Wall Street Journal Oct 13, 2004
No Surrender No Retreat
Foreign Minister of Australia
Without seeking to underestimate the role of domestic issues such as economic management, there can be no mistaking the clear foreign policy choices made by Australia in last weekends election. Presented with some tough decisions, the ?Australian people again demonstrated their robust commitment to international order and common good. With opposition parties promising to bring home Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas, Australians could have taken the easy option to cut and run. Instead, the strongly re-endorsed the government of Prime Minister John Howard and its promise to stay the course in Iraq.
Having been an original, modest but important contributor to the "Coalition of the Willing" Australia is not about to set any arbitrary deadline for leaving Iraq. We will not let down the Iraqi people. We will not let down our allies. /and we will not let down the international community. Our troops are involved in the important work of training Iraqi security forces, patrolling the waters and skies around Iraq and protecting Australians diplomatic staff in Baghdad. Our commitment also extends to reconstruction assistance, especially in the fields of agriculture and water management.
Australians hold mixed and varied views about the Iraq conflict and it has been a source of some political controversy and pain for our government. But having successfully participated in the liberation of Iraq from a cruel and brutal dictatorship, most Australians realize it would be folly to withdraw now, just when the Iraqi people are on the threshold of a free and democratic future. Australians also realize that to cut and run from Iraq would be to hand the terrorists a massive strategic and propaganda victory in the battle the Prime Minister Tone Blair has described as the "crucible" in the war against terrorism.
Despite the vicious terrorist bombing against the Australian embassy in Jakarta a month before our election, the poll result should not come as a surprise. Australians have a proud recorded of standing up for our values, our allies, our neighbors and our national interest abroad. In recent years we have donor this in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon islands. The Australian government will continue to show resolve and commitment in the war against terrorism, especially in our own region. We have struck counterterrorism agreements with nine of our regional neighbors and co-hosted with Indonesia a regional summit on counterterrorism.
Our leadership and cooperation on counterterrorism capacity-building will continue apace. We have committed further resources to this task, including a doubling of our commitments to fund counterterrorism strategies in Indonesia and ion the Philippines. We will also engage fully in the "battle of ideas" to insure that the was against terrorism is not seen as a "clash of civilizations" but as a battle to root out extremists. We will co-host with Indonesia a regional inter-faith dialogue to encourage understanding and tolerance in these broader issues.
In the lead up to our election, Australians opposition parties argued for a kind of retreat to fortress Australia. We, on the other hand, realize the terrorists threat is a global challenge that must be fought both in our region and with the broader international community. In this struggle, Australia's alliance with the United states is fundamentally important.
We will nurture that alliance rather than downgrade it. The alliance is a manifestation of our shared values and is vital in an era of global terrorist threats, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and failed states. Access to US intelligence resources, leading defense technology and other support provides unrivalled assistance in facing these challenges.
Today, Australia's international standing is high because we pull our weight internationally and do nor seek to shirk our responsibilities. the coalition governments foreign policy approach unashamedly puts the security and interests of Australians First-the sacred duty of any government to protect its citizens. But it is firmly anchored in the views and values of Australians and a belief that Australia is a significant country that can make a strong contribution to a better world.
Our approach to the challenges we and other nations face is guided by pragmatism rather that hamstrung ideology. Under the re-elected Howard government, Australia will continue to strive for outcomes that make a real difference to the security and prosperity of Australians and the international community.