I like that idea - especially if it's a public holiday. :-)Why am I so keen? Apart from Sorry Day, it's also my birthday.
It seemed like the first time I'd heard an Australian politician say something that was worth hearing. I miss Kev, we don't hear much of him down here.
Sure, if you think that if a married couple want to have an event to celebrate their marriage, they shouldn't do it on the day that most of them associate with the formation of the marriage (like the anniversary of the wedding). They should celebrate on the anniversary of the day that the adulterous spouse confessed their adultery to the other. I can't see that being a healthy anniversary to make the celebration for a marriage. And I can't see making Australia day 'National Sorry Day' as anything other than a faddish exercise in self-loathing. Leave it to the Green Weekly mob, they like that kind of self-flaggelation for sins that they ostentatiously reject. Is the only choice you're going to offer us going to be between a conservative jingoistic patrotism, or a left-wing hatred for one's own culture and country? Surely there are more options out there.
At the moment it's very much like we're celebrating family day on the anniversary of the time the father left (slaughtered) the mother of some of his kids and took up with someone else. I can't see that being a healthy anniversary to make the celebration for a family.I think sorry day is well worth celebrating.
'Surely there are more options out there'. Now someone's thinking! We have a great opportunity to contribute to our culture in a healthy way if we can avoid the 'conservative jingoistic patrotism, or a left-wing hatred for one's own culture and country'. We have an opportunity to be a great blessing to our nation and bring honour to Jesus in the lives of the people who live here. Will we think it through well or just keep sneering and shouting out in tantrums at our culture?
I think we should have a holiday both days - I'm all for public holidays.
Mark and Dave. There's a lot of strong language there that I think is unfair. I can't see how this suggestion in any way 'hates' our culture. And I don't think it's sneering or shouting either. It's an attempt to deal with the genuine discomfort that I think we should all feel about some of the background of the prosperity that we enjoy today. Having said that I actually agree with you that February 13th is a bad day to have as our key national day. I think in general the idea of a sorry day is good, but there should be another day where we can express gratitude for what God has given us and aspire to be a just and peaceful society.With that out of the way I also wanted to address the issue of Patriotism, because I still don't think it's the right framework for us to be thinking through our relationship with our country. I can't think of anywhere in the Bible where it tells me to love my country or to vigorously defend it against all enemies and detractors. What I do see in the Bible is that the command which sounds like patriotism - love your neighbour as yourself is specifically defined by Jesus in a non-patriotic way. Your neighbour is actually someone from another country (a despised country at that). The command to love your enemies seems to push in the same direction. On the positive front, I think that as Christians we should be grateful for God's good gifts. And I am grateful for the peace and prosperity and for where our culture has contributed to that.I also think we should have a particular interest in justice for the powerless, and I think that the Bible certainly indicates that good government/authorities is the way that this is achieved and that's why it's important to submit to our governments and why we might sometimes go to war etc etc. I guess what I'm saying is - I'm not a left wing anarchist or anything and I'm not sneering or shouting. But I think the Bible gives us a distinctive way to approach our country - a way that's not patriotism.
