Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Big Ideas -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) really good at body boarding?

Excuse me, I'm looking for a

body board. Can you help me?

Well, the first thing is to get

the right gear. the right gear. Body boards

come in different sizes. It's

best if it comes up to around

your belly button. You also

need a pair of flippers to give

you extra speed. The pros

reckon you should learn the

basics before you hit the

water. Your hips should be in

contact with the tail of the

board and your hands on the top

corners. Arch your back and

keep your head up. Keep keep your head up. Keep your

elbows on the board. It's

almost impossible to control it

if they're dragging in the

water. To move left, slide

your right hand down and do the

opposite to turn right. For

extra speed, push down the nose

of the board, but not too far,

or you could wipe out.

or you could wipe out. Back at

Matt's class and the kids look

like they're putting the tips

into practice. Really small to

be on it, it's hard to paddle

and catch a wave at the same

time. Pretty cool, because you

get to hang out with your

friends and chill and surf and

boogie board. It's harder than boogie board. It's harder than

surfing and it feels good to

catch the wave. So what advice

does Matt have to get your

skills up? Just to get down to

the beach, if they can, as

often as they can and just

practice makes perfect and just

enjoy what they're doing, no

matter what they're doing. The

good thing about body boarding

is it's cheap to get started,

so it's easy for anyone to give

it a go. And with lots of

practice, you could be practice, you could be riding

the wave all the way to the

pro-circuit. Don't forget to

log on to our website and get

more info about any of our

stories. Up can send your comments and vote in our poll.

We'll see you next time.

Closed Captions by CSI

This Program is Captioned Live # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi, there. Welcome to Big Ideas. longest-serving Labor prime minister On the show today, Australia's managing our relationship looks back upon his time the United States. with our most powerful ally, with two Republican presidents, As PM, Bob Hawke worked and George Bush Senior, Ronald Reagan on some critical global issues of the Berlin Wall, including the fall the creation of APEC, the end of apartheid in South Africa, into the global community. and bringing China

Paul Kelly, Led by political journalist some amusing anecdotes, the conversation includes

of prompt cards like Ronald Reagan's use at the White House. in high-level meetings United States Studies Centre Mr Hawke, welcome to this conversation forum. with the United States of America. on your dealings as prime minister Republican presidents, You dealt with two Senior. Ronald Reagan and George Bush when you were prime minister I know from talking to you and critical assessments that you'd formed quite intense

as prime minister. of the leaders you met tonight, I'd like you to tell the audience of Ronald Reagan? what was your assessment the president. I grossly underestimated and, if you like, his weaknesses. Let's understand his strengths, pretend to be an intellectual - Ronald Reagan didn't shaky ground if he'd tried to. he would have been on very (Audience laugh) the detail of most areas of policy. Nor did he pretend to be across He had an unshakeable conviction of the Soviet Union in the evil nature he described as the Evil Empire which, as you know, rightly in my judgement, and he believed, that under his predecessor the Soviet Union and Leonid Brezhnev

too many easy victories. had been given and I did a few years later, And indeed, when he came to power, spread from, if you like, the arc of Soviet influence

through the Middle East across Europe Angola, south of Africa right and down to Vietnam.

And he had an absolute conviction had to be stood up to, that the Soviet Union increase its expenditure on defence. that the United States had to that if through solid defence He had a conviction could be left to fight it out the two respective economic systems he had no doubt, and he was right, free enterprise system that the competitive

command system for dead. would leave the Soviet he was the man for the time. So, my assessment of Reagan was those times were very dangerous. Remember, from what you've just said, I think you're implying, that you also at that time felt towards the Soviet Union. that a tough attitude was required This was an hegemonistic power. Of course it was. of its power and influence. I've just indicated the stretch chummy little friends, They were not about being power and influence and territory. they were about acquiring were hateful regimes And their regimes economically backward. and they were and resources for humankind. They did nothing to tap the capacity And so it had to be defeated. about the United States, And while I have many criticisms in the course of the evening, which may come through steadfastness of the United States, the fact is that it was the the leadership of Ronald Reagan, and particularly under of the Soviet Union. that led to the downfall of some of your Labor colleagues What was the response about Ronald Reagan? when you talked to them shared your assessment of him? How many of them think that what I'm saying Well, I don't majority view, of course. was the overwhelming the privilege and the pleasure But they had not had of meeting with Reagan. Paul, is this - What is worth noting about Reagan, to the United States, I made many visits and not once did I meet anyone five under his presidency, of the political fence, on either side who didn't like him personally. Democrat or Republican, interchange I had with Tip O'Neill, There was one famous little Democrat Speaker of Representatives who was then the and he'd seen my schedule and said,

'I see you've been down the White House, Bob,' and I said, 'Yeah, yeah I've been down there.'

