Tick Tock: McChrystal to Petraeus, Rudd to Gillard

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Julia-Gillard.jpgThis is just a week of regime change, even if those going out and those coming in look very similar in overall perspective.
General Stanley McChrystal has been replaced by counter-insurgency uber-guru General David Petraeus. Bottom line: No policy change in Afghanistan.
And yesterday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was dethroned inside his own party which then affixed its hopes to the dynamic Julia Gillard.
I have to admit liking Kevin Rudd as much as Barack Obama. Many may not know that when it came to their overall views of the world and their personal temperament, Obama and Rudd were two of the closest leaders in the global community. They genuinely like each other.
Because of the enormous foundation of high octane relationship building that now Australian Consul General in New York Phil Scanlan has engineered between Americans and Australians in the Australian American Leadership Dialogue, I have had the opportunity to meet many of Australia’s leading political figures — including John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Kim Beazley, Julia Gillard and others.
Gillard impresses and may be able to push reset on some of the key policy targets Rudd had set but had trouble accomplishing.
One note of commendation, however, to the U.S. State Department Visitors Program. Years ago, when the New America Foundation was just still in its early formative years, I received a visit from a prominent but very young Aussie politician named Julia Gillard — and we had a terrific exchange about the Bush administration’s foreign policy and national security vision (and errors) as well as about think tanks.
The State Department Visitors Program provides a vital bridge between many of the leaders the world will yet see in the years ahead and American political leaders and policy experts.
Congrats to Julia — and here too is President Obama’s statement today:

President Obama offers his congratulations to Julia Gillard on her assumption of the position of Prime Minister of Australia and on the historic step of becoming Australia’s first female prime minister. The United States and Australia enjoy a special and productive relationship and alliance that will continue to prosper under her leadership.
The President looks forward to working with Prime Minister Gillard across the broad range of issues on which the United States and Australia currently enjoy strong and deep cooperation and looks forward to speaking with her soon. The President also wishes to extend his thanks and best wishes to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who remains a great friend of America.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

10 comments on “Tick Tock: McChrystal to Petraeus, Rudd to Gillard

  1. Bill Davis (Melbourne, Australia) says:

    I don’t think Rudd was that bad, and Gillard will be fine, but is quite ambitious, and it might be argued that she moved due to recent history with Australian Prime Ministers holding on to power past their time, as the conservatives would have probably held power had they replaced Howard with Costello.
    Gillard has been a good parliamentary performer for labour and will win the election easily.
    Obama OTOH, well you Americans have some real interesting politics coming up in November.

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  2. ImadK says:

    Yeah, like ross, i too was surprised to find out one morning that Kevin Rudd just resigned and was immediately replaced with Julia Gillard. The news here in Australia is celebrating our first female PrimYeah, like ross, i too was surprised to find out one morning that Kevin Rudd just resigned and was immediately replaced with Julia Gillard. The news here in Australia is celebrating our first female Prime Minister.
    I think that WigWag is not right in that he indicates that the Liberal party is somehow going to win the upcoming general elections. Unless they do the same as the Labor Party did and dumped Peter Abbot with someone better (read: not as close to John howard’s policies), then both parties will still remain at a stalemate.
    Personally, I don’t care that much for Gillard, since she’s been a bit mute as a deputy prime minister. I’m guessing that she’ll pretty much be following Kevin Rudd’s stances with some changes. I am not of the mind that Kevin Rudd was the worst prime minister Australia had, he may probably have been the most boring one. Most people would have agreed that he won the last elections for not being John Howard. She might have been able to give the labour Party a facelift, but i still don’t care so much for either party. I might just go Green. e Minister.
    I think that WigWag is not right in that he indicates that the Liberal party is somehow going to win the upcoming general elections. Unless they do the same as the Labor Party did and dumped Peter Abbot with someone better (read: not as close to John howard’s policies), then both parties will still remain at a stalemate.
    Personally, I don’t care that much for Gillard, since she’s been a bit mute as a deputy prime minister. I’m guessing that she’ll pretty much be following Kevin Rudd’s stances with some changes. I am not of the mind that Kevin Rudd was the worst prime minister Australia had, he may probably have been the most boring one. Most people would have agreed that he won the last elections for not being John Howard. She might have been able to give the labour Party a facelift, but i still don’t care so much for either party. I might just go Green.

