Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

34 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Ikonoclast

    Your summary of the reasons predisposing Israel’s apparent influence doesn’t really start to look serious until about #6. #7 is derivative and I’m going to say #8 is arguable. As romantic and appealing a vision as it is, the role of imagination in “nations” is overstated. Yes, it can and does shape cultural choice, offering a starting point for how how questions are answered, but this tends to be more on internal rather than external questions. Australian policy was shaped by the notion of “Britishness” and counterposition with Asia and also with the indigenous people, and in these senses coloured Australian views of “external” (later “foreign”) affairs. Pre-1942, there certainly was a strong impulse to give priority to protection of the “mother country” — the crimson thread of kinship as Deakin had it — but by 1918, this was in decline, and the fall of Singapore dealt it a mortal blow. It’s hard to accept that the US would identify with Israel primarily as a consequence of a shared religious ethic. It’s worth recalling that the US declined Jewish refugees “boat people” in the run up to the holocaust. That would have been inconceivable if the refugees were Anglo-Brits either here, or in the US.

    Doubtless, the holocaust generated enormous sympathy but really, the Cold War and the desire to outmanoeuvre the Warsaw Pact was really the principal source of Israel’s ongoing support from the US. The significance of Arab nationalism and the threat this posed to the price at which the west could obtain oil made it important for the US to protect not only Israel but through that, indirectly, the semi-feudal Arab feifdoms supplying them the oil. As long as Israel existed, these autocracies could harness nationalism and avoid anything like nationalism and even resist modernity. This pattern of interest served fractions of the US boss class that otherwise could scarcely have cared less about the fate of Israel. Enormous amounts of money were to be made in defence and energy from incipient instability in the Middle East.

    Israel’s influence is therefore largely about geography and the conflict between the USSR/Russia and the US over a primary resource — oil, and the one loophole that even rightwingers accept as passing muster in government spending — defence. What Israel chooses to do in any area of policy unrelated to these things is of roughly zero interest to anyone outside Israel. They have a lot less influence than Australia in these fields.

    Australia is a substantially sized economy. Yes, it would be ludicrous to propose that any policy we might adopt could coerce the world to follow us, even to the extent that the US or the EU might. On the other hand, Australia is non-trivial. Stuff we do that appears to work and opens a path to things that might work for others stands a good chance of being taken up. If we can engage other significant jurisdictions with common carbon abatement schemes that have significant ambition Australia’s example will start to set a pattern for others in abatement talks and the major holdouts may start to join up with existing functional schemes. I’ve never thought that a discussion involving 190 or so jurisdictions was realistic. What you need are substantial agreements including jurisdictions accounting for 60%+ of World GDP and spread across each of the major regions with each major subgroup encompassing manufacturing, services and resources. Achieve that and the hold outs risk becomng isolated. Australia certainly could begin to initiate such a group in South and East Asia.

  2. Nick @ 18, I think “Happy new everyone” is a damn fine idea. There’s no need for a correction.

    Apropos which, I’ve embarked on becoming a happy new Dave. Like Ikonoclast, I need to lose weight. (I’d be almost satisfied with his current 88kg … ) I’m currently waddling around at just over 100kg, and need to be somewhere around 75kg, which is what I estimate I weighed when I was discharged from the regular Army in 1989. (When I joined in 1977, I weighed 10 stone in the old money, and was much the same build but considerably more muscular when I got out.)

    My middle son (who has lost almost 20kg in the last 6 or 8 months working on a dairy) has advised me that a low-carb, high-protein diet and plenty of exercise is the way to go. Oh, and cut back on the amount of piss I drink. I managed to lose 1kg in a week of helping him herd cows just after Christmas, so there’s hope.

  3. @Fran Barlow

    I certainly agree that we should set an example by keeping coal in the ground and going for solar power. It is up to the rest of the world to follow us (if they do) and thus save them and us.

    With regards to Israel, the points you agree are important certainly are certainly very important. I woudn’t go as far as you in discounting the other points though. I say this as an agnostic bordering on atheism and as one who has little sympathy for Zionism or Israel’s pugnacious, aggressive and oppressive behaviour. That said, they have been persecuted and subjected to pogroms for millenia, endured the Holocaust, endured the British Manadate, endured the mortal enmity of Arabs and various wars and threats to their very existence (which said behaviour by the Arabs was in turn provoked by Israeli aggression and atrocities which in turn was provoked by theor holocuast experience which in turn… etc in a seemingly endless chain of causes going right back in history). It’s a tangled mess, a wicked problem with no real absolute right and wrong and no real solution.

  4. @Ken Fabian As Kevin Rudd found out, it is political suicide to run head first into the mining industry. A groundswell of public opinion is needed first and the mining industry is busy negating any ill feeling. The only breakaway is CSG.

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