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Who are these warmongers?

Written by: Nick G. on 9 March 2023


This week readers of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age have been subjected to the beating of war drums by a stable of five “experts” whose views have been collated by journalists Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott. 

In authoritative tones, the five have warned of the inevitability of war with China in 3 years and that “we are not ready’.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the promotion of the war threat from China comes days before PM Albanese stands alongside President Joe Biden to announce the details of how Australia will be equipped with nuclear-powered submarines. Fear of China, it is hoped by the collaborators serving AUKUS, will be the honey that helps a gullible public to swallow the bitter pill of a $170billion waste of money to help the US Navy expand the number of submarines under its control.  

This fear tactic is nothing new. Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen has highlighted how, 72 years ago, on March 8, 1951, Menzies used the same scare tactic – in the Sydney Morning Herald – as he sought to place Australia more firmly under US control.

Today’s 3-year warning is an echo of a 2-year warning issued in January by USAF Gen. Michael A. Minihan in what the Washington Post described as “a bombastic and unusual memo to troops under his command”.

Hartcher and Co. have at least added a year to Minihan’s forecast to make it less “unusual”.

But who are the five “experts” brought together by Hartcher, himself best regarded as a bit of an idiot, but dangerous because of his journalistic reach and his appearances on ABC programs such as The Drum and Q&A.

Peter Jennings

Let’s start with alarmist-in-chief Peter Jennings.

Jennings recently retired from a ten-year stint as head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). The ASPI website boasts that it is “independent and non-partisan”. Nothing could be further from the truth. ASPI is funded by the Defence Department and by major US and British arms manufacturers such as Raytheon, BAE Systems, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, as well as by major players such as Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Serco. It has also received funding from Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the US Government. The organisation would better be named Australians Serving Predatory Imperialism (ASPI) for its personnel are simply paid agents of US arms manufacturers whose profits rise in tandem with the fear of war with China. ASPI is the living embodiment of the old saying that “war is good for business”.

Jennings’s twenty-year career in the Public Service saw him being Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Defence Department (2009-12); Chief of Staff to the Minister for Defence (1996- 98) and Senior Adviser for Strategic Policy to the Prime Minister John Howard (2002-03).

Among his crimes, he negotiated the ‘enhanced cooperation’ agreement bringing detachments of the United States Marine Corps to Northern Australia and setting the plan for growing United States Navy and Air Force cooperation with the Australian Defence Force.

Jennings is frequently turned to by the comprador media for “expert” opinion on military and security issues.

Lavina Lee

Lavina Lee is a cheerleader for US imperialist aggression, working for the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and is an ASPI Council member. She was also a Director of the Institute for Regional Security, a think tank promoting QUAD agendas.

Lesley Seebeck

Seebeck has had 28 articles published on the ASPI website between 2018 and March 8, 2023. She has worked in the Departments of Finance, Defence, and the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Office of National Assessments, and as an IT and management consultant in private industry, and at two universities. This included two years (2019-20) as member of Aust Govt’s Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board and four years as Assistant Secretary, Defence, Security and Intelligence Branch, in Aust Govt Department of Finance. 

Seebeck is CEO of Cyber21 Pty Ltd which sells “strategic advice, mentoring and analysis for government and corporate clients.”

She is also Chair of the National Institute of Strategic Resilience, which promotes itself as a “collaboration of industry, academic and military leaders from home and abroad; supported by emergent analysts to deliver a new take on resilience and security public policy.” 

Heightened tensions around threats of war with China would be very good for both of these businesses.

Mick Ryan

In 2018, Major-General Mick Ryan was a presenter at a $550 per head ASPI Artificial Intelligence and National Security Masterclass. This retired major general in the Australian Army is a graduate of the US Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and the U.S. Marine Corps University Command and Staff College and School of Advanced Warfighting. A personification of interoperability with the US war machine, from 2010 to 2011, he worked in the Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell (PACC) on the US Joint Staff. During this time, he also led the Joint Staff effort for the President’s Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review for the National Security Committee in 2010 and led PACC support to General John Allen in his Senate Confirmation for command in Afghanistan. 

Ryan is a member of the Australia Chair of the US CSIS. CSIS’s Australia Chair is “dedicated to increasing understanding between the United States and Australia and serves as an independent platform to pursue policy changes that strengthen bilateral ties.” The Chair is endowed through the generosity of Pratt Industries. This is the US arm of Australian capitalist Anthony Pratt’s Visy Industries and is the world's largest privately owned packaging and paper company.

Pratt has an estimated personal wealth of US$12 billion.

In 2018, Ryan was appointed Commander of the Australian Defence College, and is also an Adjunct Scholar at the Modern War Institute of the US West Point Military Academy.

In addition to having a Twitter account identified as @WarintheFuture, he also fancies himself as a novelist. Sales of his soon-to-be-published “White Sun War: The Campaign for Taiwan” will certainly not be harmed by his stoking the fire of war threats from China.

Alan Finkel

Perhaps the odd man out in this gang of five is former Australian Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. His links to ASPI are tenuous, his only connection being his presence at a session on “The Challenge of Energy Resilience in Australia” convened by ASPI. However, he has had, and may still have, business and academic connections with the US.

Is China a Threat?

China some time ago departed from the socialist road, adopted capitalism and began to practice its own brand of imperialism - imperialism with Chinese characteristics.

It is expansionist and has converted what was a navy for coastal defence into a blue water fleet to project its influence and protect its overseas acquisitions. 

However, it does not pose a military threat to Australia or to other countries in our region at this time. Its growing influence does pose a challenge to US imperialism, and as the current king of the castle, it fears any challenge from below. It instinctively relies on military might to counter such challenges, and is the main source of military and  political tensions in our region.

US imperialism, not China, is the major source of the threat of war.

This will never be projected in the subservient, pro-US comprador media in Australia.

That includes the ABC.

In the meantime, we must do what we can to present counter-arguments to those promoted by ASPI and its network of warmongers.

As former Prime Minister Paul Keating said of the current run of articles coming from this nest of vipers, “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.”

Well, certainly not since Menzies in 1951.



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