Saturday, 6 February 2021

China and Russia form new Axis of Evil

It had to happen. In fact I’d been waiting for this development, and the election of Joe Biden as US president only hastened it. 

You get what you ask for. George W Bush signposted an “Axis of Evil” back half a generation ago and in the absence – the raid on the Capitol just being the icing on the cake – of the dictator’s friend in the form of the Orange Liability, a new bloc has sprung up to threaten democracies everywhere. They’ve been busy in recent years. They promise, now, to be busier.

The development is serious, and its ramifications will need a long time to work themselves out. Be prepared for plenty of argy-bargy in the domestic public sphere as the political parties jockey for position. In a way this news is good for the Liberal-National coalition as they are traditionally perceived as the protectors of borders and wagers of war. 

The international policemen, if you prefer. Like little Johnny Howard being Dubya’s “deputy”, “Man of Steel,” “lapdog” – choose your preferred epithet. You do, after all, choose who governs you so why shouldn’t you choose what you call your leaders? You have far more freedom than a man or woman living in Beijing or in Moscow.

For its part, the Labor Party in Australia – the country from which I write – will be disappointed by the moves of its old conferes (China and Russia, harbingers and fellow-travellers in past times of revolution) to rachet up the global security stakes. 

Winners will be defence contractors, arms manufacturers, and the military. Spy agencies will also use this as a pretext to seek additional funding due to the predilection of agents working for foreign powers to try to influence politics in target countries, and to steal intellectual property that can then be used in the new Cold War. Soft skills will be in demand, as well, due to the use of virtual attacks on infrastructure, and the infiltration of important government websites as cybercriminals working for different governments try to steal information, secrets, and defence plans.

Joe Biden has to be careful to be seen to be tough on demagogues, and if he’s smart he’ll link Trump with Putin. If I were his PR director I’d be pushing out stories with this theme, and getting allied organisations to do the same. 

It’s important for America – like Russia and China – to be on the front foot. Linking Trump with kleptocratic fascist states like China and Russia can only, in the long term, do the Democrats good, especially if they stick to their guns and push a consistent line over a long period of time. 

To the barricades!

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