Tag Archives: Kevin Rudd

China Vs United States – Why Australia Will Lose!

Before I go any further, let me explain my position. I am on the “Left” side of politics. An anti-war greenie ex-ALP member. Yet it matters little where I fit on the internal political landscape. What matters is where Australia fits on the international landscape. This post is not about party political differences. It is about our hidden Government. And no! I am not a diplomat. Just an amateur student of world affairs informed by the past and reading the omens.

Every nation in the world has one.

Secretive and mostly working in the shadows. A Government body making commitments and friendships with people we never hear about.

Only ever showing the results of its machinations and activities in the occasional public announcements of its head.

It is the most important department any nation can have.

No, it is not Treasury, the department we are always worried about. The one that determines how we shall live. No. This department is even more important.

It determines whether we SHALL live!

And by what rules.

In Australia it is known as the Department of Foreign Affairs. In the USA it is the State Department. China has its Ministry of Foreign Affairs!

All the secretive connivings and agreements are basically about trade. About how one nation can either enrich itself or at the very least, not be disadvantaged by a change in trading conditions. Those spy novels we were brought up on were not about a clash of cultures but about a clash of economic theories. Capitalism versus Communism.

The current test of strength between the US and China is still about trade. Determining which form of Capitalism will prevail.

We never see the back room battles. We are distracted by the Fleming and le Carré stories of human daredevilry and pathos.

In the back rooms, at the highest levels schemes and plans are put into place which will mature in a decade or a generation or, in extreme cases, in a century. Plans laid and executed by people we never see, never vote for. The truly faceless government.

We often hear of the threat of a One World Government.

The favourite of the conspiracy theorists. The bad news is that we have had one for centuries. While our individual national Treasuries are handled by relatively well known financial wizards and publicly elected treasurers under accepted Governmental oversight of one form or another, Foreign Affairs operates outside of and above the political hurly-burly. It is party-less and almost unaccountable.

The information it deals with puts our current Australian fixation with Thomson, Mirabella, Slipper and Pyne to shame. Diplomats need to know everything about everyone yet cannot admit to knowing anything. Which is why the Wikileaks’ dumping of huge numbers of confidential diplomatic emails was such a sin.

It is why Julian Assange will get no support from any Government in the world. Daniel Ellsberg only lifted the lid on his own country’s dealings. Assange has embarrassed the entire World Government. Which is why Gillard is so obdurate about not intervening and  helping him. Foreign Affairs has spoken! He must be turned into a horrible example. No one must be allowed to play with the levers of power, opening “Realpolitik“, as Henry Kissinger described it, to the public view.

We only see stuff-ups when they lead to a war. For, although they are a One World Government, there are still factions and alliances and the ultimate threat is not an election but armed conflict. Diplomats handle the day to day matters within a framework set by the real rulers of the world. To be the Foreign Minister of Australia or Britain, to be the Secretary of State of the USA, to be the equivalent in Russia or China is to be close to and beholden to the true holders of power. In recent times, Kevin Rudd has shown that he knows where the biggest game in the world is taking place.

Dictators and madmen sometimes come to power.

Not everything always goes to plan. Luckily, regardless of the self-perceived immortality of these international irritants, they are as mortal as the rest of us. Yet they can create disturbances in international relations. I first saw a fictional account of this in the incident of the “Mule” in Isaac Azimov’s Foundation Series. Six hundred years into a thousand year galactic history which had been planned and predicted by a social engineer, a rogue element appeared. He appeared to totally derail the pre-laid plans yet, after his death, everything settled back into its predicted course.

Foreign Affairs is similar. Madmen and dictators may create ripples which appear to be overwhelming and miscalculations may cause huge wars with incalculable human tragedies yet somehow civilisation continues on. Hitler, Pol Pot and Kim Il Sung will be as irrelevant as the Ayatollahs when our descendants look at the sweep of history. The long range plans of the World Government will continue.

The Great War was begun almost by accident.

