Murdoch Propaganda Readies Australia for War with China

Anyone who’s paying attention knows the behavior of the U.S. war machine is as relevant to Australians as it is to Americans, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

Listen to a reading of this article.

By Caitlin Johnstone

In the latest escalation in Australia’s increasingly forceful campaign to manufacture consent for war with China, the Murdoch-owned Sky News Australia has aired a jaw-droppingly propagandistic hour-long special which advocates a dramatic increase in the nation’s military spending.

Australians are uniquely vulnerable to propaganda because our nation has the most concentrated media ownership in the western world, the lion’s share of it by Rupert Murdoch, who has well-documented ties to U.S. government agencies going back decades.

The propaganda campaign against China has gotten so aggressive here in recent years that I’ve repeatedly had complete strangers start babbling at me about the Chinese threat in casual conversation, completely out of the blue, within minutes of our first meeting each other.

The Sky News special is one of the most brazenly propagandistic things I have ever witnessed in any news media, with its opening minutes featuring footage of bayonet-wielding Chinese troops marching while ominous cinematic Bad Guy music plays loudly over the sound of the marching.

In its promotional clip for the special, Sky News Australia tinged all footage pertaining to China in red to show how dangerous and communist they are. These are not decisions that are made with the intention of informing the public, these are decisions that are made with the intention of administering war propaganda. 

The first expert Sky News brings on to tell viewers about the Chinese menace is Mick Ryan, an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is funded by military-industrial complex entities like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, and is also directly funded by the U.S. government and its client states, including Australia and Taiwan.

Sky News of course makes no mention of this immense conflict of interest while manufacturing consent for increased military spending, calling Ryan simply a “former major general.” This is on the same level of journalistic malpractice as running an article by Colonel Sanders on the health benefits of fried chicken but calling him “Harland David Sanders, former fry cook.”

The next expert Sky News presents us with is Australian former Major General Jim “The Butcher of Fallujah” Molan, who oh-so-sadly passed away last month. I’ve written about Molan previously specifically because the Australian media love citing him in their propaganda campaign against China, last time when he was pushing the ridiculous claim that China is poised to launch an invasion of Australia.

The other experts Sky News brings in are former C.I.A. Director and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Director of Chinese Affairs Dr Lai Chung, Japan’s ambassador to Australia Yamagami Shingo, Australian Shadow Defense Minister Andrew Hastie, and John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a virulent propaganda firm which is once again funded by U.S.-aligned governments and military-industrial complex war profiteers.

So it’s about as balanced and impartial a punditry lineup as you’d expect.

At the 8:15 mark of the special, Sky News repeats the un-evidenced propaganda claim that former Chinese president Hu Jintao was politically purged during the 20th Communist Party Congress last year.

At 19:15 Jim Molan talks about the need to fight and die with our allies the Americans while patriotic cello music plays in the background.

At 21:30 we are shown images of Australia being bombed alongside the Chinese flag (very subtle, guys).

At 24:25 Sky News accidentally does a version of the “look how close they put their country to our military bases” meme with a graphic display of all the U.S. war machinery that surrounds China.

The U.S. would never tolerate being encircled by the Chinese military like that and would immediately wage war if China tried; it’s clear that the U.S. is the aggressor in this conflict and China is reacting defensively.

“The United States plays a major strategic role in the Indo-Pacific,” says Sky News anchor Peter Stefanovic as the screen lights up with graphics showing the military presence surrounding China. “With 375,000 personnel, there’s a vast network of operations that extend from Hawaii all the way to India.”

At 26:30 we are shown a digital representation of China’s satellite systems in space, with the Chinese satellites colored red to help us all appreciate how evil and communist they are.

At 27:45 we are shown illustrations of how much smaller Australia’s military is than China’s or America’s to help us understand how important it is to increase the size of our nation’s war machine, ignoring the fact that Australia’s total population is a tiny fraction of either of those countries.

At 32:45 we are told that the AUKUS pact will “beef up America’s military presence in the north of Australia,” and that “America has long used Australia as a key strategic outpost,” showing images of Pine Gap and other parts of the U.S. war machine which dot this continent.

“Now, there’s more to come,” says Stefanovic, with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin describing the surge in U.S. military presence we’re to expect in Australia.

At 34:10 the Australian Strategic Policy Institute guy explains why the U.S. is so keen to use Australia in its planned confrontation with China, saying the continent’s geography puts it in “the Goldilocks location” of being close enough to China to be meaningful but far enough away that its war machinery can’t be easily struck.

At 35:15 Stefanovic warns that “our nation could quite literally be brought to its knees” if a war to the north sees shipping lanes cut off since Australia is so heavily dependent of imports. You would think this is an argument about the importance of maintaining a peaceful relationship with China, but instead it’s used to foment fear of China and argue for the need to be able to defeat it in a war. 

