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Dear Mr Bush. Please mind your own goddamned business

By jardinier ·
Two former Australian Prime Ministers, Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, have harshly criticised certain members of the Bush administration, notably President Bush and more recently US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, for
trying to dictate Autralian foreign policy.

The transcript of an interview with Malcolm Fraser may be read in full at

It is my considered opinion that, if the formerly happy alliance between the USA and Australia is damaged, it will not be by Mark Latham's Labor Government if he is elected, but by the Bush Administration.

Here is an excerpt from the interview with Malcolm Fraser. A number of other issues are discussed in the interview, which is too long to post in full here.

TONY JONES: Well, returning to our top story.
The US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage may well be regretting he loosened his tongue.
He's been tagged a thug by one former prime minister, while another has urged him to butt out of Australian politics.
The crudeness of Armitage's public critique of the Labor Party so close to an election has drawn an angry response that's taken the gloss off the PM's attempt to win back the political high ground today with his headland speech Getting the Big Things Right - if one of those big things is Australia's relationship with the US.
The long-serving former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser says the Government's still got work to do.
I spoke to Mr Fraser at his home on the Mornington Peninsula earlier this evening.
TONY JONES: Malcolm Fraser, thanks for joining us.
TONY JONES: Richard Armitage has now made two forays into Australian politics in the last month.
Has he crossed the line between legitimate commentary and interference?
MALCOLM FRASER: I think Richard Armitage crossed the line quite a long while ago because it's not the first time he's done this.
It's worse because we're approaching an election but he has, on a number of occasions, said, for example, that if there is a war between China and America over Taiwan, Australia would have to do a good deal of the dirty work.
Now that's not his decision to make.
It's Australia's decision as, hopefully, an independent country.
And the intervention, not only of Richard Armitage but his bosses, in our political scene, I think, are quite unforgivable.
TONY JONES: What do you make of Mr Armitage's - sticking with him for a moment - his latest remarks which specifically target the Labor Party, suggesting its "rent down the middle" because of discussions he's apparently had behind the scenes.
He says he knows there are deep divisions in the Labor Party.
What do you make of that kind of commentary?
MALCOLM FRASER: Well, again, it is an intervention in Australian politics.
He's doing it for a very specific purpose - to try and achieve a specific outcome that the United States wants.
If it had been in older times, American officials would have been told to butt out.
If it had happened in Menzies's time or it had happened in my time, ambassadors or State Department officials would be told to keep well clear of Australian domestic politics.
TONY JONES: It's happening in John Howard's time.
Do you believe this PM, this Government, should do something now to halt these interventions?
MALCOLM FRASER: Well, if it were looking after their own interests I think they would, because I believe, from what I've heard people saying, that this is counter-productive from the Government's point of view.
People resent being told what to do by the United States.
Part of that resentment, I think, is a general belief that we have grown too close to the US in the years since the Cold War ended.
TONY JONES: Your views on this administration are pretty well known.
When President Bush first made his comments about Labor's policy a month ago you called that an abuse of power.
But if those concerns, expressed by Australians such as yourself, are getting back to Washington, they're clearly going unheeded.
Why do you think that is?
MALCOLM FRASER: This current American administration is one of a kind.
It is different from every other administration, Democrat or Republican, in the post-war years.
It doesn't really believe in a multilateral world.
It believes in unilateral decision making.
It believes in the United States going its own way as they believe best for the United States and I think they have become intolerant of other countries.
You might well ask why do they interfere in this way in relation to Australia when Canada, a very close neighbour, a defence partner, has, in many ways, been much more provocative.
Canada didn't participate in Vietnam, they didn't participate in Iraq and they have conducted policies in relation to Cuba which are diametrically opposed to the policies that the United States would like to see.
Now, why does America tolerate this with Canada when they behave so crudely in relation to Australia.
Mr Fraser, I was in fact going to ask you that question because Canada, obviously, shares a border with the US.
It also shares a free trade agreement.
It also has a military alliance, through NATO, with the US - there are many similarities, as you have pointed out. Why do you believe Australia is treated differently to Canada?
MALCOLM FRASER: Canada have, in all the years since the war, made very significant efforts to differentiate itself from the US in certain important ways.
And I think the US, probably, has come to accept this.
But, in more recent times, we have got closer and closer to the US.
We appear to agree with nearly everything they say.
We appear to do everything they want us to do and that's not my idea of Australia.
I don't think that it's an idea of Australia that too many people would support.
TONY JONES: PM Howard appears to be saying the Iraq war case is somewhat unique.
He's strongly defended the President's right to make his position known to Australia on Australian troops and whether they should, or not, be withdrawn early - or before, as he puts it, their job is done.
He's making the case that this actually rises above domestic politics.
Can you make that case?
MALCOLM FRASER: I can't make any case, and I don't want to make any case, which gives the US some superior right to interfere in Australia's domestic affairs and in Australia's political arrangements.
It would be perfectly appropriate, or would have been appropriate, for the American ambassador to say to one of the political parties, without publicity, "We don't like this, for these reasons".
If that was done privately, quietly, without publicity there couldn't be any objection to it.
By publicly siding with one of the parties, with the Coalition against the Opposition, in this particular election, indicates an American attitude to Australia which I just don't like.
They either take us for granted or they regard us with a degree of contempt, because they don't have to behave, or they don't have to accept, the norms of diplomacy.
Take other examples.
The British have been able to get most of their people out of Guantanamo Bay.
The British have said that the justice system set up for the military tribunals is not appropriate, would not be acceptable for nationals of the United Kingdom.
Now, we go along and say, "What they're doing is fine."
Other people can have differences with the United States and be respected for it.
We seem not to have differences with the United States and if there is any sign of independence in Australia the United States wants to stomp on it.
I think it's time they're stopped...
TONY JONES: What are the implications of how you see this interference in an election year?
MALCOLM FRASER: I think the implications will, in the end, be counterproductive because I think a number of Australians will seriously resent this interference.
TONY JONES: You've just mentioned, a moment ago, Guantanamo Bay.
You, I gather, regard the military tribunals as unjust, because we now hear that another Australian citizen, Mr Habib, is to go before a military tribunal.
MALCOLM FRASER: I regard them as unjust as set up by President Bush, because there is no appeal to an independent court and the judge in the military tribunal is somebody chosen from the, as I understand it, from the panel who will make a decision in relation to the case.
So, in the context of Australian law, there isn't an independent president of the court as it were.
It hasn't been sufficiently noticed that the United States Supreme Court, a week or two ago, in a enormously important human rights decision, has said that the United States President has acted beyond his executive power and that people in Guantanamo Bay have the right to appeal to the American judicial system.
Now, this is an enormously important decision.
It means that a very largely Republican-appointed court has seriously reduced the power of a Republican president.

