Tuesday, 1 November 2016

American Exceptionalism

Chinese carrier Liaoning

Those of you following the US presidential race have no doubt become aware of the "October surprise" dropped by the FBI on the Clinton campaign.

Clinton was secretary of state when she was using a private server.

How about when the president’s staff does the same?

From Wikipedia –
During the 2007 Congressional investigation of the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys, it was discovered that administration officials had been using a private Internet domain, called gwb43.com, owned by and hosted on an email server run by the Republican National Committee, for various official communications. The domain name is an abbreviation for “George W. Bush, 43rd” President of the United States.
Republican official Karl Rove used RNC-hosted addresses for roughly “95 percent” of his email. Rove provided email from his kr@georgewbush.com address in exhibits to the United States House Committee on the Judiciary.
White House deputy Jennifer Farley told Jack Abramoff not to use the official White House system “because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc.” Abramoff responded, “Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her RNC pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system

So, it’s OK for the Bush administration to use a private server when he was the actual POTUS, to keep information out of the official system but not for Clinton when she was secretary of state? The motive and the method are identical.

By the way, our esteemed PM follows exactly the same practice for exactly the same reasons – https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/may/05/malcolm-turnbulls-emails-using-private-server-could-be-major-security-risk-says-labor

The US revelations resulted in the resignation of eleven senior Bush admin staff including Karl Rove. Memories are short, and the GOP has cornered the market in hypocrisy when they use this against Clinton.

What is more relevant to us, as Australians, is what would happen if Trump became POTUS.

You have to feel sorry for the Yanks, considering their choice between a self-obsessed draft dodging sleaze and a superannuated political hack. At least with Clinton, you’d expect more of the same, and there is some predictability about it.

If Trump is elected, and sticks to his rhetoric, a few outcomes are entirely predictable, but some very important ones relating to security and defence, are not.. They include possibilities of (respectively) a global economic crisis, a resetting of alignments including NATO and ANZUS, and trade embargoes leading to military conflict with China. Any student of history will recognise a startling similarity between the rise of Japanese militarism in 1941 and Chinese expansionism in 2016.

The Japanese wanted a "South East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere". These days, the Chinese refer to "Independent Foreign Policy of Peaceful Development". Back then the cause of conflict was United States opposition to Japanese expansion in southeast Asia and the Pacific. The US has made its objections to the Chinese doing exactly the same 65 years later. The geopolitical circumstances (and the rhetoric) are eerily similar.

Trump has pledged a tariff of 45% on Chinese products. Now that’s going to go down really well in Beijing.

Over 40 years ago, I was conscripted by an Australian government anxious to maintain security dependency on the USA. That ended well, didn't it?

It's not far-fetched to suggest that Trump inspired lunacy as applied to US defence policy lands us with conscription again.  If Trump withdraws from his alliances, as he has hinted he would, we could be left, in our own little corner of the South Pacific, like the proverbial shag on a rock.

We could have to resort to unpalatable measures simply to remain secure. They could include conscription. A rapid development of a self-reliant military would certainly create economic mayhem.

Trump's brand of American Exceptionalism would hit us like a ton of bricks. The tribal bleatings of many from the hard Right blogosphere conveniently overlook this likelihood.

If Trump is elected, we are likely to be forced to revise ties with the US, develop an independent foreign policy and create a military not reliant on US support. We'd also have to figure out how to pay for it in one helluva hurry.

Wouldn't that be fun?

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