8 Mar. 2007

Regional Failure

Peter Hartcher looks at the Howard government's repeated failure to implement long-term solutions to regional problems in the South Pacific:
At the same time that Australian fruit farmers scrounge for workers, gangs of unemployed young people across the South Pacific continue to grow. And this week we saw one of their favoured pastimes demonstrated vividly in East Timor, which, strictly speaking, is in South-East Asia rather than the South Pacific, but it is in this case a distinction without a difference.

Under the so-called Howard Doctrine, Australia has extended a de facto security guarantee across the entire region, including East Timor. The events of September 11, 2001, illustrated forcefully the danger posed by a failed state, Afghanistan, as a haven for terrorists, warlords and drug traffickers.

It is part of Howard's post-September 11 reconceptualisation of Australian policy that Canberra must not allow states in our region to fail. Unfortunately, our region is scattered with states that are in various stages of failing...
Hartcher does't mention that we are busily focussed on fighting other people's wars on the other side of the planet.