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Looking after our own backyard

May 15th, 2006

Glenn Milne has a piece in today’s Oz making a clear and convincing argument that Labor’s strategy of focusing our defence efforts on our immediate neighborhood is right, and the government’s expeditionary force strategy is wrong. He endorses all the key arguments of opponents of the Iraq war:

• Iraq: Our involvement has compromised, not improved, Australia’s security. We have no rational exit strategy because there is no political or military solution in sight.

• WMDs: They didn’t exist, undermining the single most important rationale for going to war.

• The terrorist threat: Howard argued that our involvement in Iraq would reduce the threat to Australia. Instead Iraq has become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists, to be deployed at will. …

• And finally the AWB: Stripped of the niceties, we bombed Saddam one day and bankrolled him the next[1]

I can’t recall anything at all like this from Milne in the past (feel free to correct me), which raises the question of whether there’s some sort of hidden agenda. The obvious explanation, given that Milne is normally viewed as a spokesman for Costello, is that this is something to do with the latest leadership rumours, though it’s hard to see exactly what.

A more Machiavellian explanation occurs to me. Howard’s visit to Bush is not going to be as cosy as usual, since Bush undoubtedly wants yet more troops and we are, as Milne points out, already overcommitted. How better to stress this point to Bush than to have it being made (in effect) by Costello, in a way that suggests that Australia could be looking at pulling out of the Coalition of the Willing. On this view, the two are now working together.

Does anyone have any other ideas, or has Milne just seen the light?

Update Tim Dunlop has more

fn1. Actually, the other way around, I think. But the point is right, however hard most supporters of the war here have tried to ignore it.

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  1. observa
    May 15th, 2006 at 11:54 | #1

    So are you saying we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan and Darfur is totally out of the question John?

  2. observa
    May 15th, 2006 at 12:11 | #2

    Afghanistan and East Timor ‘Our involvement has compromised, not improved, Australia’s security. We have no rational exit strategy because there is no political or military solution in sight.’

    Afghanistan and East Timor ‘WMDs: They didn’t exist, undermining the single most important rationale for going to war.’

    ‘The terrorist threat: Howard argued that our involvement in Iraq, [and other failed states like Afghanistan, Solomons, PNG and now ET] would reduce the threat to Australia. Instead Indonesia has become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists, to be deployed at will. …’

    And finally our OS aid: Stripped of the niceties, we have bankrolled PNG, Solomons, ET one day and militarily intervened or threatened to intervene the next.

  3. Katz
    May 15th, 2006 at 12:19 | #3

    Observa, JQ is primarily observing, not advocating. (Some the the latter does sneak in but why not address JQ’s central thrust?)

    I take JQ’s central thrust to be that advocates for Howard’s signing up with the posse in Mesopotamia are having second thoughts.

    JQ then goes on to question the motives of Milne. Is Milne stating Howard policy? Is Milne stating Costello policy? Is Milne stating his own changed or privately held opinions?

    If it is the first, then Howard can expect a frosty reception in DC. But Bush can take some comfort from the fact that he isn’t the first person to have been misled by Howard.

    If it is the second, then Costello is being quite bold in signalling his independence to the Liberal Party while the old king still breathes.

    If it is the third, then it simply remains to ask Milne what took him so long to arrive at a blindingly obvious conclusion?

  4. stoptherubbish
    May 15th, 2006 at 12:35 | #4

    Since a jounralist like Milne derives his status and income from being close to power, (as opposed to actually reporting on power to the rest of us) I suspect that his piece represents a Costello ‘thrust’ to side whack Howard while he (Howard) is in the US. I take it to represent just another friendly piece of assistance to Costello, whom Milne has ‘adopted’ as his pass to power and glory minus any skerrick of accountability. Ho Hum.

  5. avaroo
    May 15th, 2006 at 12:38 | #5

    Since the US is itself looking at reducing troops in Iraq, I think it unlikely that Bush would ask Howard for more troops. The political situation in Iraq looks to be moving in the direction of making some progress, making it more likely that all coalition partners will be able to reduce troop levels.

