Tuesday 9th of August 2022

where's albo?…..

Anthony Albanese has shown during his recent trip to Europe that he is a prime minister addicted to hyperbole and oblivious to how countries can change in unexpected ways.

He told NATO leaders China aimed to become the most powerful nation in the world and its strengthening relations with Moscow “posed a risk to all democratic nations”. It’s most unlikely all democratic countries will be at risk. For a start, Russia will be in no condition to go to war with any other country after its abhorrent decision to invade Ukraine. It could be bogged down for years in a guerrilla war. China faces  a growing number of countries, including those in NATO, which are committed to containing its military and economic growth.

 

BY BRIAN TOOHEY

 

Albanese said in Europe that China is trying to “build up alliances to undermine what has historically been the Western Alliance in places like the Indo Pacific”. Historically, however, most Asian countries, including India and China, have been there a lot longer than the Western intruders are likely to last. The US may be the exceptional state. It annexed Hawaii in 1898 and made it an American state in 1959. But there is a plausible chance America will not  remain a democracy in coming years. While nothing is certain, China may become a democracy sometime after a discredited President Xi is deposed or dies. If so, it is entirely feasible the public may elect a majority Communist government led by a moderate reformist. No one knows. Alternatively, the US may become an autocratic state with a feral Supreme Court while China remains an autocratic state with an unpopular and futile determination to achieve “Zero Covid”.

The story of other members of the Western alliance is one of momentous change. Britain took Hong Kong by force in 1842 as a base for peddling opium produced in India by the British East India Company. India won its independence from Britain in 1947 and Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1977. France had a cumulative 100 years as the colonial power in Indochina until booted out by the Viet Minh in 1953. However, it retained its colonial possessions in the Pacific Islands. Albanese told President Macron in Paris that France was an Indo Pacific power which could help contain China’s “growing ambitions” in the region.

Albanese blasted China for not condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but exempted India which did the  same. Labor’s Defence Minister Richard Marles earlier warmly praised India and said it is “central to Australia’s worldview and defence planning”. It also has a Hindu supremacist government that actively discriminates against Islamic members of the population.

While in Europe, Albanese falsely claimed that Australia always obeys the international rules. If it had, it would not have helped the US and the UK invade Iraq. The invasion killed or seriously injured large numbers of people and rendered even more homeless. It also allowed terrorist groups to operate in Iraq when none were present under Saddam Hussein.  Albanese’s misleading assertion dishonours Labor’s leader at the time, Simon Crean, who opposed the invasion as a breach of the rules forbidding the use of military aggression in international relations.

Albanese caught the attention of his European audience when he complained that China had “economically coerced” Australia. A fuller picture would have acknowledged Australia officially took more than 100 anti-dumping complaints against China, despite usually frowning on such measures as potentially harming free trade. China eventually retaliated with tariffs and anti-dumping measures on some Australian exports to China. Albanese gives no sign that he understands China is not the only one who should back off.

China has not been in major war since 1950. Nor has it  killed anyone in the South China Sea or near Taiwan,  where it is accused of behaving more aggressively. All major countries accept Taiwan is part of China. Some of China’s opponents, including senior US Republican politicians, seem intent on goading it into using military force against Taiwan. Fortunately, Taiwanese leaders seem to understand that the island will not be attacked unless they declare independence. China could make this less likely by granting Taiwan a genuine status as autonomous region. One reason China won’t grant independence is this would make the island a convenient base to stage attacks against the mainland. Nevertheless, an experienced observer Geoff Raby says China won’t attack the island as this would involve the killing fellow ethnic Han Chinese which would be highly unpopular.

China makes claims to territorial waters in the South China Sea that other littoral countries also claim. The Pentagon acknowledges China withdrew six land claims to settle borders disputes. If it wants to be more accommodating, China could settle some of the extreme territorial sea claims that were originally made by the Communist Party’s political opponent, the Nationalist Party, before 1949. Taiwan also makes these claims. Ideally, China Sea could follow the Antarctic example and offer to turn South China Sea into a demilitarised zone beyond the 12 nautical mile offshore line.

There is no dispute that China is building up its armed forces. But its spending is no match for the US which is spends as much as the next nine countries together, including China. China has good reason to respond to a US military build up. In 2009, the US announced it had developed an Air/Sea Battle Plan for a war with China, to destroy much of its air and naval forces and blockade all its ports and maritime routes. The details have changed, but in 2011 the US also adopted  a “pivot” to the Pacific with goal of deploying  60 per cent of its forces there. It is also actively engaged in building new bases on Pacific islands within striking distance of China while the Albanese government loudly opposes any hint that China might try to build naval base in the Pacific, or even in nearby Cambodia. US and Australian forces also constantly undertake surveillance missions close to China.

