Category Archives: Nuclear-powered Submarines

Our Man in Washington: Morrison’s Tour of Deception

It was startling and even shocking.  Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief.  Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts.  Being known in his own country as “Scotty from Marketing”, he just might pull it off.

Besides, a security compact with the United States and the United Kingdom had just been cemented, one promising Canberra eight submarines with nuclear propulsion.  That these promised to be eye-wateringly expensive and available sometime in the 2040s, were they to ever make it to water, was a point not even worth considering.

In the US press, Morrison was careful to toe the line of the partner made supplicant.  On CBS’s Face the Nation, he was asked whether the US and its allies were moving towards conflict with Beijing.  “I don’t think it’s inevitable at all,” he chirped, claiming that it was “in everybody’s interest” that we all co-exist. But this “happy co-existence” was premised on keeping China in the box or, as he preferred to put it, a committed role of “free nations like Australia” and others in the Indo-Pacific region to stay vigilant.

On climate change, he was also pressed on having not “given a timeline” on placing Australia on the path to net zero emissions. He admitted this to be the case and vacillated.  Slipping back into advertising mode, Morrison said that “performance matters” for Australia.  The net zero target was being pursued, and would be achieved “preferably by 2050.”  The usual half-baked assurances followed: Australia’s record was “strong”.  “We’ve already reduced emissions in Australia by over 20 percent since 2005.  We committed to Kyoto. We met that target and beat that target.”  As for the Paris target?  Not an issue: Australia would romp it.

At that point, CBS’s Margaret Brennan could only observe that no country had actually delivered on such targets.  Hardly a problem, came Morrison’s reply to the bubble’s bursting.  “See, it’s one thing to have a commitment, but in Australia, you’re not taken seriously unless you’ve got a plan to achieve the commitment.”  This was delightful coming from a Prime Minister who has no plans to speak off when it comes to dealing with climate change.  In fact, Morrison’s tenure has been marked by an absence of plans on any major policy decision.  When any have been proposed – the vaccine rollout being the conspicuous example – they have been spectacular failures.

In a press conference given on September 24, Morrison pursued his favourite theme in colouring Australia’s lamentable contribution to the global climate debate: technology.  Australia is never the laggard in Morrison’s environmental cosmos.  Developing countries, he insisted, should be the priority, which was another way of saying that they were the problem.  “If we want to address climate change, then we need to address the change that is necessary in developing economies, so they can grow their economies, build their industries, make the things the world needs.”  For any difference to be worthwhile, “we’ve got to make a difference everywhere”.

Such a slanted view found its mark.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was taken by a flight of fancy in thinking that Morrison was doing something special. In welcoming the Australia prime minister to the Capitol, Pelosi considered the AUKUS security pact “pretty exciting” and thanked Morrison for showing “leadership” on the issue of climate change.

The next day, Pelosi latched on to Morrison’s remarks about the Paris targets in her weekly press conference with candy-grabbing enthusiasm.  Both the UK’s Boris Johnson and Morrison were “so exuberant about the urgency of addressing the climate issues.”  But it was the Australian who impressed with his slogan “We Meet It and We Beat It.”  That was enough for the Speaker: “they’re leading the way, and that’s what we all have to do” namely “meet our emissions responsibility and our financial responsibility to other countries so that when we leave COP26, having fulfilled our obligations to the Paris Accords, and then go further.”

Such glaringly superficial assessments can be put down to the fanfare that accompanies visiting dignitaries from freedom land’s outposts.  Morrison was particularly fortunate on that score, winning over his hosts with a shameless slogan that sounded hopelessly electoral and starkly mendacious.

Which takes us to the next point: Pelosi and company have proved to be something of a sounding board for the next Australian federal election.  Morrison’s action on climate change will be minimal, but that will be irrelevant in a number of electoral battlegrounds.  Having a slogan, writes Sean Kelly, a former advisor to two previous Australian Labor Prime Ministers, will be acceptable to “a remarkable number of people, as an acceptable substitute for reality – just as it was in America last week.”  The Australian Labor Party, still languishing in hopeless opposition, have every reason to be worried.

The post Our Man in Washington: Morrison’s Tour of Deception first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Gaslighting The Public: Serial Deceptions By The State-Corporate Media

During last week’s Tory Cabinet reshuffle, ITV political editor Robert Peston inadvertently summed up the primary function of political journalists:

‘I simply pass on’

His tweet was in reference to a ministerial source saying that Priti Patel was ‘not looking happy’. She remained in her job as Home Secretary.

Peston’s phrase was a tragicomic echo of a remark by Nick Robinson, ITV political editor during the Iraq war, who infamously declared that:

‘It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking… That is all someone in my sort of job can do.’

(‘“Remember the last time you shouted like that?” I asked the spin doctor’, The Times, 16 July, 2004)

In 2012, Robinson, by now the BBC’s political editor, mourned:

‘The build-up to the invasion of Iraq is the point in my career when I have most regretted not pushing harder and not asking more questions’.1

However, Robinson’s career certainly did not appear to have been harmed having abdicated this basic responsibility of journalism; namely, holding those in power to account. After a ten-year stint as the BBC political editor, he became a presenter on the high-profile BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Peston’s counterpart at the BBC, political editor Laura Kuenssberg, also performs the required function of ‘I simply pass on’, broadcasting and amplifying the words of those in power with minimal ‘analysis’, far less critical appraisal. Relaying Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s words on the current crisis in gas supply in the UK, as he flew to New York to attend climate talks, she tweeted:

‘Speaking on the plane Johnson said..