And he said, 'There's never been a more conservative son-of-a bitch in that place.' But, he says, 'You can't help liking the guy, can you?'

And that was true, he was a loveable bloke. Reagan was supposed to rely on cards to guide him in these discussions. What was your experience - did he or did he not actually use the cards when he was talking - Did he ever. First meeting, June '83,

White House, long table, Ronald sitting there, I'm sitting here, on his left, he has his economic advisors, including Donald Reagan, the secretary of the treasury, George Shultz on his right. He opens up and says some very nice things about me and then he says, (American accent) 'Well, Bob, you're our honoured guest.

What would you like to start on, Bob?' So I - you may remember in '83, the United States were just coming out of a recession - and so I asked what he expected the rate of GDP growth to be in the next 12 months and so on. (Audience laugh) It's true. Finds the appropriate card, he reads a few sentences and he says, 'Well, Donald, I think this is in your area. Would you like to take this up with Bob?' So, the secretary of the treasury of the United States and the Prime Minister of Australia engage in an intelligent, rational conversation, with the most powerful man in the world sitting there saying bugger all. And after the end of that little interchange

then he says, 'Well, Bob that was mighty interesting. What would you like to go to next?' So the next one was foreign affairs. I asked the question and -

Come to the appropriate card, a couple of sentences and he says, 'Well, George Shultz, this is in your area. Perhaps you'd like to take this up with Bob.' So the secretary of state of the United States and the Prime Minister of Australia

have an intelligent, relevant conversation for five minutes. Most powerful man in the world, nothing. And so it went on. We were leaving at the end of that, Paul, to go out and have lunch, which is what he enjoyed most - 'Telling a few stories, Bob?

Swap a few stories?' And as we go out, my blokes said to me - you know, they were appalled. I said, 'Well, wait a minute. What would you rather have?

Would you rather have a bloke who doesn't really know a lot about the details rabbiting on, or handing it over to someone who does?' 'Course I was right. Now you've talked about George Shultz. How important was your personal relationship with George Shultz in terms of establishing your effective relations with the President and with the broader Reagan administration? Critically important. I'd had the privilege of meeting George Shultz in 1976. We had lunch at the Southern Cross Hotel, in Melbourne.

He was there in his capacity as head of Bechtel, a huge United States international construction company. They had a lot of projects in our region, including most particularly, the building of the Bougainville Copper project. They'd been having some problems, labour problems, and the people who had got in touch with me and asked if I'd see him when he came - I did, and we clicked immediately. He had the background, which was in my area, he'd been a professor of economics, been secretary of labour, secretary of treasury and he was a great man. Great man.

We got on very well. So it was enormously helpful when I became prime minister in 1983 that he was secretary of state. He told Reagan that I was a good guy. The first congratulatory message I got from an international leader was from Reagan with a warm, very warm welcome to come and meet him as soon as possible. And, of course, the warmth of that relationship not only opened doors but it meant we were able to discuss things in an absolutely frank, open, constructive manner. And I suppose the best illustration of the importance of that relationship came in the resolution of the MX crisis. Well, I was going to move on and talk about these two issues, these two crises, which came up early on in your prime ministership - we had the New Zealand policy on nuclear warships, which led to a crisis between New Zealand and the United States and the effective removal of New Zealand from each its treaty arrangements with America. And then we had the MX crisis as well. So, let's just deal with the New Zealand crisis first of all. What was your view of the policy of New Zealand prime minster David Lange on nuclear warships and what sort of discussion did you have with him about that? The first thing to understand - it wasn't David Lange's policy.

I had, in the end, nothing but contempt for Lange and his vision on this. We met in Port Moresby when he hadn't been elected long, and we were up there for the opening of the new Parliament House and we were to meet in my room in the hotel I was in, in Papua New Guinea. Ross Garnaut, who was my personal economic advisor, brought him in and when Ross had left I said to him, 'That's Ross Garnaut, my personal economic advisor.' And he said, 'Oh I think I've got one of them. I haven't met him yet.' I thought, 'Shit, what am I talking to here?' So, that initial impression was re-enforced very quickly by the following conversation.

