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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Former Aussie PM chides contemporary governance USA

Editing, re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett
U.S. Capitol prepares for inauguration January 20, 2009.

As efficacy in U.S. military power decreases, importance of economic power increases. 

Recognition of these central realities — and bipartisanship in addressing them — is critical for America’s future and for the future of the West.  malcolm fraser

Australia’s former Prime Minister John Malcolm Fraser set out an insightful opinion in a late August article at Project Syndicate later published at Al Jazeera. The article excerpted, slightly edited and endorsed on this site is — “America’s self-inflicted decline.”

On several occasions in the post-World War II period, Fraser writes, the U.S. has learned with great pain that there are limits to the effective use of military power.

U.S. objectives in Vietnam could not be achieved
The outcome in Iraq will not be determined until the last U.S. troops withdraw.
In Afghanistan, where withdrawal dates have already been set, it is difficult to believe that a cohesive unified state can be established.

The United States’ current fiscal problems are rooted in a long period of unfunded spending. [The George W. Bush government]’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the manner in which he conducted the ‘global war on terror’ made matters much worse, contributing to a totally unsustainable situation. [The Obama government] inherited an almost impossible legacy.

“In the weeks since the debt ceiling agreement, it has become increasingly [and embarrassingly] clear that good government might be impossible in the U.S.

The coming months of campaigning for the U.S. presidency will be spent in petty brawling over what should be cut.

The example of recent weeks gives us no cause for optimism that U.S. legislators will rise above partisan politics and ask themselves what is best for America.

“U.S. leadership in world affairs began to weaken with the unilateralism of [the George W. Bush government] and today’s economic problems are reinforcing this tendency. To reverse the United States’ decline, [the Obama government] needs bipartisan support for (quite mainstream) policies. However, so far, the U.S. Congress has shown no stomach for a principled approach to its legislative duties.

“If Germany’s half-hearted efforts to stabilize Europe somehow turn out to be successful, the U.S. position will be further eroded, and central banks around the world will begin to regard the euro once again as a reliable alternative to the dollar as a reserve currency.

The alternative, as China has suggested, would be to develop a new reserve currency.

“If this forces the United States toward what international relations scholar Joseph Nye calls ‘soft power and multilateral diplomacy’ — it may well be a good thing.”

Sources and notes

“America’s self-inflicted decline — The United States is facing major economic problems, and its politicians are unable — or unwilling — to solve them” (Malcolm Fraser) September 4, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/09/20119474217665992.html
“America’s Self-Inflicted Decline” (Malcolm Fraser), Project Syndicate. August 30, 2011, http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/fraser2/English

John Malcolm Fraser

A former Australian Liberal Party politician, the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia (elections: 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983), John Malcolm Fraser was active in foreign policy and supported the Commonwealth in campaigning to abolish apartheid in South Africa. He opposed white minority rule in Rhodesia. Fraser supported multiculturalism and established a government-funded multilingual radio and television network. Under his government, a formal policy was developed for ‘a humanitarian commitment to admit refugees for resettlement’ and immigration; immigration from Asian countries expanded and more refugees were allowed to enter Australia.

In 2006, Fraser attacked the Howard [John Howard, 25th Prime Minister of Australia: 1996-2007] Liberal government’s policies on refugees, terrorism and civil liberties. He charged that ‘if Australia continues to follow United States policies, it runs the risk of being embroiled in the conflict in Iraq for decades, and a fear of Islam in the Australian community will take years to eradicate.’  In 2007, Fraser reportedly wrote an open letter in which he stated, ‘One of the things we [Australians] should say to the Americans, quite simply, is that if the United States is not prepared to involve itself in high-level diplomacy concerning Iraq and other Middle East questions, our forces will be withdrawn before Christmas.’

In retirement, Malcolm Fraser chaired the UN Panel of Eminent Persons on the Role of Transnational Corporations in South Africa (1985), co chaired the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons on South Africa (1985–86), and chaired the UN Secretary-General’s Expert Group on African Commodity Issues (1989–90). He was a distinguished international fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (1984 to 1986) then became president of the foreign aid group Care International (1991).

In 2006, he received an appointment of Professorial Fellow at the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law and in October 2007 presented his inaugural professorial lecture — ‘Finding Security in Terrorism’s Shadow: The importance of the rule of law.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Fraser

Britannica images
U.S. Capitol
Final preparations being made at the U.S. Capitol prior to the inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2009.


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