13 Jun 2014 - On his American trip Tony Abbott has met with Jeb Bush, son of one president, younger brother of another and himself an aspirant to be Republican candidate for the White House.
The encounter brought back memories of how John Howard, visiting the United States during the Clinton presidency, had his initial contact (in a phone call) with George W Bush, then running for office.
It was later, as a consequence of Howard happening to be in Washington on September 11 2001, that the very personal and deep bond between the two was forged. Still, that first talk started what was to be a crucial pairing.
Howard’s closeness to Bush was one reason why the then prime minister was such an enthusiastic supporter of Bush’s Iraq war. Given the Australian-American relationship, we were always going to be there for the US. But in retrospect, the Australian government’s lack of critical analysis and absence of scepticism is an indictment of its leadership.
With Iraq now in crisis as insurgents attack and the country descends into civil conflict, its government appealing to the US for help, we look back on a war that was started on false information, ended with little achieved, and has been followed by worsening instability and violence. Countless civilians and many troops were sacrificed. (Unlike in Afghanistan, Australia lost no soldiers in combat in Iraq - there were two deaths from accidents.) read more>>>