Julia Gillard’s Address to the Joint Meeting of the US Congress

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has delivered a 35 minute speech to a joint meeting of the United States Congress.

Julia Gillard Addresses the US Congress

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This is the prepared text of Julia Gillard’s speech to the US Congress.

Mr Speaker.

Mr President Pro Tempore.

Distinguished Members of the Senate and the House.

Distinguished Guests.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am the fourth Australian Prime Minister to address you here assembled.

Like them, I take your invitation as a great honour. Like them, I accept it on behalf of Australia.

Since 1950, Australian Prime Ministers Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke and John Howard have come here.

Speaking for all the Australian people through you to all the people of the United States they each came with a simple message. [Read more…]

Democrats Say Bush Failed To Provide Plans For Future Of Iraq

President Bush “failed to provide either a plan to successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it”, according to Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.

Delivering the Democratic Party response to Bush’s address, Reed said “an endless and unlimited military presence in Iraq is not an option”.

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This is the text of Senator Jack Reed’s Response to President Bush’s Speech on Iraq.

Good evening.

I’m Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island, and I was privileged to serve in the United States Army for 12 years.

I opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. It was a flawed strategy that diverted attention and resources away from hunting down Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. And since then, too often, the President’s Iraq policies have worsened America’s security. Hundreds of billions have been spent. Our military is strained. Over 27,000 Americans have been wounded, and over 3,700 of our best and brightest have been killed.

Tonight, a nation eager for change in Iraq heard the President speak about his plans for the future. But once again, the President failed to provide either a plan to successfully end the war or a convincing rationale to continue it. The President rightfully invoked the valor of our troops in his speech, but his plan does not amount to real change. Soldiers take a solemn oath to protect our nation, and we have a solemn responsibility to send them into battle only with clear and achievable missions.

Tonight, the President provided neither.

As a former Army officer, I know the great sacrifices our soldiers and their families make. Our military can defeat any foe on the battlefield. Yet, as General Petraeus has repeatedly stated, Iraq’s fundamental problems are not military, they are political. The only way to create a lasting peace in Iraq is for Iraqi leaders to negotiate a settlement of their long-standing differences.

When the President launched the “surge” in January, he told us that its purpose was to provide Iraqi leaders with the time to make that political progress. But now, nine months into the surge, the President’s own advisers tell us that Iraq’s leaders have not, and are not likely to do so. Meanwhile, thousands of brave Americans remain in the crossfire of another country’s civil war.

So tonight, we find ourselves at a critical moment.

Do we continue to heed the President’s call that all Iraq needs is more time, more money, and the indefinite presence of 130,000 American troops — the same number as nine months ago? Or do we follow what is in our nation’s best interest and redefine our mission in Iraq?

Democrats believe it is time to change course. We think it’s wrong that the President tells us there’s not enough money for our veterans and children’s health care because he is spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. We have put forth a plan to responsibly and rapidly begin a reduction of our troops. Our proposal can not erase the mistakes of the last four and a half years, but we can chart a better way forward.

That is why our plan focuses on counter-terrorism and training the Iraqi army. It engages in diplomacy to bring warring factions to the table and addresses regional issues that inflame the situation. It begins a responsible and rapid redeployment of our troops out of Iraq. And it returns our focus to those who seek to do us harm: Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

An endless and unlimited military presence in Iraq is not an option. Democrats and Republicans in Congress and throughout the nation can not and must not stand idly by while our interests throughout the world are undermined and our Armed Forces are stretched toward the breaking point.

We intend to exercise our Constitutional duties and profoundly change our military involvement in Iraq. We ask Americans of good will of whatever party to join with us in this historic effort to restore the strength and security of the United States. I urge the President to listen to the American people and work with Congress to start bringing our troops home and develop a new policy that is truly worthy of their sacrifices.

Thank you.

US House of Representatives Passes Resolution Opposing Iraq Surge

After several days of debate, the US House of Representatives has passed a non-binding resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush’s Iraq “surge”.

The resolution was passed by 246 votes to 182, with 17 Republicans joining with the Democrats and 2 Democrats voting against.

