Who needs Chicken Little when you’ve got The Age’s Peter Hartcher.
On March 7 The Age front page (also in the SMH) was devoted to an illustration of a massive red map of China with war planes flying towards Australia and a banner – Red Alert.
The basis for the story was a series of interviews with a panel of five experts (that’s right five) “brought together by The Age for a special review of Australia’s national security, who blew away the fog of war to give Australians some critical points of insight.” You got the cliches as a bonus apparently.
Their consensus? “The overwhelming source of danger to Australia is from China. The nature of that threat extends to the prospect of a full-scale war – and Australia would be involved.”
The Age concedes later in the paper that “it doesn’t pretend to be definitive. But is independent of the government and fully on the record.”
The paper names the experts but perhaps it’s better to just let their names pass for now and let history judge – although sadly there are allegedly going to be two more parts to the series which will sadly give more sources for the historical judgements.
The blog was motivated to send The Age a brief letter saying: “I picked up my Age from the front garden this morning and thought you had accidentally delivered a left-over newspaper from the 1950s. Then I looked at it and realised it was only Peter Hartcher.” Needless to say it won’t be published.
Kim Wingeri, in the Michael West newsletter piled in saying: “Echoing the ‘reds under the beds’ scare campaigns of the fifties, Nine Media mastheads want us to believe that war with China is imminent. Elsewhere, we are led to believe that China is a model citizen of the world and means no harm to anyone. Both positions belie the reality in a world besieged by the extremes of misinformation.”
But the best response was an open letter by Paul Keating reported in the New Daily. Keating blasted the coverage of “Australia’s supposed war risk with China” as “the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life.”
“It is way worse than the illustrated sampans shown to be coming from China in the build up to the war in Vietnam in the 1960s,” he wrote.
“Apart from the outrageous illustrations of jet aircraft being shown leaving a profiled red-coloured map of China, the extent of the bias and news abuse is, I believe, unparalleled in modern Australian journalism.”
The former Labor leader also took personal aim at the SMH‘s political and international editor, Peter Hartcher, who was one of the authors of the coverage. Mr Keating described Hartcher as the “arch villain” and a “provocateur and warmonger” and accused Nine’s editors of being “compliant”.
“The management and board of Nine Group will have much to answer for should it allow further publication of this wantonly biased and inflammatory material,” he said.
The prospect of war with China has always been a bit problematic. If they really wanted to shaft us they would just stop buying our products. They’re already doing it with some products and it would be easier than we think to find alternative suppliers in South America, Africa and other places.
Of course, there is, in one respect, a real risk of war with China. But it wouldn’t be initiated by China but rather the US with Australia happily leaping in to play a Deputy Sheriff role.
In the second half of the 20th century we have already followed in the US footsteps in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. These then promote terrorism – in this respect more properly called Blowback – which justifies yet more war.
Putin in Ukraine is a war criminal but the same could be said of assorted US Presidents who have waged war under false pretences as well as conducting manifold secret wars directly and through proxies in South America, Southeast Asia and other places. The Iraqi invasion is also arguably a war crime based on claims about imaginary wars of mass destruction.
As the blog wrote a while ago some countries – such as Australia and the US – always have to have an enemy.
Great for the weapons industries but tragic for the two countries service people and the populations of those we invade.
The great irony is that since World War II the US hasn’t actually won any of the wars it’s entered. Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan although the US did defeat a few Cuban construction workers when the US invaded Grenada.
The rewrite of the Where Have All the Flowers Gone song to replace the final words with When Will We Ever Learn is ever more poignant.