The View from Down Under
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  • Anthony

    Serious strategic geopolitical action goes west…. (the Pacific covers a lot of expanse).

  • Mrs. Davis

    Australia is the only nation to fight beside us in every war since 1900. I’d call that our staunchest ally.

  • I’ve spent about half of my 3 score and 9 in Perth and agree in general with the tricky position Australia now occupies as articulated above. An astute engineer friend expressed some skepticism about the troop deployments and how much more difficult they would make dealing with our biggest customer for our iron and gas – China.

    I would add that something is happening politically in Oz. Even my labor friends generally regard our PM Julia Gillard is probably toast despite the fact that the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbot, is a conspicuously Roman Catholic traditionalist. When he was Minister for Health in the last Liberal (read conservative) government he publicly agonized approving the morning after pill. Some call him the Mad Monk. In American terms he something like Santorum, but it would be a mistake to see too close a parallel. Full on Socons of the American variety are a lot rarer in Oz. The long time leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, has left politics and in Queensland the Labor party has been reduced to less than ten members – short of the number required to be recognized as an official political party. The election next year will be fought on largely domestic issues – neither the carbon tax nor the mining tax have been popular. I will be watching the Green vote carefully. It has been the recipient of much of the protest vote against the two major parties, but a shift may be occurring. It is interesting that Mr Abbot got his job right after the East Anglia emails were released. His predecessor as leader of the opposition had made a deal with labor on the carbon tax. I think what has been said in other posts on Vis Meadia about the Greens putting forward bad policies based on questionable scientific claims may be noticeable in the election. I think people will still vote Green as a brake on the major parties, and they will continue to enjoy broad popular support on issues like whaling. But carbon taxes…not so much.

  • Jim.

    So does Australia have a bigger navy than Britain yet? How about another aircraft carrier or two?

    If they don’t have that sort of power now, we need to help them develop it. Their existence as a major source of raw materials will give them the prosperity they need to support such a defense expenditure, and the motivation to do so — they’re a great big target otherwise.

  • Glen

    Thanks for the shoutout. There are quite a number of good people at Lowy and my old workplace, ONA. The lowy interpreter blog is essential reading for Australians, and pretty handy for an international audience to follow.

    The recent debate in Australia is pretty heavily focused on the rather ambitous white paper promises not being followed through on. A tight fiscal situation and pretty major procurement problems mean we are nowhere near those goals, and they were probably never too realistic anyway.

    We are pretty perceptive about Asia, mostly because we have to be. And our relationships with South-East Asia, particularly Indonesia, matter a lot to us.

    And we do have a lot of things that can kill you, but thankfully, rarely do. Almost ran over a big wombat the other day, it’s a wierd little animal that is pretty much all muscle, and will destroy your engine if you hit it.

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