The resolution expresses support for members of the armed forces but opposes the January 10 announcement by Bush of a “surge” of 20,000 additional combat troops.

The resolution will be voted on in the Senate tomorrow.

This is the text of the concurrent resolution passed by the US House of Representatives.

Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That—

(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and

(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Howard Addresses Joint Meeting of US Congress

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress in Washington DC.

Howard reiterated Australian government support for the United States, as shown through its invocation of the ANZUS Treaty.

Howard also offered criticism of the United States approach to farm subsidies.

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This is the text of the address to a Joint Meeting of the US Congress by John Howard.

Mr Speaker, Mr President, distinguished members of the Senate and House, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you for the great honour you have given me, and more importantly my country Australia, in asking me to speak to you today.

The bonds between Americans and Australians are strong and genuine. They are based on many shared values.

A belief that the individual is greater than the State.

A belief that strong families are a nation’s greatest resource.

A belief that competitive capitalism is the key to national wealth.

Mr Speaker, Mr President, and ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, America has no better friend in the world than Australia.

Australians and Americans enjoy each other’s company.

We share a love of sport and are fierce competitors in some.

And from time to time we even share the Academy Awards.

When I last came to this great chamber of democracy on 12 September last year, smoke still hung in the air over Washington and New York.

Heroic fireman and policemen, gallantly disregarding the danger to themselves, scrambled desperately amid the rubble, looking for the slightest sign of life.

The scale of loss and senseless destruction was yet to be fully calculated.

In seeking justice and not revenge, in choosing calm consideration over blind fury, by turning to friends before turning on enemies, the United States has led a great re-affirmation of those values upon which it and nations such as my own, are founded.

America fought back magnificently – and won the admiration of the world.

You demonstrated to the world that, where fundamental freedoms flourish, evil men can do their worst, cause death and devastation but in the end they will never win.

In his inaugural address, George Washington spoke of the destiny of the American people to preserve ‘the sacred fire of liberty’. That promise has been kept for more than two centuries – but never more so than since the appalling events of September 11.

Through these times Australians have shared your shock and anger and been partners in your resolve.

We have taken our place beside you in the war against terrorism, knowing beyond all doubt that it was an attack upon ourselves and our way of life as surely as it was upon your own.

As we meet, Australian troops are fighting side by side with Americans in Afghanistan.

In these past months President Bush has displayed the tenacity, the strength and the depth of character of a great leader.

And he is now applying those qualities to the dangerous tensions between India and Pakistan and the intractable differences in the Middle East.

It is a special privilege to return to this historic place to address the representatives of a people with whom we share so much and express the fond regard and high esteem in which we hold your great nation.

Like you, Australia enters this new century strong and prosperous.

Over the past decade, the productivity and growth of our economy has exceeded that of most other developed nations.

Our pioneer past, so similar to your own, has produced a spirit that can overcome adversity and pursue great dreams.

We’ve built a society of opportunity, fairness and hope, leaving – as you did – the divisions and prejudices of the Old World far behind.

Like your own, our culture has been immeasurably enriched by migration from the four corners of the earth.

We believe that nations are strengthened not weakened, broadened not diminished, by open debate and diversity of view.

Most of all, we value loyalty given and loyalty gained – the concept of mateship runs deep within the Australian character.

We cherish and where necessary will fight to preserve the liberties we both hold so dear.

Australian and American forces fought together for the first time in the Battle of Hamel, in France, in World War I. The date of the attack – the 4th of July 1918 – was deliberately chosen by the Australian Commander, General John Monash, to honour your countrymen.

From that moment to this, we’ve been able to count on each other when it has mattered most.

Australians will never forget the crucial help Americans gave us during World War II.

Successive generations of Australians and Americans have fought side by side in every major conflict of the twentieth century – in the jungles of New Guinea, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Gulf, in skies and oceans around the globe and now, in another century, among the rock-strewn mountains of Afghanistan.

The ANZUS Treaty of 1951 pledged each country to come to the aid of the other if it were under attack.

And so it was that in a US Airforce plane made available for my return to Australia on 12 September and high above the Pacific that I informed the US Ambassador Tom Schieffer travelling with me our intention was that, for the first time in its fifty year history, Australia would invoke the ANZUS Treaty.

