March 6, 2008

John Howard accepts Irving Kristol award - defends his Conservative Legacy

I speak to you tonight as an unapologetic and continuing advocate of the broad conservative cause, restlessly conscious, as you are, that the battle of ideas is never completely won and must always command both our attention and our energy.

John Howard has launched a strong defense of his legacy, breaking his silence following last year's election loss. The former prime minister used a speech to the conservative US think tank, the American Enterprise Institute to attack his successor over his new policies including Iraq.

To a standing ovation from over 1400 guests that included former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife Lynne, and former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, Mr Howard defended his Government’ record and personal convictions:

"I speak to you tonight as a continuing and unapologetic advocate of the broad conservative cause, but restlessly conscious, as I know you will be, that the battle of ideas is never completely won," he said.

He then went on to deliver the Irving Kristol lecture. I present notable excerpts from it where he applauds the institute, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, highlights the U.S.-Australia military alliance, has a dig at P.C. and the Archbishop of Canterbury over his recent Sharia comments, notes the lefts hold on educational institutions and the popular mainstream media and finally draws our attention to the “intellectual bullying and moralizing” associated with the current Global Warming debate.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


Mr President, ladies and gentlemen

I thank you for the honour you have given me in asking me to deliver the 2008 Irving Kristol Lecture.

The American Enterprise Institute, over the years, has consistently defended fundamental freedoms, both personal and economic. It has stoically resisted the insidious tide of political correctness in so many facets of our daily lives.

It has frequently displayed great policy courage – often facing a chorus of ridicule and dissent. This was recently the case regarding the surge in Iraq, a subject to which I will return later…

Written in 1973, Irving Kristol’s words have a timeless relevance to all of us who strive in different ways to build better societies and nations. He said then,

“… I know that it will be hard for some to believe that ideas can be so important. This underestimation of ideas is a peculiarly bourgeois fallacy, especially powerful in the most bourgeois of nations, our own United States. For two centuries, the very important people who managed the affairs of this society could not believe in the importance of ideas – until one day they were shocked to discover that their children, having been captured and shaped by certain ideas, were either rebelling against their authority or seceding from their society. The truth is that ideas are all-important. The massive and seemingly-solid institutions of any society – the economic institutions, the political institutions, the religious institutions – are always at the mercy of the ideas in the heads of the people who populate these institutions.”

To achieve success governments need a guiding philosophy; not a zealous ideology which is insensitive to political compromise, but a directional touchstone which provides overall consistency through the years. In other words, ultimately they must be ruled by values and ideas and not only by an instinct for political survival – necessary though that is…

I was here on that fateful September morning in 2001 having, only the previous day, met the President for the very first time.

To experience the shock and disbelief of a free and generous people being subjected to an unprovoked and evil attack left me with a feeling which I have retained to this day.

The long friendship between Australia and the United States has grown deeper and stronger as we have responded to the threats of these past years. It is a powerful testament in the modern world that the values which unite nations create the most enduring bonds of all.

Australia has been beside the United States in every military conflict of consequence in which your country has been involved since our soldiers first fought together at the Battle of Hamel, in France, on 4 July, 1918.

Important though that history of military cooperation may be, important though our political, economic and cultural ties might be, they are dwarfed by the commonality of the values that we share.

They are the values of personal liberty and individual freedom; the belief that decency and hard work define a person’s worth, not class or race or social background; and the confidence that all of the peoples of the world will embrace democracy if they are given the opportunity to enjoy its benefits...

I speak to you tonight as an unapologetic and continuing advocate of the broad conservative cause, restlessly conscious, as you are, that the battle of ideas is never completely won and must always command both our attention and our energy.

The former Australian government, which I led, was accused of many things, but never of betraying its essentially centre/right credo. We pursued a blend of economic liberalism – in the classical sense of that term connoting as it does a faith in market forces - and social conservatism. So far from being in conflict the one reinforced the other.

Economic reform and change – inherent in globalisation – can involve dislocation for communities and individuals. The anxiety this brings cries aloud for consistency and reassurance in other aspects of people’s lives; the sense that not everything is changing.

From our election in 1996 we pursued reform and further modernisation of our economy. On the social front we emphasised our nation’s traditional values, sought to resurrect greater pride in her history and became assertive about the intrinsic worth of our national identity. In the process we ended the seemingly endless seminar about that identity which had been in progress for some years…

Tonight I wish to touch on some of the values and responses which, in the world we now inhabit are important for today’s conservatives.

Whilst the intrinsic worth of values never changes, their relative importance and the tenacity with which they are applied by societies will always be determined by contemporary threats and challenges.

Today’s world remains confronted by the ongoing threat of Islamic fascism, a new and quite unfamiliar assault on our values and way of life.

It relies on indiscriminate terror without regard to the identity or faith of its victims.

