Gooday mate....
March 5, 2007 3:01 AM   Subscribe

Australia: the new 51st state John Howard's servility to the US is even greater than Tony Blair's. "John Pilger," wrote Harold Pinter, "unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him." via New Statesman.
posted by adamvasco (39 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been wondering when Australians will have had enough of Bush-licking.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:14 AM on March 5, 2007

John Howard needs a punch in the face.

I'll be disgusted if the Liberals win the next election. :\
posted by VirtualWolf at 3:21 AM on March 5, 2007

Also, it's "g'day", not "gooday". :P
posted by VirtualWolf at 3:22 AM on March 5, 2007

John Hunt's a coward.
posted by strawberryviagra at 3:24 AM on March 5, 2007 [7 favorites]

I snub, most accomplishingly, Operation Talisman Sabre 2007. But I'm no Governor-General's wife, so my snubbing don't mean the beans. (Hate Howard, love Pilger's snide prose.)
posted by maryh at 3:32 AM on March 5, 2007

I'm avoiding a barbie/climate change joke.
posted by imperium at 4:12 AM on March 5, 2007

Australia will never be a state. Unincorporated Territory is much more likely. Particularly if it is going to take Puerto Rico's place as a target for bombing run practice.
posted by srboisvert at 4:12 AM on March 5, 2007

Australia's biggest problem is its extraordinary concentration of media ownership. I think the other problems - racism, Howard's nightmare election victories, the Blairification of the Labor Party - essentially stem from this.

Rupert Murdoch basically owns and controls this country's public debate. He owns 7 of the 12 national daily newspapers. In many major towns and cities, like Brisbane, he owns the only local newspaper. You can imagine what that's like.
posted by stammer at 4:35 AM on March 5, 2007

Australia's biggest problem is its extraordinary concentration of media ownership.

Australia's biggest problem, in-line with America's, is oil.

According to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, on current trends, in 10 years Australia will be producing about 230,000 barrels of petroleum liquids per day, while consuming around 1,030,000 barrels.

That would leave us 78 per cent dependent on oil imports, compared with our current 30 per cent dependence.

Competing with China and Japan as well as the rest of Asia for ME oil, Howard is simply making sure that Australia has a strong claim to the Iraqi oil fields now under American control. Without access to that oil, Australia is quite simply fucked.

That doesn't make it right, or moral, or wise, but to characterize Howard's actions as "Bush-licking" servitude is perhaps an oversimplification of his real motivation.
posted by three blind mice at 4:49 AM on March 5, 2007

Yeah, it's embarrassing, alright. I do wish everyone here would just drop the act. Troop withdrawal, for example. Why do they continue to badger Howard about when we get our soldiers back? That decision does not get made here.
posted by Ritchie at 5:15 AM on March 5, 2007

He's right on the money when he writes about Australia's political class hungering for recognition by powerful nations.

We have such an inferiority complex that we let the US government bully us into doing anything they want. It's like the national equivalent of Little Man Syndrome - if you want to sir up an Australian, tell them you've never heard of Australia (works especially well if an American says it).

And three blind mice, I agree with you that we have a lot of reliance on the US (and not just for oil, the ANZUS treaty is another big factor) that strongly influences our relationship, and think describing it as Howard's "bush-licking" servitude belies the fact that we'd probably be licking Bush's boots regardless of the political leader.

But we don't have to give in to everything so quickly. Sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq should be enough to secure rights to oil (and fufil obligations under the ANZUS treaty), they don't have to put bombs in the Great Barrier Reef. And don't get me started on Trade Agreements...
posted by kisch mokusch at 5:23 AM on March 5, 2007

John Howard will not say sorry for anything. Ever. The list grows of things he should say sorry for but it won't happen. Just add this to the list.
I'll be disgusted if the Liberals win the next election.
Get ready to be disgusted if the current (Burke smear) campaign is successful.
posted by tellurian at 5:38 AM on March 5, 2007

In Africa it's the bush, in Australia it's the outback, in America it's bush push push in the outback. Result: santorum
posted by nofundy at 6:25 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

From my quick read that essay is pretty simplisitic and misleading. He states that in the SIEV X tragedy "353 people were allowed to drown", etc. Not a very impressive example of journalism in my opinion.
posted by Onanist at 8:06 AM on March 5, 2007

I am just glad all of us MeFites are not in one boat. We would be listing precariously to port.
posted by MapGuy at 8:11 AM on March 5, 2007

Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X
posted by adamvasco at 8:26 AM on March 5, 2007

if you want to sir up an Australian, tell them you've never heard of Australia (works especially well if an American says it).

