President Bush is the leader of the world's greatest military power ever. If the Pentagon were to rank as a country, it would be the world's 14th biggest economy. The United States has a quarter of the world's economy, but only 5 per cent of the world's population. Yet the United States today is responsible for half of all money spent on defence. Today, this colossus is insecure and vulnerable. It is led by a president who has moved to the right and is characterised by his omni-directional belligerence.
It's hard for Australians to understand the mind set that now dominates the Bush administration, but that must be a major part of any analysis. The power of the military-industrrial complex, energy-oil, pharmeceuticals and private health corporations has increased. I am reminded of my experience as a member of parliamentary delegations to the US. We always seemed to be making representations on behalf of our primary products that faced trade barriers. Yet our embassy always arranged meetings with congressmen and senators who, in their electorates, invariably had substantial defence products that Australia buys.
Since the Second World War, the US alliance has been a major pillar of Australian policy. There is now a need to review this in view of the unilateralist Bush position, not with a crude anti-American reaction, but based on a clear headed assessment of our national self interest.
Europe versus the US
In the forties, Dr Evatt wrote about how Australia had to give attention to our region. The Whitlam, Hawke and Keating governments developed practical initiatives in our region, and trade has prospered as a result. In contrast, John Howard wants to go all the way with a US trade deal at the very time his actions in blindly supporting Bush threaten our trade in the Middle East and South East Asia. Clearly, Howard has hitched himself to the Bush star because he thinks that the might of the United States and media hype will carry the day. This denies the extent to which the Bush administration is dominated by dangerously narrow political and economic interests.
Dennis Healey, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote about how the Reagan admi