Howard's defeat in Australia is undoubtedly part of the slow unwinding of the failed worldview that was the mistaken response to the horror of 9/11.Of course, Howard's loss was not directly due to the Iraq War: like Bush and Blair, he won re-election even after the failings of the illegal invasion were widely known.
But consider this: like Blair's Labor party, Howard's Liberal coalition has been almost thoroughly decimated by his decision to remain in power so long. The same goes for Bush's GOP: his second term has been an unending nightmare in the polls. Meanwhile the even greater nightmare of Iraq drags on with an abandoned and discredited USA not even pretending to posit an exit strategy any more.
All three men, Bush, Blair and Howard, leave their parties a shambles. All three have virtually destroyed their own political legacies.
One can only hope that a lesson has been learned, and that no leader of a democratic country will ever pursue such reckless madness again.
Meanwhile, Australia has finally joined the 21st Century. It will be strange to see Prime Minister Kevin Rudd representing Australia in Bali next month, and not have to cringe and feel ashamed of my country. As Juan Cole says:
Hey, I want a government in the US that looks like this-- pro labor, against foreign military adventures, afraid of global warming, the leader speaks an Asia language, and a rock star is on the team.Kevin Rudd seems like a decent man, but he does seem to have a slightly authoritarian mindset, which makes the comparisons with Tony Blair a little scary. He won't be perfect, but hopefully he will move us steadily in the right direction.
As I say, we can only hope the lesson has been learned. And not just by Kevin Rudd, but by all of us.