Hi Andrew,Well, we'll have to disagree about what moving Australia Day to Feb 13 implies, especially when it is moving off the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet. To my mind it suggests that the only positive thing we can celebrate about our history, post the arrival of the first fleet, is that we finally apologised to the original inhabitants. I think that's a form of 'self-loathing'. Even to move the date to the anniversary of federation would be different than moving it to a day that is fundamentally about what we've done wrong (and continue to do wrong - this isn't all in the past).On patriotism, this is going to depend a lot on your basic philosophy of how one reads the Bible. I agree that I don't think the Bible ever commands us to love our country or even to vigorously defend it against enemies (I won't bother with the 'detrators' comment as it should be clear by now that my definition of patriotism does not include refusing to weigh criticisms made against one's country). For some people that's the end of the matter, if there's no text, there's no biblical basis.But there's lots of things the Bible doesn't make commands about. There's no command against gambling that I'm aware of, no command against necrophilia either. Yet, both seem to be fairly straight-forward conclusions from things the Bible does say. There's no command that we should love ourselves either - but I don't think that that means that God doesn't want us to love ourselves.I think we find people as real people - located in history and time, in a particular culture, family, network of relationships, and social institutions. We don't find abstracted examples of a universal humanity. To love someone is to love an Aussie, a Chinese, a Chilean, a Botwanan etc. They all have their own culture, and are located in a social organisation of some kind. And that organisation - clan, city-state, nation, whatever - matters. It is something good given by God that enables people to function and work together to accomplish more and to enjoy more culture and society than would be possible as just a collection of independent families.I don't care whether people call it 'love' or just use the biblical language of 'honour' and 'seeking the welfare of' and 'giving thanks for and being grateful for'. To my mind, if you've got those three in place for something like a country you've got 'patriotism' anyway, whether you call it that or not.Those things are all gifts of common grace, and they're important ones. Patriotism - a sense of caring about the welfare of the country as a whole - is one of things neccessary for a democracy to work. It is what fuels the possibility of a volunteer, professional armed forces who see what they are doing as something that has honour in it (and so therefore has standards as well) - and so removes the need for a perpetual draft, it creates the possibility of people acting out of a sense of public service, it enables society to avoid corruption as people act in public office with a sense of what is in the public interest and not merely of their own, or their family's or their clan's.All of that needs some kind of love for one's country, i.e. patriotism. I don't think what you're speaking about here is anything other than patriotism. (I mean, apart from love for one's enemies, and broadening neighbour out beyond those in your social network - that's a Christian distinctive, certainly.)
At the risk of a Richardson 'stacks on' on Mark, I think there is a significant distinction between the kind of respect for human structures and authorities that you describe here and the kind of patriotism that was being originally critiqued by Andrew and Simone. I am uncomfortable with criticising 'love' for the nation, because I honestly don't have a problem with that, but I think a lot of the patriotism displayed on Australia Day is a heightened and uncritical pride in one's own nation which is really problematic for Christians. I suspect we do actually all agree with that.Having said that, I would like to push back on the notion that in order to love individuals we have to love the structures that they participate in and are organised by and that this means we must love nations per se. It seems to me that in reality, these structures are often pitted against each other and against individual welfare in ways that are deeply unloving to people. I think, for example of that ardent British nationalist Maggie Thatcher, who was a great proponent of 'the nation' but denied (in my view highly destructively) the notion of 'society'. Similarly, the history of nationalism suggests that often (not always) those most ardent for the nation are most enthusiastic to send individual members of that nation off to the horrors of war for the honour of that nation. Loving individuals will certainly lead us to seek the welfare of those communities and structures in which they are organised, but I don't think this is the same thing as saying we will always seek the maintenance of the particular historical form, the nation.A little thought experiment.... imagine globalisation succeeds beyond our imagining and in the future humans are organised primarily in terms of the multinational corporations that pay our bills. So the primary organisational structure I participate in is the Coca Cola Corporation. Now I can see that the effective and stable running of Coke is good for the individuals working there at this time. Coke has a terrific brand name, it pays well and gives me a good life. My grandparents worked there and put a lot of hard and honorable work into making Coke a good place to work. But on reflection, as a Christian, I think Coke is pretty pointless as an organisation and its profits arise (in this future world) from the exploitation of the global South and the promotion of obesity in the global North. Do I seek the welfare of my neighbour by seeking to boost Coke's profits and maintain the structures of globalisation, or do I seek the welfare of my neighbour by seeking a different set of structures which I think will be better for all my neighbours in the long term?I am NOT drawing a parallel between nations and corporations, or between Australia and Coke, of course, I am simply questioning the notion that commitment to people means commitment to their structures.
