QED proves the need for a federal ICAC, but also a broken culture

BY KIM WINGEREI | Jul 17, 2020

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a Jul 17, 2020 article by Kim Wingerei. The original . with links to related material, is available at  https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-need-for-a-federal-icac-qed/?mc_cid=31bb79ce94&mc_eid=dac1e75d32 )

“When we launched QED, the aim was to create a strong narrative to call for a federal anti-corruption commission, or independent commission against corruption (ICAC). As of today we have published over 70 stories. Collectively, they reveal more than “just” dubious behaviour often bordering on corrupt; they point to a culture that is fundamentally flawed.

For every story in our QED database, we have asked the question, “Does this behaviour pass the pub test”? There are now 70 stories and counting. From dubious travel claims to the numerous election funding rorts, they illustrate deceptive conduct of some kind, conflicts of interest or corporate interference in government affairs.

Some of the stories involve minor offences, acts which would be unlikely to be referred to a Federal ICAC if one existed. We have included these to demonstrate how widespread is the poor behaviour by our elected officials. Collectively, they constitute a bullet-proof case for a Federal ICAC (or Commonwealth Integrity Commission, as it has been dubbed).

It is important to note that the QED database makes no actual allegations of illegal activity, only that the facts surrounding the poor behaviour warrant concern and investigation. The Westminster political system was founded on trust, that trust is broke, as is public confidence in our democratic leadership. We believe it can only be fixed if politicians are made is accountable for their actions.

Some of the stories we have covered are so egregious it is hard to fathom how the people responsible are still in their roles of power and influence. With the independent scrutiny that a proper ICAC would provide, it is hard to see how Angus Taylor could get away with his numerous transgressions.

Stuart Robert appears in eight of the stories we cover, ranging from listing his parents as directors of his company without their knowledge, to failure to report or record donations, his dubious expense claims and blaming hackers when the MyGov site crashed because of excessive traffic. Collectively these instances point to a person not just failing the test of integrity, but one who is not up to his job.

What QED also reveals is an entitled group of elected representatives – professional politicians – who have their priorities all wrong. Self-interest comes first, the interest of their party second, and the interest of the nation they are elected to serve comes a distant last.

Members of the Coalition “star” in the majority of the stories we have covered so far. This is not surprising given that being in power provides many more opportunities for errant behaviour than being in opposition. But making dubious travel claims is a bi-partisan offence, it seems, and not confined to Bronwyn Bishop’s infamous helicopter trip. Labor’s Tony Burke claimed $12,000 for a family trip to Uluru back in 2012, while Joel Fitzgibbon failed to declare payments he received for a trip to China, himself accepting it was a “breach of the ministerial code of conduct”. But as so often seems to be the case, breaches come without consequence. Cross-bench MPs also feature.

Such blatant disregard for codes of conduct and propriety abounds. Former minister of defence, Christopher Pyne, accepted a consulting job with Big Four consulting firm Ernst & Young nine days after departing his Canberra office. Ernst & Young is one of the major beneficiaries of lucrative defence and defence industry contracts, and it is unlikely it engaged Pyne’s firm for his charm alone.

The Ministerial Standards state that ministers must not “lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government, parliament, public service or defence force” for 18 months after leaving parliament on matters they dealt with in their final 18 months as ministers. A subsequent internal “inquiry” found that Pyne had not breached those standards, as internal inquires routinely do.

And that is why we need a federal ICAC with real teeth. An independent body that is appropriately resourced to investigate and with the power to subpoena evidence; without those investigated being able to hide behind parliamentary privilege, claiming “national interest” or find other ways to obfuscate the process. Such a body needs broad powers to refer matters to prosecuting authorities and offer strong protection to whistle-blowers, journalists and others bearing witness to the misdeeds of government officials and elected representatives – including after they have left office.

The trust in our politicians is at an all time low. Voter apathy is further fuelled by mainstream media largely failing to hold power to account. It is not in their interest to do so. We need a federal ICAC to help restore faith in a broken system, and we will continue to churn out more stories to prove it.

