Wednesday, October 20, 2004

An endorsement for Dubya 

No surprises there - Australia's Prime Minister John Howard endorses George Bush for re-election:

"The re-election of US President George W Bush would help in the war on terror, Prime Minister John Howard said last night. Mr Howard, fresh from talks with Indonesian president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said he was hopeful Mr Bush would win his race against Democrat challenger John Kerry.

" 'I wish him well and I hope he gets re-elected,' he told reporters. 'I certainly think George Bush has given great leadership to the world fight against terrorism. I think he's been a very strong leader in that fight. I hope he wins'."
As Polipundit comments:

"We already know that the leaders of Japan, Russia and Israel want President Bush to be re-elected... Meanwhile, Jean-Francoise Kerry can count on such luminaries as Yasser Arafat, the anti-semitic Mahathir Mohammed, and the Communist Chinese."
One can also add the tacit support of German, French and Canadian leaders, who however remain unwilling to put their troops when their thoughts are, even if their man gets into the White House. Either way, way to go for John Kerry.

Speaking of John Howard, the Prime Minister is currently engaged in a
charm offensive in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim democracy, which happens to be on Australia's doorstep (or vice versa, depending on your point of view):

"John Howard will sit in Indonesia's imposing house of parliament today and applaud as the nation's first directly elected president is finally inaugurated. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a Suharto-era general, could provide a golden chance for Australia to smooth relations with its enormous neighbour to the north...

"The US-educated military man will have to tread a fine line between placating the West and catering to a resentful underclass of Indonesians, mired in poverty, distrustful of international wealth and angry about the perceived hammering of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yudhoyono is favoured by the US and Australia, but that's kept very quiet in Indonesia, where it would probably count against him in the teeming villages and urban slums. Nevertheless, he has won a handsome mandate, a five-year term, and hopes are high."
Says Dino Pati Djalal, a senior Indonesian Foreign Ministry official: "John Howard's visit for the ceremony has no precedent, it has never happened before, and I think that's a very good early step in bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia."

As a side issue, the myth of Australia as "the US's deputy sheriff" in the Asian region lives on, both in the words of the story's author Sian Powell ("Australia's assertion that it had become the US's deputy sheriff in the region was a bone of contention") and those of Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Science ("Howard sometimes acts like a rooster, talking about pre-emptive strikes and referring to Australia as the deputy sheriff of the US"). Howard, of course, never did refer to himself or Australia as the deputy sheriff -
media did. And the rest, sadly, is history.


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