GO & A
old aggrieved Labor luminary, comparing the ‘‘repeated lies’’ told about him, by estranged colleagues and the media, to Goebbels’ infamous Nazi propaganda methods. Yes, it would appear the killing season is not entirely over.
GQ: What motivated your move to the United States? Kevin Rudd:
Just on 18 months ago, after the last federal election, the [former] Dean of the Kennedy School, Graham Allison, invited me to Harvard to do a piece of policy work on the future of Us-china relations – about a 12-month project. Toward the end of last year I was here at the Asia Society in New York delivering a speech and having done so, the trustees kindly invited me to become the inaugural president of their think tank, the Asia Society Policy Institute. Because I’m a China guy, they thought I’d be the right person, and having never lived in the Big Apple, Therese and I decided this is a good place to come.
GQ: We’re going to presume you’re not installed among the cool kids of Williamsburg, so where have you set up home? KR:
It’s [a house] in Manhattan, though I’m trying to preserve my privacy.
GQ: Is there a lot of travel involved with your current work? KR:
I’m in China every two months. I have recently come back from 10 days in China and a period in Japan. I’m often in India and South-east Asia.
GQ: Some spies in Washington said that you’ve been called in by President Obama to provide direct strategic advice on the Us-china relationship. Could you elaborate on this for us? KR:
Well, the Us-china relationship is a very, very complex one. These two countries are vastly different, vastly different origins, not just [in] language but their ways of viewing the world. But my argument in the report I’ve written on this subject, and the advice I seek to give to both governments quietly behind the scenes is, on any hardheaded analysis, you two guys probably have more in common than you have by way of deep strategic difference. Everyone will quickly give you the list of where the US and China are not getting along, whether it’s over Japan and the East China Sea or the South China Sea with the Philippines and Vietnam, or the question of Taiwan or human rights, democracy, the rule of law… But there is a much longer list of where these governments are working together, or can be.
GQ: So you don’t agree that Obama’s Asia policy has failed – what then is your assessment, in light of advising him? KR:
I don’t put myself forward formally as anybody’s adviser. I’m just from a third party.
GQ: But they sought you out… KR:
Various people do from time to time, but I’m not part of their systematic formal advisory network. But I think about these questions a lot. What I seek to do, and we at the Asia Society do, is seek to build bridges between China and the United States and between various countries of Asia and to work out what common challenges these countries are experiencing, rather than emphasising purely the differences… It takes two to tango in international relations, just like on the dance foor.
GQ: Dancing, hey? Does much of that go on for you and Therese in New York? Do you get out to enjoy the city much? KR:
We’ve recently been out dancing in Manhattan and had a lot of fun. I’m not what you’d call Fred Astaire – a slow and steady smooch rather than anything that I would describe as more elegant. We go and see shows; we see movies. Most recently we went to see The Audience with Helen Mirren on Broadway.
GQ: Do you see yourself living here for some time? KR: GQ: Was it difficult for you to leave Australian politics behind – did the backstabbing and general blood-letting make the decision any easier? KR:
For a while. I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to politics and life, and that is, no regrets. What you’ve done, you’ve done to the absolute best of your ability and then you identify the next challenges. By instinct I’m a global citizen, and I have lived out of Australia for many years – I feel very much at