The following article is reproduced from Caitlin Johnstone’s blog, with thanks.
In the latest escalation in Australia’s increasingly forceful campaign to manufacture consent for war with China, the Murdoch-owned Sky News Australia has aired a jaw-droppingly propagandistic hour-long special which advocates a dramatic increase in the nation’s military spending.
Australians are uniquely vulnerable to propaganda because our nation has the most concentrated media ownership in the western world, the lion’s share of it by Rupert Murdoch, who has well-documented ties to US government agencies going back decades. The propaganda campaign against China has gotten so aggressive here in recent years that I’ve repeatedly had complete strangers start babbling at me about the Chinese threat in casual conversation, completely out of the blue, within minutes of our first meeting each other.
The Sky News special was one of the most brazenly propagandistic things I have ever witnessed in any news media, with its opening minutes featuring footage of bayonet-wielding Chinese troops marching while ominous cinematic Bad Guy music plays loudly over the sound of the marching. In its promotional clip for the special, Sky News Australia tinged all footage pertaining to China in red to show how dangerous and communist they are. These are not decisions that are made with the intention of informing the public, these are decisions that are made with the intention of administering war propaganda.
The first expert Sky News brought on to tell viewers about the Chinese menace was Mick Ryan, an adjunct fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, which is funded by military-industrial complex entities like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, and is also directly funded by the US government and its client states, including Australia and Taiwan. Sky News of course made no mention of this immense conflict of interest while manufacturing consent for increased military spending, calling Ryan simply a “former major general”. This is on the same level of journalistic malpractice as running an article by Colonel Sanders on the health benefits of fried chicken but calling him “Harland David Sanders, former fry cook”.
The next expert Sky News presented us with was Australian former major general Jim “The Butcher of Fallujah” Molan, who oh-so-sadly passed away last month. I’ve written about Molan previously, specifically because the Australian media love citing him in their propaganda campaign against China, last time when he was pushing the ridiculous claim that China is poised to launch an invasion of Australia.
The other experts Sky News brought in were former CIA director and US secretary of defence Leon Panetta, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s director of Chinese affairs Dr Lai Chung, Japan’s ambassador to Australia Yamagami Shingo, Australian shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie, and John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a virulent propaganda firm which is once again funded by US-aligned governments and military-industrial complex war profiteers.
So it was about as balanced and impartial a punditry line-up as you’d expect.
At the 8:15 mark of the special, Sky News repeated the unevidenced propaganda claim that former Chinese president Hu Jintao was politically purged during the 20th Communist party congress last year.
At 19:15 Jim Molan talked about the need to fight and die with our allies the Americans while patriotic cello music played in the background.
At 21:30 we were shown images of Australia being bombed alongside the Chinese flag (very subtle, guys).
At 24:25 Sky News accidentally did a version of the “look how close they put their country to our military bases” meme, with a graphic display of all the US war machinery that surrounds China. The USA would never tolerate being encircled by the Chinese military like that and would immediately wage war if China tried; it’s clear that the US is the aggressor in this conflict and China is reacting defensively.
“The United States plays a major strategic role in the Indo-Pacific,” said Sky News anchor Peter Stefanovic as the screen lit up with graphics showing the military presence surrounding China. “With 375,000 personnel, there’s a vast network of operations that extend from Hawaii all the way to India.”
At 26:30 we were shown a digital representation of China’s satellite systems in space, with the Chinese satellites coloured red to help us all appreciate how evil and communist they are.
At 27:45 we were shown illustrations of how much smaller Australia’s military is than China’s or America’s to help us understand how important it is to increase the size of our nation’s war machine, ignoring the fact that Australia’s total population is a tiny fraction of either of those countries.
At 32:45 we were told that the Aukus pact will “beef up America’s military presence in the north of Australia”, and that “America has long used Australia as a key strategic outpost”, showing images of Pine Gap and other parts of the US war machine which dot this continent. “Now, there’s more to come,” said Stefanovic, with US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin describing the surge in US military presence we’re to expect in Australia.
At 34:10 the Australian Strategic Policy Institute guy explained why the US is so keen to use Australia in its planned confrontation with China, saying the continent’s geography puts it in “the Goldilocks location” of being close enough to China to be meaningful but far enough away that its war machinery can’t be easily struck.
At 35:15 Stefanovic warned that “our nation could quite literally be brought to its knees” if a war to the north saw shipping lanes cut off since Australia is so heavily dependent on imports. You would think this is an argument about the importance of maintaining a peaceful relationship with China, but instead it’s used to foment fear of China and argue for the need to be able to defeat it in a war.
And at 45:50 we finally got to the real purpose of this Sky News special: the need to “dramatically increase” the Australian military budget, and the need to manufacture consent for that increase. Australia currently has a military budget of $48.7bn, a little less than two percent of the nation’s GDP. The late Butcher of Fallujah told Sky News that “we need to at least double our defence expenditure” to four percent, and the special’s pundits openly discussed the need for Australians to be persuaded to accept this using narrative management.
“The Australian government needs to talk to the Australian people about the kinds of threats it faces,” said Mick Ryan. “It needs a more compelling narrative to convince the Australian people that they need to spend more on defence.”
“I think it is important that we are having a conversation with the Australian people which makes it clear that we live in a world which is more fragile than we have for a very long period of time,” Australian defence minister Richard Marles told Sky News. “And what that is going to require is a defence posture and a defence force which is in truth gonna cost more than it has in the past. We’re gonna need to increase our defence spending.”
To be clear, this is not just a call to increase military spending, this is a call to propagandise Australians into consenting to more military spending. It’s not very often that the propaganda comes right out and explains to you why it is propagandising you.
I always get people complaining that I focus too much on the US war machine when I live in Australia, but anyone who’s paying attention knows the behaviour of the US war machine is as relevant to Australians as it is to Americans. They are beating the drums for a future war of unfathomable horror all to please a dark god known as unipolarism, and it threatens to destroy us all.
The time to start resisting is now.