    There’s little doubt though that failed states surrounding Australia present a clear danger to Australia itself. Failed states always present a danger to those in close proximity. I do think Australia must look to do something to protect itself from these dangers. It makes no sense not to.

    For me, the wmd, which obviously were there, we just don’t know what happened to them, were never the primary rationale for the action in Iraq. We should have taken action against Iraq the first time it violated a UNSC resolution. We didn’t, and that was a mistake.

  6. observa
    May 15th, 2006 at 12:46 | #6

    Just pointing out the big fly in the ointment for the somewhat lazy Milne analysis Katz. You start coming over all self interested in your own back yard and it has ramifications, just like arguing because things didn’t turn out as you wished, you shouldn’t have gone there, does. Trust me, having ‘second thoughts’ is often a politically easy trip to take, with places like Iraq and now ET. You know the line- ‘What are we doing in these monkey countries? They’ll never change.’ That’s the critic’s dilemma here.

  7. jquiggin
    May 15th, 2006 at 12:54 | #7

    Observa, I can’t make any sense of any of your comments so far (why are you talking about WMDs in East Timor, for example?). If you have a point to make, please do so.

  8. smiths
    May 15th, 2006 at 13:04 | #8

    no-one on their right mind can surely be questioning the involvement in afghanistan,

    heroin production is back up to all time highs,
    the oil pipeline is well on track,
    the country is as lawless as it has been since the taliban times,

    exemplary work

  9. ansteybranchopolous
    May 15th, 2006 at 13:27 | #9

    great to see the angry gnome endorising sense but after watching the nauseating sight of howard and bush planting trees to symbolise us and oz love dont expect much change soon – what we simply need is a bomb going off in a shopping centre to set the hares running, prefereably in Fountain Gate or Rose Bay

  10. Bring Back EP at LP
    May 15th, 2006 at 13:31 | #10

    I think the black Dwarf has been briefed by one of our spooks who are not impressed by the Government

  11. Peter Evans
    May 15th, 2006 at 13:35 | #11

    Well, maybe Comrade Murdoch has decided Iraq could be bad for business, at least in Australia. He would have been counting on a few more casualties to play the bathos, pathos, and the “their sacrifice and not been in vain, are we not deeply serious” cards. But that, plus the AWB hilarity has given the whole enterpise a bit of a flat feel.

    Fox is still rocking along for the cause in the US though, but still it is larely through a pretty tired looking manipulation of the 9-11 saga. Expect a softening soon, as the easy money has all been made now. In fact, look to Rupert climbing in to bed with Hillary as his exit strategy from the Republican party bet-wetters.

  12. observa
    May 15th, 2006 at 13:42 | #12

    “why are you talking about WMDs in East Timor, for example?”

    WMDs have almost entered the mythology of the only legitimate reason for military intervention nowadays John and whose fault is that? Actually it does have some real traction in the notion that ANY failed states are ripe for the production, staging or transfer of ‘WMD’, most likely of the chemical or biological kind. Hence the utilitarian or self-interested principle of preventing failed states from proliferating in the first place.

  13. observa
    May 15th, 2006 at 13:49 | #13

    umm…and it’s looking increasingly like ET is a failing state.

  14. jquiggin
    May 15th, 2006 at 14:01 | #14

    ‘WMDs have almost entered the mythology of the only legitimate reason for military intervention nowadays John and whose fault is that? ”

    Presumably that of the US government (+ allies) who used this as their official rationale.

    “umm…and it’s looking increasingly like ET is a failing state”

    Indeed, that was Milne’s point – and yours is?

  15. Katz
    May 15th, 2006 at 14:02 | #15

    “WMDs have almost entered the mythology of the only legitimate reason for military intervention nowadays John and whose fault is that?”

    Let’s see.

    Who banged on so long and hard about WMDs? Who claimed that the world was 45 minutes away from destruction at the hands of Saddam’s Mighty War Machine?

    Who turned Colin Powell into a latterday Step’n'Fetchit to the UN armed with a whole swag of lies?

