Charles Krauthammer

  WASHINGTON -- Of all our allies in the world, which is the only one to have joined the United States in the foxhole in every war in the last 100 years? Not Britain, not Canada, certainly not France. The answer is Australia. 

Australia not only shares a community of values with the United States. It understands that its safety rests ultimately on a stable international structure that, in turn, rests not on parchment treaties but on the power and credibility of the United States. Which is why Australia is with us today in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

     Australian Prime Minister John Howard has taken great risks and much political heat for his support of America. There is a national election in Australia on Oct. 9 and the race is neck and neck between Howard and Labor Party leader Mark Latham. Latham has pledged to withdraw from Iraq.

     This is a critical election not only for Australia, but also for the United States. Think of the effect on America, its front-line soldiers and its coalition partners if one of its closest allies turns tail and runs.

     The terrorists are well aware of this potential effect. Everyone knows about the train bombing in Madrid that successfully brought down a pro-American government and led to Spain's precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. But few here noticed that this month's car bombing in Jakarta was designed to have precisely the same effect.

     Where was the bomb set off? At the Australian embassy. When was it set off? Just weeks before the Australian election and just three days before the only televised debate between Howard and Latham.

     The terrorists' objective is to intimidate all countries allied with America. Make them bleed and tell them this is the price they pay for being a U.S. ally. The implication is obvious: Abandon America and buy your safety.

     That is what the terrorists are saying. Why is the Kerry campaign saying the same thing? ``John Kerry's campaign has warned Australians that the Howard government's support for the U.S. in Iraq has made them a bigger target for international terrorists.'' So reports The Australian (Sept. 18).


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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