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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

President Bush in Australia « Previous | |Next »
September 6, 2007

As we expected, APEC is being used to lift the fortunes of an embattled Australian PM. President Bush is doing his bit and he has delivered in spades:


Bush is also using Sydney as a stage to speak to Washington about supporting his war in Iraq. Things are on the up and up is the Bush message. So the surge is working is the Republican talking point. The forthcoming official report by General David Petraeus will almost certainly be upbeat. ush is showbiz along with his 2 jumbo jets, a bunch of blast-proof heavily armoured vehicles, helicopters and a moving cone of mobile phone silence and security personnel that require a no go security zone in the heart of Sydney's CBD.

The reality is that Bush has entered the dead zone, where the bodies pile high and victory never appears.

A report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, released in Washington yesterday, shows how little political headway has been made. It says the Iraqi Government has met just one of eight legislative benchmarks: the one establishing the rights of minority political parties. It has failed to act on goals such as greater Sunni participation in the government, sharing oil revenue and disarming the militia. Of the total of 18 legislative, security and economic benchmarks, the GAO scored success on three and partial success on four.

As Tom Engelhardt points out:

This administration's primary fundamentalism has been that of born-again militarists, of believers in the efficacy of force as embodied in the most awe-inspiring, high-tech military on the planet. This was the idol at which its top officials worshipped when it came to foreign policy. They were in awe of the idea that they had at their command the best equipped, most powerful military the world had ever seen, armed to the teeth with techno-toys; already garrisoning much of the globe (and about to garrison more of it); already on the receiving end of vast inflows of taxpayer dollars (and about to receive staggeringly more of the same); already embedded in a sprawling network of corporate interests (and about to be significantly privatized into the hands of even more such corporations); already having divided most of the globe into military "commands" that were essentially viceroy-ships (and about to finish the job by creating a command for the "homeland," NORTHCOM, and for the previously forgotten, suddenly energy-hot continent of Africa, AFRICOM.

Meanwhile the real power in APEC is China, who is now Australia's largest trading partner.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:27 AM | | Comments (19)


Poor John Howard
I almost feel sorry for him.
Having very few people who like him, he has had to sink to grasping support from the most unpopular world figure - George W Bush.
Bush seems quite out of touch with reality. Howard used to gauge good old "middle Australia" pretty well.
But is he now joining Bush on whatever mental planet Bush is on? Does Howard really think that being Bush's little puppet will help him in the election?
Christina Macpherson

yes 'puppet' is the right word. The "man of steel" never stood up to Bush + Co as a friend to address the unpopularity of the Bush administration and the US as as imperial power. Where's Howard's political courage on this?

He's just gone along with the Bush administration on everything, repeating whatever lines that were uttered in Washington to spin the event of the moment. The new talking point is ' conditions on the ground'.

Laurie Oakes had a good line in his APEC report on the Nine news on Tuesday: the meeting between George W. Bush and John Howard could be a matter of "a lame duck president meets a dead duck prime minister".

The footage of Howard nervously awaiting the arrival of Bush in the news last night was awful. I felt sorry for Howard.

He seems to be in such awe of Bush he doesn't know where to put himself.

sry, i can't get enthusiastic about replacing howard with rudd. as orwell said at the end of 'animal farm', "they look(ed) the same."

replacing bush with clinton or any the front runners won't help either. i was amused to note that a dem senator has come around to the position that usa should stay in iraq, maybe to get a smile from the next president who will want to stay, to protect the oil contract.

allowing pollies to run your nation is as bad as letting pedophiles mind your children.

I can't believe the pics of Sydney, my old hometown, that are turning up on blogs. The stories of people trying to work with helicopters thudding between buildings, snipers on rooftops, the intimidating atmosphere of the whole thing. Empty streets in the middle of the working week. It's so depressing.

I've read before that this happens just about everywhere Bush goes and not thought a lot of it. It's very different when you feel an attachment to the place. The man is poison.

Bush's comment on Howard showing "leadership" on climate change really did it for me. Utterly disconnected with any reality. We should all expect at least some relationship to the truth amongst the garbage these people (pollies) are forever spouting and we're poorer because we're never going to get it from now on.

Sorry to be so pessimistic.

