While in Australia last week for the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, twice hinted at the possibility of Australia becoming host to American missiles pointed at China. Although Prime Minister Scott Morrison attempted to “rule a line” under the idea, it is unlikely to be the end of the story. Continue reading
The end of the first disarmament agreement of the nuclear age will almost certainly be accompanied by American pressure on allies to host US intermediate range missiles. Continue reading
Australia and the United States see the world through the same eyes, Scott Morrison told sailors on USS Ronald Reagan during the Talisman Sabre war games on 12 July.But after hearing what Mike Pompeo and John Joseph Mearsheimer had to say in Australia in recent days, we might conclude that if our eyes are the same, the world we see is different.
With what former defense secretary Robert Gates termed a “gargantuan, labyrinthine bureaucracy” in the Pentagon, manufacturers and subcontractors for each weapons system carefully distributed across congressional districts and backed by aggressive lobbyists, members of Congress determined to protect constituents’ jobs, and military leaders loyal to the weapons systems they trained on and commanded, it is no surprise that the defense establishment has become extravagant, wasteful, and less agile, innovative, and forward-looking than it should be. Continue reading
Australia is on a ‘hiding to nothing’ from the escalating USA confrontation with China. If we choose USA, China can peacefully inflict devastating economic damage by choosing other countries to supply its resources. If we choose China, USA can withdraw its security guarantees, (albeit never tested in a situation where Australia, but not the USA, is threatened,) exposing Australia to the risk of hostile military action. How will Australia successfully navigate the turbulent waters of this strategic dilemma? Continue reading
Scott Morrison is not too keen on history.When it comes to politics – or at least the politics of the Liberal Party, which to him is all that matters – history began with his election as Prime Minister. Everything that happened before then, and especially in the three years before then, is utterly irrelevant – it should, must, be forgiven and forgotten. Continue reading
Reports on daigou (personal shoppers) in Australia have evoked mixed feelings about Chinese presence and influence in Australian everyday and economic lives. Continue reading
Ministers and bureaucrats seem only able to manage spot fires, not policy review beyond three-word-slogans.
Ken Hayne, the former High Court judge who conducted the banking royal commission is quite right in suggesting that the political and bureaucratic system is broken, and in need of fundamental reconstruction. But some of those wisely nodding their heads, or shaking them, according to their immediate partisan advantage, are missing a part of the point: it’s the car that’s broken; it’s not the driving he is criticising. Continue reading
Shocking scandals continue to roll through the media cycle, featuring abuse of power and influence by the addictive industries, and alleging corruption and worse. Who hasn’t read or heard about Crown Casino’s high roller operation or the ABC’s investigation into the National Alcohol Strategy (NAS), which broke on Friday 26 July.
This week Indonesian streets are bursting with red and white bunting, celebrating the late leader Soekarno’s proclamation of independence from the Netherlands on 17 August 1945.
Then followed a four- year protracted guerilla war against the stubborn Dutch who couldn’t sniff the stench of post-war rotting colonialism. After an estimated 150,000 deaths, the majority civilians, the United States of Indonesia was internationally recognized. Australian unions were active supporters of the revolutionaries.
We all have our personal story. And it is just one part of the bigger story of our family, our tribe, our nation – the things that have shaped us. Institutions, too, have a life of their own – and their own story. Where did they come from? What made them as they are? Religions are such. We need storytellers with long memories. And, if we get really serious about understanding all this, we need good historians. Christianity has the story and the historians who, over the last couple of centuries, have become better at their game. Continue reading
In the far north east of Arnhem land, a line has been drawn in the sand.
As part of the great Garma festival, two of the most important and revered leaders of Indigenous Australia have made it clear that the Uluru Statement from the Heart is not negotiable. Continue reading
The reputation of the New South Wales Coalition Government in the area of environmental management has taken yet another tumble. Along with decimation of National Parks, poor management of Murray-Darling water, failure to act on carbon emissions and ignorance of species extinction, it has decided to allow wilful destruction of habitat through deforestation.
Advice for the PM as he prepares to visit America and is honoured by dinner with Donald. Let’s hope Morrison can distinguish clearly between US and Australian interests. Continue reading
The encirclement of China with US and allies bases, has its roots in preventing the spread of Communism in SE Asia after WW2. At the height of the Cold War the host countries had no objections as it provided protection and income. With the emergence of China as an economic power, the bases are now used to contain China for challenging US hegemony. This time, the pundits say, US is not going to win.
