Trump – Making Australia Great-er!

In virtually every conflict since World War II, Australia’s military has followed our allies the United States of America into almost every significant war: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (1 & 2) and Afghanistan. Our continued mutual support is a World War II legacy, when our US friends sacrificed thousands of lives in the Battle for Australia against the Japanese, at a time when our own so-called ‘mother country’, Great Britain, was prepared to let us fall to the enemy, just as they did with their colony in Singapore.

The 1951 pact, the ANZUS Treaty, cemented our relationship and commitment to the conflicts that followed and I feel it reasonable to suggest that at that time most Australians were in favour of our unquestioning support for our US allies, to the point that we now have thousands of US personnel stationed in Australia.

However, more recently Australians are starting to seriously question our military marriage with the USA and are nervous about where this relationship may take us in the future. This scrutiny and re-examination is courtesy of the somewhat unpredictable behaviour of the new US Commander in Chief.

Now, some say ‘the country doesn’t change just because the President does’ or ‘not to worry because the bureaucracy still runs the country’, however, this is simply not true. The reality is that the society, values and principles of the USA have changed drastically since we signed the ANZUS Treaty in 1951, particularly and understandably since 9/11… so we can speculate whether the President’s conduct is a product of, or reflects the shift in the country’s behaviour, ideology and standards and not the other way around.

One questions whether ‘we the people’ can recognise these vicissitudes? As an observer, I’m left perplexed. Oliver Stone’s recent ‘The Putin Interviews’ provided a fantastic insight: that the US actually has more in common with Russia than not. It reminded me of JFK when he said on the subject ‘Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.’ Yet perversely, the documentary seemed to be dismissed with somewhat spurious criticism that Stone’s questions were not tough enough!

Even when you apply the normal filters, Putin made some valid points. Why is the US more preoccupied with who leaked emails leading to the resignation of the Chair of the Democratic Party, rather than being outraged that insiders attempted to hobble the campaign of one of its own Democratic candidates. See, US Election: Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigns in wake of email leaks.

We hear all about the ‘land of the free’ and then watch a documentary like ‘Killswitch’ (2016) where Governments autocratically control the internet, or a film like ‘Snowden’ (2016) or another documentary like ‘Silenced’ (2014) about how the Government prosecutes whistle-blowers who disclose illegal activity relating to internal surveillance against the world’s citizenship. (The reality is that government agencies already know exactly who leaks what to whom, but obviously don’t disclose, dare they reveal which allies they are spying on)!

These examples reflect the societal changes in America. This is not the same ‘freedom’ Australians fought for alongside our American allies in the past. Australians are now starting to see a different ‘home of the brave’ and we can thank President Trump in part for that increased scrutiny, as I believe his behaviour will be the catalyst for Australians to wake up and very closely analyse what we stand for (and what we are seen to stand for) when we align ourselves with others.

5 July 2017

We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.

– Gore Vidal

See also ‘Media Trumped’  and ‘Sinking Globalisation with Oil’.

 

 

 

 

Sinking Globalisation with Oil

It has been interesting to observe since the 1970s how the term ‘globalisation’ gained traction and found a place in our lives. It has threaded its way into our subconscious, evolving to a point where it relates to all things financial, economic, political and cultural. Indeed, it has been defined as the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture.

Along the way, it was broadly dismissed by some detractors who mocked globalisation as the ‘Americanisation’ of the world. The International Monetary Fund identified trade, capital investment, migration and dissemination of knowledge, as the four basic aspects of globalisation. So what does it mean for globalisation now that the U.S.A. is moving towards a ‘protectionist economy’ trumpeted by the new president-elect?

Within weeks of the November 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the incoming administration announced that the U.S. will be withdrawing from the 12 nation Transpacific Partnership Pact or the cross-Pacific free-trade deal, meaning Australia may miss out on billions of dollars in benefits, reportedly ‘painting a bleak outlook’ according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce. If a free-trade deal meant that Australia ‘were to be winners’, then you can’t blame the losers for withdrawing, when clearly one major aspect of globalisation, trade, is no longer viewed as beneficial. So why are we surprised and what’s next?

The outlook is undoubtedly an environment where ‘capital costs’ will be higher, migration restricted and there will be a decline in shared aspirations as certainty diminishes with the effective dismantling of globalisation. The U.S. will no longer be criticised for their role as the ‘world’s police’, as they withdraw into protectionism and focus internally. The game changer for the U.S. ‘military establishment’ and clearly recognised by the new administration, occurred in 2011 when the U.S.A. became a net exporter of refined petroleum products and the world’s third-largest producer of crude oil and second-largest exporter of refined products. So where does this leave Australia in the new paradigm, particularly in relation to Defence?

That other transpacific pact, the 1951 ANZUS Treaty was an agreement to protect the security of the Pacific, which has over time provided some Australians with a false sense of security regarding our Defence arrangements, as they believe our ‘fall back’ position in defending our sovereignty is to rely on our allies in the USA & NZ. Well, maybe not anymore, it depends on what Mr Trump means when he says our alliance is a ‘special relationship’. It may be that we now need to prepare our Defence on the basis that support is no longer a given, if it ever was.