I said, 'We haven't got time Let's get it down to it. I'll tell you exactly what my position is about the question of visits by US ships.'

I said, 'It is not conceivable that you can have an alliance relationship with a country -

an important alliance relationship embodied in a treaty - and not allow the ships of the alliance partner to visit your ports. It doesn't make any sense.' And so I put that strongly to him. and I said 'Well, perhaps you'd tell me your position.' And he started to talk to me and explain it and as he was talking about it, explaining it, I said, 'I don't think this bloke believes this.' So I said to him, 'David, I get the impression you don't really believe this.' He said, 'Well, that's basically right. We did a deal with the Left before we came to government

that they would have their position in regard to international policy if they gave Douglas and myself a free hand to reform the economy.' So, you can imagine the feeling I had about that. I mean, it's just despicable.

You do not conduct the foreign policy of your country on that basis. And when he subsequently dashed around the world, telling his story and being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, I - well, I won't say exactly how I felt.

Well, you've said you had a contempt for his policy.

What advice did you give the Americans at the time? Because you're in a situation where you've got Labor governments in Australia and New Zealand following different policies on this issue. And to what extent were you concerned that if the Americans didn't take strong sanction against New Zealand then you would come under domestic attack from the Labor party for your own policy? On the contrary, I was in a very strong position in arguing that the Americans shouldn't take strong sanctions. I mean, there was a very strong move, particularly within the defence department, under Cap Weinberger, that New Zealand should be punished by imposition of trade sanctions. I said, 'That is wrong.'

I said, 'We've got to - we can't punish the people of New Zealand for the stupidity of their government's position.' I said, 'We should do everything to try and maintain an efficient relationship

in the defence areas we can. I will see that at the Australia/New Zealand level we keep the co-operation going.' And I think my voice was significant in stopping the sanctions against New Zealand. The state department wasn't quite as strong as the defence department over there in pushing the sanctions but they then adopted the vision I was talking about. I wasn't so much thinking of economic sanctions, more - But they were very much an issue.

They were being proposed. Of course, of course. But I was thinking more about New Zealand's ongoing role as a treaty partner and presumably you made it clear to the Americans you felt that was untenable. Well, they - I said that we would continue to share intelligence with them. It was not possible to maintain the status quo, by definition. And of course when the issue came up on the question of Buchanan, when they said 'The Buchanan can't come,' - that was their warship - it was quite clear that you had a situation which simply wasn't normal. My position with the United States is that 'Let's make the best we can out of this situation and strengthen our co-operation, I'll strengthen my co-operation there

so that no, on balance, serious ill effect or concern.' And let's face it, frankly, New Zealand didn't make an enormous contribution to the - I don't say that in a disparaging sense - but if you look at the United States and its contribution and ours, in defence and strategic terms, we weren't devastated by their temporary absence. Now as prime minister you agreed to an American request to allow Australian facilities to be used for the testing of the MX missile following an earlier decision taken by the outgoing Coalition government. There was political uproar in the Labor party about this decision. How serious do you think that quasi revolt was in the Caucus? Ah, they were - That was in February '85, and I'd, by then, of course, as you know, done a lot to defuse some of the prejudices of that thinking of the Left. But there was a lot of residual, if you like, antagonism that I'd moved so fast in terms of the association with the United States although they appreciated the initiatives I'd taken in the area of disarmament and so on. But this touched a raw nerve. As you rightly say, I was simply faced with a situation where when I came in I was told as of June of '83

that Fraser had agreed to a situation

that was their testing of the MX missile landing east of Tasmania and the Tasman Sea that, um... ..that their air force would be able to use Australian air fields to go and monitor the splash-down. I argued that it should be shifted out of the 200-mile zone out to international waters and they agreed with that. Then I was in Brussels and someone in your profession using the Freedom of Information Act, as you so delicately do at times, unearthed the fact of this agreement. And all hell broke loose

and I got called in Brussels by Richardson and Ray, who said there was a lot of kerfuffle about this.