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-need-for-a-federal-icac-qed/?mc_cid=31bb79ce94&mc_eid=dac1e75d32

 

Microsoft to distribute $20M in grants to nonprofits, offers free skills training via LinkedIn

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a 03 Jul 2020 by Ingrid Lunden

Writer and editor , TechCrunch. The original . with links to related material, is available at

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/microsoft-to-distribute-20m-in-grants-to-nonprofits-offers-free-skills-training-via-linkedin-techcrunch/ )

 

  • Tech giant Microsoft has pledged $20 million to help retrain people who lost their jobs because of the economic crisis.
  • Using data from LinkedIn, it has identified 10 specific tech jobs that are in demand, offer a livable wage and require skills that can be learned online.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an almost immeasurable negative impact on the wider economy. Specifically in the job market, there have been millions of job losses, and in the U.S. alone unemployment numbers like these have not been seen since the Great Depression. Now, tech companies are slowly stepping up to try to address the crisis, and the latest development on that front comes from Microsoft.

The company today announced a wide-ranging, global portal for free skills training for people who are out of work. Alongside that, Microsoft said it plans to disperse $20 million in grants to nonprofit organizations that are working to help those who have lost jobs due to COVID-19 and subsequent shifts in the economy, and with a specific emphasis on those that are working with groups that are underrepresented in the tech world.

The move comes as we are seeing other tech companies try to make their own efforts to leverage their platforms to provide their own versions of relief efforts connected to COVID-19. Google has built special portals to keep people informed on local, national and global progress of COVID-19 and related news. Facebook has built an information portal and has also created an avenue for people to offer volunteering help to those in need specifically in their community.

 

The money that Microsoft will be granting to nonprofits is aimed at a wide swathe of organizations, not just those focused on helping groups learn new skills, but just those helping specific groups. Those that Microsoft already works with include Trust for the Americas, Fondazione Mundo Digitale in Italy, the Nasscom Foundation in India, Tech4Dev across Africa, NPower in Canada, the National Urban League aimed at long-term unemployed and African Americans, and Skillful.

 

The education and training news, meanwhile, is interesting not only because of the push that Microsoft is trying to make by leveraging the assets that it already has, but that it’s doing so in tandem with LinkedIn, the social network and professional education platform it acquired for $26.2 billion in 2016. Even though they are the same company, it’s often the case that you see less collaboration between the two than you might think would exist, but this seems to be a shift from that position.

Microsoft notes that using data from LinkedIn, it identified 10 specific tech jobs that are in particular demand right now and will continue to be in demand, offer a livable wage and require skills that can be learned online if you don’t already have them. They are software developer, sales rep, project manager, IT admin, customer services rep, digital marketer, IT support, data analyst, financial analyst and graphic designer.

 

LinkedIn has designed “Learning Paths” that it offers through its online education portal for these jobs, and these will now be available to everyone free to use, globally, until the end of March 2021, in English, French, Spanish and German, with content getting updated in the tracks as needed. Alongside these, Microsoft Learn is offering supplemental technical content to these Paths, and Microsoft is also making GitHub’s Learning Lab free to practice if you’re learning software developer skills.

 

Alongside these, Microsoft is also giving a push to so-called “soft skills” that complement hunting for a job at the moment, including tips on looking for a job right now, learning “critical” soft skills, more on the concept and meaning of digital transformation, and a learning track focused on diversity, inclusion and allyship.

 

You can look at a list of all the content available and ultimately relevant jobs on LinkedIn’s purpose-built portal.

 

In addition to the online learning efforts, LinkedIn is also launching a separate track for those who want to either leverage LinkedIn to get spotted more easily for job opportunities, and for those who want to volunteer to help others, to offer advice and mentorship for those looking for work, or get more training to get through interviews. For those who want to signal their job seeking, they can now add an “OpenToWork” frame on their profile pictures, which links to a separate banner that runs under your profile picture that lets people see what kinds of jobs you would like to consider.

