Why would Trump treat us like this?
IN 1942, my father, Henry “Chicka’’ Gleeson, a signalman, fought alongside American soldiers against the marauding Japanese in the Southwest Pacific.
Dad didn’t say too much about his time in Papua New Guinea during the war — we do know he ran the two-up games — but he did give the Yanks a rap and said Australia couldn’t have asked for better allies.
Since World War I Australia has stood lockstep with the US in conflict.
In fact, during the Battle of Hamel in 1918, Australian General John Monash was the first non-American to command US troops, such was the mutual regard.
All this makes the absence of a US ambassador in Canberra a difficult, if not puzzling, subject.
And while Australia has always prided itself on having the very best people in Washington — think Kim Beazley and Joe Hockey — it’s been two years since the US had anyone in Canberra.
This is a yawning gap in Australia-US relations. It's not smart, especially at a time when China’s influence in the South Pacific is growing by the day.
Can you imagine if the US did not have someone in London or Tokyo for the past two years?
RUN THIS UP THE FLAGPOLE
My understanding is that Mr Hockey is frustrated at the White House’s lack of urgency; Richard Berry left his post as US ambassador in October 2016.
Earlier this year the US did appoint former naval commander Harry Harris to the role, but he was instead sent to Seoul after tensions flared with North Korea.
So here’s a name to throw into the mix: retired commander of the United States Seventh Fleet, Admiral Bob Natter.
He has an acute understanding of the South Pacific, and in particular Australia. He is a regular visitor to our country and was a distinguished graduate of the US Naval War College with a master’s degree in business management and international relations.
In May 2000 he was awarded the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.
At sea, Admiral Natter commanded USS Chandler, USS Antietam and, of course, the Seventh Fleet, headquartered in Japan and Korea. It is the largest of the forward-deployed US fleets, with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.
This is a man who understands our geopolitical landscape and the crucial strategic role that the United States plays in Australia’s international dealings within the ASEAN and South Pacific regions.
He’s the man for the job.
SO WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?
Even if he was not seen by the White House as the person for the job, can somebody in Washington make a decision?
President Donald Trump pulled out of the APEC Summit in PNG in November, effectively cancelling his first trip to Australia.
We’ll forgive you for that, Mr President.
What we can’t forgive is your failure to appoint a new ambassador to our country, a snub that runs the risk of weakening a relationship in which our forefathers have spilt blood together in many theatres of war.
That’s not the way to a treat a friend.
y Army Signalman HenrWII. “Chicka’’ Gleeson in W