Cheeseburger Gothic

Maybe Tone should have knighted Taylor Swift instead

Posted January 26, 2015 into Politics by John Birmingham

Then again I wouldn't have scored a lazy quid for knocking out this column about Sir Phil the Greek.

To those who would decry this honour I say God's smothering bollocks upon you! Certainly, the PM could have embiggened any old convict. As Lord Nelson (H.G, not the other one) remarked on Australia Day morning, Sir Molly Meldrum, Sir Geoffrey Edelsten and Dame Dannii Minogue select themselves. But these would have been the obvious choices. The safe and predictable and boring options.

At smh.com

60 Responses to ‘Maybe Tone should have knighted Taylor Swift instead’

MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 26, 2015
I am so embarrassed to be an Australian today.
As many of you know, I have had 'issues' with Tone all the way back to the days when he headed up the liberals dirty tricks department and got Pauline put in jail. I'm not a big fan of Pauline either but the act was reprehensible and Tone has gone on in the same manner.
To return us to the whole knighthood thing and then turn around and knight the Queens 93 old hubby is such an act of suckerry, it defies belief.

How can the leader of an independent 1st world nation do such a thing? Its wrong on so many levels that the words treachery and treason came to mine. Seriously.

The sooner we get this TOTAL idiot out of power the better.

Again to the overseas burgers I apologize for this on behalf of all the normal patriotic Aussies out there and hope to return our country to normality as soon as possible .

Guru Bob reckons...

Posted January 27, 2015
I read an article today which said 'his head must be in a strange place indeed' which sums it up well, because obviously his head is up his arse...

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MickH puts forth...

Posted January 26, 2015
God I'm angry!!!

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted January 26, 2015
Mick, I am more gobsmacked than angry. Tony now has absolutely zero defence to anybody accusing him of being an antediluvian nutbag. But I did like Shorten's comment. I think it is a wonderfully understated observation when having to comment on someone who is obviously totally deranged . I must remember it. Shorten: '"I just think people think it's an unusual priority."

MickH mumbles...

Posted January 26, 2015
LOL yeah, understated is the word. Bat shit crazy is what I'm thinking

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted January 26, 2015
Some of us are lucky not be Australian today, and can poke fun at others with their Dear Leader's latest brain fart.

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balri mutters...

Posted January 26, 2015
I am completely dumbfounded

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pedrogb is gonna tell you...

Posted January 26, 2015
Very odd decision indeed.Nice use of "embiggened" though.Still waiting for use of "cromulate"Pedro

damian reckons...

Posted January 26, 2015
That's a perfectly cromulant word.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 26, 2015
Classic red herring. Once again we are discussing triviality, when there are so many far far far more important issues at play.

damian ducks in to say...

Posted January 26, 2015
Yeah this. Maybe some other things too.

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w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted January 26, 2015
Oh, sweet giddy Jesus. I am still chuckling about Tony wielding the might sword to honour the fabulous Phil. This is, I think, the funniest moment in the history of the Australian body politic. Apparently, Tony didn't consult. Ha ha ha ha. I can just imagine the often blamed Peta Credlin today saying to her detractors, 'You see! Can you see you stupid c*nts! This is the absolute fkn dickwit that I have to herd every day.'

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pi puts forth...

Posted January 26, 2015
How bizarre.

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SZF would have you know...

Posted January 26, 2015
In amongst all the obsequious lunacy of this, isn't Crazy Phil already a Knight of the Garter - the highest order of knighthood in the British Empire?
It's a bit like offering Stephen Hawking an honorary diploma in physics from Advanced Hair Studios...

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted January 27, 2015
Abbott reminds me of Wile E. Coyote. He got himself a box of "ACME Exploding Knighthoods" and in a piece of comic genius blew himself to smithereeenies.

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Lulu mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2015
I think it's very unfair all those howwible people are accusing the PM of dragging us back to the 1950s. By my estimate it's more like the 1590s.

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Penley is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2015
I think it's wonderful. Watching Tones veer from catastrophe to catastrophe has just been a delight, a truly enjoyable spectator sport. I feel actual glee every times he does/says something stupid, and this latest effort has been just too good to be true. Shorten must be wondering what sort of topsy turvy world this is - he doesn't have to do ANYTHING with Tony, he does it all to himself.

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Wolfcat ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2015
The skill to cock up Australia day awards should not be underestimated.
Abbott is truly a giant amongst us mortals. Can you think of any other PM that could screw up Australia Day awards. Can you think of any one else that could hand out the top Australia Day awards to only women, to follow up the next day with not being able to find a single woman to give a Dame title to.
I personally am looking forward to his April Fools joke, because he has started the year so strong.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2015
April Fool's day is now redundant. No one could top that, except Tony of course. Every time you think he's reached the pinnacle of idiocy, he manages to find one more peak to climb.

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2015

Just goes to show how little real ideas or vision or beliefs for that matter,our elected 'leaders' actually have. Its shocking that Toned Abs did this, but really,its no worse than all the crazy thought balloons of KRudd or Gillard. With the death of Tom Uren on the weekend it just shows how far any of these professional politicians have come, from men of ideas and conviction to the sad spectacle of PR driven second guessing sad gits who couldn't get a job anywhere else if they tried.

NBlob mutters...

Posted January 27, 2015
I missed Tom Uren's passing. Damn. Quite a guy, the obits don't do him justice. Digger, POW & peacenik. A profane rogue with a profound ethic. A troublemaker in a position authority. An incredibly broad & interested intellect who was played as a fool.
Vale Tom Uren

Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2015

I was lucky enough to meet Tom a couple of times. What an intelligent bloke he was. A really down to earth, lovely person. Blokes like him really make some of our current politicians look so much less than ordinary. I can't imagine that there will ever be a person that could fill his shoes and it makes me very sad. Loved your work mate.

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JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 27, 2015
Of course, little that Australians think or say means anything to Abbott. He called social media 'electronic graffiti' yesterday because, you know, ideas don't count. Way to top off a great day, Tony. Can just imagine the Chaser team, Mad As Hell's Shaun Micallef, and other comedians sending this up. I bet the entire LNP team woke up today with that 'oh no! Did he really do that?' feeling today. The morning after regrets and shame. Hahaha. Death by cringe.

JG asserts...

Posted January 27, 2015
The Liberal Party, rather (not the LNP). Backbenchers of Liberal Party now want a meeting with Abbott. Rumblings in the ranks. Nothing will help them now, not even if there's a change of leadership between now and the federal election. I hope.

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Shifty Tourist reckons...

Posted January 27, 2015

How stupid.... The whole knights and dames thing was ridiculous enough, but to go an give a made up title to a family that has a virtual monopoly over made up titles reduces this to farce.

I honestly can't understand why the Queen didn't laugh condescendingly at the suggestion. Its a bit like giving Daniel Day-Lewis a Gold Logie

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Darth Greybeard mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2015
I wish you people would leave him alone. The last thing I want is to see Tones replaced with something that can be sold to the public as competent. Do we really want Prime Minister and Minister for Internal Security, Border Security and Concentration Camps Scott Morrison? Rather surprised we didn't get Dame Gina Rinehart or Sir Rupert Murdoch though.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2015
I think all of this is fucking hilarious. In the middle of my day I start chuckling over how incredibly silly it is.

Thank y'all for this wonderful gift that keeps giving.

