From a speech by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (2013-15) at the Heritage Foundation, Jan. 21: (and nicely done, I might add.)
Back in November of 2014, when Australia hosted the annual meeting of the G-20, it was by far the most important gathering of leaders ever held in my country; and it should have been a diplomatic triumph—but for President Barack Obama choosing to give a speech at the University of Queensland that was seen as an attack on my government’s climate policy.
At the time, there was pressure to rebuke him for discourtesy, but I chose not to, because it was the duty, I thought, of the Australian prime minister not to be critical of the leader of the free world.
Now, I have to say that on this trip to Washington, I’ve noticed that respect for the office of the president is not so common, even here in the United States itself.
That’s a pity, if I may say so, because he’s not just your president. As the leader of the free world—which the president inevitably is, by virtue of America’s singular strength and goodwill—in a sense he’s everyone’s president, and the world needs him to succeed almost as much as America does.
If the president is strong, America is strong. And if America is strong, Australia is stronger, Britain is stronger, Canada is stronger, and all the countries of the free world are stronger.
That’s why so many people outside of the United States follow each president’s triumphs and travails almost as closely as if we were ourselves citizens of this great republic.
And much to the surprise of many, given the dismay that greeted President Donald Trump’s election; indeed, somewhat to my own surprise, given my view then that Mr Trump was almost uniquely under-qualified for such an office, I think he’s been quite a success: his style sometimes grates, but he’s been a very good president.
Maybe it’s just been overtaken by Trump derangement syndrome, but for the first time in years the main narrative is not one of American decline.