Thought-Factory.net Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion philosophy.com Junk for code
parliament house.gif
RECENT ENTRIES
SEARCH
ARCHIVES
Commentary
Media
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
Cartoons
South Australian Links
Other
www.thought-factory.net
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

immigration + national security « Previous | |Next »
March 13, 2008

Anthony Burke, writing in the Canberra Times, argues that there needs to be a shift in Australia's security thinking away from Fortress Australia, though he does not use this term. He says:

When the Howard government sent SAS commandos to board the MV Tampa in the last week of August 2001, something profound and disturbing happened to Australia's national security policy. Rather than being focused on threats from other states, nuclear proliferation or terrorism, Australia was now seeking security from vulnerable people fleeing abusive regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, while putting its own security and wellbeing at risk. As they were placed in long-term detention in the Pacific, and other asylum-seekers were incarcerated at Woomera, Port Hedland and Villawood, naval and air force units were tasked to patrol our northern approaches, and preventing "illegal immigration" became a core mission of our defence forces.

What the Howard conservatives call illegal immigration is deemed to be an issue of national security. I've always seen this in similar terms to the US Republicans wanting the build a wall across the southern US to keep out illegal immigrants. The detention camps are part and parcel of Fortress Australia obsessed with national security. Australia was bunkering down in a hostile and threatening world. The One Nation Conservative's dog whistle equation was asylum seekers = terrorists.

This approach continues under Rudd Labor. Despite softening the previous government's harsh approach to detaining asylum-seekers, it is still building a big detention centre at Christmas Island. What will the new defence white paper and a broad reassessment of Australia's national security strategy do about this issue of Fortress Australia?

Update
Hugh White, writing in The Australian, says:

It is much likelier that within 10 years the West will have withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving it much as it has always been. In the meantime it makes sense for Australia to make a modest contribution to the Western coalition, as a demonstration of support for the US. Such symbolic deployments have been part of the fabric of Australia's approach to alliance management for decades. As such they can be a cost-effective form of policy. But they are cost-effective only where the costs and risks are low. The more troops we send, and the more risks they face, the less effective the policy becomes.

It's the old insurance policy argument.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:11 AM | | Comments (36)
Comments

Comments

Could we use the more appropriate term 'asylum shopper'. Can someone point out the law, rule or understanding that people have the right to enter the country of their choice without regard to entry permits etc. Isn't it a bit odd that the Labor Party has re-established the permit system for aboriginal land yet somehow seems to think no permit is needed to enter Oz?

OK, let's unpack some of this:


What the Howard conservatives call illegal immigration is deemed to be an issue of national security.

Who are these "Howard conservatives?" Presumably, you argue that illegal immigration is not an "issue of national security." Do you classify everybody who thinks illegal immigration IS an issue of national security to be a "Howard conservative?" Because Australia is packed with people who hate Howard but still see DO see the relation between illegal immigration and national security.

I've always seen this in similar terms to the US Republicans wanting the build a wall across the southern US to keep out illegal immigrants.

This is unfortuante as every country on the planet is vary wary of - and vigilant towards - illegal immigration and national security. In the US, it is hardly "Republicans" who want to build a fence. Many Republicans don't and many Democrats do.


The detention camps are part and parcel of Fortress Australia obsessed with national security.

Hardly a fortress! Under Howard, immigration of people from Asia, Africa, and the NESB generally reached record highs. God knows how many people from all over the world arrived daily for short-term business trips, holidays, etc, capital and labour moved in and out with the most ease in our history. This 'Fortress Australia' trope contradicts your 'neoliberal' trope. ;)


Australia was bunkering down in a hostile and threatening world.

Are you suggesting that after Sep.11 this was an unreasonable attitude? How do you eaplain the fact it was Paul Keating and his left-wing Immigration minister Gerry Hand who started the policy? What of the Indonesian military's deliberate sending of boats to Australia as payback for our role in East Timor?


I am stunned at how many seemingly otherwise highly intelligent and well-informed people can start to evaluate Australian foreign policy totally decontextualised from the historical facts and environment in which those policies were made.

John,
I interpret the post as talking about the mentality or world view of the Howard conservatives---as distinct from liberals.