I owe Australia big time.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2015
All through the George W Bush years we smirked and mocked your countrymen for that government. It's only fair you laugh your head off during the Abbott years. Karma's a bitch.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 29, 2015
You know I hate to disagree with you (in particular) but this really isn't the same. The Bush years were so horrific tragic it wasn't possible to enjoy a good laugh. To many people died. To much money was utterly wasted. Mr. Abbott is a buffoon, harmless in comparison to the global train wreck virtually illiterate agent of the apocalypse that that was George W. Bush. Bush was tragedy; Abbott is farce. Sure, Abbott is evil, but his evil manifests in hilarious clumsy attempts to ape British class structures. Bush was and is as funny as James Eagan Holmes.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2015
That'd be why "Bush 3 The Jebonator" is in pre-production as we speak.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted January 30, 2015
Monsieur Boylan feel free to disagree, because you're right about the difference between Abbott and Bush. The way the backbench is muttering about his latest mishap there's a very good chance Abbott will be consigned to the Prime Ministerial graveyard before he has a chance to really get going in the unnecessary wasting of money and lives stakes, whereas Bush's legacy is still causing headaches for Obama 8 years on.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 30, 2015
Not just Obama. Me. You. Our kids. Their kids. Bush's needless invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, his mismanagement of the American economy and his appointment of Roberts and Alito to the SCOTUS lead to the rise of Iran and China, the resurgence of Russia, the continuing disintegration of the EU, the repeal of the US Voting Rights Act and the Citizens United decision. His legacy is future war, hopeless poverty, the end of the American Dream and the killing of the Pax Americana by reaching into its cradle and strangling it while he laughed as his cronies laughed along with him.

Sorry for the off topic rant. I am a very disappointed conservative member of the republican party - and I still am, despite the inescapable reality that my party has gone insane.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted January 30, 2015
Don't forget Bush jnr; made the Davis Blue Devils lose the pennant, caused H5 N7 to evolve a shifting antigen structure, provoked a smut outbreak in the West Australian wheat crop of 2008, which in turn made the wheat futures market double overnight, then half a month later, fostered antivaccination with his opinion = SIENTS example, spawned Faith Based Initiatives that led to nothing except a waste of money and increased desperation and initiated a chain of events that led to the loss of the ESA lander Beagle. *insert sarcasm gif*
Raise of Iran? China?Resurgence of CIS?I'd accept that he/they may have missed opportunities, but causation is a long arsed bow to draw.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted January 30, 2015
Nope. It's true: his administration's nonfeasance, misfeasance and malfeasance caused it all by trashing three centuries of consistent American policy and long range planning - which included neutralizing Russia (accomplished), China (planned and pending prior to 9-11) and preventing Iran from gaining any regional hegemony by balancing Iran with Iraq.

Granted, Bush's bumbling caused the sub prime mortgage bubble to burst early rather than later (it was going to burst eventually) leading to the sovereign debt crisis that will result in the break up of the EU. So it wasn't all bad.

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2015
Yes PNB, the laughter isn't stopping anytime soon.
The Prince's title in full now is:
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu*, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Canadian Forces Decoration, Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Councillor of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.

* PNB, When I read about Prince Philip in your fine book, Sex Slaves of the Congo, I thought you were taking creative licence when you referred to him as 'The Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu', but you were just being historically accurate. Well done!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2015
Thank you. When I wrote Sex Slaves of the Congo I was attempting to emulate Leviathan.

I am currently working on the sequel: More Sex Slaves of the Congo.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2015
Not "Sexier Slaves of the Congo" then?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted January 28, 2015
A fine suggestion, but not a title choice for my new work. It hints at sentimentality and would denigrate the gritty journalistic realism I aspire for my prose to achieve.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted January 28, 2015
Sort of like if Edward R. Murrow wrote porn.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted January 28, 2015
Which he did, under the pseudonym "Percy Johnson."

Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted January 30, 2015
Variety had an article today that PNB was in deep talks with Netflix to bring Sex Slaves of the Congo to them as a mini-series.
Dame Judi Dench is said to be interested in one of the leading roles as long as, and I quote, "I finally get to show off these magnificent tatas to the world" end quote.

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JBtoo puts forth...

Posted January 27, 2015
He is so inept and out of touch I almost feel sorry for him... almost.Got phone polled this evening on Medicare, GST, Sir Prince Phil and competence of PM & OL. Think they're in panic mode.My responses won't reassure.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 30, 2015
I don't know. I suspect he is ept.

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pi is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2015
Satire is now officially over :

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/27/its-over-its-now-impossible-to-satirise-tony-abbott

Mark Simkin going well in day 1 in his new role as kamikaze pilot

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GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 27, 2015

Bravo, bravo - PM Tony Abbott.

Our fearless leader is currently Australia's greatest living satirist, a genuine self-effacing, pun on the edge, Kafkaesque desperado who has out-gunned most, if not all of Oz's leading comic geniuses with his off the cuff, off the wall, off the planet sense of humour.

No comic writer working at the moment could have conceived, let alone the deliver the sheer lunacy of our current Chief Knarliamentarian - if only we knew before the election how ridiculously hilariarse TA was, is and forever, more of us would've voted for him as best comedian at the 2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival - I hope he's eligible for this year's competition.

Can't what to see and hear what he does next - but whatever it is you can be sure that no other comedy writer or team of writers has thought of it before and for that Comics of Ozstraya - you should hang your heads in shame.

When the PM of Terra Nullis is clearly funnier than those being paid to lampoon him something is horribly wrong with those brave souls charged with making us laugh, guffaw, smirk and even let out a discreet sensible chuckle.

GhostSwirv over and out ...

NBlob would have you know...

Posted January 28, 2015
I think you'll find our host JB predicted this golden age a month before the election.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2015
Not only predicted, but promised. And I always keep my promises.

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted January 28, 2015
I predict that about from being riotously funny and entertaining our fearless is otherwise ...

http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Gorn

GhostSwirv over and out of cheap Star Trek links ... for the moment.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2015
The Qld LNP must be shitting themselves wondering what else PM Clownshoes can pull out of his arse before we go to the polls on Saturday.Although, nobody punishes a state gubbermint if a federal gubbermint is being dumb, Shirley?

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted January 28, 2015
In the current situation you would like to think that voters would hold on to some of that electoral pain for the federal gubbermunt

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MarkatVAVS asserts...

Posted January 28, 2015
PM Tone(I failed at being a monk) abbutt is so far out of touch with reality, that he thinks the demotion of a Prince down to a Knight, and an Australian one at that is okay.

Just when you think he could make any more mistakes, he just turns around and pulls another on of of the hat. I surprised he did not give one to his mate Stephen Harper, the PM of Canaidia..
This guy is an idiot, and even that is an insult to idiots.

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Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2015

Just went through Qld for a few days and one thing that I got out of it was LNP is strong. Campbell Newman is strong. Queensland is strong with LNP and Campbell Newman. Queenslanders want to be strong. LNP in a landslide despite the strong smell of bullshit.

Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted January 28, 2015
The Farce is Strong with that lot. (Says the recently ex-Qlder)

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted January 29, 2015
I'm feeling uncomfortable with this new and unexpected emotion. I'm feeling sorry for Tony Abbott.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2015
There is a tremendous amount of dramatic irony associated with his condition.

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted January 29, 2015
Generally if Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt say something is "pathetically stupid" I immediately think it must be pretty good. However a horrible consequence of this whole sorry business is that I've found myself agreeing with them. For hat alone I can never forgive Abbott...

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JG asserts...

Posted February 6, 2015
It's on. Leadership spill motion called for next Tuesday. Another Prime Minister of Australia on the way, most likely. Bye, Tony.

