down and networked propaganda tropes of one dirty digger, who built, with US and UK Republican and Conservative political support the Murdoch media empire.

    The fact that that has served as an enduring model for the MSM and is still emulated today is telling, a current example is the total dumbing down of the Guardian. The masters of the dark arts of fake news were schooled by Murdoch and if there was any chance of exposure such as the News of the Screws fiasco then the organ was amputated.

  11. Antonym says

    Australia: highest electricity prices on the planet despite having huge stocks of uranium and coal. Trudeau Canada and Merkel Germany are equally dumb: hypnotized by the Green snake – the New Religion after Christianity evaporated.

    The Chinese are laughing all the way to the bank…

    • George Ebers says

      Not sure what this has to do with China. What are you saying? Or do you come from a culture which fears/hates the Chinese and sees all world affairs in the context of us/them? Like Australia.

      • Antonym says

        They buy up most of Australia’s coal and uranium and use it in their power plants. Huge CO2 outputs from the coal – onto the same planets atmosphere.

        Ask Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan, Korea or the Philippines about neighbour China, or pick an African country. Chinese imperialism goes through big money coupled by loan shark contracts.

        • George Cornell says

          China’s progress in cleaning up its environment has outstripped everyone else. The change in Beijing is especially remarkable. I have asked many African national representatives. You won’t like the answer I got.
          Compare that progress to the lack of American progress on reducing their nuclear stockpiles, chemical weaponry and general adherence to treaties they have signed.

  12. Antonym says

    Which nation sold off one of its main ports plus most of its energy to China: Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Laos, the Philipines or Australia?

      • Antonym says

        Huge Australia has a zillion more natural energy resources than puny Israel; it also has plenty of Uranium, the only reliable non-intermittent energy source with near zero CO2 output.

        • BigB says

          ‘Burning’ uranium equals “zero CO2 output” – true. But only partially true – if you only consider the primary conversion. In ‘cradle-to-grave’ or ‘life cycle analysis’ (LCA) – uranium produces plenty of CO2. It is also not globally scalable, and is subject to EROI …in other words, its costs will continue to rise – while renewables plummet. Judging from recent events, nuclear has already become economically non-viable – as the cost per Mwh can’t compete with renewables. Intermittency is not the issue critics claim and can be minimised in a well designed system (smart grid; interconnectors; portfolio of generation methods; better storage and battery tech; etc).

          • vexarb says

            BigB: “Judging from recent events, nuclear has already become economically non-viable – as the cost per Mwh can’t compete with renewables.”

            Interesting. So even the new breed of non-plutonium-producing reactors might be only a stopgap before renewables take over the world energy market?

            At present wars are being fought for the right to pipe non-renewable Hydrocarbons to Europe from a congeries of sunny countries (which Pepe Escobar has named PipeLiniStan). Will it soon be cheaper to cable renewable Solar Electricity from the same sunny countries? Just a thought.

            • vexarb says

              PS. Of course there might not be enough Aluminium in the world to make so many long cables as would be needed to transport solar-energized electrons so far. Nevertheless, I think the comparison is worth consideration.

              Consider the simpler case first, a conducting cable into which one pumps solar-energized electrons at one end, extracts them at the other end and works those energised electrons until they are tired. The only things that move through the cable are electrons, which are very light. The only friction arises from active electrons jostling their way through a crowd of inactive electrons. (This friction can be reduced by cooling the cable — reduced to near zero — but that is another story.)

              Consider now a gas pipeline. Here we are still moving electrons, from which we can extract energy, but those electrons are now bound to an atomic nucleus in the gas atom, which is thousands of times heavier. Also, the active electron is only in the outer shell of the atom; all the other electrons are merely there to dance attendance on the central atomic nucleus of the gas atom — useless passengers. So a gas pipeline transports a useless mass of gas (nucleus plus attendant electrons), which absorbs some energy. Friction is also greater, because it comes from the jostling of heavy gas atoms against one another. But at the end of the pipeline we are receiving concentrated energy, in the form of a packet of combustible gas atoms.

