Not literally, of course; but with the Iraq War now having gone past World War II (US version, that is) in length, and with yesterday in Iraq being even more tragic than the previous day, it was quite amazing to see on the front page of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian Wrong war, wrong time and Iraq a moral blunder, says war hero.
THE former SAS officer who devised and executed the Iraq war plan for Australia’s special forces says that the nation’s involvement has been a strategic and moral blunder. Peter Tinley, who was decorated for his military service in Afghanistan and Iraq, has broken ranks to condemn the Howard Government over its handling of the war and has called for an immediate withdrawal of Australian troops.
“It was a cynical use of the Australian Defence Force by the Government,” the ex-SAS operations officer told The Weekend Australian yesterday. “This war duped the Australian Defence Force and the Australian people in terms of thinking it was in some way legitimate.”
As the lead tactical planner for Australia’s special forces in the US in late 2002, Mr Tinley was in a unique position to observe intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program and the coalition’s military preparations in the lead-up to the war. Mr Tinley, 44, who retired from the army last year after a distinguished 25-year career, said the US-led coalition had been naive in its thinking about what it could achieve after a quick military invasion of Iraq…
“During our preparations for this war I remember hearing (ex-defence chief) General Peter Gration’s misgivings and assumed he did not possess all the information that our Prime Minister did,” he said. “I now reflect on his commentary with a completely different view and am saddened that other prominent people in our society didn’t speak louder at the time and aren’t continuing to speak out in light of what we now know.”
He said the Government had broken a moral contract with its defence force in sending it to an “immoral war”. The Government’s stance on Iraq and later on issues such as the Tampa had gradually allowed fear to become a motivating factor in the electorate, he said. Mr Tinley said the Howard Government had failed to be honest with Australians about Iraq and “you can’t separate the sentiment of the defence force from that of the people”.
He advocates an immediate pullout of Australia’s 500-strong task force in southern Iraq but accepts that security forces must be kept to guard the embassy in Baghdad. “Our 500 troops are in the south-west of Iraq under British tactical command while our US partners are doing all the heavy lifting in the remainder of the country,” he said. A more meaningful contribution could be through providing defence and security force training in a safer neighbouring country, such as Kuwait. “This is no slur on our soldiers. (Brigadier) Mick Moon and his men have been doing a fantastic job.”
See also, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mike Carlton’s Regrets? Howard might have had a few but he’s certainly not telling.
Mind you, way back Brigadier Adrian D’Hage was saying such things. (I hope Adrian is still reading this blog; that glass of red hasn’t happened yet. 🙂 ) Now, as then, John Howard will put on his best lower lip extended stunned mullet look and proclaim his rightness despite all appearances… But I wish he had noted his colleagues in Canada and New Zealand and been rather more cautious in 2003 (or was that 2002?) in following the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Light Brigade into the Valley of Death.
Related post: When obstinacy becomes reality deficit… Note also I am not persuaded that it is a good idea to leave Iraq straight away, even if it has turned out rather clearly to have been the wrong war to have started.