A Wolf and a Koala Walk Into a Bar...
Today I met an Australian in a bar. It would be easiest if you didn't question how a laser-powered baby wolf ended up in a bar, speaking with an Australian. Anyway.
This was no average Ozzie. He was actually an Australian naval officer on leave. The officer informed me that he had been in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Actually, he didn't call them by these, their official names.) He was surprised that I, an American, was not surprised that Australians had fought in these two wars.
Usually when he meets Americans, he explained, they're unaware of Austalians' involvement in their wars. Most Americans wrongly think Americans are doing all the work in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said. "I just try to educate them," he said.
The Australian drank a little more. "Bush had so much respect when he went to Afghanistan," the Australian said. He had no objection to going -- America was in the right. He was in Afghanistan a year. And then he was sent to Iraq.
"I don't understand it," he said. "Why didn't Bush just say he wanted to get Saddam Hussein? Why all the stuff about weapons of mass destruction? He lost a lot of respect with that."
He also noted that when Australians were sent to Iraq and away from Afghanistan, he wondered if anyone was still looking for Osama bin Laden. He said it seemed like no one was. Whatever, he said. "It was just a job." Not a job he believed in or anything. Just a job.
I didn't know what to say. Should I apologize? I explained that Bush wasn't my guy, that I had never voted for him. I felt bad he had spent so much time fighting wars that Bush started, whether he supported the war or not. But what could I say? It wasn't my fault. It was like my drunk uncle had barfed on him. I regretted what had happened, but I hadn't chosen my uncle.
Mostly I just felt embarrassed, and told him so.
The Ozzie also taked about how our last president, the "Lewinsky guy," seemed nice. And he talked about guns and -- no kidding -- the threat posed by kangaroos. More on that soon.