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Look out, Mr President! Drop bears!

Posted November 15, 2014 into Politics by John Birmingham

From my SMH bit this morning:

It hardly matters that the Russians did not specifically despatch a "fleet" to the antipodes, as the more breathless and giddy reports had it. The flagship Moskva, its keel laid down in the wintry depths of the Brezhnev era, was already hanging around, conducting cheeky live fire drills in the South China Sea – the geopolitical equivalent of lighting up your farts in a poorly maintained gas refinery. The frigate Yaroslav Mudry and a replenishment ship were even closer, flying the flag in Jakarta, to support a dozen or more Russian arms exporters at the Indonesian Defence expo.

Meanwhile, the presence of an ocean-going tug, to drag away any of Tsar Vladimir's ageing gunboats should they break down, tells you everything you need to know about the readiness and reach of Moscow's naval forces in the Pacific.

The sick joke of the government's scurity threatre, as the column goes on, is the way they've been treating the 'workers' of the ADF when they're done using them as extras in photo ops.

6 Responses to ‘Look out, Mr President! Drop bears!’

damian mumbles...

Posted November 15, 2014
I'd like to think a couple of ANZAC class frigates would be more than a match for a 70s missile cruiser that looks like a "Stalin's pipes" rocket launcher from WWII, dragging its arse on the ground all the way to the Coral Sea, and the almost as old destroyer that's primary mission seems to have been the one it executed successfully in San Fran a couple of years ago, which is not to break down in an embarrassing way.

The sobering thing is that the Varyag probably carries nukes, and that while I've no doubt its missiles are not a match for stuff we can field to stop them reaching their targets, that doesn't mean we avoid getting loads of toxic debris in a world heritage environmental asset.

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Bunyip reckons...

Posted November 15, 2014
The effective pay cut for the ADF et al is gobsmacking. Ta for mentioning it.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted November 15, 2014
Aren't they getting a double whammy? First with a below CPI rise, and second with the loss of entitlements. Either one of those without the other is a cut.
Tony and his cronies are definitely a bunch of cuts.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted November 16, 2014
You know, you have those AP-3 Orions. Might buzz them a few times, prominently showing off Harpoons mounted on the wings.

Sometimes the best message is the gun sitting on the desk in hand's reach.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Shifty Tourist is gonna tell you...

Posted November 17, 2014

Not to get too flower cuddling hippy (think thats what hippies do) about this, should invite them aboard (so to speak) and introduce them to some some Australian hospitality... which generally means (depending one subset of the community), getting pissed, arguing about how Abbott/Rudd/Gillard/Rudd/Howard/Keating/Hawke/Fraser/Gough etc. ruined the country... before moving on to more important issues, like arguing about sport..... I think we'd have more in common with you average Russian sailor than we think.

And lets face it, a bunch of miserable sailors, on ancient rust buckets, who probably haven't been paid since the Yeltsin administration, are not the enemy.... Vlad, certainly, the poor shmucks hired to fight Vlads wars, not so much.

So I say, untill our mutual dickhead rulers tell us we need to shoot at eachother (which is highly unlikely of course), I say they are just friends we have not bought a round for yet. Now back to tie-dying my shirt.


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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted November 17, 2014
I just wonder if those ships will actually make it home....

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The Navigator

Posted October 25, 2014 into Politics by John Birmingham

So much written this week about the mythologizing of hte Gough Whitlam. Most of it on the Right, moaning about the Left. Greg Sheridan's column on Thursday was an example of the form. But in fact a lot of the Whitlam myth was manufactured on the Right. In hindsight his economic policies, especially in the era of OPEC driven catastrophe can be seen as unremarkable and the call his government made on the public purse was significantly less than that of economically dry John Howard.

Another element of myth making which plays such a large part in US politcs, but almost none here, is war service. Whitlam flew with the RAAF in WW2, but rarely made anything of it. I wrote todays column to remind everyone, Greg Sheridan included, of that service.

Illo by Glen Le Lievre from the SMH.

For three years Gough Whitlam risked his life climbing into the sky where other men wanted to kill him. He fought against the Japanese as a navigator and bomb aimer with the RAAF's Number 13 Squadron, which flew slow, under-armed Bristol Beauforts and later the American-made Lockheed Venturas as long-range maritime strike aircraft.

Perhaps, like Keith Miller, the test cricketer and fellow air force veteran who famously scoffed at the idea of there being any real pressure in sport – "pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse" – Whitlam took some perspective from those years.

A vast right-wing conspiracy might have wanted to destroy him and his government, but at least they weren't actively trying to kill him.

Read more.


10 Responses to ‘The Navigator’

Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted October 25, 2014
Nice article, fkn awful comments. Bebe and Flanders must set their alarms on a Saturday to get in first. Never a countering fact or logical argument, no history, just trolling. Always swilling and serving the Murdoch Kool-Aid. Never mind the High Commissioner's post - I wonder how our history might be different if Rupe had snuffed it pre-Thatcher. Now there's an alt-history that might be less dystopic.

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MickH puts forth...

Posted October 25, 2014
Ironically, my memories of Whitlam as a kid were polerized by my father, a serving RAAF member at the time, who despised him.

'With defence cuts under the Whitlam Government, No 76 Squadron was disbanded amongst much ill feeling in August 1973.'

The RAAF at the time hated his guts!

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted October 25, 2014

We held a wake for Gough last night at the pub. It brought back some great memories of Australia before and after him. I lived in a working class area of the western suburbs of Sydney for a time and there wouldn't have been many women in our street that didn't get bashed by their husbands at least once. Domestic violence and male dominance was something we took for granted. Women were imprisoned because of no single parent support, no refuges, no family court and no no fault divorces. Whitlam championed all these causes and caused me, for the first time, to question the status quo. I am incredibly proud of the achievements of the left. None of the rank and file made much money but we did make a difference to the lives of our fellow human beings and were roundly criticised for it. I learnt that, if the liberals hate you, then you can't be all bad. If you can't hold your head up you can never be free and so many of the 60's era women were so downtrodden for so long that it seemed impossible that many of them would be able to hold their heads up ever again. RIP Gough. Loved your work mate.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted October 25, 2014
<font color="#333333">I saw the Greg Sheridan's article, useful to remember how long the right have hated what was accomplished in the Whitlam governments three years. It took them and labor thirty to wind many of them back. </font>

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zoot mutters...

Posted October 25, 2014
John, you've outdone yourself. This is the best tribute to Gough I have read.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted October 25, 2014
Ms insomniac lived in Gough's electorate. Her father loved him; her mother hated him. She has fallen on the side of good.
Gough was certainly ahead of his time. Tiny Abbott is sending us back.
On the Guardian someone mentioned a tweet to the effect of: Both Gough and Tony have dragged Australia into the 20th century.

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BigWillieStyle reckons...

Posted October 25, 2014
I grew up hating Gough, for no other reason than I knew fuck-all about politics, and both my parents were as loudly and aggressively staunch Tories as it's possible to be. When I acquired a brain of my own, and read about the reforms that Gough brought about, I was instantly smitten. I still am. His brief but exciting PMship begs the question: just what the fuck was Menzies actually doing for his 17 years? And more to the point, why did people keep voting for him? Straya must have been quite the backwater back then. As opposed to now. * coughs *

EGW's death also provides a stark and gloomy reminder of what a bunch of ideological piss-ants we've got now. Not one of our current Federal MPs would be capable of wiping Gough's arse. Feeble-minded, insular hacks, every motherfucking last one of them.

