You can almost hear an audible cry of relief in this part of the world at the expulsion from Canberra of John Howard and Alexander Downer. Behind the required diplomatic smiles they were little liked anywhere in South East Asia, and here in Indonesia, Howard’s long championing and support for Suharto, who he once hailed for his “great contribution” is not forgotten, nor Downer’s arrogant, quite racist, paternalism (and if you really want vileness, witness the reliably loathsome Greg Sheridan in The Australian, hailing the greatness of the man who was named by the UN as the most corrupt dictator of the 20th Century, with the blood of at least a million Indonesians and Timorese on his hands).
So, with Howard gone, Kyoto will get signed, one of the region’s wealthiest nations will back into the region instead of being – and being perceived as – little more than a shallow apologist for little liked US foreign policy in recent years. Even Singapore, the most US aligned country in ASEAN, was quite obviously increasing uncomfortable with Howard’s Australia.
And Howard’s legacy will be as the first sitting Australian PM in 80 years to lose his own seat. Good riddance….