Monday 24th of June 2024

tell me sweet nothings while we dance like swamp gas flames, above the stench of the empire.....


Australia has been paying insiders of the U.S. war machine for consultation on how to run the nation’s military, a massive conflict of interest given that Washington has been grooming Australia for a role in its war agendas against China.

In its article “Retired U.S. admirals charging Australian taxpayers thousands of dollars per day as defence consultants,” the ABC reports that, according to documents the Pentagon provided Congress last month, “dozens of retired U.S. military figures have been granted approval to work for Australia since 2012.”


By Caitlin Johnstone


For those who don’t speak imperialist, “retired U.S. military figure” generally means someone who used to be paid by the U.S. government to advance the interests of the U.S. empire, and is now paid by corporations and/or foreign governments to advance the interests of the U.S. empire.

These corrupt warmongers rotate in and out of the revolving door of the D.C. swamp, from government to war-industry jobs to punditry gigs to influential think tanks and then back again into government, advancing the interests of the U.S. empire the entire time and growing wealthy in the process.

This dynamic allows a permanent constellation of reliable empire managers to continually exert influence around the world in support of the U.S. empire, regardless of who gets voted into or out of office in the performative display of electoral politics. It’s a big part of why U.S. foreign policy remains the same regardless of who’s officially running the elected government in Washington, and it’s a big part of why the media and arms industry which support the U.S. war machine keep playing the same tune as well.

Among the American swamp monsters Australia paid for consulting work is the Obama administration’s spy chief James Clapper, who has an established track record of lying and manipulating to advance the interests of the U.S. empire:

  • In 2013 Clapper committed perjury by telling the U.S. Senate under oath that the NSA does not knowingly collect data on millions of Americans, only to have that lie exposed by the Edward Snowden leaks a few months later.
  • In 2016 Clapper played a foundational role in fomenting public hysteria about Russia with the flimsy ODNI report on alleged Russian election interference, which remainsriddled with massive plot holes. He would later go on to repeatedly voice the opinion that Russians are “almost genetically driven” toward nefarious and subversive behavior.
  • In 2020 Clapper signed the infamous and now fully discredited letter from former intelligence insiders saying the Hunter Biden laptop story was likely a Russian disinfo op, falsely telling CNN that the story was “textbook Soviet Russian tradecraft at work” and that the emails on the laptop had “no metadata” on them.

Also among the American military consultants paid by Australia is a man we just discussed the other day, William Hilarides, who will be telling Australia how to reconfigure its navy because apparently no Australians are available for that job. We now know that according to the released Pentagon documents Canberra has already paid Hilarides almost $2.5 million since 2016 for his consulting work.

This information was originally reported by The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones, who last year also broke the remarkable story that a former U.S. navy admiral named Stephen Johnson had actually served as Australia’s deputy navy secretary, a position which needless to say is not normally open to foreigners.

This is just one of the many ways that Australia is being interwoven into the U.S. war machine, from the 2023 Defence Strategic Review which further enshrines Australia’s position as a U.S. military asset, to Australian Secretary of Defence Richard Marles saying that the Defence Force is moving “beyond interoperability to interchangeability” with the U.S. military and being suspiciously secretive about who his golfing buddies were in his last trip to the U.S., to Australian officials angrily dismissing attempts to find out if the U.S. has been bringing nuclear weapons into Australia, to the Australian media pounding Australian consciousness with anti-China hysteria to such an extent that hate crimes are now being perpetrated against Asian Australians.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to witness the information environment of Washington’s next military proxy from the inside — what it would be like to be a Ukrainian with an ear to the ground during the lead-up to the 2014 coup or whatever. Well, now I know. Now all Australians with an ear to the ground know.

I’ve been generally dismissive of Australian affairs throughout most of my commentary career despite living here, since my focus is on resisting the disasters that threaten humanity as a whole. Australia has always seemed like a fairly irrelevant player on the world stage because of its impotent subservience to Washington. But it’s becoming clear it is exactly because of Australia’s blind subservience to Washington that Australia is worth paying attention to, since that relationship may well end up giving the nation a front-row seat to World War Three.

