Run down to the war

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Thu Jan 23 16:58:57 MST 2003

>>The Returned Services League (RSL) - a bastion of right wing
military reaction - has come out against any war which is not sanctioned by
the UN.<<

Yes, this is the basic fault line in conventional discourse in Australia now.
It's code for "we don't want a war and we hope the UN will stop it" and also
for "we don't want a world hegemonized by one big power". Natasha Stott-Despoja
(Democrats MP) was on TV saying the Australian government was "elected by Australians,
not by George Bush" as if the key issue was Australian national sovereignty
rather than the war. [During the last Gulf war the Democrats blamed it all on

Gary also identifies the obvious weakness: that the UN will back Bush in the
end. But I sense this is far from guaranteed. And if the UN baulks, Bush must
plow ahead or be discredited among his supporters, which would then open up
some very interesting dynamics in Australia -- because for traditional and well
established strategic reasons, the Australian state needs to go along with Bush,
but politically it could be quite hard. I watched the Prime Minister on TV last
night. The interviewer was Kerry O'Brien, who is usually pretty aggressive,
but he handled Howard with kid gloves. Even so, Howard was choosing his words
verrrrrrrrry carefully.

>>how widespread is the pessimism caused by the seeming impossibility of confronting
the American military... What is missing from Anderson's calculations is any
feeling that popular will from below can alter the current balance of power.<<

This is true. I wonder how much it matters in Australia, because the main anti-war
dynamic is nationalist: WE shouldn't be part of this. But of course if the war
ends really fast, that would tend to evaporate and be replaced with pride ("Hey,
we were part of this glorious war".)

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