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Then why don't you mind your own business about the USA

by SkipperUSN In reply to Dear Mr Bush. Please mind ...

On the same foot Jul - Why don't you mind your own business about the USA - I read loads of your posts and anti-american messages - because you don't like out leader .... To F'en bad mate - Don't get me wrong - the vast majority of Aussie's are a great - but you have some like you that f'it up for the rest of them... If you want us to keep our noses out of your **** - keep yours out of ours ...

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I agree with the Skipper

by JimHM In reply to Then why don't you mind y ...

Hey - doesn't feel good when people want to tell you how to run your country - does it Jul... So Quit telling the USA how to elect our leaders..

Tit-for-Tat mate...

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The USA has forced people to speak out

by Oz_Media In reply to Then why don't you mind y ...

You see gentlemen, YOU have imposed on others for too long. NOW they are beginning to speak out against you. Other times it has been accepted because it was commonly seen as US nature and simply brushed off "oh it's those Americans again".

These days, your president has made US interests a global interest and people have simply had enough. The USA was always seen as a country that thinks highly of itself and was pusht and classless (no I am not slamming America just letting you know what the general feeling has been for MANY years now, many more than I've been around I'm sure). The people have always been accepted as kind and everything, it's just the air of arrogance that gets under people's skin. Pride is one thing, but as I've said before, poor winners are as bad as poor losers. For the time being you are a self proclaimed supre power, which I know everyone has had a shot at and it simply cannot be sustained forever as many people here will agree but it's almost as if you are TOO proud to be American. People wich you'd just keep America's business as America's business.