              Consider last an oil pipeline. Here the energy is even more concentrated, because oil is a thousand times heavier than gas. But friction likewise is a thousand times greater. Friction of moving sticky oil through its bed of sand, friction in pipeline — and energy wasted at many stages, simply from picking up a mass of oil and dumping it down then picking it up for the next stage of its journey to combustion.

              Of these three ways of piping electronic energy over great distances (via cable, gas and oil) I would seriously consider solar/cable.

              • BigB says


                I’m sure you are right, but the physics is over my head. The thing is, we need our finest minds, like yours, on the transition pathway. And something like the ‘Green New Deal’ …only much, much more radical than the one Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is proposing. I’m sure there are plenty of solutions – with international cooperation, regional interconnectors, surplus generation sharing, peak demand equalisation, etc – but first we have to realise that there is a problem. And then realise that the scale of the problem demands a more radical solution than AOC’s New Deal. Capital is oil: we work for oil; we govern with oil; we build our societies with oil; we consume commoditised oil; we eat oil; we drink oil; we think oil …in no insignificant way, modern man – Homo Faber – is made in the image of oil. That’s the real problem: we have absolutely no inclination to change the habit of who we are. As far as the general population is concerned – we cannot change who we are – we have a fixed, ‘scientific’ image. Which is, of and in itself, a supervenience of readily available cheap oil. Oil underlies everything – which is why we are not taking the economic and environmental impacts of the unviability and unsustainability of oil seriously. Our transition blindspot is the collective expectations cheap oil has afforded for us. To transition from oil; we have to transition from the unrealistic mindset of oil …from the delusions of grandeur of oil. Then, of course, there is the vested interests of oil. If and when we can come to terms with any of this, the transition itself is the easy bit!

                • Bernard Davis says

                  Gas. Don’t forget gas. Nitrogen fertilisers derived from natural gas are the only reason the world can feed over 7 billion people. Now THAT is scary.

                  • vexarb says

                    Bernard, the Gasman Cometh; but never believe any industrialist who tells you that technology prevents starvation. Usually it’s the reverse: industries clear people off fertile land where they have lived for thousands of years.

                    Here’s some gas from
                    “Tom Shepstone of Natural Gas NOW:
                    Fertilizer, made with natural gas, has lifted nations out of near starvation, and made our modern lifestyles possible – shale gas is making it even better.”

                    Tom Shepstone is administering pure sleeping gas to his gullible readers. Ammonia is simply 1 atom of Nitrogen tied to 3 atoms of Hydrogen. And “natural gas” is 4 atoms of Hydrogen tied to 1 atom of Carbon. So natural gas supplies only the Hydrogen, with greenhouse gas CO2 as byproduct. The _important_ atom for soil fertility, Nitrogen, comes from air. Hydrogen can be obtained from H2O using solar electricity, and producing Oxygen instead of CO2 as a byproduct; it costs more at present.

                    By the way, before people were driven off their land to enjoy the benefits of capital-intensive technology, they would get nitrogen from the air for free by growing clover, vetch and other plants whose roots have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing micro-organisms.

                    Ask me why the world can support 8 Billion people I would answer: clean water, hygienic waste disposal, pest control, vaccines, vitamins, antibiotics; as far as I know, low average life expectancy in human populations is mainly infant mortality, and more young people die through disease than through famine.

          • Antonym says

            renewables plummet: yes, once all subsidies are removed they will – in growth. In output they have already proven to be economical only for a handful of purposes (air conditioning in summer, farm irrigation) as for all else they always need ma$$ive backup and or $torage.

            • BigB says

              Possibly, but what happens to oil, if likewise, we internalise its total cost and its extraction and use isn’t heavily debt funded and subsidised? All that tar, shale, and extra heavy crude suddenly becomes unviable – in strict economic terms. Then what? We have about 35 years of oil to burn: and any amount of unconventional oil found along the way won’t change the energy-economic nexus equation. We need to be building 52 nuclear reactors per year for 50 years [source: Cubic Mile of Oil report] to compensate. If we utilise coal or gas as a motive force: we have to create a hydrogen or electric infrastructure to run the global economy. That’s an enormous waste of resources for what, another decade or so? There’s no use even mentioning the environmental impact, but even on strict economic terms – this is insane.