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damian mumbles...

Posted October 25, 2014
You had me at "punishers and straighteners and champions of the overdog". Very Manning Clark, but anyway nicely done.

I've no particular view on the Greens using images of Gough and talking to their part in furthering the progressive tradition. Personally I came from the Whitlam tradition, grew up in it and identify with it strongly, though I abandoned the ALP for the Greens decades ago. So I have no patience at all for ALP folks complaint about the Greens identifying with that legacy. It's almost the last straw for the ALP for me - exactly what's wrong with them, tribal nonsense ("get lost, he's OURS you protest party types") and everything. Fuck that bullshit.

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ShaneAlpha asserts...

Posted October 26, 2014
I found it funny that in one of Sith Lord Rupert's rags there was a story about the friendship that developed between Fraser and Whitlam later in life. In the article a comment was made that they had both become disillusioned about their respective parties as Labour moved to the right and the Liberals moved to the far right.

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@DrWom mumbles...

Posted October 26, 2014
Thanks JB

Gough was the greatest PM ever.

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Hysterical Victorian girl fits about ISIS

Posted October 22, 2014 into Politics by John Birmingham

Hat tip to Guru Bob for sending me this link about the invincible jihadi juggernaut that ISn't. I've long thought ISIS to be a bunch of murderous clowns who would fall apart in the face of a discilplined military outfit. Luckily for them, all they're facing in Iraq is the Iraqi army, and in Syria, more murderous clowns. Unluckily for them, they ran into the magnificent Kurds.

KUWAIT CITY — A strange thing happened in Kobane, the Kurdish border town besieged by Islamic State: It didn’t fall.

In fact, today the BBC reported that Islamic State, the supposedly invincible jihadis who have been besieging Kobane, is retreating from the city.

Nobody expected that. Well, nobody except me. I’ve been saying for a long time that IS(IS) was the most overhyped military force on the planet, and that IS has been attacking Kobane for fifteen months—fifteen damn months—without success, which might just sort of suggest it’s not the juggernaut it’s been made out to be, and that IS’s other supposedly scary advance toward Baghdad is no more than a sad attempt to recover some of the Sunni suburbs of the capital the Sunni controlled completely less than a decade ago.

But I learned a long time ago you don’t get rich being right in this business, so I wasn’t surprised to be all alone yelling “Paper Tiger!” at IS while all the Lexus-driving pundits went into hysterical Victorian-girl fits on TV.

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21 Responses to ‘Hysterical Victorian girl fits about ISIS’

insomniac reckons...

Posted October 22, 2014
With that kid in the video yesterday, was he radicalised first and then travelled to Syria/Iraq, or is he just a misled misinformed dickhead who travelled to Syria/Iraq who then became radicalised? If it's the latter, how could you possibly spot them and prevent anything?

Halwes asserts...

Posted October 23, 2014

i'm tired of arabs and their sectarian shit but I've travelled extensively through these countries and get it a little bit. I don't agree with it but I get it. Imagine you are an aussie kid living in Europe. You look back to aus and aus is being torn apart by a civil war with, what appears to you, a definite good guy and a really bad guy in the leadership roles. You're young and full of bravado and fervent faith in an imaginary friend. What would you do? I'm pretty sure I know what I'd want to do. Unfortunately, some young arabs brought up in the west, haven't had mature enough thought processes to understand that these places are shit for a reason and are ripe for radicalisation. These countries are shit because of greed, patriarchy, western exploitation, laziness, corruption, sectarianism, ancient hatreds, you name it, they've got it. Until some of that is addressed, these countries will always be shit.

yankeedog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 23, 2014
I don't know you from Adam, Halwes, but you win the internet today.

That is the most correct assessment of the Middle East and a lot of the people living there that I've had the pleasure to read. Your statement should be on a paper and put in front of any national leader, statesman, and military officer as required reading.

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Cranky Peanut swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 22, 2014
Thanks for this JB.

Daeshi deadshits appear to be dumber than I thought. Good.

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted October 22, 2014
I assumed that the guys walking along behind the T55 were Daesh. Nope they are Kurds. Not sure how they can walk as they must have testicles the size of bowling balls.

Sharky asserts...

Posted October 26, 2014
Yeah I had to watch it twice to be sure!

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TheWah ducks in to say...

Posted October 22, 2014
Anyone else remember the indestructible juggernauts known as the Iraqi Republican Guard? I remember the media wetting its pants about these elite troops just before Desert Storm. They turned out to be mainly uni students in shiny uniforms, and they died or deserted.
I'm not all that up on my military, especially compared with many of the Burgers on here, but I am sure that a massively well equipped and funded professional military, such as owned by the US, isn't all that fearful of Daesh, and neither should we.

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Anthony puts forth...

Posted October 23, 2014

Years ago when the IRA were misbehaving I was at Heathrow with my then 16 year old daughter. Walking across the concourse we were (very politely) stopped by an armed SAS trooper to have our bags opened and searched.

I can assure you that yes, they will positively shit themselves. I almost did and I had nothing to worry about.

The moral of the story is don't travel with an attractive 16 year old. You keep getting stopped by young cops, security people et al.

ShaneAlpha mumbles...

Posted October 23, 2014
I have a relative by marriage who was born in Falls Road, Belfast. Needless to say he even now has a difficult time getting a visa, despite his family emigrating to NZ over 40 years ago when he was a teenager.

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TeamAmerica puts forth...

Posted October 22, 2014
I dunno, JB. After following your link, after previously reading this: http://ricochet.com/caveat-lector-news-kobani/
I am still not sure what's up in Kobane.

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Maddoug would have you know...

Posted October 22, 2014
Quite a surprise to see one of the Kurds carrying a Steyr AUG! Wonder if it was one of ours?

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TeamAmerica reckons...

Posted October 23, 2014
Canadian jihadists appear to be responding to ISIS' cals to target the West:
http://ricochet.com/canada-under-attack/

TeamAmerica has opinions thus...

Posted October 23, 2014
'cals' should've been calls. Also, a would be jihadi ran over two Canadian soldiers yesterday, injuring one and killing the other.

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted October 23, 2014
No I like to think the Daesh have everything organised based on name. All the Cals in Daesh have orders to run people over, the Donalds will be blowing themselves up and any Phils will be on beheading duty.

Cranky Peanut mumbles...

Posted October 23, 2014
Simplifies things. I hope they've let Bruce be in charge of the sheep dip.

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Wolf would have you know...

Posted October 23, 2014
and if ... "it explodes as that RPG round sends superheated molten metal spraying through it as droplets of the MBT armor now zip into the crew compartment at the speed of detonating TNT, as the blast knocks the turret half-off and turns anyone inside to instant bulgoki."... isn't a Birmo worthy sentence, then nothing is.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted October 23, 2014
Obviously
those IS clowns haven't played enough Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty. I
mean , just look at them strolling around like its a poorly attended all
ages gig at youth club. And no helmets or flak jackets. Seriously no
wonder they can't do any damage to a well defended position. You know
one where the Kurds might actually aim at heads and disco clowns.

SZF mutters...

Posted October 23, 2014
The kids walking and laughing behind the tank WERE the Kurds. It was almost like they were playing chicken to see who could wear a bit of friendly fire shrapnel from the RPG.

Which is even better evidence that Daesh are apparently less "Axis of Evil" than "Data point of Muppetry".

Rob mumbles...

Posted October 24, 2014
ah now I get it. Still a few hours playing Battlefield would probably help.
Is there any way I can send some money to the Kurds to buy some body armour?

