Troubled Trump a clear and present danger

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“I hope that somebody, somewhere in the federal ministry or foreign service has let someone in a position of power and influence in the US know that Australia is appalled by Donald Trump and that our relationship will not survive another four years of this madness,” writes columnist JON STANHOPE.

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison was challenged by Leigh Sales at the conclusion of her “7.30” program’s post-Budget interview with him to bag Donald Trump.

Jon Stanhope.

Morrison declined and attempted (in the face of multiple aggressive interjections by Sales) to explain that he did not intend to offer commentary on either of the two candidates for the American presidency, Trump or Biden, in the weeks leading up to the US election.

He referenced the importance of the US-Australia alliance and of maintaining international relationships irrespective of the politics and I think, by inference, the personality and character of respective leaders.

I thought Morrison handled the questions and indeed the interview, as a whole, quite well. He certainly had Sales’ measure and by the end of the interview her aggression, interruptions as well as multiple attempted “gotcha” questions had become not just tiresome but rather silly.

While Morrison’s decision to decline to publicly criticise Trump was appropriate, I do hope that somebody, somewhere in the federal ministry or our armed forces or foreign service has let some person, at an appropriate level and in a position of power and influence in the US, know that Australia and Australians are appalled by Donald Trump and the US government and that the US should not assume that our relationship will survive another four years of this madness.

While Trump is clearly a deeply troubled individual he is dangerous to boot. I have no doubt he would not hesitate to start a war if he thought there were votes in it. I also fear, because of our alliance with the US and Australia’s past willingness to follow it into any unwinnable war it is wont to wage, anywhere in the world, that when Trump, if he is re-elected, does inevitably declare war on Iran, that Australia will be first in line to rejoin the coalition of the willing.

I should acknowledge that my dread at the prospect of Australia being again seduced to join a pointless war, as a willing handmaiden to the US, is heightened by the fact that I have grandchildren of military age.

While it may not yet be clear, it was the question of the nature and importance of “alliances” that prompted me to write this column.

One of the treasured pieces of correspondence that I have filed away in the multiple filing cabinets and boxes of “treasured” papers and documents in my garage is a letter I received from the then NZ Labour Party Prime Minister, David Lange, in 1987.

The letter was in response to one I had written congratulating him on the principled and courageous stand he had taken, despite the obvious risk it posed to the ANZUS alliance, to ban the entry of nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships into NZ’s territorial waters and to declare the land and airspace of NZ nuclear-free zones.

The bans were affected by the NZ Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987.

After the passage of the Act, the US government duly suspended its obligations to NZ under the ANZUS treaty. Thirty three years later and, as far as I am aware, there is no appetite in NZ to reverse the nuclear ban in order to resurrect ANZUS and once again enjoy the warm embrace of Uncle Sam. 

I recently asked a Kiwi friend if there was a concern within NZ that it might one day rue the decision to fracture its alliance with the US. He answered, forcefully, that New Zealanders were a principled, proud, tough and independent peoples, but if NZ was seriously threatened and friends such as Australia and the US did not come to its aid, as NZ would surely go to theirs because it had dared to assert its sovereign right to ban nuclear arms, then it was moot for Australians to reflect on what you get when you remove the Z from ANZUS.

I thought the point well made and it disappoints me that it doesn’t reflect Australia’s attitude to our relationship with the US. 

Our mendicant status was defined in 1966 at the height of the Vietnam War by then Australian PM Harold Holt when he committed us as prepared to go “All the way with LBJ”. PM John Howard later confirmed our subservience when he committed Australia, as one of only three nations worldwide prepared to join the US in the coalition of the willing, in the disastrous invasion of Iraq. 

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. The Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars were a disaster for Australia and the world and they were pursued at a time when the US was led by reasonably capable, sane and able presidents. Just imagine the chaos that Trump is capable of.

Australia needs a David Lange; a prime minister prepared to say “no” to the US.


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Jon Stanhope
Jon Stanhope was Chief Minister from 2001 to 2011 and represented Ginninderra for the Labor Party from 1998. He is the only Chief Minister to have governed with a majority in the Assembly.


  1. Mr Stanhope appears concerned about potential war-mongering by Trump. However isn’t Trump’s the first administration since Jimmy Carter’s, 40 years ago, to not to start a new war? R. Regan, G. Bush, the Clintons and especially GW Bush and Obama are covered in the blood of millions. Of particular note is the violence waged during the Obama administration.

    From a January report in The Guardian: “having been at war longer than any president in US history. [Obama] is also the only president to serve two complete terms with the nation at war … he dramatically expanded the air wars and the use of special operations forces around the globe. In 2016, US special operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries – a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration … While most of these air attacks were in Syria and Iraq, US bombs also rained down on people in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. That’s seven majority-Muslim countries … Obama authorized over 10 times more drone strikes than George W Bush, and automatically painted all males of military age in these regions as combatants, making them fair game for remote controlled killing.”

    That explains one of the reasons why so many so-called “deplorables” voted against the Obama-Clinton war machine and for Trump. The “deplorables” were sick of the lies and violence waged by the Democrats. They feared what Clinton would do to boost the profits of the war industry. They also fear the wrath of millions of angry people from the above-named nations who seek revenge upon the West for the destruction and slaughter we enabled.

    • Not only that, Trump renegotiated NAFTA and pulled out of the TPP which is incredible and something that no one gives him credit for.

      Interesting that left wing parties (including Jon Stanhope’s Labor) used to acknowledge the role in which free trade has played in the deterioration of the labour market and the financialisation of the economy

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