Labor and foreign policy (Gary)

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at
Tue Jul 15 20:34:54 MDT 2003

Hi Tom,

I will take this point by point if I may , though I personally hate anyone
doing that with my posts.

>Gary,  wrote:
> >>The Cold War taught the Labor Party not to dare to be independent in the
>arena of Foreign Policy.  So only the right can pull Howard back from the

Tom wrote:

>This echoes our interesting exchange the other day about spooks. But in
>this case, I seriously disagree:
>1. The high point of a nationalist and "independent" ALP foreign policy was
>undoubtedly the Whitlam Government (1972-75). To the point where the US was
>quite hostile to Whitlam, though I personally don't place too much weight
>on the theory that the CIA arranged his dismissal in 1975.

I agree with all of this. I would however add that the content of the
"independence" is very important.  It basically oriented IMHO around a new
China policy.  This necessitated Australia catching up with changes in
global realities.  Within Australia the Tories were denouncing the move by
the Labor Government to recognize China as "treachery" and then lo and
behold Nixon turns up in Beijing!

This is a classic instance where the interests of Australian capitalism
were best served by Labor.

Again the background includes the loss of Imperial trade preference to
Australia as Britain entered the then European Common Market. Quite simply
Australia had to turn to Asia or wither away.

Tom wrote:

>2. My underlying concern is elsewhere though. What good would it do for a
>capitalist and imperialist Australia to have an independent foreign policy?
>The reason Australia sticks close to America is that it needs US muscle to
>back its local imperialism. An independent foreign policy would bring on a
>major upgrade in Australia's military capacity. Do we really want the
>Australian "defence" budget to double?
>This isn't hypothetical. In the Timor crisis, Howard discovered that
>American backing wasn't as reliable as he thought, so he decided Australia
>had to be more self-sufficient. This is one reason the subsequent White
>Paper called for an arms build-up.


Well here we might have a misunderstanding as well if not more than a
disagreement.  I of course do not support Australian Imperialism in any
guise - be it in East Timor or the Solomons.  It is all one to me.

It may well be that America does not constitute a reliable partner for
Aussie regional ambitions.  But equally true surely is the military reality
is that Australia is in all probability safe from any threat of
invasion.  Nor is a trade embargo likely unless we continue down the "All
the way with the USA" path.

However I would have thought that there was scope for an independence which
was not expressed in Imperial ambitions.  So I do not agree that an
independent foreign policy necessarily means more Aussie soldiers and a
bigger defence budget.

Or is that a reformist pipe dream? (On second thoughts do not answer that

warm regards

from your closeted left-nationalist mate


More information about the Marxism mailing list