A Black Swan Event Defined
When governments create their official languages there is a tendency to rely strongly upon code words to help to make complex situations as clear as is briefly possible, so when the phrase “A Black Swan Event" pops up, the uninitiated - unaware of the actual meaning of the phrase - understandably presumes that it is meant to represent a rare or even surprising event.
Unfortunately while that phrase can - sometimes does - mean just that in a less powerful corridor of some nondescript government office building - when it is spoken by a person who knows what it truly means, the phrase has an impact with the same emotional density as words like ”shipwreck” or “disaster” and that, well, that is significant.
One of the more popular definitions of the phrase comes in the form of presenting the matter as theory -- the black swan theory or theory of black swan events -- a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
The original theory is said to have been developed by a Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, statistician, and risk analyst named Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain three specific concerns:
The first was the psychological biases that blind people -- both individually and collectively -- to uncertainty and to a rare event's massive role in historical affairs.
The next is the non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
Finally -- and this is what applies to the disastrous situation of Donald Trump's run at the GOP nomination -- is the disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, technology -- and specifically as is this case, politics.
Unlike the earlier and broader "black swan problem" in philosophy, Taleb's "black swan theory" refers only to unexpected events of large magnitude and consequence and their dominant role in history.
The fact that this perfectly fits the Trump fiasco, the greater concern is the aforementioned code words and their translations and specifically what that phrase means when it is used by government in a nation like Australia - which serves as the ideal example since she both leads in the declaration of the Trump situation as a Black Swan Event, and serves as a prime example for how other governments with a similar outlook are likely to react.
|No not THAT Black Swan!|
Building the Scorecard
First let's build that scorecard; once we have accomplished that, we can then address the whole Cause and Effect phenomenon of the Trump Presidency and what that will likely mean first for Australia, and then for the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations.
For our purposes here it is important to understand just where decisive power is vested in that isolated yet powerful nation that uniquely exists as both an island nation and the only nation in the world that occupies its own continent.
Not to go too deeply into left-field, but have you ever played the board game called Risk? Yeah, there is a reason why most players accept that he or she who holds Australasia more often than not wins the game.
The actions (and reactions) of Australia with respect to a Trump Presidency is likely to be the most perfect laboratory for the experiment. But in order to appreciate what it all means, you first need to fully grok Oz, and how each of its influential voices matter.
Considering that its political structure and to some degree the governmental foundations really were influenced heavily by simply borrowing the best parts of the leading forms of government of the era,
when Australia stopped being a Crown Colony and took up the mantle of self-rule it did so with some pretty significant benefits, not the least of which was the ability and willingness to learn from the mistakes made by those forms of government who loaned out their finest features to that new nation.
Something else that we must remember is that, due to the disproportionately massive influential role (both in regional economics and -- through the projection of military might -- its peacekeeping role) in the Australasian region is a major and valuable concern...
At its foundation level Australia is a constitutional monarchy. Let's be very clear about that from the beginning.
While the Queen is officially recognized as head of state, in actual practice the role of head of state for Australia is divided between two people: the Queen of Australia and the Governor-General of Australia, the latter being appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia.
From that observation it should sound like Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia has a lot of power - or rather has all the power, right? Well yes - and no - but before we get to that we sort of need to forget all of her other part-time jobs.
When Elizabeth began her new career she did so officially as HRH Elizabeth II by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Queen, Defender of the Faith, but by the time she managed to fit Australia into her busy schedule, she had officially been transmogrified into Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
That sounds simple enough, right? Ah, but we are forgetting that even nation-states have egos, and a lot of the members of the Commonwealth of Nations did not really like back-seating to their larger or more economically stable cousins with whom they shared their leader.
|President Trump could cost the US Navy invaluable ports in the Southern Pacific Ocean|
So an agreement was reached by her prime ministers at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference of 1952 (I swear to God this is true - even fiction cannot account for this sort of twist in the plot!), whereby the Queen would accord herself different styles and titles in each of her realms, reflecting that, in each state, she acted as monarch of that particular country -- regardless of her other roles.
