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When obstinacy becomes reality deficit, who is “weak and gutless”?

That’s what struck me as I saw the rhetoric being played out in the Australian Parliament on the news just now.

The Foreign Minister has strongly condemned the federal Opposition over its promise to remove Australian troops from Iraq.

The Labor leader, Kim Beazley, says if he wins the election, he would immediately talk to the United States about how quickly Australian forces could be replaced in Iraq.

The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, told Parliament it is a weak and gutless policy.
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Things my mother’s generation would say…

1. What do you think it is? Bush Week? (…Thus the expression bush week is used ironically by someone who suspects they’re being made the victim of a scam or prank…)

2. If your mates want to put their heads in a gas oven, does that mean you should?


The PM’s mother probably said both of those, but here we are, as you may see in Rocco’s cartoon from today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
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Did you see John Howard on The 7.30 Report tonight?

John Howard responded to the idea that people think he is a liar (or a “lying rodent” as a former member of his own party put it a few years ago). Howard jumped in on two issues: the WMD business and the entry of Australia as junior partner in the “Coalition of the Willing” back in 2003, and the “Children Overboard” affair. Brave man. He became quite feisty on this…

KERRY O’BRIEN: Now to your own problems, Mr Howard? I know that you’ve tried to reject the leaked findings of our own pollsters this week that you’re regarded as dishonest, but if that’s how people see you then that’s a real problem for you, isn’t it?

JOHN HOWARD: Well Kerry, I won’t be a commentator on that. I will deal directly with the issue. I’m not dishonest. There are many examples thrown up by my critics in relation to that but let me take one of the most egregious of all and that is weapons of mass destruction in relation to the war in Iraq.
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Posted by on August 7, 2007 in Aussie interest, Current affairs, immigration, Politics


Our partisan Republican (US) Prime Minister

I have just caught up with John Howard’s Channel 9 Sunday interview. [Spelling errors are courtesy of NineMSN.]

…LAURIE OAKES: On that subject, Senator Barack Obama’s announced overnight he’s running for the Democrat Presidential nomination, and he says if he gets it he has a plan to bring troops home by March, 2008 and his direct quote is “Letting the Iraqis know we’ll not be there forever is our last, best hope to pressure the Sunies and Shiah to come to the table and find peace”. So, basically he’s agreeing with the Labor Party.

JOHN HOWARD: Yes, I think he’s wrong, I mean, he’s a long way from being President of the United States. I think he’s wrong. I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for Obama victory. If I was running Al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.

LAURIE OAKES: If he wins, and you’re still there, bad news for the alliance.

JOHN HOWARD: Well I tell you what would be even worse news for the fight against terrorism, if America is defeated in Iraq. I mean, we have to understand what we are dealing with. We’re dealing here with a situation where if America pulls out of Iraq in March 2008. It can only be in circumstances of defeat. There’s no way by March 2008, which is a little over a year from now, everything will have been stabilised so that America can get out in March 2008. And, if America is defeated in Iraq, the hope of ever getting a Palestinian settlement will be gone. There’ll be enormous conflict between the Shi’a and the Sunnis throughout the whole of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Jordan will both be (destabilised), Al-Qaeda will trumpet it as the greatest victory they’ve ever had and that will have implications in our region because of the link, the ideological link at the very least, between the Al-Qaeda and JI. Proposition Three.
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Want a cheap and nasty debate? Visit the Senate…

I saw Order in the House on ABC last night. Here is one of the lowlights:

Senator CHRIS EVANS (2.03 p.m.)—My question is directed to Senator Minchin, representing the Prime Minister. Can the minister confirm reports that former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld called for a change of strategy in Iraq two days before he resigned? Didn’t Mr Rumsfeld tell President Bush that the US strategy in Iraq ‘is not working well enough’ and that it was time for a major adjustment to US policy, including the possible withdrawal of American troops? Doesn’t this admission follow President Bush’s statement on 11 October: ‘Don’t do what you are doing if it is not working—change’? Will the government, like Donald Rumsfeld, finally concede that its rhetoric about ‘staying the course’ in Iraq is unsustainable and that the growing civil war makes it more urgent than ever to develop a new strategy and goals for the exit of our troops?

Senator MINCHIN—I have seen press reports referring to assertions that Mr Rumsfeld, the former defence secretary of the United States, had sent a memo to the White House expressing some views about the course of the campaign in Iraq. We note them with interest. Obviously, the US, in the context of the Baker led review of its position with respect to Iraq, is considering its position. Just as Mr Rudd himself was always of the view that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, it is well known that the government, on that basis, was prepared to join with the coalition of the willing, in effect doing the job of the UN itself in seeking to ensure the end of the Saddam Hussein regime, after its period of barbarity against its own people and its refusal to comply with UN sanctions. Indeed, in the widespread view, shared by the new Leader of the Opposition, Mr Rudd, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, we did join with the United States, albeit in a modest fashion, in seeking to remove the Hussein regime.

It is a fact that, since the removal of that regime, bringing peace, order and good government to the people of Iraq has been extremely difficult with the terrorism that has been waged against both the coalition forces and the new government of Iraq and its military forces. Of course the US, with obviously the most massive commitment of all to the cause in Iraq, is reconsidering its position, presumably on a daily basis, in consultation with the government of Iraq, as to what is the best course of action that should be followed.

I noted last week that the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Iraq had met and discussed the situation. The Prime Minister of Iraq indicated his desire to retain coalition forces in Iraq at least until the Iraqi security forces are able to ensure the security of the people of Iraq. He gave an indication as to when he thought it would be possible for the Iraqi forces to assume full responsibility. Obviously, from our point of view—while I stress that our commitment is relatively modest compared to the commitment of the United States forces—our forces are doing a great job assisting the people of Iraq to bring about peace, order and good government in their country.

We are committed to remaining in Iraq while we believe that (a) we are welcome there at the invitation of the government of Iraq and while they profess the need for our modest forces to remain and (b) we are making a contribution. We continue to believe that we are making a contribution, particularly with the training of Iraqi security forces to assist them in ensuring that they can take full responsibility for the security of the country. Of course, it is indeed the case that the Prime Minister of Iraq has that objective. What we will not do, which apparently is the Labor policy—although we wait to see if Mr Rudd brings any new dimension to this—is simply exit. The worst thing we could possibly do would be to walk away from the people of Iraq, and it would be handing the terrorists and thugs a massive victory.

That passes for an intelligent and reasoned response, Senator Minchin? Read the rest of this entry »


SAS man shoots down presidents and prime ministers…

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.”
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