And at 45:50 we finally get to the real purpose of this Sky News special: the need to “dramatically increase” the Australian military budget, and the need to manufacture consent for that increase.

Australia currently has a military budget of $48.7 billion, a little less than two percent of the nation’s GDP. The late Butcher of Fallujah tells Sky News that “we need to at least double our defense expenditure” to four percent, and the special’s pundits openly discuss the need for Australians to be persuaded to accept this using narrative management.

“The Australian government needs to talk to the Australian people about the kinds of threats it faces,” says Mick Ryan. “It needs a more compelling narrative to convince the Australian people that they need to spend more on defense.”

“I think it is important that we are having a conversation with the Australian people which makes it clear that we live in a world which is more fragile than we have for a very long period of time,” Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles tells Sky News. “And what that is going to require is a defense posture and a defense force which is in truth gonna cost more than it has in the past. We’re gonna need to increase our defense spending.”

To be clear, this is not just a call to increase military spending, this is a call to propagandize Australians into consenting to more military spending. It’s not very often that the propaganda comes right out and explains to you why it is propagandizing you.

I always get people complaining that I focus too much on the U.S. war machine when I live in Australia, but anyone who’s paying attention knows the behavior of the U.S. war machine is as relevant to Australians as it is to Americans. They are beating the drums for a future war of unfathomable horror all to please a dark god known as uni-polarism, and it threatens to destroy us all.

The time to start resisting is now.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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23 comments for “Murdoch Propaganda Readies Australia for War with China

  1. robert e williamson jr
    February 22, 2023 at 16:22

    All you need to know about Leon is he was CIA and became attached at the hip with Clinton-squared.

  2. Rod Silvers
    February 22, 2023 at 01:46

    Sky News Australia isn’t news; it’s poor propaganda, just like Fox News in the USA.

  3. CaseyG
    February 21, 2023 at 13:03

    I would like to go back to —” only CONGRESS has the power to declare war. ”
    That seems to have disappeared with Bush the 2nd. So Vote for war —-or not Congress. Those who vote FOR war have to go, and those who don’t want to, could stay here and figure out how to have more power and value than the military.

  4. Tony
    February 21, 2023 at 10:52

    “The other experts Sky News brings in are former C.I.A. Director and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta…”

    Some years ago, Panetta falsely misrepresented the reasons for the invasion of Iraq when he addressed U S troops there. I know this because I heard him in a U S T V news report. It is difficult to see how this could have been accidental. However, he seemed to lose his certainty when his deceit was challenged.

    “Leon Panetta links Iraq war to al-Qaeda” By Brian Montopoli (JULY 11, 2011 / 5:48 PM / CBS NEW)

    “Appearing in Baghdad Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested that U.S. troops are in Iraq as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks, echoing a controversial Bush administration assertion largely rejected by President Obama and most Democrats.

    ‘The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,’ said Panetta, according to the Washington Post. ‘And 3,000 Americans — 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings — got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.’

    The comments from Panetta echoed past claims by Bush administration officials, who suggested a significant link between al-Qaeda and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the runup to the Iraq war. The Sept. 11 Commission and most expert observers have said no such link exists.

    Panetta, who recently took over as secretary of defense after serving as CIA director, somewhat backtracked when questioned by reporters after his remarks, the Post notes.”

    • vinnieoh
      February 21, 2023 at 17:18

      You would think (and I guess you’d be wrong) that someone as connected as Panetta could and would utter things that are not so obviously bogus. Good grief, the man is an idiot. Panetta is just a pretender; now Wolfowitz, there’s a cold-blooded killer: “Of COURSE it’s about the oil!”

  5. John Nicholas Manning
    February 20, 2023 at 22:22

    What is most odd about the “competition” the USA/NATO speaks of, from China and Russia, is that the USA is the only party competing. The rest of the world wants to advance cooperatively. Is this because the western European system is loosing?

    • robert e williamson jr
      February 22, 2023 at 15:45

      A very astute observation Mr. Manning.

      Hear, hear!

      IMHO the answer to your question is in part yes sir. Include the good US of A and you get full credit.

  6. Cynic
    February 20, 2023 at 22:12

    Thank you, Miss Caitlin for your good articles always. I would like to ask the average Australian: Even if Australia doubles or triples its defence budget on the pretext of declaring China as an enemy, will Australia be able to defeat China? Why declare your biggest trade partner as your enemy in the first place? Why do you even think China will want to invade Australia, for what? And concerning Taiwan, what has Taiwan got to do with Australia? If Australia wants to go about meddling in other countries, will Australia now send troops to Ukraine? I would like to understand how ordinary Australians think about these questions and also how they view Scott Morrison.

  7. lesterrrrrrr
    February 20, 2023 at 21:35

    I believe that Britain is the only country ever to invade Australia..