In these circumstances, it is vital to try to ease tensions on all sides to avoid what would be a terrible war. In the past, Labor would be among those urging support for new arms control agreements and expanding all channels for the potential combatants to talk. Ben Chifley, Bert Evatt, Gough Whitlam, Bill Hayden, Gareth Evans and Paul Keating all made significant efforts to actively promote peace. Anthony Albanese is supporting a large arms buildup, which is not the same thing.

Well before Albanese’s European trip, he stressed the Labor government would support the Coalition’s new security pact between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS). No one has given a convincing explanation for why we need AUKUS on top of the Australian New Zealand US (ANZUS) security treaty signed back in 1951.

The UK adds nothing of value. In 1968 the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that Britain would withdraw its military bases from “East of Aden”. This was a good policy reflecting the fact that Britain no longer ruled the waves. Wilson also refused to send British troops to the Vietnam war, partly because the country couldn’t afford it. Yet Britain retained its “special relationship” with the US. A subsequent government restored a military base in the Middle East, but now Boris Johnson, a disastrous prime minister, has given British military forces a role in confronting China in the Asia-Pacific.

Although the text of AUKUS has not been released, it states the US and UK are prepared to sell nuclear submarines to Australia. They would’ve done that without AUKUS. They would also have done so for other countries such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore, but they see more advantages in writing operating modern conventionally powered ones. NATO members without nuclear subs could buy them, but don’t because it doesn’t make military or financial  sense. Yet Labor still wants buy eight nuclear subs, almost certainly from the US, so it can fire cruise missiles from nuclear submarines operating far from Australia into China. This is an extremely bad idea on both strategic and cost grounds.  It will only provoke China which çan fire more missiles into Australia than Australia can fire into it. We could do more to defend Australia from closer to home with a mix of weapons at a much lower cost. Moreover when our nuclear submarine fires the first missile into China it will be detected and almost certainly sunk.

Plausible estimates put the cost of eight US nuclear submarines at $171 billion. (This is from a government that says it can’t afford to increase the miserable level of the New Start Allowance.) The risks of buying nuclear are on the upside, particularly as Australia wants to build them here.

The first submarine, probably a version of the US Virginia class attack ones, will not be operationally available until the early 2040s and the last by 2060. A leading US defence analyst Winslow Wheeler cautions that the Virginia class has maintenance problems and is not available for much of the time. He says that over 33 years they have only  performed 15 six monthly deployments.

The former Senator Rex Patrick, an ex-submariner, says that conventionally powered submarines are now commonly equipped with air independent propulsion (AIP), which makes them quieter than nuclear submarines which have to keep their reactor cooling pumps going and use noisy big meshing gears between the steam turbines and propellers. Others point out that nuclear subs can be detected by their constant release of hot water; by leaving wakes on the surface when run at high speeds and by blue green lasers that will penetrate water by 2040.

Patrick says that figures given to the parliament show Australia could buy 20 modern off-the-shelf conventional submarines for $30 billion – not $171 billion for nuclear submarines that don’t meet our requirements.

Another downside of buying nuclear subs is that we would have to meet our obligations to declare any fissile material under our control to the International Atomic Energy Agency which acts on behalf of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, the US will refuse to give us the required information about the highly enriched,  weapons grade uranium in the reactors.

A further problem is that several Pacific Island leaders don’t want Australia to buy nuclear submarines. Nor, as Foreign Minister Penny Wong discovered on her recent visit to Malaysia, do its leaders.

Australian public opinion does not unambiguously support Labor’s strategy. The latest Lowy Institute’s annual poll shows over 51 per cent believe Australia should remain neutral in a military conflict between China and the US.

Even the hawkish former defence Minister Peter Dutton told National Press Club that he did not believe China wanted to occupy Australia. Why then do both sides of politics go out of their way to make an enemy of China. It is a recklessly provocative policy that could cause many Australians to die unnecessarily.

 

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seeking the heartland…….

It’s complicated. But people in Ukraine are dying and they blame Putin for being a thug by wagging war against their free country. He is a thug… Who can blame them — though so far, not that many people —compared to a full open warfare — have been killed, mostly Ukrainian soldiers. 

