Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.
The US alliance already constrains Australia to the extent that we are unable to pursue our own strategic interests.
Where US foreign policy is concerned, I am generally one to err on the side of caution. Past US governments are not exactly what we would refer to as liberals with a healthy dose of respect for the sovereignty of other nations, and for the most part, US foreign policy can most certainly be viewed as, broadly speaking, realist. Part of that means the formation of strategic alliances that are in the interests of the US, and one such treaty is ANZUS, which forms the basis for Australian-US relations. The point about ANZUS isn’t the fact that it doesn’t actually guarantee Australia any protection from the US, but rather that its existence is not evidence of a sense of shared history and culture on the part of the US so much as it is evidence that we are a practical investment in the south Pacific. When Britain abandoned Australia in the Pacific after the fall of Singapore to the Japanese during the Second World War, it is far from the truth that the US then came in guns blazing to save us from the yellow peril of the Japanese. At the time, it just so happened to be that US interests - maintaining the independence of a ‘friendly’ nation at the expense of the Japanese - just happened to be the same as ours at that time. To reiterate, we must not be under any illusion that the US’ strong ties with us are anything other than purely strategic in nature. To an extent, however, the reverse is also true. Rhetoric about the ‘insurance policy’ and ‘great and powerful friend’ is commonplace in discussions about Australian foreign policy and one could quite confidently say that this forms the basis for Australian-US relations.
So if I’m calling for recognition of the fact that our relationship is purely strategic, I should be pretty well satisfied, right? Wrong. It goes beyond recognition, because it seems to be that Australian foreign policy has conveniently glossed over the potential downsides - which look more and more likely to eventuate each day - of such a close relationship with the US. The fact is that during both the Cold War andd today’s war on terror, we have never been targets for any reason other than our tacist support for the US and its interests. What made us a potential target for the USSR was US bases on Australian soil, what makes us a target for terrorism is our participation in the war in Afghanistan (also in Iraq) as well as our government’s support for Israel. What becomes clear is that we have taken out an insurance policy from an insurer which creates our need for said insurance in the first place. This is more than a little counter-intuitive.
This blog post was mostly inspired by this frighteningly sycophantic piece from Jonathan Kolieb in the National Times this week. As I set pen to paper, intending to write a full response to that article, I discovered that I have a lot of feelings about the alliance that go beyond that article alone. But in this instance I will engage with one sentence, in which Kolieb asserts that “political and economic power is shifting to our neck of the woods”, being the Asia-Pacific region. Now, I may disagree with the conclusions he draws from that fact, but he is absolutely correct in that assertion. Which is exactly why we should take the opportunity to build closer cultural, economic and military relations with our Asian neighbours, the growing powerhouses that will shape the 21st century. Indonesia in particular is an old ally we have sorely neglected in recent times, and Rudd’s deal with the Yudhoyono government over the Oceanic Viking in 2009 seemed like a case of dumping our dirty laundry on them. Julia Gillard’s errors in dealing with East Timor over a regional processing centre for asylum seekers were, at the very least, similarly embarassing. But by being in favour of regional engagement, I do not suggest we replace our current ‘great and powerful friend’ with an Asian power, but rather that we dispense with the concept altogether. Insurance policies and the like serve only to constrain us in terms of foreign policy and strip Australia of its autonomy in such matters. We are a middle power well-positioned to carve an independent foreign policy niche in accordance with our - and nobody else’s - strategic interests.
4 notes View comments
YOU FUCKING ARSEHOLES. WHO WOULD YOU PREFER TO FORMULATE OUR FOREIGN POLICY? YOU? WELL WHY JUST STOP AT FOREIGN POLICY? WHY DON’T YOU JUST ABSORB OUR ENTIRE GOVERNMENT IF WE’RE TOO INCOMPETENT TO DO IT OURSELVES?
Fuck you very much, US. Although it’s nice to know what you really think of us. Cheers, Wikileaks!
5 notes View comments