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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The unrecognised freedom fighters of Timor

Ten years ago today, an Australian-led international force (INTERFET) landed in East Timor, ended the killing of the Timorese, allowed tens of thousands of refugees to return home, and paved the way for East Timorese independence.

For years, freeing East Timor was a shibboleth of the Australian left as well as a mandatory bumper sticker on their smoke-belching kombi vans.

However, the actual freeing of East Timor has caused them no end of grief. Why? Simply because it was former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard and Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer who ultimately did it. To make things worse, it was that hero of the Left, Gough Whitlam who abandoned Timor to Indonesia in the first place.

The resulting attempts by the Left to re-write history are hilarious.

This bizarre article - suggesting that Bill Clinton should receive the Nobel Peace Prize because of it - is typical, as is this logic bender.

Here are the facts:

* Downer's Foreign Affairs Department was chiefly responsible for convincing Indonesia to hold a referendum on independence in East Timor.

* John Howard approached Clinton to support Australia's efforts to send in the troops. (If you need to check this, you can find it on ABC television's Howard Years. Click on East Timor in the left column.)

* Clinton's back-up support was crucial, but all of the running on the things that ultimately made a difference, was made by John Howard and Alexander Downer.

* Significant casualties or the creation of a major conflict in Timor really could have been disastrous for the future of the Howard Government. For Clinton, it was just one of many foreign policy issues he was dealing with around the world at the time.

First of all, credit for East Timorese independence should go to the soldiers who put their lives on the line. Secondly, someone needs to tip their hat to the Australian taxpayer - each and every one fo them contributed thousands of dollars to the cause.

But on the tenth anniversary of the action that made it all happen, there appears to be no recognition at all, not even a pat on the back in a newspaper article, for the two most effective freedom fighters the Timorese ever had - John Howard and Alexander Downer.


Anonymous said...

"not even a pat on the back in a newspaper article"

And you expected one? Why?


blogstrop said...

Those who can do, those who can't preach.

Marcus said...

Perhaps there were a couple of glasses raised in Dili. Cheers John, Cheers Andy.