What works even better is if you say "Oh yes, don't we have a science station there? I've seen pictures, it's right next to the pole."
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:55 AM on March 5, 2007

What are "steely attention facts"?
posted by staggernation at 9:18 AM on March 5, 2007

Ah, got it. (It's the New Statesman's typo, not adamvasco's.)
posted by staggernation at 9:19 AM on March 5, 2007

if you want to sir up an Australian, tell them you've never heard of Australia (works especially well if an American says it).

Whatever. I've been there. Salzburg is beautiful.
posted by norm at 9:40 AM on March 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

"as embarrassing corporate crime rises, the treasurer, peter costello, blithely announced a ban on moral or ethical boycotts of certain products."

can any australians here tell me how such a ban would be enforced?
posted by bruce at 9:57 AM on March 5, 2007

I'm avoiding a barbie/climate change joke.

What's that you say about the Bush on the barbie?
posted by katillathehun at 9:57 AM on March 5, 2007

Australia is like Texas, gone horribly wrong.
posted by LarryC at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2007

can any australians here tell me how such a ban would be enforced?

Pilger's text is misleading, and over-inflates the issue somewhat.

Nobody will ever go to jail over this. The government can't enforce the choice of any individual to buy/not buy whatever they want. But it can (with the proposed changes in legislature) prosecute groups that organise boycotts, and allow government renumeration for the revenue that the companies/individuals have lost due to boycotting.

Article here.
posted by kisch mokusch at 12:58 PM on March 5, 2007

Run via satellite from Australia and Hawaii, Operation Talisman Sabre 2007 is warfare by remote control, designed for "pre-emptive" attacks on other countries. Australians know little about this.

It has happened every 2 years since 2001 (and unsurprisingly the Australian military has been holding joint training operations with allies since long before that). It is hardly a secret, hell there's a Wikipedia page about it. This will take place at Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area which has been used for this purpose since the 60s.

He certainly has an interesting take on SIEV X too.
posted by markr at 2:24 PM on March 5, 2007

Stop me if I am wrong, but didn't Rupert Murdoch change to American citizenship in order to own media stations in the US?
This enabled him to punish us with Fox "news".

Does Australia have a citizenship requirement for media ownership? It doesn't seem right that he is able to punish two countries.
posted by Cranberry at 2:51 PM on March 5, 2007

It doesn't seem right that he is able to punish two countries.

haha. Punishing just two countries.

From the wikipedia article, New Corp owns/has holdings in:
Newspapers in Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the UK and US.
Radio stations in India, Netherlands and Russia.
Broadcast TV stations in US, UK, Australia, NZ, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Georgia, Poland, Israel and Indonesia.
Satellite TV stations in UK, US, Brazil, Mexico, NZ, Italy, Hong Kong, China and India.

There's more, but it's too depressing to continue.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:01 PM on March 5, 2007

Whilst I tend to agree with Pilger on his analysis of many things, that was a pretty ignorant and rubbishy ‘analysis’, better suited to “Green Left Weekly” than a respected journal. Pilger is one of a small class of expat Aussie intellectuals who think they know what’s going on in Australia by jetting in to Sydney once every couple of years.

There are much better summary analyses of what ails Australia floating around the web. Pilger does get two things right – Howard and Murdoch are in good part to blame.

BTW, the jokes about not knowing Australia – all that would tell me was that I was talking to a seppo.
posted by wilful at 5:08 PM on March 5, 2007

I've been wondering when Australians will have had enough of Bush-licking.

