Playbook for AUKUS campaign wins coveted award

Apr 2, 2023
AUKUS banner with USA, UK, Australia flag icons. American, British, Australian security alliance pact design. Vector illustration.

Britain’s Oxford Dictionary and America’s Webster’s have moved quickly to shut down further nominations for the 2023 “Word of the Year”. They’ve declared “aukustrate” the unbeatable winner. Unsurprisingly, Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary found no reason to disagree, and fell into line.

The announcement followed the Global Public Relations Institute giving its Marx/Goebbels Award for the Propaganda Campaign of 2023 to the communications strategists behind AUKUS: the astonishingly well “orchestrated/aukustrated” push by northern hemisphere arms makers which commits Australia to spend $12 billion a year for the next 30 years on US/UK submarines.

A spokesperson for the Global PR Institute said the AUKUS/arms-dealers promoters had followed every good rule in the playbook:

  1. Persuade a struggling Liberal/Coalition PM (Scott Morrison) that his electoral prospects would be better served if he reneged on a submarine-supply contract with the inconsequential/hapless French, and switched instead to Australia’s more traditional allies – the US and UK.
  2. Have the Coalition Government advise the Labor Opposition of the decision less than 24 hours before it’s announced publicly, knowing that Labor will go along with it because they’re nervous about being seen as not completely committed to the US alliance (never mind what the ALP’s parliamentary party room and rank and file might have said, if asked).

Then, once Labor is elected….

  1. Prime the best-respected print media outlet in Australia to run a huge series on how China is about to start a war, including an invasion of Australia. For the series, assemble a panel of experts, including some who have clear links to a think tank funded by US interests and the Australian Government.
  2. A week or so later, schedule an exquisitely made-for-TV meeting at a naval base in the US, involving the US President and the UK PM, and Australia’s PM, for the biggest photo-op an Australian PM will ever enjoy on the world stage. Confirm submarines deal, with just enough detail to make it sound credible: “catching the wave of history”.
  3. Endure the inevitable criticism and scepticism, with well-prepared talking points. Switch easily from “This is to stop a Chinese attack on Australia,” to “This is to protect our sea lanes (in the South China Sea) for our export markets”. Include “This doesn’t commit us to be involved in a war over China’s claims to Taiwan”.
  4. Have a recruitment commercial ready to run on TV, a few days after the announcement, seeking people to build and crew the submarines (knowing they’ll be a little hard to find, given the US will veto anyone from the “suss” countries from which we draw many of our immigrants).

The panel also noted the deft handling of potentially tricky issues, as the “aukustrators” successfully silenced:

  1. Any mention that the Port of Darwin is already leased to a Chinese corporation, courtesy of a local Coalition (NT) government unimpeded, at the time, by a federal Coalition government.
  2. Pesky questions about how having a few Australian submarines in the South China Sea would be able to stop China sending long range missiles to nuke the “joint US/Australian surveillance base” at Pine Gap, (near Alice Springs, NT) and Tindal Air Base (near Katherine in the NT): Australian mainland territory, effectively ceded to the US.
  3. Reference to Australia’s disastrous contract to purchase the F15 fighter-bombers from the US, to ensure it’s not used as a negative case history.
  4. Observations on the fact that all of the individuals/parties who lent themselves to this will be long gone (dead or retired) by the time the submarines program is meant to be finalised in the mid 2050s.

The panel noted the particular sophistication of the argument that the subs would be used to patrol the sea lanes around Australia’s largest trading partner, China, while identifying China, itself, as the biggest threat to the security of the very waters through which Australia/China imports/exports are carried.


You also may be interested in New language, new national future: Australia is now an AUKUState by Michael McKinley.

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