Crikey has dug up a remarkable piece of all-too-typical Howard hubris from May, 2003, back when the War On Iraq was won. Remember those couple of optimistic months before the explosive truth could no longer be buried beneath lies, spin and media manipulation?
When prime minister John Howard made the following statement to Parliament House, on May 21, 2003, he had already been thoroughly briefed to the reality on the ground in Iraq, and knew that the war was anything but won. Howard also knew that former Saddam Hussein loyalists, and Iraqi nationalists, were not contained or disarmed.
This is only one example of how much Howard gloated in the months after the downfall of the Saddam Hussein regime, and how little truth he was prepared to share with the Australian public :
JOHN HOWARD: "Not only was the military operation completed quickly and successfully but it is also worth recording that all of the doomsday predictions, particularly the many that came from those who sit opposite (the Labor opposition), were not realised.When Howard made this arrogance-soaked speech, car bombs were already killing Iraqis and American soldiers, the insurgency was massing its ranks, ammunition and weapons dumps and storehouses were being raided by insurgents, oil pipelines were being destroyed and oil industry infrastructure was already being targeted, American forces had faced fierce and deadly opposition when they had entered Baghdad, leaving dozens dead and wounded and the exodus of Iraqis into Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iran had already begun.
"The oilwells were not set on fire; there were not millions of refugees; the dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were not breached to bring on catastrophic flooding; and there was no long, drawn out, bloody, Stalingrad style street-to-street fighting in Baghdad.
"...it is a reminder of the hysteria and the doomsday predictions that often accompany operations of this kind....the predictions on this occasion have been proved wrong.
"The decisive victory of the American led coalition reflects enormous credit on the strength and the determination of the leadership of President Bush. Again I remind the House of the way in which his role was vilified and traduced by many of those who sit opposite and of the way in which speaker after speaker from the Australian Labor Party impugned his integrity, assaulted his judgment and called into question his ability to lead the United States in this very difficult conflict. History has proved them wrong."The performance of the President has illustrated how infantile their protests were, and the leadership that he has given on this occasion, I believe, will bring about a permanent change in attitudes in the Middle East."
Howard claimed there had not been millions of refugees by May, 2003, which was true enough, but nobody said millions would leave within weeks of the war beginning. Refugee crises usually unfold over many months after a war commences, and Iraq was no different. An estimated 3 million people have now been forced to flee their homes, and their homeland, since the invasion and occupation of Iraq began.
As for Howard's claim that "there was no long, drawn out, bloody, Stalingrad style street-to-street fighting in Baghdad," this was then, and is now, a complete lie. Howard knew that the first American vehicles that entered Baghdad were met, in some streets, by gunfire from virtually every single window. Some of the very first roadside bombings of American military vehicles occurred in the outer suburbs of Baghdad during those days.
Street fighting has continued in Baghdad since late April of 2003 with more days of brutal fighting than less. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and wounded in street battles, kidnappings, massacres, car bombings and suicide attacks in the suburbs of Baghdad.
Of Bush, Howard said, "the leadership that he has given on this occasion, I believe, will bring about a permanent change in attitudes in the Middle East."
Hmm, Howard was right there, too. The permanent change in attitudes in the Middle East, resulting from Bush's "leadership" in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, has been to trust the Americans even less than they were trusted before the war began.
The nervousness and distrust shown by most of the world towards President Bush, and his decision to launch an illegal war on Iraq, has now proven to have been totally justified.
Howard's effusive praise and idolising of President Bush, meanwhile, was ignorant, bizarre, and for more than half a million dead and wounded Iraqis, and more than 60,000 dead and wounded American soldiers, horrifically sad, tragic, and ultimately wrong.
More than 75% of Australians opposed our involvement in the Iraq War in February, 2003, and latest polls show that more than 6 out of 10 Australians now want the troops withdrawn :
The growing outrage against the war in the US is also playing into the domestic scene, given the close personal ties between the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the US President, George Bush, who is being deserted by Republicans over the conflict.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, insisted yesterday that withdrawing US troops would be a victory for terrorism. Despite a CIA assessment showing al-Qaeda was not the main problem in Iraq, Mr Downer said the terrorist outfit was helping foment sectarian violence.
Two Australian Security Contractors Killed In Iraq By Roadside Bombs