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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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March 26, 2003

I haven't read The Australian for a couple of days. I remembered it as pro-war and pro-Bush. So I was suprised to see this article by Paul Kelly. In it he argues that:

" ...a theory of pre-emption at state-to-state level will not endure because its political gains cannot outweigh its costs and a democratic society such as the US will adjust accordingly."

Kelly argues against the neo-conservative Washington global strategy on the grounds that:

"Far from Iraq being the precedent that launches a new US global strategy this war will represent the best and last demonstration of the pre-emptive faith that has guided America's neo-conservatives. The truth about pre-emption is that such a doctrine has severe limits – strategic, economic and political. America's neo-conservatives, in denial about the costs of pre-emption, are about to be hit by their full force. "

Howard, Hill and Downer in Australia have signed up to the neoconservative doctrine of pre-emption against enemies even though they routinely publicly cast doubt on it. I have no doubt they would support US surgical strikes against Iran. After all, they classify Iran as a rogue state.

Pre-emption for Kelly stands for empire:--the hegemonic US as a new empire, a pax America. Americans generall recoil from this:---the latest example is Martin Walker, "Power prevails but what of the glory?", in the Higher Education supplement in The Australian (26 03 2003, pp 26-27). Walker does not like the America as Rome analogy-- too brutal, triumphalist, go it alone. The Rome analogy is rejected because of its connotations of emperor and imperial ambition. Walker prefers America as the new Athens. By America as Athens he means that the US:

"...would join allies and partners in collaborative ventures with a common purpose, such a sglobal warming treates ndf interantionalist legal structures. It would be extrovert, and open, encourage the growth of democracies and trading partners, and help to build a world where all can enjoy and dream of prosperity."

He contrasts this Clinton Liberal vision of empire with the Bush one, which he calls America as Sparta. This empire would be:

"...introspective, defensive, protectionist and unilateralist. It would prefer clients and satellites to allies that might someday challenge its primacy. It would seek to maintain military superiority at all costs and be suspicious of the erosions of national sovereignty that might result from cooperation with other states. "

These are nice and nasty versions of empire. But America as empire is taken for granted. (Note the absence of the UN.)

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:15 PM | | Comments (0)