Former Bush deputy secretary of state in Canberra

07 Nov

Richard Armitage spoke at the Menzies Institute yesterday, not exactly a left-wing venue. He did not pull his punches.

TODAY’S mid-term elections in the United States will be a referendum on the fact Americans do not like their nation to be held in such low esteem internationally as it is now, a veteran of the Bush Administration has said.

A former deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage said in Canberra yesterday he felt one outcome of the elections would be that the US would slow down its “muscular” approach to the world.

Mr Armitage predicted the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, would fall to the Democrats. As a result, there would be more oversight of the executive.

In his address to the Menzies Research Centre, Mr Armitage said that since September 11, 2001, the US had been “exporting things that are very foreign to us – we were exporting our anger, our fear, our hatred for what had happened”…

Mr Armitage said when the US did not involve itself in terrible scandals such as the mistreatment of prisoners and the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, and when it was true to its national values, it could once again gain high affection in the world.

“The shorthand in the US is [the mid-terms would be] a referendum on the Iraq war,” he said. “It’s a referendum on how we handled the war after … it’s also a referendum on the fact that Americans don’t like the nation to be viewed in such low esteem internationally.”

In a further criticism of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy, Mr Armitage described as “inexplicable” the US’s support of Israel’s six-week-long bombing of Lebanon in July and August this year…

Today in Australia there is a rather different kind of horse race on. Yes, it’s one of our sacred festivals: the Melbourne Cup! Yeats should win. Only because of the name.

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15 responses to “Former Bush deputy secretary of state in Canberra

  1. ninglun

    November 9, 2006 at 8:42 am

    I bet we’d just end up with the best looking candidate 🙂 Well, take a look at John Howard some time! 😉

    Thanks for mentioning the Governor General. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know Australia had such a thing (or anyone else for that matter). So now I get to go learn about your system. Glad to have been of help, but you might also look at Canada, which is very similar to us.

    It is my position that only fundamentalist Islam is being taught in muslim countries these days, and fundamentalist muslims do not wish to see non-muslims continue to exist. There are certainly too many extremists out there who support the last bit of what you say, but whatever the USA might do in Iran is not going to stop them; if what is done is aggressive enough and unthinking enough you could end up with such folk simply becoming more popular in the Muslim world, with more Hamas-style victories.

    It is not true that “only fundamentalist Islam is being taught in muslim countries”. There are a whole range of other viewpoints in the Muslim world, and in many earlier posts I have been arguing that our responsibility is to understand who they are and support them as much as we can, out of self-interest if for no other reason. The easiest way for you to track that is to search this blog. In one entry there I quote “isis”, a conservative Republican:

    Isis’ Guide to Sensible Islam Posting

    1. Learn to distinguish a news-worthy entry from the “Daily-Muslim-Outrage” (DMO) post.
    2. Give Humanist Muslims their due.
    3. Find new sources of information about the Muslim Community – especially in the United States.
    4. Avoid the use of derogatory terms when discussing Islam, Mohammed and Muslims.
    5. Reading Robert Spencer’s latest book or citing “the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam” does not make you an Islamic scholar.
    6. Consider that ex-Muslims do not offer completely untainted views of their religion.

    That makes a lot of sense to me.

    Also, explore the links on the right under “Faith and Philosophy” and some in “A1 blogs”, especially some from Indonesia, with whom we have just signed a treaty, which has its pluses and minuses, but probably strengthens the hand of moderate Indonesians. For example, look at Blogger Indonesia; the Wahid Institute; Liberal Islam (Indonesia). The battle for the soul of Islam within Islam is probably the most important battle of the lot, and what we do can affect its outcome. If our actions make the extremists seem right in the eyes of Muslim folk we are handing victory to the extremists.

