Friday, April 4, 2008

"Joke" Salute Backfires for Australian PM

"Australian prime minister says salute to US president was a joke"
International Herald Tribune (April 4, 2008)

Excerpt: the first two paragraphs: "Australia's prime minister came under fire at home Friday over a playful salute he gave U.S. President George W. Bush at a NATO summit, which critics said seemed to suggest Australian subservience to Washington.

"Australian television repeatedly broadcast videos of the gesture Thursday on the sidelines of the Bucharest summit and speculated about what it meant, while opposition lawmakers said it belittled Australia."

This is one of the reasons I've never wanted to run for public office.

Leaders in free countries live in a goldfish bowl, where any action may result in a major public-relations mess. Generally, I think this is a good thing: I like to know what leaders are doing.

There's a 'down' side to that sort of transparency, though. Back during America's Ford administration, it seemed that no week was complete without a feature story about President Ford hitting his head on the edge of a door, losing control of a golf club, or engaging in some other display of clumsiness.

A thousand years ago, that would have been important: national leaders were also military leaders, and military leaders were generally in front of their troops, leading. An army whose commander was likely to fall off his horse would have been a serious liability.

That was then, this is now.

National leaders are not expected to lead their armies in battle.

As amusing as Gerald Ford's apparent clumsiness was, and as funny as Prime Minister Rudd's gaffe probably is, I think that both tend to distract from more serious issues.

What's Ironic is that the current Australian Prime Minister is far from a Yankee lackey. As the I.H.T. article said, "Rudd replaced Howard as prime minister in elections last November. Rudd, a Chinese-speaking former diplomat to Beijing, has promised to follow an independent foreign policy and to withdraw 550 Australian combat troops from Iraq this year."
While I'm on the subject of Australia, I recommend American Interests, a "Politically neutral blog intended to disseminate knowledge of, highlight threats to, explore opportunities for and, above all else, serve as a platform of advocacy for the continuance and preservation of global American dominance."

Sooner or later, Otto, my Australian counterpart, or I will put together a post about why a strong and dominant America is a good idea.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.