All warfare is based on deception

Jan 16, 2023
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“All warfare is based on deception”. Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Thus, as I struggle with how to bring the lights of truth to an essay on the current strategic situation, Sun Tzu brings me back to earth.

Then as I try to work out how to talk about hegemony I discover that the word entered modern political science discourse via the writings of Antonio Gramsci, philosopher and founder of the Italian Communist Party whose fascist prosecutor, with proto-get-Assangist fervour, said “We must stop his brain from working for 20 years”. Imprisoned till death, this (846 page) writing in his cell only emerging in the 1970s. Gramsci spoke of hegemony not as military but as the necessary socio-eco-cultural envelopment of any dominant relationship.

And yet the present hegemony discourse is focused on the military, not least because of the military focus of the dominant hegemonist now. We need to be conscious though, that the enablement of our taking sides on the military front begins with our being engobbled by the gobblemeup excrescences from our standard TV diet, from Spare to here and there. We can’t easily escape the one without the other.

In a speech in 2004 against the Iraq invasion, I expressed concern that the media not shrink its vocabulary to limits of permissibility, weakening rights and entitlement to dissent. Sadly, dissent is on the nose and public demonstration against dominant ideas is hard work or endangering. Mainstream media is complicit with the dominant hegemon’s war.

It has in the last year been sad to watch the passage of the Left, among Greens and others in Australia and outlets in the US somehow shifting from peace and anti war focus to a good-war-bad-Putin mind… and now the ABC with a China reporter based in Taipei, without the slightest blush over the transparently clear briefings from the Taipei government. It’s not enough that the defence department’s strategic public agency ASPI has seemingly embedded itself in the military industrial complex and the US Republican Party, that’s to be expected perhaps, but much of the Left, the dirty-word Left, has extracted its marbles and melted them down, ploughshares to swords, to support Ukraine, the ultimate-and-extraordinarily-successful-thus-far ‘deception’ project of our sad era.

Thus to assess where we might be going in relation to Ukraine, and China, it’s essential to have in mind the Boris+Spare+Hollywood shaping of our heads. And to read utterances from both sides, cautious of deception ingredients, and watch as carefully as possible what may be happening in the battlespace and its roots. In the battlespace the Moon of Alabama essay published by P&I on 14 January 2023 stands out as adequately reflecting actual events that have occurred, an assessment clear enough to be tested next month, which can hardly be said of the fly-by-night briefings out of Kyiv and Washington and the UKMOD which take the space in our main media.

We have to remember, ourselves, as armchair statesmen, Clausewitz’s too-uncomfortable-to-remember advice that statesmen be aware that the policy instrument of war having been taken up, war tends to drive out policy and pursue its own ends. Which describes very accurately where we are as an adjunct participant in the hegemony wars of the United States. In Ukraine, the admissions of Merkel and Hollande that the Minsk Protocols were not intended for peace but to give Ukraine time to arm have removed any Russian expectations of sincere negotiation with the West. That war has no likely end point, no off-ramp.

Like Japan we are working hard for our north to be an IndoPacific Ukraine, a sacrificable Spare token for American proxy war with China.

We need also to try to keep in mind, in the broad sense of hegemony, that what the Americans are trying to do on so many fronts, is just not feasible. As a society they cannot afford to continue printing money to spend so much on defence and little else as infrastructure and patience in the country crumbles and the weird and gun riddled is the new normal. I say that in the face of commitment of both sides of American politics in that direction. In addition, both sides of politics in the US want to bring home industries they exported in the years of America’s deindustrialisation that characterised the end of the last millennium, as they palmed off the dirty work especially to Mexico and China. Have no doubt, we will be touched by this, it’s not just the B52 madness that will tear at our fabric. It goes even unto the product line of Arnott’s biscuits when you think of how its private equity owners KKR will sometime have to present their deindustrialising past and future commitment to reindustrialisation to Congressional obsessives. The bitter truth is that the US deindustrialised itself as surely as it now seeks to reindustrialise itself by theft of intelligent business from East Asia and heavy industry from Europe on the slick of its oil dominance.

The holdouts in the Republican Party who worked on McCarthy also spoke of achieving oil and gas independence. This carries us to the brink of the core of American power, the progressive but determined wresting from the dollar of its dominance in global trade enabled by the petrodollar, which is being taken apart. As Sean Foo observed recently, for how long would investors favour a USD based on nothing but print money, many trillions of debt, and a Federal Reserve caring for no one outside the US, over a possible gold-backed Chinese yuan dominating global industry (still) and soundly backed by oil resources that can be made safe from interdiction at the Malacca Strait as now is the case?

The urgency of the large issues, the elephants and donkeys in the room that we won’t see, the life support systems addressed by David Shearman and others here, cannot be overemphasised. These things remain central to Australia’s security. We need a cultural hegemony, a national enthusiasm, vision, and commitment to save the nation. Where are the bullying Teals, let alone a Labor party doing more than plod? We are out of touch and out of step with our region and essential change.

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