    Which side was Paul Wolfowitz really on when he bragged that the WMD excuse was concocted “for bureaucratic purposes” only?

    Who therefore has discredited the WMD justification, even though, as Observa remarks, it may have once had some “traction”?

    Who indeed? The Chimp, the Poodle and the Deputy Sheriff.

    You weren’t thinking about those sly old latte-swilling, inner-city elitists were you Observa? Just think how powerful they’d be if they struggled out of their curbside perches, bought some nescaff takeaway and actually did something.

  16. derrida derider
    May 15th, 2006 at 14:03 | #16

    Homer’s right – the article’s got “national security bureaucrat” written all over it.

    But I think the bizarre thing about this article is its “Howard is being outflanked on the right” meme. I ‘d have thought paying attention to the neighbourhood’s needs rather than tagging along behind big brother on distant adventures wasn’t a particularly right-wing approach.

    I reckon he’s being very charitable to Beazley anyway. The Bomber has a history of being dazzled by shiny new American toys, and dreaming that he’s going to war with the big boys. I suspect that if he’d had his way the Iraq fiasco would have had bipartisan support.

  17. May 15th, 2006 at 14:11 | #17

    Perhaps the bigger picture is operating here. I’ve seen several references to Murdoch changing his tune on the war and GWB over the last few months. In this context, Howard may be at risk of colateral political damage.

  18. john ryan
    May 15th, 2006 at 14:52 | #18

    I think the whole of FOX NEWS whould go up in flames if Murdock changed his tune on IRAQ,mind you it is comming up to the 6/6/06,christ what will the right wing nuts do if that happens

  19. Paul Kelly from News Ltd
    May 15th, 2006 at 16:04 | #19

    Milne may be in Costllo’s pocket but he needs Labor sources too, and is possibly sucking up to Kevin Rudd in the likelihood that Rudd leads the ALP at some time.

  20. ansteybranchopolous
    May 15th, 2006 at 16:22 | #20

    milne sucks up to eneryone – the political suck up is so entrenched in Canberra only fools take his pronouncements seriously

  21. Jill Rush
    May 15th, 2006 at 22:07 | #21

    Looking after our backyard was the government’s policy for a long time until it was changed by the Liberal Govt to include an ability to engage in wars all around the world. I had always thought that Howard’s adventurism was a way to prop up the declining numbers of diggers to march on Anzac Day – but perhaps I am being too cynical.

    Having read Milne’s piece I thought it was very much in line with what the average Aussie thinks – that we have a local responsibility which we don’t resile from – this is part of why there is a lot of unease at the difficulties in West Papua being treated so poorly by the govt.

    Of course looking after our own back yard will be difficult with 2nd hand helicopters which are not up to the job but took a huge chunk of the Defence acquisition budget.

    As for Afghanistan and Iraq – the early triumphalism in both cases showed that those who were engaged in the attack were completely unaware of the history of either place. Afghanistan defied the Russians just as it had defied the British a century earlier. There were early comparisons with Vietnam and Iraq but these were decried by the war mongers as untrue. I wonder how many see the similarities now.

  22. SJ
    May 15th, 2006 at 23:05 | #22

    Jill Rush Says:

    Having read Milne’s piece I thought it was very much in line with what the average Aussie thinks – that we have a local responsibility which we don’t resile from – this is part of why there is a lot of unease at the difficulties in West Papua being treated so poorly by the govt.

    I appreciate what you’re saying. However, it was Howard who changed the previous policy of non-interference with Indonesia, i.e. with East Timor. That intervention, aided by the not-insane Clinton worked out OK. Howard, completely blind to the difference between the capabilities of Clinton and Bush, jumped on board the Iraq gravy train to more success and popularity. Of course such success and popularity failed to materialise.

    The West Papuan situation can’t be addressed by Howard. What’s in it for Bush? Nothing. What can Oz do on its own? Nothing.

    It was Howard himself who encouraged the “local responsibility” thing, and who them stuffed it up completely by getting his tongue stuck up Dubya.

