May 20, 2005

THE PACIFICIST:

Bush administration comes calling (Greg Sheridan, May 21, 2005, The Australian)

IN mid-March one of the most remarkable diplomatic scenes involving Australia took place in the White House. Our outgoing ambassador to the US, Michael Thawley, went there with his wife to pay his scheduled farewell call on the President.

Thawley was in for a surprise. Instead of a momentary grip and grin, an extraordinary scene unfolded in the Oval Office. After a few minutes the President said he had a couple of others who wished to farewell the Australian. He went out and returned with Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, White House chief-of-staff Andy Card and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers.

There are very few heads of state who would command a group such as that in Washington, much less ambassadors. Their presence was a personal tribute to Thawley, who has been a brilliant ambassador, but also a measure of George W. Bush's view of the Howard Government.

Part of Thawley's success has been his closeness to John Howard. The Americans knew that Howard would cash any cheque Thawley wrote. Australia's ability to take serious decisions quickly, as in the Asian tsunami, is supremely valued in Washington.


Some relationships matter and some don't. that with Australia does. That with, for example, France doesn't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2005 8:39 PM
Comments

Sacre bleu! How you can say France does not matter! Blasphemy!

On second thought, you are absolutely correct!

Posted by: obc at May 20, 2005 11:16 PM

Great story.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 21, 2005 1:07 AM

oj:

Thank you for bringing stories such as this to our attention. I'm pleased that the story appeared in 'The Australian'. Don't know its circulation, but am pleased nonetheless.

I'm also pleased that(a)I didn't know the name of our National Security Advisor, and (b) an ally like Australia could take serious action 'quickly'.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at May 21, 2005 2:34 AM
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