This 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General Stanley McChrystal has been replaced by counter-insurgency uber-guru General David Petraeus.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