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Gutsy Lemur mutters...

Posted October 23, 2014
JB and Burgers,

You might find this blog post by Adam Curtis, a BBC documentary filmmaker, interesting. It starts with:

"In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy - IS - and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them.

"But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/posts/HAPPIDROME-Part-One

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Respond to 'Hysterical Victorian girl fits about ISIS'

The Prime Minister's War Boner

Posted September 6, 2014 into Politics by John Birmingham

I've been a little surprised at the abject fawning over Abbott's posturing re. the Islamic State and, to a lesser extent, Russia. It's like the entire press gallery has decided to drop pants and bend over. There might well be sound strategic reasons for participating in a limited military strike against IS. There might even be reasons for going further than that. But neither Abbott, nor Shorten for matter, have put them. Instead we get pompous fucking bloviating and the blackguarding of anyone who demurs.

Hence todays column. A little darker than usual.

©Glen Le Lievre

The world is horror and madness. So why is the horror and madness of the Islamic State our concern? Consider their fanboy coreligionists in Nigeria, Boko Haram, infamous kidnappers/slave traders of 300 school girls. These murderous clowns look good for the sort of stern correction that can only be delivered by a squadron of heavily armed F/A-18F Super Hornets. Not content with knocking Justin Bieber out of Twitter's trending topics for a day with that kidnapping caper, Boko Haram declared their own Caliphate in northern Nigeria in late August, pronounced themselves best friends forever with the Islamic State, and celebrated with the usual round of mass executions, including the reported beheading of a six-year-old boy.

Not a grown man who took a professional risk and paid a grim toll for it. A little boy.

Horror enough, you would think, to justify a tiny bit of bombing. Just a little touch of special forces magic in the night, perhaps? After all, the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men and women be distracted long enough by celebrity nude photo leaks that evil has plenty of time to get its mojo on.

I've only seen two other 'major' ctritiques of the so-called Abbott Doctrine. One, a cartoon by First Dog yesterday.

And the other, a deft bit of media analysis by Peter Brent, but not at the Oz, where he writes the Mumble column. Instead he had to go to Inside Story.

Something unedifying possesses the Australian media when its gaze moves to this country’s place in the world. The national trait of wanting to see Australia “punching above its weight” overrides sober analysis. The elaborate protocols of international interaction are interpreted at face value and invested with earnest meaning. Journalists accompanying our leader overseas gush as the PM interacts, on equal terms, with this or that famous identity...

The prime minister’s comparison of the Islamic State to communism and Nazism this week – and hence the reason to “respond with extreme force” – was touching on bizarre. And those insisting Abbott is earning plaudits around the world don’t seem to have checked whether the rest of the world is actually aware of this.

Away from the mainstream commentariat, in the strategic policy community, the tone seems to be bafflement. Power realists (who are a lot more realistic about the limitis of military power) are shaking their heads.

But you'd think the entire country is happy to skip off to Iraq again with Abbott if all you read was the oped pages.

So, I did my bit.

40 Responses to ‘The Prime Minister's War Boner’

damian would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2014
Good one. It is (or should be) the obvious thing to say but so few are bothering, and it needed saying. Yeah maybe there are good reasons, maybe there are only slghtly less bad reasons to get into this, maybe there are only bad reasons.... but you kinda get the impression our political class are desperate to go kill some someone somewhere simply coz it'll make 'em look manly and stuff.

Grey-grey was posting video of the sort of fish that lives in the arse of a sea cucumber the other week. Starting to see this as the model for the bulk of meedja in the out there. Or out here. Or over there. Meh.


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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted September 6, 2014
Tony lies in bed, dreaming of the Falklands.

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Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2014
"you kinda get the impression our political class are desperate to go
kill some someone somewhere simply coz it'll make 'em look manly and
stuff." That, a million times. Although they won't of course be at the pointy end themselves*.

The late Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, Ming, Pig-Iron Bob (for selling iron to the Japanese who then sailed it to Hawaii, because business is business after all) Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, Monarchist Extraordinaire and Great Hero of the Liberal Party probably started our 20th century military adventurism. I strongly recommend http://www.vvaa.org.au/bross-2.pdf.
"Australia however seized upon the chance to offer troops...While William Bundy, the Assistant Secretary of State for SE Asia, noted the offer of troops, he was more hopeful of receiving advisers instead. As America at this time was not willing to commit her own troops to Vietnam."
And of course: "So it was that at Australian insistence, Australian troops were committed to take part in the Vietnam War not, as was always stated, on the basis of an American request."
There are still die-hard Menzies fans who, even faced with the correspondence released under the 30 year rule, maintain that the Americans "invited" us to Vietnam.

Menzies is often quoted by Abbott critics as an example of a kinder, gentler form of Conservative. We shouldn't forget that he was a master of the "khaki election" and Reds under the Bed scares. The current shower has learned those lessons well - substituting the evil brown hordes of asylum seekers for the Russians and home-grown Muslims for the Reds. Somehow or other these things never end well, except for the politicians.

*Can't remember by who, but it was said of Menzies that a promising military career has been ruined by the outbreak of war.

Bunyip is gonna tell you...

Posted September 6, 2014
Noice quote there. +1

damian reckons...

Posted September 6, 2014
There are also tsill people who think that we and the yanks did a great job there. Who think 40 years of evidence of the brutality of the injury done the Vietnamese people is just so much lefty propaganda. Who loudly insist that anyone critical of the war even now really wanted the Soviets to enslave us all. My country right or wrong and all that, except you're not allowed to admit when it's wrong.

Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted September 7, 2014
I think you will find our need to get involved in other people's wars actually goes back to the Sudan, the Boxer Rebellion and the Boer War. Hard to see any Australian interests at risk in any of those conflicts but we rushed to send contingents off to help...

NBlob mutters...

Posted September 7, 2014
G'Bob your point is valid, but the wrinkly one by policy does not cite cases outside the span of mortal men. It draws attention to one if one refers to conversations had with Benedict Arnold or a night on the turps with Ribbentrop.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2014
Of course you only have to look at some of the comments in the Putin thread to see that it just isn't the PM who gets war boners ;-)

damian would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2014
More groaners, indeed

damian has opinions thus...

Posted September 8, 2014
Sore loners
Core-toners
Jaw proners
...
[do I have to do everything myself?]

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Kris from Hawthorne puts forth...

Posted September 6, 2014
Of course it would hurt the argument, maybe even require a union hack WA senator level of courage to note the fact that Obama is currently bombing Iraq while Abbott is not.

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted September 6, 2014
There was a moderate to high level of derp in the comments and yes I got sucked in. *hangs head in shame

But I was surprised at some to the usual LNP cheer squad Toned down (see what I did there) their boosterism and provided some genuine analysis. There was also some top shelf lefty bashing. Because lefties are bad and Tonee good.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted September 6, 2014
I just assumed these are more or less the same communters who were around to harry Mike Carlton. Dunno about you blokes but I think my life is better when I don't look at that stuff. That and I don't really like it when I want to shoot people in the face.

dweeze puts forth...

Posted September 6, 2014
Dweeze' rule number 1: DO NOT read the comments (apart from the Burger of course). Otherwise, shooty-face-thoughts make me blood boil too hot.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 7, 2014
Yeah, I just admit one of the things I like about this Saturday gig, which remains just a stand in role, is not having to wrangle the communtz.

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Spanner swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2014
Oh I forgot, how good it First Dog? I love his work. Nails bucket head to the mast. I love First Dog so much I'd have First Dog's puppies. Well ok I'd let my cat have First Dog's puppies cause I'm people a can't have puppies.

dweeze reckons...