              The addiction to hydrocarbons guarantees perpetual and deepening pauperisation, dehumanisation and violent conflict for humanity. Nuclear is no alternative – only system change. We need to regime change the Carbon Aristocracy – which will be no mean feat. Renewables and sustainable living are no way of replacing the current regimes of energy – but they may be a survivability option. Waiting for Godot – the technofix – ignoring the environmental impacts, all cut down any transition pathways we may yet have. For the benefit of the few.


              • vexarb says

                @BigB: “Renewables and sustainable living are no way of replacing the current regimes of energy – but they may be a survivability option. ”

                As they have been ever since life began on earth. Except for an initial splurge on undersea volcanic plumes from heat generation by Earth’s radioactive core, followed by 4 Billion years of reliance on the same non-renewable (but long lasting) energy source to keep the Earth warm, renewables have been the key to sustainable living by millions of species — including us, Homo Not-so-sapiens, for the first half million years of our history.

        • There is no energy source that is not intermittent because power stations fail all the time for one reason or another, notably, the massive 2011 nuclear power station failure in Japan. When you put aside the propagandistic terms of “intermittency” and “baseload”, renewables will trump any power fuelled by nuclear or fossil fuels.

          • tonyopmoc says


            In The UK, power stations do not fail all the time. In fact it is exceedingly rare to get a loss of electricity, and very much rarer a loss of gas, or water supply. It is almost unheard of, except for very occasional local failures, which are normally resolved very quickly. I accept the situation maybe very different in Australia, especially in remote locations.

            However, I am not impressed with the energy policies of any UK Governments, over the last 20 years, especially over the last few years, particularly this ridiculous antagonism against Russia.

            We were extremely lucky last year, not to have any power failures. If we get a a severe winter, anything like some we have had in my lifetime, then major power outages are inevitable, regardless of whether or not you can afford to pay for the energy which many people now can’t.


            • Sorry, Tony, I was sloppy in saying “power stations fail all the time.” What I meant was that there are various kinds of failures in power supply all the time which doesn’t necessarily mean that the power will be cut, because they can manage them with backup systems and so on. It’s not as if I’m up on how it all works but I know there are failures meaning that just because you have a fuel product on hand does not mean that the supply will be smoothly continuous.

  13. Fair dinkum says

    The grovelling sycophancy of successive Australian politicians towards the US is sickening and perverse.
    It’s time to FUCKING GROW UP!!!

    • Gezzah Potts says

      FD: New Zealand 1 Australia 0. As a Kiwi living in Aussie, its breathtaking the level of grovelling and bootlicking and brown nosing Canberra does towards Daddy Sam in Washington, and Uncle Bibi in that little country next to Lebanon. I feel embarrassed, and am not even fecken Australian.

      • James O'Neill says

        Likewise a Kiwi in Oz. Your examples are only part of the embarrassment.

      • John Giles says

        Kiwis are no better. You just have different PR. You still bend over and take it.

        • George Cornell says

          How many troops has NZ sent to Afghanistan? Iraq? The crimes of the century? and Oz was in like a filthy shirt. Lining up to invade Latin America? Sorry there was not enough time to help with Granada?

          • Robbobbobin says

            Afghanistan: over 3500, including police; Iraq: a few tens, mostly in “training” and “reconstruction” (sources: NZ Government , echoed by Radio NZ, and to help with the marketing of NZ milk products in the Coalition of the Willing nations, WikiLeaks’ Cablegate files).

        • UreKismet says

          I have to agree with Giles. It is no coincidence that the Lange led government may have ‘banned’ nuclear ships but it was in absolutely no danger of any hostile takeover or dismissal since while the sillier kiwis celebrated a pointless protest, Aotearoa & USA grew much closer economically. The Lange government abolished the bi-partisan arrangement between the two major parties (Labour & National) which had entrenched the post WW2 kiwi agrarian socialist economy and opened the doors to US ‘investment’ privatising nearly all the state owned establishments which had been the back bone of kiwi socialism. Banks, transport, telecommunications, and research institutes, all were flogged off to sleazebags in Brook brothers suits.