  8. Brian Murray
    February 20, 2023 at 21:19

    I do hope everyone sees the dire threat Russia and China are to the US-led empire now slowly collapsing in on itself. If indeed, the US dollar is no longer the “reserve currency” as set up originally in 1945 at the Bretton Woods conference, there will be hell to pay across the Western world controlled now by the US as all Western currencies will slowly [or quickly?] be reduced in value. The consequences of this happening to the US dollar will, among other horrors, make the January 6, 2021 event seem like a picnic in the park. There are approximately 420 Million firearms in private hands across the US. Even now, there is talk of a brewing civil war in the US by a significant portion of the US population.
    The war hawks in the white house, the state department, the pentagon, the CIA, and all the weapons manufacturers know only one solution to threats to the American hegemony, that is, war and violence. So it has always been, throughout American history. As the old saying goes, if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, then all problems look like a nail.
    I do hope there are enough sane Australians around to fully understand that one nuclear tipped missile from a B-52 bomber flying from Australia will mean the total destruction of Australia, probably within 48 hours. Those in the white house and the various departments and agencies listed above could care less about Australia and its people.
    The proxy war in Ukraine should be an object lesson for the world, that is, the US is a cruel and ruthless country willing to sacrifice 40 million Ukrainians to further the goals of the US-led empire. Ukrainians don’t matter, neither do Australians to the US government. In its quest to insure the stability of the US dollar and its place as #1 in the world, let’s add all Australians to what the Ukrainians now are: cannon fodder.

    • Skip Edwards
      February 21, 2023 at 11:44

      Will “joint” space exploration and research with the participation of all nations of the world be our saving grace? Or, will the war mongering, power crazy people who control our governments win out? This lust for power must be curtailed. The everlasting question is: HOW?

  9. Rudy Haugeneder
    February 20, 2023 at 20:56

    I wonder which side South Asians will align with when the American-inspired war with China breaks out, not that it matters if it becomes a nuclear conflagration that ends modern civilizations completely. Nevertheless, which side? And as India’s population is expected to exceed China’s within a month or two, complete with a very young breeding age population that looks to emigrate in vast numbers to Australia and North America, is India going to team up with Nato forces that include Australia, to wage the biggest Asian war ever seen before the pending annihilation? Etc., etc., Or are we all to wise to join in such a blast which will do to us what Sapiens did to Neanderthals?

  10. Anonymot
    February 20, 2023 at 20:11

    There is something simply demented in the leadership of the United States. Some years ago I did the research for a novel that I had outlined about a young German refugee of 1936 who was hunted because he had worked for an anti-Hitler newspaper that had been destroyed in 1932. It was his particular story that was intriguing, but the nexus of the book was his watching his son who followed him in his desires to be a journalist. But the son grew up to be a follower of Trump, a young, rising newsman who also wanted to run for Congress in a German American-community.

    The resemblances were startling, but I abandoned the project. Why, because it would be seen as anti-German and never see print, condemned by both the Democratic Party from its VP and top Cabinet members down and by the then rising Trump movement, say nothing of that same VP and his same, old crew.

    Before you cry coward, let me mention that I have three other completed manuscripts on subjects that are political, one that took years of research on 3 continents. I don’t wish to waste my entire life writing books to gather shelf dust, because they can’t find even a serious agent. Buoyed by one lonesome best seller, very non-political, I’m after a new ms that will tax no one’s brain.

    America is a tragedy. So was Germany, but at least it had a rallying cry, a feeling of having been cheated in the post-WW I, Versailles Treaty, inflation beyond belief, public starvation, and just like us – but real – Proud Boys fear of Communism.

  11. February 20, 2023 at 19:26

    Governments in countries that claim to be “Democracies” have no business funding “Think Tanks” or any other kind of media. I’m 80, and the amount blatant propaganda, and the omission of reporting critically important facts that can lead citizens to a support worldwide nuclear war is both criminal and suicidal. Now, more than ever, the most dangerous thing a nation can do is to be an ally of The United States. hxxps://

  12. Reggie
    February 20, 2023 at 19:09

    Thanks for this piece, Caitlin. Murdoch controls about 70% of the Australian mainstream print media, including virtually all of the tabloid press. But it does not stop there. The balance of the mainstream press ( the alleged quality end of the media) is owned by the largest commercial television network, Channel 9 Entertainment. It, too, is hawkishly anti-Russian and anti-China and pro-war against both.

    Australians are subject to an ocean of selective, propagandistic media about Russia and China which has been hugely successful at leading about 80% of them to have strongly developed views that are totally contrary to their nation’s or their own interests. Most are happy that the political leadership of the major political parties have worked together to destroy the previously strong and cordial trading relationship we previously enjoyed with China, regardless of the fact that China has been the primary source of our economic prosperity in the past 20 years. It’s really tragic to contemplate the nation we could have been.

