"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
October 21, 2008

Fraser Endorses Obama

In a piece entitled, Now, for the real America, former Australian Prime Minister, Malcom Fraser has endorsed Obama. Fraser was PM from the mid 70s into the early 80s and was an old school conservative and supporter of Ronald Reagan. Fraser is a pastoralist and has maintained a connection to the diplomatic world, mainly through […]

In a piece entitled, Now, for the real America, former Australian Prime Minister, Malcom Fraser has endorsed Obama. Fraser was PM from the mid 70s into the early 80s and was an old school conservative and supporter of Ronald Reagan. Fraser is a pastoralist and has maintained a connection to the diplomatic world, mainly through involvement in Commonwealth activities and charitable work.

“…militarily, diplomatically and economically the Bush years have been years of disaster. The American century is not going to happen. Whatever emerges from the current economic discord, it will be a much weakened America with economic strength moving, especially to Asia.

There is no doubt that when historians start to look at this time, they will write that George Bush had a great opportunity but instead his presidency began America’s decline.

Despite all of this, in many ways I believe America remains the world’s best hope for a decent and more civilised world.

I believe Senator Obama, if elected, can relight the idealism and sense of purpose that the US had when the UN was formed, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed, and when the US supported efforts to build a better and a fairer international system.

We all need a diplomatic America using the skills that ultimately ended the Cold War. Without American support, indeed leadership, today’s problems of the economy, of the environment and of political stability around the world will not be resolved.

The great advances made since World War II would not have happened without strong and effective US support. The moves to the establishment of a law-based system that governs relations between states could not have happened without America.

The Bush years have undermined much of the good America achieved in those years. But we should not allow his years to fool us into believing that that is the real America. The authentic voice of America comes from other people who believe in the idealism of the American dream.”

Brodie 16 years ago

Fernando – Interesting quote. Do you not think, however, that it highlights one of main problems of politics in that in saying that “America remains the world’s best hope for a decent and more civilised world”, (not sue where the un-civilised world is, perhaps someone could point it out to me on a map?), we have a totalised view of politics. What I mean by this is that is indicates that “professional politics” can solve the problems and make the world a better place. This view suffocates the contribution to the common good of other forms of life, making us as citizens passive in our actions towards the common good in the belief that “politics” and the politicians will either do it all or tell us what to do.
In this context I find it hard to construe the idealism that Fraser talks about as anything other than as grasping for power which is not within the reach of politics but which is eschatological. Americas idealism is strongly linked to her messiah complex which manifests itself in a foreign policy akin to cultural and economic imperialism.
This is not to say professional politics has nothing to contribute to the common good. Of course it has, and how is in the White House will have a significant bearing on this. I merely wish to point out that politics is not the whole of life and has its proper ends and sphere. Politics must therefore acknowledge the other aspects of life and conduct itself in a way that these other aspects can also flourish.

Mike Mahoney 16 years ago

Actually, America’s decline began before Bush got into office. The most devastating cause of the current economic mess here is the CRA law, passed by Democrats, expanded by Democrats and protected by Democrats.

If Mr. Fraser is looking toward the U.N. as a symbol of success, he is sadly out of touch. That body is (and has for a long time) been proven as a failed experiment, in need of major overhaul.

The Cold War ended through resolve, strength and perserverance, not warm feelings, inexperience and empty promises. I fear Obama will in fact be elected, America will slide further into decline (economically, militarily and morally) and we’ll all be learning to speak Mandarin in four years.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Brodie – manifest destiny is not the final word on US foreign policy, but it is a very important chapter. I don’t think Fraser’s words are solely addressed to that kind of hard, messianianc politics, though I do agree your ciriticism is a really important one.

There is a massive danger in reducing life to politics, especially if the main tool of politics is military might. This is, to a large extent, the big ideological issue in the current campaign – what non-military foreign policy options do the candidates have to offer?

One thing behind Fraser’s wrods is an appreciation for organisations like the UN and CHOGM, which are as you know, about more than just politics. Would you say that when we talk about leadership in organisations like UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO WIPO and CYP bring in a boraer view of life than just politics.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Mike, I guess we can draw a decline map in a number of different ways, to support whatever argument we might want to put forward. Personally, I have no interest in the pure ideological game of republicans or democrats. My interest is much more pragmatic, based on the real options we now face in the situation we are in. BY any metric I can imagine to come with a political evaluation our global situation, political, social, cultural and economic, we are in more trouble than we were at the start of the decade. We can either accept that (and maybe discuss the details) or not. I have no interest in the parallel universe where ideologies, labels and name-calling are more important than what is right in front of us.

The UN has many problems, but the UN is more than just the security council. But, a great many of it’s programmes and organisations do tremendous good around the world. I would agree that the UN is due for a process of reform, because the world looks very different now, than it did when the UN was formed. But, reforming the UN is not the same as making it more pliant to US foreign policy goals. THe UN was always meant to be a restraint on the force of militarily powerful nations.

I’m sorry you fear Obama’s presidency. The US will decline, economically, whomever is elected and will continue to decline geo-politically as a consequence of the last president, whomever is elected. The real question is how the US will redevelop it’s cultural, creative, economic and most importantly, spiritual engine after what has happened over the last 6 years.

Toni 16 years ago

Just a (slightly off topic) thought, but I rather wonder if the issue of Obama’s stance on abortion is partially a result of the manner in which politicians are forced into 2 very distinct groups in the US?

Have a social conscience, want to see healthcare available to ordinary people without crippling costs? Then you’ll have to be pro-choice if you want to be electable too. Etc etc.

I also wonder if this political rigidity is one of the reasons that some candidates with more balanced views are unable to be electable. I do pray that the candidate America needs, both for its own sake and the sake of the rest of the world, is elected. I wonder if many of the right in America could accept that it was Gods will if Obama were elected, even though it did not line up with their wishes and interpretation. And vice versa. I have to pray this, as I don’t get to vote, but your guy sure as anything gets to influence my life.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

The two party system seems to force all the leading politicians to ideologically contort themselves. You are completely right Toni.

As for God’s will – well people holding all night prayer and fasting sessions so God will “deliver” them from Obama doesn’t sound like a position that will accept the electorate’s decision easily.

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