America was under attack. Australia was immediately there to help.

Both of our societies are built on a deep respect for the worth of each individual.

“The worth of a state, in the long run” wrote John Stuart Mill in 1859 ” is the worth of the individuals composing it … a state which dwarfs its men in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes – will find with small men no great thing can really be accomplished”.

America and Australia are societies which extol the precious worth of each individual man and woman.

Like you I see family life at the heart of a nation’s existence.

Not only does the family nurture and educate our children but it provides emotional anchorage throughout life for us all.

The strength of the family goes beyond the spiritual and the emotional.

United, caring families are the best social welfare system mankind has ever devised.

Both of our societies draw great strength from the spirit of volunteerism.

The huge success of the Sydney Olympic Games owed much to the warmth, excitement and dedication of tens of thousands of volunteers who infected everyone with the joy and exhilaration of the occasion.

Edmund Burke called voluntary groups society’s “small platoons”. They are the living tissue between the government and the people.

Political life in both our nations is changing.

Politics is less tribal. Life long allegiances are looser and less frequent. Modern society has given young people infinitely more options.

Governments must be decisive but also modest. Grand gestures without practical results help no-one.

People want outcomes not political fireworks and constant battles.

They want space from governments to get on with their own lives.

I’ve spoken much of our common values, shared history and our deep respect for each other as peoples.

We also share a common interest in spreading and better understanding the benefits of globalisation.

The balance sheet of globalisation is overwhelmingly favourable to mankind.

We must, however, better explain the advantages of globalisation to all our citizens.

Trade reform and liberalisation have delivered benefits to people in many countries and can deliver much more.

I understand that the demands of local constituencies and international responsibilities must be finely balanced.

As a true friend let me say candidly that Australia was disappointed with the passage of the recent Farm Bill.

It will damage Australia’s farmers. They are efficient producers with very little government support.

I know that the farm and export subsidies of, for example, the European Union are much greater than those of the United States.

Indeed, OECD agricultural subsidies are two-thirds of Africa’s total GDP. The cost of these subsidies is three times all the ODA to developing countries.

This only serves to illustrate the urgent need for global reform of agriculture within the World Trade Organisation framework.

The challenge is to achieve a comprehensive Doha trade round. That will require Australia and America to work together within the WTO.

American leadership will be crucial. Let me express the hope that Congress gives the President full authority to negotiate new trade agreements.

At the same time, we in America and Australia have an historic opportunity to give even greater momentum to our bilateral economic relationship.

That is why Australia has proposed the negotiation of a free trade agreement between our two countries. A comprehensive free trade agreement, by boosting trade and investment between us, would add a stronger economic dimension to the security and other links we share.

Turning to the strategic challenges of our own region, Australia welcomes full and active engagement by the United States in the Asia Pacific. It is immensely important not only to the nations of the region, but also to the continuing interests of the United States itself.

There is no other region more dynamic or fast-changing.

Australia is proud of its leadership role in East Timor in gaining for a people so long oppressed the freedom and democracy available to our own citizens.

We stand ready to work in partnership with America to advance the cause of freedom, particularly in our shared Pacific region.

Mr Speaker, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen:

Australia enters this new century, confident in the talent and the energy and the skills of its people.

We shall move forward, secure in the knowledge that our journey through this century – often along paths requiring sacrifice, courage and grit – will be in the constant company of a true and great friend.

Historic Firsts As United States 107th Congress Convenes

Hillary ClintonThe 107th United States Congress convened today following last November’s elections. In a series of ceremonies, a number of intriguing and historical situations have now unfolded.

With Hillary Clinton’s swearing in as the junior senator from New York, this is the first time an incumbent First Lady has also served as an elected representative. President Bill Clinton attended the swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chamber.

As Vice-President, Al Gore also serves as President of the Senate. He has a casting vote in the event of a tie. There are now 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate. Gore’s casting vote means that the Democrats will hold a majority for 17 days until George W. Bush is sworn in as President on January 20. On this day, the new Vice-President, Dick Cheney, will assume Gore’s role in the Senate, swinging the balance of power back to the Republicans. [Read more…]