1. gas supply probs shd be “temporary”, the squeeze is a result of world waking up from pandemic shutdowns like everyone “going to put the kettle on at the end of the TV programme” and he said he was confident in UK supply chains’

Gary Neville, the football pundit and former Manchester United defender, replied to Kuenssberg’s tweet:

‘Hi Laura do you believe this guys crap ?’

A tad blunt perhaps. But, judging by the number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’, it was a welcome challenge from someone with a public profile to the endless channelling by highly-paid political journalists of Johnson’s twaddle – and worse (as we will see below).

Daniel Finkelstein, the Tory peer and Times columnist, defended Kuenssberg and responded that reporting the Prime Minister’s words ‘is a part of her job’ so that the public can judge them for themselves. Three obvious glaring holes in his argument are that the BBC political editor:

(a) rarely challenges Johnson (or other government ministers) to any significant extent;

(b) provides very few perspectives or opinions from outside the narrow range of ‘mainstream’ Parliamentary debate (Labour hardly counts as an effective ‘Opposition’ under the Blair-lite Sir Keir Starmer;

(c) ignores Johnson’s many lies, falsehoods and misrepresentations which have been well-documented by several independent political observers, including Peter Oborne and Peter Stefanovic. Kuenssberg and her corporate media peers have given the Prime Minister a free pass on his serial deceptions.

There are countless examples of establishment bias by Kuenssberg (and her predecessors as BBC political editor). Recall, for example, that for years she channelled a one-sided account of Labour’s supposed antisemitism crisis, including an infamous BBC Panorama programme that was demolished as a ‘catalogue of reporting failures’ by the Media Reform Coalition. Recall, too, her evident disapproval when Jeremy Corbyn, then leader of the Labour Party, refused to give her a commitment in a BBC News television interview that he was willing to press the nuclear button to launch weapons that would cause untold death and suffering.

On 20 September, 2021, The National newspaper in Scotland reported that the flagship BBC News at Six ‘did not run a single negative news story about the UK Government’ during the previous week, 13-17 September. This was probably not an unusual week in that regard. Genuinely hard-hitting critical reporting of the Tory government is notable by its absence on BBC News and other establishment news media.

The truth is, that on one issue after another, leading journalists like Kuenssberg, Peston, and all the high-profile correspondents ‘reporting’ on politicians, the military and intelligence services spend too much time performing as mere stenographers to power. Rational and critical opposing voices are routinely ignored, marginalised or ridiculed.

Media Lens has documented and explained over the past two decades how ‘objectivity’ and ‘impartiality’ are alien concepts to state-corporate journalism. As the US commentator Michael Parenti once noted:

‘Bias in favor of the orthodox is frequently mistaken for “objectivity”. Departures from this ideological orthodoxy are themselves dismissed as ideological.’

Similarly, Matt Kennard, head of investigations at Declassified UK, a vital resource for independent journalism, put it well:

‘If you’re sympathetic to the weak, it’s activist journalism. If you’re sympathetic to the powerful, it’s objective journalism.’

The public are, in effect, constantly being subjected to gaslighting by corporate journalists purporting to inform the public what is happening around us. We are being told, explicitly and implicitly, that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the system of economics and power politics that prevail in the world. We are being misled that any serious problems that arise – even climate instability – can be ‘fixed’ by ‘incentivising’ changes to consumer behaviour, rejigging the economy by redirecting public subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, but all still within a corporate-driven ‘market’ framework to maximise private profit, and by implementing technical ‘solutions’, such as capturing and storing carbon emissions (which have failed to live up to the grandiose PR promises made, while fossil fuel companies have received large injections of public cash from governments).

In fact, ‘mainstream’ news is characterised by serial deceptions and omissions that hide essential truths about the world. We are being drip-fed propaganda that preserves the current inequitable system of power, privilege and class – even as we hurtle towards the abyss of climate chaos.

Any one of the topics addressed here could merit a media alert in its own right. Indeed, in each case, we have done so several times before. The objective here is to provide something of an overview of the propaganda system that is leading us towards ever greater levels of inequality and misery, even human extinction; a timely reminder of what is at stake.

Endless War

Consider the recent pull-out of US troops from Afghanistan after twenty years of occupation. In an excellent article for the Morning Star, Ian Sinclair observed that BBC News and other outlets continued to promote ‘misleading narratives about the Afghan invasion and its motives’. As just one example, Sinclair highlighted Johnson’s ‘astonishingly deceitful claim’ that:

‘It was no accident that there has been no terrorist attack launched against Britain or any other Western country from Afghanistan in the last 20 years.’

Sinclair countered:

‘First, terrorist attacks have taken place in Britain and the US that have been inspired by the US-British invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.’

He continued:

‘Second, it is widely understood by intelligence agencies and experts that the West’s military intervention in Afghanistan led to a heightened terrorist threat to the West.’

Sinclair added:

‘The final problem with the government’s claim that the war stopped terrorism on the West from Afghanistan is that it’s based on a simplistic understanding of the September 11 2001 terror attacks — that it was necessary for terrorists to “have a safe haven to plan and launch attacks on America and other civilised nations,” as president George W Bush explained in 2006.’

