Wednesday, September 25, 2002

New today: Jay Nordlinger's reflections on Australia, and on the Oz-US alliance. He promises that "In a future Impromptus, I’m going to reprint a statement by an Australian politician — in support of America and its current efforts— that’ll knock your socks off." The remarkable thing is that I don't know which of many such he has in mind. For how many U.S. allies can one say that? Even for Britain, today it would be clear that the quote would be from Blair, even if we didn't know which particular quote was being referred to.

I've posted my own considerations on Australia and the alliance here, here, and here. One quick addition to the "give those people what they want" story from one of Nordlinger's correspondents: in addition to not having chipped in much on East Timor, the U.S. does badly by Australia in other important ways, notably trade-related. Australia is the rare rich country that has a basically free market in agriculture-- no massive distorting export subsidies, price supports, and all the rest. ("Basically" free because there-- as I recall-- are some implicit subsidies in the supply of water, and until recent decades there was a large implicit subsidy in the supply of formerly-Aboriginal land. But the U.S., f'r'instance, has those plus a whole lot more, and Europe is worse still, and Japan worse again.) Australia has from time to time requested that the U.S. lay off some particular subsidy, and to the best of my recollection the request has never been granted-- even when the U.S. was subsidizing exports to some market in which Australian (unsubsidized) products were the only competitor, and so the old "Europe does it too!" excuse was utterly irrelevant. Freeing trade is the right thing to do in general, and is in the interest of the country freeing trade as Brink Lindsey never fails to point out. It shouldn't be understood as a favor that the freeing country does for the other one. But since the public all over the world does understand freeing trade as that sort of favor, it might be nice if occasionally we did such a favor for our single most reliable ally.

No comments: