Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent speech to the US Congress was so sycophantic it was more sad than embarrassing.
We who think good ole Oz can be something other than a fiefdom of powerful foreigners are used to cringing when ever an Aussie politician visits the land of the free and the home of the brave. Ironically it is the Labor politicians who are the most servile, because they think they have to prove they’re not lefties. That will be one of the reasons for Gillard’s grotesque performance.
A second possible reason, underlined by her visit with the US military in Hawaii, is that we are about to learn we will be hosting many more of our glorious ally’s military installations. We await enlightenment from those who conduct the Australian public’s business in secret, and to their own advantage.
Part of the problem here is the Labor Party’s total absence of any remaining principle, or any recollection of why it came into existence. I have written on this before and probably will again soon, on the current manifestations courtesy of Gillard. Suffice to say for now that it is hard to conceive of such monumental ineptitude (if that’s not an oxymoron) as the announcement of a carbon “price” with no mention of compensating packages for the battlers. Unbelievable. An own goal, a total gift to Tony Abbott.
Meanwhile Bruce Haigh has given us a small sample of why we might not be automatic and total doormats to the United States. He writes
I heard no words from Gillard about the need for the fundamental reform of the US financial system, access of Australian beef and other agricultural produce, of the need to withdraw from Afghanistan, of Australian determination to protect the rights of Julian Assange and of concern at US prevarication over the unfolding events in North Africa.
And enfant terrible John Pilger has observed
As the Washington historian William Blum has documented, since 1945, the US has destroyed or subverted more than 50 governments, many of them democracies, and used mass murderers like Suharto, Mobutu and Pinochet to dominate by proxy. In the Middle East, every dictatorship and pseudo-monarchy has been sustained by America. In “Operation Cyclone”, the CIA and MI6 secretly fostered and bank-rolled Islamic extremism.
The objective of post-war US foreign policy has not been to promote the democracy and freedom won and defended at such cost by its forebears and sons. Nor, on the other hand, has it been to crush democracy, at least not directly. No, democracy has simply been irrelevant to US foreign policy. It has supported some democracies, even as it repeatedly undermined or blocked other elected governments, from Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 through to the Palestinians today.
The real objectives of US foreign policy have been wealth and power, specifically the wealth and power of its own wealthy and powerful. In that pursuit it is following a path well trodden for millennia. In that pursuit it is the imperial power, operating more often by corruption and intrigue than by outright military conquest, but an imperial power nevertheless. In that pursuit the modern United States governments betray everything their forefathers fought for, which was freedom from the yoke of a remote imperial power acting on behalf of its concentrations of wealth and power.
The question is, why would Australia want to be part of the US project? The answer can only be that we are too afraid to step out into the big world, despite a geo-strategic situation that would be the envy of every other nation on Earth, except possibly New Zealand. We are, in other words, cringing colonials. At least those who claim to be our leaders are, and we the people have been too thick and deceived and fearful, for a century, to throw them out.
But it’s worse than that, because the United States is in rapid decline, a victim of its own departure from its ideals. In the post-war decades ordinary people in Australia and the US achieved unprecedented wealth. This was not a benign gift from the wealthy and powerful, although there were some who were relatively enlightened. It was, rather, because of many decades of struggles of ordinary people to gain a fairer share of the wealth jointly created by owners and employees.
In 1980 a tide turned, and the narrowest, greediest of the wealthy gained power and began to cannibalise their own country. In the US the wealth and well being of ordinary people has been steadily declining. Their jobs have been exported to poor countries with few regulations. The sharing of wealth at home has shifted dramatically back to the wealthy.
The result is a hollowed out America, an America that has already experienced one traumatic, predictable and predicted financial crisis but has yet to learn any of the hard lessons. More crises are inevitable, and what was once the shining light of democracy may well collapse upon itself in a vicious convulsion of which the Tea Party is a foretaste.
Why would we want to associate ourselves with a country with no future?