However, the 9-11 attacks were planned initially in Germany, training was implemented in the US and most of the hijackers were Saudi. A recent article in CovertAction Magazine noted that:

‘The invasion of Afghanistan was launched following the NATO invocation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, but eventually it emerged that the report presented to NATO by U.S. Ambassador Frank Taylor contained no actual forensic evidence to support the assertion that the terror attacks had been orchestrated in Afghanistan.’

The 7 July 2005 bomb attacks in London, and the Manchester Arena bombing and London Bridge attacks in 2017, required no ‘safe haven’ for terrorists to commit atrocities in Britain.

Sinclair summed up:

‘The omissions and distortions that have been made by politicians about Afghanistan over the last few weeks, echoed by much of the media, have been so big and unremitting it’s easy to start questioning one’s own grip on reality.’

But following corporate news media daily can have precisely that effect. In gaslighting media audiences, ‘mainstream’ news routinely skews the agenda in favour of what Washington and its allies wish to project. Thus, as Julie Hollar noted in a piece for US-based media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), the corporate media only rediscovered Afghan women and their human rights when US troops left:

‘[corporate media] coverage gives the impression that Afghan women desperately want the US occupation to continue, and that military occupation has always been the only way for the US to help them. But for two decades, women’s rights groups have been arguing that the US needed to support local women’s efforts and a local peace process. Instead, both Democrat and Republican administrations continued to funnel trillions of dollars into the war effort, propping up misogynist warlords and fueling violence and corruption.’

Hollar continued:

‘The US did not “rescue” Afghan women with its military invasion in 2001, or its subsequent 20-year occupation. Afghan women need international help, but facile and opportunistic US media coverage pushes toward the same wrong kind of help that it’s been pushing for the last two decades: military “assistance,” rather than diplomacy and aid.’

She concluded:

‘For more than 20 years, US corporate media could have listened seriously to Afghan women and their concerns, bringing attention to their own efforts to improve their situation. Instead, those media outlets are proving once again that Afghan women’s rights are only of interest to them when they can be used to prop up imperialism and the military industrial complex.’

FAIR has summarised a 20-year-long pattern of corporate media self-censorship, scapegoating and stenography since 9-11. The US ‘war on terror’ has likely killed more than one million people at a cost of $8 trillion, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project. The report states:

‘Several times as many more have been killed as a reverberating effect of the wars – because, for example, of water loss, sewage and other infrastructural issues, and water-related disease.’

Cost of War co-director Stephanie Savell said:

‘Twenty years from now, we’ll still be reckoning with the high societal costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars – long after US forces are gone.’

The corporate media played a major role in bringing about this catastrophe, then covering it up afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is continuing its immoral mission to prosecute Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks co-founder and publisher, for telling the truth about US crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Assange rightly said in 2011 that the US goal was ‘an endless war, not a successful war’. The aim is to line the pockets of the narrow sector of society that profits from the military-industrial complex, at the expense of the general population.

In a piece for Newsweek, Daniel Ellsberg, Alice Walker and Noam Chomsky wrote that:

‘When Assange published hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the public was given an unprecedented window into the lack of justification and the futility of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The truth was hidden by a generation of governmental lies. Assange’s efforts helped show the American public what their government was doing in their name.’

As we have noted in previous media alerts, Assange’s continued incarceration and long-term confinement, described as torture by Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, is a damning indictment of Western ‘democracy’.

Political commentator Philip Roddis observes astutely that ‘Western democracy is ninety-five percent bogus’ because:

‘(a) democracy implies consent, (b) consent is meaningless if not informed, and (c) informed consent implies truly independent media. That last we do not have when they are “large corporations selling privileged audiences to other large corporations” [quoting Noam Chomsky].’

A recurring feature of ‘democracy’ and its ‘free press’ is judicious silence or quiet mumbling when a ‘mistake’ is made. Consider the BBC’s limited apology, and dearth of follow-up by almost all media, when the BBC conceded its coverage of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma on 7 April, 2018 was ‘seriously flawed’.

As we have described in numerous media alerts, the corporate media declared with instant unanimity and certainty that Syria’s President Bashar Assad was responsible for the attack. One week later, the US, UK and France launched missiles on Syria in response to the unproven allegations. Since then, there has been a mounting deluge of evidence, in particular from whistleblowers, that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN poison gas watchdog, has perpetrated a cover-up to preserve the Western narrative that Assad gassed civilians in Douma.

Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens had complained to the BBC following last November’s Radio 4 broadcast of ‘Mayday: The Canister On The Bed’, which propagated the official Western narrative of the attack. In particular, Hitchens had objected to the slurs against an anonymous OPCW whistleblower named ‘Alex’. The BBC had claimed that ‘Alex’ only cast doubt on the official narrative because he had been promised $100,000 by WikiLeaks. The claim was false, as the BBC later admitted. There was no evidence to suggest that ‘Alex’, described as ‘a highly qualified and apolitical scientist’, was motivated by anything other than a desire for truth in sharing his doubts about the attack.

