The messages from the two, newly elected leaders, sent to both embattled countries could not have been more diametrically opposed to those under prior leadership.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a surprise visit to Kabul Saturday to meet Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and some of the French troops based here, in a show of support for the insurgency-hit country.
Sarkozy told the U.S. Congress last month that French soldiers would stay in Afghanistan "as long as needed".
"For me, failure is not an option," he said.
Sarkozy sent French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, to Baghdad... no proposals in hand for that nation. The mission there was to "listen", however Kouchner said France remains convinced that Iraqis themselves must restore their own nation. Yet the "listening tour" itself marks a warming to the French position under Chirac.
Meanwhile, Australia... a staunch US ally under John Howard... has done a reversal under Rudd. The PM, however, was careful to make his planned retreat sound as far as possible from absolute abandonment
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, on a surprise visit to Baghdad Friday, assured Iraq of a long-term partnership but stressed his combat troops deployed here would head home by June next year.
"That battle group will come to a conclusion as of June next year. And that will be the last battle group we deploy."
Rudd also promised to continue supporting Baghdad in its efforts to achieve "security, stability and economic development," the statement added.
Former diplomat Rudd had promised to withdraw the battle group from southern Iraq if elected but said he would leave behind some soldiers, including those providing security at Australia's embassy in Baghdad.
What is perhaps more surprising is that Rudd also visited Afghanistan... with an entirely different message.
The Prime Minister was one of three world leaders in Afghanistan at the weekend to visit their troops, with France also reassuring Afghan President Hamid Karzai it remained committed to the international effort to defeat the Taliban insurgency.
However, it is understood Mr Rudd was given a grim assessment of the Afghan situation, and he told troops of his own concerns for their safety.
"I fear what the new year might bring," Mr Rudd told soldiers in central headquarters at Kabul air base. "But our advice and our conviction is that this is a job worth doing."
Compared with the US, Britain and Canada, whose forces are doing most of the fighting in Afghanistan's south, the Australian toll of three deaths since October is light.
"I know this mission has not been achieved without sacrifice," he said. "This is not work without sacrifice. I understand that, and I thank you, therefore, for your courage.
"There's a lot of work still to do, and the message I have for you today is that when it comes to this theatre, Afghanistan, we,Australia, are here for the long haul."
Notable difference? Sarzoky sees withdrawal from the Global Islamic Jihad Movement war front in Afghanistan as a road to failure, and now appears to be cautiously assessing Iraq without a stated commitment. Rudd does not see Iraq as one of a jihad battlefront.... choosing one plan of action in Afghanistan under NATO, and another plan of inaction in Iraq.
It is a lesson in democracy... the tides of progress can shift easily with every election of new leadership. Will America be far behind in achieving abandonment of Middle East countries to the jihad movement?
If so, it will be because of the refusal by pols and foreign leaders alike to recognize the enemy's widespread quest and acknowledge the different battlefields... accompanied by a lack of patience, and personal convictions that change with every poll number.