One of the great lessons of history is that all empires eventually collapse. Exceptional though many believe it to be, the US empire will be no different and there are many signs that having achieved a couple of decades of apparently unchallenged global domination following the fall of the USSR in 1991, the Anglo-US empire has hit its peak and the way forward lies in its decline. Although empires at their peak can look formidable and unassailable, their collapse can happen quite quickly and while there may be a final military denouement, this often happens in the context of a pre-existing collapse from within. In the end, it is the accumulation of a series of political, social, economic and military collapses combined with the inability of a delusional self-focused elite to face reality that leads to an overall collapse of empire.
The economic, geographic and geopolitical considerations for Australia are quite different to New Zealand’s. Where New Zealand is a remote, moderately small island nation with a relatively small population, Australia is a wealthy if massive sparsely occupied country with its main population centres concentrated on the eastern and southern coasts, it is rich in resources and poised on the southern periphery of Asia. With a GDP of USD1,432.2 billion its economy is nearly five times that of New Zealand’s and its population of 25.1 million is more than five times as large.
With an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of some 4 million km2 (and continental shelf rights that cover another 1.7 million km2 beyond), much of New Zealand’s air and sea defence resources are dedicated to monitoring and securing the fisheries and resources in its surrounding seas and also to providing civil defence and other support to its Pacific island neighbours. Significantly, of New Zealand’s top five trading partners, China accounts for 24.9% of New Zealand’s total exports (USD9.6 billion) with Australia coming in behind at 14.8% (USD5.7 billion), the USA at 9.6% (USD3.7 billion), Japan at 6.3% (USD2.4 billion) and South Korea at 3.1% (USD1.2 billion).
2. US saviour and defender — From one empire to another
After World War II, Britain was so depleted that these relatively young and militarily weak nations needed a new alliance that could protect them from possible invaders in the radically altered geopolitical landscape that came out of the war. The obvious candidate for this role was the USA which, in economic and geopolitical terms, was the only real winner of the two world wars. So, in 1951 Australia and New Zealand signed the Australia, New Zealand and United States Security Treaty (ANZUS Treaty) with the USA “to protect the security of the Pacific”.
It is readily apparent that the balance of power and geopolitical landscape is undergoing a period of rapid change where the uni-polar empire headed by the USA and its elites is being challenged by a combination of a resurgent and reinvigorated Russia and the rising economic and industrial might of China. Caught in this dynamic, Australia and New Zealand need to find a way to individually and perhaps collectively navigate their way from the past certainty of being a part of an apparently unchallenged dominant Anglo-US empire to a new multi-polar world.
Media critics Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky detailed in their Propaganda Model how propaganda and systemic biases function in corporate mass media. This work has been extended by David Edwards and David Cromwell of medialens.org in their critique of the UK media— particularly of supposedly liberal outlets, such as the BBC and The Guardian. It is therefore not unexpected that the Australian government owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) might fill a similar position in the media landscape. This article is based on a search of all ABC articles and news items during the month of July that related to the search terms China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Uyghur.
Analysis of this listing shows that ABC reporting on China in July 2019 saw a significant ramp up in tone and stridency of the anti-China reporting—firstly in relation to the protests in Hong Kong and then the focus turned to Xinjiang—the centre-point of which was an ABC 4 Corners documentary “Tell The World” that screened on 15 July. Other key themes in the reporting during the month centred on Chinese influence in Australian universities; Chinese militarism (South China Sea and spying on the Talisman Sabre war games); repression, censorship and corrupt legal system; the economic effects on Australia of the Trump administration’s trade war; and Chinese drug cheats and gamblers.
The idea that liberalism is dead has recently received a boost from Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been quoted as saying:
“The liberal idea… has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population,” … Putin said in an interview with the Financial Times Friday that the “liberal idea has become obsolete,” and referred to Germany’s decision to welcome more than one million refugees — many fleeing savage urban warfare in Syria — as a “cardinal mistake.”
I have stated before my view that Islam and Muslims are not the problem but rather that religion is used as a tool by those in power as a way of manipulating ordinary to act in their interests. My article Thoughts on the Nature of the God Construct expands on this idea in terms of how the image and nature of the god that the elites present to us for our worship reveals something of their agendas and efforts to shape society for their own benefit.
F. William Engdahl’s book, The Lost Hegemon: Whom the Gods Would Destroy goes much further in examining how radical Islam has been deliberately shaped and promoted as a tool by Western elites as a way of establishing and maintaining control over the Middle East and then as a weapon against the USSR. Since the end of the Cold War, this tool has been resurrected and used to break up Yugoslavia, destabilise Chechnya and then deployed against a succession of Arab and African states with the ultimate aim of conquering and harnessing the rising powers of Russia and China.
The latest report from the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media provides sobering reading to anyone who has thought this supposedly highly respected international body could maintain its credibility in the face of the current war on truth being prosecuted by the Western powers.
Entitled “How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled”, authors Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson identify who seems to have been responsible for suppressing findings that cast doubt on the official US narrative concerning the use of chlorine gas in the supposed gas attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018. The effect of this suppression was the support for an impression that chlorine gas had possibly been used by the Syrian government when this was unlikely based on the evidence and the assessment of the investigators who examined the site.
It’s hard to know what personal resources the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the military commanders targeted by these sanctions own outside Iran that may be affected by these measures. Estimates of the Ayatollah’s wealth vary wildly from the US$500 thousand (CelebrityNetWorth.com in 2018) to the US$95 billion (Reuters in 2013 and TopRichets.com in 2019) and now the US$200 billion claimed by the US embassy in Baghdad.
“Khamenei, who was initially elected president of the nascent republic in 1981, has “possessions” valued at an estimated at $200 billion, according to a Facebook post by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in April.”
Suffice to say, given the constant flow of propaganda that has been projected against Iran since the 1979 revolution, none of these sources can in anyway be taken as credible accountings of the Ayatollah’s real wealth – least of all the US embassy in Baghdad during a period when the propaganda is rising to high pitch and the US war drums are beating loud.
But that is surely not the point. A major part in announcing these sanctions is the inherent implication that Iran’s leaders have large personal financial assets outside the country that can be sanctioned. This sub-text is designed to discredit these leaders in the eyes of people in the west and also their own population. It fits the corrupt self interested despot narrative that demonises leaders of the US’s target nations.