A Face of Courage and Conviction
Australian Prime Minister John Howard
It's somehow fitting that his middle name is "Winston"
I promised this morning (before inadvertantly deleting) that I would post John Howard's splendid defense of freedom of and of American, British and Australian policy in the face of terrorism. Here it is (HT:Rush Limbaugh):
On the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq that the first point of reference is, once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use a vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats. And no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.
Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq. And can I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq. Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people, by implication, suggesting we shouldn't have done that?
When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy, not just in Iraq, but Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan? When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when Al-Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.
Now, I don't know the mind of the terrorist. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts are, and the objective facts are as I've cited, the objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq.
And, indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life; this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse, through a perverted ideology, of people and their murder.