Malcolm Turnbull on rescue mission to save himself – bugger the country … Libs to recruit Noel Pearson as election candidate … Washington pursues Canberra to support its anti-China alliance … top CIA agent spills the beans … Jihadi news on Oz television … Great Crashing Bores …
Turnbull attempts to reboot
Interesting times in Canberra. Since Federal Parliament went into recess, an atmosphere of tension and expectation is being generated. For the first time in months, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is on the front foot and has stolen some momentum while Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has faded from view.
The weather change began last weekend when Turnbull reactivated his long-dormant commitment to republicanism: ditching the English hereditary monarchy in favour of an Australian-born head of state. He was guest of honour at the Australian Republican Movement’s 25th anniversary dinner held at that hotbed of republicanism – Sydney University’s Great Hall.
Turnbull blunted his message saying that there would be no constitutional change while Mrs Windsor, aged 90, was still alive, but all bets were off after that.
A couple of days later, the international credit agencies – Standard & Poor, Moody’s and Fitch – preserved the Government’s AAA credit rating.
Why? The figures in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) report didn’t warrant any vote of confidence; indeed, they were alarmingly bad.
Ominously, the credit raters all said that they would “review the position” in May, thereby giving Turnbull, a former Goldman Sachs operative, a breathing space of five months to avoid the humiliation of a downgrade.
To the nervous business community, he is offering free trade agreements with India and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a collection of American-owned petrol stations along the Arab Gulf, and an “economic partnership” agreement with Indonesia. The start of negotiations with London Tories on a free trade agreement is also on the cards.
Pearson is blue not black or red
In a thin cloud of triumphalism, Turnbull is claiming success for his second round of Budget “repair” cuts and the passage of the anti-union Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation thanks to the support of Pauline Hanson’s union-hating One Nation.
Turnbull is also busily recruiting Cape York indigenous leader Noel Pearson as his “trophy” candidate for the next Federal Election. Educated in class collaboration by conservative Lutherans and trained by Melbourne’s taxation law firm, Bloch and Leibler, Pearson has evolved into a master orator and a Liberal Party pet. Indigenous voters regard him as a pompous phoney and while he could replace Warren Entsch in the seat of Leichhardt he would be a dud anywhere else – except on mahogany row of The Australian in Surry Hills.
The deeply unpopular Turnbull is trying to prevent a split in the Liberal Party led by far right-wing maddies, Tony Abbott and Senators Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz, when it would be smarter to encourage their exit into political oblivion.
So what’s on his mind? An early election would seem like political suicide. On the other hand, he must know that his prime ministership has been a disaster and that he is in a lonely, unloved (apart from wife Lucy and a few toadies) and depressing place.
Please, not another US war
Robert Menzies’ Liberal Government embraced the US-led invasion and occupation of Vietnam in the 1960s on the flimsiest Cold War intelligence from the CIA that a “domino theory” would precipitate the “downward thrust” of communism into Australia.
In the 2000s John Howard’s Liberal Government embraced the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq on the lying intelligence from the CIA that President Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction”.
Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal Government is embracing Washington’s latest argument that Australia must be ready to join an unofficial military alliance to make war on China over Taiwan, the South China Sea or Hong Kong. Take your pick. As the anti-China war drums beat ever louder, right-wing think tanks, led by the Lowy Institute, seem determined to lull Australian public opinion into a state of somnolence saying: “We can trade with China and at the same time we can join the US in a regional defence build-up.”
One luminary brushed aside critics saying: “Hey, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.” If it were only that simple: sleep-walking is not a recommended method of making foreign policy. Recent history demonstrates that when the US government wants allies it merely applies brute pressure and the so-called “special relationship” comes into play. Everyone ready to do some heavy lifting so the US can continue to police China and South East Asia? I’m not.
CIA agent breaks silence
A recently published book by a top CIA agent John Nixon explained how the agency’s intelligence reports are now written by a toadying bureaucracy whose brief memos are like “crack cocaine for consumers of classified information”.
“It’s as if the CIA’s analytical branch has been transformed from a college faculty into a cable news network. Expertise is not valued, indeed not trusted.” (Debriefing the President by John Nixon. Blue Rider Press 2016)
He described the super sleuths’ headquarters at Langley, Virginia, as “a haven for yes-men excessively eager to please the White House,” according to a New York Times review.
During Tony Blair’s rush to war in the Middle East, sceptics in Whitehall were isolated, demoted or retired. Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5, warned that the US-assembled intelligence was “too insubstantial” to justify going to war, while Foreign Office legal adviser Elizabeth Wilmhurst resigned when Blair’s war cabinet rejected her advice that a second UN resolution was necessary if war was to be authorised legally.