 

The offer to help is not unlike LinkedIn’s efforts at cultivating a mentorship program: The idea is that there are people who have the time and desire to use their skills to help others than just themselves and the companies they work for. As with the mentoring, those interested can indicate what they would like to do — making introductions, resume help or just providing advice.

LinkedIn’s interview preparations, meanwhile, are another step into working closer with Microsoft: LinkedIn’s built a set of tools that uses Microsoft’s AI platform for feedback throughout the training.

 

Written by

Ingrid Lunden, Writer and editor , TechCrunch

This article is published in collaboration with TechCrunch.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

 

 

 

Australian Space Industry Start-up Company (ASISC)

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is an extract from SmartSat ASISC communication. The original . with links to related material, is available at https://smartsatcrc.com/about/participate/ )

 

Start-ups and SMEs are a critical component of the Australian Space Industry and play a central role in the uptake of research and innovation.  The SmartSat CRC has attracted a number of leading-edge SME’s to join its program of planned activities and will implement a proven engagement mechanism that provides a platform for SME’s to work with the CRC at a variety of levels.

SmartSat is in the process of establishing a separate company, to represent the start-up community and allowing them to come together and participate as a collective Core Partner, within in the SmartSat CRC.

This entity, currently referred to as the Australian Space Industry Start-up Company (ASISC), will be an incorporated entity, have its own Board of Directors, and will provide benefits to its “members” from a number of initiatives to support their growth and development by providing;

  • Mentoring by more experienced industry executives, and support for start-up managers to gain valuable board experience by participating on the board of an incorporated entity;
  • Opportunities to sit on the SmartSat CRC Industry Advisory Board;
  • Various education, training and networking events; and
  • Opportunities to participate in, and inform, SmartSat CRC projects and activities.

SmartSat is in the early stages of establishing ASISC, and will take the opportunity to develop a clear value proposition over the next 12 months.  SmartSat are offering interested parties the opportunity to ‘join’ ASISC on an obligation free basis (i.e. $0) for this period.  After this time they will have the opportunity to consider fully the opportunities ASISC provides, including any formal membership structure and associated benefits.  Joining ASISC will enable all start-up organisations to participate in the SmartSat ecosystem.

For further information please contact:
Dr Tim Parsons
Chair – Start Up Cluster Steering Committee
CEO – DeltaV
Australian NewSpace Alliance
M +61 417 463 972
[email protected]
www.deltavspacehub.com

 

New satellites to boost Australia’s national security capability

By  APDR 07/07/2020

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a 07/07/2020 Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) communication. The original, with photographs and links to related material, is available at

https://latconnect60.com/blog/ )

 

Australian-based company LatConnect 60 announced Tuesday (7 July) a global space partnership to build and deploy a smart satellite constellation over Australian skies to help the Australian government and commercial clients monitor and protect their interests in the region. The announcement comes amid rising global tensions, with the Australian prime minister last week announcing a A$1.35 billion response to a major cyber-attack targeting Australia by a state-based actor. With plans to launch in June 2021, the new low earth orbit smart satellite constellation will provide close to real-time data on request to clients giving Australia a boost to its strategic observation capabilities.

The key industries set to benefit from access to the new RF Signal Intelligence and High Resolution Multispectral Imaging include government security and intelligence agencies; as well as mining, oil and gas; agriculture; and maritime. Potential examples of use are maritime surveillance, resource exploration, and crop yield and change detection in farming.

LatConnect 60 Founder and CEO, Venkat Pillay said: “The reality is until now Australia has had to rely on overseas providers for access to critical earth observation data. COVID-19, coupled with rising global tensions, has made governments and companies take a closer look at the technologies they need and who they can rely on to provide those technologies in a crisis. Australia is too reliant on overseas companies for observation data and that data is not exclusive or secure.” LatConnect 60 also announced a new security partnership with ProximaX, who will use a combination of two-layer encryption, de-centralised storage and blockchain technology to encrypt and secure all data captured by LatConnect 60 satellites to ensure it is resilient to attack. “We are excited to be working with ProximaX.