Posted September 6, 2014
I've had a First Dog Boner since, well, forever. Rarely fails to nail an issue and make me laugh at the same time. Better than crying at the futility of it all.
JB above got it pretty good too.

Bunyip would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2014
Spanner, your cat can get in the queue.

I suspect my love for First Dog is considered illegal in a number of states.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2014
Huzzah.
I've been calling for 1st Dog's beatification for months now, but like my nomination of Lorna Jane for OAM (services to packaging) without success.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 7, 2014
Thx, Dweeze.

damian reckons...

Posted September 7, 2014
Dame Lorna and Sir First Dog now, Shirley. I guess that's Dame Shirley too.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 7, 2014
Thank you, Dino.

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tygertim would have you know...

Posted September 7, 2014
JB sadly lost your email somewhere, so I'm giving you a heads up here, for which appoligies in advance. If you get Netflix there's a program in the documentary category, Frisky Business, about an online adult toy company in Bath England. They've opened a subsidiary in Australia. Any ways I think you'd find their map of Australia's cities by most orderd toys a veritable gold mine for interesting "stuff" for future collums.
Nuff said.
Tygertim

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 7, 2014
Oh. My. God.

Yes!!!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted September 7, 2014
I don't want to watch the documentary. What toy is most ordered?

tygertim is gonna tell you...

Posted September 8, 2014
PNB:
It's done by city, and of course is varied. Suffice to say that Brisbane leads the way in leather guy/guy toys...

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted September 8, 2014
Hey Tiger, got a link? I can't find this thing anywhere.

Lulu reckons...

Posted September 8, 2014
Frisky Business has also been showing on TV - either SBS or ABC2, I forget which.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 8, 2014
I am betting that Perth leads the way on blow up dolls.

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 8, 2014
Not Perth, Canberra - more hot air.

tygertim ducks in to say...

Posted September 9, 2014
JB it's WWW.netflix.com/iMovie/800093199?trkid=136417
I hope that's right, it's pretty long and I had to enter it manually. Couldn't figure out how to copy and paste on my kindle. Good luck!

tygertim mumbles...

Posted September 9, 2014
Whips! That's actually :
WWW.netflix.com/800093199?trkid=136417

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 9, 2014
Thx Tiger

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BigWillieStyle asserts...

Posted September 7, 2014
Oh, man. Toned Abs totally wants to be given a Rambo-style mission in Iraq. Preferably one that involves grease paint, cammies, carrying a knife between his teeth, and parachuting under cover of darkness. That's why he's got his war boner on.

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted September 8, 2014

That was gold John. What bothers me the most is whenever we are trying to extricate ourselves from our latest war expedition the other side accuse the government of "cutting and running". Cutting and running from what? An unwinnable skirmish in Shitistan that the locals don't even want us at because they know that, as soon as the political climate changes in Australia, we will leave them to cop the revenge of the extremists anyway.

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Surtac mumbles...

Posted September 8, 2014


I said it on twitter but I'm happy to repeat it here for a wider audience. I think this is one of John's best columns/rants ever. Sometimes I really do despair at the willing stupidity of the Australian sheeple in the way that they are willing to be distracted by our political 'leadership' into not bothering to think for themselves on any subject.

Hmmn. I must have put my cranky old man pants on this morning.

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted September 8, 2014

There is really no need for the RAAF to be further involved in Iraq beyond aid / sup[ply drops.

Considering we're in a budget emergency (tm) how the Mad Monk can find the $ for our Super Hornets to play a bit of CAS?

BTW First Dogs cartoon was excellent.

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tygertim would have you know...

Posted September 9, 2014
Whups! That's actually :
WWW.netflix.com/wmovie/800093199?trkid=136417

ARRRGHHH!

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pbarril66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 27, 2014
New to this site but it strikes me that we are now 13 years into the 30 year, and ongoing, war against Islamist fundamentalists that set the stage for 'Weapons of Choice'. This will not be the 'months' mentioned by Abbott but the 'decades' predicated in Weapons of Choice'. So, how far into the battle will 'field sanctions' become the norm?

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Respond to 'The Prime Minister's War Boner'

Putin's nuclear option

Posted September 5, 2014 into Politics by John Birmingham

Here's a scary little link as Abbott negotiates closer ties to NATO; a process one analyst seemed to think could lead to Australian membership of the European alliance. Sounds super crazy, doesn't it? I can see Abbott committing the ADF to a European conflict, but I don't see a single European power, not even the UK, offering to vouch for Australian security. In the end, that's what alliances mean, a vow to fight and die for each other.

On which topic, Foreign Policy has a post about the likelihood of Putin not just challenging NATO's will, but destroying it utterly. How? With a limited, a very limited, nuclear strike on a small, strategically unimportant capital of one of the newer NATO members in Eastern Europe. Somewhere like Vilnius, that nobody will want to die for.

It seems as crazy a proposition as Australia joining NATO, but that doesn't mean rational actors could not lead themselves through the steps to make it happen.

From FP: But Putin would never actually use nuclear weapons, would he? The scientist and longtime Putin critic Andrei Piontkovsky, a former executive director of the Strategic Studies Center in Moscow a political commentator for the BBC World Service, believes he might. In August, Piontkovsky published a troubling account of what he believes Putin might do to win the current standoff with the West -- and, in one blow, destroy NATO as an organization and finish off what's left of America's credibility as the world's guardian of peace.

...

But what would trigger a Russian attack? According to Piontkovsky's scenario, it could be something as simple as a plebiscite: the Estonian city of Narva, overwhelmingly ethnically Russian and adjacent to Russia, deciding to hold a referendum on joining the Motherland. To help them "freely express their will" at the polls, Russia could send in a brigade of "little green men armed to the teeth," much like it did in Crimea in March. Estonia would thereupon invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter -- "an armed attack against one or more [NATO members] … shall be considered an attack against them all" -- and demand that the alliance defend it. Speaking in the Estonian capital of Tallinn on the eve of NATO's summit in Wales, this is just what Obama promised. "The defense of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defense of Berlin and Paris and London," he said.

Suddenly, the most terrifying nightmare becomes reality: NATO faces war with Russia.

How would Putin then react? Piontkovsky believes that NATO would balk at attacking Moscow over a small country remote from NATO's heartland and the hearts of its citizens. Piontkovsky imagines the course of action open to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama as he contemplates unleashing a planetary holocaust over a "damned little city no one has even heard of" while the American public cries out, "We don't want to die for fucking Narva, Mr. President!" Piontkovsky also cites a German public opinion poll asking what Berlin should do if Estonia enters an armed conflict with Russia: 70 percent would want their country to remain neutral.

The rest of the post is here.

54 Responses to ‘Putin's nuclear option’

Surtac mutters...

Posted September 5, 2014

What scares me about Putin is that he seems to be less and less rational as time goes on.


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Murphy reckons...

Posted September 5, 2014
Ironic that the Russian Media constantly portray the Ukraine and other entities as behaving like Nazis yet it is Putin who has adopted Hitler's Old School Playbook from the 1930s.

I'm sure he could be talked into droppin' a nuke if he could claim that ethnic Russians had been massacred in some place like Estonia.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Lulu reckons...

Posted September 5, 2014
The whole Crimea business was a replay of 1938 Czech Sudetenland.

Dave W mumbles...

