Australia: Progressive Views from Oz

Issues such as the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan have dominated Australian posts but there is also lively interest in the US presidential election. Most of the key bloggers about international and US politics could be categorized as progressive, left or liberal. (Liberal is not a term used much here because the conservative party of former Prime Minister John Howard uses that misnomer.) Most support an independent Australian foreign policy, oppose what they see as US hegemony and have been stridently anti-Bush. They have been strongly against the Iraq war, though less vocal about Afghanistan.

Typically the progressive blogs support both the Democrats and Obama. The impact of seven years of George W. Bush’s presidency was clear in this post by The Road to Surfdom’s Ken Lovell:

Of the three remaining serious candidates for the presidency, Barack Obama seems to me to be the only one who might give the USA a new sense of identity and a new role in the world – one that treats others nations as deserving of respect and steps back from the strident exceptionalism and belligerence that has marked the last eight years.

…I believe that in a McCain v Obama election, McCain will win hands down. I hope very much that I am proven wrong.

In a similar vein, Kim posted on the group blog Larvatus Prodeo about the Pennsylvania primary:

Just to spell out my position, since I know there are quite a few Obama fans around in the Ozblogosphere, I don’t think Hillary is particularly credible as a spokesperson for the voters she’s appealing to. As I’ve been suggesting, she’s partly resting on Bill’s record and partly claiming that she opposed Bill sotto voce. And her “OMG! Look! Obama is an anti-American liberal! And he’s saying this to folks in San Francisco!” is exactly what I’m getting at when I’m saying Democrats are so enthusiastically using the GOP’s line of attack that the actual GOP probably doesn’t need to bother so much. Possibly the most repulsive part of Hillary’s endgame is to try to make Obama unelectable through out GOP-ing the Republicans.

Her pessimistic conclusion is shared by many bloggers:

It might be prudent to start trying “President McCain” on for size, because the chances we’ll be having to say it for a few years at least are strengthening.

William Bowe, our popular psephologist, Poll Bludger, has an open thread for comments on the Democratic Pennsylvania Primary which has attracted nearly 800 comments so far. One commenter, Diogenes, was more positive:

I’ve come around to the idea that Hillary is probably not hurting Obama’s chances in the general election as long as she doesn’t make any more unfavourable comparisons between Obama and McCain (which she has not done for a while now). All of these attacks on Obama will be performed by the Repugs in spades, and she is really just letting Obama deal with them now and neutralise them before the real campaign, by which time they will be old news and easily spun. And while all the press is about the Dems, their voters are at least engaged and signing up.

Commenting at Public Opinion on the recent Petraeus congressional testimony, Gary Sauer-Thompson looked at Iraq and its impact on the war on terrorism:

The hearings showed the deep divide on Iraq between McCain, who favours keeping troops in Iraq until security is established, and the two Democrats (Obama and Clinton) who have sought early withdrawal.

Let’s call the situation for what it is. Bush's long war on terror is a lost cause. As the war heads towards its second decade, American security policy is in disarray, the Iraq War is a disaster, Afghanistan is deeply insecure and the al-Qaida and Taliban movements remains as potent as ever with new generations of leaders coming to the fore. The New American Century is off to a bad start.

Since the 9/11 attacks, many Western governments have assumed terrorism to be the greatest threat the western nation states face. In response, their policies attempt to maintain control and keep the status quo by using overwhelming military force. The US is the central power and nation states like the UK and Australia fall into line and march the military march.

Blogocracy’s Tim Dunlop is a born optimist. His response to polls showing McCain ahead of both Democrats in late March is as follows:

This latter effect—McCain’s poll lead—can, I think, be put down to the fairly bitter fight between the two Democratic candidates, though whether this advantage will carry over once the Democratic nomination is sorted out is open to argument. I’m sure John McCain isn’t counting his chickens just yet. Once the Presidential election proper is underway, history suggests that the divisions of the nominating process don’t really carry over into people’s assessment of the candidates. The Dems better hope so.

At this stage, Obama is the clearly favoured by progressive bloggers in Oz. It will be interesting to see how long the honeymoon lasts with the left if he wins the presidency. Or like Bush and most US leaders before him, will Barack quickly become the evil emperor rather than the hope for change?


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