Their sophisticated encryption and de-centralised data storage architecture is combined with blockchain technology to thwart cyberattacks, ensuring the data we collect will remain protected from the types of hostile attacks that the Australian Government is facing,” Pillay said.

LatConnect 60’s smart satellite constellation offers a valuable service differentiator in the geospatial market by collecting high-resolution Earth Observation (EO) imagery products and RF signal intelligence at the same timestamp, and processing it on-orbit with machine learning capabilities to make sense of the data. “Our competitors have launched expensive multi-purpose satellites not tailored to the Australian market. What sets our patent-pending technology apart is that it is fit for purpose and as a result our services are more flexible, more reliable but also more affordable while providing the same quality, if not better, imaging,” Pillay said.

 

LatConnect 60 has chosen to set up its headquarters in Perth, while it is also plugged into the growing South Australian space ecosystem and is a start-up member of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre based in Adelaide. “We have based our headquarters in Perth to take advantage of the space innovation hub which is coming to life thanks to the WA government’s recent investment and leadership in developing these technologies which will provide the jobs of the future,” Pillay said.

 

LatConnect 60 is collaborating with satellite partner York Space Systems and Perth’s Curtin University, which will develop local capability in WA. Professors Ba-Ngu Vo and Ba Tuong Vo, from the Intelligent Sensing and Perception (ISP) Group at Curtin University, have been selected as the main research partners with LatConnect 60: “The ISP Group is developing new algorithms to exploit rapid advances in AI, IoT and embedded systems, which are expected to underpin the signal processing and data analytics onboard the new satellites,” said Ba-Ngu Vo.

 

LatConnect 60 has ambitious plans to cement Australia’s position as a major player in the growing space economy, initially supplying its services to Australian clients before expanding across the region and the globe as it scales up its satellite constellation and product applications. Founded by Venkat Pillay and Rueben Rajasingam, the leadership team at LatConnect 60 brings with it an impressive track record, having worked with the likes of NASA, the Canadian and European space programs, CSIRO and BHP Billiton.

FOR EDITORIAL INQUIRIES CONTACT:
EDITOR KYM BERGMANN AT 
[email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

Frydenberg’s three-stage economic recovery is abominably hard to get right

July 23, 2020 Warren Hogan, Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Disclosure statement

Warren Hogan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a July 23, 2020 article in The Conversation, The original, with photographs and links to related material, is available at Frydenberg’s three-stage economic recovery is abominably hard to get right )

 

Gone are the days when economic policy was adjusted once each year by the government in the budget and fine-tuned once each month at meetings of the Reserve Bank board.

The coroanvirus means we haven’t had a budget in more than a year. What the Reserve Bank has done to interest rates means its monthly board meetings matter less.

Governor Philip Lowe reaffirmed this week that monetary policy was on hold for the foreseeable future. The bank’s cash rate is as low as it can go (actually well below its 0.25% target) and the bank will only intervene in the bond market if it has to in order to keep bond rates low (which it doesn’t — the demand for even the rush of new bond issues is much bigger than the supply).

It has lobbed the ball to Frydenberg’s side of the court.

The only situation in which it might be brought back into play is if the government ran into funding problems, of which there is no sign whatsoever.

Holding the racket

The treasurer’s problem is sequencing, and we will are likely to get hints on how he’ll play it in the economic statement to be released today.

The first challenge was to limit the damage to the economy from the initial shock near the start of the year — to stop a vicious cycle of weaker spending, plummeting investment and soaring unemployment.

These self-reinforcing crises required a circuit breaker.

The emergency stimulus provided through Jobkeeper and Jobseeker has been a great success at putting a floor under incomes and demand.

The government ensured a basic income for people whose jobs were axed or at risk, kept hundreds of thousands attached to their jobs and bolstered household incomes despite a massive loss of activity. It gets a tick.