Paul rang, Paul Keating rang, and said, 'Stuff 'em. Let's face up to 'em.' He wanted to fight. Yeah. You thought that was most unwise. I thought crash or crash through you've got to do sometimes but you just don't do it all the time. I said I thought there was a much more intelligent way of handling this and so I went to - by the time I got to Washington George Shultz had gone to work and had a look at it

and found that there were alternative ways of monitoring it. I was very pleased that he came out and made the statement that they had now another way of doing it

and they didn't need our agreement. Well, George Shultz got you off the hook, didn't he? He got me off - I would've had some trouble in the Caucus, yes. I was still annoyed.

Why the bloody hell didn't they think about this more closely and tell me - I'm not saying they misled me but I think they were sloppy in saying this was the only way it could be done when in fact they found, within a relatively short time, it could be done in another way. That annoyed me somewhat and I think George was conscious of the fact that I was a bit annoyed about that and so it was mutual - a mutual assistance program. Is it fair to say that in terms of your dealings with the Americans and having to manage the Labor party that this was the issue which caused you the most internal difficulty with the Caucus? Yeah. But the measure of the success, the handling of it,

was when I came back, went to the Caucus, went through it all with them and I got a unanimous resolution at the end of that Caucus meeting supporting the alliance and the bases, or the joint facilities, as they should properly be called. I was about to come to the joint facilities because one of the things you sought to do as prime minister was to change the arrangements in relation to the joint facilities.

How important was it for you to achieve this and what was the principal motive? To what extent was the principal motive

domestic political considerations inside the Labor party or was it genuine policy considerations as well? Oh, genuine policy considerations. The facts were that the joint facilities were an integrally important part of the Cold War conflagration

and the attempt by the United States leading the alliance of which we were part in confronting the Soviet Union. Basically... the facilities basically did two things - the facility at North-West Cape was a communication system, a special communication system,

on submarines and some of their other vessels patrolling particularly in the Indian Ocean. And this provided a safe method of communication to them.

At Narunga in South Australia and Pine Gap in the Northern Territory they were satellite settings which basically were able to detect early launch of rockets.

So if the Soviet Union was about to launch a rocket attack on the United States we'd pick it up immediately there and that would facilitate the capacity of the United States to counter-attack. Also a facility for detecting atomic explosions. So it was an integrally important part of the whole structure of treaties dealing with mutual protection and disarmament - the whole range of things. So I was absolutely committed to ensuring those... But I said to the United States soon after, 'Let's try and demystify as far as we can these things,' because it was all subject to a great deal of speculation. And they initially were a little bit sceptical about that but we sat down, Kim and I and Bill, and we persuaded them that there was a way to demystify it to some extent.

And that really neutralised the issue. One of the things you did with Ronald Reagan was you had to explain to him that you were not a supporter

of his strategic defence initiatives... SDI, yes. ..often known as Star Wars. How did you do that and what was his response? Well, we had a long meeting in Washington and this was one issue where he wasn't just carding. He was talking but it was quite clear to him that by the end of the meeting I was not persuaded. I told him. So I was going down to New York from Washington and he asked whether he could send a couple of his top generals - experts - to come and see me down in New York

and go through it all with me. I said, 'Sure, no problem at all.' So he sent them down and we had a very good interchange and I was not persuaded. I told them and communicated with Ron and I said, 'Ron, you know, we're a thoroughly reliable alliance and we're with you but on this we just don't agree. We're not going to be a part of it.' He accepted that because he knew from the beginning that we were absolute rock solid but I'd said to him from the beginning I think this remains as important today as it was then. I said to him we are a rock solid alliance partner with you but we will not always agree with you

and when we don't, we will pursue our position and he accepted the integrity of that. That raises a fundamental question.

The extent to which there is capacity for strategic independence within the alliance framework. To what extent do you think you as prime minister were able to exercise an independent discretion and how significant was that for you?

I don't think, I know. Let me give you the illustrations of it. Firstly, South Pacific nuclear-free zone. They hated the idea. Hated it. And I went through it with them and indicated it wouldn't stop the transit of their aircraft and their ships through the region. And they accepted the concept and particularly as I argued if they had a look at the treaty which covered the Americas they would see similarities between them. And so they accepted that. Second, the - I couldn't believe when I was at the South Pacific Forum at Rarotonga we were shown a video of the activities of the American Tuna Boat Association in the South Pacific. They were just frightful. They were destroying the livelihoods of a lot of these nations who had virtually no other economic resources but their fisheries. And the Americans had abandoned their policy to the Tuna Boat Association. So I said to George and Ron, 'This is absurd what you're doing here.' I said, 'You are both harming very significantly the economies of these countries by allowing the rampaging of the Tuna Boat Association people.' I said, 'You're not doing your own country's reputation any good in the time when the Soviet Union is trying to make inroads

