Devotes Most Of Iraq Anniversary Speech To Attacking Opposition, Pumping Fear And Hyping Terror Threat
Australia Must Stay In Iraq To Protect American "Power And Prestige"
Whatever President Bush decides to do in Iraq in the coming years, he can count on Australia to be right there with him, never questioning his judgement, never disputing his claims of progress, never daring to rock his world with the slightest hint of dissent.
Well, that's what Australia will be doing as long as John Howard remains prime minister. Which may not be much longer than the end of this year, if his terrible poll numbers are any indication.
Tonight, John Howard delivered what had been promoted as a key speech in the Australian history of the Iraq War.
It was supposed to be an informative, enlightening speech by Howard, to mark the fourth anniversary of the start of the illegal War On Iraq.
We were supposed to find out exactly how the prime minister was planning to get Australian troops out of Iraq, his version of an eventual exit strategy, and how he intended to ramp up pressure on the Iraqi government to take control of the country and deal with the sectarian conflict.
We were supposed to learn what the prime minister's vision was for how the coalition would deal with the next few years of the Iraq War.
What we got instead was a plea for "patience" and an insulting spew of fear, distortions and previously discredited talking points and near laughable NeoCon-approved conspiracy theories.
Howard claimed a pullout of the 500 or so Australian combat troops in Southern Iraq would mean an increased threat of terrorism to the Australian people and Australia's "national interest".
But worst of all, for Howard at least, such a troop pullout could mean a loss to America of "power and prestige."
What planet has he been living on?
As surely as it is recognised that Baghdad is the most deadly, most dangerous city in the world today, so it is an indisputable fact that the Iraq War has utterly destroyed America's international credibility and prestige.
Just as the incomprehensible failure of President Bush and Iraq War architects like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, to adequately prepare and plan for and then contain the insurgency, that Saddam Hussein himself announced before the war began would fight back against "the invaders" has shown every terrorist and wanna-be jihadist across the globe that America's military power is not as great nor as awe-inspiring as a thousand big budget action and war films had led them all to believe.
Howard didn't used this speech to explain to Australians why the war had gone so terribly wrong, or why he had been justified in spending more than $3 billion of taxpayers money in such a clearly desultory manner, and nor did he spell out in precise terms what Australia's role in the ongoing war would now be.
He gave no clear acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by Australia's defence forces in Iraq, nor did he adequately recognise how the war he promised would be over in months has impacted on thousands of Australian families as the conflict enters its fifth year.
No. He did none of those things that Australians were rightly expecting that he would.
Instead, Howard used the speech to air already widely discredited conspiracy theories about the global threat of "Islamist extremism" instead of explaining the reality of why there are multiple insurgencies and resistance movements across the world, many of whom are fighting back against military dictatorships, brutal totalitarian regimes and anti-democratic warlords.
Howard used the speech to try and scare Australians into thinking that a pullout of troops from Iraq would automatically mean we would face a greater, more vivid threat of being blown to pieces in the streets of our towns and cities.
After skipping all the detail Australians were waiting to hear, Howard then used the second half of his speech to play pathetic political games and to try and discredit his political opponents plans to encourage the Iraqi government to take control of their country and rein in the Maliki government-allied militias depopulating the country of rivals and tribal enemies.
Howard claimed that any staged withdrawal of troops from Iraq would leave our American allies "in the lurch".
Howard, however, failed to mention what impact the thousands of British troops now beginning their withdrawals from Iraq would have on American "power and prestige", and how much of "a lurch" Tony Blair's actions will leave the United States in.
As the Opposition government's foreign minister, Robert McClelland, has clearly spelled out, the Opposition's plan is to withdraw Australia's combat troops from Southern Iraq in stages, while leaving key naval support, transport and air support in place, all in consultation with the American allies.
The Opposition has a detailed plan for the future of Australia's role in the Iraq War.
Here's the prime minister's plan for how Australian will fight the Iraq War for the next few years :
"Success in Iraq requires a military and a political strategy, each reinforcing the other.That's it. That's all the strategy John Howard was willing to share with the Australian people after four long years.
Security is the precondition for political and economic progress. That's why the international community must stay in Iraq. What the Iraqi people need most is our sticking power in their midst."
"We believe that restoring security in Iraq is critical to creating the space and time Iraqis need to find a lasting political solution. This means that we are opposed to a precipitate withdrawal. It means we are opposed to setting timetables for withdrawal."
When he wasn't making absurd cracks about Kevin Rudd, the Opposition leader, he was echoing President Bush's mantras, distortions and propaganda almost to the letter.
The prime minister did, however, remember to replace the word "America" in his replaying of recent Bush speeches on Iraq with the word "Australia".
For what that's worth.
Key quote from Howard's speech :
"I believe strongly that to signal our departure now would be against Australia's national interest, the stakes are extraordinarily high for Iraq, for the wider Middle East, for American power and prestige and ultimately for our region and our own national security."
Edited Text Of Howard's Speech
Prime Minister Attacks Labors Plans To Conduct Staged Withdrawal Of Troops From Iraq
Howard Addresses Australian Troops In Iraq
Press Conference For Howard and Iraqi Prime Minister