But these emergency measures will not get the economy going again once the crisis has eased.

Some argue they will stand in the way of a recovery if they keep people ensconced on benefits or attached to firms without futures.

A tricky transition

Phase two will require genuine fiscal stimulus: not a security blanket of the kind we have had, but a direct injection of money that will spark a new wave of investment and employment.

The trick is to sequence it properly.

The announced tapering of JobKeeper and JobSeeker will cut incomes and cut jobs as firms pay people less and realign staff levels in line with lower subsidies.

The government believes it has got it right, but it is forecasting an 80% drop in JobKeeper payments between September and the end of the year. It might not be a cliff but it is still a very steep slope that will need to be matched by a sharp recovery in economic activity.

It needs to be ready to revise the timetable as needed. Its current projections look like a best case scenario.

An unknowable stage two

The second stage will involve a good deal of spending on infrastructure. But, especially without certainty about immigration, it is hard to tell what will be needed.

The pandemic will have changed the way we work and play. It is not yet clear whether people take advantage of remote working and move out of congested cities. it is not yet clear what it will mean for digital health, digital education and digital shopping.

An even-harder stage three

The final stage will involve structural reforms; alterations to tax settings, regulations and industrial relations. Which is where it gets really hard. It will require not only sequencing but getting agreement across the political divide.

No civil society can base its economic and social structures on the mere desire for efficiency. Fairness and social justice matter just as much, and they can best be guaranteed if the measures are pulled together as a package with trade-offs that protect the values that matter to Australians.

That’ll be Frydenberg’s biggest challenge. The future doesn’t need to be rushed out this week, or in the October Budget, but in the months to come it’ll have to take shape.

Frydenberg’s three-stage economic recovery is abominably hard to get right

 

CSIRO to base 450 staff at Western Sydney’s Aerotropolis under new proposal

By Shannon Jenkins, Wednesday July 15, 2020

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a July 15, 2020 article in The Mandarin. The original, with photographs and links to related material, is available at https://go.pardot.com/e/272522/um-email-utm-source-newsletter/7qw54r/652466216?h=PEVPvO8OlCJsg4bMykv0_0LtGJ_0xFSy6YGGt3-o6b  )

 

The CSIRO is in talks with the New South Wales government to move up to 450 staff and researchers to a “bespoke carbon-neutral” facility at the new Western Sydney Aerotropolis.

The proposed 18,000 m2 facility would feature collaborative workshops and “modern, flexible” laboratories.

The CSIRO building would be central to the Aerotropolis Advanced Manufacturing and Research Precinct, which is expected to home research institutes and commercial organisations specialising in advanced manufacturing, quantum technologies, aerospace, defence and agribusiness.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the move would be valuable for both his agency and Australians.

“The more we can put science in the hands of real people to solve real problems, the better our future will be, so the collaboration and connectedness of the Western Sydney Aerotropolis is an immense opportunity for CSIRO and the future we are shaping for Australia,” he said.

“Aerotropolis reflects the new generation of CSIRO, agile and diverse, while building on a great 100-year legacy of innovation through collaboration. Sydney is where CSIRO invented fast WiFi and where we will invent the next innovations for our future prosperity and sustainability.”

The Aerotropolis is part of the Western Sydney City Deal, and would connect to the planned Western Sydney International Airport.

The multi-billion-dollar development is expected to be complete by 2026. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the CSIRO’s presence there would “set the tone” for the site to become an innovation hub.

Under the proposal, CSIRO would be able to support several commitments it has made to Western Sydney, including:

  • The establishment of the CSIRO Urban Living Lab at the Sydney Science Park,
  • A $25 million partnership with the state government to support STEM education and generate up to 200,000 jobs in the region over 20 years,
  • digital twin of the Western Sydney City Deal, which is a virtual 4D model of the region’s built and natural environment,
  • A new 10-year lease agreement in the $350 million Innovation Quarter precinct that would co-locate a team of CSIRO digital health and nutrition researchers at Westmead.

