The fall of Kabul has raised questions for Australia about the reliability of its alliance with the United States of America. For Australians this capitulation evokes comparisons with another decisive imperial humiliation, the fall of Singapore in 1942. The conquest by Japan of the fortress of the British Empire in South East Asia in the weeks following the attack on Pearl Harbour, led the then Australian Prime Minister to turn decisively from the declining British Empire that could not longer secure Australia’s defence to the rising American Empire. Will the fall of Kabul and the rise of Eurasia provoke the same questioning of foreign policy by Australia?
In episode 18 of The Burning Archive podcast, Jeff Rich discusses the Australian response to the defeat of the American Empire in Afghanistan, and what it might mean for the foreign policy of his island home.
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Credits and material referred to during the show:
- Midnight Oil, US Forces.
- The Australian newspaper August and September 2021 (Paul Kelly, David Kilcullen, Peta Credlin, Greg Sheridan)
- Colin Chapman The aftermath of withdrawal, 27 Aug 2021 https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/the-aftermath-of-withdrawal/
- Hugh White https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-18/taiwan-looks-in-fear-as-us-withdraws-from-afghanistan/100383386
- Hugh White, “Afghanistan” (2009) https://www.themonthly.com.au/nation-reviewed-hugh-white-comment-afghanistan–2027#mtr
- “The fall of Singapore: the lessons of alliance failure” ASPI Strategist 2017 https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/fall-singapore-lessons-alliance-failure/
- John Curtin, The Task Ahead [First published in The Herald (Melbourne), 27 December 1941], http://john.curtin.edu.au/pmportal/text/00468.html
- Lachlan Grant, “Remembering the fall of Singapore, Australian War Memorial blog
- The wonderful Kimiko Ishizaka and the Open Goldberg project, for the public domain recording of the Aria from J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations
- Ezra Pound reading from Canto 81.
Some other posts related to Afghanistan, imperial rivalry and the emergence of a multipolar world are:
- The fall of the American Empire’s Potemkin Province,
- The World Island vs the Atlantic
- A multi-polar world
I hope you enjoy this show. Let me know what you think about what it means for the history of our times – with comments here, via firstname.lastname@example.org, or on twitter @ArchiveBurning.