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    Get it straight

    CNN has an interview with John Howard posted. It’s pretty much a quickie, but if you follow Asia-Pacific diplomatic jockeying, it’s worth a skim. Howard doesn’t think his close ties to the Bush administration have made it more difficult for Australia to do business with China, Indonesia, and other hotspots in these parts. The article said something else that I’d pretty much expected, but something about it caught my eye nonetheless:

    The Howard government received domestic and international criticism for its steadfast support of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, including sending troops and equipment to the invasion of Iraq.

    But the issue did not play a major role in national elections held last Saturday, with Australians convincingly renewing Howard’s mandate for a fourth consecutive term of government. (Full story)

    The linked article is from Monday, when I was busy with non-news life, so I hadn’t read it when it was posted. But given the context of the link, something jumps out very clearly when you read it:

    That caution clearly outweighed some of Howard’s less popular decisions, such as committing Australian troops to the invasion of Iraq.

    The Howard triumph may give some comfort to fellow “coalition of the willing” allies, George W. Bush and Britain’s Tony Blair, both facing imminent election — Bush on November 2 and Blair possibly in May next year.

    In Australia, Iraq has by no means been a key election issue — despite a major clash of policies on the issue.

    Howard has been a steadfast supporter of the U.S. action Iraq and committed 2,000 troops to the invasion.

    Latham had been opposed to Australia’s involvement in Iraq and had vowed to bring the remaining 900 troops base in Iraq home by the end of the year if he won government.

    But this election has not been fought on the Iraq issue, mainly because Australia’s commitment has been largely symbolic and no casualties have been recorded.

    I follow what’s going on in Australia pretty loosely, but I’d have no trouble believing that analysis–that is, that most voters were thinking about the economy and about the comparative experience of the two candidates rather than the WOT when voting. I’m moved to wonder, though, just how many times in an 800-word article it’s necessary to mention that Howard’s reelection MUST NOT be viewed as signaling approval for his WOT policies before we’re supposed to have gotten the point. Odd that the reporters don’t cite any polls about the Australian electorate’s position on Iraq, since I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some.

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