 

https://go.pardot.com/e/272522/um-email-utm-source-newsletter/7qw54r/652466216?h=PEVPvO8OlCJsg4bMykv0_0LtGJ_0xFSy6YGGt3-o6bg

 

The Intercept

The Far-Right Revolution Was Waiting for an Opportunity. Now, It’s Here.

Murtaza Hussain

July 11 2020,

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a July 11, 2020 article in The Mandarin. The original, with photographs and links to related material, is available at https://theintercept.com/2020/07/11/far-right-coronavirus-protests/ )

 

AT THIS POINT, it’s become a staple of dark humor to observe that 2020 has been the year in which the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse seemingly decided to descend on the United States. Yet even before our fears of war, pestilence, and economic collapse began taking physical form, one could already observe morbid symptoms spreading within the extremities of our body politic. The strongest sign of a looming social illness has been the rebirth and spread of extremist ideologies — beliefs not long ago dismissed by liberal triumphalists as relics of historical memory.

Mutated through new information technologies and drawing strength from feelings of economic and demographic dislocation, fascist and sectarian ideologies have found a home in the hearts of members of a new generation of Americans.

Whether most people have connected the dots or not, a violent struggle is already playing out. Over the past few years, a steady drumbeat of massacres have been carried out by extremists associated with the new far-right. These attacks have targeted synagoguesmosques, and communities where immigrants are concentrated. In their wake, the shooters left behind manifestos damning a world that they claimed was shrinking in space for people like them.

What these ideologues drifting within the currents of this movement have really been waiting for, however, is a real crisis, one that would give them an opportunity to put their ideas of racial warfare and ethnic purification into full effect. That crisis is here.

The combination of the coronavirus and the sudden collapse of the American economy has given society an exogenous shock unseen in generations. The pandemic and the social tensions it has unleashed are likely to supercharge the forces that gave rise to the new far-right extremism, even as they produce countervailing energies that could revive the best promises of liberalism.

Engaging in political predictions is a foolish, high-risk, low-reward activity. But having followed the iterations of this new extremist ideology at home and abroad — and grappled with the fact that there is a pool of young men who have proven themselves willing to die for it — it strikes me as irresponsible to not advise people to brace for what is on the horizon.

ALTHOUGH SOME HAVE yet to accept it, the U.S. is in the midst of an unstoppable cultural and demographic transition into multiculturalism. The natural challenges entailed in such a shift should not be ignored. It is incumbent upon everyone to do their part to make it a success, while ensuring that everyone feels they have a place in this country.

This demographic shift, though, has also given rise to serious anxieties among some within the majority community — anxieties that helped enable the rise of a white nationalist named Donald Trump to the presidency. These majoritarian sentiments are likely to escalate as minority groups grow to embrace their own forms of racial consciousness, often based on redressing past injustices suffered at the hands of the majority.

The current wave of national protests was triggered by a killing with strong sectarian overtones — another Black man killed by a white police officer. From a historical perspective, countries that have experienced wholesale economic collapse at the same time as exploding ethnic tensions have often had a difficult time dealing with that, to put it mildly. The United States still has a lot of resources at its disposal to handle these challenges, but the gravity of the present situation should not be understated.

Americans are experiencing levels of unemployment unprecedented in their modern history. According to some estimates, nearly half of these jobs may never return. At the same time, stunning acts of symbolic cultural transformation are playing out in real time. As statues of polarizing figures tied to America’s European founding come crashing down one after another, often with the support of liberal white Americans, the political project of those on the extremes — particularly white nationalists — is simultaneously jeopardized and emboldened.

On the surface, it seems that events are driving the U.S. in the opposite direction of white nationalist goals and that they will likely taste defeat. But, on the other hand, a structural collapse of American society that fractures it along ethnic lines is the prerequisite for their own dark vision of a society purified by the fires of racial violence.

