Diary Australia

Washington diary

17 March 2018

9:00 AM

17 March 2018

9:00 AM

Washington is now the capital of a resurgent nation, rejecting the untenable proposition that she is in terminal decline, a fading superpower who must hand on the mantle of world leadership. Americans everywhere are increasingly tired of the negativity of the elites and their refusal to accept the election results. The signs are there in polling trends, NFL and Oscars TV ratings and in the loss of credibility by an agenda-driven mainstream media. The Mueller investigation has produced not a skerrick of impeachable evidence and will most likely be more compromised by the soon-to-be released Inspector General’s report. Rather than dismissing Mueller, a second special counsel, from outside and of undoubted integrity, should be appointed to reveal just what mischief has been lurking in the swamp.

America’s role as leader of the free world has many years to go. As Glubb Pasha found, the usual age of empires is 250 years and by that measure the American era is young indeed.

The flight from Australia is long, made longer this time because New York’s JFK was twice snow-bound, global warmist revenge for abandoning the Accord de Paris. I was reminded throughout that Qantas is a truly excellent airline. Among the world’s oldest, it is recognised as the lead airline in virtually every major operational safety advancement over the past 60 years.

Not so long ago it seemed Qantas would go the way of so many other Australian icons and be lost forever. In response to union guerrilla tactics which were bleeding the airline, CEO Alan Joyce fought back courageously. By grounding the fleet, he forced the union bosses to face the consequences of their mischief. This caused such outrage among the elites that Senator Xenophon even called for Joyce’s head.

But Joyce prevailed, turning the company around, and saving the national airline. A knighthood would be in order, no matter what the elites think.

I was in Washington to speak at the annual luncheon of the International Strategic Studies Association’s College of Fellows. The ISSA is led by the very influential and prolific author and commentator on world affairs, and editor of the respected journal, Strategic Policy, Gregory R. Copley. This invitation was a particular honour; last year’s speaker was the great Brexiteer, Nigel Farage.


My subject was constitutional and institutional choice, far more important to national success than race, geography or even enjoying vast resources —just compare Venezuela with Israel or Switzerland.

On this Australia is a laboratory worthy of study. Uniquely, civil society came with the other institutions, the rule of law and government according to constitution principles. The result has been an eminently successful nation, not without institutional weaknesses, but not the ones the elites would claim.

One is the constitutional monarchy, which they would replace with a ‘republic’, one so fake the powers of the political class would be vastly increased. If they were at all genuine, their model would be based on the world’s most successful republics, the US and Switzerland.

A superpower, even one as benign and as extraordinarily benevolent as the United States, can significantly affect a country’s choice of institutions, sometimes with unforeseen consequences. We should never forget Germany’s appalling decision to deliver Lenin into Russia in a sealed train, as Churchill wrote, like some plague bacillus.  The result was, as Ronald Reagan dared say, an evil empire under which up to 100 million went to their untimely deaths and many millions more were enslaved.

When it comes to political institutions for a constitutional democracy, there are two principal models, Washington and Westminster. The British were probably better overall in suggesting or even imposing constitutional solutions, especially as new countries emerged out of the Ottoman Empire and down to the creation of Malaysia after they saved her from communism.

Clearly, constitutional monarchy works better where there is a need for unity and where the monarch can provide leadership beyond politics, while satisfying the principle that the crown is important not for the power it wields but the power it denies others.

Apart from Japan, American administrations have not so much rejected monarchy but not given it due consideration. Recent examples are Afghanistan and Iraq where the mistakes made were not in the successful and arguably lawful intervention, but in the subsequent occupation.

The crucial and essential preparation for the administration of any country is in understanding of its history.  But as Glubb Pasha wisely recalled, the only thing we learn from history is that men never learn from history.

There are two points that a hegemon should remember. First, on any measure of success, e.g. the UN’s Human Development Index, constitutional monarchies are, overall, far more successful. The second is that when exported, only the Westminster model has worked successfully for any extensive period.

I was honoured to be a guest at an investiture dinner marking the anniversary of the Ethiopian victory in the Battle of Adwa in 1896. The host, Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, there with his beautiful consort Princess Saba, presides over the Crown Council of Ethiopia. As such he represents a 3,000 year old monarchy, the oldest in the world, dating back to the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, King of Israel. The link with our monarchy is at the most sacred part of the Coronation, which follows the anointing of Solomon as King by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet.

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the visit of his grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie, Prince Ermias came to Australia in 2017 which, as the Australian Financial Review observed, took on the trappings of a state visit. Ethiopia could not have a better symbol of unity in the Prince as its restored Emperor, nor a better international advocate. There is a long link between Addis Ababa and the Commonwealth, the forces of which played a major role in its liberation in 1941. Under a restored Emperor, Ethiopia would make an excellent new member of a Commonwealth rejuvenated by Brexit and the likely interest and support of the US President.

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator Australia for less – just $20 for 10 issues


Show comments
Close