 

The Ukrainians don’t know that their sacrifice or plight, lies at the heart of a 1905 “commitment”… I am with them. Why should we care about old stuff that have no bearing on our enjoyment of life that Vladimir Putin is taking away now with his ruthless armies.

 

 

A serious article in Pearls and Irritations asks the question: why did not Biden and Blinken sign a non-aggression pact with Russia. Why did they tell Putin to fuck off when he asked the US and NATO to respect decent red lines? Why? It would have been simple: sign an agreement that stops Ukraine dreaming of becoming a NATO member. Sign an agreement that Ukraine will respect the Minsk agreements. End of story. Putin happy and Ukraine can live in peace. So why did the US not agree on Russia’s terms and did not want to even discuss these proposals anyway?

 

 

The USA started to become a world Empire and dreamt to divide the world in pie portions. They still do. See their Navycom... This has been done under the theory of Mackinder… I know, some people thought it was a bullshit theory… Mackinder was doing the theorising for the British Empire in 1905 and, though, Gus can only find unreliable tidbits, one can assume that Mackinder and Cecil Rhodes worked together for the British Empire “to conquer the world”. By 1919, this “second" British Empire had crashed somewhat. WW1 and all that, you know… The Yanks were preparing to take over anyway. They already had "conquered" the Latin Americas...

 

Sir Halford John Mackinder (15 February 1861 – 6 March 1947) was an English geographer, academic and politician, who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of both geopolitics and geostrategy. He was the first Principal of University Extension College, Reading (which became the University of Reading) from 1892 to 1903, and Director of the London School of Economics from 1903 to 1908. 

 

Critics of his theory argue that in modern days, it is outdated due to the evolution of technological warfare, as, at the time of publication, Mackinder only considered land and sea powers. In modern days there are possibilities of attacking a rival without the need for a direct invasion via cyber attacks, aircraft or even use of long range missile strikes.

 

Other critics argue that "Mackinderian analysis is not rational because it assumes conflict in a system where there is none”. ALL These criticisms are not valid. One can start a conflict by proxy. We’ve seen this done time and time again by the USA in many countries. Meanwhile, the core values of the prizes have become incommensurable. So what is it all about:

 

According to Mackinder, the Earth's land surface was divisible into:

• The World-Island, comprising the interlinked continents of EuropeAsia, and Africa (Afro-Eurasia). This was the largest, most populous, and richest of all possible land combinations.

• The offshore islands, including the British Isles and the islands of Japan.

• The outlying islands, including the continents of North AmericaSouth America, and Oceania.

The Heartland lay at the centre of the world island, stretching from the Volga to the Yangtze and from the Himalayas to the Arctic. Mackinder's Heartland was the area then ruled by the Russian Empire and after that by the Soviet Union, minus the Kamchatka Peninsula region, which is located in the easternmost part of Russia, near the Aleutian Islands and Kurile islands. In modern days this is called Siberia. So why would Siberia attract envy from the West? (see map).

 

Answer: RESOURCES. 

 

We are also told that Mackinder's theory was never fully proven as no singular power in history has had control of all three of the regions at the same time. Apparently, the closest this ever occurred was during the Crimean War(1853-1856) whereby Russia attempted to fight for control over the Crimean Peninsula, ultimately losing to the French and the British. Yet the Russians never threatened the outlying islands, though Sydney Harbour, Australia, still has old fortification built “to stop a Russian Invasion”. 

 

We should know what happened to Crimea since and why the West still does not recognise Crimea as Russian… The Russian ownership of Crimea goes against the deep desire of the Empire to control the Heartland. The "greatest prize” so far, which some US analyst called "Ukraine coming to the West” which is part of conquering the next: the Heartland. This would come after having defeated Russia, the Baltic states and half of China which in the times of Mackinder (1905) was a populous degenerate opium smoking lot. The rest of the "Rimlands" were to be easily controlled from the sea, including China. 

 

Is this Mackinder’s plan still alive? Yes. It has been modified though and improved by other “thinkers” of the US Empire, such as Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Brzezinski… The Heartland is still the big prize, but Putin (and Xi) is in the way. This is why Blinken and Biden did not want to sign anything that would prohibit the US from accessing the Heartland “legally”, by force or by cajoling, eventually. 

 

Are you still with me? 

