What Trumble's cringeworthy meeting with Trump means for Australia

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(Screen shot via YouTube)

Malcolm Turnbull's trip to shake the hand of Donald Trump has diminished the prime minister and is degrading for Australia, writes ​John Passant.

THE SCRIPT writes itself. Prime Minister Trumble (Sean Spicer’s words, not mine) prostrated himself before Emperor Trump, grovelling and pledging allegiance to the great leader of the free world. 

The circumstances surrounding his visit reinforce this view. One week before Treasurer Scott Morrison is due to deliver the 2017 Budget, Turnbull jets off to New York to meet President Trump.

The plan was to meet for a short time in a Manhattan Hotel. It did not happen. Instead, Trump celebrated his House of Representatives narrow "victory" on health care.

They met even more briefly before a "gala event" on the USS Intrepid in the Hudson River, organised to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the defeat, by their combined forces, of the Japanese in the Battle of the Coral Sea. That gala event, by the way, cost up to US$150,000 (AU$202,000) for attendees.

The rogues’ gallery attending included Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart, Anthony Pratt, Lindsay Fox, Frank Lowy and Greg Norman. Oh, and let’s not forget the indomitable Australian Ambassador to the United States, the one and only, Joe Hockey.

The Battle of the Coral Sea is hailed as the victory that stopped the Japanese from invading Australia. However, as Tom O’Lincoln forcefully argues in his magnificent book, Australia’s Pacific War: Challenging a National Myth, the very stretched Japanese had no such intention or ability.

This ruling class lie is a reflection of a constant and consistent historical theme of ruling class created xenophobia about invading "yellow hordes". When it comes to war, facts and our ruling class are not normally close partners, as the more recent "weapons of mass destruction" falsehood attests.

Back to the Turnbull and Trump club. To read the transcript of their joint press conference after their half hour together is to experience a new level of sycophancy.

As Van Badham wrote:

‘Actual transcript of Turnbull meeting Trump ... OR "When the blowhard with no idea met the disappointment with no spine. If you're not cringing, you're not paying attention.'

For example, both of them lied through their teeth at their New York meeting about what a good phone call they had had just after Trump was sworn in. 

Then Turnbull congratulated Trump on his success in the House on destroying Obamacare and getting closer to expanding the already expensive market-driven U.S. health care system. 

That should give Australians a good indication of what the Turnbull Government would like to do to Medicare — itself an inadequate and worsening public health system, essentially tacked on to a private health care system. Given the public commitment to Medicare, however, Turnbull and Co cannot destroy it — not upfront, at least.

Instead, what they are doing is killing Medicare slowly. It is death by a thousand cuts. In a decade, we might have moved much closer to our own version of TrumpNoCare.

Turnbull said, in his not quite correct English, that their meeting:

“ ... was more family than formal, a very, very warm encounter and a great evening."

Family, eh? Well, yes, rich tax haven users have a lot in common. However, we should not get lost in all the fawning between the two countries.

America will act in what it sees as its interests. So will Australia. They often intersect. Indeed, for the last 130 years or so, the interests of Australia’s ruling class have best been served by attaching itself to the dominant imperialist powers of the time: the United Kingdom until the end of World War II and the United States since then.

It is not that Australia is an arse-licker. Australia is an imperialist power in the region and it uses the umbrella of friendship with the dominant power to expand its influence and reach. It is also that the Australian ruling class has taken out an insurance policy with U.S. imperialism to protect it from other, competing imperialists.

The Pine Gap spy base and similar arrangements, as well as U.S. troops in Darwin, give Australia some power in dealing with the United States. So, too, does the rise of China, as the U.S. looks for ways to contain the growth of China’s power. That best explains, I believe, Trump’s agreement to the refugee resettlement deal — a deal he previously described as "dumb".

With the economic rise of China and the robust trade we have with it, Australia tries to play both sides of the fence. One aspect of that means sucking up to Trump. Hence, the Prime Minister looked like the village idiot, complete with "full rictus grin" — as Turnbull's fake smile was described by psychologist and IA contributor Lyn Bender.

This is the personal price Turnbull has to pay for the U.S. alliance insurance policy. The price our young boys and girls in the military pay can be their lives, as the 500 dead in Vietnam and the tens of thousands mentally and physically wounded, show.

This insurance policy support goes further than just photo opportunities. Thus, for example, Turnbull joined Trump a few weeks ago in calling on China to rein in North Korea. It appears unlikely, however, we would join any U.S. provocation over the South China Sea. It was Julie Bishop who said that we don’t take sides in territorial disputes. We might be loyal allies but our ruling class knows who buys our Gina’s minerals.

The U.S. trip to shake The Donald’s hand has diminished the Prime Minister. His exposure as a gibbering idiot in this visit highlights this.

Let’s not forget those uncomfortable images of him with Trump, or the fact that he wasted two days on travel to meet the President, for what was basically a photo opportunity and to spout claptrap about how great our war machines are. The cold hard calculating approach of the Australian ruling class to the U.S. alliance forces Turnbull into degrading himself — and us.

The cold hard fact of the reactionary right in the Liberal Party and the demands for even more austerity diminish Turnbull here.

Let’s wipe the smile from his face as we did on election night in July 2016, when the Turnbull Government almost lost.

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