It also calculates that it is the nature of western societies to grow weary of long struggles and protracted debates. They produce, over time, a growing pressure for resolution or accommodation.

The particular challenge posed by extremist Islam means therefore that more than ever before continued cultural self-belief is critical to national strength.

Ronald Reagan and that other great warrior in our cause, Margaret Thatcher, taught us many things.

One of them was to remain culturally assertive, to understand always the importance of self belief in the psyche of a nation; to be willing to stand against the fashion of the time.

In his book “The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister” John O’Sullivan wrote of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Margaret Thatcher “all three were handicapped by being too sharp, clear and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts. Put simply that Wojtyla was too Catholic, Thatcher too conservative and Reagan too American”.

O’Sullivan was speaking of a time when the views of all three were still largely unheeded.

Instead of bending they remained resolute and, as we gratefully know, their subsequent leadership permanently changed the world for the better.

When Ronald Reagan said “Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall” the left-liberals shuffled their feet, but as we know he meant it.

His historic achievement, through a massive build up in United States’ military strength (especially his persistent promotion of the Strategic Defence Initiative), in forcing the Soviets to confront their own internal weakness thus leading to the implosion of their empire – delivered the most profound political development in my lifetime….

In the protracted struggle against Islamic extremism there will be no stronger weapon than the maintenance by western liberal democracies of a steadfast belief in the continuing worth of our own national value systems. And where necessary a soaring optimism about the future of freedom and democracy.

We should not think that by trading away some of the values which have made us who we are will buy us either immunity from terrorists or respect from noisy minorities.

If the butter of common national values is spread too thinly it will disappear altogether.

We should not forget that it is the values of our societies that terrorists despise most. That is why we should never compromise on them.

It is not only their intrinsic worth that should be staunchly defended. It is also because radical Islam senses – correctly – that there is a soft underbelly of cultural self-doubt in certain Western societies.

There are too many in our midst who think, deep down, that it is really “our fault” and if only we entered into some kind of federal cultural compact, with our critics, the challenges would disappear.

Perhaps it was this sentiment which led the Archbishop of Canterbury to make the extraordinary comment several weeks ago, that in Britain some accommodation with aspects of Sharia law was inevitable…

As the most powerful force for good in the world community, the United States remains the ultimate guarantor of the way of life that most of us in the West wish to continue to enjoy.

Those who hold to conservative values continue to face a major ideological battle.

The left liberal grip on educational institutions and large, though not all, sections of the media remains intense.

Global warming has become a new battleground. The same intellectual bullying and moralising, used in other debates, now dominates what passes for serious dialogue on this issue.

That having been said, the past twenty-five years have seen striking conservative gains. It was Ronald Reagan’s strength and determination, nourished by his positive and optimistic view of freedom and American life, that brought down the evil empire…

Those who wish to read the whole lecture may do so here

After the speech, guests eager to get their photograph taken alongside him surrounded the former Prime Minister who is in who is in the US on a series of speaking tours including an address at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the George Bush library in Texas.

It was most pleasing to see Howard's exceptional political contributions recognized.
See my previous postings on John Howard here, here, here, here and here.

Your comments are welcomed


heidianne jackson said...

howard is truly an amazing man. i honestly believe that history will find him to be among the great leaders such as churchill, reagan, and washington.

it is a sad time in our history as a world that people are seeking to demonize his legacy and demean him whilst they go about it. his words were spot on and inspiring.

thanks for sharing this with us.

Karen said...

I just read this speech on another site. What a man. We will miss him in his leadership role. Now, though, maybe we can enjoy him on the speaking circuit.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

"They are the values of personal liberty and individual freedom; the belief that decency and hard work define a person’s worth, not class or race or social background; and the confidence that all of the peoples of the world will embrace democracy if they are given the opportunity to enjoy its benefits"

Man, I love this guy!
Congrats to Mr Howard. And an especial heartfelt acknowledgement to Australia. For everything - and for being there, right there, all the way. In dark scary places around the world. Y'all are the best.

Thank you is not a big enough word Otto. So, when you chat with your countrymen and y'all mention the Great Satan - please pass on the best wishes and fondest thoughts from your crazy, unpredictable cuz's and this one here in particular.

American said...

Thanks Heidi, and the demonizing is continues in some quarters even today…I’ll be visiting your site real soon.

And thanks too for your comments about Globalization on the previous post, your concerns are valid and I have addressed...

Great lecture was it not… Hope I can catch him speak when his back home…

American said...

Great Satan's Girl: Your gratitude is appreciated. You chose a great line, here's another:

"We should not forget that it is the values of our societies that terrorists despise most. That is why we should never compromise on them ... "It is not only their intrinsic worth that should be staunchly defended. It is also because radical Islam senses – correctly – that there is a soft underbelly of cultural self-doubt in certain Western societies."