Certainly the U.S. have been looking at some of our more recent Defence policies and actions and would question why they should risk American lives to defend our inanity, based on some imprudent decisions in relation to matters like ‘Submarines’ and the ‘Port of Darwin’, the latter a strategic asset which forms part of the Australian-United States Alliance’s Strategic Defence Framework, now leased to a company with Chinese State interests.

Some would argue that the recent submarine deal demonstrates that we do have a long-term Defence plan, primarily for the benefit, welfare and votes from the good people of South Australia. The first of 12 submarines arrive in 15 years’ time, the last in 50 years i.e. 2066.

The 50 billion dollar submarine contract ($4.12 billion per sub) for equipment powered by ‘diesel electric’ technology was awarded to France after it was decided not to proceed with the bid from Japan. Apparently, ‘too soon’; it’s only 70+ years since midget subs breached Sydney Harbour.

Interestingly, it has been reported that the Israeli Navy is in negotiations with Germany to supply superior nuclear submarines for only A$600 million each. Not ‘too soon’ for Israel! So why the 595% price ‘mark-up’ for Australian taxpayers? Well, it’s not a matter of poor probity on behalf of Defence, when it’s a political decision. This is particularly concerning given that in the last 15 years we have witnessed the momentous shift in global economic power, the biggest since the Industrial Revolution, back in favour of our eastern neighbours.

So, looking at the global geopolitical trends, do you think we are adequately responding and adapting to our changing environment or alternatively are you reasonably satisfied with the current complacent status quo; the ‘she’ll be right, we’re the lucky country’ strategic plan? Pope J.P.2 made the point that we are ‘lucky’ because as a country we have never been really tested. So may the ‘Age of Luck & Denial’ continue and we’ll just ‘hope’ that the ‘reality test’ is not forced upon ‘US’… the clock is ticking!

22nd November 2016

In June 2010 Australian Emeritus Professor Frank Johannes Fenner, AC,CMG,MBE,FRS,FAA predicted the extinction of the human race within around 100 years.

Media Trumped

I’m perplexed as to why so many people seem ‘surprised’ with the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election. Particularly interesting was the manic, toxic reaction and atrocious behaviour by the mainstream tabloid media, who seem to have whipped themselves into some kind of hysterical bile-filled orgasmic crescendo of loathing, as they remonstrated against those with differing opinions. Is it a case of hyper-embarrassment because the tabloid media consistently get the big things wrong or is it simply that they’re detached and indifferent; an insular fraternity of cabals, who despise those of alternative persuasions? Clearly, the extreme, tabloid media’s failure to provide ‘diversity of opinion’ proves that they are out of step with Australia’s inclusive, tolerant society.

It must be humiliating for the doyens of the media, as well as the ‘politicians’ and ‘pollsters’ who comprehensively failed when it came to their coverage of both the U.S. Presidential Election and the June 2016 Brexit referendum. I suppose it’s bound to happen when they all have their noses in the same acrimonious trough. The politicians court the pollsters, the media suckle the politicians and the pollsters continue to make large predictions based on small samples. No wonder they get it wrong. Politicians need to listen to their constituents, the media need to get back to professional journalism, and pollsters need to broaden their reach beyond just the affluent (i.e. those with phones), and check in with the seemingly unnoticed, poor and disenfranchised, because they ‘vote’, as the U.S Election reaffirmed.

There was a time when journalists were researched and impartial. Their reports focused on ‘the story’. Now it’s openly biased opinion pieces, littered with vitriol from a smug and patronising media elite; a bunch of postulating sycophants removed from the realities of the real world who redraft media releases because they are incapable of unearthing real stories. They live in a small cocoon, influenced by like-minded narcissists, repeating the same old diatribe with few original ideas, continually chanting their ‘transcendental mantra’ of toxic ordure until it’s miraculously ‘factual’.

What I do find intriguing is that the media, academics and politicians on one hand seemed genuinely shocked with the outcome of the U.S. Election while on the other, keep telling us that ‘the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer’, as if they are or care about the poor, who (unknown to the media), ‘vote’! They recite this refrain out of habit, refusing to acknowledge that the rich sands have shifted around them. These media people, the ‘ideological elite’, are actually the wealthy privileged; the opposite of how they like to see themselves. The ‘affluent’ simply do not give any consideration to the disenfranchised working poor, in fact, they look down on them like common peasants, all because the working poor missed the opportunity to participate and benefit from one of the longest periods of post-war economic expansion. Really, why are they so shocked by this election result?

The ‘advantaged’ who profess to be egalitarians, like ‘talking the talk’ but they certainly are not ‘walking the walk’, given their lack of action and disregard for the working poor. In the U.S. approx. 15% or 45,000,000 people live below the poverty line predominantly in rural and inner city parts of the country. A 2013 UNICEF report ranked the U.S. as having the second highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world. So if you are a poor citizen of the U.S.A. then you have nothing to lose if you vote for change. So they did!

How dare they!

9th November 2016