Aaron Maté, an independent journalist with The Grayzone, has vigorously and repeatedly pursued the story, shaming both ‘mainstream’ media and most progressive media outlets who, like the corporate media, have blanked the scandal. He recently wrote a devastating account of the deceptions and evasions by OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias when appearing before the UN. Now, in a must-watch interview with Jimmy Dore about the BBC’s apology, Maté said that the BBC only retracted part of its attack on the OPCW whistleblowers and that ‘the retraction only scratches the surface of its deceit.’

Steve Sweeney, international editor of the Morning Star, noted in response to the BBC’s apology on its Douma coverage that:

‘None of the major British newspapers such as The Times, The Telegraph, or the liberal mouthpiece for war with a human face, The Guardian, gave it column space despite the serious nature of the matter.’

The Stark Reality Of Newspeak

But, of course, ‘we’ are the ‘good guys’. And when evidence emerges to the contrary, it is shunted to the margins or buried. Other countries might be ‘belligerent’, but not us. Hence the deeply skewed reporting of the recent ‘Aukus pact’ between the US, UK and Australia which will provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. This was largely presented by state-corporate news, including the BBC and the Guardian, as a ‘defence’ deal to ‘counter’ China in its ‘belligerent behaviour’ in the Indo-Pacific.

BBC News at Ten declared on 16 September:

‘The deal will deliver nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian navy to promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region which has come under increasing pressure from China.’

The BBC might as well admit that they are reading out press releases on behalf of Western power.

An online BBC News article included the deceptive wording:

‘Aukus is being widely viewed as an effort to counter Beijing’s influence in the contested South China Sea.’

The weasel phrase ‘widely viewed’ is newspeak for ‘the view from Washington and London’.

Likewise, the Guardian dutifully carried the official US-UK view and framed its reporting accordingly:

‘In Washington, the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, made clear that the administration had chosen to close ranks with Australia in the face of belligerent Chinese behaviour.

‘Austin said he had discussed with Australian ministers “China’s destabilising activities and Beijing’s efforts to coerce and intimidate other countries, contrary to established rules and norms”, adding: “While we seek a constructive results-oriented relationship with [China], we will remain clear-eyed in our view of Beijing’s efforts to undermine the established international order.”’

Imagine if western journalists regularly wrote news reports about the plentiful examples of belligerent US behaviour. And about America’s destabilising activities and efforts to coerce and intimidate other countries, contrary to established rules and norms. But that would be real journalism. Instead, a Guardian editorial oozed its approval:

‘A firm and unified response to China’s actions by democratic nations is both sensible and desirable.’

There was no mention in any of the current reporting, as far as we could see, that the UK is set to increase its number of nuclear warheads by over 40 per cent, breaking international law. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is encouraging the public to report the UK government to the UN.

This behaviour by the UK is no exception. ‘We’ routinely flout the law on arms, nuclear or conventional. Andrew Feinstein and Alexandra Smidman recently reported for Declassified UK, that Britain’s ‘robust’ arms export controls are a fiction:

‘In practice, UK controls on arms exports are all but voluntary, and Britain routinely arms states abusing human rights and those at war.

‘Britain exported more than £11-billion worth of arms around the world in 2019 but UK ministers claim this trade is properly administered in a mantra that goes like this:

‘“HM Government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. We consider all export applications thoroughly against a strict risk assessment framework and keep all licences under careful and continual review as standard.”’

However, Feinstein and Smidman pointed out that:

‘These contentions are not true and the stark, unavoidable reality is that the British government and its weapons manufacturers, between whom there is a symbiotic relationship, repeatedly violate domestic law and international agreements on arms controls with no repercussions.’

In short:

‘The British arms industry, politicians, the military and intelligence services can all essentially do what they want, with limited scrutiny and virtually no accountability.’

As just one damning example: in supplying arms and other support, including military training and maintenance services to Saudi Arabia, Britain is an active contributor to the brutal Saudi subjugation of the Yemeni people.

The UK also defies its own arms exports criteria in relation to Israel, to whom the UK has sold military equipment worth more than £400 million since 2015. Even this year’s deadly Israeli attacks in Gaza caused no let-up in UK sales to Israel.

These are all yet more examples of the gaslighting that state-corporate news media are guilty of: the constant framing of the UK as a ‘defender’ and ‘promoter’ of ‘security’ and ‘stability’, while the state and military companies pursue arms sales and a wider foreign policy that kills and endangers people abroad and at home.

‘Nothing Is Moving’ On Climate

Almost inevitably, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg makes a return in this alert for another dishonourable mention. ‘Boris Johnson aims to push for more climate action during trip’, she gushed after travelling as part of a press pack with him and his entourage on a plane headed to New York for climate talks. She wrote that Johnson was ‘delighted’ to be:

‘acting as the host of the government plane he has had repainted with the Union Jack on the tail, urging journalists to approve of the new paint job.’

But the most significant ‘paint job’ here was the BBC’s depiction of Johnson as some kind of climate hero. ‘Brokering climate deals a political priority’, was one headline in Kuenssberg’s report. She added:

‘the prime minister’s main task on this trip to New York is to push other countries to make more meaningful promises on cash and climate.’

The notion that Johnson, who has frequently cast doubt on global warming and made derogatory remarks about ‘bunny-hugging’, is a true champion of climate and environmental protection is bogus and dangerous. As recently as December 2015, when it was unseasonably warm, he published a Telegraph piece titled, ‘I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming’.