Australians are going to have to wake up to what’s being done and the abominable agendas the nation is being exploited to advance. Australians are being groomed for a military confrontation of unimaginable horror, one which absolutely does not need to take place, all in the name of something as trivial as securing U.S. planetary hegemony. Australians have got to start saying no to this, starting right now.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

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restricted poop.....


When someone pops into a pub loo after a pint or two, the last thing he (or she) would expect to come across would be sensitive documents blowing the lid on the operating characteristics of a nuclear-powered fleet submarine of the Royal Navy. But that is precisely what is reported to have happened in Cumbria.

An investigation has been launched by the UK Royal Navy in the wake of a report that someone off for a tinkle at The Furness Railway, a Wetherspoon establishment in Barrow-in-Furness, might have made a ‘leak’ of a rather more serious kind.

Some files marked “Official Sensitive” relating to the inner workings of the HMS Anson, the UK Royal Navy’s advanced nuclear-powered “hunter-killer” submarine of the Astute-class, worth £1.3Bln, were left behind in the pub’s loo.

Incidentally, The Furness Railway, which is described as having attracted quite a crowd that day, is just a stone’s throw away from BAE Systems' shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, where the submarine was commissioned.









secret propellers.....


The DSR’s desultory treatment of nuclear submarines      By Brian Toohey



The Albanese government’s Defence Strategic Review is marred from the outset by its bald assertion that China’s military build-up is the largest and most ambitious of any country since the end of the Second World War.

China’s military spending is dwarfed by that of the US. According to the authoritative Peterson Institute, US military spending is higher than the total of the next nine biggest spending countries. This means more than China, India, Russia, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan and South Korea combined.

The US budget has allocated US$858 billion for defence in 2023. China’s official figure is $US225 billion, although some estimates put it closer to $300 billion. The DSR acknowledges there is no sign China wants to invade Australia, but it could adversely effect some of our interests without explaining which ones. It is not enough to imply that China might attack our trade routes when it is a major beneficiary of trade. It has no incentive to block trade in peace time. If a war is occurring, shipping companies will stop their ships going anywhere near danger. The US’ 2009/10 AirSea Battle plan envisaged the comprehensive blockading of Chinese trade which would hurt Australia. But Julia Gillard did not oppose this while prime minister.

The DSR says China’s alleged military build-up “is occurring without transparency or reassurance to the Indo Pacific region of China’s strategic intent”. On the contrary, its intent is crystal clear. It feels threatened by the way it is being increasingly surrounded by US bases and subjected to hostile intelligence gathering patrols along its boundaries by surveillance planes. In response to this threat, China’s forces are structured to deny access by hostile forces to the approaches to the Chinese mainland – which is a similar goal to the now abandoned Defence of Australia doctrine.

Although the range of China’s forces has increased, they are not remotely comparable to that of the US. China has no bases off the US mainland. However, the US has military bases on the main island of Japan, plus the island of Okinawa, then stretching down through the Philippines to Guam and onto several of the South Pacific Islands such as Kwajalein. China has no bases in this island chain. Anthony Albanese has even stated that China should not be allowed to establish a naval base in its neighbouring country of Cambodia. It hasn’t, but Albanese did not explain why Cambodia shouldn’t invite it to do so as a sovereign country.

Although the US has over 700 military bases around the world, China only has one on another country’s soil – a small base at Djibouti on the horn of Africa to protect its trade from pirates. It appears to have established at least two bases on artificial islands it constructed on offshore territory it claims close to home in the South China Sea.

However, China has settled land border disputes with over seven countries by making significant concessions. It would be wise do the same in the South and East China Seas.