into the Pacific.' And they changed as a result of that intervention and drew up a new agreement which limited very severely their activities. Third, Cambodia. They didn't like the idea of us at all talking to Vietnam. But, as you know, I initiated that with Bill Hayden. When he was the prime minister Bill did a great job. That was followed up by Gareth Evans when he became prime minister and, as a result, what we did against the views of the United States we brought about peace in Cambodia in a way which is recognised to the extent that Gareth was nominated for - talked about as a Nobel Prize candidate for what we did. So there's three examples and the fourth general one was in the area of disarmament. We took, as you know, a number of initiatives in that area - disarmament in chemical weapons which went beyond what the Americans liked, but, again, they accepted our integrity on that. You mention Hayden. Yep. How concerned did the Americans get from time to time

about your foreign minister and did you often have to intervene with them to explain that he really was rather benign. In the early stages I had to intervene a bit. There was not good chemistry immediately between Bill and George, George Shultz. This was highlighted in one meeting -

George said to Bill about a proposal he was putting up about - he said, (American pronunciation)...'That's stupid.' And Bill replied, he said, 'And what do you think about your exercise in Vietnam?' (American pronunciation)... 'Was that stupid?' And - but anyway, I did exactly as you said. I said, 'Bill Hayden is absolutely a decent man.

He's absolutely committed to the basics of the alliance.' And that worked out. The relationships warmed between the Americans and Bill, and after a while it worked very well. Did you aspire as prime minister to influence I would much prefer having the UN resolution for all the reasons I've put. The relationships warmed between the Americans and Bill, and after a while it worked very well. Did you aspire as prime minister to influence

the way the United States dealt with China and/or the Soviet Union,

given the close relationship you had as prime minister with Chinese leadership, given your long talks with Gorbachev when you visited the Soviet Union at the end of 1987? To what extent did you actually think that you could help to influence or shape US thinking with China and Russia? Well, again, it, I - to take with Gorbachev and the United States... When I went to see Gorbachev, I talked with George Shultz about the Middle East, and I said that it seemed to me that it seemed well known that getting to the basis of some sort of resolution of the Middle East conflict involved a mutual recognition on the part of the PLO of Israel's right to exist on the one hand and by Israel of recognising the PLO as negotiating, fighting for the Palestinians. And I said, until we get that, I don't think we'll get anywhere. So they said, well yeah, that makes sense and we're very pleased if you argue that case with Gorbachev. Which I did, and I remember when I put it to him, he said

'Well, that makes a lot of sense' but he said 'You must remember, Prime Minister, the PLO doesn't always listen to what I say and do what I ask them to do.' It was very interesting that in a relatively short time after that, and I'm not in any way claiming it was just because of my conversation, but they did know I was speaking on behalf of the United States as well, and others were thinking along the same lines and, before long, that happened. It was the beginning of a breakthrough.

In regard to China I acted there as a go-between on a number of occasions. The Chinese asked me very specifically to talk to the United States to reassure them that the apparent hostility between China and the Soviet Union was real. That they need not have any apprehension at all that this was some sort of play acting and so on, that there was a deeper, subversive plot behind it. They were concerned that there were elements in the United States

that were thinking that way. So I was able to, on a number of occasions, act as a go-between there. And I think I also helped in some ways, to get the United States to have a more constructive attitude towards China than it might have had. Although, let me say that over quite a long period, going back to the Nixon visit, despite a lot of stupid rhetoric at times, particularly centred around Taiwan, by and large the Americans have been intelligent the way they've handled China, I think. What sort of relationship did you have with Ronald Reagan's successor, President Bush? Oh, very close. When George was vice-president, he entertained me at his residence and I still remember very fondly, we were there in 1998, and that was when he was running, and we were having dinner at his residence, the vice-president's residence, and he said to the other people there, 'Excuse me, I want to take Bob off and get his advice.' So, he took me off and said, 'Look, you've won a few elections, what can you tell me about what I should be doing?' It was very nice of him to say that, but we had a very long and serious discussion, and he came through as a very, very good man. One of the things I remember very distinctly from that conversation, he said to me, 'You know, I think I'll win, Bob,' but he said, 'If I don't I think you should know' - and the Democratic candidate was the governor from... Dukakis. Yeah, Dukakis. And he said, 'I want you to know, Dukakis, I have disagreements with him, but he's a good man and I want you to know that if he became president, that the relationship between our two countries would still remain strong.' Which was in very distinct contrast with the meeting I had later with Dukakis, who had nothing nice to say about anyone except himself. So, you were pleased to see Bush win the election.

