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Mr Rudd goes to Washington « Previous | |Next »
March 29, 2008

So Australia is off to play its dutiful respects to the imperial Presidency. It's a bit like the old Roman Empire days is it not? Rudd has reaffirmed the commitment to Afghanistan, promised other means of support for Iraq, and helped the US by ramping up the pressure on NATO for the Europeans to do more of the heavy lifting in Afghanistan.

RuddinWashington.jpg Alan Moir

At least there won't be a echo of the paranoid sound bites from the White House about fighting the Islamic terrorists in Iraq until the last man in order to defend Anglo-Saxon civilization so that we don't have to fight the Islamo-fascists on our beaches. It was only six months ago that John Howard and the Liberals were warning that Labor's Iraq policy would be the end of the free world as we knew it because it would send the wrong signal to terrorists everywhere.

As for Australia withdrawing its troops from Iraq, why even the US is doing so because Iraq has been such a success. The reality is that Iraq is already lost and that current US military strategy is failing to reach a workable political settlement.

What else can Australian PM's say when they are in Washington visiting the imperial Presidency, other than US and Australia foreign policy interests are aligned and there are shared goals? Rudd will add that Australia would continue to stay and fight in Afghanistan.

Rudd probably knows that Bush will "stay the course" in Iraq, hand off the mess to president Obama, and then, when Obama has to make the necessary choices for withdrawal (which could usher in a period of increased violence) the right-wing will blame Obama for "losing Iraq."

Hopefully Rudd will argue the benefits of multilateralism in Washington as well as trying to restore Australia as an activist middle power that would agitate for global good through such bodies as the United Nations.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:28 AM | | Comments (20)
Comments

Comments

I wonder where the chinese muslims fit in the world?

Les,
China is the enemy of Republican US. China is the friend of Australia. You figure it out.

http://chinese-school.netfirms.com/Muslims.html

They seem to be happy where they are.

Les,
the large northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang, which borders Tibet,despite years of Han Chinese migration to the region, still has a majority Muslim population and a sometimes violent independence movement.

Les raises an interesting question. Chinese muslims don't fit easily into any of our stereotype categories or the Al Qaida, Axis of Evil, Middle Eastern Appearance rhetoric. Where they actually fit in the world as opposed to how the West could pidgeon hole them.

Gary,
how times have changed. Bush is the last remaining leader from the coalition of the willing.

While I totally support Rudd withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq, Gary is spot one when he says, "As for Australia withdrawing its troops from Iraq, why even the US is doing so because Iraq has been such a success. The reality is that Iraq is already lost and that current US military strategy is failing to reach a workable political settlement."

Rudd is being very politically clever in a Whitlamesque way. Thus far history has given to Whitlam props for withdrawing Australia from Vietnam, ending the White Australia Policy. Of course, both these were well under way under the previous governments.

It strikes me as very odd and hypocritical that the Luvvie Left - so otherwise evangelical about multiculti - could support Tibet. The forces of history do not support maintenance of this isle of fascist monks; neither should we.

John,
maybe Australia will conduct its foreign policy a little differently now that it is no longer outsourced to the US State Department, like it was under John Howard. China is a good place/test for Rudd to exercise his "creative middle power diplomacy", which he claims is the basis for his foreign policy.

Nan

The Australian government will conduct foreign policy as it always has: it will respond to the conditions thrown at it by geopolitical machinations.


There is no evidence whatsoever that had Labor been in power on 11/09/01, Australia would not have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, we would have. Australia NEVER misses an opportunity to be invloved in a war if our Anglosphere cousins ask us.


Luvvies have developed a very self-serving revision of foreign policy under Howard that bears no relation to the facts of Australian foreign policy since federation and even before.

Nan

After the disaster of the Keating years, Howard put Australia on a footing with China, Japan, and right throughout Asia - including India - unprecedented in Australian history. And yes all the while forging the closest relationship between the US and Australia in history.