So what gives these people the right to speak out about it you ask?
The same right that you have to speak out about their political and even personal affairs. Nobody would disagree with MUCH of what you say about other countries, they also feel the same way. They also realize that EVERY country is completely screwed up in some way, just as everyone but the boss of the company has things they would improve or do differently if they ran it. This is human nature, we are all different and think differently but we try to accept each others faults and understand we are all different, it's not polite to make fun of peple at work, it's not nice to comment on someone's weight or height. Therefore people will not welcome the most 'arrogant' country in the world to try and dictate what they do or don't do right.

One of the most common things I have ever seen an Americn say here is that they have a right to defend themselves or even take premtive action if needed. I will agree whole heartedly and would expect the same from anyone, in fact I hate it when people won't speak out or stick up for themselves.

Any country's citizens would answer a call to arms, we don't need to hear it. Every country has political and legal flaws, we don't need to hear that.

The BIGGEST issue I've seen that people simply reject like a bad organ is that we all know we have flaws and much room for improvement, but if it comes your way, people are considered the enemy, anti-American, jealous or it simply gets rejected and an insult is thrown at them.

Why is it that every country COULD be improved if they listended to America yet you refuse even voilently when people comment on your country or political system?

Mind your own Goddamn business, keep your politics INSIDE your country, stop bad mouthing your enemies if they won't join your game and stop expecting the world to follow you, "one nation" and all that, it's not one world.

So settle down and live your own lives for a while, people may even respect you if they forget about you for a while. You come across like a needy girlfriend that calls you ten times a day and is constantly checking up on you.

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WOW they edited that?!?

by Oz_Media In reply to The USA has forced people ...

All I said was Godda* business, not phuquing business as it seems I did.

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Australian political parties ....

by jardinier In reply to Then why don't you mind y ...

Anyone of you who has followed my postings should know by now that the Liberal Party in Australia is actually the conservative party. The (small el) liberal party -- similar to but in no way identical to your Democrat Party is the Australian Labor Party.

I thought I should clarify this for anyone who may think I was posting the words of a "liberal" (usually equated on this website with Leftie or Commie) Prime Minister.

Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister of the same party as John Howard. Unlike Howard, who is an unscrupulous, unrepentant liar (this relates to domestic issues of which you most likely may be unaware) Fraser was and is a man of integrity and principle.

By posting this interview I am NOT representing the opinion of some commie, leftie. Malcolm Fraser was a highly respected Prime Minister, and that is why I think his views on relations between America and Australia are relevant.

So in this instance it is not myself criticising the American administration, although I could find plenty of reasons to do so, but a highly respected former conservative Prime Minister.

And I DON'T believe that the majority of American peers have deserted these political discussions because they consider them pointless. They started to drop out when the war in Iraq turned sour.

However as I don't give a tinker's dam about the opinions of the few people who continue to haunt this site, I will continue to express views which are shared .... now wait for this ... by most of the people I speak to, and I live in one of the most conservative (Liberal) areas of Australia.

In fact I live in the safest Liberal seat in New South Wales, and the third safest Liberal seat in Australia.

So if you don't like my views, then you had better believe that they are shared by at least 50 per cent of Australians.

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In defense of free speech

by stress junkie In reply to Dear Mr Bush. Please mind ...

I believe that jul646 has every right to say what he
thinks. Generally, any input is good input. Criticism
isn't anti-American; it's the foundation of our freedom.
I believe that people, like myself, who stand as
outspoken watchdogs on the government are like the
canary in the coal mine. Our criticism may not always
be valid. Nobody is correct all of the time. Some people
are rarely correct. Maybe jul646 and I in that group. I
don't know. But the freedom to criticise is an
absolutely required charateristic of a free society.
Hearing the opinions of people in other countries has
as much value as hearing the opinions of citizens. We
should want to know what our country looks like from
other view points.

As for the details of the original story I believe that
when foreign elected officials make harsh statements
of the United States they are really just posturing to
gain popularity in their own country. I'm more
interested in hearing the opinions of individuals in
other countries than in hearing what elected officials in
other countries say, particularly if they are
campaigning for re-election.

