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War on all fronts for Australia?

By Reg Little - posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012

“War On All Fronts: Washington's three-front war: Syria, Lebanon, Iran in the Middle East, China in the Far East, Russia in Europe”, was the title of the 18 July 2012 article by Dr. Paul Craig Robert, which appeared on Global Research and other websites.

Dr Roberts, has held positions as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Reagan and as associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy” and was chosen as one of the ten most respected columnists in the alternative media in2011. He has become perhaps the most insightful, informed and persistent critics of both the Bush and Obama Presidencies.

Dr Roberts finished his article with the following passage:


It looks as if an over-confident US government is determined to have a three-front war: Syria, Lebanon, and Iran in the Middle East, China in the Far East, and Russia in Europe. This would appear to be an ambitious agenda for a government whose military was unable to occupy Iraq after nine years or to defeat the lightly-armed Taliban after eleven years, and whose economy and those of its NATO puppets are in trouble and decline with corresponding rising internal unrest and loss of confidence in political leadership.

In a subsequent article on 20 July 2012 Dr Roberts addressed the financial situation contributing to the above “over-confident” military postures in the following words:

To sum up, what has happened is that irresponsible and thoughtless–in fact, ideological–deregulation of the financial sector has caused a financial crisis that can only be managed by fraud. Civil damages might be paid, but to halt the fraud itself would mean the collapse of the financial system. Those in charge of the system would prefer the collapse to come from outside, such as from a collapse in the value of the dollar that could be blamed on foreigners, because an outside cause gives them something to blame other than themselves.

On 18 July 2012 Peter Schiff, who is CEO of Europacific Capital, offered another perspective on the evolving financial crisis:

My biggest worry is that capitalism and the free markets will get the blame when it really hits the fan.  When we get the real crash and everything implodes, and it’s really an Armageddon style collapse, my fear (again) is that capitalism and free markets take the blame for problems that were created by government.

Neither of these men is in a position to make a final judgement on the future of the United States. Yet each expresses views that are being expressed in growing volume on a daily basis. This sense of an imminent crisis of American political and economic authority can only cause distress and denial amongst political leaders in a country like Australia. There is no Australian historical experience of a world where British or American power did not define Australia’s understanding of the global community. Not surprisingly, Australians are psychologically and fundamentally dependent on “certainties” that derive from such an Anglo-American global order.


Concern about this evolving crisis, the origins of which can be traced back at least half a century, provided the background to my exploration last week of “Why is the West Unprepared for China’s Rise?” Not surprisingly, this piece prompted remarks that reveal the extent of innocence in Australia about China’s “peaceful rise” and the approaching Asian Century. It seems that educated Australian readers do not know that rote learning of the Chinese classics includes the Yijing and Daodejing, two texts that inform a culture of fluid, dynamic and strategic thinking that is absent in the Platonic tradition. This culture is in no way captured by popular Western stereotypes like “totalitarian brainwashing”.

The Platonic tradition, which is of increasingly questionable value, has subjected almost everything in the modern West to some mutation of the transcendental authority of Plato’s “Forms”. Neo-platonic thinking informed the Medieval Roman Church’s religious doctrine and dogma, and the European Enlightenment moved such transcendental authority from the spiritual to the secular, giving birth to contemporary “universal values”. Perhaps the most insidious and pervasive contemporary mutation of Platonic thought is “rational economics” with its abstract rationality or railway line thinking, which has facilitated the movement of most Western manufacturing and technological capacity to Asia.

As someone who is old enough to recall maps covered in red for members of the British Empire and phrases like “the Sun never sets on the Empire”, I do not find it hard to envision in my lifetime the conclusive rise of China to commanding economic and related authority. Moreover, pieces with headlines like “Corruption and mismanagement see much of the US without power: The entire US electricity system could collapse by 2020 without an immediate investment of $673 billion”, in Online Opinion of 20 July 2012, suggest the United States is on the brink of exhausting itself with no little or no help from other powers.

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About the Author

Reg Little was an Australian diplomat from 1963 to 1988. He gained high level qualifications in Japanese and Chinese and served as Deputy of four and Head of one overseas Australian diplomatic mission. He is the co-author of The Confucian Renaissance (1989) and The Tyranny of Fortune: Australia’s Asian Destiny (1997) and author of A Confucian Daoist Millennium? (2006). In 2009, he was elected the only non-ethnic Asian Vice Chairman of the Council of the Beijing based International Confucian Association. His other writings can be found on his website:

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