  23. observa
    May 16th, 2006 at 00:06 | #23

    “Howard, completely blind to the difference between the capabilities of Clinton and Bush, jumped on board the Iraq gravy train to more success and popularity.”
    Sweet Jesus, Howard sent the troops to Iraq against popular opinion at the time.

    “Looking after our backyard was the government’s policy for a long time until it was changed by the Liberal Govt to include an ability to engage in wars all around the world.”
    The Hawke Govt, George Bush senior and Gulf War 1 ???? and I’ll remind you that it was the ALP at the last election who wanted to pull our troops out of Iraq and deploy them in Afghanistan. Presumably we’re all still waiting for the bipartisan call of ‘mission accomplished’ there, or do we wait for Kofi Annan to call it for us all?

    As for Darfur, well it looks like that’s Mugabe’s patch now. Makes a lot of leftist sense I suppose.

  24. observa
    May 16th, 2006 at 00:10 | #24

    I’d also note here that tsunami humanitarian disaster relief has been eminently more dangerous for our military than all the deputy sherriffing or UN marshalling put together. Is there a lesson there?

  25. SJ
    May 16th, 2006 at 00:17 | #25

    observa Says:

    Sweet Jesus, Howard sent the troops to Iraq against popular opinion at the time.

    That would fit my definition of “completely blind”. That is, almost everyone else in the country could see the problem, but little Johnnie couldn’t. And it wasn’t a matter of doing the right thing vs doing the popular thing. Johnnie did the wrong thing and the unpopular thing.

    Looking after our backyard was the government’s policy for a long time until it was changed by the Liberal Govt to include an ability to engage in wars all around the world.

    That’s not a quote from me, and it’s thoroughly dishonest for you to try to conflate my objection to a particular point made by Jill with that very same point I was objecting to.

    Got anything sensible to say?

  26. brian
    May 16th, 2006 at 02:58 | #26

    GLEEN MILNE’S LITTLE OFFERING ,WAS LIKE SEEING THE CURTAIN GO UP ON ON THE FINAL ACT OF A PLAY.
    A play, which I must say, some of us,guessed the ending from the beginning.
    So now the shadows fall on the Howard days…as more and more disasters befall Bush and his small band of friends(Burlesconi went just today,and Blair is on a knife edge!)
    So Howard is about all Bush has got left.
    So all sorts of defeats will befall the coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan,and when they have fled(remember the leaving of Saigon!)the Right will solemnly discuss why it all went so wrong !.when from a the start their defeat was obvious
    ..and by the way the Bushies and their Israeli friends have had to find a way to get themselves off the hook in Palestine too.. and Hamas will now get aid !!

  27. Katz
    May 16th, 2006 at 06:56 | #27

    “I’d also note here that tsunami humanitarian disaster relief has been eminently more dangerous for our military than all the deputy sherriffing or UN marshalling put together. Is there a lesson there?”

    What a load of crud.

    The issue isn’t danger to military personnel, as important as that is.

    The issue is the success and sustainability of any posture that Australia may choose to take in the world.

    We’re talking about danger to all our interests, not just the health and safety of military personnel, who sign up knowing that they may be put in harm’s way.

    The rest of us owe it to the military that when they are put in harm’s way, they are put there for a good and successful reason.

    In Iraq, Howard has failed that test.

  28. observa
    May 16th, 2006 at 09:47 | #28

    My own a priori view of Iraq, ET and Afghanistan, would have placed Iraq in the least risky category for some sherriffing or marshalling(which is not to downplay that risk at all). As it transpires, Afghanistan seems the least troublesome at present and from an Australian casualty point of view, tsunami relief has been more dangerous to date than all our deputy sherriffing combined. Now I ask all the hindsight Nostradamuses here, to tell us which of them could have predicted that? Let’s just say sherriffing and marshalling depends a lot on the bad guys you’re dealing with and if we were all honest, we’d stay home and turn up the cricket to drown out the wails of the suffering. That’s because we don’t really have any sensible rules or guidelines for such intervention, despite all the words written about it. Neither do we have a good track record of intervention, even with benign humanitarian aid. Truth is, we just can’t help ourselves, because we feel obligated to help those that are so totally hopeless at helping themselves. That’s about the only thing the left and right can agree on.