“One of the things that white nationalists have always been interested in is imposing their own understanding of time: a narrative of what the past looked like and what the future should look like,” said Alexandra Minna Stern, the author of “Proud Boys and the White Ethnostate: How the Alt-Right is Warping the American Imagination.” “In that sense, the coronavirus and the protests have destabilized time. History is being rewritten and the marginalized are being recognized.”

“For white nationalists, this is a crisis as well as an opportunity,” Stern said. “In their opinion, movements like Black Lives Matter are a form of identity politics par excellence. If it is succeeding and gaining currency, then in their view white racial consciousness might rise as well.”

This is not to equate the Black Lives Matter movement with white nationalists of course. But amid the roiling social changes we are now witnessing, many of them progressive, far-right identitarians also see an opportunity at hand.

IT SHOULD GO without saying that it is a choice to view things from an ethno-nationalist perspective. In the U.S., that choice is today not an obviously popular one. A large proportion — perhaps even the majority of the tens of millions who came out into the streets in the unprecedented protest movement triggered by the killing of George Floyd — were white Americans. It remains to be seen how long this support will last, but the spontaneous outrage over the murder of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer is noble and encouraging.

However, those white people who are ethno-nationalists — and there are many of them — will likely view these developments much more darkly: as a sign that they are on the verge of being displaced from their privileged historical role in American society, or, even worse, reduced to a marginalized minority. In a country with loose social bonds and easy access to weaponry, it doesn’t take many people thinking that way to do serious harm.

 

If you peer into the shadows, you can already see the contours of a threat that will be with us for years to come. In early May, a group of men, described by prosecutors as having “U.S. military experience,” were arrested and charged with trying to spark violence as part of a broader plot to cause the collapse of the federal government and trigger a civil war. A number of shootings and car-ramming attacks carried out during the recent protests should signal that there are people ready for their most extreme beliefs to reach praxis.

Even more ominously, for a state hollowed out by years of elite corruption, there are signs that law enforcement agencies and the U.S. military have been infiltrated by individuals adhering to far-right ideologies. If a serious crisis comes, history suggests that it will be people like this — with access to training and guns — whose defection to the side of the extremists would have the most dire implications.

At the same time, just as it is wrong — dangerous even — to promote essentialized racial categories that lump together huge numbers of diverse people, it would be a mistake to impute onto the far-right movement a unity that it does not possess. Not all of the various subgroups are willing to engage in violence nor do they all hold the same views on every issue. To the extent that the far right can be described as having a unified perspective, it is on the issues of race and immigration. On this count, the spread of the coronavirus and the minority-led protest movement in the U.S. are two sides of the same coin: both products of globalization, which is the one force that they are united in their desire to destroy.

We should expect the far right to continue waging this battle to undo globalization with whatever tools are at its disposal, legal and illegal, violent and nonviolent. Those of us who have to live with the reality of a complex, cosmopolitan world — including the tens of millions of Americans and Europeans of minority backgrounds whose very existence and identity is a product of that reality — must negotiate an appropriate response. The one thing we can’t do is fall into a trap of believing that this conflict doesn’t exist, or that it can be ignored.

“For those whose ultimate goal is a multipolar world where everyone is siloed and in their own place, recent events are seen as a rebuke against globalization,” said Benjamin Teitelbaum, an expert on the far right at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the author of a new book about former Trump guru Steve Bannon called “War for Eternity: Inside Bannon’s Far-Right Circle of Global Power Brokers.”

“If one takes the view that the primary expression of decadence in our age is cosmopolitanism,” said Teitelbaum, “the only way to survive that age is through a militant anti-cosmopolitanism.”

https://theintercept.com/2020/07/11/far-right-coronavirus-protests/

 

 

The Interpreter

A diplomatic step-up to match our military step-up

DAVE SHARMA, 13 Jul 2020

“We need to strengthen the arm of Australian diplomacy

just as much as we need to strengthen the military.”

