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Australia's promotion « Previous | |Next »
October 17, 2003

I see that the imperial presidency in Washington has upgraded Australia from Deputy sheriff to sheriff for the Southeast Asian region. We are no longer a part of the Texan's posse. We are the sheriff fighting the war on terror in our region with our own posse.

Why the promotion? The imperial presidency says that we have what it takes to do the job. I give you President Bush:

"The great thing about Australians is they're not afraid... When I go to Australia I'll be speaking to a country which does understand the consequences of sacrificing for something greater than themselves...No. We don't see it as a deputy sheriff. We see it as a sheriff. There's a difference ... Anyway, no, equal partners, friends and allies. There's nothing deputy about this relationship...the alliance in this relationship is going to be critical in the future because the war on terror goes on. ... John Howard understands that. It's important to have friends and allies who understand that the war on terror is a long-term issue that requires decisive action and close co-operation... He's a good guy, he's a very strong leader."

We Australians are willing to put our bodies on the line to ensure the American peace.

But who will be part of our posse? Indonesia? Philippines? New Zealand? Certainly not China, Japan or Malaysia.

I'm sure that Australia's new image/role will go down a treat in Southeast Asia. It will be interpreted as loaded with provocative connotations. It has the Texas cowboy imagery of riding tall in the saddle and shooting the non whites to enforce security and stability of Roman peace. Sheriff means that Australia has a dominant role. Australia is in charge of the war against terrorism region. It calls the shoots as the voice and arm of of law and order taking out the bad guys to ensure stability and security.

Howard will have to fog it, but that is his style: he will emphasis the equal partnership bit--- but that won't fool the other nation-states in the region. The Malaysian Government, for instance, quickly commented that Australia was really acting as a United States puppet dancing to George Bush's tune in East Asia.

Did they also mean a stalking horse for the US?

For all the neo-con fanatasies about Australia walking tall and proud on the world stage harboured by the hard boys in the Howard ministry Australia does not have the military muscle to walk the sheriff's walk. The sheriff is really the US. Maybe the role of Australia is put down the local flare ups on the edge of the boundaries/perimeter of the American world.

Politics operates through the effects of power. One of the ways it does this is through images which can have powerful affects and intensities that disjoin or rupture the normal flow of events, information and meanings. The image of 'Australia as sheriff' in Southeast Asia is one of those moments of disruptive effects.

Another one is identified by Margo Kingston and Geoff Kitney. It is Howard's decision to expel the public from their own parliament when the imperial president addresses our representatives. Now that we are the US President's sheriff in South East Asia, the:

"...symbolism is obvious. Democracy has no place in the world of Bush, supreme commander and Howard, sheriff. The world as fashioned by Bush - Howard as echo chamber - is too dangerous for democracy. They're creating a world in which they wield absolute power."

I would add absolute power in the sense that the imperial Rome had absolute power. Rome signifies something else: the imperium meant the hollowing out of the power of the Senate, the end of the republic and controlling the masses.

But the power effect sheriff inside Australia will be reassuring. As Geoff Kitney observes:

" We are more fearful of our neighbourhood and more convinced than at any time since the height of the Cold War that our physical security depends on the United States. We are also more fearful in our own communities of neighbours of different cultural upbringing and religions we do not understand. And, with our fear, we have become less comfortable with dissent and division of opinion."

We are worried and anxious because we are battling for our lives against the terrorists. From this perspective Australia's involvement in the war in Iraq has been justified by the credibility it has brought us with the US. Underneath that sentiment is the hope that this new credibility with the imperial power will buy us a stronger security guarantee in a mean and nasty world. In our hearts we know that supporting the US in Iraq means that Australia may have contributed to feeding the security threat it most fears: a radicalised, unstable Indonesia.

But never fear the war on terror will keep us all safe and secure.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:22 PM | | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

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i luv men alot