A former ambassador to the US has weighed in on the unrest gripping the country saying Donald Trump's divisive leadership is among the factors making the situation worse
Former ambassador to the United States Dennis Richardson says the riots raging across America have been made worse by Donald Trump's divisive leadership, the growth in armed militias, coronavirus and the biggest economic downturn since the 1930s.
Very large text sizeFormer ambassador to the United States Dennis Richardson says the riots raging across America have been made worse by President Donald Trump's divisive leadership, the growth in armed militias on the right and left, the biggest economic downturn since the 1930s and the coronavirus.
Mr Richardson, Australia's most experienced public servant when he stepped down as the secretary of the Department of Defence in 2017, said "one of the big differences between now and the past is that today we have a president who appears to relish and thrive on division".
Former ambassador to the US Dennis Richardson says the US riots have been inflamed by President Donald Trump's"divisive" leadership.Credit:Alex EllinghausenThe former senior diplomat and spy boss saidPrime Minister Scott Morrison was right to ask the Australian embassy in Washington to investigate a police attack on a Channel 7 television crew
, but there was little Australia could do to calm the situation.Mr Trump has been criticised by politicians from both major parties in the US after law enforcement officers aggressively cleared protesters away from a Washington park to make way for him to have a photo opportunity at St John's Church.
AdvertisementWhile the US's allies were likely to prefer Mr Trump not win a second term in November, Mr Richardson said "it is entirely in the hands of the American electorate and any ally who thinks they can influence the outcome of the US election by making public comments is a fool".
Mr Richardson, the ambassador to the US from 2005 to 2010, said a "historical perspective" was needed with unrest occurring following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, the Vietnam war, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, the election of Richard Nixon, the Watergate scandal and the police beating of Rodney King in LA and subsequent court case in 1992.
But there were a number of factors which madethe current riots, he said, sparked by the police killing of African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis, different from the unrest in the past, including the divisive leadership of the US president."Now you also have the growth of armed militias of both the right and the left, the sharpest economic downturn since the 1930s and the continuing crisis of coronavirus," Mr Richardson said.
"I don't think there's a lot that Australia can do, or productively say publicly. I think the government has been sensibly cautious in what it has said."Mr Richardson said Australia should double-down on its relationships in Asia, but not overreact to events taking place in the US.
"Of course we now have China. We should continue to develop our relations in southeast China - particularly with Indonesia. We also have India, Japan and South Korea," Mr Richardson said.Loading"The US being preoccupied with its own domestic issues doesn't help, but it's not the first time. And so many people talk about other countries playing the long game. This time we should also play a long game ourselves, this is a period where you need to have a sharp appreciation of your own strategic interests and pursue them accordingly, you don't jump around."
As riots continue to rage across the US, Mr Trump has invited Australia to join an expanded G7 group of nations alongside Russia.In a blow to Mr Trump's plans, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week said inviting Russia back to the word's most exclusive group of nations would be unacceptable
because it was a place "for frank conversations among allies and friends".Mr Richardson said it was not up to Australia to oppose any move by the US to invite Russia to G7 meetings."In a grouping of that kind, if we're invited to join, of course we should join and it would be nonsense for any Australian government to think they could veto other countries that are invited," he said.
United States Study Centre chief executive Simon Jackman said American politicians have been contacting the Australian embassy offering their support over the attack on the Channel 7 crew.He said there was "not a lot of upside" for the Morrison government to criticise Mr Trump's response to the riots.
"Trump didn't cause the crisis but he has certainly exacerbated it and over the last 48 hours it is clear he is sort of looking at how to turn it into a political advantage," Professor Jackman said Read more: The Age »
Whats making the riots worse are the organised antifa terrorists not the peaceful protestors. Who is funding them? GS and DNC me thinks. I think you’ll find it’s the other side that is inciting all the violence and causing the division in order to out Trump at the next election. This had nothing to do with racism, instead, it’s been turned into racism so that the black people vote against him at next election.
This guy has been watching CNN. 4 more years of the Donald take it to the bank Will you please headlining them as ‘riots’. I’m from Melbourne living in NYC for 13 years. These are peaceful protests with a few opportunists that splinter at night to deliberately cause mayhem. The violence has been brutality from militarized police. Get it right.
Can Australia be sure that we are not just being invited to join the G7 with the expectation that we would vote whichever way the US votes regardless of the issue. What a rubbish talking 😏 The guys a genius Yawn. Don’t you get bored of spewing one sided crap day after day. I can’t wait for November when the silent super majority vote him in again and then for 4 years you’ll have nothing to do as it’s of no value to you to continuously degrade and defame him.
Yes, but protesters are killing black police.
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