 

Putin would know all this history and he had one alternative: Pack up and give the Heartland to the Empire or fight back, prevented “prizes” such as Ukraine fall in the hand of the Empire… It sounds a bit far fetched, I know…  But we're dealing with the US deep State (the Swamp) the people of which have no qualms and no morals, except conquer. I ask you, does the US Empire want to destroy Russia. Your guess could be better than mine which is YES… My other guess is that Putin hates war as much as anybody else in the streets of Kyiv or Moscow protesting against him. But history in evolution is not a kind mistress. The West has been lying to Russia since 1917 and is still lying with renewed vigour.

 

READ MORE:

https://yourdemocracy.net/drupal/node/43171

https://yourdemocracy.net/drupal/node/43171#comment-72402

 

 

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on the recovery road…..

The political ecstasy of last week’s Elysee Palace meeting between Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and French President Emmanuel Macron gave way this week to the domestic agony of floods, homelessness, COVID, inflation, labour shortages and interest rate rises.

The Albanese government’s honeymoon has been one of the sweetest in political memory but could also be one of the shortest as it grapples with a series of acute interlocking problems that would test even the best and most experienced of governments.

At least it starts on the hard road ahead on something of a high.

Albanese has unequivocally achieved the required international reset after outgoing prime minister Scott Morrison left Australia looking like shop-soiled goods in the market of global opinion. He has looked assured, been appropriate and made Australia a credible international citizen again.

 

The Peter Dutton-led opposition’s response to Albanese’s successful international reset underlines just how much work lies ahead in the federal coalition’s rebuild.

Dutton is due credit for saying it was “very good that the prime minister is heading to different parts of the world” ahead of Albanese’s latest trip, his third as prime minister. “Obviously, he’s got a very extensive travel itinerary at the moment and to be in France, that’s a good move.”

 

READ MORE:

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/albanese-faces-rude-shock-after-election-honeymoon-20220705-p5azat.html

 

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NATO is a conspiracy…….

 

China blames NATO for ‘creating conflicts and waging wars’Beijing’s Foreign Ministry has accused the US-led Western military bloc of undermining world peace

 

The US and its NATO allies have undermined world peace by triggering conflicts and starting wars, serving Washington’s selfish interests at the expense of innocent civilians around the globe, China’s Foreign Ministry has claimed.

“The history of NATO is one about creating conflicts and waging wars . . . , arbitrarily launching wars and killing innocent civilians, even to this day,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Wednesday. “Facts have proven that it isn’t China that poses a systemic challenge to NATO, and instead it is NATO that brings a looming systemic challenge to world peace and security.”

Zhao made his comments one week after NATO, for the first time, singled China out as a strategic priority and a “challenge” to Western interests. 

 

“China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons, bullying its neighbors, threatening Taiwan ... monitoring and controlling its own citizens through advanced technology, and spreading Russian lies and disinformation,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last Wednesday.

Tensions between NATO and China have escalated since Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine in February. Beijing, which has declined to join in the US-led campaign to punish and isolate Russia over the conflict, has suggested that NATO provoked the crisis.

READ MORE: NATO should have been dissolved in 1991 – China

At last week’s NATO summit in Spain, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of “seeking to undermine the rules-based international order.” Zhao responded on Wednesday by saying the “so-called rules-based international order is actually a family rule made by a handful of countries to serve the US self-interest.” 

The US “observes international rules only as it sees fit,” he added, and it has sought through NATO to “hype up competition with China and stoke group confrontation.”

The latest back-and-forth between Washington and Beijing comes just days before Blinken is scheduled to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The two chief envoys are slated to talk on Saturday when foreign ministers gather at the G20 summit in Indonesia.

 

 

READ MORE:

https://www.rt.com/news/558520-china-blames-nato-for-causing-wars/

 

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going with stupid?….

 

BY PERCY ALLAN

 

Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese is perpetuating the myth that China’s action in 2020 to restrict Australian exports was a bolt out of the blue that was uncalled for.

Either he is unaware or feigns not to know that during the previous four years we blocked:

  • China’s exports of aluminium and steel products on grounds that the WTO rejected,
  • Chinese investments including those in non-strategic products like Lion dairy and drinks,
  • Chinese technology even though Huawei’s 5G system was recognised as the best available, and
  • China’s promotion of its interests in Australia like other nations do (e.g., Israel, USA, Britain, France, Germany, India, Japan).

Afterward, ASIO raided the homes of Chinese journalists to seize their computers and interrogate them in front of their families. Also, the Australian government pressured universities to close their Chinese-sponsored language centres notwithstanding they don’t engage in politics.

