"US sick of asking Australia for troops," runs the front page headline in today's Sydney Morning Herald, citing "US officers." "Any discussion on [Australia taking the] leadership [in Oruzgan] [province, Afghanistan] is quickly terminated by Australian politicians," according to a "third source."
This, of course, is your run-of-the-mill stonewalling. But isn't that just a little old hat these days? Really, it's time to move on to an entirely new way of dealing with the US.
Now it's not as if we have to start from scratch, mind you. All we need do is take a leaf from Israel's book, and ask, What's in it for us? And I don't just mean what's in it for us? I mean what's really in it for us?
We should begin by demanding a $3 billion+ annual subsidy - the sort of thing Israel takes for granted, for example. To justify this our Washington lobby (and we will need to work on this) should bang on endlessly about Australia being America's strategic asset in the Asia/Pacific area. After all, it works with Israel in the Middle East. That nonsense of the PM's about Australia being America's best maaate in the region. I mean, that's sooo throw-a-shrimp-on-the-barbie, isn't it? Downright embarrassing! It's really got to go.
We should become the Asia/Pacific's mad dog, barking (mad) and lunging at every available opportunity. New Zealand our Judea! PNG our Samaria! (Plenty of Lost Tribes there.)
We should deem the entire region an existential threat and market ourselves as the only dinky-di democracy within cooee. Why, we could even grant all of Fred Nile's Christmases at once and declare ourselves 'the Christian state'... but I digress. Let's get back to the question of what could be in it for Oz in Oruzgan. Plenty... if Israel's our paradigm!
Now if, in exchange for a piddling 90-day halt to Israel's current rate of settlement metastasization in the West Bank, the US has to fork over $3 billion worth of stealth fighters and promise to shield Israel from adverse UN Security Council resolutions (for as long as they both shall live?), for a few more boots on the ground in Afghanistan, why the hell can't we get armed to the teeth for free just like Israel does?
Way to go!