(QESP Editor’s Note: The following is a reprint of a July 13, 2020 article in The Interpreter.

The original, with photographs and links to related material, is available at https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/diplomatic-step-match-our-military-step )

 

“In the words of the Defence Strategic Update, our region is in the midst of the “most consequential strategic realignment since the Second World War”. The Indo-Pacific is becoming the main theatre for greater strategic competition between major powers, making the region more tense, more contested, and more prone to conflict.”

“While the past two decades have seen large growth in the budgets areas of other parts of our national security apparatus, from Defence to the intelligence agencies and Home Affairs, our diplomatic budget has remained static.”

In response, the Australian government is increasing defence spending, committing $270 billion over the next decade, which will ensure defence spending remains at or above two per cent of GDP for the foreseeable future. We are acquiring new capabilities which will enhance our ability to project power, safeguard our approaches, deter adversaries, and hit back in the cyber realm.

This is welcome news. In response to a strategic environment that has deteriorated more rapidly than expected, it makes sense to increase our investment in our ability to defend Australia and deter potential adversaries.

Alongside this, the other essential task for Australia is to seek to shape Australia’s strategic environment, and work actively against its deterioration. Primarily, this is a task for diplomacy and statecraft. Clausewitz famously described war as the continuation of politics by other means. The reverse also holds: politics, or diplomacy, is the continuation of war by other means.

Defence and diplomacy work towards the same goal – the security of the nation – but using different means. If Australia is to effectively shape our strategic environment, we need a diplomatic step-up to match our military step-up.

Australia values an open Indo-Pacific, free from coercion and hegemony, where nations are sovereign and can interact on the basis of predictable rules and norms. We oppose a hierarchical order, structured by power, where “might is right”. Most nations of the Indo-Pacific share in our goals for the region, as do most nations around the world. But we are currently not winning the struggle to preserve this Indo-Pacific order.

This is why Australian diplomacy must build new coalitions and new networks of cooperation from among these nations to defend our vision for the Indo-Pacific.

The United States will remain an indispensable partner in these efforts. But Australian diplomacy can no longer rely – as it has done for much of the post-war era – on being able to ride in the slipstream of US efforts.

The work to forge new coalitions are already underway. Foreign and defence ministers and treasurers from the “Five Eyes” countries are consulting more regularly. Our partnership with India is growing. We worked closely with the European Union to pass the Covid-19 resolution in the World Health Assembly. In the Pacific, our “Step-Up” is already yielding results.

Just as our changed strategic circumstances will require our defence forces to achieve more, so too will we be asking for more from our diplomats. We need to strengthen the arm of Australian diplomacy just as much as we need to strengthen the military.

The answer is partly resourcing. We remain one of the smallest diplomatic services, with the one of the smallest diplomatic footprints, within the G20.

While the past two decades have seen large growth in the budgets areas of other parts of our national security apparatus, from Defence to the intelligence agencies and Home Affairs, our diplomatic budget has remained static. We spend roughly $28 billion per year on defence, but only $1 billion per year on diplomacy.

In significant part, this has been down to a failure of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Canberra bureaucratic struggle for budget and resources. It has failed to sell its value to the political class, to cultivate champions within the cabinet, or position itself with solutions to the government’s challenges.

This is why the answer is also partly attitudinal.

Overseas our ambassadors and heads of mission need to act with greater initiative, behaving nimbly and directly engaging public opinion to marshal coalitions for action, and spending less time on the stuffy and low-impact world of traditional bilateral relations.

DFAT’s Covid-19 response, which was fast and effective, needs to be the norm, not the exception.

At home, DFAT needs to re-embrace its primary mission – which is to shape Australia’s strategic environment to our benefit – and drop the inwards focus on cultural change and workplace norms.

Necessity will compel Australia to invest more in the years ahead to shape our strategic environment. This will need a diplomatic service which is better resourced but also more focused. The two need to go hand-in-hand.

https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/diplomatic-step-match-our-military-step


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