- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The U.S. ambassador in Australia is not afraid to call a terrorist a terrorist, despite the politically correct climate at the White House.

Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich, a political appointee of President Obama‘s, defended the war in Afghanistan and urged Australians to stick with the fight in a newspaper opinion piece that was widely praised by American conservatives.

Mr. Bleich addressed complaints he heard from some Australians who speculated that their government sent troops to Afghanistan only to placate the United States. He also tried to reassure Australians that Mr. Obama will not pull out American forces until they “establish security so that real civil society for the Afghan people can take root without fear of it falling back into terrorist hands.”

Unlike a typically cautious diplomat, Mr. Bleich — a former California trial lawyer and international human rights advocate — directly confronted the consequences of the current troop buildup and the expanded military operations in Afghanistan.

“Greater troop strength allows more engagement with the enemy, but, unfortunately, that engagement probably means more allied casualties,” he wrote in the Herald Sun newspaper last week.

“This has always been the price of freedom. Earlier generations paid that same price for us, and now we pay it forward.”

Mr. Bleich noted that the United States invaded Afghanistan to drive out al Qaeda and the extremist Taliban government that hosted the terrorist group that planned the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He also recalled the terrorist attacks in Bali, Indonesia, a popular vacation spot for Australians. Eighty-eight Australians were among 202 victims of an attack in 2002, and four were among the 20 killed in an attack three years later.

“This war will end [in Afghanistan] when we — Australians and Americans — are safe from the same terrorists who attacked us before and when Afghans, themselves, are safe,” the ambassador wrote.

“We will know success when Afghanistan is no longer a base for violent hatred and a launching point for terrorist attacks on the innocent.

“That is why we must fight.”

Conservative writer William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, praised the ambassador’s commentary piece and linked it on the magazine’s website. Mr. Kristol also suggested Mr. Obama read the op-ed, saying, “Listen to your ambassador and friend, Mr. President.”


On Independence Day 2009, Ambassador Dan Rooney watched a diplomatic baseball game at the Fourth of July celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Ireland. This year, Mr. Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, kicked off a demonstration of America’s other national sport.

Mr. Rooney organized two teams of diplomats, U.S. Marines and local rugby, soccer and Gaelic football players. Gaelic football is kind of like soccer, except players can use their hands to carry the ball.

“I though, ‘Hey, if you can do a baseball game, you can have a football game,’” Mr. Rooney told Irish reporters who covered the festivities at the ambassador’s 62-acre Dublin residence known as Phoenix Park.

He recruited Peter McKenna, the director of Dublin’s Croke Park stadium, to turn the meadow in front of the residence into a football field with the word “Steelers” and the ambassador’s seal of office painted on the lawn.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen tossed the coin to begin the flag football game between the “Phoenix Park Pirates” and the “Dublin 8s,” so named because each side had only eight instead of the official 11 players. Mr. Rooney’s sons, Art Rooney II, the Steelers’ president, and Daniel, the team’s college scout, flew to Ireland to coach the opposing sides, and a son and daughter of Irish President Mary McAleese played on either team.

Hundreds of guests ate hot dogs and ice cream, as the Dublin 8s beat the Pirates, 28-15.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]

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