My Meeting Prime Minister John Howard

At the most recent winterly quarterly meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of meeting John Howard. The former Prime Minister of Australia will go down as one of the great leaders of all time.

One aspect of his visit that was so special was that his speech was the very first one he made to any American audience since giving up his Prime Minister post in November of 2007. The day after his final race for office, I offered him a hearty thank you on my blog.

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2007/11/godspeed-mr-john-howard/

One columnist speculated why this popular man was not even more popular, and attributed to his everman appeal.

“It is puzzling that Howard doesn’t have a higher global reputation. Perhaps it is because he looks like a branch bank manager from Waga Waga.”

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/05/howards_australia_a_conservati.html 

Ambassador Mel Semblor, in his introduction of Mr. Howard, mentioned some significant historical moments involving Australia and Mr. Howard. On 9/11, Mr. Howard was in America in Washington, D.C. at the time of the attack. He was not able to leave for several days, but after a few days was escorted safely back home on Air Force 2. After the attack, he recalled the common bonds of America and Australia, and boldly stated on behalf of all of Australia that “this is no time to be an 80% ally.” That remark won him plaudits for him and his nation.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/06/why_i_love_australia.html

Australia is the only nation to have fought along side America in every single war in the 20th and 21st centuries. In 1962, a young John Howard stated that he had a “personal regard for Israel and the Jewish people, and that they should never be diminished.”  

Below is the substance of Prime Minister John Howard’s remarks, with substance being an understatement.

“While Australia and America have many common bonds, there are two differences that stand out. In Australia, unlike America, blue is a good color and red is a bad color. Also, in Australia, the liberal party is the conservative party.”

Mr. Howard expressed his deep affection for America, Israel, and the Jewish people in general. Speaking of in general, he took great pride in pointing out that one of the great military leaders of all time was an Australian Jewish man named Sir John Monash. He led critical victories in war in 1918.

John Howard’s middle name is Winston. While his being named after Winston Churchill in itself may seem common enough, what makes this special is that John Howard was born in 1939, before Churchill became the Prime Minister of Britain. Mr. Howard’s father saw greatness in Winston Churchill before the rest of the world did, and named his son after a man he just knew would be great. Mr. Churchill was not only a defender of liberty over tyranny, but also a friend and admirer of the Jewish people as well.

Like Mr. Churchill and few since, Mr. Howard understands and articulates in a crystal clear manner the titanic struggle the civilized world faces today.

“The most important thing we must possess is cultural self belief.”

“The enemy, the Islamofacists, despise freedom of women in our society. They despise the fairness and justice of our judicial system. Their greatest weapon is that over time, our cultural self belief will fade. We must have a federal cultural compact. They despise weakness most.”

He stated that those who believe that peace can come from understanding the cultural beliefs of the Islamofacists are creating a “temporary illusion on borrowed time.”

“The greatest force for good in the world are the power of free peoples.”

He visited Iraq last March, and sat down with General David Petraeus. General Petraeus literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency, and he understood “the simple doctrine of ‘clear and hold'”

Mr. Howard was baffled by those who want to help Afghanistan reach democracy, but deny the asme noble goal in Iraq. “It is naive in the extreme, and an odd piece of logic, that the Afghanistan War is good and the Iraq War is bad.”

Mr. Howard also made it clear to separate Islamofacists from all Muslims. “Australia has 20 million people. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation, with 200 million people. The Prime Minister of Indonesia is a moderate who ‘concentrates the mind on making sure relations are good'”

Since Indonesia became a democracy again in 1998, they have elected a Pro-Western leader. “We must work with Muslim nations that are moderate.”

“We are free because we fought tyranny and oppression. Our way is not perfect, but as a political system with all its nuances, it works.”

Mr. Howard then delivered the line that has given him worldwide standing ovations.

“Those who want Sharia law, live in a country that has it!”

“People who come to Australia, I only ask they become Australians. Australian life does not resemble Sharia.”

“I enjoyed the roast last night (of the RJC Executive Director). Like in Australia, roasts are a way of saying uncomplimentary things in a complimentary way. The RJC has gone from having meetings in a telephone booth to a large convention center in a few years.”

“History will treat President George W. Bush with increasing kindness and approval.”

Mr. Howard was asked if he had advice for the next American President regarding the issue of appeasement of Islamofacists.

“Not all Muslims are extremists, but avoid the ‘muffled description’ of the language of the BBC and CNN, such as referring to terrorist activities as ‘military incursions.’ Plain language is important, avoid cultural self doubt. John McCain will not have a problem with any of this.”

He was thena sked why other nations besides Australia were not standing tall besides America.

