October 8, 2004


Lest We Forget: Australia can claim to be our most reliable ally. (John O'Sullivan, 10/08/04, National Review)

Two months ago I was standing in front of the war memorial dedicated to the Royal Australian Regiment in Sydney. An RAR corporal had laid two wreaths, movingly inscribed with hand-written tributes, in memory of friends killed in action. He would be in his 60s or 70s today. His friends died 51 years ago in Korea fighting alongside Americans, Brits, and others in the U.N. force.

Korea is not the only war listed on the memorial. Among the others in which the RAR fought are Vietnam, Iraq, and World War II. Aussies were among the first soldiers to join the U.S. in Afghanistan. They are stationed today in Iraq.

Few of us honor the injunction "lest we forget" as faithfully as the RAR corporal. But Americans should know that Australia can claim to be their most reliable ally. The island-continent has fought alongside America in every U.S. war of the 20th and 21st centuries. And a firm American-Australian alliance has been in place since 1941, when Canberra transferred its primary loyalty from Britain to the U.S. following the shock of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese advance southwards through Asia.

That alliance has been the cornerstone of Australian policy since. It has had the consistent bi-partisan support of both Labor and (conservative) Coalition governments. And it has the broad support of most Australians — except for the kind of querulous anti-American Left that exists everywhere, even in the U.S. itself.

Many people expected that for the first time the American alliance would be a major controversy in Saturday's Australian general election. Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch conservative, had taken the country into the Iraq war alongside the U.S. against strong domestic opposition. Left-wingers in politics and the media blamed the terrorist bombings in Bali and Jakarta that killed Australians on his decision. The new Labor leader, Mark Latham, a feisty politician who once broke a taxi driver's arm in a quarrel, announced months ago that he would withdraw Australia's troops from Iraq by Christmas. And the ground was set for a donnybrook.

It hasn't worked out that way at all. Iraq has scarcely been an issue.

Though the loss of Jose Maria Aznar was tragic--especially for Spain--it will be fun to watch folks try and explain away victories by John Howard, George Bush and Tony Blair.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 8, 2004 10:10 PM

Since the major conflicts in the 21st century will play out in the Pacific, it is only fitting that Australia be our primary ally. We share a frontier, freedom loving, immigrant outlook.

Posted by: jd watson at October 9, 2004 1:49 AM

It's true that to many, both Americans and Aussies are seen as laid back and freewheelin'.

I would be amazed if Africa wasn't the locus of most conflicts in the 21st century.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 9, 2004 2:02 AM

Michael: Africa's not worth the effort.

Posted by: jd watson at October 9, 2004 2:16 AM

Africa as it currently is, isn't worth the effort, but the 21st century will see an African policy of neocolonialism, at least on America's part.

Africa is a jewel in the rough. Properly exploited, Africa ought to be the richest continent, and the best place on Earth to live.

The sole reason that Africa's a cesspool is political.
If the politics of Africa grows up, then the people will prosper, and the world will share in that.

Once the US deals with the Middle East, then Africa's hot spots will naturally become the most prominent, and US foreign policy will focus there. Part of that focus will include increased pressure on African governments to behave responsibly. The better they respond to their citizens' needs, and the more they conduct themselves by the rule of law, the more business investment there'll be.

It's already started, as Djibouti's American base attests.

Posted by: Michael "Dark Continent" Herdegen at October 9, 2004 6:31 AM

The results are coming in, looks like Howard has been returned for a historic fourth term. Hooray for the man of steel!

Posted by: Amos at October 9, 2004 7:28 AM


Once a day, log onto brothersjudd.com and rub the screen for good luck.

Can't hurt, and might even help.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 9, 2004 2:16 PM