The Guardian • Issue #2045

Beating the war drums

Photo: – Public domain.

Marx noted that in military state capitalism, building and operating the armed forces and the arms manufacturers is the primary activity of government. Last week Nine’s newspapers, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, launched an extraordinary attempt to soften Australia up for militarism, massive military spending, and quite possibly war, using a series called “Red Alert.”

The series took three pages per day for three days to try to persuade Fairfax readers of the following propositions: China is about to attack us; we need to double our spending on military equipment; and we should consider national service.

In the series, by journalist/propagandists Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knox, five “independent experts” lend their authority to the campaign, backed by graphics showing black fighter bombers streaming out of Red China towards Australia. All the “experts” are in agreement with Hartcher and Knox that war with China is imminent. None question the need for Australia to be a staging ground for the US. All speak as if war is inevitable.

There are so many things wrong with the series that it’s hard to know where to start. There’s no evidence or thread of logic that tells us that China is planning to attack Australia. It is assumed that if China uses military force in Taiwan that it is our responsibility to interfere militarily. There is no mention that Taiwan is a province of China, a fact that Australia still officially recognises and has done so since the establishment of diplomatic relations with China in 1972.

The policies of the US are based on war, global domination, enslaving nations, not liberating them. Its foreign policy is based on militarism. China does not have hundreds of foreign bases around the world. Its foreign policy is based on peace and resolving differences through peaceful, political means. The success of the Saudi Arabia-Iran talks in Beijing are an important step towards peace in the Middle East as evidence of its pursuit of peace.

So, why are these publications inflicting this pro-war campaign, that pretends to be a conversation, on us? Let’s turn some light on the panel of five “independent experts” that Knox and Hartcher have hand-picked. Of the five, four either work for or have strong links to, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a lobby group that poses as a think tank. Funded by the Australian government and various military hardware producers, the ASPI enjoys an unearned reputation as an authoritative voice on matters military. It is staunchly anti-China and pro-increased military spending.

In arguing for doubling military spending from $43 billion (it is already $48 billion) now to around $80 billion, and for national service, the panel of experts urge us to “break taboos.” One of them, Lesley Seebeck is quoted as saying is that Australia should guard its sovereignty by hosting nuclear weapons. This is not guarding our sovereignty but ceding it.

We at the Communist Party of Australia have a few taboos we’d like to see broken. Like the taboo our major parliamentary parties have against ever questioning the US military alliance and the taboo most of our media has over questioning the narrative of China as an unstoppable and evil superpower that is a threat to Australia.

At one point, Red Alert displays a map that shows a ring of US allies and base-hosting countries surrounding China. The legend on the map describes this ring as a “forward defensive alliance.” Imagine if there was such a Chinese ring around the US!

Red Alert is an unambiguous and dangerous pro-war diatribe. It’s serious also in the context of The Age in Melbourne, and the Sydney Morning Herald in NSW. Unlike the campaigning Murdoch press, these former Fairfax papers have been “liberal minded.” And both papers have “Independent Always” under their masthead. Not any more.

The Guardian can also be viewed/downloaded in PDF format. View More