Um, try "before it even began".

The thing is that the Australian attitude towards America is probably indifference at the very best, but tending more towards a position somewhere between general disrespect & outright contempt.

The fact that our PM has been such a contemptible little arse-licker just makes things worse, and I wouldn't be surprised if the common position is support for the Iraqi resistance against the Americans, notwithstanding that we also have some troops involved in the neocon folly.

This would follow the established prevailing popular support for the Palestinians against the Amerisraelis, and the general tendency to loathe imperialistic power in general - our ingrained "support for the underdog", most likely drawing from experiences of British imperialism, especially from the Irish (convict) perspective.

Curiously, I actually have to tip my hat to Johnny Hunt's cynicism in the Iraq fiasco: despite continuing with his obnoxious sabre-rattling, our contribution to the effort has been proportionally miniscule, as Senator Obama pointed out recently. On population size alone, we should have about ten times the force over there, not our paltry 1,400. That's pretty fucking cool, taking the seppoes for a ride like that for so long.

Oh, and "Australia is like Texas, gone horribly wrong"? Only an American would be ignorant enough to think that we are even half as fucked up as the least fucked-up parts of America, let alone Texas.

And strawberryviagra: right you are, or rather, right is the person who first coined that popular protest march banner. So no favourite for you!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:51 PM on March 5, 2007

Australia is like Texas, gone horribly wrong.

LarryC, do you know anything about Australia? I don't know much about Texas, but I don't think there's much to compare.

For one thing, Texas is tiny. And votes rightwing nutcase all the time.
posted by wilful at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2007

Ubu: It's an original - but I have to admit it wasn't mine - but my biz partner's. I provide it under a creative commons license - please, paint it on walls, yell it at manifestations, tattoo it on children's foreheads - just leave the tshirt distribution to me.
posted by strawberryviagra at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2007

Going back how far, exactly? I first saw it at the biggest protest in Sydney since Vietnam, when - what? - half a million people turned out to oppose the impending butchering of Iraq.

Risking the wrath of the mass of protestors, I was in my Osama Bin Laden t-shirt & Palestinian keffiyeh, urging for the war to go ahead.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:12 PM on March 5, 2007

You may be interested in my Bur qua style version, also.

He assures me it's his - collective consciousness, maybe. It was early '03.
posted by strawberryviagra at 8:22 PM on March 5, 2007

It dosen't matter anymore, unless you're a supporter of Howard and the war. The opinion polls are now well and truly in Labor and Kevin Rudd's favour, and although it looks as though the Opposition's support has peaked now, the fact is they're now in an election winning position and better yet, Howard knows it.

Look at the dirty tricks campaign that is ramping up against Rudd. First there was the package of white powder that was sent to his office in Brisbane. Then there was the alleged dossier of misdealings DEWR was meant to be keeping on Rudd's wife's company. The sorts of things that never happened to Labor while Howard was riding high in the polls. And then came the current smear campaign that Howard and Costello are using against Rudd over the whole Brian Burke affair that's engulfing WA politics for evidence of this.

Think about it. This story has utterly dominated the news cycle now for the better part of a week and Howard's attack dogs have been spewing bile as loudly and as boldly as they can to any hack who'll listen. And yet the Newspoll, which was taken over the weekend as the attack continued, shows Labors support at its highest ever.*

The fact is your ordinary joe on the street dosen't care whether Burke met with Rudd and moreso, they know that Howard's vicious attack is a sign of desperation on his part, coming as it did on the back of a three week stretch that saw Howard attacked on global warming, interest rates, David Hicks and, critically, the War in Iraq. Blair had essentially withdrawn from Iraq and at the same time Howard's attack on US Presidential candidate Barack Obama had been more trouble than it was worth. But perhaps critically, once the attack on Rudd over Burke had began, it cost Howard one of his own ministers, Ian Campbell, who had to resign because lo and behold, he too had met with Brian Burke. And I don't doubt he'll be the last Liberal to have done so.

