US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s planned trip downunder which
begins tomorrow is shaping up to be a journey to enforce a “prototype
security relationship of the worst kind”, says Alan Dupont in The Australian
– a Chinese containment policy. The US has been remarkably ambivalent
about China up to this point. Meanwhile, “aside from its incoherence, US
pronouncements on China are often marked by a grating didacticism.” Yes
China isn’t any “paragon of virtue”, but neither is the US.

Let’s just make this clear: the Iraq invasion wasn’t a badly
implemented policy, it was simply “a bad idea that no amount of
administrative
skill, political savvy, cultural sensitivity or military firepower
could have made work”, says Hugh White in The Age. Political
leaders may want to blame the execution, but in Iraq, the country’s
political divisions and nuances are primary and “over the politics we
in
the Coalition have almost no influence at all.” And the fact that
Australia finds itself in this predicament, “compelled
to sustain a largely futile symbolic presence in a land in which we
can achieve so little, is a testament to the failure of Howard’s
initial conception”.

In today’s Labor party no-one is fighting over a single issue of
substance – “principle does not get a look in” and “ideology is
completely absent”, says Laurie Oakes in The Bulletin.
“Me me me” is all the factional fighters within today’s Labor party can
trouble themselves to think about at the moment; and it’s just “tawdry, depressing and stupid”. In-fighting
has taken the focus away from policy, with Labor’s efforts (if in fact
there are any at the moment) to carve out some form of credible
alternative government falling on deaf ears in both the media and the
electorate.

Newspapers may not get the kind of stockmarket valuations on present
profits that the big websites do, but there is “not yet one of those
sites, as far as we are aware, that currently does what quality papers
have done for years – independently gather, edit and supply reliable
news and analysis”, says The Wall Street Journal
(subscription
required). And that’s the key. No matter how much we love Google News,
and how popular its mother company has become with the
analysts, the real value proposition – “journalistic standards and
editorial judgement” – is more important than ever in this digital age.
After all, anyone can spend a lifetime wading through information on Iraq
and WMD and still not get to the most salient points of the story.

With their “sham multiculturalism” Americans cannot comprehend the rich diversity of European cultures, says Stojgniev O’Donnell
in Pravda. And it shows – not just in how they approach Europe but in
how they interact with the rest of the world. “Europe is purely
physical space, not a single culture or shared
history. If there are indeed some pan-European values, those are things
like a lifestyle more relaxed than that which Americans know.” And what
will happen in the Middle East is “not a battle between Good and
Evil. It will be a struggle between two forces of evil, radical Islam
versus Israel and America. There are no innocents there.”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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