Lastly, if we can believe what we see on television then
I get the impression that Mr. Bush has been pretty
clumsy handling foreign affairs. This may be more
important in the upcoming election because two term
Presidents typically spend their second term focusing
on foreign affairs. It is possible that if Mr. Bush is
re-elected he may do much more damage in the next
four years in this area than he has done in the past 3.5

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Mine was meant as a play

by JimHM In reply to In defense of free speech

Mine was meant as a play - if they get upset that our leaders are trying to tell them how they should live run their government. Then - they should do the same thing...

I believe in the freedom of speech - which has protected our freedoms - but when they ***** about our freedom of speech that has critized their government and the whole time they do the same thing about our government ... then I say - buck up Mate - its freedom of speech - if you don't like it being done to you - don't do it to others...

Like your dear sweet mum would say - Do unto others as you want done unto you....

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A few points

by maxwell edison In reply to In defense of free speech

First of all, no, you can't believe everything you see on television or read in the newspapers. In my opinion, in order to form an accurate view of events, you have to literally go out of your way to become well-informed, and you have to get your information from a variety of sources. A well-balanced view of the world will not present itself by simply watching the standard news programs on television or by reading your local newspaper.

In a different thread, someone suggested that American foreign policy was flawed. I agreed with that assertion, but qualified my agreement by suggesting that in the arena of foreign policy, it will ALWAYS be flawed to some degree by simply considering the dynamics of foreign policy. The USA is not the only country in the world, and events and circumstances are ever-changing. We take foreign policy steps and make some missteps; we get some things right, some wrong; and we are in a constant state of reevaluating policy decisions based on the changing world. This becomes obvious by considering the fact that with any foreign policy decision there are two (or more) players in the game, and we have less (or no) control over the other guy than we have over ourselves. Take Iraq, for example. Did the USA make some foreign policy missteps over the past twenty years? Of course we did, and you could point to Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush. Take Iraq again, for example. Did the Iraqis make some foreign policy misstemps over the past twenty years? Again, of course they did. Apply the same to any two nations, and the same could be said.

Therefore, with any foreign policy failure, there are at least two (or more) parties that should share the burden of blame. If the Australians are having problems with their foreign policy issues, they should probably look at themselves just as much - if not more - than the USA.

But I forget, the USA is to blame for everything.

And as far as any Bush foreign policy missteps, and I'm sure that even the administration would admit that some have been made, there's no reason to automatically assume that improvements and changes couldn't be made. People learn from their experiences, and they move forward all the wiser, not unlike you and me when we make that occasional misstep. I'd challenge you to name one American administration (or any nation, for that matter), who didn't make some foreign policy misstep. Hind sight, as they say, is 20-20. Quite frankly, I feel much more comfortable placing my faith in people who have been in the thick of things, than I would with the guy on the sidelines simply criticizing everything under the sun for political expediency.

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Just another left extremist hate speech

by ND_IT In reply to A few points

Just like MM. Don't even look for an political or idealistic answer, just looking for the right way to personally slam Bush. Not before anyone else jumps on me, I am not a huge Bush fan, but I don't like hate speech whether it comes from the left or right. I try to keep my mind focused on the idealogy of polictics. I agree with Max, every administration is not going to have a perfect foreign policy agenda. This world changes in minutes it seems like. Not only does our foreign policy change with a new administration, but it also changes when a leader from another country is elected as well.

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That's the whole point

by Oz_Media In reply to Just another left extremi ...

"Just another left extremist hate speech
Just like MM. Don't even look for an political or idealistic answer, just looking for the right way to personally slam Bush."

This says it in a nutsehll. You see the right wing as correct and the left as extremists, yet in another country you must understand that this could be exactly opposite. Some countries will be happier and more productive as what you deem extremist left wingers and would see the right wing as the extremists. Like they say, "whatever floats your boat".

You have just shown that you will completely discount any opinion that doesn't favour your own, and unfortunately thst is a common statement from the US as seen through other eyes. As I've mentioned before, it seems you have a need for segregation through political view. If someone doesn't see and agree with how YOU think the country should be run, they are the enemy.

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