Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 06:59 | SYDNEY
Monday 20 Aug 2018 | 06:59 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: Friends with the US


Sam Roggeveen


25 February 2010 11:09

Eamon Waterford from Interdisciplinary Perspectives International writes:

While I appreciate the simplicity of Crispin's argument, I'm not sure it really works in the America-Australia context. Might I skew the analogy a little? If a supermodel (in this case the superpower US) was shopping with a 14 year-old child, and chose an expensive outfit, how likely is it that the 14 year-old would offer a constructive, insightful critique of the outfit, no matter how hideous or over-priced it may be?

The super-model would be seen as to 'know fashion' better than the child (in this case, the US's superior intel on Iraq, not to mention it's experience in the perils of pursuing warfare) and the 14 year-old would be keen to both ingratiate itself with its new found shopping friend, but would no doubt leap at the chance to buy the same outfit  — after all, a supermodel is recommending it!

Michael Joseph responds to Hugh White:

I found this sentence in your post curious: 'I think (the Government) knows Afghanistan is pointless, but it takes the alliance seriously, and also fears the domestic politics of withdrawal.'

Apart from being a one-line contradiction (calling it pointless then highlighting a point), there is an immediate strategic benefit for fighting 'the good fight'.

First, we (and by that I mean Australia) have to do away with debates over winning and losing in Afghanistan or what America is or isn't going to do. If we are, as you elude to, there for the alliance, then we need to see how we can make the most out of our effort for the purposes of that strategic relationship.

In the first place, (and this is not by any means an original argument) this is Australia's chance to cut out a niche strategic area to make our mark on.

While the benefits of this have been listed by millions of commentators, it also gives us talking points with our big brother. The process of telling the US the role that we want makes us seem interested and dedicated. If we choose our part in the alliance we have made a choice rather than been told our part.

By contributing and choosing we set precedents for a long-term relationship where we have some sort of voice. To return to an earlier point, if we had any voice at all, we would be less likely to be debating the US involvment in Afghanistan to begin with. Contrarily, we would have started to talk about Australia's involvment and what we want from the war a long time ago.