Hello all, Andrew Cruickshank here.My idea (not my idea of course, but what I find helpful) is that Christians are in exile in the world. Some of us are in Australia. So we're not primarily Australian and hence we have a foundation to criticise Australia from and a motive to do so - the peace of the city, the good of the nation. We aren't in Sartre's position of being unable to criticize history because it had led up to him. We will be suspicious of nation-state's claims on human life - and their tendency to expand (I mean the claims). On the other hand, we can be very thankful for the fairly effective suspension of the war of all with all within Australia at the moment. I think the social reality we've constructed here requires some sacrifices - I can't just punch people, no matter how rude they are. The destruction of the aboriginal world is a loss that is immeasurably greater, and a loss handed them by force, not like my consent to the state monopoly on violence. Having thought about it seriously for the first time, I think this is what Australia day should be about - remembering that a society is fragile, upheld by sacrifice, full of people who have suffered in ways that dwarf the minor sacrifice. Captaining the Australian Cricket Team is probably not on my list.
@Jo At the risk of a Richardson 'stacks on' on Mark,:) Pfft, after the last two series on Sola Panel with the egalitarians, a Richardson/Cruickshank stacks on is more like a cheerleader’s pyramid. Go for it. I think there is a significant distinction between the kind of respect for human structures and authorities that you describe here and the kind of patriotism that was being originally critiqued by Andrew and Simone. I am uncomfortable with criticising 'love' for the nation, because I honestly don't have a problem with that, but I think a lot of the patriotism displayed on Australia Day is a heightened and uncritical pride in one's own nation which is really problematic for Christians. I suspect we do actually all agree with that.Yars, Simone mentioned this to me privately, but it wasn’t clear in the original post, nor has anyone really made it clear since then. And I'm uncomfortable bringing private knowledge to a public document, until that private knowledge is public.I’ve got no problem with bad kinds of patriotism being critiqued and rejected. I have problems with ‘patriotism’ being rejected because of those bad forms. It’d be like saying “5 reasons why love is wrong” after watching two hours of music videos where the word ‘love’ featured heavily in the songs. We don't normally reject a word because we hate some of the forms that the word is commonly put to. Yet patriotism seems to be one of those things that people are quick to reject, rather than reform. It's anomolous to our normal patterns on these matters, and seems to happen on predictable political party lines, by and large.Having said that, I would like to push back on the notion that in order to love individuals we have to love the structures that they participate in and are organised by and that this means we must love nations per se.Yes, quite agree with all your points here. I think my point was expressing my frustration that (yet again) people seem to be seeing the division, and basic conflict, between individuals (and humanity) and the nation as a self-evident. My point was my usual reaction to that kind of abstraction – if you want to go and join Woodstock in singing Imagine, All You Need Is Love, or Kumbaya go and do it. But when the drugs wear off, the music stops, and the tree hugging comes to an end (I’ve got to stop watching Glee, Sue Sylvester is having an effect on me) you have to face reality – you need more than love for individuals considered abstractly, or for a humanity that exists everywhere yet nowhere. You can’t play social structure off against people or humanity so easily (or cheaply, I would add). You have to make a serious ethical decision on a case by case basis – is this particular social institution worthy of some kind of love, or should it be torn down because it does not serve the ends to which it is appointed? I wasn’t trying to give a blank cheque for nations or social institutions. But I’ll put my money down on the table on this one. If someone seriously is trying to say that Australia’s democratic and liberal nation state is so problematic that to love it and be grateful for it, to want to work with it and build on it rather than sweep it away and replace it is going to get in the way of loving people or humanity then that’s not a moral judgement I can come at easily. And I wonder what (apart from anarchy) people would want to replace it with? As social institutions go, Australia is pretty darn good on the whole for living out one’s Christian faith. Why wouldn’t we love and be loyal to something like that – not uncritically, not slavishly, but nonetheless gratefully and genuinely?
