Imperial arrangements require decent overseer of subjects. In the Pax Americana, which is, in fact, rather violent, Australia is indispensable in the Pacific theatre. It offers land, facilities, and the means to eye future enemies and keep allies in check. Wedged between China and the United States, Australia could focus on smoothing rocky roads and building bridges. But this is something Washington is very keen on preventing. Those in the business of empire want to monitor the level of satrap loyalty.
As General Joe Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, explained, with measured gravity, “We have enduring interests here, and we have an enduring commitment and we have an enduring presence here.” Enduring being the operative word here.
That Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. will be making his way across to Canberra as ambassador to Australia (or, as the official appointment goes, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary) is significant in one fundamental respect. Harris is a man with a digest of distinct hawkishness where it counts. US power must be preserved; rivals must be contained. His motivations to that end are simple enough. He also fits, in many ways, the profile of an appropriate governor of a distant province that might, should the time come, prove useful in war.
“During his 39-year career,” goes the press release from the White House, “he served in every geographic combatant command and has held seven command…