Tony Abbott’s Speech To The Heritage Foundation
One of the best speeches I have read from an Australian politician; erudite, amusing, positive. Even Prime-ministerial.
A couple of excerpts to get you started:
The idea that each person should be free to become his or her best self: that, I’m sure, is what the Founding Fathers were grasping towards when they declared these truths to be self-evident, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The United States and Australia are separate legal entities but few Australians would regard America as a foreign country.
We are more than allies, we’re family. Around the world we seek no privileges, ask no favours, crave no territory.
Our objectives are to promote trade, prevent aggression and, where possible, to foster democracy based on the rule of law.
Narrow self-interest would have kept America out of Iraq, as it did the French and German governments of the time.
It would have kept Australia out of East Timor. Likewise, narrow self-interest would have kept America out of the toughest parts of Afghanistan, at least once the Taliban had been defeated.
Money, not military power, was enough to secure oil supplies.
Stand-off missiles, not boots on the ground, are normally enough to eliminate terrorists and degrade their bases.
America’s military expeditions may sometimes be mistaken but they’re always well-meaning; even if others are tempted to conclude, with Graham Greene of the Quiet American, that he’d never known a man with such good intentions for all the trouble he’d caused!
Australians are less self-consciously idealistic than Americans but Prime Minister Chifley’s “light on the hill…working for the betterment of mankind, not just here but wherever we can lend a helping hand” might be considered an antipodean version of Reagan’s “shining city on a hill”.
Australians have been proud to go into battle with Americans, starting at Le Hamel when Pershing’s doughboys fought under Australian command, and subsequently in the Pacific, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The United States shouldn’t take Australia’s support entirely for granted.
Australia’s national interest might not always be identical with America’s.
Our values, though, invariably coincide and Australia’s foreign policy should be driven as much by our values as by our interests …
The question now being pondered right around the world and, especially in Washington, fuelled by the rise of China, an inconclusive and unpopular war, and congressional gridlock here is: Have we reaching a tipping point in history? Has the United States passed from being a dominant to a declining power?
Facts, as opposed to fears, support no such conclusion.
First, America remains by far the world’s largest economy and has no systems-shaking transitions to manage.
Second, the world instinctively looks to America and to like-minded countries whenever trouble looms or disaster strikes.
Third, other countries’ success largely depends upon and substantially vindicates American traits such as intellectual curiosity, economic innovation, and political liberalisation.
And finally, the more other countries come to resemble America, the more likely they are to be forces-for-good in the wider world.
What’s remarkable is that right now, perhaps for the first time, the world appears to have more confidence in America than America has in itself …
Australia will continue to respect China’s economic achievement and to strive to improve the relationship on everything where we can sensibly work together.
We will try to avoid indulgent gestures over, for instance, live cattle sales to Indonesia or uranium sales to India where our friends want us to be a secure source of supply.
We intend to play our part in the wider world through contributing to humanitarian relief and fully participating in the security partnership with our principal allies.
Over the past decade, there’s been much “expert” advice that Australia would be a better ally by ostentatiously refusing to participate in America’s so-called follies, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
To their credit, both the Howard government and the Rudd/Gillard government have refused to carp from the sidelines.
These days, America does not need to be told where it is going wrong but where it is going right.
By a large margin, the United States has the best universities, the most creative research, the most sophisticated intellectual property and the most accomplished high-end manufacturing.
America needs to believe in itself the way others still believe in it.
It needs once more to take to heart President Roosevelt’s advice that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
America is exceptional so exceptionalism has its place.
American world leadership might only truly be appreciated were it to disappear.
None of us should want to find out the hard way what a shrunken America might mean.
Australia wills America to succeed because a strong America means a safer world.