Thursday, June 04, 2015

Another World War For Australia?

Australian, American and Chinese soldiers training together in the Northern Territory, in early May 2015
 World War II, Korea, even the Vietnam wars were all long ago. (Mostly due to reporting restrictions) even the Iraq and Afghanistan wars seem in the distant past, for Australians. Whole generations have passed since Australia last deployed tens of thousands of troops at a time to an American War Zone.

It could never happen again, we are told, Australians would never tolerate such large deployments, and the subsequent death tolls.

And yet, the chances of Australia being drawn into a full-blown conflict between China and the United States may have never been higher.

At least, that's the message some are trying to get out. It's not so much a warning, as a 'Well, You Better Get Used To This New Reality' PR campaign. Is the public already being softened up for another World War? One that would draw in Australia?

From here:
The source was anonymous. But the mouthpiece has a measure of credibility. High profile military analyst and former US Naval War College lecturer John Schindler tweeted last week: “Said a senior NATO (non-US) GOFO to me today: ‘We’ll probably be at war this summer. If we’re lucky it won’t be nuclear.’ Let that sink in.”

The warning comes as Europe engages in some of its biggest ever war games — right on Russia’s front door. It’s a deliberate ploy, intended to remind Moscow of the consequences of its duplicitous invasion of Ukraine.

Half a world away, the “w” word was mentioned again yesterday. This time in an editorial by a Chinese state controlled paper. Said the Global Times: “If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a US-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.”

It came as China’s government effectively declared a “no fly zone” over the disputed waterway after warning the US over its “provocative” aerial reconnaissance of several islands.

China is maintaining its stance that its aggressive construction work on disputed islands in South-East Asia is no different to building highways or public facilities anywhere else on the mainland. Such is its determination that these disputed territories are its own.
Combined, the increasingly threatening talk is causing many to take notice: High-profile US Billionaire investor George Soros told the World Bank last week: “If there is conflict between China and a military ally of the United States, like Japan, then it is not an exaggeration to say that we are on the threshold of a third world war."

Early in May, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation began one of its largest ever war-games. The naval anti-submarine exercise was designed to send a message after a series of aggressive Russian submarine incursions into the territorial waters of Baltic States such as Latvia, Finland and Sweden.

Last month, a number of Baltic State defence ministers issued a statement condemning Russia’s activities, once again declaring its old Cold War enemy their “biggest threat to security”.
Russia retaliated by highlighting the deepening relationship between neutral Finland and Sweden with NATO was a “special concern”.

Some 18 warships and submarines took part in the oddly named exercise, “Dynamic Mongoose”. It involved 10 NATO members and the otherwise neutral Sweden.
It came just weeks after NATO members — including Britain — sent tanks and troops to conduct live-fire exercises with Estonia: Once again an act designed to send a signal to Russia — keep your hands off the Baltic States. The tiny Baltic state separated from the former Soviet Union in 1991.
This week saw the launch of a third major NATO military exercise: Combat jets from the US, UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands have gathered in Finland, Norway and Sweden for extensive Arctic combat drills over 12 days.

Russia has not been idle in its response. It has teamed up with ally China to conduct war-games in the Mediterranean Sea. The 10-day operation ended last week after the two world powers boldly displayed their warship muscle in the equivalent of Western Europe’s backyard ‘swimming pool’.

Yesterday, Chinese officials responded to US military overflights and a probing visit by one of its warships.

“For a long time, the US military has been conducting close-in surveillance of China and the Chinese military has been making such necessary, legal and professional response — why did this story suddenly pop up in the past weeks?” Senior Colonel Yang Yujun commented yesterday.

“Has the South China Sea shrunk?”

“Some people have been intentionally and repeatedly hyping this topic. Their purpose is to smear the Chinese military and dramatise regional tensions. And I’m not ruling it out that this is being done to find an excuse for certain country to take actions in the future.”
That country is, of course, the United States. And Australia is the United States most loyal military ally. If the US starts a war with China, Australia starts a war with China.

Don't expect any fightback from PM Tony Abbott, or most of the Australian Parliament if it comes down to that. Abbott would revel in the media opportunities of such a vast and deadly conflict.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"We're Being Governed By Idiots"

'Victory Day' front pages like this just look downright ridiculous now:

The Abbott Government disaster/fiasco (take your pick) drags on and on and on. The Australian Financial Review's Laura Tingle in absolutely scathing form:
"we don't seem to quite be able to take in the growing realisation that we actually are being governed by idiots and fools, or that this actually has real-world consequences.

We finish the week with a Prime Minister who has lost his bundle and is making policy and political calls that go beyond reckless in an increasingly panicked and desperate attempt to save himself; a government that has not just utterly lost its way but its authority; and important policy debates left either as smouldering wrecks or unprosecuted.

At issue is not just whether Tony Abbott loses his leadership, or whether the budget bottom line deteriorates even further, but signs that our political system really is in deep trouble – not as a polemic point, but in a very real sense. 


"Idiot" is the word that comes most often in Labor's focus groups when voters are asked about the Prime Minister. And lest you're thinking this is just what Labor would spin isn't it, we had a confirmation this week from focus group polling conducted for Fairfax by one of Australia's most respected focus group pollsters, Visibility's Tony Mitchelmore, with the small caveat being that these voters didn't describe Tony Abbott as an idiot but a fool.
Tony Abbott has already lost Western Sydney. And after Rupert Murdoch's Daily Telegraph and right wing radio ranters worked so hard in 2013 to help win the area for him:
Voters in Western Sydney – selected because they had switched their vote from Labor to Liberal at the 2011 NSW election – described the Prime Minister as "incompetent, an international embarrassment and a fool".

These perceptions are not just a problem for Tony Abbott and his future, but for the broader Coalition, given that the government's conduct in the last couple of weeks can only leave voters with the idea that the idiocy stretches well beyond the Prime Minister's office.
 Worth A Full Read

When Australians Would Pose The Dead For Trophy Shots

Wonder what the kid in the photo below thought years later about being present for the trophy photo shoot of a dead member of the Kelly Gang?

Today, a child being present when terrorists pose corpses for photos is deemed a foul and disgusting outrage, which, of course, it is. But there's something just so casual and everyday about the people in the photo you get the sense this was not uncommon

Background on this extraordinary pic, which turns out to be Australia's First Press Photo
Captured by J.W, Lindt in 1880, the photo shows the dead body of a member of Ned Kelly's infamous gang, strung up on a door outside the jail house in Benalla in regional Victoria.

Joe Byrne died from loss of blood after being shot in the groin during the  siege of Glenrowan pub. Another photographer is pictured mid-shot, while an illustrator walks away from the new technology with his hat on and portfolio tucked under his arm.

The image is part of an exhibition called The Photograph and Australia at the Art Gallery of NSW, open now until June 8