  29. Katz
    May 16th, 2006 at 12:09 | #29

    You’re wallowing Observa.

    Body counts are extremely important if your body is among those counted. But of more importance to national policy is whether any casualties were suffered in a good and successful cause.

    On the hindsight issue, opponents of the Mesopotamian frolic have had this out with Andrew Reynolds (twice!). I’ll let you look this up yourself.

    But just a reminder. My line on disaster in Iraq hasn’t changed since BEFORE Bush proclaimed “mission accomplished”. Therefore, before my line became hindsight, it was already foresight.

    As for “helplessness”. It is certainly correct that few random Australians would choose to swap their lives with a random Afghan, Iraqi or East Timorese. But just as our society (in the broader, cultural sense) suffered crisis, conflict, genocide and civil war and emerged with a new and sustainable settlement, so might these folks come to their own settlement if left alone. To foreign observers Civil War England and Civil War America looked like basket cases. Now their stability is the envy of the world. This was achieved without significant external intervention.

    In fact, the US doesn’t want the most likely form of stable society in Iraq — a Shiite-dominated Islamic state. The Bush administration would prefer instability and continuing chaos to that outcome. But on the other hand, the US pain tolerance is so low that they’ll bug out of Iraq without achieving their ambitions but after thoroughly radicalising and militarising the entire Iraqi society.

    This is a lose-lose situation for the Bush administration.

    And Howard carried the luggage of the US along the road to failure.

  30. observa
    May 16th, 2006 at 14:52 | #30

    In the absence of the ideal of a reasonably unified, peaceable and civil Iraq, Saddam gone and separate ethnic states is hardly a lose-lose situation for us. Sunnis will no doubt be miffed, but they had it their way for 3 decades. One Axis of Evil down in the ME and one to go eh Katz?

    Any real comparison of this Default Plan B outcome, needs to be made with an educated guess as to where a continuation of sanctions would have left us with Saddam’s Iraq today. That is a place Bush critics prefer not to go of course. There were also some fringe benefits remember http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,19152815-401,00.html?from=rss
    and we have also gained some valuable wisdom in our approach to that other Axis of Evil next door.

  31. StephenL
    May 16th, 2006 at 15:05 | #31

    Wowee, that is a first. Justifying the Iraq war on the basis that we’ve learned not to do the same thing in Iran. I’m all for the experiment and learn idea, but when almost everyone paying attention knows the fire is hot, maybe it is better not to stick your hand in it, than to say “I won’t get burned. Opps I did get burned. Oh well at least I learnt not to sick my hand in that furnace over there.”

  32. jquiggin
    May 16th, 2006 at 15:28 | #32

    “Any real comparison of this Default Plan B outcome, needs to be made with an educated guess as to where a continuation of sanctions would have left us with Saddam’s Iraq today. That is a place Bush critics prefer not to go of course.”

    On the contrary, the whole point of the Lancet study (subject of many failed attempts at debunking by the Bushies) is just such a comparison, as are my numerous posts on opportunity costs. This claim seems to pop up every time a supporter of the war gets nailed on the fact that it’s been an obvious disaster, compared not only to the status quo ante but to obvious alternatives like continuing with UN inspections.

  33. taust
    May 16th, 2006 at 16:28 | #33

    Have the efforts of the Saudia’s to control extremists increased or decreased since the occupation of Iraq ?

  34. Katz
    May 16th, 2006 at 17:05 | #34

    If you like that argument Observa, then you’ll probably love this book:

    Mark W. Woodruff, “Unheralded Victory: Who Won the Vietnam War?”

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0004725409/203-3090049-0279964

    Guess what? Woody’s taken another look at the historical record of the late unpleasantness in Indochina and discovered that, yes, WE WON!

