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Domestic Politics Abroad in the Name of Official State Visits: Updating Australian Values on the Run at Partisan Events in the Trump Era

By Denis Bright

Endorsement of the moral purpose and manifest destiny of the Trump Administration throughout the Prime Minister’s tour of the USA is not in the long-term interests of Australia as a responsible middle power in global politics.

Australia’s own moral commitment to action on climate change was conspicuously absent from Scott Morrison’s address at the opening of the Pratt Factory in Ohio which has been offered a ten-year exemption from its tax responsibilities to the Wapakoneta City School District.

Days later the Australian Foreign Minister attended the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019. Our silence was upstaged by a surprise visit from President Trump:

NEW YORK — U.S. President Donald Trump made a brief, semi-surprise appearance at the United Nations climate summit in New York Monday, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a plea to convince global warming “doubters.”

Trump found a seat in the auditorium just as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the stage, according to pool reports, and then stayed to hear Merkel speak. Trump had initially been expected to stay away completely from the summit, but White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said earlier Monday she wouldn’t be surprised if Trump popped in.

The summit is taking place against the backdrop of global demonstrations to urge action on climate change.

In her speech, Merkel stressed the need for countries to work together and “follow the advice of science” on climate change, saying there was “no doubt” that humans are responsible for causing it.

Trump has a history of denying links between human activity and climate change and has rolled back environmental regulations and agreements — positions that are popular among conservative lawmakers and a rallying point for his supporters, especially on the Christian right.

The Guardian noted the bizarre priorities of President Trump on his visit to the UN: Trump drops by climate summit – then hurries off to talk faith and freedom:

Image from www.theguardian.com (Photo by Peter Foley/EPA)

The president didn’t stay for Greta Thunberg’s climate speech, preferring the applause of US religious groups at a rival panel.

In the UN general assembly chamber, the world’s leaders gathered to share the latest grim news of the planet’s climate crisis, but 100 metres away another meeting had been prepared: a summit of one.

Donald Trump had booked a separate venue in the middle of the UN climate action summit, to hold his “global call to protect religious freedom” – an issue close to the heart of the core supporters whose turnout will be critical in next year’s presidential election.

The 10 long rows of desks at the back of conference room 3, usually assigned to member state delegations, had been made available to representatives of American religious groups who had been issued tickets for the occasion.

Any endorsement by Scott Morrison of President Trump’s unilateral diplomatic style in his UN Address will confirm the trend towards a more executive style of diplomatic leadership from predominantly English-speaking countries in the long traditions of US Presidents. Scott Morrison reminded his audience of these traditions by referring to the leadership style of President Teddy Roosevelt (1901-09) at the White House on 20 September 2019.

Scott Morrison’s willingness to tolerate the global geopolitics of a new Anglo Bloc under the leadership of President Trump should be cause for concern for our own national sovereignty and a reassertion of an older style of neo-colonialism as influential non-English speaking countries are invited to join dangerous balance of power games against perceived hostile powers. Perhaps Jacinda Ardern will remain as the last defender of sensible consensus-building in the predominantly Anglo-countries if greater pragmatism does not take hold in the other Five Eyes Intelligence Network countries.

Boris Johnson and a possible pro-Brexit Canadian Conservative Prime after national elections on 21 October add to this emergent volatility.

While a minority progressive Liberal Government with the support of the National Democratic Party (NDP) is still a likely outcome in the forthcoming Canadian elections, Canadian conservatives have been polling strongly in sections of Canada. Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer is ahead in current polling in several Canadian provinces.

However, breaking news from the US does suggested that not everyone at home is ecstatic about the backslapping at the Wapakoneta factory in Ohio as shown by reporting in the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, saying that he had betrayed his oath of office and the nation’s security in seeking to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said after emerging from a meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. Mr. Trump, she said, “must be held accountable — no one is above the law.”

The announcement was a stunning development that unfolded after months of caution by House Democrats, who have been divided overusing the ultimate remedy to address what they have called flagrant misconduct by the president. It had the potential to reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and to cleave an already divided nation only a year before he plans to stand for re-election.

Unless Scott Morrison seeks to be master of the short-term, a more inclusive political message from Australia is essential when the political jigsaw in predominantly English-speaking countries is in such a state of discord. The new Australian executive style is clearly under challenge outside the orbit of President Trump in his own country, Canada and Britain.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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12 comments

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  1. Chris

    What’s more important than the UN Climate Summit-A visit to the mill town of Wapakoneta in Ohio Rustbelt to join in a Trump Campaign event in small town America?

  2. paul walter

    Reality TV universalised.

  3. ajogrady

    Morrison has been played by Trump who needed a bit of comedic relief to warm up his crowd but pity the poor Americans that had to put up with Morrison’s “believe me if you will” mind numbing verbal diarrhoea.

  4. Zathras

    Morrison’s visit received very little print media coverage in the USA.

    He was just a convenient prop to boost Trump’s appeal among his supporters and it was the visiting Indian PM who made the front page of their newspapers.

  5. Marshall

    2020 Vision is needed to replace Australia’s old Cold War myopia

  6. Leila

    Well researched article from Denis on our times where instability is challenging old democratic values

  7. Jason Simpson

    Any media org that reports Pelosi’s push for impeachment but doesn’t mention the lack of substance behind the reason they have this time to impeach the orange man. It really comes off as uninformed. Maybe even biased by Trump derangement syndrome. Why not treat everyone as equals and go after actual crimes that we know about. Biden gets a pass by media for taking $1.5 BILLION from China and he also gets a free pass on bribing the Ukrainian government to drop the investigation into Hunters 50k per month pay by a Ukrainian power company, The media ignored Bidens little story about how he threatened to stop a billion-dollar loan if they don’t sack the prosecutor going after his son. The media even ignored Bidens bragging that Obama was in on it. Just curious, how many bloggers here were convinced that Trump colluded with Putin to beat Hillary in the 2016 election? The full story is what we need to hear from the media, not just the parts that back up previous claims.

  8. Stella

    Denis, thanks for another interesting and well-researched article about the US and Australia’s foreign policy approach towards the US. It would be good if we could take a lead from NZ and be more independent.

  9. James Robo

    Our Scott’s state visit attracted the rich and famous from Australia and almost a spiritual adviser from Hillsong

  10. Tessa_M

    Take me back to the place I belong: West Ohio , Wapakoneta and its nostalgia: Along Interstate 75 I belong!

  11. Fair and Equal Australia

    Australia: From the fading Shadow of Queen Victoria to the grim spectre of Donald Trump

  12. Lara Gonzales

    Why isnt your Scott Morrison more informed about President Trump’s likely impeachment as we are hearing in the Philippines?

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