Geopolitics

Post #48 – Clinton has declared an ‘Information War’, but who’s the enemy?

State-sponsored news channels like Al-Jazeera and RT are contributing to widespread repercussions that go beyond that of the family lounge room. The question is, what are those repercussions? After all, it’s only a TV show, right?

When defending the growing budget of the State Department, United States Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton proclaimed that America is in the midst of “an information war, and we are losing that war”. She specifically singled out the predominantly state-funded cable news channels Al-Jazeera, RT (Russia Today) and CCTV (China Central Television) as competitors in this war for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the masses. Within the last twenty-five years, countries that can be classified as ‘non-democratic’ have produced and disseminated cable news channels that can be broadcast across the entirety of the globe. These state-sponsored news channels are challenging traditional media organisations in breadth, prestige and influence. The implications of this steady rise in cable news channels materialising from non-democratic nation-states is both reflexive and consequential of a changing economical, political, technological and cultural environment.

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Post #47 – Trump Ain’t A Fascist (yet), But the Truth is a Lot Scarier

In the wake of Britain’s EU Referendum, it seems we have been asking the wrong kind of questions about Trump… and Clinton too.

With the recent shock vote for Great Britain to leave the EU, Trump exclaimed from the grand opening of his new Scottish golf-course that BREXIT was a “great thing“. Many are now questioning whether Thursday’s result will significantly increase the chances of Trump’s anti-establishment ideals. For example, CNN pondered whether the result would trigger…

… a cascade of events that could spark global economic chaos, remake the Western world, reverberate through November’s presidential election and challenge U.S. security for years to come.

Such an event means that comprehending what Trump actually stands for becomes tantamount to comprehending if the American ‘establishment’ are in for the same treatment in November. Naturally this has led to the current debate amongst the intellectual elite as to whether Donald Trump is a fascist – or at the very least, he has fascist tendencies. According to The Atlantic, The Telegraph and Forbes – he’s not. Salon, New Republic and George Clooney think he is. Most can agree that he is an unashamed populist, positioning himself as an anti-establishment messiah campaigning on a platform of economic protectionism and a critic of free trade deals (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP/TTIP).

The question as to whether one is a fascist depends on one important element though – power. As the German-born political theorist Hannah Arendt once said,

Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and then they can pick it up.

So if Trump is the revolutionary he paints himself to be, it won’t be until after he becomes President of the United States (POTUS) that a proper assessment of his fascist tendencies can take place – anytime beforehand (more…)

Post #44 – Budgets, Brexits, Battlelines and Briefcases

There is a Civil War brewing. No I’m not referring to Yemen, Ukraine, the U.S or even the upcoming antics of Captain America. I’m referring to a Civil War over a quantitative expression of a plan for a defined period of time – better known as a budget.

Federal budgets are those funny things in politics that have the power to destroy – or further solidify – the career of the Chosen One that hands it down. A memorable budget is usually characterised by an image, a particular event, or a symbol. Take the example of the Abbott Government’s much-maligned 2014 budget, personified so eloquently in the grainy footage of then-Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann huffing down Cuban cigars. He was henceforth disparagingly referred to as ‘Smokin’ Joe‘, and his career prospects tanked along with the budget. The man many thought might be our future Prime Minister was undid by a shitty budget (more…)

Post #24 – Are Countries With Nukes Really Trying To Save The World?

The Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, now stands at three minutes to midnight, or doomsday. It has been adjusted 18 times since its creation in 1947. It has been set as close as two minutes to midnight, in 1953 when the United States tested a hydrogen bomb, and as far as 17 minutes from midnight, in 1991 as the Cold War expired.

Congratulations earthlings, as of the 23rd January 2015, we’re now only ‘three minutes’ away to literally wiping ourselves off the face of the earth! This is mostly due to the threat of nuclear annihilation (sprinkled with a bit of catastrophic climate change doom and gloom) because of our presumed inability to keep our finger off the red button. However, the big and muscly nations of the world see the whole matter differently – they’re turning back the clock, just like the very curious case that involved that Benjamin Button fellow. The great powers’ would like you to believe that their actions help it from striking midnight – and how could you not trust the sincerity of characters like Putin and Xi Jinping? That’s why they introduced the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an international treaty drawn up by the great powers’ (Nuclear Weapon States or NWS) with the advertised intention of promoting nuclear disarmament and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nice bunch of guys just trying to protect the world, right? Well no, not really. The designated nuclear weapon states of China, France, Russia, the U.K and the U.S.A (NWS) finalised their implementation of the NPT by 1970, and continue their support in maintaining a tight control over who and ultimately who cannot attain nuclear weapons. For an example, look at all the current hoo-ha over Iran. This is in an era where everybody wants the bomb – from North Korea, to ISIS and the nice old lady next door. So I’m going to look at four main reasons why they want to keep nuclear weapons from being handed around like a pack of gum at an MDMA-fueled rave, and not all of them are as pure and altruistic as you may think.
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Post #15 – ‘Everyone Speaks Spanish Except For The Apes’