    Now, what killjoy could possibly interrupt the celebrations that break out in bunkers all over the anglophone world when the camo-clad devotees of the survivalist Right find out about this great news?

    Observa, if you want to think you’ve backed a winner, don’t let me stand in your way.

  35. May 16th, 2006 at 17:29 | #35

    Milne closes with a reference to the birth his son. Such significant events often cause people to think deeply about life, the universe and everything. It could just be baby-induced sleep deprivation, but it could also be that Milne is leaving the career-enhancing spin to one side for a moment and carefully evaluating the kind of world that this government is creating for his son.

  36. MarkL
    May 16th, 2006 at 21:22 | #36

    John, this is disingenous indeed, and you know better.

    ” ‘WMDs have almost entered the mythology of the only legitimate reason for military intervention nowadays John and whose fault is that? â€?

    Presumably that of the US government (+ allies) who used this as their official rationale.”

    You are implying that this was the sole rationale, and you know it was not. Do you doubt the Saddamites had WMD? Tough to explain Halabja if you say ‘no’. We also know now of deliberate concealment of wargases from UN inspectors. Where are they now? Who knows, but we know they existed.

    Also, I am continually amused as to why the meme of ‘Iraq is a quagmire and a terrorist breeding ground etc etc still exists. That is NOT what Al Qaeda are saying in their own internal documentation. See the link for details. In their own words and in their own assessment, Al Qaeda have already lost.

    http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom1/Shared%20Documents/Extremist%20Page/full_translation_done_may_3.aspx

    MarkL
    Canberra

  37. Andrew
    May 16th, 2006 at 21:41 | #37

    alQa’ida writing gloomy little essays on how they are failing in Iraq? I could write a better fake.

    All that was missing was a line about “we brown people can never defeat the mighty americans and their military genius boy-king” with an “Aaiieee!” thrown in and you’d have Boys Own Adventure story about the inevitable defeat of the perfidious and craven A-rabs…

    Some people will believe anything

  38. SJ
    May 16th, 2006 at 22:09 | #38

    MarkL Says:

    John, this is disingenous indeed, and you know better.

    � ‘WMDs have almost entered the mythology of the only legitimate reason for military intervention nowadays John and whose fault is that? �

    Here’s a hint, MarkL. John doesn’t talk to himself in public. The comment you quoted was made by someone else.

    Another RWDB in total meltdown.

  39. gordon
    May 17th, 2006 at 10:37 | #39

    Observa says: “…Saddam gone and separate ethnic states is hardly a lose-lose situation for us.” Yes, the wrecking theory certainly fits the facts in the sense that that is indeed the outcome. And yes, some people will certainly think themselves better off with a wrecked Iraq than with a Saddam-ruled Iraq. But Observa shouldn’t be so casual with “us”. If Observa thinks that he/she is part of the “us”, then Observa could presumably tell the rest of “us” exactly how he/she is better off. Observa could also tell me how I am better off – if I am part of the “us” which he/she mentions.

    I was taught in high school to be careful with pronouns, particularly in long sentences. Observa’s comment is a ghastly reminder of why.

  40. Katz
    May 17th, 2006 at 10:40 | #40

    MarkL seems to have written a job application to be in charge of revivifying “Good News from Iraq”.

    Good luck for your new career MarkL.

    That’s right MarkL. Al Qaeda is losing in Iraq. But the question is, when were they winning? The Bush administration has been assiduous in promoting the view that al Qaeda were the enemy in Iraq and have measured their “success” by their ability to degrade al Qaeda.

    So the meme about an al Qaeda-created “quagmire” originated with Bush administration spinmeisters. Some anti-war writers have taken the bait and have made alarmist statements about the al Qaeda-created “quagmire” of Iraq. These war critics are naive.

    The Bush administration has worked on the principle that the invented enemy as a defeatable enemy.

    In reality, al Qaeda has never been more than a minor irritant in Iraq. They certainly exist and the document that MarkL cites may even be genuine.