Absolutely. Yeah, my sympathies naturally would be with the Democrats, that's where I would normally be, but in terms of the quality of the two men, there was no doubt in my judgment. And of course my relations with George Bush as president were fantastic and very important in the Gulf War. How much contact did you have with President Bush in the run-up to and during the period of the Gulf War? Well, I think I can say he was more in contact with me than any other leader. He said that, and I was able to help him particularly, he said in the early stages that he was having trouble with Brian Mulroney, the prime minister of Canada. And Brian was a really good friend of mine and apparently Brian had said to George he said he was a bit reluctant to sign up because Canada had a very big wheat trade with Iraq.

And I said to George, I said 'So, we've got a bloody big wheat trade with Iraq and we're going in, you leave Brian to me.' So, I rang Brian up. And Brian's a good bloke, a good bloke. He'd been my right hand man in the Commonwealth Heads of Government in the fight against apartheid. A good guy. So I rang him up and said, 'What's this bloody nonsense about a wheat trade with Iraq, you can't go in.' And I said, 'So are we', I said 'we're in.' And he said 'OK, Bob, we will be too' and that was it. And George was very appreciative of that. In your presentation of the Australian commitment, you went for size and said what counted was the UN authorisation rather than this being an exercise under the banner of the United States alliance. How important was that delineation as far as you were concerned? Oh, it was very important, both in an overall sense,

and of course in particular in that situation, bringing about the capacity for George Bush to get a very large representative alliance of nations, including a significant number of Arab states. He would not have been able to do that

without the United Nations resolution. And if I could just proffer this additional plaudit to George Bush,

when the exercise worked out so efficiently and so quickly, he rang me up, he said, 'Bob, a lot of my people are wanting me to push on to Baghdad.'

And he said, 'What do you think about that?' I said, 'No bloody way, George.' I said, 'That's not on.' I said, 'You've got a United Nations resolution, very specific in terms of its mandate. Under that you've got this vast coalition., You'd be betraying that mandate if you did this.' He said 'Well, Bob, I'm very glad to hear say that,

that's my thinking and that's what's going to happen.' Just looking back at that time, how difficult was it to persuade the Labor party to the Australian commitment? There was a very intense debate inside the Labor party and it almost struck me in one sense that this was the final time

when the party emerged from the shadow of Vietnam. But I'm just wondering what's your feeling about the mood of the party and the difficulty delivering support for the commitment? I was able to get it relatively easily. There were a few who were - well, some hesitant, some really opposed. But their arguments were vacuous and not based on intelligent premises. And I took each one of them, I had a meeting with each one, 'cause that would indicate that there weren't a great number. And I had each one of them in my office, and went through the arguments with them, and was able to sway most of them. Now, I know this is a hypothetical question, but I think you'll appreciate there is a point to it. What would you have done as prime minister if President Bush had committed to that action, but there'd been no UN sanction? Um, well, if there'd been no UN sanction, that would have been because let's say Russia or China had vetoed. That's the only - converting your hypothesis into a real situation. Sure, sure.

That's the only way it could have happened. I wouldn't have allowed my conviction on the unacceptability of one nation to invade another nation without provocation to be run by the prejudices of the Soviet Union or China.

OK, so you would have taken a decision based on strategic merit, not necessarily what the UN did? I would much prefer having the UN resolution

for all the reasons I've put. That gave it a substance which enabled the running force to be representative not only of the world generally, but particularly the Arab world - and that was very important. But it was, to me, unacceptable that the world would tolerate a situation where one nation just invades another and destroys that country and appropriates its assets without the world doing anything. On your watch as prime minister the world changed a lot. We moved from the Cold War being at a very intense period to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union. Yep.

How much do you think the alliance changed during your period as prime minister, if you look back at the period. What is the way you would characterise the progress in the alliance? During the period of the Cold War? During your period as prime minister. Oh. The end of the Cold War is something that can't be underestimated. You can't give too much emphasis to the significance of the end of Cold War -

and the events of the last 24 hours are relevant to it. See, what you've got to understand, Paul, is the fact that the Soviet Union was an atheistic, communist hegemon brought together Christian, Judaic, Muslim faiths and nations because they shared a common rejection of this atheistic hegemon.