“Besides President Bush, there has been Tony Blair in England, as well as Stephen Harper in Canada.”

When asked about Iran, he stated that he is “skeptical of the view that Iran is not developing nuclear capability.”

He offered sobering comments regarding Pakistan.

“Pakistan is one of the most important countries in this puzzle. It has some unstable, Pro-Taliban elements. President Pervez Musharraf cops a lot of criticism, but he has put his hand up for America. We should never forget that in 2001 they backed the right side. The alternative might be worse, not as Pro-Western. Pakistan is a real tinderbox. Let’s not imagine that the alternative is Pro-Western.”

He was asked how we find moderates to deal with.

“After Bali (the nightclub disco bombing by Islamofacists), there was an eye opening investigation, and a level of cooperation with the Indonesian police that gave me hope. The killers were brought to justice. They killed 88 of our people. We have common cause with people that have been terrorist victims. More Muslims have died from terrorism than Jews or Christians anywhere in the world except Israel. ”

One questioner wanted to know how we get Russia back on our side.

“Speaking frankly, I am not sure Russia has ever been on our side. Sparking World War I, they were behind the assassination of Australian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. They backed Serbia over Ksovo. Vladimir Putin is an ‘interesting man,’ the first ever Russian head of state to visit Australia. Russia wants to be the next world superpower. There is no other superpower in the forseeable future but the United States of America. Russia has been difficult over Iraq, along with ‘another nation.'”

After the speech, I got to meet Prime Minister Howard. I had actually met him the night before at the gala dinner proceeding the conference. He was warm and friendly. He was among friends, but so were we. I did not bring the gift I had for him that night, so I was lucky I got to see him after his speech to give him his gift, that being the aforementioned article I wrote for him thanking him for his service to the world.

I said to him, “Mr. Howard, it is an honor sir. It is fitting that you admire Mr. Churchill. I am a republican blogger. While you say the history books will be kind to President Bush, I want you to know that they will also be very kind to you. To praphrase Mr. Churchill, it is because I will be writing that history, and my keyboard will get the job done.”

He was thankful and grateful, and beyond pleasant.

I also met Mr. Howard’s wife Jeannette. An elegant and refined woman that appeared to combine the steel of Margaret Thatcher with the grace of Nancy Reagan, I reminded her of a comment her husband made in his speech about various past American Presidents. I then reminded her of another tradition.

“Mrs. Howard, It is also a tradition in America for defeated Presidents and Presidential candidates, especially republican ones, to come back and rule again. Is your husband ready to enjoy his vacation and then rule Australia again in 2010?”

She laughed warmly but emphatically stated, “10 years of anyone ruling anything is enough. We had our time, and it is time to move on.”

After taking a couple pictures with Mr. Howard (he was pleased that I asked Mrs. Howard to be in the pictures as well), I thanked him again for his service and bade him Godspeed.

Between their dignity, grace, class, and kindness, it is nice to know that beneath that sincere veneer lay spines of steel. These people never “went wobbly.” They maintained their “stiff upper lips.”

May God bless Prime Minister John Howard and Mrs. Jeannette Howard.

I would say that the history books will vindicate John Howard and prove him right, but I am prepared to accelerate that vindication.

Mr. Howard, it is not that you will be right. You already are. I and many others in the free world thank you.

eric

2 Responses to “My Meeting Prime Minister John Howard”

  1. Jersey McJones says:

    Well, I wish the ol’ mate well, but I wouldn’t expect a return, either from him or his party. Australia has some serious problems with his and his party’s legacy for the time being. It’ll be awhile before they get another shot.

    Howard made a few key mistakes – ignoring the looming water problem, too much dependence on the US and Chinese currencies, Bush-esque labor “reforms” that will only hurt Australian workers in the long run and have had no noticable effect on productivity or inflation. If these mistakes are not corrected in the near future, Australia could be facing a growing trade deficit, crippling inflation, falling tourism profits, mega-droughts, and angry Australian workers (not a pretty sight!).

    On foreign policy, it’s a mixed bag. His failure to aid East Timor was atrocious, though, especially considering Australia’s historic complicity in that mess, and then compounded by their lust for oil. His assistance in Iraq was minimal, as the Australian people, like most other people, could see that disaster coming a mile away. The only reason Australians don’t have stronger feelings on the matter is that Howard was smart enough not to get too entangled.

    JMJ

  2. laree says:

    Eric,

    This is 2.0 my response to Matt Taibbi’s article McCain Resurrected, Matt pronounces John McCain a warmonger..not so fast.

    http://imustimes.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/matt-taibbi-when-doves-cry/

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