A few days ago the Spanish government closed a Spanish-language school in Gibraltar (a British territory at the arse-end of Spain) because, according to them, ‘everyone [in Gibraltar] speaks Spanish except for the apes’. Now, this can be read two ways – he could be referring to the native monkeys that live on the rock, or he could be referring to the British. He’s most likely referring to both. You see, Gibraltar couldn’t be anymore geographically Spanish even if it was smack-bang in the Puerta Del Sol in Madrid, but the British classify it as their overseas territory and solely their territory. British border guards, British pubs… even British phone boxes, double-decker buses, little red post boxes, pictures of the Queen and crooked smiles galore! It’s nearly British in every respect, except there’s sun. As you could imagine the proud people of Spain see this as an historic injustice and therefore every now and again Spain makes life difficult for England and little Gibraltar, just to let them know they consider it their territory. To demonstrate that it really pisses the Spanish off, they sometimes just close the only land border into the country, for no reason at all… for days on end. So to help explain this bizarre situation I’m gunna have a look at a very influential navy seaman (lolz… seamen) and strategist called Alfred Mahan and see how his ideas’ from over a century ago might make some sense out of why the Spanish are referring to the British as monkeys.

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Post #10 – When Should I Start Learning Mandarin in Preparation for My Chinese Overlords’ Arrival? Pt. 2

In my last post we were looking at China. We’ll probably continue that trend because, well, that’s what we agreed upon… and I’m a man of my word. I’d hate to leave you all in suspense. Let’s pick up where we left off: China and resources; this time around we begin by looking at that sticky icky stuff again (however we’ll get to the people of China very soon).

Oil has been called ‘the life-blood of the global economy’ – and for no small reason. It has, more than any other resource on earth, played a pivotal role in the great economic transformation that included an explosion in wealth and population growth across the globe over the last 150 years. However, unlike the U.S.A which founded most of its military and economic strength off of its oil wealth in the early 20th century, China “is already dependent on external sources for 54% of its oil, and many experts predict it will be the world’s largest importer of oil by 2025”. As noted before though, China’s “increasing dependence on external sources of energy has led it to befriend any number of authoritarian regimes…” meaning for the foreseeable future, a steady stream of oil is guaranteed. When China has turned to its’ immediate region to lock in future oil supplies (more…)

Post #9 – When Should I Start Learning Mandarin in Preparation for My Chinese Overlords’ Arrival? Pt. 1

You’ve probably all heard that the 19th century was the ‘British century’ and the 20th was the ‘American century’ – but who gets to call dibs on the 21st century? China is the front-runner, but I’m here to explain why you don’t have to start learning Mandarin in anticipation of your eastern overlords juuuust yet. With the Chinese economy expected to eclipse that of the world’s sole superpower – America – possibly as early as next year, China seems like a safe bet at the moment to kick arse this century. But to equate current bullish economic growth and substantial international political sway with a direct association to a ‘Chinese Century’ would mean you’re ignoring a key proponent of their current position in the world – resources. So unlike the British Empire of the 19th century and the American domination of the 20th century, I’m willing to argue that the 21st century will not belong to China. That’s right – you’ve heard it here first ladies and gentlemen! I believe the battle of resources in a world of dwindling supplies will be China’s ‘Achilles heel’ and will eventually lead to them conceding that not only does this century not belong to them – but that it won’t really belong to anybody. To prove my point, I’m going to look at China’s heavy reliance on non-renewable resources such as coal, oil and uranium. I’m also going to argue that China’s ability to manage human ‘resources’ and geopolitical relations in an increasingly hostile region of the world is probably all going to go to shit sometime soonish. China’s capacity to deal with the natural resources of water and food will also be explored in this era of climate change, pollution and decreasing biodiversity. Lastly, I’m going to show my lovely readers (that’s you… yes you!) that all these issues presented will lead to China – the world’s largest exporter of goods – decreasing their output to the rest of the world, thereby reinforcing a vicious feedback loop of diminishing returns and turmoil at home. This will inevitably result in a decrease in relative economic and political power and thus cut the balls off any argument that this is truly China’s century.

Over the last few years, China’s economy has been growing at eight percent or more per year; that means it is more than doubling in size every eight years. That’s pretty damn impressive. In stark contrast, the economies of Europe and America have seen stagnation, contractions and patchy economic growth – particularly since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8. If there was ever a chance for China (more…)