So, for example, in Canada they preferred the style: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Canada and of Her other realms and territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
For Australia however, the ministers ended up in a compromise that forced the inclusion of her UK title in all styles, so that Elizabeth ended up with a distinct but similarly constituted title in each state, which meant that when she was finally crowned in 1952, she initially held seven separate titles, and then with her crowning in each Commonwealth nation, her stock of calling cards reached an epic 16 different titles - one for each of the current Commonwealth realms!
So from 1953 to 1973 she was styled “Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Australia and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
That certainly makes it sound like she fills the role of monarch and leader politically AND commander-in-chief of the ADF, right? Ah but her title style was changed in 1973 so as to clarify that at least with respect to certain leadership roles (and in particular military roles) it was not all-inclusive.
Thus she became -and is to this day styled: “Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth>”
|The Queen waving goodbye to the UKs special relationship with America should Trump be elected as president. The UK moving to add Trump to the list of persona non grata.|
If you are not yet confused enough, consider this: the commander-in-chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth of Australia is vested in the Governor General as the Queen's representative. But the Governor-General does not actually play an active part in the Australian Defence Force's command structure.
Instead the democratically accountable Australian Cabinet (chaired by the Prime Minister) theoretically commands the ADF - but in actual practice the day-to-day control belongs to the Minister for Defence (with the assistance of several subordinate ministers), who exercise control via the Australian Defence Organisation under Section 8 of the Defence Act 1903.
While she does not in fact exercise direct control over the ADF - or for that matter ANY military units in her Realms with the exception of her own House Guard who comprise two legitimate Regiments - and despite the fact that she is not nor has she ever been an officer of any of those military organizations or units in any capacity other than some two-dozen honorary ranks - and yet she does possess a massive ribbon deck rivaled only by the selection of awards that take only the medal form!
Still not confused enough? Remember we began this by stating that we were about to create a Scorecard?
We did not choose that defining title by accident. You see when the dust finally settled what we discover is that a literal committee of people and positions actually comprise the full command and control elements of the government, so at a bare minimum the opinions - and the decisions - of the following are ALL important to the process:
Her Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is the person who is the most senior Minister of the Crown; an appointee who is the leader of the Cabinet and the chairperson of the National Security Committee.
The Governor-General of Australia, Peter Cosgrove, appointed by the Queen of Australia and exercising her powers domestically.
These voices -and power - are joined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop; The President of the Senate The Hon Stephen Parry; and the Minister for Defence Marise Payne being the core of the truly influential with respect to the issue at hand.
And that leaves two more significant forces who contribute to the equation, that pair being the National Security Committee:
Chair: The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP (Leader of the Liberal Party)
Deputy Chair: The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP (Leader of the National Party)
Member: The Hon Julie Bishop MP (Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party)
Member: Senator the Hon George Brandis QC ( Liberal Party of Australia)
Member: The Hon Scott Morrison MP (Liberal Party of Australia)
Member: Senator the Hon Marise Payne (Liberal Party of Australia)
Member: Senator The Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO (Liberal Party of Australia)
And finally the Intelligence and Security Committee:
Chair: Mr Andrew Nikolic AM, CSC, MP (Liberal Party of Australia , Bass TAS)
Deputy Chair: Hon Anthony Byrne MP (Australian Labor Party , Holt VIC)
Member: Senator David Bushby (Liberal Party of Australia , TAS)
Member: Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy (Australian Labor Party , VIC)
Member: Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, MP (Australian Labor Party , Isaacs VIC)
Member: Senator David Fawcett (Liberal Party of Australia , SA)
Member: Senator Katy Gallagher (Australian Labor Party , ACT)
Member: Hon Philip Ruddock MP (Liberal Party of Australia , Berowra NSW)
Member: Hon Bruce Scott MP (The Nationals , Maranoa QLD)
Member: Senator the Hon Penny Wong (Australian Labor Party , SA)
Member: Mr Jason Wood MP (Liberal Party of Australia , La Trobe VIC)
So about now you might be asking yourself why all of these people are important enough for us to list them...
|This could become a rare sight if Trump is elected and Australia severs its foreign relations ties with America|
For the purposes of explaining how and why the perceptions of a Trump Presidency in the USA as a declared Black Swan Event by the government of Australia - and all of the politicos listed above - we will now go directly to the matter of interest as we have now created our unofficial scorecard!
