Bohemian, November 6 2013
The recent revelations of US spying on friendly nations by the NSA and subsequent reports of the complicity of Australia may be putting at risk not only Australia’s political alliances in Asia and elsewhere but also its economic opportunities. If countries don’t trust each other when it comes to politics then they are hardly likely to trust each other when it comes to business. A recent social survey conducted by Australian Opinion Research found that almost half of all Australian adults surveyed believed that “in recent years Australia has become too entangled in the American war machine which could have serious consequences for our relationship with China”. This opinion is supported by an earlier finding (December 2012) that 61% of us believe that Australia should treat the US and China equally in our dealings compared with 17% who favour an advantage to the US and 8% to China.
The Australian Opinion Research survey based on a representative cross section of 5360 Australians 18+ conducted just prior to the September election (June-July 2013)indicates that many Australians are under no illusions as to who is probably pulling the strings when it comes to foreign policy at least. More than four in ten (43%) believe that the US largely controls Australia’s foreign policy (39% say they don’t believe it). 26% also believe Australia is a silent member of NATO (although most say they don’t know about this).
Guardian correspondent Glenn Greenwald’s most recent report on the Edward Snowden leaks directly implicates Australia in the US global spy network known as the “five eyes” (USA, UK, NZ, Australia and Canada). According to the Snowden material, it has been spying on its Asian friends for a long time. Australia has already been publicly chided by Malaysia and has also been asked to explain by the Indonesians who have since gone public on their dissatisfaction with our initial response. This comes after a particularly successful visit to Indonesia in October by the new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott .
There is concern in certain quarters that what may start as a diplomatic embarrassment has the potential to turn into a kind of Germany-US stand-off putting at risk or stalling these new closer ties between Australia and its neighbours so carefully re-established following the election. The US trade initiative known as the Trans Pacific Partnership which had already hit a few snags must also now be looking more doubtful as a result of the Guardian’s recent revelations. These appear to have prompted Indonesia to state its intention to jointly sponsor the German – Brazilian UN reprimand of the US over its global spying on friends. So why is the Australian Government prepared to risk its diplomatic status in Asia? Without any parliamentary debate or consultation with the Australian people and with 30% of the population openly uncomfortable about it, former Prime Minister Gillard in 2011 approved a US Marine base in Darwin. This has been written up by several commentators as a real point of concern to China and other neighbours and, when taken in conjunction with these new spying accusations, both our neighbours and the people of Australia may be coming to the realisation that Australia isn’t all that independent after all.
These suspicions were confirmed by comments made recently by former Assistant Treasury Secretary in the Reagan administration, Dr Paul Craig Roberts. Dr Roberts is a well-known US political commentator, acclaimed author and former financial editor of the Wall Street Journal. In an interview with financial newsblogger, Eric King of King World News (October 27, 2013), he made the following remarks about the US economy, the fate of the US dollar in the coming year and the usual role of Australia from an American perspective:
“I don’t think they (US Govt.) can get out of this. Their foolishness is going to lead to more world removal of the use of the dollar. We see it already happening – increasing swap arrangements between China and the Bank of England, China and the European Central Bank and this is unprecedented. You see the BRICS avoiding dollars ….. This shows a fantastic erosion in American financial influence. Even our lackey puppet state Australia is now settling its trade with China in their own currencies avoiding the dollar.”
So when Australian Opinion Research reports that two thirds of Australians say they believe “the Australian Government is selling off Australia to foreigners at an alarming rate”, and eight in ten believe that “people in Australia are feeling more and more powerless against big corporations and special interests groups”, Dr Roberts would not be surprised. He might argue that we were simply following orders.
Survey data was supplied courtesy of Australian Opinion Research, 2013, 2012. Quote from Dr Paul Craig Roberts comes from an interview published on October 27, 2013 at www.kingworldnews.com.
Australian Opinion Research began in 1999 – 2000 and was the first major Australian online research group to conduct large scale national and international studies. Australian Opinion Research is a wholly Australian owned business. This information was collected online by Australian Opinion Research from a nationally representative cross section of 5360 Australians 18+ prior to the September 7, 2013 federal election.
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