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Against the Ropes: Australian Defense Policy

Monday, Aug. 3, 2009

CANBERRA, Australia -- The chance to overhaul Australian defense policies had loomed large on the nation's political landscape when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his left-wing Labor government ended the 13-year rule of John Howard's conservatives in December 2007. Rudd's team was going to rewrite the script: Where Howard enjoyed being feared, Rudd had developed a fondness for being liked. From the treatment of refugees, to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism in Southeast Asia and relations with China, Rudd was seen as offering a smarter, cleaner approach based on a broad consensus.

That -- coupled with a new administration in the White House, and a belief that a more sensible approach to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq was unfolding -- raised hopes that Australia's new defense doctrine could prove refreshingly imaginative and reflective of the times we live in. ...

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