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

hard not to agree « Previous | |Next »
July 14, 2003

In this article the ex-Liberal Prime Minister Malcom Fraser addresses some concerns raised at public opinion. Addressing the David Hicks case (ie; the detention and military trial in the US of the alleged al-Qaeda member David Hicks, who is an Australian citizen) Fraser says:

"It is clear the Australian Government has determined that Australia's interests will be best served by avoiding any argument with the US and supporting its policy. This change in Australian foreign policy is even more fundamental than the Government's announcements some weeks ago would indicate. They go to the heart of what we are about as an independent nation. They raise more starkly than ever the question of identity and purpose."

He then asks:

"Are we indeed able to stand for Australians who may need the protection of their nationality?"

And he answers:

"The present answer is clear. Not if such actions cut across relations with the US. Some would believe that we are now a completely subservient ally. It is time Australians started to ask what additional interests are we going to forsake in our support of this current American administration."

Clearly and rightly spoken. Why? Fraser is very clear:

"Great powers have a history of pursuing their own interests to the exclusion even of the interests of states that have been close friends and allies... I do not believe that America, however benign the exercise of its current power, would necessarily use that power for Australia's protection. It has, in fact, become a fundamentalist regime believing fervently that what it judges to be right, is in fact right, and that others do not have anything much worthwhile to contribute. Such an America will not make friends."

It is hard not to agree with Malcolm Fraser on this. I can't wait for the attack dogs to snarl and snap.

Update

One attack dog has come forth. Piers Ackerman from the Daily Telegraph. Its quality work, as we have come to expect from Piers.

Ackerman sets the scene with a personal attack on Fraser. Thus

Fraser lost his trousers in questionable circumstances in a sleazy Memphis hotel; is a discredited figures of no standing who champions intellectually meagre views and has predictable opinions. Fraser "regresses into a state of immaturity where hysterical criticism and an irrational apportioning of blame is offered as an excuse for reasoned argument."

Then we engage with Fraser's argument. Ackerman describes it as the view 'that the Howard Government is endangering the integrity and independence of Australia's foreign policy by making the nation a "completely subservient ally" of the US.'

Then we have the "knockout" punch. Ackerman says that Fraser's remarks seem exceptionally stupid. Why? Because completing the negotiation of a free trade agreement with the US would guarantee the economic stability of Australia well into this century.

After considering Fraser's argument that Australia is losing friends in Asia under the Howard Government, Ackerman comes back to the personal abuse to wind up the attack. Thus:

Fraser "clearly carries a huge grudge against Mr Howard"; Fraser "has always held an exalted view of his own abilities and place in society";and the "world in which he was a figure of some importance has passed him by leaving nothing but an image of a bitter, ageing trouserless figure wandering in the dark."

Apart from one killer line about Free Trade Agreement "refuting" the subservience to US argument the article consists of paragraphs of personal abuse.

Thats conservative journalism. It is not an example of reasoned argument, which is the criterion Ackerman uses to judge Fraser's remarks.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:43 AM | | Comments (1)
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