Letter to the Editor
Nation Review March 3-9, 1977
It is no accident we get to see Australian papers fairly rarely up here in Japan, so you can imagine my surprise on opening a travel worn back number of Nation Review and finding friend Mungo delivering a swift karate chop in my direction for having rung the bell on Whitlam over Timor.
I can understand that Mungo might have a father-figure complex about Whitlam. But those of us who were not wearing either diapers or blinkers at the time should recall that this was the man who in 1966 let himself be snowed by the US military in Vietnam, and who came back to Australia to tell us all (via the box) that the Libs were wrong to be sending military aid when the war was already over and what was needed was economic aid to help Saigon reconstruct the countryside.
Whitlam’s basic position was that of the Hornes, the Pringles and the rest of that Encounter/ Economist push who told us how western values, including even socialist values, were under desperate challenge from the fanatical, virulent brand of communism that had been spawned in Peking and had spread to Hanoi.
These were the truly guilty men on Vietnam. It is no accident they admire Whitlam today. True, Whitlam’s position on China moved after 1969 but there is every sign that it was all part of a great ego trip. Timor was the touchstone of what Whitlam was really about in foreign affairs, and it’s about time Mungo had the guts to admit it.