The former's view consists of an emphasis on national security; sees illegal immigration as a national security issue because illegal immigrants=terrorists; and envisions Australia as a fortress that needs defending. This view has similarities with those Republican conservatives who want to build a wall along the southern US border with Mexico.

I can add to this. The bedrock of conservative mentality is “Australia , love it or leave
it!” This has become the standard criteria around which dissenters, critics and lefties must genuflect. To do otherwise, for the Howard conservatives, is to be directly responsible for the weakening of the nation’s moral fiber and indirectly responsible for the attack a weakened nation has suffered.

I think Rumphole QC sums it up though I will add that health issues and matters of crime come under the National Security banner too. Its not all about terrorist plots did you know.

John,
you play word games rather than explore concepts. So your comments across as superficial;

Re your comments about Fortress Australia:--The detention camps are part and parcel of Fortress Australia obsessed with national security.

Hardly a fortress! Under Howard, immigration of people from Asia, Africa, and the NESB generally reached record highs. God knows how many people from all over the world arrived daily for short-term business trips, holidays, etc, capital and labour moved in and out with the most ease in our history. This 'Fortress Australia' trope contradicts your 'neoliberal' trope.

A fortress has people coming and going. It stands isolated overlooking a hostile territory and it is armed to prevent people from coming too close to its boundaries.

As Nan so clearly points out the post claims this is the conservative's national security understanding of Australia.

There is no incompatibility with neo-liberalism as neo-liberalism is the way that Gary understands modernizing Australia through markets. Neo-liberalism is not a concept used by conservatives.

Gary,
Burke says

"The key to obtaining security in today's world is to focus on human security. The security of nations follows automatically."

Rudd has said this himself about the region which includes Papua New Guinea and Indonesia which, as John pointed out, has released asylum seekers to punish Australia.

I'd expect that most of the current arrangements on asylum seekers will stay pretty much in place, but the emphases will change. Distributions of action and inaction will be different - for example mandatory detention will stay, but dithering around for years while people stay locked up will change. The minister won't be so keen to use discretionary powers and the rhetoric and hardware of war won't be flourished every time a canoe comes over the horizon.

Christmas Island is already a white elephant.

Lyn,
I'm not sure that Rudd Labor will follow the path mapped by Burke. We have Rudd's quiet commitment to leave significant Australian forces in place in Iraq; has indicated a willingness to send more troops to Afghanistan because the intervention there is seen as legitimate and necessary.

He is one of the little American crowd in the ALP. So I don't expect him to dump the Americans and pull out of Afghanistan--which is what he should do. How does the Taliban in Afghanistan effect Australia's national security?

John,
you say that you are:

stunned at how many seemingly otherwise highly intelligent and well-informed people can start to evaluate Australian foreign policy totally decontextualised from the historical facts and environment in which those policies were made.

People? That post was written by me. So how do you go from me to people?Where's the missing bits that would justify the inference.

I concur with the Nan interpretation of the post. It is about the conservative understanding of national security.

My phrase 'Australia was bunkering down in a hostile and threatening world' refers to a Hobbesian conception of the world of nations presupposed by the Howard conservatives.

Why do you think that this representation of the assumptions of Australian conservatism is misguided?

Lyn,
I agree with your comment that 'I'd expect that most of the current arrangements on asylum seekers will stay pretty much in place, but the emphases will change.'And the rhetoric will be softened.

The liberal internationalists are in charge now.

Liberal internationalism = globalised neoliberalism.

John,
not necessarily especially in relation to international affairs. This post works within the Wikepdia understanding of liberalism internationalism.

Rumpole QC,
your account overlooks the normalisation of techniques of punishment, such as solitary confinement, strip searches and continual surveillance, used against those held in Australia's 'immigration camps'. The people contained within the spaces of the detention centre exist without any degree of security for the future, without freedom of movement or association and without a gracious welcome. They are conferred no rights of citizenship and are offered little recourse to the domestic law for protection.

Gary,
Entering a country illegally is committing a crime.
They are criminals and are treated as such.
Yes there are good reasons for them to be escaping their countries sometimes but there must be law on this issue.
They have good access to interpreters and legal council and have the ability to explore different ways of gaining entrance to Australia.

