A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Sex, lies and videotape ... and the odd war or two

I've come out of media blackout early, as it seems the Sep 11 coverage was a bit of a fizzer. I think we can thank Iraq for that. Even the normally right-wing 'West Australian' had a half page piece yesterday which pretty much said the American administration had expended the goodwill from September 11 by their actions in Iraq and elsewhere.

One trend I've noticed in the last 6-9 months in particular is here in Australia, people are now quite openly anti-America and anti-Israel - not militantly, but in attitude - whereas if they were before, it wasn't really fashionable to say so. I was sitting on the train on Wednesday listening to a pair of ladies in their 30s, who may have been bank employees judging by their uniform, discussing how the war on and occupation of Iraq would be seen by Bob and Betty Baghdad, as they put it, as criminal. Another guy was saying during a discussion about faces on TV that he turns off the TV every time George Bush is on it as "only the Americans would elect such a f***ing retard". Our media, which used to report largely from CNN and NBC, now has shifted towards the BBC and is more inclined to report contrary views to the Americans coming from respectable quarters.

In the 90s, the mood in Australia was strongly pro-Israel. Now it's the reverse. People here generally think that the Israelis are in the wrong and should give the land back to the Palestinians. Our government, despite its own neo-conservative leanings (and its own issues with giving land back to dispossessed natives), has stayed relatively neutral in the debate, largely I suspect because of fear of our near neighbours and - probably more likely - our trading relationships with them. Most people seem to believe that if the Palestinian problem had been solved, 11 Sep 2001 would never have happened.

Another trend I've noticed is that all the stuff us self-identified lefties knew about US's dodgy foreign policy aims years ago is now public knowledge. Pretty much everyone knows about Chile, Guatemala, the Iran-Contra affair and what really went on in Afghanistan back in the 80s.

I'm writing an article on this for a friend of mine's magazine, which I'll link to once it's up and happening, but the argument is basically looking at the history of the modern superpower, and whether the superpower is in fact a relic of 1900s history that ought to be left there. It's also looking at whether Australia, New Zealand and Canada, working together, could be a collaborative superpower not unlike the EU - I don't actually see why not. The article will also evaluate the EU and China, and why I feel that they have what it takes to be superpowers but are held back by massive problems that can only get worse.


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