The Guardian • Issue #2043



In the latest escalation in Australia’s increasingly forceful campaign to manufacture consent for war with China, the Murdoch-owned Sky News Australia has aired a jaw-droppingly propagandistic hour-long special which advocates a dramatic increase in the nation’s military spending.

Australians are uniquely vulnerable to propaganda because our nation has the most concentrated media ownership in the western world, the lion’s share of it by Rupert Murdoch, who has well-documented ties to US government agencies going back decades.

The Sky News special is a brazenly propagandistic program, with its opening minutes featuring footage of bayonet-wielding Chinese troops marching while ominous cinematic Bad Guy music plays loudly over the sound of the marching.

In its promotional clip for the special, Sky News Australia tinged all footage pertaining to China in red to show how dangerous and communist they are. These are not decisions that are made with the intention of informing the public, these are decisions that are made with the intention of administering war propaganda.

The first expert Sky News brings on to tell viewers about the Chinese menace is Mick Ryan, an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, which is funded by military-industrial complex entities like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, and is also directly funded by the US government and its client states, including Australia and Taiwan.

The other experts are former Australian Major General Jim “The Butcher of Fallujah” Molan, former CIA Director and US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Director of Chinese Affairs Dr Lai Chung, Japan’s ambassador to Australia Yamagami Shingo, Australian Shadow Defence Minister Andrew Hastie, and John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. A virulent propaganda firm which is once again funded by US-aligned governments and military-industrial complex war profiteers.

So it’s about as balanced and impartial a punditry line-up as you’d expect.

“The United States plays a major strategic role in the Indo-Pacific,” says Sky News anchor Peter Stefanovic as the screen lights up with graphics showing the military presence surrounding China. “With 375,000 personnel, there’s a vast network of operations that extend from Hawaii all the way to India.”

The US would never tolerate being encircled by the Chinese military like that and would immediately wage war if China tried; it’s clear that the US is the aggressor in this conflict and China is reacting defensively.

We are shown illustrations of how much smaller Australia’s military is than China’s or America’s to help us understand how important it is to increase the size of our nation’s war machine, ignoring the fact that Australia’s total population is a tiny fraction of either of those countries.

We are told that the AUKUS pact will “beef up America’s military presence in the north of Australia,” and that “America has long used Australia as a key strategic outpost,” showing images of Pine Gap and other parts of the US war machine which dot this continent.

“Now, there’s more to come,” says Stefanovic, with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin describing the surge in the US military presence we’re to expect in Australia.

The real purpose of this Sky News special is to manufacture consent for a dramatic increase in Australia’s military budget.

Australia currently has a military budget of $48.7 billion, a little less than two per cent of the nation’s GDP.

“The Australian government needs to talk to the Australian people about the kinds of threats it faces,” says Mick Ryan. “It needs a more compelling narrative to convince the Australian people that they need to spend more on defence.”

To be clear, this is not just a call to increase military spending, this is a call to propagandise Australians into consenting to more military spending. It’s not very often that the propaganda comes right out and explains to you why it is propagandising you.

The US is beating the drums for a future war of unfathomable horror all to please a dark god known as unipolarism, and it threatens to destroy us all. The time to start resisting is now.

This is an edited version of an article by Caitlin Johnstone in “Pearls and Irritations” – (17-02-2023)

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