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Diana Kerry Speaks Australian

John Kerry's sister thinks U.S. policy is endangering the people from Down Under.

4:00 PM, Sep 20, 2004 • By AMANDA SOKOLSKI
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IN COMMENTS to the Weekend Australian, Diana Kerry, the younger sister of the Democratic presidential candidate, has expressed concern for the safety of Australians facing an increased terrorism threat brought on by the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq. The Bali bombing and the more recent attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta, according to Ms. Kerry, showed the danger to Australians of being allied with the United States in the war on terror: "Australia has kept faith with the U.S., and we are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels."

Ms. Kerry's expression of concern for Australians' welfare might be touching for some. For others, and particularly those who are Australian, her remarks are patronizing at best. Indeed, they reveal how little regard the Kerry entourage has for America's allies--other than France and Germany.

As an ally of the United States, and one that was by its side in every major conflict of the 20th century, Australia certainly felt in some measure obliged to support the United States in Iraq. However, Australia is a sovereign state with an independent and democratic government. It is fully capable of exercising its own judgment in such a serious matter as going to war. In the case of Iraq, the Australian government did just that. As a mature and responsible state, it has no need now to indulge in recriminations against the United States over its decision.

To support her claim that Australians are in greater danger, Ms. Kerry refers to the Bali nightclub bombings two years ago, which killed 88 young Australians, and the September 9, 2004, attack by Jemiah Islamiah (JI) on the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Such loose play with facts is in keeping with the Kerry campaign's lack of seriousness on issues of Iraq and terrorism. The Bali bombings took place in October 2002 well before the Iraq war and Australia's involvement in it. It is also well recognized that JI had been targeting Australian interests in the Southeast Asia region since long before Australia's involvement in Iraq. Take for example the foiled plot by JI terrorists to bomb the Australian embassy in Singapore in January 2002.

Australia is a target for terrorists because of the ideals and beliefs that Australia shares with the United States and other Western countries. Would Ms. Kerry have Australians give those up to remain safe?

The Kerry campaign has argued that the Bush administration had too few allies going into war and claims that only Kerry would have the credentials to generate wider support for U.S. efforts in Iraq and around the world. How does it intend to do this if it seeks to scare off those allies who do support Washington?

Amanda Sokolski is a former Australian diplomat now living in Washington, D.C.