As an Indian, after the semi-final loss in the Cricket World Cup, an old refrain from a 1948 song entered my head: ‘Ek dil ke tukde hazaar huye’ (one heart shattered into a thousand shards). As a Kiwi, after the final’s loss, came the second line: ‘Koyi yahan gira, koyi wahan gira’ (some fell hither, some thither). Yes, a match for the ages! But oh, aren’t the ICC geniuses who chose the worst possible option for deciding the championship in case of a tie certifiably stupid? England’s triumph – their first World Cup victory – had its beginnings immediately after their disastrous match against NZ in Wellington four years ago. They consciously modelled a future team around NZ’s spirit of adventure; chose captain, coach, team and tactics accordingly; and honed the skills and players over four long years of preparation. Does the BCCI have the wisdom, will and wit to do the same and begin preparing now for 2023 – when India hosts the championship – or will it retreat into familiar alibis and procrastination? Continue reading
If we want to see Hong Kong survive the One Country Two System and retain its form of democracy, then we must not interfere with their process. External influence and funding have been reported but these activities only serve to aggravate the crisis to a point of no return where the PLA may appear in the streets of Hong Kong to restore law and order. In the end game, Hong Kong people lose the One Country Two Systems. Continue reading
The recent release of the results of the ABS’s biennial survey of income and wealth met a critical response, perhaps due to a slip-shod press release. The official statistician’s headline read: ‘Inequality stable since 2013-14’. In summary, the ABS announced, ‘income and wealth inequality has remained relatively stable since 2013-14.’ The immediate difficulty was that neither the media release nor the official summary of the key findings included any statistics from the benchmark, the 2013-14 survey. To make sense of the news, commentators had to dive into the ABS’s data cubes, where they found a different story, particularly for wealth inequality, our main focus here. Continue reading
With atmospheric CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas concentrations now above 500 ppm and average global warming approaching 1.5oC, there is a clear shift in the world’s climate zones, displayed for example on maps of the expanding wet tropical zones, drying sub-tropical latitudes and polar-ward migration of temperate climate zones. Large parts of southern Europe are suffering from droughts, heat waves and fires, the Kalahari Desert is encroaching southward and much of southern Australia is affected by warming and droughts. And yet the world’s governments and media fail to accord these problems the priority they merit.
“Really, there is nothing to talk about,” my mother said when I asked her about her conversion to Catholicism. When I did persuade her to tell her story, it had none of the tumult and drama of English nineteenth-century converts such as John Henry Newman or Gerard Manley Hopkins, who entered the Church in defiance of their roots and in the face of fierce disapproval.
No country on earth has benefited from President Trump’s trade fight with China more than Vietnam. Continue reading
Last week we were deep in the oceans. This week we’re high in the sky: the global warming effect of air travel and ways of reducing it: technology, government intervention, industry initiatives, personal behaviour change and buying carbon offsets. And if you’re still keen to get on a plane, stories from Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading
The US has coming calling again. Not an Admiral this time but the Pentecostalist Secretary of State Mike Pompeo . He is whistling us up as a faithful dog to join with the US in tackling the problems which Donald Trump created with Iran and presumably to soften us up to host missiles to protect the US marines and port facilities in Darwin. And Pine Gap. Continue reading
There have been dramatic revelations from the National Archives of Australia with the release of letters between the Governor-General Sir John Kerr and Buckingham Palace following Kerr’s dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. These letters provide remarkable and disturbing new material on the dismissal of the Whitlam government and the role of the Palace. They not only confirm that Kerr was in secret contact with the Queen’s private secretary Sir Martin Charteris in the months before the dismissal, they also reveal that the Palace and Kerr then agreed to keep these ‘exchanges’ with Charteris hidden from public view, and from our history, by omitting any mention of them in Kerr’s later memoirs. Continue reading
In the wake of the recent murders by white supremacists, blame has been apportioned partially to President Trump’s rhetoric and to the availability of white replacement theory and white genocide conspiracy material. Both are relevant but the policy challenge is far greater. Even in the absence of both, white supremacists will persist.
It is widely believed that Trump’s continually expressed animosity towards black and brown people, particularly Mexicans, his description of immigrants/asylum seekers as constituting an invasion of the US, an “infestation”, caused the mass murder at El Paso. Trump’s animus dominates virtually all of his rhetoric, towards every subject; from China, the EU, the media, Iran, nuclear arms control, to every issue in US domestic politics and, every action by the Obama administration. This is a dangerous pathology and, in the context of the Alliance, our Government is being pressed to further subscribe to it, with respect to China.