Posted September 5, 2014

Rather than ironic, I'd say that it's straight out of that same old playbook, Murph. Portray (using a convenient mouthpiece) one's enemies as unreasonable and barbaric, just so that one can carry out some ludicrously unreasonable and barbaric actions. After all, one has been provoked beyond endurance.


Shit that's depressing.

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted September 5, 2014
Putin is smart, complicated, and, from most appearances, fairly good at playing very long games. He also appears adept at handling black swan events.

The west's political cycle favors elevating leaders more suited to thinking in terms of short term strategies who are incapable of dealing with unexpected events and usually overreact to them.

Our media cycle also favors shallow thinking over deeper analysis. Long term strategy can appear irrational if you aren't looking at a longer term view. This is part of the reason why the west has made so many spectacular diplomatic mis-steps - a decreased ability to play the "long game".


SZF ducks in to say...

Posted September 5, 2014
While I would agree our media and political cycles today are distressingly fixated on the short term, let's not discount the fact that the West effectively "won" the Cold War via a superior long game strategy.

Putin's current success could be the start of a "Cold War II" though...

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted September 6, 2014
"Putin's current success could be the start of a 'Cold War II'

One can only hope.

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pitpat asserts...

Posted September 5, 2014
I went to secondary school in Spring Hill and remember sitting in geography class talking about the impact of a small kiloton ICBM on the Brisbane CBD with the impact crater reaching our school. The teacher argued that politically Brisbane would be a good target as it wasn't too big and wasn't too small. Similar to the argument made for Vilinius. I remember getting home and sitting on the back fence in Toowong which sort of looked out over the city thinking 'We are all fucked but at least we would be all incinerated in the first second or so ". I guess the calculus hasn't changed that much.

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Sturt mutters...

Posted September 5, 2014

After 65 years, number of NATO members non-contiguous with either the Atlantic Ocean or European landmass: 0.

Not going to happen. They won't offer, we wouldn't accept. Enhanced partnerships, intensified consultations, inclusion in wordsalad communiques, sure. Alliance obligations to Europe: no.

Probability of NATO conflict with Russia: definitely >0.

Piotrovsky is regarded as a useful disseminator of Putin thought bubbles, and the nuclear threat is definitely attracting attention among more sober minded US defence analysts. Tom Nichols had a very good piece on this today http://tomnichols.net/blog/2014/09/01/if-putin-goes-nuclear/

and another on Putin's ideology: http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/02/russias-leader-is-neither-a-realist-nor-a-nationalist/ .


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Freemanski would have you know...

Posted September 5, 2014
The other left field scenario comes from the same minds that are saying that the shoot down of MH17 is a conspiracy orchestrated to get the west involved in the Eastern Ukraine standoff...
A nuclear explosion in a "small but significant Baltic city" would trigger nuclear attacks left, right and centre from Tel Aviv to Tehran to Tallahassee.
Let's hope the long game by NATO and Russia plays out like the old cold war. Despite decades of dragging on, the Cold War was at least bereft of major carnage and human casualties.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 5, 2014

Would it " would trigger nuclear attacks left, right and centre "


I'm dubious. I could see a contrived "terrorist" strike acting as a springboard to more adventurism. Sort of Gulf of Tonkin meets 911.


I'm with others saying Vlad is not mad, nor stupid.


Mad actions may be indistinguishable from actions driven by opaque information & motives.


Like most politicians Vlad is setting out to make Mother Russia and satelite states "better." it's just that His definition of Better is a worrysome.

Freemanski mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2014
Yes! If Putin were to "respond" nuclear-like it would definitely result in a free for all of retaliation and general Armageddon.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted September 5, 2014

I don't beleive you can predict the actions of a person who is behaving in a way that is irrational, however as others have pointed out above Putin's behaviours in the past which at first glance seem irrational have had an underlying logic to them.

I do not consider detonating a nuclear weapon in densely occupied Europe an action that would be seriously considered due to the impacts to all parties. Given Russia is the only country on the continent to have experience what problems a nuclear accident can cause. I am as amused by the idea of radioactive pigs wondering through Germany as the next person but I really don't think Putin would choose to use a nuclear weapon in Europe no matter how much Russia in the past relied on destroying everything if we can't have it strategy.

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Eccles9 is gonna tell you...

Posted September 5, 2014
Almost makes me nostalgic for those good old mutually assured destruction days from the height of the cold war.
Sure if the first lunatic hit the button we'd have only had eight minutes notice for the end of the species and civilisation as we knew it, but at least we all had a reasonable soundtrack we could dance to while waiting for the warheads to fall.

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Blarkon asserts...

Posted September 5, 2014
Russia is like a matrioshka doll, with a riddle, containing an enigma, containing a conundrum, ad nauseum, ad absurdum, ad infinitium.

Putin is likely to be president of Russia until at least 7 May 2020 (though he probably has the power to remove this limit should he so choose (he chose not to though back when it was an option during his second term between 2004-2008 so who knows)).

Putin will be president for most of the next US president's first term. He'll certainly be president after the current outfit running Australia have long retired from parliament.

Assuming that Hillary is the next president, can one imagine a republican congress giving her the necessary latitude to do anything geopolitically meaningful?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2014
No, I can't imagine that happening.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2014
I wonder.

Just how reliable is the remainder of the once great and fearsome Soviet Nuclear Arsenal? Will it actually fire on command and if so, would such a weapon get anywhere near the target?

These are folks who are having a hell of a time keeping anything operational. They had to go to France for helicopter carriers that they can't build and oh, by the way, will no longer get.

They might very well chuck a nuke at a Baltic State only to get one big, fat raspberry in return.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted September 5, 2014
Thats a pretty sailent point, given some of the stories coming out of Russia. It might be use'm before they blow up in their silos.

Blarkon mutters...

Posted September 5, 2014
"These are folks who are having a hell of a time keeping anything operational. "

Right. Like a certain country that has to go to the Russians to beg a ride into space.

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2014
Budget cuts by a short sighted Prez, not lack of ability.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 6, 2014
Decaying nuclear weapon infrastructure makes Putin more dangerous, not less, because it affects the accuracy of his aim. Difficult to do a surgical strike on Riga when the margin of error is 600 miles.

damian ducks in to say...

Posted September 6, 2014
Decaying nuclear weapon infrastructure means that nuclear Armageddon is closer than it's ever been.

I say: bring on the world-government international conspiracy thank you very much.

Blarkon reckons...

Posted September 6, 2014
As a Russian engineer once explained to me about the longevity of Russian technology: "Russian technology is designed to be Russian proof."

An example might be the AK-47, which isn't the most sophisticated firearm in the world, but one that tends to keep working after a lot of abuse.

Doesn't mean that stuff doesn't fail - but just that it's often quite resilient in a way that more complicated an intricate competing technologies aren't.

damian puts forth...

Posted September 6, 2014
The things that would cause nuclear Armageddon by failing are not generally the robust, technical items of that nature. They are the information resources, including radar and other early warning networks which admittedly are technical but which also are more susceptible to failures due to neglect. The human networks and resources may have been designed to withstand quite mind-bending levels of corruption, but I'd suggest they have already been exposed to these at a breaking level for decades now. And Yeltsin only knows what there is to stand in the way of a Russian version of Jack D. Ripper.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted September 5, 2014
While its a little OT, I say give ISIS their caliphate, throw them a big party, and nuke the shit out of them. Get Putin to do it, or perhaps it will give Tony a boner as well so he might like to pull the trigger.

Freemanski mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2014
What's the worst that could happen?

