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Australia and the USA: our political relationship

A s Iv e mentioned bef or e, Im a c er tif ied politic al junkie. I lov e dis c us s ing politic s w ith any one w holl lis ten. So w hen I got inv ited to attend a dis c us s ion betw een f or mer Pr ime Minis ter Bob Haw ke and Editor - at- Lar ge of T he Aus tr al i an, Paul Kelly , put on by the United States Studies Centr e, I w as natur ally pr etty ex c ited. What f ollow ed w as a f as c inating c onv er s ation betw een the tw o politic al heav y w eights c ov er ing Mr Haw kes r elations hip w ith Pr es idents Reagan and Bus h; the Cold War ; the Gulf War ; New Z ealands f r ac tur ed r elations hip w ith the USA ; Is r ael and Pales tine; the Ir aq War ; the r is e of China and its thr iv ing ec onomy ; and his thoughts on the f utur e of the A NZ US allianc e. Not bad f or a 40 minute c hat. While Mr Haw ke s how ed his s ignif ic ant gr as p of w or ld is s ues , and pr ov ided analy s is that w as both r ef r es hing and ins ightf ul, it w as his anec dotes that pr ov ided the mos t enter tainment. His r e- telling of his f ir s t meeting w ith Pr es ident Reagan w as par tic ular ly amus ing; he r ec alls being taken abac k w hen, eac h time he as ked Pr es ident Reagan a ques tion, the Pr es ident w ould pull out a number of c ue c ar ds and s if t thr ough them. The Pr es ident w ould then r ead one or tw o s entenc es on the topic bef or e as king his ex per t in that f ield, s uc h as the Sec r etar y to the Tr eas ur y , to take it f r om ther e. Mr Haw ke s aid, Would I hav e r ather s omeone r abbiting on about s omething they dont under s tand or w ould I pr ef er they hand the details to s omeone w ho does ? That s aid, Mr Haw ke w as f ull of pr ais e f or Mr Reagan des c r ibing him as the r ight man at the r ight time w ho c ould s tand up to the Sov iet Union . In the s ame w ay , he held Pr es ident Geor ge H.W. Bus h, w ith w hom he later dealt w ith, als o in high r egar d. The c har ac ter of Pr es ident Bus h w as f ir s t c las s , he s aid. A s a f or mer A us tr alian Pr ime Minis ter , Mr Haw ke is w ell r es pec ted as hav ing a s tr ong r ec or d of ec onomic r ef or m, mos t notably f loating the A us tr alian dollar . A s s uc h, he v iew s w or ld politic s thr ough a pr is m of ec onomic s . He believ es appr oac hing many of the w or lds pr oblems , ev en the Is r ael/Pales tinian c onf lic t, s hould be addr es s ed ec onomic ally , r ather than politic ally or militar ily . In his opinion, ec onomic s deter mines polic y . Fr om this f low ed his thoughts on the f utur e of the A NZ US allianc e. He believ es that w hile A us tr alias mos t impor tant militar y par tner w ill c ontinue to be the USA , the mos t impor tant r elations hip f or A us tr alia is its r elations hip w ith China, due to its enor mous ec onomy and thr iv ing tr ade w ith A us tr alia. A ll in all it w as an inf or mativ e and of ten amus ing ev ening w hic h c ontinues the f ine tr adition of A us tr alian Pr ime Minis ter s c ontinuing to engage w ith the A us tr alian public ev en af ter they leav e of f ic e. Rather than c r itic is e or c ommentate on c ontempor ar y politic al matter s , Mr Haw ke w as gener ous in his pr ais e f or both his politic al allies and r iv als , and pr ov ed that he is a f or mer Pr ime Minis ter of w hic h our c ountr y c an be pr oud. Bob Haw ke and Ronald Reagan w ere a force to be reckoned w ith

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