He wrote:

‘We may all be sweating in the winter air, but remember, we humans have always put ourselves at the centre of cosmic events.’

Referring to the leaders of state who had been at the 2015 Paris climate talks, Johnson added:

‘I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation.

‘There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming.’

The reference to ‘ping-pong’, and his flippant remarks on the climate talks, suggest the whole thing was all just a game to Johnson; a ‘jolly wheeze’ to provide ammo to churn out another newspaper column.

In this month’s Cabinet reshuffle, Johnson appointed Anne-Marie Trevelyan as his new International Trade Secretary. She had previously rejected climate science in a series of tweets between 2010 and 2012, stating in one:

‘Clear evidence that the ice caps aren’t melting after all, to counter those doom-mongers and global warming fanatics.’

People can, of course, change their minds when confronted by cast-iron evidence and solid arguments. Johnson himself said this month that ‘the facts change and people change their minds’. But the facts had not changed. Certainly not since 1988 when the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up and renowned climate scientist James Hansen testified to the US Congress about the already-known dangers of climate instability.

Moreover, how sincere can someone like Johnson be with his appalling track record? Has his understanding around the serious reality and implications of catastrophic climate change really changed? Or does he just say whatever he believes is politically expedient to retain his grip on power?

In April 2021, Johnson waffled about ‘building back greener’ after the pandemic.

‘It’s vital for all of us to show that this is not all about some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging.

‘What I’m driving at is this is about growth and jobs.’

Experienced observers of political rhetoric will recognise that ‘jobs’ is often newspeak for ‘corporate profits’.

Johnson’s insincerity and disregard for those he considers beneath him surfaced once more in the grossly insensitive remarks he made in ‘joking’ about Margaret Thatcher’s ‘green legacy’. During a visit to a windfarm off the Aberdeenshire coast in July, he was asked if he would set a deadline for ending fossil fuel extraction. He replied with what he clearly thought was a witty remark:

‘Look at what we’ve done already. We’ve transitioned away from coal in my lifetime.

‘Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, who closed so many coal mines across the country, we had a big early start and we’re now moving rapidly away from coal altogether.’

Continuing his track record of serial deceptions, Johnson boasted this month that:

‘The fact is the UK is leading the world [in tackling the climate crisis] and you should be proud of it.’

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was scathing of this ‘lie’ that has been channelled repeatedly by Johnson and other cabinet ministers ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November:

‘There’s a lie that the UK is a climate leader and that they have reduced their emissions by 45 per cent since 1990.’

She pointed out that the statistics do not include the UK’s share of emissions from international aviation, shipping and imported goods:

‘Of course, if you don’t include all emissions of course the statistics are going to look much nicer. I’m really hoping that we stop referring to the UK as a climate leader, because if you look at the reality that is simply not true. They are very good at creative carbon accounting, I must give them that, but it doesn’t mean much in practice.’

Rational analysis also shows that none of the world’s major economies – in particular, the entire G20 (which includes the UK) – is in line with the Paris Agreement on climate.

The watchdog Climate Action Tracker (CAT) analysed the policies of 36 countries, as well as the 27-nation European Union, and found that all major economies were off track to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The countries together make up 80 per cent of the world’s emissions.

Niklas Höhne, a founding partner of the NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner, warned that:

‘there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case.’

The lack of seriousness given by UK broadcasters to the crisis is evident in the results of a recent study that showed that the word ‘cake’ appeared 10 times more on British television than ‘climate change’ in 2020 while ‘dog’ was mentioned 22 times more. Mentions of climate change and global warming fell by 10 per cent and 19 per cent respectively compared with 2019, the report from BAFTA-backed sustainability initiative Albert found.

Joanna Donnelly of Met Éireann, the Irish Meteorological Service, told viewers of the ‘Claire Byrne Live’ programme on Irish television that:

‘when it comes to climate change, we are in an emergency situation’

Irish journalist John Gibbons highlighted the TV clip on Twitter, praising Donnelly’s forthright words, adding:

‘We’re in a Code Red national/global emergency, might be a good time to start acting like it (yes, media friends, that means YOU)’

A soberly-worded, but terrifying, assessment of climate change risk published last week by Chatham House warned that, unless countries dramatically increase their commitments in carbon cuts:

‘many of the climate change impacts described in this research paper are likely to be locked in by 2040, and become so severe they go beyond the limits of what nations can adapt to.’

The report added that:

‘Any relapse or stasis in emissions reduction policies could lead to a plausible worst case of 7°C of warming by the end of the century’

That prospect is terrifying. John Schellnhuber, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, warned a decade ago that:

‘the difference between two degrees and four degrees [of global warming] is human civilisation.’

In other words, we are potentially talking about the end of human life as we know it; perhaps even human extinction.

James Hansen, the previously mentioned climate expert, remains sceptical about a truly successful outcome of COP26 in Glasgow. He wrote earlier this month:

‘The bad news: we approach the gas bag season – the next Conference of the Parties (COP26) is scheduled for November 1-12.  Gas bag politicians won’t show you the data that matter because that would reveal their miserable performances.  Instead, they set climate goals for their children while adopting no polices that would give such goals a chance.  Some of them may have been honestly duped about the science and engineering, but many must be blatant hypocrites.’ 2

Other than the ever-present risk of nuclear war, there is no greater threat to humanity than the climate crisis. And there is no more damning example of gaslighting by state-corporate media when they tell us we can trust governments and corporations to do what is required to avert catastrophe.

