Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 13:15 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 13:15 | SYDNEY

Nicholas Burns at the Lowy Institute


Sam Roggeveen


6 December 2007 12:20

Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns today gave precisely the kind of speech you would expect from the State Department's most senior career diplomat: slick, reasonable, and uncontroversial. He sketched the mutual challenges facing our two countries, but offered few criticisms and made no bold predictions. He lauded Rudd's ministers and skated over areas of disagreement like Iraq and climate change. 

The speech was peppered with reinforcements and assurances about the importance of the alliance, and there were glowing tributes to Australian society, economy and military history. It's easy to dismiss such stuff as boilerplate, and most journalists would have switched off while they waited for Burns to say something newsworthy (he didn't). But such tributes really do grease the wheels of diplomacy, and the Rudd Government would have been surprised and a little worried had Burns not paid them.

UPDATE: Burns' speech, in op-ed form, is here.