But once the cement of anti-Sovietism disappeared, hatreds and bitternesses which had been subsumed in that situation emerged. And we saw the emergence after that period of the growing hostility

between the fanatics of the Muslim world and our own fanatics. And, my God, the United States has its share of them. As does Israel.

And all these pent-up emotions and hatreds started to blossom and flourish

and we saw the situation where, within that situation - the unity of the alliance that existed not only between Muslim states, Christian states, Israel

but also within Christian states themselves. The breaking away from that anti-societism released a whole lot of arguments and disputations which mean that the alliance was a much more fragile and ineffective sort of thing than it had been before. It was always, it seemed to me, an extremely optimistic assumption that was made there at the end of the Cold War

that we were going into the new world order. It always seemed to me to be a very heroic assumption, as it turned out. There are some very fundamental points there. So what's this mean? What's this mean in terms of the situation of the Australian/American alliance today and into the future, because what you've argued is that the unity of the West was maintained by - Not just of the West. Of course. OK. OK. Well - Leave it to the West, go on. Well, essentially what you've talked about is that the unity of the West has been dissolved by the demise of the Cold War and new forces are unleashed, and of course Australia is a part of this process. So what does this tell you about the future of the alliance? It once had the strategic underpinning of the Cold War, it doesn't now, what does that mean? Well, you said that it dissolved the alliance - I don't think it dissolved it, I think it weakened it. Against the certainty of your enemy -

if I can put it that way - the Cold War period, the enemy which could be identified within specific boundaries - you knew where it was. That has been replaced by a situation where our common enemy now is the war against terror. And this is a much more difficult situation because the certitudes of the Cold War position, the philosophical underpinnings of your position are simply not here now. You've got - without - I mean, mean one could go on for hours about this and I certainly don't intend to do that but one of the problems we've got in this situation now is, of course - it's a war on terror

but you've got a big distinction now between this war and the Cold War and that first of all, as I mentioned, you had your enemy located, and you knew where he was, and you knew where to send to your attack, if it got to that. You don't know where your enemy is now. And secondly, in respect to the Muslim fanatics,

the philosophy that underpinned the system in the Cold War -

that's mutually assured destruction - is irrelevant in a situation where your enemy is very keen on being knocked off and going up to the 70 virgins or however many there are up there. So the whole position has been changed. And, of course, part of the problem which we've got to face up to is - that we've got to accept that it's not just the fanatics of the Muslim religion, we've got our dangerous fanatics in the Christian religion. The Jews have their dangerous fanatics. As I keep reminding people it wasn't a Muslim fanatic that killed Rabin, it was a Jewish fanatic. So the certitudes that enabled you both to confirm your philosophical position

and to underpin your strategic approach, they're not there now. OK. If you had been prime minister at the time of 911, given your political experience and your capacity to read public opinion, what sort of advice would you have given President George W Bush at that time in terms of the future strategic outlook

and the way the United States should conduct itself at that crisis? Well, one of the things I would have done is what I've tried to do over a long period of time - before he became president and during his presidency through Colin Powell. I would have said, 'This now gives more emphasis to what I've been arguing for a long time which is, whatever you do in the war against terror will all be in vain unless you do something about the Palestinian/Israeli problem.' That's at the core of it, unless you do something about that, and deal with that. And so, I would have said - 'Now, for God's sake, concentrate on that.' And there is a way of dealing with that. And you probably know the concept I have about that but essentially what I've argued back through Colin Powell and so on, what I call 'A Power Plan for Palestine' which was based upon the Marshall Plan concept. The Marshall Plan was one of the great acts of imaginative statesmanship in the 20th century. What my idea is about resolving the Palestinian situation is that they've all got it wrong from 1950s onwards.

They've concentrated on the politics and not the economics. What the United States should do - in my judgement - is to take the lead and say we are going to create a strong, viable Palestinian economy. We are going to put billions of dollars in so we can give jobs, education and hope to the people,

the young people of Palestine. You do that, and you change the whole mindset of the Arab/Muslim world about the United States. That's the advice I would have given. If we look at the AUSMIN talks at the end of last year, in Melbourne, we were represented, of course, by Steven Smith and Kevin Rudd. The emphasis was very much on China. And the impression one had is that the Australian American alliance now is increasingly going to be defined by China and it is going to be positioned in terms of balancing the rise of China.