  13. Jon McCoy
    February 20, 2023 at 15:56

    For the life of me, I don’t understand what the US hopes to accomplish by waging war with China. Or Russia, for that matter, but here we’re talking about China. At any rate, is the motive to merely destroy as much of their infrastructure as possible, in order to make them less competitive economically? But that would entail, logically speaking, building up our own infrastructure to where it was back in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s. That’s going to require a truly massive amount of money to be invested here at home. If that’s the long term plan, why not save a good portion of the money ahead of time and just say no to any future war with China?
    The US ruling class seems completely unhinged from reality. They’re throwing these roundhouse punches at the speed of sound, seemingly with all their might, and yet the blows aren’t connecting with anything. And even if the blows did connect, we’d be hurting ourselves just as much as, if not more than, our opponent. Sheer madness. God help us all.

    • lester
      February 20, 2023 at 21:38

      We.. Joh McCoy, the Chinese government is not submissive and that angers the US elite. Chinese people are prospering, and that angers many ordinary Americans, who are getting poorer and poorer.

    • George Oh
      February 21, 2023 at 18:48

      The US has a warmonger president. The democrats have a way of starting wars for peace. Something like screwing for chastity. I don’t get it, but there it is. Recall, Trump wasn’t interested in a war with anyone. Ah, the good old days.

  14. James White
    February 20, 2023 at 15:38

    In addition to owning Fox News, Rupert Murdoch owns both the Wall Street Journal and New York Post. It was telling when Seymour Hersh’s Nordstream bombing story was never mentioned anywhere on the Fox News website. The pro-Ukraine war propagandist Wall Street Journal, which has become a sniveling Washington Post wanna-be, long ago outlawed free speech in their paid-subscriber-only comments section. Even the usually half-reliable New York Post only managed to leak out one story that mentioned the Hersh report. By now you have to fully expect that everything the White House says is a lie. But the New York Post at least published their story on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Which contained a diary of Joe Biden’s grift. Though the Post story was easily censored and drowned out by the deep state, right before the ‘election’ of feeble Joe Biden. Biden was safe to call the report Russian disinformation after James Clapper and John Brennan lied to your face about it. The Twitter files brought all of that to light recently and the Twitter co-conspirators, including James Baker, the former FBI general legal counsel turned Twitter censor were publicly shamed by Congress. Sadly, the New York Post has also joined the pro-Ukraine war propaganda arm of the DNC/White House/Deep State. As are all major TV networks including Fox News. Along with every news source in Europe. So Rupert Murdoch is pimping war against Ukraine in the U.S. and Europe while pimping war against China in Australia. Rupert might just as well change his last name to Murder or Murderer. When exactly did it happen that everyone forgot that a nuclear war means complete destruction, i.e. devastation of the entire planet? The U.S. and NATO countries all seem to want the nuclear Armageddon launch to happen -stat. If only to spite Putin. And because they are all very small, insecure loser types who can never admit that they were wrong. They would rather us all burn in Hell than admit their incompetence and hubris.

  15. shmutzoid
    February 20, 2023 at 13:56

    This kind of clumsy propaganda suggests plans for war on China are well advanced. Similarly, with the ‘spy balloon’ (now debunked) story, we see the desperation in which US imperial managers effort to fear-monger the public. Shooting down that first balloon was not enough – the US had to shoot down three more (any balloons will do!) to reinforce the idea of being “under constant threat” from those, oh so inscrutable Chinese.

    Will someone, ANYONE!, please put an end to this desperate collapsing empire? The US is the most dangerous entity in the world as it tries to compensate for loss of economic/diplomatic influence with increased militarism. …..It appears Europe is willing to go all the way down with the sinking ship over Ukraine. Will Australia bend to US imperial objectives till the bitter end???

    • Mikael Andersson
      February 20, 2023 at 17:34

      Will Australia bend to US imperial objectives till the bitter end??? Let’s see …. Is the Pope a Catholic? Has there been a US war that Australia hasn’t attended? Is there a war that Australia doesn’t love? Is there an Australian who is immune to propaganda? Shmutzoid, war is ALP/LNP bi-partisan policy. This is a democracy, so you don’t get a say. No matter who you vote for you get USA wars.

    • Anonymot
      February 20, 2023 at 20:35

      Calm, Schmutz,
      That will not happen until a very distinguished, very savvy person is willing to be bared to the bone publicly, and run as the leader of a third party.
      Bernie had it, but his one-string idea and failure to declare for a 3rd party did him in.
      Andrew Lang has a 3rd party in the organization mode, but he has a serious weakness in his big backer and distinguished he’s not, unfortunately.
      Tulsi Gabbard is the most distinguished mind to take the big shot, but like Lang, she’s been shot down too many times for the first slot. Would be a great VP.

      • Charles E. Carroll
        February 21, 2023 at 11:22

        Run Tulsi Run!

Comments are closed.