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

selling the imperial president « Previous | |Next »
October 22, 2003

It is a bit difficult keeping up with public affairs down here on the South Coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The dial-up-internet keeps dropping out every few minutes and the server was down for about 12 hours yesterday.

It is pretty close to hopeless.

So I glanced through an old copy of The Australian and re-read an old article by Paul Kelly on the imperial presidency. You know, the one where he, along with Laurie Oakes, was hand selected by John Howard to interview President Bush before the latter's big imperial sweep through the Asia Pacific region.

What a snow job that article is in retrospect. Consider this:

"Interviewed in the Roosevelt Room adjacent to the Oval Office, Bush sat to one side of a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt on horseback, former Republican, president and warrior. George W is tanned and fit. He wears a light blue-grey suit, light-blue shirt with red tie. He is businesslike and friendly, looks you in the eye and engages like all good US politicians do. But wait for it - he's funny, he tells jokes and his body language is relaxed and confident. A long way from the wooden wonder of the silver screen."

I guess you do what you have to do to make a living. Kelly makes his living selling the imperial presidency by talking about fashion. Selling the imperial presidency is the politics of the Murdoch papers in Australia.

Kelly ends his puff piece ends on this note:

"When he visits, Australians should try to understand the source of his [President Bush] passion and the more complex character that he embodies - but then, they might see him only on television."

Of course we will only see the imperial president on television. I cannot see him address Parliament in person. I'm not allowed to. All I will be able to see is a stage managed affair in the form of a political spectacle.

All public affairs is now mediated by television. That is the postmodern reality we live. And the television stations are beginning to look more and more like their parodies. They appear like product, glossy wrapped.

The Bush visit is a stage managed political spectacle designed to celebrate Australian nationalism, conservative style. That means it is an authoritarian nationalism. Dissent is not welcomed. Scepticism is not welcomed. Critique is unpatriotic in this politics as spectacle.

Here is another snow job from The Age. The message that Tony Parkinson wants to send out is that Australia is a part of the US empire and that it is a good thing. Note the argument buried underneath all the stuff about hypocrisy:

"Massive disruption caused by terror attacks on the US mainland threaten calamity for all the markets in which Australia earns its living....if security is a collective good then it must also be a collective responsibility....These are the facts of life, and will be so for years to come.
Protesting against these facts of life may be a quaint intellectual pursuit."

Australia just has to align itself with the new Rome. It has no choice. The global market dictates that necessity.

Nothing is said about the imperial grand strategy of the United States to hold unquestioned power by acting to ensure the limitation of any exercise of sovereignty by states that might interfere with its global designs. The policy to achieve military and economic supremacy for the United States is assumed to be good. It is assumed right that the United States reserves the right to act unilaterally when necessary including unilateral use of military power to defend such vital interests as ensuring uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies and strategic resources.

Hence it is right that the Middle East is a key area of strategic power, because of its “strategic position and resources and that US control over the region and its resources is a key policy imperative and that this region should be accepted as Washington’s “backyard.” No challenge to US control by other nation states in the region (Syria or Iran) can be tolerated.

According to Tony Parkinson this is not US arrogance or militarism. It is just the way the world of international relations is structured at its joints. The hegemony of the US is written into the order of things---it is a fact of life. It just has to be accepted. Questioning that power and its use is a quaint intellectual pursuit. It is a quaint intellectual pursuit to question the disdain of the Bush administration for international law and institutions and for arms control measures.It is a quaint intellectual pursuit to argue for U.N. rather than U.S. leadership in international crises; or that the U.N., rather than the United States, should direct reconstruction in Iraq.

That is how they sell the imperial presidency.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:08 AM | | Comments (1)


It is a quaint intellectual pursuit 'that the U.N., rather than the United States, should direct reconstruction in Iraq.' if one bomb blast can send U.N. supervisors on the ground scurrying off home.