So here is the crux of the issue: our Scorecard depicts the primary players in the matter, some of whom are actually on opposing sides of the aisle, and many of whom rarely agree on what to have for dinner when their committee is in session, let alone agree upon a general assessment or even committee position on a matter of concern.
In short, and very much akin to the similar difficulties one finds in committees of ANY sort that are populated by members from different parties and persuasions, our reason for listing them is to provide you with emphasis that they DO agree on the matter of Trump - and that is bad news for America.
|A Black Swan Event - and two grey chicks called Fear and Anger|
The Black Swan and Her Consequences
Under the Australian definition for the phrase, a Black Swan Event is a wholly unexpected event or situation that is classified as a clear and present danger to Australia and its people.
The reasons that this is bad news for America number in the dozens, so we will start with the more dangerous and highly placed reasons at the top of our list:
- The members agree a Trump presidency is a genuine Black Swan Event;
- The members agree a Trump presidency would require an immediate response;
The concerns that would both warrant and justify action span a wide range of impact points, but the core reasons that a Trump presidency is considered a threat to Australia includes:
- His declared protectionism stance;
- His demonstrated jingoism;
- His Putin-esque ego;
Collectively all of the above are a clear threat to the wellbeing and perhaps more important still, the economy of Australia.
|US Bases in Australia would come under threat of closure and re-evaluation in a Trump Presidency|
A threat that is being taken so seriously that PM Turnbull as well as the ISC have already taken stated and public positions that a Trump victory in the US election would require, at the bare minimum the following immediate steps:
- A dissociation of Australia's foreign policy from the USA;
- Immediate withdrawal of remaining RAAF E-7A ELINT unit from Operation Slipper (Residual);
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF/RAAF forces participating in Operation Accordion;
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF/RAAF forces participating in Operation Highroad;
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF/RAAF forces participating in Operation Okra;
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF forces participating in Operation Paladin;
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF forces participating in Operation Palate II;
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF/RAAF forces participating in Operation Resolute Support;
- Immediate termination of hosting for joint ops in Operation Southern Indian Ocean;
- Immediate withdrawal of all ADF forces from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF);
- Immediate withdrawal of Australia’s Joint Task Force 636 in Afghanistan;
- Suspension for review of US armed forces / CIA presence at Pine Gap JDSRF Alice Springs;
- Suspension of US Navy privileges at RAN Fleet Base East & Jervis Bay ;
- Suspension of US Navy privileges at RAN Fleet Base West;
- Suspension of US Navy privileges at RAN Stirling;
- Suspension of US Navy privileges at former USNB North West Cape;
- Suspension of US privileges at Seismic Stations Charters Towers / Daly Waters / Hobart / Mundaring / Sydney NSW / Tennant Creek;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Delamere Bomb Range;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Darwin;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Kimberley;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Learmouth;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Pearce;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Richmond;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Salisbury;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Townsville;
- Suspension of US privileges at RAAF Williamtown;
- Suspension of US privileges at Joint RAAF/USAFB Tidbinbulla;
- Suspension of US privileges at “Weather” Stations Mildura & Wagga Wagga;
- Review of increased US staffing for Eschelon Sites at Watsonia / Melbourne / Geraldton / Shoal Bay / DSD HQ Canberra;
- Suspension of US privileges at Shoalwater Bay Jungle Warfare Training Base;
- Suspension of US SIGINT privileges at Cabarlah;
- Suspension of US SIGINT privileges at Hariman;
- Suspension of US SIGINT privileges at Wagga;
- Review of lease holdings at Omega Station at Dariman.
Why is the above action/reaction necessary? In simple terms - and based on comments that members of both committees and Australia's political leaders have made privately and hinted at publicly, a President Donald Trump would be classified by both committees with the same category of threat as Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea.
Really there is nothing more that needs to be said about that at least in terms of Australia - but considering that a Trump victory would also spur the same sort of reaction in the UK, Canada, and France, with a somewhat lighter response in Europe from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway, while in Asia a similar response is likely from India, Japan, and the Philippians.
America would quickly find itself being a lease holder with its military bases sitting on land in overtly hostile countries.