  1. Nick Robinson, ‘Live From Downing Street’, Bantam Books, London, 2012, p. 332
  2. James Hansen, ‘August Temperature Update & Gas Bag Season Approaches’, email, 14 September 2021.
The post Gaslighting The Public: Serial Deceptions By The State-Corporate Media first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Morrison’s Dangerous Fantasies Represent a Danger to Australia’s Future

Australia has just caused surprise among its friends, concern among its neighbours, and an overtly hostile reaction from the Chinese with its announcement that it was scrapping the submarine deal it had signed with France and replacing it with a scheme, cooked together with British and American allies, to buy 8 nuclear powered submarines.

The scheme as announced was extraordinarily short on details. There is apparently at least 18 months of negotiating ahead before the contract is even signed. After that there will be a lengthy delay, estimated being at least 10 years in length, before the first submarine is ever delivered. By that time, who knows what the state of the world’s geopolitical system will be. One can be assured that the Chinese, against whom the plan is obviously directed, will have taken multiple steps to ensure its own safety.

The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was not short of hyperbole in announcing the deal. He described the relationship with the United States as the “forever partnership”. As the old joke goes, there are only two forever’s, death and taxes. Morrison’s words are reflective of an unfortunate tendency among Australian politicians. They are inclined not to look at the map when making grand geopolitical statements.

Australia is a thinly populated European nation that sits at the southern end of the Asian landmass. In keeping with its geography, the bulk of Australian foreign trade is conducted with those same Asian neighbours. Ironically, China is by far Australia’s largest trading partner, followed by Japan.

The British are yesterday’s men when it comes to Asia having finally been forced to give up its holding in Hong Kong that they took by force from China in the 19th century. The United States likes to project itself is an important figure in the Asian scheme of things. As the recent debacle in Afghanistan showed, however, American influence in the region is marked by one rebuttal after another.

With the possible exception of Japan, United States influence in the region is rapidly fading, notwithstanding its provocative sailings in the South China Sea and its overt support for the island of Taiwan. It is conveniently forgotten by Western commentators that from 1949 to 1972 the island of Taiwan held China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council. There was no suggestion then that Taiwan was a separate country. It could hardly have claimed to be, yet retaining China’s seat on the Security Council.

Now, Taiwan is making noises about becoming an independent country, something that the Beijing government has declared to be totally unacceptable, and which they will prevent by the use of force if necessary. It would be very unwise for the West to ignore the determination of the People’s Republic of China to recapture its rebellious neighbour. It would be equally unwise for the Americans to underestimate the Chinese level of determination and attempt to defend Taiwan from returning to the control of the mainland.

It is into this fraught situation that the Australian government is being inexorably drawn by its latest agreement with the Americans. Although the Australian media are almost completely silent on the point, one of the consequences of this new agreement with the Americans will be an increase in the number of United States military holdings in Australia. They already control the operation of the spy base at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory. It was former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam‘s intention to close the base that led to the coup against his government in November 1975.

The United States has operated a baleful influence upon Australian foreign policy ever since. There is absolutely nothing in the latest announcement of Australia buying United States designed nuclear powered ships that will do a single thing to reduce that influence. Quite the contrary.

The current posturing by the Australian Prime Minister will do nothing to alter that reality. Together with his defence minister, Peter Dutton, who has been a failure at each of his previous ministerial postings, they are both talking loudly about the wonderful future of Australia. They are either too vain or too stupid to see that this latest deal does more than any other single decision in recent years to entrap Australia in a subservient role to the United States.

As Scott Ritter writes in RT: “This is a story of geopolitically driven military procurement gone mad”,1, pointing out that this deal “further exacerbates the existing geopolitical crisis with China by injecting a military dimension that will never see the light of day.”

Ritter goes on to seek answers to problems he sees as being associated with the announced purchase; for instance, first of all, how much will it cost?  Secondly, how will Australia operate advanced nuclear power systems when it has no indigenous nuclear experience to draw upon? And how does Australia plan to man a large nuclear submarine when it can barely field four crews for its existing Collins class fleet.

These are legitimate questions to ask, yet the timid Opposition Labor Party seems paralysed by them.

As Alan Gyngell points out2, the United States’ expectations of Australia’s support in almost anything going, whether it involves China or not (although that is the greatest danger) will grow. It represents an application of responsibility to ensure the ongoing welfare of the Australian people. By the time the submarines are delivered, if at all, the present generation of political leaders will be long gone. The damage they are doing will last a lot longer.

  1. US-UK-Australia Submarine Deal is a Dangerous Joke, 18 September 2021.
  2. Australia Signs up for the Anglosphere“, September 19, 2021.
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The Anglo Unilateralists Strike

When President Joe Biden won the White House, he promised, with a facility of unceasing boredom, that diplomacy was back.  “Diplomacy is back at the centre of our foreign policy,” he stated on February 4.  “As I said in my inaugural address, we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.”

The fact that such diplomacy had never gone away seemed to escape him.  In the simpleton’s view of politics, his predecessor had abandoned the jaw jaw approach to international relations for muscular and mindless US unilateralism.  Allies had been belittled, ignored and mocked.  Strongmen had been feted, admired and praised.  It was now incumbent upon the United States, urged Biden, that “American leadership” confront “this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.”

