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Thursday, July 21, 2005

What Real Leaders Do In A Time Of Crisis...and it's not search for root causes

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia is a "MAN". That's the best I can put it. It has nothing to do with sex or gender and all to do with the traditional attributes typically associated with, but not limited to, the male of the human species. A "MAN" like Eisenhower...or Reagan...or Giuliani...or Dubya. Or, like Margaret Thatcher and perhaps Condi Rice. People who were not afraid to tell it like it is whether it was popular to say or not. Truth always trumps politics. Here's what Howard had to say in response to a question from a reporter regarding whether Britain's presence in Iraq had made London a terrorist target: "The first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the 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 that 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 in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan? When Sergio DeMillo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that DeMillo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor. Now I don't know the minds 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. And the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective fact is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq and indeed all the evidence as distinct from the suppositions suggest 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." This is so succinctly put and so clear and so obvious and so logical that I cannot fathom how anyone with even a shred of intellectual honesty could disagree. If more western leaders would speak bluntly and unequivocally in these terms, we would likely be much better off. [Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt]

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