Thanks for coming by...

Aurora said...

Otto, thanks for posting this about John Howard. Of course the Leftist media have been bashing him for daring to criticize their darling Rudd. What is a society where some people are not permitted to criticize certain others? You've done real justice to a great man. You've made my day. :)

American said...

Aurora: "Darling Rudd" tell me about it! The telivision news media's pre-occupation with their new darling is sickening.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

American Interests,

Thanks for this post - I've linked to it, and copied the Krystol quote.

'Ideas matter' is an important idea itself. I like to believe that more people are learning to enjoy emotions, but use reason for making decisions.

Debbie said...

What a man. We Americans are so thankful for his friendship, for his Conservative values, for his leadership of his country.

Excellent speech.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

American said...

Brian: Many thanks, you make an important point in relation to this at your site.

Debbie: Thank you, and yes was quite a speech...

Tapline said...

Otto, This is a man whose values should make his nation proud. He sees it like it is and says so. This is so rare in a politician these days. .....stay well...

Layla said...

What an amazing man. I truly wish more men were of his standing, unfortunately he is a rare and a dying breed. He will be missed and so will his conservative values.

Thank you for comming by my humble blog. I will be reciprocating the link as your blog is also of high standing, articulate and very well written.

American said...

Tapline: It is rare tap and unfortunately getting rarer, never knows the tide may turn...

Layla: Welcome to AI, appreciate the visit and comment, please chime in occasionally.

Donald Douglas said...

Awesome, Ottavio! Imagine getting the Irving Kristol award - neocon heaven!

Go P.M. Howard!!

WomanHonorThyself said...

hey there Otto!..I've posted on him several times as well...I speak to you tonight as an unapologetic..He had me at hello! :)

American said...


I expect you on the podium delivering the lecture within a couple of years...would be awesome.

Angel: Indeed you have and didi him justice..we thank you for it.

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Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

Thank you for this post. I have missed all references to Howard being here, and I will read the entire speech and most likely link this post today. I just do not understand the mentality that it is bad to believe in your causes and your culture without compromise.

Thanks for the visit to my wife' place. You were her first post!

Anonymous said...

Great post! He is truly one in a million. If only there were more people like him, this world would be a much better place. Thanks for giving him the respect and attention he deserves. You go Otto!! :-)

American said...

Thank you for the link.

I am surprised at just how impressed my American friends are with our former PM. Thanks Jenn, Howard is a rare one today. We shall continue the fight on his behalf. Great to see you here!

Flag Gazer said...

Profiles in Courage are rare - it is true joy to have been able to watch this great man and his great courage. I miss knowing he is at the helm in Australia....

Anonymous said...

To Quote Mr Howard,
To experience the shock and disbelief of a free and generous people being subjected to an unprovoked and evil attack left me with a feeling which I have retained to this day.

Does he think that the Iraqi women and children will feel any different about what's happened in there country.

To call his successor naive is naive itself as he had no exit plan and no plan at all.
Good riddence to the evil little man.

American said...

Anonymous: On the contrary a good giant of a man...

If Rudd were PM in 2003, would Australia have participated in the war? I will here no suggestion of a "no". If you have any recollection of parliamentary debate in early 2003 then you must know Labor supported the Howard Government’s sending our troops, they just didn't support the process - the unilateralist (no U.N. mandate) element. I put it to you that Rudd or Beazley, both partial to the alliance would have done same. One only has to read between the lines of last years address by Rudd, at the Australian American Leadership dialogue Dinner.

Excerpts from Rudd’s speech:

"America today, moreover, should not disengage from the world post-Iraq and I say that as someone who has been for almost five years a continuing and consistent opponent of the war in Iraq. But I say that despite Iraq, the world needs America. I say that despite Iraq, America is an overwhelming force for good in the world. It is time we sang that from the world's rooftops."

"Whoever wins the next presidential election and however Iraq is resolved, let there be no retreat of America from the world. Let there be no retreat of America from the Asia-Pacific region. Let there be no retreat of America from our region."

"If we are elected to form the next government of Australia, I would say this: there is no greater challenge or opportunity I look forward to more than working with the great American democracy, the arsenal of freedom, in bringing about long-term changes to our planet."

Anonymous said...

Such a big man he was only the second sitting PM not to retain his local seat.

The comments were never about Rudd as the decision to go to war was PM John Howard’s sole executive decision. This was against the wishes of the UN. And required special resolutions and did not even have the consent of the then Chief UN weapons inspector Mr Hans Blix.

I would not have supported PM Rudd were he to send front line troops without clearly outlining his goals and exit strategy.

At-least with Howard gone we can move forward with restoring Australia’s international reputation.