So that justifies a penal mode of governance that is designed to systematically break down, and destroy the identity of woman and children? And is indifferent to Australian citizens being imprisoned in such a manner?

There is not a touch of liberalism in this conception of Fortress Australia.

Gary,
You can call it what you like but it is every countries right to protect its borders and to detain anyone who enters unlawfully.

Gary

The Wikipedia is close to the mark and confirms my point totally. Oh, and "Fortress Australia" is just a self-indulgent Luvvie myth/strawman

John,
neo-liberalism is about freemarkets; liberal internationalism is about working through the United Nations.

Les,
so you recognize the right of the nation-state but deny individual rights. Tis a strange use of 'right', which is a political category. It indicates that you are outside political liberalism.

But maybe you are a utilitarian--willing to sacrifice individuals for the greatest happiness of the greatest number of individuals. What's a bit of torture of refugees to help defend the country's borders eh. Destroying the lives of kids is justified because it sends a message to all the potential criminals outside the borders of the fortress.

No Gary. Liberal internationalism is about spreading liberalism across the globe. It is foreign policy in the style of Woodrow Wilson, most recently seen in Bill Clinton's spectacular neoliberalising of the global economy, and yes, usually through multilateral organisations, such as WTO.


Remember, that those we now call "neoconservatives" were actually once what we now call "liberal internationalists."


As for Australia. It will retain a realist foreign policy, as it always has.

Gary,
I think you are getting ahead of what I am saying.

Firstly I think we should start to deny entry to Australia from New Zealanders and Samoans that have criminal records for Theft, Drugs or Violence.

Les
it is you who are using of the language of rights to discuss the immigration issue. I'm only responding to the political language that you use.

John,
you need to make up your mind.You mocked my use of neo-liberalism in comments on a previous post as indicating the poverty of wanky, lefty intellectuals. Now, on this post, you are using it yourself and defending it is as a useful concept. It does appear as if you are a troll trying to start a flame war.

Liberal internationalism is the counterpoint to the neocons who wanted a new, aggressively muscular approach to the world. As the only superpower left, the United States was entitled to act like it.There were no limits to power and the bellicose new policy of "preemption" asserting an American right to attack nations that were "evil."

Gary,
My view is simplistic.

Australia should not accept criminals as residents.
When a person enters a country illegally they break a fundamental law of that country. Thus they become a criminal.
Australia should not accept criminals as residents.
Illegals should be repatriated immediately and there would be no issue of peoples rights in detention centers.

The system of people applying to come here from there own country works very well.

Les,
so people have rights now, not countries? You sure toss rights around. The "detention centres" are important because they are an attempt to create a prison outside the law.

John,
where is the realism in fighting a war in Iraq?

That invasion of a country that did not threaten Australia is an example of the neo-con lust for war and the Howard government being with the Americans on everything.The Howard government did not have a clear sense of Australia's national interest, as opposed to identifying Australia's interest with America's interest.

Gary,
You perhaps have a romantic view of asylum seekers as educated people who have opposed their corrupt and evil governments all filmed in your head in glorious black and white.

The truth is that they are people that have an IQ that averages 85 and they have already failed in their own countries. They see a picture of Australia and think that gives them a right to live here and be free with the kangaroos and koalas. Or they have been duped by people that tell them they will be accepted.
They should be housed long enough to ensure that they have no transmittable diseases that could cause an outbreak and sent back to where they came from.
I prefer to take people with skills that we need or those that can support themselves and have applied in the proper manner. The resources that the illegals waste would be better served dealing with our own homeless.

Does that mean you have dropped the language of rights in discussing the issue of immigration?

Does that mean your use of the word ----the right of the country and peoples rights---was not meant to be taken seriously as you never meant to use the political language of rights?

Does that mean words can mean anything that you want them to mean, and that we shouldn't take you seriously when you use them?

Gary

My point was that "neoliberalism" is used very promiscuously by a narrow group of people with a particular ideological bent. But the very definition you provided regarding 'governance aimed at carving out free markets' is precisely what 'liberal internationalism' is. I mean, this is the very heart of what 'liberalism' is.

