‘Pearls and Irritations nails it again and again: recent food for thought (but it’s not like the Main Stream Media)’, Honest History, 19 May 2023 updated
Update later this day: Speaking of … there’s a nice piece in Inside Story by Margaret Simons on Crikey and the way it does its stuff.
John Menadue’s blog, Pearls and Irritations, like Crikey, Eureka Street, Independent Australia, Michael West Media, even The Conversation and Inside Story sometimes, continues to go where Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Stokes, and whoever runs Nine Newspapers and Australian Community Media (the Canberra Times and lots of regional papers), find it difficult to go (to put it no higher than that). Guardian Australia, now ten years old, is always worth a read, of course.
As of today’s date, you can find these posts on Pearls and Irritations:
- Michelle Fahy, indefatigable researcher of the corporate state, completes her two part series on the need for greater transparency in the many-faceted activities of our Department of Defence, and adds a piece on how Defence Minister Marles is handing over our sovereignty to the United States;
- Michael McKinley, international relations specialist, parses the Defence Strategic Review and finds conflicts of interest;
- Richard Llewellyn, close observer of international affairs, writes about the ‘dangerous idiocy’ of current Red Scare journalism;
- The Australia Institute shepherds a call from many distinguished Australians (signatories listed) for a Parliamentary inquiry into the AUKUS deal;
- John Menadue himself asks whether the QUAD will go the same way as SEATO (remember that one?) and just become irrelevant;
- Bob Carr, briefly our Foreign Minister a decade ago, writes about our status in Washington as a submissive ally. Some of Carr’s examples, dear reader, will make you cringe, but they underline how little distance we have travelled since the day 40 years ago when the then US Ambassador to Australia, Marshall Green, remarked that President Lyndon Johnson (1963-68) regarded Australia as the next large, rectangular US state west of El Paso, Texas – and treated us accordingly.
Among all of these contributions, the paragraphs that leaped out for this writer were Michelle Fahy’s:
[Defence Minister Marles] set the scene for his speech by delivering his oft-used lines:
‘We are seeing the biggest conventional military build-up in the world since the end of World War Two. And it is happening right here in our region.’
Some rarely-reported facts are necessary for context when considering that claim.
Global military expenditure in 2022 was $2.24 trillion. Of that, the United States accounted for $877 billion (39%). China was second, spending $292 billion (13%) and Russia third, $86.4 billion (3.9%). (All US$.) The US outspent the next ten countries combined.
The US also dominates the world in major arms exports. For the period 2018-22, the five largest weapons exporters were the USA (40%), Russia (16%), France (11%), China (5.2%) and Germany (4.2%), who together accounted for three-quarters of all exports. Countries in North America and Europe accounted for 87% of all arms exports.
Though there was also this from Bob Carr:
Australians might also begin to contemplate the frailties Joe Biden is unable to hide. Interviews and media conferences are getting harder for him. At the end of his second term Biden will be 85, an age at which one in five Americans struggle with Alzheimers. Should the president be forced by illness to resign his vice-president Kamala Harris offers no grounds for confidence that she can emerge as the Harry Truman of her time.
A regular immersion in posts like these is a good half-way point between the Wild West of Twitter and Facebook on the one hand and the Mainstream Media or MSM on the other. But don’t believe everything you read – anywhere (especially in the MSM) – unless the evidence stacks up.
* David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the journalists’ union. Full disclosure: he has occasionally been published on Independent Australia and Pearls and Irritations (and once each on Guardian Australia and Inside Story) and, 40 years ago, he briefly worked for John Menadue.