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December 31, 2003

The man's confused

Last Monday night there was an episode on the Downers on the Dynasties series. I was too busy cooking a meal to give it much attention, even though I was interested in their fusty belief in hierarchy. I respect Lady Mary Downer. She actually likes people.

I cannot say I respect her son Alexander, who was born of the Liberal Party and is now Australia's Foreign Minister.
I've just read Alexander Downer's article in today's Australian. It's trash, like most of the stuff that Downer signs his name to these days. He about his critics--those mysterious Australia-bashing elites under the bed--being infected by a virus, filled with self-disgust, and embracing the moral equivalent of the cultural cringe.

Now that can hardly be considered an example of the tolerance that is supposed to be fundamental to our spirit as a great nation.

Downer starts his article by asking a loaded question, and then provides his answer:

"People of goodwill and fair mind who opposed the liberation of Iraq would do well to end the year contemplating this question: In what shape would the world be starting 2004 if we had adopted their preferred option of acquiescing yet again to Saddam Hussein? If the US and its allies had not taken action after Iraq had defied the UN Security Council for the 17th time, Hussein's strength as a leading, rogue figure in the Middle East would have been enhanced."

It's loaded because of the 'acquiesce'. The core debate in Australia was about intervention under the UN vis-a-vis US unilateral military action.The case for justifying unilateral military action was not convincing in the court of world opinion.

Downer ends the article by saying that "It is difficult to believe anyone would seriously argue now that we should not have removed Hussein's regime." Of course it is. That was never the issue. The political conflict was over the 'how'.

With the light touch of Xmas resting on my shoulder I will ask my own question. What has Australia signed up as a result of the military advernture in Iraq. My answer is to the policy agenda of the US neo-cons.

What is that? Billman over at Whiskey Bar provides a good answer:

"It's easy enough to point to some common themes that are generally identified with the neocons: contempt for international organizations and the concept of multilateralism; impatience with traditional balance-of-power diplomacy; a cultish devotion to the use of military power; an outspoken belief in the superiority of Western culture and political institutions; a messianic vision of America's mission to "civilize" the world, which at times (Max Boot) makes them sound like caricatures of old-fashioned European imperialists. And of course: an intense identification with the state of Israel, and a willingness, even eagerness, to use American power to protect and further Israeli security interests."

My conclusion. It is difficult to believe that anyone in Australia would sign up to that agenda; or to hold that Australia is a considerable power eager and ever ready to act as the Deputy Sheriff in the Asia Pacific region for a hegemonic US.

Downer now speaks the language of Howard but he once held that China, Japan, and Indonesia were as important as the USA; he highlighted the decline of Australia's strategic and economic weight relative to East Asia; recognized the importance of Australia needing to adjust to living with a dominant Asia; and argued that Australia should be inside the Asian multilateral tent.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at December 31, 2003 08:41 AM

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I'd be interested in knowing what the readership of 'The Australian' is these days - especially since they have been printing such uncritical pro-war guff in the opinion pages. Any ideas?

Posted by: Chris at December 31, 2003 11:15 AM

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