The DSR says, “China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea threatens the global rules based order in the Indo Pacific in a way that adversely effects Australia’s national interests”. A more accurate statement would be that China and Taiwan each claim about 80 percent of the territorial waters of the South China Sea, with each making the same claims. The eminent law of the sea scholar Sam Bateman said, “It is simply not true to say Beijing claims almost all the South China Sea and the islands within it. It may claim all the ‘features’ (uninhabited rocks, shoal, reefs etc) but only claim sovereign rights over resources of the sea.’ While the claims from Taiwan and China should be significantly modified, the DSR does not explain how their behaviour has serious “adverse effects on Australia’s national interests”. Another sentence might have helped.

Although the DSR makes a brief reference to the value of arms control, it did not suggest any course of action. Instead, Albanese and the defence minister Richard Marles, keep asserting that spending more on defence will deliver peace when it is just as likely to cause an arms race. Perhaps they could suggest that the South China Sea, after China and Taiwan’s claims are reduced, should become a demilitarised zone for all but the littoral states needing to transit it.

As for the “global rules based order”, the DSR should not praise this vague concept. It excludes the crucial prohibition on the aggressive use of force in international relations, unlike the ANZUS treaty. In a similar breach to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and Australia violated both ANZUS and the UN Charter in invading Vietnam in 1965. It did the same in the 2003 invasion of Iraq based on blatantly concocted intelligence. The Congressional Research Service study found the US used force in international relations on 160 occasions since the end of the Cold War in 1991. A Carnegie Melon researcher, Dov Levin has concluded that the US intervened in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, while the Soviet Union/Russia did on 36 occasions.

In contrast, China has not started a major war of aggression since the Communist takeover in 1949. In 1979, the then Chinese government foolishly launched a brutal incursion into Vietnam before pulling out. The goal was to punish Vietnam for removing Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia after it shelled Vietnamese villages on the border. At that stage, the US, Australia and China still supported Pol Pot.

The DSR emphasises the importance of acquiring longer range missiles to project power further than the 2000 kilometres envisaged under the previous Defence of Australia doctrine. Although a key capability is to attack moving targets, such as ships, there is no explanation about how the targets will be detected, tracked and the required data fed into the missiles. This could prove a very expensive capability to acquire. The task of hitting stationary land targets may seem easier, so long as we don’t care about whether the country being hit retaliates. This may not be wise if the country is China several thousand kilometres from Australia. We would be attacking it where its military forces are strongest and ours weakest. The ability of nuclear submarines to fire cruise missiles into China at a long distance from Australia is regarded as one of their key attractions. Whether this would be a cost-effective mission is a different matter. Modern conventional submarines can do the same, more cheaply, but aren’t considered in the DSR.

The DSR’s treatment of nuclear submarines is desultory – perhaps because the government’s mind was already firmly made up. However, the decision was taken to the severe detriment of the budget using seriously misleading information. New information casts a dreadful light on the decision.

The April 19 edition of Newsweek uses secret US navy documents and interviews to report that its submarine force can barely deploy a quarter of its nuclear attack boats at any one time. In 2022, only 10 percent spent more than 30 days fully submerged. Yet it is taken for granted that Australia’s future nuclear submarines will operate fully submerged at all times.

With only a quarter of the US’s nuclear submarines operationally available, this means that when Australia’s three Virginia class subs are delivered after 2030, none will be available on some occasions. On others, one might be available. Only two of the eight new designed AUKUS submarines will normally be operationally available. Realistically, the full complement will not arrive from the Adelaide shipyards until sometime after 2060.

By then, the world will almost certainly be radically different. The Chinese economy could have collapsed. As has happened before, it could have a new leadership that is more moderate than its predecessor. Perhaps it will revert to China’s earlier policy of living in “Confucian harmony with its neighbours”. By then, Australia’s American protector may have degenerated into a ruinous civil war.

According to Newsweek’s secret US Navy data, “In 2022, between eight and 11 Chinese submarines [conventional and nuclear] operated beyond local waters, including one ballistic missile submarine patrol. These submarines rarely left the protected seas around the mainland.” The recent news is the fleet was affectively bottled up by underwater chokepoints and US and Japanese sonars arrays that ensured they would be detected if they ventured into the open ocean. So much for the DSR’s supposedly terrifying results from China’s military build-up.