We saw a miscalculation early last century which resulted in two major wars and we may be seeing similar miscalculation now.

An Arch Duke was assassinated in a remote European State and, through a complicated network of treaties, the long-established British Empire and the newly-growing Germany went to war. In a lot of ways the so-called Second World War was simply a continuation of the Great War.

Over the past weeks there have been oil-field difficulties between China and long-term US ally, the Phillipines. In fact, China claims sovereignty over a large U-shaped area of the South China Sea, bringing it into dispute with several neighbouring countries. In recent months it has grown more assertive over the issue. Through a century-old treaty, the USA must come to the aid of the Phillipines.

There is a potential conflict ahead.

Between Australia’s long-term ally and its new-found giant trading partner.

With hundreds of ships plying the seas between Chinese ports and Australian mining ports and with a newly negotiated US Marine base in Darwin, along with other US bases within this island nation, the potential for spill-over of any conflict, verbal or actual, between the fading old and the growing new Superpowers must involve Australia.

We are too small to ignore the demands of the US. Yet we are too important a supplier of raw materials to China for them to allow us to become simply a US base in a potentially “hot” conflict.

Put into this context announcements by President Obama last year have an ominous import for Australia.

In the game of chess there is a situation known as Zugzwang. A player whose turn it is to move who has no move that does not worsen his position is said to be in zugzwang.

Australia’s foreign Affairs Department has successfully negotiated us into Zugzwang. We must make a move and whatever move we make, we must lose!

Forget about changing the situation by changing the Minister. He is always helpless, regardless of era, party or desires! He is a prisoner of the true rulers of Australia.

All we can do is sit and wait.

And worry about our children.

Aliens and Australians

Always torn two ways with successive waves of migrants, Australia has absorbed millions of new arrivals.

A decade and a half ago  a change appeared in the Australian psyche.

In a society which had always prided itself on giving others a “Fair Go” a selfish, nasty streak appeared.

Opposition and a genuine hatred appeared, directed towards one group of potential immigrants.

Boat people.

Refugees fleeing war, murder and torture.

Demonised, they became the symbol for all that was evil. Australia was being over-run by hordes of foreigners. To read the press it seemed that millions were swamping our northern coast. The panic was such that the Howard Government excised parts of Australia so that these new arrivals could be held and “processed” away from the precious land of Australia. Just about all the northern offshore islands which are a part of Australia were placed in some sort of legal limbo so that concentration camps could be built out of sight and out of mind.

The subsequent Rudd Government and it’s Tony Abbott-led Opposition began a race to the ethical bottom by taking it in turns to announce tougher and tougher measures against boating refugees.

To be honest, they are jumping the queue. Australia takes around 14,000 refugees under several UN sponsored schemes. The 2-3000 boat people reduce that figure to 11,000. Just as a bye-the-bye, Australia is the only country accepting refugees which applies this condition. And the person at the end of the “legitimate” queue may not be chosen by Australia to become a potential refugee. There is no real queue!

Potential refugee is the correct term. Some 80% to 90% of asylum seekers who arrive by boat are granted refugee status because they are genuinely fleeing persecution. The figure for those arriving by plane is 40%.

The cost for all this boating xenophobia is set to be around a billion dollars over the next twelve months. Because we are terrified of the fact that 10% of those arrivals may not be genuine refugees. Around 1 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money to keep out three to four hundred people.

As you sit in your car next slow-moving rush hour, bumping over the potholes left from insufficient road-repair funding and listening to the racist rantings of your favourite shock-jock just consider that one billion dollars and the 400 dangerous people it is being spent on. Be honest. Wouldn’t you prefer a road in better condition? In a country where most employable workers are off making their fortune in the mines, those boat people could be the ones to work on it.

The Roman poet, Publius Terentius Afer better known in English as Terence, (195/185 – 159BC) wrote “Nihil humanum a me alienum puto.”: ‘Nothing human is alien to me.’