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  3. Dirk says:

    Similar things are imminent in Germany, although on a longer time frame. Merkel (CDU/CSU) party is in a coalition with Westerwelle (FDP) and the latest polls have shown big loses for both her party and her own popularity. More significantly, her coalition partner the FDP is exceedingly unpopular, as is their leader, dropping to the 5% level at which you don’t exist anymore, in terms of parliamentary representation.
    The opposition (SPD) and (Greens) have improved to 45%, but would either have to form a minority government or form a distasteful coalition with a third party (Linke), which isn’t in the cards.
    But, the writing is on the wall…

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  4. YY says:

    Oh and the most similar thing is the speed at which the change occurred once it was in motion.
    This is actually quite a healthy thing as the party is at least very aware of the need to keep itself alive, regardless of the justice or fairness of the process.

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  5. YY says:

    There’s a striking similarity here to what recently occurred in Japan. In both cases the party in power freaked out with declining poll popularity of the leadership, suggesting potential electoral loss for the members. The larger policy picture after change remain, at best only different in nuance, as the parties in question had supported the policy direction in the first place. Leadership became difficult in the end because the parties got tired of the peculiarities of style of leadership, making the sacrifice easier. In the meantime, the public polling was not so clear as to what exactly was the cause of drop in support. More than specific policy mistakes, whether it be flip-flops or utter failure, the public sentiment appears to have registered these as faults with the character of the leader, a visceral and not substantive feeling that comes across the TV screen.

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  6. The Pessimist says:

    Questions for you Steve:
    To what degree are the Obama administrations’ policy parameters being massaged by Rahm Emanuel? How much control of information, both incoming and outgoing, does a modern day chief of staff really have in their communications with the president?

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  7. kotzabasis says:

    In a famous interview, now infamous, given by Obama three months ago to Kerry O

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  8. Ross Sharp (Brisbane, Australia) says:

    It was certainly quite a day. Unexpected, too. I woke up yesterday morning, turned on the television and the first word out of my mouth was “Sh*t!!”.
    I don’t think anyone saw it coming. There had been speculation over the months about Rudd’s spectacular drop in the polls, but most thought he’d go to the next election, win it on Greens preferences, and possibly hand over to Gillard halfway through the term.
    Rudd’s main problem was an inability to communicate. Ironically, his final speech yesterday was the first time in ages we got to saw the real man at his most natural, and many are asking “Well, where has that guy been, we like that guy”.
    I think Gillard will be good. She’s clear and concise and doesn’t take prisoners in a debate.
    Just think, we’ve got a prime minister who’s a single woman in a de facto relationship with no kids who doesn’t go to church.
    I wonder how she’d fare if she were a candidate in the States? … Not too well, probably.
    And she was born in Wales, not Australia, which makes her an evil foreign type person to boot.
    Time for Birthers Downunder?

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  9. JohnH says:

    I agree. Steve’s endorsement of Netanyahu’s election and the opportunity it represented couldn’t have been more wrong.
    Strange how you forgot about that one, Wigwag!
    We all would have been better off if Netanyahu had been driven from power in ignominy. Instead, he just keeps hanging around like yesterday’s passed gas, antagonizing friends and alienating most everone else.

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  10. WigWag says:

    Steve Clemons is a man of multitudinous talents; but his powers of prediction could use a little honing.
    Steve has written about two new Prime Ministers in the past several months; Prime Minister Hatoyama of Japan and Prime Minister Rudd of Australia.
    Steve assured us that Hatoyama and his political party would revolutionize the relationship between Japan and the United States and he told us what a brilliant and talented politician Rudd was. On his blog, Steve reported that he had met Kevin Rudd and that Rudd was just the type of progressive politician who would insure that Australia played a bigger role in important world issues like global warming.
    So how has it all worked out?
    Hatoyama recently resigned (Steve suggests because he couldn’t stand up to big, bad Obama) and Japan now has its fifth Prime Minister in four years.
    Not only has Rudd resigned but his popularity is so low in Australia that George Bush’s popularity at his worst point looks stellar by comparison. Rudd’s main distinction is that he is the shortest serving Prime Minister in Australian history. The tax that he proposed on mining companies (mining is a big deal in Australia) is so unpopular that it enjoys virtually no support from anyone but the far left.
    Rudd’s replacement (Julia Gillard) doesn’t stand a chance. As hard as it is to believe, she’s even more to the left than Rudd was. The majority of Australians will come to detest her in no time flat. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party that Rudd defeated so recently has seen its popularity sky-rocket. Steve might as well start drafting his post announcing Gillard’s political obituary now.
    Steve first wrote about Rudd shortly before the last U.S. Presidential election and suggested that Rudd’s victory might bode well for the election of Barack Obama; it certainly did.
    Now that Rudd has been driven from office in such an ignominious fashion and now that the Australian Labor party has seen its popularity disintegrate, does Steve thinks the humiliation that Rudd has just experienced foreshadows anything about President Obama

    Reply

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