I hope that Rudd is able to continue the Howard legacy. And personally I think Rudd is more than up to the challenge both strategically and ideologically.

John
you write:

It strikes me as very odd and hypocritical that the Luvvie Left - so otherwise evangelical about multiculti - could support Tibet. The forces of history do not support maintenance of this isle of fascist monks; neither should we.

Well I reckon the economic development and modernization of Tibet is a good thing thing as it brings higher living standards, more education and better jobs.

It's the way the Chinese nation-state is doing this that is the problem. The Tibetans (even the educated middle-class) are excluded from the benefits.

John
you write

Luvvies have developed a very self-serving revision of foreign policy under Howard that bears no relation to the facts of Australian foreign policy since federation and even before

That claim--there is no argument---ignores the way the ALP has taken a multilateral view of the world, accepted international law and worked with the United Nations.

There are contesting narratives and traditions in foreign policy not just the one view based on a realist understanding of international affairs. The alternative ALP position is liberal internationalism that grew out of the end of the Cold War. This tradition has its roots in the work of Doc Evatt and his role in shaping the UN system.

I am dubious that Tibet could provide stable and secure borders should it go alone. Those that think it will stay the same may need to look at the map and think to what its future could be.

Gary

Narratives and seminar room onanism are all very lovely and all but we are talking about how Australian governments actually act. You have not my addressed my piints above.

John,
How governments act? Why the ALP acts in terms of middle power activism.

Gareth Evans, addressed the the end of the Cold bipolarity, by arguing that a middle power like Australia stood to lose most if the post-Cold War system were allowed to degenerate into a simple kind of power politics. Given this premise were accepted, it followed that the national interest was best secured by investing heavily in “rules-based” diplomacy.

And they did. This middle power activism achieved: the Cambodian peace settlement, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the campaign for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The Coalition repudiated this strategy when it came to office in 1996. It dumped “multilateral”; denounced Labor’s “myth of Little Australia”; embraced the idea of Coalitions of the Willing; scorned the UN; and outsourced foreign policy to the White House.

Rudd has picked up the ALP tradition of middle power activism.

Peter

That is precisely the sort of self-serving deconstextualised chant I criticised above.

Peter
good point about the Labor tradtion in foreign policy. . Rudd's agenda for a major restructure of the Asia-Pacific region's main economic and security forums to bring the US and China together works within this tradition. It is so different from the Howard/Downer idea of Australia being the US's deputy sheriff in the region.

Do you have any idea of what John Greenfield is on about? I don't. Is he defending the deputy sheriff idea?

Peter,
yes I agree. Labor's internationalist tradition favours the pursuit of foreign policy goals through multilateral means, prizes "good international citizenship", and eschews balance-of-power politics. Central to this is Australia's role as an active middle power.

Andrew O'Neil, senior lecturer in the school of political and international studies at Flinders University in Adelaide, identifies two limits on liberal internationalism. In an op-ed in The Australian he says:

There are two potential pitfalls associated with the Government's warm embrace of global institutions. The first is the most obvious and the most serious: excessive faith in the capacity of international institutions to deliver meaningful outcomes....The second pitfall in placing our foreign policy eggs in the UN basket is that multilateralism is long on laborious effort and short on tangible results. The face-saving efforts made within UN forums mean that when outcomes are reached they are frequently watered down to the point where clarity is deliberately sacrificed in favour of ambiguity.

O'Neil says that rather than proclaiming the virtues of deep UN engagement, the Government would serve Australia's interests better by focusing on our strategic and economic partners in the Asia-Pacific and safeguarding the longer-term benefits we can receive from the US alliance during a period of political transition in Washington.

Is it either or? Rudd appears to be very close to (Republican) Washington and very willing to act on its behalf---eg., around NATO.



just what is the national security justification for Australia remaining in Afghanistan? I have yet to hear one from the Rudd Government.