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted September 5, 2014

Putin's been playing the West for rubes for a while and will continue to do so. I doubt he'd go the nuke option its just too risky. He'll achieve a lot of his plans without resorting to radioactive clouds.

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted September 5, 2014
Behaving as if you're crazy in order to bluff/frighten your enemies has worked fine for the Kim dynasty in North Korea and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. (Compare and contrast Kim Jong Un and Mel in 1000 words. Harvard referencing only please and have it to me by Tuesday 5PM. No hangover extensions Mr Therbs.). Vlad can get what he wants without nukes - why risk becoming a puff of ash? He'd have to be MAD (see what I did there?)

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2014
We don't live in a MAD world any more. As has been noted, if Putin nuked Estonia's capitol, do you really think the West would retaliate with nuclear weapons? Of course not. All Putin wants is what every Russian leader since Ivan the Terrible has wanted - i.e., control of the Russian periphery. And that, in particular, means controlling the foreign policy of any nation in the European Plain - the pathway by which European powers have always invaded Russia. And that means controlling the Ukraine.

The point is that, for Putin, Ukrainian membership in NATO is an existential crisis. It isn't an existential crisis to the US or Europe. Ultimately, they don't care, which is why Ukraine is now "negotiating" with its Russian backed rebels: Kiev didn't get any substantial backing from the West, and won't, because the West doesn't really care; whereas the rebels got anti-aircraft missile systems and at least one mechanized battalion.

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Chaz ducks in to say...

Posted September 5, 2014

Thing is that Europe doesn't want another major European conflict, hence the disbelief in Putin's actions. Putin knows this and is playing on the fears of conflict.

Putin's actions are not rational to the rest of Europe, in fact they are completely sociopathic especially when his nuclear sabre rattling starts.

As the green scaly one points out Russia is complex but also it refuses to acknowledge the sins of its recent past. This helps deepen the meme of victimhood, constant battle against 'fascism' (ironic as the current Russian state is a pretty good poster for said ideology) , the fear (to paranoid levels) of European liberal social democracy and the resurgence of Russian Orthodoxy as the state religion.

Putin is in it for the long haul because he truly believes he can. One can only hope that someone grows a spine and tells him to FOAD preferably using a nine gram messenger. the only problem then is who comes next........

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2014
I really really hope there is an State Dept under-undersecretary, or a lackey in FCO who's sole job is: every time the topic of spilling Putin comes up, to say "who comes next?"

There seems many brave & committed democrats in Russia, but the sense I have is they 2/5ths of SFA of forming a government and acting as an effective power counterbalance to the oligarchs.

damian reckons...

Posted September 5, 2014
How many of these boxes does present day Russia tick?

I am still inclined to think of the early 90s as a bit like the Versailles treaty for the Russians. There was a lot of stupid going around, triumphalist idiots and the proto-oligarchs with gleams in their eyes.

Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted September 8, 2014

Far too many IMHO!

Damian, although the Russian Federation never had to almost bankrupt themselves to pay reparations. Hard not to be triumphalist when a Ponzi scheme like the CCCP goes down.

its clear though that because they were never made to take the blame for their actions too many people like Putin got a chance for fame and riches (and of course power).


damian mutters...

Posted September 8, 2014
I don't think the USSR's economic model was any less structurally flawed than that of the 80s West, in thrall to the likes of Hayek as it was. Certainly that is an order of magnitude more like a Ponzi scheme than the brutal, corporate collectivism that the Soviet Union represented. Always thought the end of the cold war was a unilateral thing, Gorbie realised the USSR *could* keep up with Reagan's spending plans, but the world would be worse off for it. That goes to a far deeper and more general level with glasnost and perestroika.

No, triumphalism was the certainty of getting very rich indeed in the context of mandated privatisation of everything and the Yeltsin era's tolerance for anything that turned a profit.

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Vovchara asserts...

Posted September 5, 2014
Well, NATO is a huge bluff, actually every defensive pakt is. It's very fine of us to assure every Alliance member, we will protect them when needed, but what will happen when someone calls our bluff?

Me personally, i simply don't see our government (German in my case) sending german soldiers to defend Vilnius, at least in no way near any useful strenght. Not against Russia anyway.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 6, 2014
Ja, das ist die genaue punkt, den ich versucht, zu artikulieren.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 6, 2014
(Entschuldigung, aber mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht [und das ist sehr stimmt].)

NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2014

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Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted September 5, 2014
JB,
Australia Bcoming Part Of nato?
Supercrazy?
FUCK YEAH!
We are girt by sea but the fkn Atlantic is beyond my best Alvey reel with a thirteen foot rod and an offshore wind.
I can hit New Zealand from here but not the Southern, let alone the FKN North Atlantic.
Best news this week?
Rainbows everyday in Sydney. Shitty afternoon(wet again) have caught Manflu this week( I fkn do blame you JB) and am now suitably inebriated and as usual feel entitled and qualified to comment on this post.
Serious comment to follow.

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted September 5, 2014
Good comment, Dino. Keep it up.
I enjoy your work when it is comprehensible.
All the best.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 5, 2014
No Dino, I didn't know about Baalbeck, the Syrian refugees, or the Stone of the Pregnant Woman. Thanks. That is quite fascinating, particularly the historical/modern interface and, of course, distressing.
But, gentle goes it my friend, try to elucidate and not antagonise. This is a friendly place, if you want it to be.

Dino not to be confused with mumbles...

Posted September 5, 2014
W,
Do you mean CBG?
I have been an arsehole.
I admit it.
But I try to keep CBG a friendly place.
Seriously.
It is my hangout.
I love the Burgers.
I want everyone to feel safe here.
Or do you mean Earth/Astral Co ordinates/.
Safe?
W, I am doing my best...

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted September 5, 2014
Yes Dino. I was just talking about CBG. And as it is made of us Burgers, with the generous facilitations of JB, it is our shared responsibility.
You have obviously been experiencing some very, very difficult times.
I, like you, am very fond of this Burger hangout. It is up to us all to treat it right. I love your work, at its best. We all want to enjoy each other's contributions. It's nice that people bother and I appreciate fellow Burgers carefully composing something that can be enjoyed by fellow Burgers.
You say it very well, 'I want everyone to feel safe here'. And we want you to be within that safety, and to be a keeper of that safety.
We are not the real world here, he hope it is a nicer place than that sometimes is, we hope you will help us.

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Sudragon asserts...

Posted September 5, 2014
A few points...
1) The weapon would probably not be missile delivered. I've probably read too much Ringo, but it would probably arrive in a shipping container, with as much shielding as weight allows. Parked in a freight terminal somewhere.

2) Would Putin go for another WMD option? Gas? Germs? Eldritch Horrors from Beyond the walls of reality?

3) Putin goes... would Russia balkanize?

Vovchara mumbles...

Posted September 5, 2014
1. most likely, and then start "War on Terror" (tm) to protect Russia from "neo fascists"

Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 6, 2014
"Eldritch Horrors from Beyond the walls of reality"

Truly CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN. The Laundry would take care of it.

Sudragon is gonna tell you...

Posted September 7, 2014
I never thought I'd be thankful for all the 'CCTV' cameras appearing everywhere....

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted September 6, 2014
Salami tactics indeed.

Same episode has the "what I I get drunk?" bit about the nuclear trigger. The response is basically "it would be better if you didn't", of course. Though that then always makes me thing of Dr Strangelove and "Dmitri, stop crying... of course I like you".

Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2014
He doesn't seem scared of making courageous decisions
...

yankeedog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2014
Yes, he has! Brilliant find.

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