          A few years before he died I had the opportunity to ask Lange WTF he thought he was doing. He intimated that he hadn’t worried too much about the ‘money stuff’, he had left it up to Roger (Douglas) the finance Minister and that he hadn’t realised until much later that Douglas had played them all for fools.

          NZ has been involved in quite a few of the US conflicts as well.
          There was a time when Aotearoa could pick and choose which US conflicts, as following WW2 the bill from the US had been easy to settle – half of Aotearoa’s holding in Antarctica, but Australia’s invoice was for a much larger number (for saving Australia from Japan nevermind it was the US siege of Japan that caused the war) which made it tougher for them since both Oz & Aotearoa also had to pay the english bigly for lending a hand in WW1 & 2. (I still cannot understand how that came about – suffice to say that the pols had been just as captive to england in the first half of the 20th century as they were to the US in the second half.)
          Now Wall St has its hooks so deeply into Aotearoa that they have little wriggle room to refuse any US demand.
          That is what it comes down to – economic dependence via the dollar noose. There are many steps up the scaffold to regime change, however both Australia & Aotearoa usually give in on rung one.

          Small states need to work very hard to maintain their independence and stay alert at all times- all bigger nations use brutal levers to get what they want. For example China has been up to some bad stuff in NZ,bribing conservative MPs and worse. The Chinese communist Party seems to prefer to do business with right wing governments and work to keep conservative governments in place if possible.

          Poor old East Timor is likely to remain poverty stricken for ever despite sitting on an offshore oilfiield second only to Venezuela’s. Australia and Portugal are screwing Timor Leste blind yet no one ever appears to notice. Just as few in Australia ever seem to notice that the crimes against humanity Australia commits against refugees fleeing the wars Australia has aided and abetted are only one part of the return to Australia’s ‘whites only’ policy.

          Unwhite Australian residents who lived in Australia since they were infants are currently being deported in huge number. Back to the Pacific Islands and/or Aotearoa.
          The ALP is just as complicit in this as the LibNats, – that Garrett creep another lawyer, self styled greenie and former popstar was instrumental (geddit) in deporting Polynesian Australians whilst denying them access to the health and education benefits all other residents get.
          Arthur Cargill, he of the “Two Wongs don’t make a white” was an Australian Labor Party politician remember.
          The WA government which drove striking indigenous cattlemen off their traditional land at the point of a gun was an ALP government.

          AFAIK the difference between Australia & Aotearoa and it isn’t that major ,only a question of degree, is that Aotearoa isn’t considered as valuable – less resources to purloin, so there has been less bought and paid for by ‘the City” and Wall St media lies pumping out the fear about being surrounded by ‘asians’.
          The media in Australia runs with “they’re going to take us over” nonsense all the time so the gullible elect pols which screw them in order to keep Australia’s resources safe to be stolen by foreign owned corporations.

          IMO that is why Whitlam had to go, he was trying to free his country from the USuk usurers and had organised Mid Eastern credit lines to get out from under. Back then Middle East financiers probably weren’t operating charities but their religion did prohibit charging interest meaning that Australia wouldn’t have been stuck under the screws, so the Australian economy wouldn’t have been nearly as deep in hock now if he had succeeded back then.

          • Bernard Davis says

            Calwell, not Cargill. Wrong country.

    • mark says

      True, but they are no different from the UK/ France/ Canada/ EU and all the other Zio satellites.

  14. bevin says

    Australia basically has the choice of adapting itself to the realities of the world or persisting in its attempts to maintain the semblance of a White Australia policy. ANZUS which long pre-dates the Civil Rights era in the US is a deal between three racist post colonial societies to fight ‘communism’ because it is dark skinned. Which is to say that the threat was never Karl Marx but Jim Crow.
    The cost to Australia in aligning itself with a declining Empire constantly getting involved in fights it needs Aussies to hold its hand through is incalculable. But in the area of culture the cost has been obvious and embarrassing in the impoverishment of its politics and the dumbing down of its people.
    And they used to call it the lucky country.
    Time to cut the cables that bind your trim and seaworthy barque to that rotting waterlogged hulk before it drags you down with it.
    Canada ought to be doing the same.


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