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June 23, 2006

Rule Australia

Good Krauthammer piece on the only country in the world real Americans would feel comfortable moving to, if we had to:

It is surely the only place where you hear officials speaking plainly in defense of action. What other foreign minister but Australia's would see through "multilateralism,'' the fetish of every sniveling foreign policy grub from the Quai d'Orsay to Foggy Bottom, calling it correctly "a synonym for an ineffective and unfocused policy involving internationalism of the lowest common denominator''?

...

That bravery breeds affection in America for another reason as well. Australia is the only country that has fought with the United States in every one of its major conflicts since 1914, the good and the bad, the winning and the losing.

Why? Because Australia's geographic and historical isolation has bred a wisdom about the structure of peace -- a wisdom that eludes most other countries. Australia has no illusions about the "international community'' and its feckless institutions. An island of tranquility in a roiling region, Australia understands that peace and prosperity do not come with the air we breathe, but are maintained by power -- once the power of the British Empire, now the power of the United States.

Australia joined the faraway wars of early-20th-century Europe not out of imperial nostalgia, but out of a deep understanding that its fate and the fate of liberty were intimately bound with that of the British Empire as principal underwriter of the international system. Today the underwriter is America, and Australia understands that an American retreat or defeat -- a chastening consummation devoutly, if secretly, wished by many a Western ally -- would be catastrophic for Australia and for the world.

When Australian ambassadors in Washington express support for the U.S., it is heartfelt and unalloyed, never the "yes, but'' of the other allies, perfunctory support followed by a list of complaints, slights and sage finger-wagging. Australia understands America's role and is sympathetic to its predicament as reluctant hegemon. That understanding has led it to share foxholes with Americans from Korea to Kabul. They fought with us at Tet and now in Baghdad. Not every engagement has ended well. But every one was strenuous, and many quite friendless. Which is why America has such affection for a country whose prime minister said after 9/11, "This is no time to be an 80 percent ally,'' and actually meant it.

Never been there, but would love to go. There was a Dinner For Five where Puerto Rican tough-guy actor Luis Guzman, I think, was talking about a shoot in Australia. He said the only time he'd ever cried when he was leaving someplace was when he was leaving Australia-- that's how much he loved it. That, despite an encounter with one of Australia's famously lethal snakes in his trailer.


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posted by Ace at 01:26 PM

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