Seeing how the US-led Iraq invasion ended the career of Tony Blair in infamy, British politicians have learned a lesson. If nothing else, self-preservation means avoiding going gung-ho, or “shoulder to shoulder”, with the American Empire as it prepares for war. Sadly, Australia seems to have skipped that history class. A large segment of its political establishment is now happily cheering for war – with China. It won’t end well for anyone. Most ordinary Australians know that, but try telling that to their political elite who think they are too dumb to understand international politics and the danger China presents. In reality, they – the elite – are the real danger. Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has exemplified this warmongering trend. If the current Labor government of Anthony Albanese and his Foreign Minister Penny Wong try to dial down the anti-Chinese vitriol, the Australian mainstream press makes sure to pour in more fuel. In a front page double feature reminiscent of wartime Anglo-American propaganda, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age splashed with a self-proclaimed “Red Alert”. They showcased the same quarter-page graphic of a crimson China with rows of fighter jets flying out and covering half the globe. A panel of five national security experts was convened and concluded that Australia “faces the prospect of armed conflict in the Indo-Pacific within three years” but was not prepared for it. Note that they were not claiming that Australia would be attacked by China, but it must fight with the US in the event of a war over Taiwan. Australia’s Albanese visits India with trade, China and cricket on his mind Both publications are owned by Nine, the publicly listed parent corporation. Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating has issued a rebuttal. He wrote: “Today’s Sydney Morning Herald and Age front-page stories on Australia’s supposed war risk with China represents the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life. “It is way worse than the illustrated sampans shown to be coming from China in the build-up to the war in Vietnam in the 1960s.” Keating is right. Unsurprisingly, the sanctimonious hacks at the newspapers hit back. “Mr Keating has indulged in personal slurs against the journalists at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age instead of engaging in the substance of their reporting. It’s not a useful contribution,” Tory Maguire, the executive editor of both papers, said. Why? Because Keating voices a contrarian stance? Faced with a mass media of unprincipled manipulation and war hysteria, the former leader has every right, even duty, to tell the truth as he sees it. Of course, he will be branded a Beijing stooge. Murdoch testified Fox ‘endorsed’ Trump’s 2020 election lie Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Australia ran a similar package last month, with the title, “Are we ready for war?” and a big graphic featuring a menacing line of missiles with the red Chinese national flag on them. The conclusions and backgrounds of the five “experts” are related, though the papers didn’t disclose them. Any rational Australian citizen may question why fighting over Taiwan strengthens their country’s national security rather than threatens it. This is why the five’s “expertise” was needed – because they must argue for the implausible to make it sound palatable. Four of the five experts are either senior members of, or contributors to, the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies and/or the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Both think tanks have close ties with the defence and intelligence agencies of their respective governments and receive substantial federal funding, in addition to financial contributions from Western-allied governments and big defence industry players such as Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and/or Northrop Grumman. The fifth expert, Alan Finkel, was the chief scientist of the Australian government under Morrison. Not only was no dissenting voice invited to the newspaper debate, but also a former leader was castigated for trying to voice a different opinion. This is the level of debate over national security the country has fallen to.