Editorial: Trump’s Rudd blast points to chaos ahead for US-Australia relationship

Editorial
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Donald Trump has launched an extraordinary tirade against former Australian prime minister and current US Ambassador Kevin Rudd.
Donald Trump has launched an extraordinary tirade against former Australian prime minister and current US Ambassador Kevin Rudd. Credit: The Nightly

Kevin Rudd reckons Donald Trump is “nuts” and “the most destructive president in history”.

Trump thinks Rudd is a “little bit nasty”.

They’ve probably both got fair points.

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The problem is that twice-prime minister Mr Rudd is now Australia’s man in the United States, and Mr Trump is looking increasingly likely to once again be that nation’s president. Maybe the experience of losing then regaining their country’s top job is something the two men can bond over.

If Mr Trump does make a return to the White House, and the two men don’t by some miracle find a way to heal their very fractured relationship, Mr Rudd must surely be on borrowed time in Washington, as much as Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Wednesday protested that wasn’t the case.

“Even Peter Dutton has expressed confidence in Mr Rudd. Mr Rudd is a very effective ambassador. He’s recognised as doing — across this Parliament — an excellent job in advancing Australia’s interests in the United States,” Senator Wong said.

She pointed to the success of the AUKUS pact as evidence of Mr Rudd’s efficacy as ambassador.

“He has been active in engaging with members of Congress on both sides of politics and he is a former prime minister, former foreign minister, is experienced … (which) means he will be able to work closely with whoever is elected by the American people as the United States’ president.”

The fact is Mr Trump thrives on chaos. If he decides he wants to, he could cause major problems for the AUKUS alliance.

Unfortunately, Mr Trump has proven many times that he doesn’t feel constrained by the usual limitations of diplomacy. It won’t matter if Mr Rudd is popular enough to be voted the US diplomatic corps’ prom king.

If he feels a deep personal animus towards Mr Rudd, he won’t hesitate to allow that spill across into the professional and the political.

This latest sortie highlights the serious issue of how the Albanese Government will deal with a Trump presidency 2.0. And with Mr Trump already leading Democrat Joe Biden in the polls, that is looking more than likely set to become a reality.

Australia wants desperately to make AUKUS work and avoid further policy prevarications. The plan also has strategic benefits for the US, where it enjoys bipartisan support.

But the fact is Mr Trump thrives on chaos. If he decides he wants to, he could cause major problems for the AUKUS alliance.

This is an eventuality that the Albanese Government must prepare for and work to prevent.

The 2022 appointment of Mr Rudd as US ambassador was always a risky move, given his history of inflammatory statements about Mr Trump, a man not known for his thick skin, or letting things slide.

At the time, perhaps Anthony Albanese was hoping he could wish away the prospect of a second Trump presidency through sheer force of will.

It’s a strategy that looks doomed to fail.

Perhaps the best Mr Rudd can hope for is that he finds himself someway down the long list of Mr Trump’s enemies and vengeance is delayed or even forgotten.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by The Nightly Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie.

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