@Andrew Cruickshank - I basically agree, and where I do it's with a hearty 'amen' - I think your comment here (and Narelle's for the More on Nationalism/Patriotism post) are my votes for the two most constructive contributions.This bit in particular was just gold:Having thought about it seriously for the first time, I think this is what Australia day should be about - remembering that a society is fragile, upheld by sacrifice, full of people who have suffered in ways that dwarf the minor sacrifice. Captaining the Australian Cricket Team is probably not on my list.Where there's possibly some small but not insignificant disagreement between us is this:My idea (not my idea of course, but what I find helpful) is that Christians are in exile in the world. Some of us are in Australia. So we're not primarily Australian and hence we have a foundation to criticise Australia from and a motive to do so - the peace of the city, the good of the nation.Is it the case that because my citizenship is in heaven and I'm not primarily Australian, that I'm not really Australian? You haven't quite gone there, but I think your language could move in that direction. This gets at a point someone made to Simone in one of the earlier posts - if we see ourselves as citizens of Heaven (only) and not as citizens of Australia, and so see love of Australia as incompatible with our identity in Christ - a kind of disloyalty - then we shouldn't vote. Indeed, we should see if we can become stateless - surrender our citizenship anywhere. Non-australians can love Australia and seek what's best for it. Hopefully that's true of Australia's allies. That doesn't make one a citizen of a country. Citizenship carries with it the idea that it is "one's own" - of some kind of identification with the country and oneself. If our citizenship in heaven is exclusive then Christians should not take on the responsibilities and rights of earthly citizenship. And there's Christians who have done that quite consistently - the Anabaptists, some strands of Plymouth Bretheren, for example. If we don't think our heavenly citizenship works that way - that in the 'now but not yet' last days there is an overlap - then our heavenly citizenship will shape our approach to our earthly citizenship, but it doesn't necessarily lead to not loving "one's own" country in that way that citizens of a country have.
Mark, I think you do me a slight disservice in accusing me of proof-texting. What I was trying to do was show that my theology was based on some texts, which I believe is the foundation of all good theology.The point I was trying to establish was that the overall slant of the New Testament was away from a particular love for your own nation, and towards a love for others, regardless of nationality. This is why I think that patriotism by most definitions is the wrong framework for Christians to work with. The 'defense against detractors' comment was not polemical - it's from the Oxford dictionary definition of patriotism (which was quoted at me in another context)."....to love it and be grateful for it, to want to work with it and build on it rather than sweep it away and replace it is going to get in the way of loving people or humanity then that’s not a moral judgement I can come at easily."I agree with this. But I think patriotism would see the 'working with and building up' as an end in itself that works towards the 'benefit of the nation'. I think the Biblical picture would see this attitude as an end to something bigger.
My claim is that patriotism fits into that same class of things - that's the controversial bit even for those who agree with Calvin that not everything has to be in the Bible. So my response to your evidence is not that you're prooftexting - you clearly aren't - but that you are treating the Bible as though it is our sole source for social ethics. And that's clearly not Calvin, it's more Anabaptist. Calvin has the view that because people are inherently social/political an awareness of the fundamentals of social norms is wired in.In light of that, as I agree with him, I look at the evidence you produced, particularly these two very well argued sentences:What I do see in the Bible is that the command which sounds like patriotism - love your neighbour as yourself is specifically defined by Jesus in a non-patriotic way. Your neighbour is actually someone from another country (a despised country at that). The command to love your enemies seems to push in the same direction. and I don't see that as exhaustively defining the issue. I see it as drawing upon a pre-existing moral framework and extending it, not overturning it, or pushing it to one side. It's like the principle of primogeniture. Because of how Paul uses it to do with gender relations, at least some egalitarians deny that the principle has much weight in Scripture - and they point to the fact that it is rarely endorsed, but more often overturned as God chooses the younger over the older. But that just seems daft to me - those examples only serve to bring out the nature of election (and the superiority of Christ in those passages) because the Bible assumes primogeniture. And I'd argue the same here.But I think patriotism would see the 'working with and building up' as an end in itself that works towards the 'benefit of the nation'. I think the Biblical picture would see this attitude as an end to something bigger.Hmmmn. I'm not so sure. Americans are, by any standard, highly patriotic. And they seem to me to have a view that what is good for America is good for the world. Their love for the country brings with it a sense that their country feeds into a good beyond its borders - partly by example (it is, as everyone knows, the land of the free and the home of the brave), and partly by using its unprecedented power for more than just its own global power and interest. I'm not saying that they're perfect or unproblematic in any of that. I am saying that this reassertion of yours that love for one's country is incompatible with a concern for people outside one's country is just as wrong now as when you made it as part of your original five points. America is too strong a counter-example.
