Labor and foreign policy (Gary and Juriaan)

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at
Tue Jul 15 21:57:23 MDT 2003

>>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)...  from your closeted left-nationalist mate.<<

Closeted? I thought you had openly declared your left nationalism in a
previous exchange. :-) Yes I think the logic is reformist, but as always I
want to add that I’m not using these terms as insults. Maybe the logic of
my argument will be clearer from the following replies to Juriaan.

>>where are your figures ? What extra budget allocations were necessary for
the East Timor campaign?<<

Not so much that campaign per se, though it stretched the finances. The
point is that the subsequent White Paper called for a substantial increase
in military spending. The facts are not controversial. I will dig out the
details tonight.

>>A great deal depends on the actual foreign policy you decide to have,
this determines what military capability you think you ought to have. If
for example you decide to pursue an aggressive imperialist policy, the
taxpayer must shell out more money<<

I think the issue is posed differently. The Australian ruling class takes
its imperialist role for granted. The choice in their minds is between an
aggressive imperialist policy on the cheap, by relying on the American
alliance; or an aggressive independent imperialist policy which costs the
taxpayers more. They are basically sticking by the former, but have edged a
bit towards the latter pole more recently, which is the significance of the
White Paper.

>>what economic stake can Australia have, in having Australians
killed in North Korea?<<

The workers have no stake in it, of course. The rulers are backing the US
for the same reason they backed them in Afghanistan and Iraq and indeed in
the previous Korean war. And the same reasons they backed Britain in the
Sudan in the 19th Century – to get leverage so they can ensure great power
backing for their own imperialist interests closer to home. Of course it's
a bit more complicated than this, but that’s been the thrust of Australian
policy since there was a policy.

>>The first step in combatting the idea of an inevitable militarisation, is
to focus on the range of technical possibilities there are in the military

I think the first step is political: to challenge the whole idea of the
capitalist “national interest”.

>>Governments are not infrequently conned into buying military hardware
which they do not even need<<

This is just the sort of argument we should avoid. I’m not in favour of the
imperialists buying weapons they DO need.

>>Are you suggesting that leaving the military decisions to the US
government, (imperialist military centralisation) would promote greater
geopolitical stability?<<

No. We should take them out of the hands of ALL the imperialists – not just
transfer them from the hands of George Bush to the hands of John Howard.

>>The US Government cannot even run a decent presidential election<<

As if there were any “decent” elections under capitalism. In this country
Howard formed a government in 1998 with a minority of the popular vote.

>>many Americans don't vote

Who can blame them. They wouldn't vote here if it wasn't compulsory. Some
people here lament that Austalians don't study the party policies -- but
why should they, the politicians always rat on the policies after the

>>the average understanding of the American voter of international issues
is abysmal 
  By comparison, the level of political awareness is much
higher in many other countries.<<

Like the Netherlands I suppose. Well I know something about the imperialist
history of the Netherlands in the East Indies. As brutal as any.

>>You are implying that the interests of Australian voters and taxpayers,
or even just the Australian government, are identical to the US government,
but that is not the case at all<<

Come now. My starting point has always been that Australian capitalism has
its own distinct imperialist interests; the issue is how they pursue them.
As for the taxpayers, well the workers among them have no common interest
with either.

>>The only rational kernel in your argument would be, that it is in fact
IMPOSSIBLE for Australia to have an independent foreign policy<<

Not at all. It could have one under capitalism, in which case it would be
equally reactionary and much more costly. Of course it could also have one
in a post-capitalist framework, but to get there we have to start by
opposing the capitalist “national interest”.

>>I thought you were on the side of the working class<<

Yes, and the interests of the working class do not coincide EITHER with a
pro-American policy OR with an independent imperialism.

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