Friday, July 09, 2004

Go Cheney Yourself

Prominent Australian politicians tell U.S. officials to mind their own business.

The United States has been told to "butt out" of Australian politics by two former prime ministers who accused U.S. officials of trying to sway Australian voters in knife-edge general election due within months.

Top U.S. officials, including President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, have been pressuring Australia's opposition Labor party to drop a promise to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if it won polls tipped for October.


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stepped up criticism this week, telling Australian reporters in Washington that he believed center-left Labor was split on its policy to withdraw Australia's 850 troops in and around Iraq by Christmas.

With Labor polling neck-and-neck with the eight-year-old Liberal/National government, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating and former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser condemned U.S. interference in Australian politics.

"The intervention, not only of Richard Armitage but his bosses, in our political scene, I think, are quite unforgivable," Fraser, who was prime minister between 1975 and 1983, told Australian television late on Thursday.

"He's (Armitage) doing it for a very specific purpose -- to try and achieve a specific outcome that the United States wants. If it had been in older times, American officials would have been told to butt out."