Okay, blogger is gremlining my comments. I'll break this into small chunks. They all come before the comment above:Hi Andrew,Yes, that would have been more than a slight disservice, but doing that wasn't my intent (I'm happy to accept that I may have done it inadvertantly). I agree you weren't 'merely' prooftexting, but establishing a case based on a trajectory you see in the NT. What I thought I was doing was more defensive - trying to establish my case in the absence of any such biblical data to support it. I wasn't (trying to) accusing you of prooftexting, but was trying to argue why something can be missing entirely from Scripture and still be a Christian norm. I suppose another way I could have done it would have been to have pointed to Calvin's moves in the Institutes Book 2 and Chapter 2:
Since man is by nature a social animal, he is disposed, from natural instinct, to cherish and preserve society; and accordingly we see that the minds of all men have impressions of civil order and honesty. Hence it is that every individual understands how human societies must he regulated by laws, and also is able to comprehend the principles of those laws. Hence the universal agreement in regard to such subjects, both among nations and individuals, the seeds of them being implanted in the breasts of all without a teacher or lawgiver. The truth of this fact is not affected by the wars and dissensions which immediately arise, while some, such as thieves and robbers, would invert the rules of justice, loosen the bonds of law, and give free scope to their lust; and while others (a vice of most frequent occurrence) deem that to be unjust which is elsewhere regarded as just, and, on the contrary, hold that to be praiseworthy which is elsewhere forbidden. For such persons do not hate the laws from not knowing that they are good and sacred, but, inflamed with headlong passion, quarrel with what is clearly reasonable, and licentiously hate what their mind and understanding approve. Quarrels of this latter kind do not destroy the primary idea of justice. For while men dispute with each other as to particular enactments, their ideas of equity agree in substance. This, no doubt, proves the weakness of the human mind, which, even when it seems on the right path, halts and hesitates. Still, however, it is true, that some principle of civil order is impressed on all. And this is ample proof, that, in regard to the constitution of the present life, no man is devoid of the light of reason.
That's the kind of argument I'm trying to run here, and on a similar basis. Calvin doesn't see any need to go to the Bible to vindicate Aristotle's observation that 'man is a social (political) animal' - indeed his argument is that that is so much part of his nature (as seen by his ability to grasp the basics of civic morality) that it really is basic to being human. You no more go to the Bible to prove that people are social creatures than you do to prove the existence of an objective world, the validity of the law of non-contradiction, or the immorality of necrophilia. And then follows on to the comment above that begins with "My claim is that patriotism..."
This is such a white mans argument.I interact pretty regularly with the leaders of Tasmania's Aboriginal community. And I would not like to go in to bat with your argument, Dave Bailey.Perhaps I've misunderstood you Dave. Please correct me gently if I have (remember,I am an older man after all;)).But when you say Will we think it through well or just keep sneering and shouting out in tantrums at our culture? it seems like you are thinking only of white mans culture. That you are forgetting the culture of the marginalised black Australian. But our society is a lot more complex than that.Too much has happened in our history and too many people from all the corners of the world live in our country for us to be able to speak of "our culture."This post is about the date of Australia Day. It is a date which means different things, depending on which culture you are a part of. A change of date won't diminish the celebration of those who want to celebrate. But it might be another step towards bridging the very real gap between black and white Australia.You say We have an opportunity to be a great blessing to our nation and bring honour to Jesus in the lives of the people who live here. And I agree with you totally. Naturally.But Aborigines live here. And if it means that they will hear us better if they know we support a change of date, lets do it.