10 Reasons I'd like to be in Sydney today for APEC:

1. Our troops staying in Iraq

2. To support the Chaser

3. Global warming

4. Because I miss rain and traffic jams

5. Missed protesting against Howard, Downer and Heffernan on their visits to Broome this year

6. To catch up with friends at the demo

7. To march for democracy

8. To get away from tourists

9. World poverty

10. The invasion of NT aboriginal communities by Mal Brough

'Labor View from Broome'

Bush's early arrival in Sydney has fostered the idea that the lockdown,fences and no go security area are all there to protect Bush who is supposed to be our closest ally and dearest friend. The five kilometre, 3 metre wall to protects and his main buddy Bush from us Australian citizens. Either the security measures are a show of strength for political purposes; or the Howard government fears and distrusts the very people it is supposed to represent; or the Howard gave up sovereignty of the Sydney CBD to the Americans.

Laura Tingle in the AFR says that we need to shift our focus:

In the face of the opinion polls the real question should be perhaps not be what Howard gets out of APEC, but what Rudd gets out of it, as the man most likely to be running Australia's international relationships by next year.

As she observes it will be interesting to see whether in coming weeks political events start to be seen through the prism of how Rudd would handle them, rather than whether they can save Howard.

Interesting argument.


Going on comments around the blogosphere the Chasers stunt demonstrated for an awful lot of people that the security was, as you say, more about creating an impression than serious security. None of the options you mention are terribly good reasons for it, and the first one is the only one that stands up if 3 cars claiming to be Canadian, one ferrying an Osama lookalike, can get that close to ground zero.

Among those paying attention, I think the Rudd prism is an interesting argument. It will be interesting to see whether the media adopts the Rudd prism over the coming weeks.

Interesting also, I think, is that Rudd has been able to use APEC to distinguish himself from Howard in some very important ways. Even managed to wangle an invite to Beijing, so we'll be seeing footage of him at the Olympics whether he wins or not. He's certainly done very well out of it.

Bush and Washington are really obsessed about Iraq at the moment. And well they might.They have a problem, even if they sell the surge as a sucess.

Military progress in and around Baghdad is meaningless, unless accompanied by progress in forming a national government comprising and adequately representing Sunni and Shi'ite groups, As US generals have repeatedly declared, there is no military solution in Iraq.

There are few if any signs of political progress. That makes Bush a lameduck .

There is so much talk about bringing the Aussie troupes home and not enough footage of the soldiers saying they don't want to come home because they feel they are helping.
People need to separate (A. It was a stupid War to start with. B The U.S are war mongers. C. The whole war has gone to the dogs.) from the job that the Australian army is doing.
Rudd saying the troops should come home from Iraq but stay in Afghanistan is pandering to the whims of the electorate

Rudd is criticizing and agreeing with the Bush administration.He's having a bob each way. It's a way the little americans hold the ALP together.

He needs to criticize Bush on Iraq as the Bush administration is going to try and convince Americans that what most observers see happening in Iraq is not actually happening and that conversely, things are improving -- with no evidence.

It will be interesting to see how the world views Hillary if she wins. Will she be seen as hard like Thatcher I wonder.

Hillary Clinton is the Democrat front runner, is experienced, very cashed up and has an interesting internet presence. She combines mass communications innovation, political "framing", and broadband to make it easier for people to feel connected on a personal basis to politicians.

But this political superstar is also a polarizing figure in the US electorate. That is going to make it difficult for her to gain nomination, let alone win the Presidency.

However, she is breaking ground on issues arising in this blog--her YouTube style of connecting with people on important policy challenges of the day. The first video in her conversation's with America series.

The Clinton's understand interactivity.

Iam American and I hate that people hate my president becaus people in America always are talking,teaching aboiut him,and shoving mickrophons in his face.So tell everybody I respeckt my president for all sakes and tell Mr.Bush I'm on his side.
Tanegai Zilverberg 9 years old

Well..., I waited one hard cartoon about Mr. Bush, Australia and Austria. Next time perhaps...

The book makers have her at clear favourite @ $2.10 with Guilianni @$6 and obama @ $7. Thats with centrebet.

I think the voters will gell to her. She may well be what America needs at the moment. A motherly figure to focus on home issues perhaps.

I don't hate your President. From what I can gather as a person is a convivial, humorous meat sort of guy.

I don't agree with his polices in Iraq. The Americans are occupiers in Iraq--it's not their country---and their actions there cause a lot of harm to the Iraqi people.