The modern Australian seems to think the opposite. ”

“No alien is human to me!”

Figures garnered from original articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Herald Sun

Australia Nearly Sinks

Last night, un-noticed by most Australians, the continent was severely shaken by a massive upheaval as just over a million inhabitants of the sleepy City of the Churches finally realised there was more to life than freezing in the winter, losing AFL matches and drinking the worlds worst beer!

So, in the first concerted effort the Crow-eaters have ever successfully performed, they upped and moved Adelaide to the North Coast.

There is no news at this stage as to the fate of Darwin.

The BBC, as always, was first with the most accurate news of the event.

In breaking news, former Administrator of the Northern Territory, Ted Egan, has reportedly commented on the situation and, after removing the expletives, he said, ” !”

Current Administrator Tom Pauling was unavailable for comment although Bluey, from the Darwin City Council Parks and Gardens Department, was adamant that Adelaide was not going to take Darwin’s place as the capital City of the Territory.

He said, “If those bloody wankers from down south reckon they can move up here with their bloody failing footy teams and their bloody Southwark Cat’s Piss and just bloody take over, they have another bloody think coming!”

Bert, from the Darwin Dunnyman Brigade, threatened violence unless Bluey withdrew the “W” word. He said, “My bloody brother Mick and my bloody sister Sheila went to bloody Adelaide after bloody Cyclone Tracy back in 1974. They are not bloody wankers and if you call them that again I’ll bloody punch your lights out!”

The apprentice tree lopper, Sandy, pointed out that there are no wankers in Adelaide. She said,”It is a bloody posh place which is the home of the bloody previous Foreign Minister of Australia, bloody Shirley Downer, and they are not bloody wankers, they are all bloody masturbaters!”. As Sandy started her chainsaw, Bluey and Bert moved away.

[just what were the expletives deleted from Ted Egan’s comment? Sub-Ed]

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is having a report on the night’s events prepared while opposition spokesman on city relocations, Tony Abbott, blasted the Government for condoning this pre-emptive city move. Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson blasted Kevin Rudd for not having known about the proposed move and being out of touch with the average Australian, while the opposition spokesman for Blaming Howard’s Inflation on Labor, Malcom Turnbull, rubbed his hands together in glee as he told reporters that this was going to raise inflation again and it was all Kevin Rudd’s fault!

Meanwhile, there are growing rumours that a large section of Melbourne is about to be moved to the Gold Coast. “The only thing holding us back,” said Eddie McGuire, “Is how to ensure that only Collingwood and its supporters are moved.”

Anna Bligh has refused to comment at this stage.

In Britain, the BBC has been nominated for several awards for this amazing piece of reporting.

(Thanks for the tip-off, Mike. They changed it within the hour, so that was well caught.)

Pornography, Censorship and Art. Same old, Same old!

I am severely lacking in writing inspiration today.

Not that I don’t have a lot to write about. I have a very important subject to write about. It is just that the words wont come out in a satisfying way.

Australians will know what I want to write about when I mention the name “Bill Henson“.

Considered by many to be Australia’s foremost photographer, he is fascinated by twilight, the space between day and night, by adolescence, that space between child and adult. The moment of hesitancy. He has been exhibited around the world and his work is hung in some of the most prestigious galleries.

Online, some of his work is visible and much more can be seen on the net – just google the name and then click on “Images”.

Now to the the subject, the controversy. The best way to follow the developments is through a series of news items.

It began five days ago when police raided a Sydney art gallery. Within hours, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd weighed into the debate and the police began questioning the photographer. Betty Churcher, head of Australia’s National Art Gallery gave her opinion while some of the subjects themselves spoke out. The controversy widened to another gallery while more than 40 of Australia’s leading writers and artists supported Henson. Today the police have rejected the art world’s outcry, while two prominent politicians have supported the photographer.

In another report today, Louise Adler, the head of Melbourne University Publishing, one of 44 prominent figures who have signed an open letter urging Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to rethink his condemnation of the photos as “absolutely revolting”, calls the controversy a ‘beat-up’.