But it was the sacking of Campbell that no one could believe. It was the last time since never** that Howard had sacked a Minister. Downer, Vaile and many other Ministers had been involved in far more serious crimes, such as the AWB scandal, but hadn't lost their jobs. But with most people already thinking Rudd's meeting with Burke was already pretty inconsequential, along came the first ever example of Howard's notion of Ministerial responsibility, and it came not because Howard thought he deserved it, but because Campbell got in the way of a clear line of fire to Rudd.

People knew and know that Howard is in trouble politically, for the first time since Tampa and September 11, and couldn't believe that the Man of Steel had fumbled at such a critical time. They finally saw that this man who is approaching his 70s had to go, and that Rudd's time may very well have come. They sense a mood for change, and I don't mean from Howard to Costello.

People know that Howard is one of Dubya's biggest supporters, and they know that now, more than ever, our subserviance to him needs to stop, or at the very least be toned down some. And thank the gawds, it's happened in an election year. I couldn't be happier.

* Yes, yes, I know that Newspoll's aren't an exact science and that they've been wrong before. But the fact is that politicians down in Canberra, especially Howard, take notice of what the polls say and if the polls keep saying what they're currently saying, Howard's future looks grim.

** I think. I admit I could be wrong here, but the mere fact that I can't even remember the last time a Minister wasn't fired as part of a broader reshuffle speaks words, don't you think?

posted by Effigy2000 at 8:52 PM on March 5, 2007

The fundamental problem here is that, while John Winston Howard is undoubtedly a first-class toadying arselicker, so is John Pilger.

The man has made a career of pandering to the wet dreams of the foaming-at-the-mouth unthinking rabid Left; his continual misrepresentation of events, distortion of the truth, and outright lies make even this old far-far-Lefty angry.

You don't need to bullshit like that when the truth is so damning on its own; it just leaves your base argument wide open to refutation and ridicule.

To be honest, I've long thought the guy was a right-wing plant.
posted by Pinback at 11:15 PM on March 5, 2007

I think Pilger is a fine investigative journalist who has worked tirelessly in high-risk areas to bring us information about some of the worlds most disenfranchised people.

posted by asok at 3:44 AM on March 6, 2007

I gotta say, as stupid a reaction as even I'll admit it is, I get really pissed off at the lack of recognition that Australia gets RE Iraq and Vietnam. I'm pissed off that we participated and are participating and doubly so again when Kerry "forgets Poland" but no mention is made of us.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 4:01 AM on March 6, 2007

No, the lack of recognition is good. Aussies can still travel without fear anywhere in the world. The locals will rant about Bush, Blair & that Spanish guy, but don't even know the name of little Johnny. While they spit the word "America", it's always "Australia: good country! Good people!" - perhaps some of the Kiwi ultraexcellence rubs off onto us, or something?

I think there is recognition in military circles, though. A major I was speaking to who had served in Vietnam was telling me about one of our warships - HMAS Perth, I think - that had precision shelling down to the finest artform, in the days before smart weapons. She would sit off the coast, receive SOSs from ground troops: "we're in village X, holed up in the schoolhouse. The gooks are on a hill 50m away" - the Perth would lob a precision shell onto the enemy & save the day. Apparently, the ship itself (!) was awarded an honourary Purple Heart or Medal of Honor (sic) or whatnot - totally unheard of - in gratitude by the US.

The SAS are apparently also highly prized. Supposedly in Iraq with the Seals & Green Berets & whatever the poms have as a similar unit, blowing up Iraqi infrastructure & assassinating people weeks before the war officially started.

So yeh, we can have all the fun & take none of the rap. It's a great situation.

ps - a Coward minister sacked? That would explain the massive lightning storm in Sydney the other night. It wasn't meteorology, after all. It was the sky falling.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:41 PM on March 6, 2007

Well if it's inevitable that we're going to be the 51st state can we at least have our favorite TV shows from the states shown on our local TV stations here in a timely manner?

I promise I'll start using US grammar instead of the "king's english" as well!
posted by Talez at 4:07 PM on March 6, 2007

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