Newsweek’s sobering information strongly suggests Australia’s whole nuclear adventure should be re-assessed. It makes no financial sense. The total cost of the project is likely to be at least $400 billion – just to deliver two submarines that are operationally available at any one time. Despite Marles assertion nuclear submarines are essential to protecting Australia’s trade, two nuclear submarines can’t protect 3000 different ships making 26,000 Australian port calls a year. It was ludicrous for Marles to suggest otherwise.

Twelve of the latest conventional submarines fitted with hydrogen fuel cells and/or advanced batteries will be available for project cost of around $15 billion. With the fuel cells and batteries running silently for several weeks at a time, this is far better value than buying nuclear submarines which are less reliable and easier to detect.

One of the worst features of the nuclear submarines we are getting is that they use highly enriched, weapons grade, uranium fuel. The spent fuel will have to be stored safely in stable rock formations for hundreds of years after these boats retire. Neither the US nor Britain has managed to do this. It’s not clear how Marles will succeed.

The Labor Party should insist that the inner cabinet drop the folly of buying nuclear submarines before it’s too late.







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we got the dregs.....


By [CRADLE] News Desk


At least 77 senior US military officials (Generals and Admirals) have done paid work for 47 foreign governments since 2012, according to information released from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), including for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft reported on 28 April.

In response to requests from Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the OSD indicated there were 450 notifications of employment for foreign governments from 2012 through 2022. Of them, 12 were denied, 21 were administratively closed or withdrawn, and 11 are pending State or DoD approval.

For a former US military official to work for a foreign government, specific approval is required. As the Quincy Institute noted, more than half of the approvals were to work for the UAE, either with the country directly or with military contractors working on behalf of the country. Of the total UAE jobs, only 35 disclosed their compensation, while 185 listed compensation as “not available” or “not reported.”

“There seems to be a high demand for retired senior military officers to work for foreign governments, particularly autocracies,” journalist and Quincy Institute scholar Eli Clifton noted.

“The obvious question is: What are these former officers bringing to the table in exchange for six-figure paydays? Is it just their experience? Or is it their connections, influence, and stature back in Washington?”

The most senior former US military official to work for the UAE was former Trump defense secretary General James Mattis who began consulting for the UAE less than a year after leaving office for an undisclosed amount.

Another former high-ranking official, Admiral William Fallon, former commander of US Central Command from 2007-2008, received compensation in excess of $250,000 for his work with the UAE as part of his consulting firm.

The hiring of former US military officials constitutes part of a broader UAE lobbying effort within the US government, allowing the gas-rich Gulf country to influence US foreign policy.

In 2020 and 2021, some 25 organizations were registered in the US to work on behalf of Emirati clients, who paid over $64 million to firms representing them. These firms made over $1.65 million in political contributions, with more than half a million dollars going to members of Congress.

In October of last year, the Washington Post reported that the “influx of American veterans willing to sell their military expertise” had helped strengthen the UAE military and that this “newfound military muscle has emboldened them to send troops into Yemen and Libya, inflaming civil wars in both countries.”

While it has become more common in recent years for former military officials to profit by working for foreign countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, working for domestic arms manufacturers remains a lucrative option for US officials upon completion of their military careers.

The OSD reported that some 672 former government officials, military officers, legislative staff, and members of Congress were working for the top 20 US defense contractors in 2022, including 91 percent serving as lobbyists.

Of these, the top five employers of former US military officials included Boeing, Pfizer (which had defense contracts relating to the Covid pandemic, including vaccine production), Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin.






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sunk advice.....


By Stuart Rees


Reports that Australia pays retired senior US military officials up to $7,500 a day for advice on AUKUS related defence projects, reveals a cultural cringe and taste for secrecy. Such practice is coupled to a common policy technique, of avoiding criticism by maintaining public ignorance.

On controversial issues, such as the development of US military preparations to wage war from Australian soil, ignorance can be a policy bliss. The public don’t need to know. Best they don’t know.