If he was such a giant as you suggest why was he not even able to retain his local seat? Answer his NeoCon ideals are at odd’s with the Australian Public’s ideals of a fair go and innocent until proven guilty. Not to mention invading countries for the war on terror when the WMD’s were never proven resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent women and children is not what Australia accepts from it’s leaders as the recent election showed.

Anonymous said...

Hey Otto,
We will never know if Rudd as PM at that time would have had such a "with us or against us" idology and headed into invading a soverign nation without a UN mandate. You can put all the spin on it you like but we will never know.

I feel as Rudd was opposed to invading Iraq he would have, while offering our allies in the US moral support declined on invading a sovering nation without a UN mandate. I think unlike Howard Rudd respects international law enough to require a UN mandate before commiting to war. As I say we will never know reglardless of the spin and rhetoric used by the Howard Huggers.

I'm just glad Howard is nothing more than a talking head and not our head of state.

The nation decided and Howard's true legacies will be judged by History not His Story.

American said...

Anonymous: The two of us could fire off comments/replies no-end while remaining at odds infinitum. You know, eventually even the best will lose an election, it’s inevitable. Moreover, let us face it; conservatism is on the wane, albeit at this point in time.

Why did Howard lose his seat, why indeed did the conservatives lose power? Especially since Australians had never had so well. Maybe Harvard Political Science Professor, Benjamin Friedman had a point when he said that, prosperity encourages progressive policy. The premise being that over time many come to take prosperity for granted, when this happens we worry less about our own circumstances and become more open to the notion of helping others, more receptive to policies that advance humanitarianism - thus more Liberalist, but in the Trotskyist method of the left. The professor’s book is titled, “Moral Consequences of Economic Growth”.

But enough said, I welcome you views regardless and by the way did I ever welcome you….No I think I did not, Welcome to AI.

Anonymous said...

Hey Otto, Thanks for the welcome.

As far as Australia never having had it so good did you mean never owed so much debt for fancy new cars and Plasma TV's.

I would direct your attention to the following FACTS.

Although the Howard government would have us believe we have never been better off the balance sheet tells a very different story. I dare say fudging the books to include anyone working one hour per week as employed is a prime example of Howard’s spin for his own political ends.

Maybe some of the financial credit should be directed at the Hawke/Keating reforms of the 80’s.

"In the 1960s there were 22 workers paying income tax for every one person wholly reliant or mainly on welfare. Today there are as few as five working taxpayers for each person on welfare.

Between June 1981 and June 2002, gross foreign debt rose at an annual average rate of 17.2 per cent. The corresponding figure for net foreign debt was higher at 18.5 per cent, reflecting the fact that Australian lending abroad has not risen as fast as Australian borrowings.

After being fairly low and stable for a number of years, Australia's foreign debt grew rapidly after 1981. Between 1981 and 2002, the level of foreign debt increased from $19 billion to $527 billion in gross terms and from $9 billion to $330 billion in net terms, i.e. after deducting Australia's reserve assets and lending abroad.

The foreign debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio gives an indication of what has been happening to debt relative to the size of the economy. Between 1981 and 2002, Australia's gross foreign debt increased from 13 to 74 per cent of GDP, while net foreign debt increased from 6 to 46 per cent.

• In 2002, Australia's gross foreign debt as a proportion of GDP was at its second highest level in more than 60 years. A higher level of debt was recorded in 2001 but before this, the only times when debt as a proportion of GDP was higher, were the periods 1901 to 1906 and 1931 to 1937.

Although a little dated all these FACTS were obtained from the following government link. Take a look for yourself.

Thanks again for the welcome.

Anonymous said...

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Howard accused of war crimes over Iraq troop deployment
Posted Mon Jun 2, 2008 1:17pm AEST
Updated Mon Jun 2, 2008 1:24pm AEST

A legal brief has been sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging former prime minister John Howard committed a war crime by sending troops to Iraq.

A loose alliance of peace activists, lawyers, academics and politicians is behind the brief, organised by the ICC Action group in Melbourne.

Organiser Glen Floyd says Mr Howard should be held accountable for sending troops to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations.

"We have produced a 52-page brief of evidence which states to the chief prosecutor of the criminal court that we allege John Howard's actions are war crimes under article 8 of the Rome Statute," he said.

Democrats Senator Lyn Allison says the legal brief sent to the ICC is justified.

Senator Allison, who is one of several eminent people supporting the move, says accountability is important.

"This action has been taken to hold those accountable for their action, so it's essentially our prime minister - he was the one at the time [who] was the executive of government, made the decision," she said.

'It wasn't put to the Parliament and as we all know, it turned out to be unjustified."

A similar brief has been sent by a group from the United Kingdom regarding former prime minister Tony Blair. The United States is not a signatory to the court.

As has been said before History not His Story will define his legacy. and thats a legacy even his liberal pals are dropping like depleated Uranium.