"The Prime Minister is delighted that the shift from a cosy G8 of only the richest nations to a more democratic and diverse G20 has given Australia 'a seat at the table' in reshaping the world's economy... " (Summit seating leaves Rudd in far-off Siberia, Peter Wilson, The Australian, 3/4/09)
But what a seat: "Rudd was seated last night between Ethiopia and Spain - in other words, in Siberia. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Meles Zanawi are not even paid-up members of the G20, and were simply invited along to London by the British Prime Minister to try to make the gathering 'more representative'. Zapatero is the unpopular chap who celebrated his 2004 election by pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq and he annoyed Barack Obama this month by pulling his troops out of Kosovo. He was banished last night to a dinner seat that was still one place better than Rudd's. The only way Rudd's seat could have been worse would have been to have him out in the kitchen helping Jamie Oliver do the dishes." (ibid)
"European leaders are expected to resist American pressure to join the Pentagon's military 'surge' in Afghanistan, disappointing Barack Obama. The US President has made the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda the centrepiece of his new foreign policy and used yesterday's NATO summit [in Strasbourg] to further his agenda with European allies. Resigned to a half-hearted response from the Europeans on Afghanistan, the Americans have already scaled back demands to avoid being snubbed publicly and instead focused on manpower to train the Afghan police and to enhance security before elections in Afghanistan in August. The NATO summit was expected to struggle to match civilian resources to the increased US military deployments..." (Europe reluctant to join Obama's Afghan surge, Ian Traynor, Guardian News/New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald 4/4/09)
Seems the Europeans know a quagmire when theyre standing in one. But not Rudd: "Australia has been excluded from a NATO leaders' summit... despite repeatedly pressing for closer engagement on the war in Afghanistan. Australia has almost 1100 troops in the country, the largest of the non-NATO allies. The Government has repeatedly criticised the Howard government for failing to engage with NATO on the strategy for the war. Last year's summit in Bucharest... was attended by the PM Kevin Rudd, the Minister for the Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon, and the Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston. But a NATO spokesman... said non-NATO members were not invited to the summit because it would celebrate the organization's 60th anniversary. The main item, however, will be the war in Afghanistan... [& it] is widely expected to lead to greater European troop commitments, which would create pressure for Australia to bolster its contribution." (Australia excluded, Jonathan Pearlman, SMH, 4/4/09)
Jeez, whether it's the G20 or NATO, little Kev desperately wants to join the Big Boyz, and yet, despite his proven expertise in throwing 60th birthday bashes for other countries (well, for one very special friend at least), they won't let him play with them! So, what's he gotta do to impress these guys? Simple - send even more Australian troops to Afghanistan.
Postscript: "Australia is poised to lift the number of military trainers serving in Afghanistan after NATO announced plans to send another 5000 combat troops to stem a worsening Taliban insurgency... It's understood the Government is preparing to send up to 250 army trainers and supporting troops to the war-ravaged country to bolster the Afghan security forces." (Australia to boost Afghan effort, Mark Dodd, The Australian, 7/4/09)
"The veil of secrecy surrounding the country's worst kept secret - the Rudd Government's plans to send more troops to Afghanistan - is slipping away. The Australian Defence [!!!] Force has quietly placed orders for 17,000 blizzard survival jackets and other extreme cold weather equipment... " (Shopping list points to Afghan mission, Cameron Stewart, The Australian, 14/4/09)