It would have been more accurate to say that President Donald Trump’s coarse, business board room model was simply too much of a shock for those familiarly comfortable with guile, deception and dissimulation.  But Biden’s return to acceptable hypocrisy did not mask the “America First” note in his temper.  Since then, that temper has seen a dramatic, ahead-of-schedule exit from Afghanistan, building on Trump’s undertakings to conclude open-ended wars and commitments.  US allies began to wonder whether the Biden model was that different from Trump’s cruder original.

With the announcement on September 15 of the trilateral security pact AUKUS, an agreement between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to deepen military ties in an effort to contain China, the “diplomacy is back” cart was soiled and upended.  The European Union had not been consulted.  A furious France only received a few hours’ notice that the agreement they had made through the Naval Group with Australia to construct the next generation of attack class submarines had been dissolved.  Countries in the Indo-Pacific were also left in the dark.

France, in some ways even more than China, the primary target of AUKUS, is incandescent with rage.  On Franceinfo radio, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was unsparing in his remarks.  “This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do.” He confessed to feeling anger and bitterness. “This isn’t done between allies.”

As recently as July, Le Drian had visited Washington, where he pointedly stated that France was “an Indo-Pacific nation with territories that give [it] the world’s second-largest exclusive economic zone” with a permanent military presence of 8,500 personnel in the region.  Paris, along with EU member states, was in the process of formulating a clear Indo-Pacific strategy.  Efforts were being made in creating “strategic partnerships” with Japan, Australia and India.  Regional organisations such as ASEAN were being brought into the fold.  Any “transatlantic pivot toward the Indo-Pacific” had to be taken “together”.

At the end of August, Australia and France held their inaugural Foreign and Defence (2+2) Ministerial Consultations. No hint was given that something was brewing.  As the joint statement outlined, “Ministers underscored the importance of the strong and enduring commitment of other partners, including the United States, and Indo-Pacific partners in upholding an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific in accordance with international law.”

With notions of sham togetherness shaken, retaliation in the old diplomatic tradition has followed.  President Emmanuel Macron has recalled the French ambassadors to the United States and Australia.  Britain was rebuked somewhat differently, being spared the same harsh treatment; being underhanded was the very sort of thing Paris expected from their historical enemy. In Le Drian’s words, its conduct had been “opportunistic”, with London being little more than “the fifth wheel of the wagon”.

In a joint statement, Le Drian and French Minister for the Army Florence Parly emphasised that this new security arrangement had been arrived at to the “exclusion of a European ally and partner … at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”  The move signalled “a lack of consistency which France can only notice and regret.”

Special words were reserved for Australia, a country now wooed by an unconvincing promise of eight nuclear-powered submarines that are only promised to enter service sometime in the 2040s.  The decision was “contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust.”  Le Drian, in a separate observation, weighed on the theme of infidelity, calling the decision, “A knife in the back.”

None of this takes away from the fact that the original Franco-Australian contract, reached in 2016, was an ill-thought out undertaking to build 12 conventional Barracuda class submarines in imitation of the nuclear powered Suffren design.  It was vain, costly and promised obsolescence before viable performance. Then again, the French argument goes, the Australians wanted it.

The justifications for this episode of Anglophonic mischief have varied in their insolence and disingenuousness.  US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was all shine and floss in claiming that France remained “a vital partner” in ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific “and we want to find every opportunity to deepen our transatlantic cooperation” in the area.  To a question suggesting that France had been stabbed in the back, Blinken mechanically repeated the vital importance of a “transatlantic” association.

Australia’s simply disposed Defence Minister Peter Dutton preferred fantasy by way of explanation, claiming that his government had been “upfront, open and honest”.  “We can understand of course, the French are upset at the cancellation of a contract but in the end, our job is to act in our national interest.”  Britain’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace was of like mind, promising that, “Nothing was done by sneaking behind anyone’s back.”  But sneaking there was, and it was the Anglosphere, led by the United States, doing the sneaking.

AUKUS is less a trio than a hefty, bullying chief accompanied by a willing assistant and an enthusiastic supplicant.  It is a declaration of hostile intent in a region of the world that promises to be the Europe of 1914.  It has also encouraged the EU to formulate its own Indo-Pacific policy with haste and independence. “The regrettable decision which has just been announced on the FSP [Future Submarine Program] only reinforces the need to raise the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear,” observed Le Drian and Parley.  Policy makers in Beijing will be struggling to stifle their amusement.

The post The Anglo Unilateralists Strike first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Nuclear White Elephants: Australia’s New Submarine Deal

It does not get any messier or more chaotic than this.  Since 2009, when Australia’s Future Submarine Program (FSP) known as Project SEA 1000, began to take shape, strategists and policy makers have been keen to pursue the next big White Elephant of defence spending.  And few areas of an already wasteful area of public expenditure are more costly – often mindlessly so – than submarines.

The Australian effort here is particularly impressive.  Pick a real winner by signing a contract for a yet to be designed attack class submarine, supposedly necessary in an increasingly dangerous region.  Ensure that this design is based on a nuclear model and remove that attribute, aptly described as “dumbing down a nuclear submarine by removing the whole basis of its superior capability, and then charging at least twice as much for a far less capable submarine.”

