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Is Howard positioning himself…

11 Aug

…for a post-APEC pre-election announcement of a withdrawal from Iraq?

Yesterday I would have dismissed that as sheer fantasy given the strength of our Dear Leader’s commitment (along with Lord Downer of Adelaide and The Squire Brendan) as one of the only two leaders of the “Coalition of the Willing” left standing in dogged defence of the correctness of the 2003 invasion.

But now we have Greg Sheridan, that enthusiast for the project, reporting Howard warns Maliki: act or face pullout. Perhaps it is a case of “echo politics” and Howard is slowly coming to the conclusion that Kevin Rudd may have a point after all?

Meanwhile in one of the few positive developments lately we have had both Afghanistan and Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq taking a less bellicose line on Iran, unsurprising when you consider the religious complexion of all those involved and the historical links across that whole region. Stepping away from the Bush line has not played well, however: Bush breaks up Iran-Iraq love-in.

Correspondents in Washington and Tehran | August 11, 2007: US President George W. Bush yesterday told Tehran there would “be a price to pay” for meddling in Iraq and warned Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against cosying up to the leaders of Iran.

Amid what Washington sees as unsettling signs of warming Baghdad-Tehran relations, Mr Bush said he was not surprised at pictures yesterday that showed cordial meetings between Mr Maliki and top Iranian leaders in Tehran, but he said he hoped the Shia leader was delivering a tough message.

“You don’t want the picture to be kind of, you know, ducking it out” when on a diplomatic mission, he said, putting up his fists like a boxer.

In Tehran, Iran’s leaders told Mr Maliki that US troops must leave Iraq.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Mr Maliki that the presence of US troops was the biggest obstacle to restoring security.

Mr Maliki also met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and national security chief Ali Larijani. Mr Maliki was quoted by Iranian state media as praising Iran’s “constructive” role in “fighting terrorism” in Iraq — a statement Mr Bush moved swiftly to contradict.

“If the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart-to-heart with my friend the Prime Minister because I do not believe they are,” Mr Bush said. “I don’t think he, in his heart of hearts, thinks they’re constructive either.”

But Ayatollah Khamenei said that it was the presence of the US-led forces that was the “biggest misfortune” shadowing Iraq…

Reality may be biting Bush on the bum, I suspect, but he doesn’t know how to handle it. Let’s hope the next Democrat presidency, whether it be male or female, has a better grasp. The Republicans have no chance come the next US election. They’ve shot their bolt well and truly.

Howard knows that, and so does Rudd. Rudd is in rather a better position.

On related things: my new coachee (from The Mine) asked me the other day whether the 2006 Dateline documentary on Abu Ghraib would be a suitable additional text for his HSC Module C on truth and representation. It would, except it is probably better from his point of view to find something more recent, but he did tell me that the doco is now on YouTube. It can’t be embedded, but you will find a link to it on the appropriate update on my Big Archive.

Later

Kevin: Rudd dismisses Iraq move. “Now (in the lead-up to the next election) Mr Howard is saying our troops in Iraq, our combat forces, may not be there for much longer – that’s the inference from the correspondence with the Iraqi prime minister.” Good call, Kevin. But what if I am right and he is really prepared to do it, given the excuse? Who knows what he and George might cook up between them in those extra days of private hobnobbing before the rest arrive?

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Posted by on August 11, 2007 in Aussie interest, Current affairs, Kevin Rudd, News and Current Affairs, Politics

 

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