    Even though I quite often disagree with him, I think another Muslim blogger on my list, the Kashmiri Nomad, says something worthwhile when he asks “…why would anyone want to perpetuate an urban myth that Muslims do not condemn violence in the name of Islam ?” Read what he says with an open mind. He goes on to say:

    I truly believe sometimes that no matter what we as Muslims do there will be always those that hate us for whatever reason seems to take their fancy. By “hammering” into everyone’s head the claim that Muslims do this or do not do that particular thing the propagandists of hate only alienate themselves from Muslims and Muslims from them. For as long as they persist in giving life on the internet to the lie that Muslims never condemn I shall carry on writing posts that show the world what disingenuous hypocrites they really are.

    I really think we need to show by the clarity of our own thinking that there is a better way.

    Finally, search my old Blogspot blog (it should appear after about three reloads!) under the word Bali, which means a lot to us here in Australia. I knew people who were there, though only very indirectly anyone who was killed. A colleague of mine, Russell Darnley, was there helping to sort out the dead and wounded:

    When someone suggested bombing Mecca as an appropriate response to Bali, Russell jumped down the guy’s throat very rapidly on such grounds as: 1) he showed complete ignorance of Islam in general and Indonesian Islam in particular; 2) it is a fact that Muslim charitable organisations and Muslim individuals were second-to-none in trying to help the victims of the atrocity; 3) adopting the mindset of terrorists ourselves is pure tragic folly. I base all that on quite a few talks I had with Russell.

    Russell later was awarded one of our highest national honours, the Order of Australia Medal, for what he did in Bali: “Russell Darnley, Sydney-based director of Asian Field Study Centres, heard the blast from 26 kilometres away. For his tireless work, using his language skills to help around the hospitals, locating the wounded and assisting in the morgue, he receives the OAM.”

    Let’s all keep thinking.

    Thanks again for your interest.

    Two hours later

    Good luck with those Blogspot links; glad I searched when I did as Blog/ger/spot is down — again!

  2. Kevin

    November 9, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    I wish I could agree with you. There are no doubt millions upon millions of good people who are muslim. Sadly, they are mostly silenced by fear from stopping the fundamentalists from taking over. I am in complete disagreement that the cancer of fundamentalism in Islam can be extracted peacefully. I hope I’m wrong, because my country has just begun to bow out of the fight ungracefully. I fear we will be compared to Neville Chaimberlain in trusting such a pernicious enemy. We are even worse than Chamberlain, because these people (like Amadinejihad) are telling us EXACTLY what they are going to do (destroy Israel, and death to America, etc.). It seems wrong not to take their words at face value.

    Remember, not all muslims are militant jihadists, but neither were all Germans Nazis. Quite a few million people died anyway. If peaceful muslims can’t reign in their aggressive brethren, it will take a much deadlier war for us to do it. I hope they can, I just doubt it. America did it’s part yesterday to allow them a few more years to make nukes and build up supporters. I’m thoroughly disappointed 😦

    adopting the mindset of terrorists ourselves is pure tragic folly. I base all that on quite a few talks I had with Russell.

    Tell that to the Germans and the Japanese. Sure, we didn’t exactly adopt the mindset of terrorists, but we did adopt the brutality of the enemy, as you must do to win a war. Otherwise, you end up with wars like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, where no one ever gets disgusted enough with the horror to stop the war.

    I’m sick of talking about this. America is going to suck for at least two years, and it’s quite depressing. I hope you and your country fair better.

  3. ninglun

    November 9, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    I guess we have to leave it at that, but I am glad we expressed our ideas freely and politely. Let’s hope that together your President and the new Congress work towards a good outcome. Now that the Democrats are no longer on the sidelines it could turn out better than you fear; more constructive anyway.

  4. Kevin

    November 9, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    I had no idea that the queen held any sway whatsoever in Australia and Canada. I thought she was just a figurehead that went on your coins 🙂 Also, can I apply to be the Governor General of Australia? He makes $365k a year. I could eke out a modest living on that 🙂

  5. ninglun

    November 9, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    You’d be better off starting your own Microsoft or Google 😉 — explains the Queen’s/G-G’s powers clearly, but is a bit out of date as the current G-G is Major General Jeffery. If you want to apply for the job this is his site; mind you it is John Howard who chooses in practice.

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