Just to make things interesting, make sure the order is for 12 of these yet to be designed and built creatures.  Make sure, as well, that they are only ready sometime in the 2030s, by which time they risk being obsolete in a field of other contending submarines with superior capabilities.

The dubious honour for this monumentally foolish contract, with an initial cost of AU$50 billion, fell to the French submarine company DCNS (now called Naval Group). It nudged out German and Japanese contenders with pre-existing designs.  “The decision,” a government announcement in April 2016 explained, “was driven by DCNS’s ability to best meet all of the Australian Government requirements.  These included superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics, as well as range and endurance similar to the Collins class submarine.  The Government’s considerations also included cost, schedule, program execution, through-life support and Australian industry involvement.”

The contract warmed the French military establishment.  It was praised as the “contract of the century”.  Le Parisien’s editorial lauded the prospect of thousands of jobs.  President François Hollande could say that he was also capable of pulling off a contract to aid the French military industrial complex, despite being a socialist.  A “50-year marriage”, claimed French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with honeymoon exuberance, had begun.

The post-nuptials were not promising.  Rear Admiral Greg Sammut had to concede in an estimates hearing before Australian senators that another AU$50 billion would be required to sustain the submarines for the duration of their operating life.  “Many of the detailed costs of acquisition and sustainment will be determined during the design process through choices made but at this point early estimation of the sustainment costs for the fleet are of the order of up to $50 billion on a constant price basis.”

Tiffs and disagreements over distribution of labour and further costs started to bite.  How much of the work would actually be undertaken by labour based in Australia?  Would the French company be keeping the lion’s share?  With such problems, and the pace of development, another idea started to gain momentum in the halls of defence: a competing, cheaper design, based on a rejigged version of Australia’s existing Collins Class submarine, might be a suitable alternative.  In the meantime, perhaps a German alternative might also figure, namely the Type 214 diesel electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerker-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW).

In May, Naval Group’s Transfer of Technology program manager Fabrice Leduc solemnly told his staff that the submarine project had been subjected to a “political timeline” following a change of minister in the Australian Defence portfolio.  The new occupant, Peter Dutton, was biding his time because “he wanted to have some strong warranties from the industry and especially Naval Group in terms of cost and schedule.”  The marriage had truly soured.

On September 15, the press gallery in Canberra was awash with rumours that a divorce was being proposed.  In the early hours of the following day, the question as to whether Australia would be dissolving its union with Naval Group was answered. In place of that union would be a ménage à trois with the United States and United Kingdom, a security three-way with Australia as the subordinate partner.  The glue that will hold this union together is a common suspicion: China.  In place of the Attack Class submarine: a nuclear powered alternative with Anglo-American blessing, based on the US Virginia class or UK Astute class.

In their joint statement announcing the creation of AUKUS, a name deserving a place in a science fiction glossary, the joint leaders of the three countries “guided” by their “enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order” had resolved “to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.”  AUKUS would be a new “enhanced trilateral security partnership” to further such goals.

The agreement is nothing less than an announcement to powers in the region that the Anglophone bloc intends to police, oversee and, if necessary, punish.  The three countries will “promote deeper information and technology.”  Security, science relating to defence, technology, industrial bases and supply chains will be further integrated.  Deeper cooperation would take place “on a range of security and defence capabilities.”

The first initiative of the agreement stands out: “we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.”  Expertise to “bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date” from the submarine programs of both the US and the UK would be drawn on.  AUKUS unmistakably ties the countries into the same security orbit, meshing them to principles of “interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit.”

Australia’s submarine policy has previously eschewed nuclear propulsion. Now, as a dowry for receiving such largesse, Canberra is offering up Australia as a confirmed US asset in policing the Indo-Pacific. In any conflict situation, the wallahs of the antipodes are unlikely to say no to any request to do battle with the Middle Kingdom.  US Navy commanders will also be smacking their lips at maintaining attack vessels in Australia as part of the arrangement.

In the meantime, neighbours will be troubled, despite assurances that the vessels will only have a conventional weapons capability.  Nearby Indonesia is unlikely to be glowing in admiration.

The dissolution of the union with Naval Group will also be costly, with the defence company bound to push for a generous compensation package.  (AU$400 million is a suggested figure, though this is unlikely to satisfy either Naval Group or the Parisian overlords)  To this can be added AU$2 billion already spent.

As the divorce costs are sorted, some Australian politicians have pledged to make dissenting noises, with the Greens leader Adam Bandt already warning that the decision promised to “put floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australia’s cities.”  Protests from anti-nuclear activists and advocates are in the offing.

Then arises that enduring problem of actually building these naval beasts.  US lawmakers will be rooting for the construction of the submarines on home soil, a situation which promises to mirror the headaches caused by the Naval Group contract.  Australia also lacks a shipyard able to build or maintain such vessels.

In playing its part in the creation of AUKUS, Canberra has exchanged one white elephant of the sea for another.  But in doing so, Australia has done so in manner more threatening, and more significant, than anything associated with the Naval Group Contract.  The small space Australian diplomats might have had in keeping Canberra out of any foolish conflict in the Indo-Pacific has become miniscule.  The war mongers will be dewily ecstatic.

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