Hi Mark,Sorry, about the long delays in replying to your comments, but I am enjoying the conversation.I don't think we fundamentally have a disagreement about methadology. And in fact I'm pretty happy with Mr C's conclusions as well (although I might be a little more post-modern on the variety of human understandings of justice). I think where I have an issue, is with what drives your support for civil order and justice. Is it love for nation or is it love for neighbour. I think that while nation and neighbour overlap, they are not the same and may at times produce different actions/attitudes.In my mind, less patriotism and more love for those outside their borders would enhance Americans' efforts to help the world, not detract from it.
Hi Andrew,Likewise.I think I might also be slightly more post-modern than how Calvin at least appears on the variety of human understandings of justice. But I suspect that his account has a bit more flexibility than this bit might indicate - he, IIRC, sees that political units have a reasonable freedom to pursue equity in their laws, he's no fan of a theonomist-style approach of trying to base all civil law on the OT. I think his basic point is that people are motivated by a sense of justice that is more than 'just us', however much their sinfulness will often mean that they revert to "just us" when their own interests are at stake. It's why he sees a difference between a "nation" and a bandit gang. Only the former has a genuine authority to which one must submit.I think this paragraph of yours continues to be the crux of the matter between us:I think where I have an issue, is with what drives your support for civil order and justice. Is it love for nation or is it love for neighbour. I think that while nation and neighbour overlap, they are not the same and may at times produce different actions/attitudes.Your first and third sentences here are, in my view, uncontroversial - indeed utterly foundational categories to have in thinking about this. The question is about what drives our support for justice and civil order and nation and neighbour are two different "things" and this must mean some differences in our stance to them.
continuingThe problem for me remains your second sentence in between:Is it love for nation or is it love for neighbour.Why such a binary opposition? Would you be happy with me asking:Is it love for God or is it love for neighbour.Is it love for Sabbath or is it love for neighbour.Is it love for family or is it love for neighbour.Is it love for the church of God or is it love for neighbour.Is it love for the Law or is it love for neighbour.And we could multiply that more or less indefinitely. Are loves supposed to be played off against each other like this? Does love for neighbour require a stance towards other 'things' that call for our love (not the world, the flesh, and the devil - actually good things given by God) that can be cast as a choice for one and against the other?Love for one’s spouse is exclusive. Love for God involves a rejection of other gods. But most of our loves are compatible with other loves. I love my children, I love other children I encounter. I love my parents, I love other older people I meet. I’m not sure that “In my mind, less love for one’s family and more love for those outside one’s own family would enhance my efforts to help the world, not detract from it” works.
concludingSo when we get to your concrete reflection:In my mind, less patriotism and more love for those outside their borders would enhance Americans' efforts to help the world, not detract from it.a) That doesn't 'feel' biblical to me. It just feels Australian - not the modern faux Aussie 'patriotism', but the traditional Aussie "why do Americans care when people burn their flag and what are the words to my national anthem anyway (Australia has a national anthem? It must be Once A Jolly Swagman).” I’m not sure you are being all that counter-cultural here.b) Let’s agree that more love for others would help. That’s pretty much a cert. Why can that only happen as patriotism drops? I think I’m happy to argue the opposite. To love someone you have to have confidence in something to bring to their aid. Love is, in many ways, a very arrogant virtue, because it seeks the good of the other person – and to think you know what is good for them requires a certain amount of confidence. American patriotism gives them platform to be far more pro-active in seeking to contribute to the good of the world beyond their borders. They are confident they already have something special, so they don’t feel threatened by others doing well. They have a philosophy that gives them the framework to act. They have a “thick” view of life so they can do more than just respond to national disasters. They have a sense of responsibility so they send more than a token military presence when they believe that military intervention is required.By way of contrast, Australia finds itself invariably putting its own national interest first. That’s not because we’re so patriotic – we’re one of the least patriotic countries traditionally. But our lack of sense that we are anything undercuts the sense we need to forget about ourselves and focus on others. Everything we do in foreign policy is aimed first and foremost at our long term interest. We’d do better at loving others if we had a bit more patriotism – a bit more sense that we already have something special that can be a resource for others. That’s no more a complete description of affairs than yours. But I think it’s a perspective that needs to be incorporated in.