Dr David Kelly, a highly experienced former UN weapons inspector, “committed suicide” on the eve of giving evidence to MPs that Blair had “sexed up” the dossier to declare war on Iraq. While Blair had claimed British defence targets could be hit within “48 hours” by Saddam’s secret missiles, Nixon claims the Iraqi leader had ceased to lead the country at least a year earlier, handed control over to pigheaded generals and was engrossed in writing a book.
As of today, America’s hardline military and intelligence planners are counting on the UK and Australia to continue offering support to military adventures that might be pursued by the Trump administration. On all the evidence of the past 50 years, Washington’s confidence is well placed; there isn’t a politician in Canberra willing to, or capable of, telling the American militarists that the game is up and that Australian Defence Force (ADF) won’t be assisting them in future to enforce the free market and American-style democracy around the world.
Jihadi news on TV
Australians watching TV reports from war-ravaged Aleppo will be aware of the tiny Arabic logos that appear in the corner of their screens. No translation is provided and no explanation of the provenance of the footage. Who took the film and how did Channel 7, 9, 10 or the ABC obtain it? Invariably, it was supplied to them by the organisations behind those mysterious Arabic logos.
Patrick Cockburn, one of the most respected correspondents covering the Middle East, has provided an explanation in an article entitled, “There’s more propaganda than news coming out of Aleppo this week.”
“The foreign media allowed – through naivety or self-interest – people who could only operate with the permission of al-Qaeda-type groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham to dominate the news agenda,” Cockburn writes. “The precedent set in Aleppo means that participants in any future conflict will have an interest in deterring foreign journalists who might report objectively. By kidnapping and killing them, it is easy to create a vacuum of information that it is in great demand and will, in future, be supplied by informants sympathetic to or at the mercy of the very same people (in this case jihadi rulers of east Aleppo) who have kept out foreign journalists.
“Killing or abducting the latter turns out to have been a smart move by the jihadis because it enabled them to establish substantial control of news reaching the outside world. This is bad news for any independent journalist entering their territory and threatening their monopoly of information.”
Cockburn is scathing of the Western media. He accuses reporters of being “spoon-fed by Jihadis” and “regurgitating information from tainted sources”. “One journalist of partly Syrian extraction in Beirut told me how he had been offered $US17,000-a-month to work for such an opposition PR project (anti-Damascus and anti Russian) backed by the British Government,” Cockburn wrote.
Think about it. Heart-wrenching scenes from Aleppo seen on Australia television were supplied by terrorist groups which the Australian government has vowed to wipe out. In other words, Australian TV networks were acting as a propaganda unit for the very people Australian defence forces are fighting. Reports were charged with tearful emotion, but woefully light on facts. It demonstrated the simple fact that hard-headed war correspondents of the “old school” are far superior to the hand-wringers who are cooped up in Beirut covering Syria and Iraq via Skype and social media.
Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch are making heaps of money from advertising and increased ratings: he demonises Islam with terrifying stories about the beheading of abducted journalists while simultaneously repeating terrorist-supplied footage on his worldwide pay TV networks to support the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad and the further isolation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The blanket emotion-laden coverage is designed to smother the fact that the US and its allies (including Australia) have suffered an immense diplomatic, political and military defeat in Syria at the hands of Damascus, Tehran and Moscow.
Festival of Dangerous Ideas*
Jazz Kracka and Adam Antwerp from Hollywood Boulevard’s Coffee Libraire will present their revolutionary approach to putting buzz back into your life with a tablespoon of butter from corn-fed cows in every cup of coffee. Don’t be down in the Trumps, they say, have a shot of Java with butter and you’ll learn to Love Life all over again. Enjoy this life-changing talk for only $500 a ticket (plus free shot of coffee, of course!). Sponsored by the Bahai Foundation for Living Betterment and Monsanto Industries. Book now.
Great Crashing Bores – 25*
I used to follow the Sydney-Hobart yacht race every year but not this time. I’m over it. It used to be great watching the yachts go out through Sydney Harbour Heads and then you’d turn on the radio a few days later just to hear the celebrations as the line winners come into Hobart harbour. Not these days. The TV networks follow the race all the way down the coast, across the Tasman Strait and then down the coast to the finishing line. It’s too much. And the catamarans are so fast that it’s all over in a couple of days. I’d rather watch the cricket; but I won’t be watching this year. We’re playing the Mussies from Pakistan. I’m over that too, mate.
* FoDI and GCB are satirical fiction
Happy reading, thanks for your support and let’s link up in 2017 – AM.