Thursday, October 23, 2003

“Full” and fuller text of Bush speech

This is strange: the American-version “full text” is about half the length of the Australian version. It’s not an obvious conspiracy-type thing, mind – the most egregious piece of bullshit occurs in both versions:

Since the liberation of Iraq, we have discovered Saddam's clandestine network of biological laboratories, his design work on prohibited long-range missiles, his elaborate campaign to hide illegal weapons programs.

Possibly, the discrepancy between the two “full texts” can be explained by the American public’s notorious geographic ignorance. Even the shorter version mentions four other countries by name (Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand and Indonesia) as of current significance to the US Australia relationship (in addition to the rattling-off of wars jointly fought by previous generations). Mention of any more nations may have risked total meltdown in the average American’s brain.

More likely, however, is that the second half is “For Australian Eyes Mainly” – a move designed not so much to protect the Americans, as to indulge the Australians. It is the equivalent of the token few lines of “local” material a stand-up comic visiting Australia does, before launching into his/her well-worn, globalised routine. A fly-in, busy celebrity often has to externally (that is, locally) source such “local” material, of course, and indeed, the speech’s "Aussie" second half strikes some quintessentially Gallipolli-esque chords, especially with its climax coming in General Douglas MacArthur’s WWII darkest hour speech.

Also telling is this:

Australia's agenda with China is the same as my country's.

Telling, because it is not at all a Yankee presumption, but a fervent aspiration on Australia’s part. The future emergence of China as a fully-fledged superpower – largely standing in for what the USSR was between ~1960 and ~1980 – leaves America in a win-win situation. If the West’s current process of China appeasement goes pear-shaped (through a war over Taiwan or even a trade war), it will be back to business-as-usual for the US, in one sense.

In contrast, the current Australia-China relationship is not only perilously one-sided, there is nowhere for Australia to go should things turn rocky later on. Australia has already bet its entire stake on the China card, while the US is keeping a poker face.

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