The current Commonwealth Games serve to remind us of the glorious British conquests and that Queen Victoria crowned herself Empress of India.
Australia is amongst the many British colonies, and is part of the present-day British Commonwealth. It was formally a prison colony, with many of the convicts having been political prisoners. Today, the Queen is still Australia's head of government. Contrary to common belief, she is not just a figurehead. The Queen can dissolve the Australian Parliament whenever she pleases. She also has the power to control money appropriations, appoint and remove judges, negate proposed laws, and has full command of the armed forces.
If President Obama seeks troop support from Australia, he could bypass the Prime Minister altogether, and instead, discuss the matter directly with the Queen's representative, the Governor-General of Australia. The Governor-General is the commander in chief of Australia's naval and military forces – that is, the Queen has the final say in Australian military deployments. It is the Queen who decides whether Australian troops remain in Afghanistan. Why the Queen does not always exercise her powers can be explained by the lesson learned from Charles I, which has taught British monarchs to use Parliaments as a front.
The figurehead in Australia is not the Queen or her representative, the Governor-General. The figurehead is the Prime Minister, who is allowed to rule only at the Queen's pleasure. Since 1975, the Queen has unceremoniously discarded two first-term Prime Ministers who ran afoul of her. Gough Whitlam and Kevin Rudd know very well that popular Prime Ministers can be removed by the Queen before the people have the chance to re-elect them.
The Afghanistan war is now being compared to the Vietnam conflict; there is no end in sight and the casualties are mounting. Many people are in favour of withdrawing the troops from foreign soil and stop fighting what they perceive as an American war. Let the leaders who cry for war fight the battles on the front line. Perhaps there would be fewer who would put their hands up for war.
If the Australian people want their troops out of Afghanistan, they need not petition the Prime Minister. They should instead petition the Governor-General or send their pleas directly to the Queen. Under the Constitution, the Governor-General is the commander in chief of the naval and military forces in Australia and she is the Queen's representative. If Australians want to empower their Prime Minister, they would need to have a referendum to amend the Constitution to become a republic in order to break away from British rule. Of course the referendum could prove to be a futile exercise because the Constitution cannot be changed without the Queen's assent. One does not have to be psychic to know that the Queen would not readily relinquish her power.
The Commonwealth Games should remind us all that many countries are under British influence or control.© 2010 Amitakh Stanford