In fact, neocon foreign policy evolved as a counter to isolationist and realist strategies that dominated the post WW2 period

The neocons rejected both the international socialism of the Old Left and the detente/containment of the Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon era. The neocons wanted to export liberal democracy to the world including the Soviet bloc.


Peter Stock

Australia's reasons for invading Iraq were different from the US's. How could it be otherwise given the power differential? Australia always formulates foreign policy with pleasing powerful foreign friends first and foremost as a strategic calculation.

Gary,
What I have said is quite clear. If you wish to read things that are not there into them that is entirely up to you. I do not crave to be taken seriously like you. Or do I get my frilly nickers in a knot when people disagree with me.

1. I do not see the point in importing criminals and idiots. Smart people earn more,make better lifestyle choices and are less drain on the public purse.
2. When people enter prisons/detention centers they enter them as offenders and we are the victims. It happens in all countries that after long periods of imprisonment these people begin to assume the role of victims and the gate keepers begin to be seen as the offenders. Mandela was seen this way and so was that idiot in the orange suit recently. It is common place.

In my model illegals will be sent back whence they came immediately. So with them out of the equation what you really need to be doing is presenting an argument as to.
"Why we should accept anyone who turns up as a resident"
because this is what you are headed with your view on rights.
If you can't present a credible argument for this I suggest you shut up.

Les

The dangerous thing about Gary's idea of immigration policy - as an instrument of megaphoning moral vanity - is that is that it is contrary both to the national interest and is open to the disastrous abuse we witnessed during the Keating years, when ALP branch-stacking opportunities became immigration policy.

Immigrants should be chosen for how they benefit Australia. There is no benefit in causing a breakdown in social cohesion and/or social capital especially when there is no upside in skills contribution.

Les,
There are illegals and there are illegals. This is one of the problems with the way language has confused everything.

Asylum seekers have the right to seek asylum. Refugees have the right to seek entry and residence in another country. Some countries have queues and application processes, others don't. Visa overstayers are illegals, having broken Australian law. Asylum seekers as in boat people, and refugees who've been through the application process, are not illegals.

Your IQ of 85 and idiots argument could hold just as well for fruit picking backpackers and 457 visa labourers as for refugees, only backpackers and 457s do work you and I wouldn't do. What do you suggest we do with the Australian born population whose intelligence is low enough to be considered a handicap?

As far as criminals are concerned, are you talking about people who were criminals before they arrived, people who have committed crimes having lived here for the length of their living memory, people who commit crimes during the legal visa period? They're all different cases.

I understand that you're simply calling things as you see them, but it's more complicated.

John,
megaphoning moral vanity. :)

Thats a good analogy of many people on this issue.

Lyn,
You have included many people and scenarios in your questions that are outside of my argument.

Which is; People from other countries that enter Australia or its waters or territories illegally commit a criminal act by doing so and should not be granted any rights that allow them to make any application to stay in the country.
Only those people that make proper and legal application from their own countries should be considered and then judged on their merits by an appropriate panel.

John_ Les,
since you have both dumped rights, then you need to justify the State's use of force to coerce compliance with its laws. We live in a democracy not a dictatorship, so you need to justify the use of force to coerce compliance with laws that are passed by Parliament.

It is also clear that by your use of language about moral vanity that the legal validity of a law does not depend on whether its content conforms to a moral code that can objectively determine what people ought to do.

The question for you is:'How do we know that the laws and the force used are just-, since they are inconsistent with Australia's obligations under international law.

What I see in your remarks is Leviathan in Fortress Australia.

Gary


You have addressed this post to me. I don't know how to reply as I cannot work out what you are trying to say.

You are conflating "rights," "law" "morality" "democracy" and something you call "Australia's obligations under international law" with such frenzy one gets giddy after 2 sentences.

abusive comments by Les about me as a person have been treated as spam and deleted. This weblog is about debating issues not attacking people. It's about playing the ball not the person.

Since we live in a liberal democracy not everyone agrees with the views of conservatives infatuated with Leviathen in Fortress Australia.

So you need to justify your views to persuade others that law has no connection whatsoever to morality. Otherwise you are playing the game of trolls.