Three hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Tom Schieffer hurried to the Australian embassy in Washington. John Howard, the prime minister of Australia, met him at the door.
“When the prime minister heard I was in the embassy, he rushed out of his office and embraced me,” recalled Mr. Schieffer, the new U.S. ambassador to Australia. “And as we stood there, the pain in his voice, the anguish, told me that this was more than a prime minister greeting an ambassador. It was Australia embracing America.”
If any moment marked the start of the Texan’s ambassadorship to Australia, it was that embrace. From that morning on, Mr. Schieffer’s life has been consumed by wartime diplomacy. And barely anything, he says, has gone according to schedule.