Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rudd meets Bush

Having exiled the former Australian PM, John Howard, to the meeting rooms of the US far right Kevin Rudd will be meeting with John’s best friend George this week. The meeting could be, and probably should be, rather edgy – but that is not our Kev’s way.

Incredibly there will be no hiccough in the close relationship between Australia and the US. Rudd is punching way above his weight, but bush must have been well briefed to this diminutive PM with kid gloves. As the pre-event publicity has it the meeting promises all the best bits of a hippie love-in.

Bush is expected to thank Mr Rudd publicly for the peace-keeping efforts Australia has made in East Timor and for its military contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will treat Australia's decision to withdraw its combat troops from Iraq as inevitable and uncontroversial. Thanks George…

Rudd will also be invited to take a role in developing an Asian talkfest on security; a version of APEC focusing on security rather than economics. All non-binding of course, and certainly not likely to involve non-government players, the ones who might have legitimate claims against existing regimes.

Back to Iraq and Afghanistan

The Mandarin speaking Rudd, the former diplomat, has a good handle on Asian affairs. In fact he carries on a tradition of former Labor PM’s who have recognised Australia’s proximity and shared future in the region. In many ways Rudd has taken that tradition to a higher level.

The Middle East and sub-continent are also tied in closely with our national culture, essentially because we were still part of Britain well into the last century. Where Britain engaged Australia engaged. As an immigrant nation we have adopted nationals from many trouble spots.

We will be pulling out of certain aspects of the Iraq conflict; our combat troops will be deployed more usefully in the Pacific region and Afghanistan, though largely as support for stabilization and nation building efforts. Those efforts will continue in Iraq, but without the same sense of conflict.

In many ways John Howard found a natural ally in the extreme conservatism of the Bush regime, and the timing was perfect. But like a binge drinking session Australia woke up with a hangover and a dose of Kev appears to be easing the pain.

As a nation we feel a deep responsibility for our world. As feisty and belligerent we can be personally we feel a deep responsibility limit that to a simple punch up, verbal or otherwise, rather than wholesale slaughter. Well, if the latter is to occur it is only acceptable among consenting players.

Can’t say fairer than that…Which is why Australia will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan; not as belligerents but as moderators.

Now if Rudd was really serious about following the will of the people he would go one step further; he would insist that the US immediately withdraw all their personnel from these conflict zones. But Kev will only go so far.


Kvatch said...

Are you saying that Rudd won't leap on Bush hold him down and say, "Sign the god-damned Kyoto accord arsehole, or you're deader than disco!"

It's a pity.

[sorry, can't do an Australian accent in print]

Cart said...

What I'm saying is that Rudd is a canny operator, and will save some things for the right time, like a Dem president.

D.K. Raed said...

So sorry you're about to be Bushed again. Any protests scheduled this time?

BTW, Bush doesn't "thank" anybody or any country for anything. He "appreciates" them. See if I'm right when he's there.

Cart said...

DK, as far as I'm aware Mr Rudd does not generate a great deal of public protest. But he seems wonderfully effective in his quiet manner.

I shall be on the lookout for Bush talk on this. I've not really noticed the Fonz like aversion to thank you - well really tat was John Howard and his Fonz like aversion to "I was wrong".

TomCat said...

Cart, I only hope for Rudd's sake that he has a nose clip to wear for the occasion.

lindsaylobe said...

I hope Rudd also talks about economic matters as well as security.

Fortunately our own Banking sector is still very soundly capitalized, and has minimal exposure to US sub-prime despite some minor in directs in exposure and hence our financial system is better positioned than many others to cope with all of the current credit crunch related difficulties.

Rudd should be in position of strength to talk about ties and trade for further possible mutual benefits, including leadeship roles for our region and particually the ongong role of Sovereign Wealth Funds. Human rights issues and so forth.

Notwithstanding our sound position we have our own home grown potential problems and the economic difficulty that would arise if there were to be a period of deleveraging across the Australian economy, driven primarily by the banking sector rationing the availability of credit to Australian borrowers.

If you think that’s kind of like asking a fox about how to look after the hen house, well and good, but the US is still the biggest economy in the world, still with some great institutions/ assets esoecially it's people, even some smart ones who still work under the current administration.

Best wishes

Cart said...

Tom, our Kevin is adept and not showing his distaste...

Lindsay, thanks again.