The Guardian June 18, 2003


Editorial:

Round one to Crean

Simon Crean has trounced Kim Beazley by a vote of 58 to 34 in what is 
probably only round one of an ongoing inner party struggle. Kim Beazley's 
leadership grab, was no ordinary challenge. It had little to do with the 
personalities of the two candidates although this was put forward as the 
main issue  which of the two had the best chance of leading Labor to 
victory in the next Federal election.

Both candidates come from the right wing of the Party and agree on many 
issues. None-the-less, Crean's decisive defeat of Kim Beazley is a very 
important outcome in other ways.

The real issues behind Beazley's challenge were never mentioned in the 
campaign by either Crean or Beazley or in the media coverage.

Although Beazley and his supporters are pledging loyalty to Simon Crean in 
the aftermath of the election this cannot be taken seriously. Another 
challenge is likely to come at some time in the future, going perhaps as 
far as actually engineering a split in the Labor Party.

The Labor Party split of 1955, when the extreme right-wing Industrial 
Groupers broke away and formed the Democratic Labor Party, needs to be 
recalled. Its purpose was to keep the Labor Party out of office, which it 
succeeded in doing for a long period.

It is the same extreme right-wing political forces, who are fanatically 
pro-USA, that are today behind the challenge to Simon Crean.
b
The Australian ruling class cannot tolerate a government coming to power 
that poses even a slight challenge to retaining Australia as a capitalist 
and conservative base, preserving the economic, political and military 
interests of US and British imperialism in the region.

As everyone knows, this is the role being willingly played by John Howard. 
What may be less understood is that Kim Beazley would play exactly the same 
role should he become leader of the ALP and then Prime Minister. Crean did, 
to some extent, differentiate himself from Howard's support of the Iraq 
invasion and occupation.

Beazley has a long-standing and trusted relationship with US leaders. He 
has done nothing and said nothing during the period of the Iraq war to 
indicate that he had any difference with the US and the Howard Government 
policy of military pre-emptive strikes.

As far back as 1994 when he was Minister for Finance in the Keating 
Government, he laid down his militarist agenda. In an interview at that 
time during a US-Australian policy dialogue, he said: "It is not possible 
for the US to have a better dialogue partner on regional security issues 
than Australia. At the end of the day strong, permanent military alliances 
 and strong long-term military relationships  depend upon a very high 
level of cultural interactability (sic) and understanding ."

Beazley made it clear that in his view America's greatest influence in the 
region came from its forward military deployment, not its economic power.

Heaping praise on Kim Beazley at the time, one of the US representatives at 
the conference, Kevin Nealer said, "I think it would be extremely useful 
for Kim's comments to be heard by many American policy-makers." (See The 
Weekend Australian Sept 3-4, 1994)

Kim Beazley's words were heard in Washington and have been taken up by the 
present Bush administration's policy of military "pre-emptive strikes".

The Howard Government is currently preparing its own pre-emptive strike 
against the Solomon Islands based on this doctrine of military 
intervention.

The stakes in the ALP leadership challenge are extremely high and go to the 
very heart of Australia's foreign policy and the present subservient role 
played by Howard. They are fully backed by Beazley and those behind him.

A number of Beazley's supporters have resigned from the Labor front bench. 
The is ALP one big, happy family, so we are told.

But there is now a big shadow hanging over Crean and the Labor leadership: 
those who hoisted Beazley into a leadership challenge  a challenge they 
clearly knew was unlikely to succeed  have not abandoned their 
objectives.
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