These obstructions to Chinese trade, investment, technology, and influence breached the letter and spirit of our 2015 Free Trade Agreement with China that the Abbot government at the time had hailed as an “economic partnership” since it extended beyond trade by embracing measures for closer economic integration.

When Malcolm Turnbull became PM, the mood changed (the appointment of China hawk, John Garnaut, as his senior and then principal international adviser possibly spawned that). Canberra decided that Australia should lead the world in decoupling from China, even though it was our main market and an important source of investment, tourism, and students. This stance proved a winner with the new Trump administration though Australia got no favours in return. Indeed, Trump’s trade deal with China forced it to divert its agricultural imports to America at the expense of other primary producers including Australia.

In April 2020, the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, after liaising with America, but not consulting China, announced that Australia would push for an independent international inquiry into the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Prime Minister Scott Morrison went further, suggesting that the World Health Organisation (WHO) needed tough new “weapons inspector” powers to undertake the investigation. For China that was the last straw since it presumed the virus was China’s fault. China then decided that Australia was no longer a reliable “economic partner”, but a “hostile supplier”. Thereafter, it put restrictions on our exports of lobster, beef, cotton, and timber, tariffs on our wine and barley, and blocked our coal and copper.

Albanese says, “China has changed, not Australia”. In truth, Australia decided to overturn its economic partnership with China almost immediately after formally signing up for it. When Australia changed its views after Turnbull became PM it should have been upfront and told China it wanted to scrap the deal. Instead, the agreement is still in place, though now a dead letter law.

America’s containment policy

Albanese should be careful to avoid entrapment by Biden’s quest to isolate China diplomatically, technologically, and economically. Unlike the USA, Australia is part of Asia, and its economy is complementary to China, so not in competition with it. China is the world’s biggest factory, and we are amongst its biggest suppliers of fuels and raw materials used for its manufacturing and construction. We run a huge trade surplus with China, with the value of our exports double that of our imports.

China’s market for our products is bigger than our next dozen national customers combined. Imports from China (e.g., electronic equipment, machinery, boilers, furniture, lighting signs, prefabricated buildings, apparel, motor vehicles, plastics, toys, games, and sports requisites) are cheaper than those available elsewhere helping us to contain our cost of living. Without them, our wage’s purchasing power would have been much lower.

By contrast, the USA views China as an economic ogre because it has a large trade deficit with it and is worried that China’s advances in technology could overtake Silicon valley’s edge. So, its policy of confronting and containing China is not just about maintaining its military hegemony in Asia, but about preventing China from becoming an economic superpower. China wants to escape the middle-income trap bedevilling most of Asia by moving up the economic value chain via its “China 2025” plan to reduce its dependence on foreign technology and promote Chinese hi-tech exports.

Shifting from labour and capital-intensive industries to highly innovative ones will boost worker productivity and wages. That would help offset China’s declining workforce and diminishing overseas markets beset by post-pandemic stagflation and increased onshoring of supply lines. America knows that if it can convince its allies to boycott China’s ITC (e.g., Huawei 5 G system) it can hamper China’s efforts to become a rich country.

Yet Australia’s prosperity hinges largely on China’s prosperity. That is a reality we must recognise. Dumping China is not an option since it will be the dominant economy of the 21st century. Unless of course, we have strong grounds to believe it is planning to invade south-east Asia and then us, in which case we should immediately stop exporting base metals that go into making its military hardware. But there is no evidence for that.

Albanese is kidding himself if he thinks that the breakdown in economic relations was purely China’s doing and that Australia did not provoke it. He needs to acquaint himself with the facts before going off half-cocked if he is serious about improving relations with China. His latest endorsement of the NATO communique accusing China of posing a global threat to the interests, security, and values of the now 32-country alliance has earned stern rebuke and thereby compromised any reset in relations with China.

To join America’s push to hobble China’s growth would shackle our own efforts at higher living standards and better public services. Albanese should be acutely aware of that because he has not only inherited a huge structural government deficit but added to it with his own ambitious social programs. Without China’s buying power his government won’t be able to undertake budget repair let alone pay for its expensive promises. Nor will it get Australia out of its stagnant wages rut since slower growth would mean higher unemployment and less labour bargaining power.

 

READ MORE:

https://johnmenadue.com/albo-on-china-what-next-part-1-who-started-the-trade-war/

 

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I hope Albo carries on reading this website, if he ever did........