7 Feb. 2008

The United States Of War: What's Australia's Role?

Antony Loewenstein recently linked to an excellent new site called Voices Without Votes, which provides some interesting global perspective on US news. Today the SMH's Peter Hartcher looks at what the 2008 Presidential elections will mean to Australia:
Only 5 per cent of the world's population lives in the United States, but the outcome will affect 100 per cent of us. We don't get to vote, but we have a stake in the presidential election nonetheless.

We know that the choice of president will influence the likelihood of the US making war.

Australia has a keen interest in America's wars. We are the only country in the world that has fought alongside the Americans in every major war of the 20th and 21st centuries. When America goes to war, so, historically, do we.
Hartcher quotes Brent Scowcroft saying Bush would not have invaded Iraq without Aussie and UK support:
"He needed some cover, and you and the British gave it to him. If you and the Brits had said, 'Sorry, Mr President, we can't go along with you on that,' it wouldn't have happened."
Well, actually, Tony Blair and John Howard gave it to him - the rest of us didn't have much say in it!

Hatcher points out the seemingly illogical post-Cold War growth of the US military machine(*), and the growing perception (in some parts of the USA at least) that things in Iraq are finally "turning the corner". He suggests that of the three remaining candidates for US President, only Barak Obama appears likely to avoid more wars (all the more reason why someone will have to assassinate him).

What Hartcher doesn't mention is that Australia now has a new PM. Would Kevin Rudd go to war with John McCain? Hard to imagine it. From an Australian perspective, the guy looks like a complete psycho. But Rudd might just be persuaded into another foolish war by a President Hillary, or even Obama. Particularly if, as Scowcroft warns Hartcher, there are ominous penalties for NOT supporting the US line.

We should all remain very nervous.

* Note that Australia's military machine has been keeping pace under Howard, and Alexander Downer's home town of Adelaide has become an increasingly important part of the global military-industrial network.