In response to revelations that large sums have been paid for the advice of alleged US military experts, the public are fed glib justification. Regarding a review of the Australian navy’s surface fleet, Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy says that a US vice admiral ‘would do a good job’, and Defence Minister Richard Marles claims that high expenditure produces the best advice and the correct decisions.

If government Ministers feel no shame about secret payment of fees, such practice can be waved away as routine. No justification is necessary, no evaluation possible.

Defence based on alliance with US nuclear armed power has proceeded with limited public awareness, not least regarding the development of military bases in the Northern Territory. The overture for those developments occurred in former US President Obama’s 2011 Defence Posture speech to the Australian parliament. Code for Australian cooperation with US planning for a military strategy to confront China, that speech foreshadowed the 2014 ‘Force Posture Agreement’, which gave America the right to wage war from Australia.

The costs and consequences of 2,500 US marines located in Darwin provokes little attention from journalists who see the Northern Territory as distant and seldom newsworthy. Jargonistic explanations for US military presence – an Australian commander says marines are there for ‘high end live fire exercises to respond effectively to contingencies that may arise’ – can be ignored. The public would surely not be interested? They don’t need to know.

It is also best the public know little about the nuclear capable B52 bombers based at RAAF Tindall, and remain unaware of a Darwin base for fuel and maintenance facilities for US aircraft and warships. These developments are said to contribute to national security, that easy assertion which Dr. Scott Burchill says is commonly misused by defence and intelligence agencies to avoid transparency and scrutiny of their behaviour. If security is at stake, trust ‘intelligence’. You don’t need to know.

In the middle of the country, the significant military listening station at Pine Gap, may be perceived as a small communications centre in the middle of a desert, yet it occupies office space as large as the MCG. Within Pine Gap, the US military deploys ears and infra-red eyes to obtain intelligence about an enemy’s nuclear operations, including early warning of a possible missile launch; and in alliance with Australia, the US at war would depend on facilities at Pine Gap.

Although Australia is depicted as America’s trustworthy partner in conflict with China, the Australian government is not free to act on its own territory. Clinton Fernandes describes Australia as a Sub Imperial Power, for whom Pine Gap is a US base where less than 50% of 1000 employees are Australian, where members of the US Congress have freer access to the facility than Australian parliamentarians. Who should know?

The AUKUS policy that national security will depend on yet to be built but outrageously-expensive nuclear-powered submarines must also require the public to forget the $5 billion costs of the Morrison deceit involved in the cancelled French submarine project. It then requires acceptance that the AUKUS agreement ‘will promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is secure and stable’, a policy claim no more plausible than the familiar notion that prisons contribute to rehabilitation.

The AUKUS alliance is justified by military forces needing an enemy, hence repetition that China’s increasing military and financial power should be feared and controlled. In foreign policy, China is the obvious enemy. To think otherwise is not wise.

The United States military is a trusted ally, never to be feared, even if they possess 175 military bases in 70 different countries, whereas China is reported to have one foreign base, in Djbouti on the Horn of Africa.

To perceive the China threat as phony, requires insights that led former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to warn that Australia needs the US for its defence, but only needs defending because of the US.

In the current AUKUS debate, the build-up of the Northern Territory as a US base in readiness for war, is used to prove that China is a threat, a reasoning only to be swallowed if ignorance is maintained, if the public accept that the decisions of military, intelligence and political establishments must stay secret.

An ironical twist in controversy over AUKUS shows leading government ministers protecting their views by ignoring highly significant criticism of the kind evident in numerous articles in Pearls & Irritations. Such arguments might have dented the consciousness of the Prime Minister, the Foreign and Defence Minister but in common with policy to maintain public ignorance, Albanese, Wong and Marles seem to protect themselves by taking no notice of public criticism. Best we don’t know, they might say.

In a democracy, limiting what the public could know about defence purchases and foreign alliances is a counter-productive way to promote freedom and security. For every citizen, the policy alternative is not to remain ignorant, but to insist it is best always to know.






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