What is your response to that? What is your feeling about that? Does that concern you?

Yes, it does. There is so much loose thinking about China. I think the White Paper that came out of the Rudd government which specifically mentioned China as a threat was an absurdity both in terms of its reading of the situation and in terms of the logic of it. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that China was a threat - which I don't believe it is. Let's assume for the sake of argument that it was and you'd talk about your defence paper. How much do you have to spend on defence if you're going to be arming yourself against China? The only logical thing you do is to become a nuclear power. Acquire nuclear weapons. Nothing else would give you any sort of chance. Now, is that what we're about? It's a total misreading - if you look at the history of China, China has not been an hegemon.

I was just looking today at the...

..the voyages of Admiral Ho in the early 15th Century - started in 1405.

And he went from 1405 to the 1430s with 30,000 crew, 250 ships, went as far as Mozambique but didn't try and conquer any of these countries. They haven't got a record as a hegemon. Now, what they are doing is growing at a very rapid rate. In a relatively short time they'll be the strongest economy in the world, of which I've said many times when they get to that position they'll just be resuming a position they've held for most of the last 2,500 years. Let me just - We should look at China as an opportunity and not as a threat. Sure. Let me ask you the same question in another way.

Are you concerned as a former Labor prime minister that there is now a real danger

that Labor in government will begin to use the alliance relationship to set itself against China in a strategic sense? No. There will be some thinking on that line, Paul but saner heads will prevail. Simple facts - look, economics is a fundamental factor in politics. Economics basically determines political decisions and outcomes. And the facts are that China is of such importance to Australia and will increasingly be so that it would be an act of masochism to say to this country, which is so important, 'We're gonna set about getting an alliance to knock you off, boyo.' Come on. Doesn't make sense. OK, my final question before we go to the audience - given what you've said, how do you see the future of the alliance between Australia and the United States and do you think the alliance for Australia is going to be less important in the future than it's been in the past?

Um, alright, let's meld the two questions together. Um...the alliance - what the alliance between Australia and the United States is going to be like will depend very much on the nature of developments in the United States. For example, just if you look at the present situation, if two people who are talking about running for President of the United States, if either one of Palin or Trump were to become President of the United States, the relationship between Australia and the United States would be 'thwt!' (Laughter)

And I would do my best to 'thwt!' But fortunately, I think my American friends are sensible enough not to go to that absurdity. But I'm making the serious point that the United States is facing great challenges. The sense of triumphalism and exceptionalism is still there in America and the bases for it are diminishing. And I say this as one who's proved over a long time that I'm a friend of the United States. If you look at some of the statistics to come out recently, just in The Economist a few issues ago,

there was a survey done of the level of mathematical skills in school children in the OECD countries - and there's about 35 countries in the OECD - the United States was about 26th in that list. In the World Economic Forum, data was brought out, another series, on the effectiveness of public spending, government spending, the United States came about 58th. I mean, in other words, and you're looking at other sociological problems there - the income distribution situation in the United States is becoming more and more absurd and inegalitarian. Now, the United States has got big problems and the question of what are they going to do about that deficit, that's part of it. So, what we are, have got to say to ourselves when trying to answer your question, Paul, what's the relationship going to be like depends very much upon how our American friends deal with these issues. And it's my profound hope that they will deal with them positively and in a way which is going to improve. And if that happens, there is no reason

why our relationship shouldn't remain very, very strong. Former prime minister Bob Hawke speaking with Paul Kelly for the US Studies Centre. That's all for Big Ideas from today but for more political heavyweights and the best talks, panels and discussions

the internet has to offer, point your browser in the direction of our website at the address on your screen. And look out for more Big Ideas on ABC News 24 at 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays. I'm Waleed Aly, see you again. Closed Captions by CSI

This Program is Captioned

Live. Australian ports Live. Australian ports caught

dispute. up in a maritime workers' pay

and some ping-pong diplomacy dispute. The full

for Barack Obama in Britain. Mr

welcome President, I am delighted to

welcome you and Mrs Obama to

London. And Australia's new

road warriors putting local van

makers into overdrive. Business

is definitely booming. It is a

great time for us. Hello and Australia. I'm Ros Childs.

Europe's debt problems are

weighing on local investors

with financial stocks leading