Hi Mark,I agree with what you identify as the crux of the difference between us. And your suggestion that loves are not necessarily exclusive is, if I can borrow a phrase, utterly uncontroversial. I of course agree that you can love more than one thing at once!What I'm arguing is that the kind of love for nation that is implied by the idea of patriotism (both popularly and more technically defined), does compete with the idea of love for neighbour, and is therefore the wrong framework for Christians.As far as the whole American patriots, vs the Australian cultural cringe is concerned. Seems to me that Australian led interventions in places like East Timor, Bouganville and the Solomon Islands have been a lot more successful than the American led interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a bit outside my area of expertise, but maybe that has something to do with the lack of overconfidence that comes with a traditionally less patriotic approach.
Hi Andrew,What I'm arguing is that the kind of love for nation that is implied by the idea of patriotism (both popularly and more technically defined), does compete with the idea of love for neighbour, and is therefore the wrong framework for Christians.Well, I need to see an argument for that, at the moment I think you've only claimed this, not really argued it.Neither of these examples are perfect, for obvious reasons, but I would have thought that Jews were supposed to be (and this is very anachronistic) 'patriotic' - they loved their 'nation' of Israel, derived their identity from it, defended it.In the NT I would have thought that we see a similar dynamic with Christians and the Church.The interpretive issues I see here is: 1) whether the NT Christian-Church relationship exhaustively fulfils the OT Jew-Israel relationship, or whether some of the significance of that OT relationship is fulfilled in the Church, and some of it articulates a biblical theology of 'nationhood'.2. whether there is little or no analogy between our heavenly citizenship and our earthly. If both of those two are answered along 'anabaptist' lines then I think your case holds - but I also think that in that case the Christian view should be to have no earthly citizenship. If they are both answered along more Magisterial Reformer lines then I think your view that patriotism is opposed to love of neighbour has little biblical support.
As regards the success of Australia's interventions, I think it supports my overall point - in all three cases we were primarily seeking our own long term interests. In terms of the specific comparisons, I think it shows that it is a lot, lot easier to succeed in those three situations then it is to do the invade-with-no-coherent-plan-for-how-to-rule-the-country debacle that Afghan and Iraq have been. I doubt Australia would do a lot better running the aftermath of the Iraq or Afghanistan invasions than the Americans - those two are very hard cases compared to the three we attempted.What would have helped us is that I think our troops are much better trained overall. They mightn't have as much 'shock and awe' firepower, but my impression is that the average Aussie trooper is far better trained than the average American, and that has a disproportionate effect when the issue moves from the open battlefield to dealing with insurgency and managing a civilian population. I'm not sure that's a patriotism issue per se. It is more to do with America's tendency to put all its eggs in its biggest strength (its technological superiority), leaving it with some surprising weaknesses. The other thing is that we seem to do foreign policy more sensibly. We seem to have a better idea of what is genuinely possible in the context and how the other culture ticks. Americans seem to find it hard to 'hear' others well. That is possibly due to their sense of American uniqueness (they see their country as utterly unique and special) - which could be linked to their patriotism. But it could be also due to their commitment to right and wrong, truth and falsehood (which has little parallele in Oz - the closest we have is a sense of "fair play") which leads them to more ideologically driven engagements with the world at large. It's the dark side of the quality that led Ronald Reagan to ignore the diplomats and say publicly to Gorbachev 'This wall must come down'. That's a two-edged sword, but I'm not sure it has much to do with patriotism either way.It could even be that they are the 800lb gorilla, and a 800lb gorilla carrying some serious military hardware at that. Everyone else needs to listen to them, they have to work very hard to see the need to listen to others. Whereas Oz, well Oz are the Hobbits of Middle Earth. We punch above our weight class, and have made some surprising contributions to world affairs. But we have to understand others and how they tick to get by, we can't set up relationships on our terms. And that means we're better at those skill sets (as a nation at least). But that's not patriotism either, that's about how strengths can generate weaknesses, and weaknesses can be the inspiration for a strength.