“I don’t believe that paedophiles and pornographers are going to rush to Roslyn Oxley’s gallery to find Bill Henson’s work for stimulation,” she said. “The question is, is it a private matter, one of taste or is it that the community has to come down and make a judgement?

Do we need to be chaperoned by the state on these questions?” she asked.

I don’t believe we do. Although I know a lot of people will disagree with me.

Everyone’s comments are welcome, although I do reserve the right to adjust the wording, but not the intent of some comments, where those comments may be viewed as offensive by some readers of the archive.

So that truly informed debate can take place, the image which originally sparked this controversy is over the jump.

Continue reading

Changing Fortunes

I subscribe to the theory that there is a natural movement between conservatives and radicals. I am sure it is a generational thing. I was a radical, my parents and children are conservatives. I expect my grand-children to be radical.

Within that framework there is also a national psyche which reacts to the nation’s perceived place in the world. If there is a national uncertainty then nations pull in towards themselves and conservatism is the ruling passion. Isolationism becomes the underlying mantra. When a country is sure of its place in the world, it is a lot more expansive and more radical. In the past, both America and Australia have had a national “cringe”. That was when the young took obligatory voyages to the “Old World” to gain a cachet of sophistication as their own country was seen as backward. Everything produced within America or Australia was seen as second-rate and was compared unfavourably to European equivalents.

America had its “cringe” well before Australia and gained a confidence in itself during two world wars where it was able to see itself as the saviour of the Western World. Australia only began to lose its inferiority complex during the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Now we are seeing the beginnings of a major shift in world perceptions in both countries.

America is beginning to fade as China grows in world importance. Oh, there will be posturing and resentment and possibly doomed pre-emptive strikes from those Americans who have not learnt the lessons of history. Yet it is certain that China will be the world leader soon. They already own most of the American Dollars in the world and the banker is the one who calls the tune.

The American psyche is moving back to an isolationist, self-centred and conservative position in response to the unformed sense of an impending fall from leadership. There is a thinning of the skins of Americans. They are subject to exaggerated responses to criticism. At the same time, America is in a moral decay which is evident within the great urban areas which are becoming increasingly run-down because there are not enough financial reserves left after a series of expensive foreign adventures to do the domestic housekeeping.

On the other hand, during the last quarter of the twentieth century the Australian psyche made its final release from what has been a dependency on British approval, exemplified by Sir Robert Menzies’ couplet on his relationship to the British Monarch;

“I did but see her passing by
And yet I love her till I die.”

That release was vocalised by Harold Holt and his “All the way with LBJ” during the Vietnam War. This, in its turn, led to a dependency on American approval most recently visible in John Howard’s devotion to George Bush jnr. and all his policies.

The change in national perception is easiest to see in the changes in Australian foreign policy For the first half of the last century, Australia sent its youth to fight for Britain. During the second half, they were sent to fight American wars.

Now Australia is full of a new-found self-confidence and is swinging onto an upward spiral because we are supplying many of the raw materials China needs to grow. This is leading to a prosperity and an optimism within the growing middle class.

The election of Kevin Rudd in Australia indicates that finally Australia is becoming its own self. No longer beholden to Britain or America, we are making it on our own. Our economy is in good shape because of the
demand from China, our arts are in a healthy state and our ingenuity and inventiveness is undeniable. With the educational emphasis coming from the new Government there is every chance that when the materials boom ends in several decades, we will have a strong and intelligent population ready to be mined for further prosperity.

Since the second world war, Australia’s political sense has swung in decade-long cycles. Kevin Rudd and his new, outward looking Government has around ten years to set a national agenda for the next century. With a growing Asian component to our population and an awareness that Australia is in the Asian region, we need to find ways to retain our Australian way of life while interacting with our neighbours.

While America begins to shrink back inside its borders, Australia is beginning to flex its wings.