    But despite the tenuous position of al Qaeda in Iraq, the degrading of the military capacity of US forces in Iraq proceeds apace. If al Qaeda aren’t doing it, who is?

    Can it be that by declaring victory over the phantom al Qaeda in Iraq, the Bush administration will be forced to concede that they have other enemies in Iraq who are capable of achieving what MarkL’s document asserts al Qaeda were incapable of doing: holding territory, having mass popular support, being supported by sections of the Islamic intelligentsia, and so on?

    For all the blather, the COW is fixing to bug out before the job is done. They’ve stopped spending money. The US is even prepared to talk to the Iranians.

    Iraq isn’t a quagmire. Iraq is an ice rink. The US skates across the top of Iraqi society and politics utterly incapable of influencing events taking place under the ice. What an unedifying sight! A lumbering, clumsy giant falling frequently on its face, achieving nothing except providing proof of the impotence of military power.

  41. avaroo
    May 17th, 2006 at 13:12 | #41

    “Any real comparison of this Default Plan B outcome, needs to be made with an educated guess as to where a continuation of sanctions would have left us with Saddam’s Iraq today.”

    Good point. While we could all guess at this, no one really could know where a continuation of sanctions would have led, because we didn’t really have the sanctions we thought we had. With OFF, Saddam was getting around the sanctions quite well and he likely would have held out for at least as long as he could get around sanctions through OFF. But, of course, we didn’t know that he was getting around sanctions when we took the action against him.

    “That is a place Bush critics prefer not to go of course. There were also some fringe benefits remember http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,19152815-401,00.html?from=rss
    and we have also gained some valuable wisdom in our approach to that other Axis of Evil next door. ”

    And I think in Iran, it really is a case of WMD as the primary justification for action. Also, it appears that we have better information as to where Iran’s stuff is, hopefully we would do anything that needs to be done strictly from the air, with no land invasion. The Iranian regime would fall very quickly I think.

  42. brian
    May 17th, 2006 at 13:55 | #42

    Interestingly,several British dailies are now reporting that the UK forces have”lost contol ” of the second city of Iraq…Basra…once hailed as a success story ,and for a while much hyped by Tony Bliar…their only safe moves are to be made by helicopter.!There hasn’t been much news on this matter in the press here…but in Britain it’s been big news and very bad news for Bliar as he struggled to survive .

  43. Jill Rush
    May 17th, 2006 at 23:23 | #43

    Observa,
    I wrote of government policy to look after our region. I didn’t state that we never went anywhere else. Gulf War 1 was largely supported by the population although at the time it was hard to believe that regime change was not an option.

    The lie that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but also was involved with 9/11 was successful in getting John Howard to commit Australian troops to Iraq but we have definitely not been helped to avoid the threat of terrorism.

    I stand by the view that Afghanistan is not so very different for the average Afghani than before the liberation and that the war there is far from over. Osama Bin Laden is still in the hills and the taliban are depleted but not defeated.

  44. brian
    May 18th, 2006 at 01:07 | #44

    I love it !!. Avaroo says “The Iranian regime will fall very quickly…I think “. WOW.
    THats what I call well-informed military advice.
    and while it’s falling ..the Gulf is closed..for how long.?.and oil goes to $150 a barrel. Pretty soon after that the US economy will fall ..fall down dead!What a scenario. and what tells you that ,Avaroo .that the Iranian regime will collapse. In 1980 Saddam ,backed by the US made just that error,,the war lasted for 8 years….and if the US can’t mount a land-attack on Iran,the Iranians will be undefeated….so how long does the war go on for then ?.

  45. avaroo
    May 19th, 2006 at 06:00 | #45

    brian, I think a targetted aerial bombing campaign will be very unpopular in Iran. I may be wrong, it may be that the Iranian people are willing to withstand it because they truly want nuclear weapons. My bet is that they don’t, they want the same things most of us want, to live their lives in peace. It’s the Iranian regime that wants nuclear weapons.

    I wouldn’t think we’d need to have a land attack, nor would I want to see one. Iran differs from Iraq in that regime change may be necessary for Iran to live peacefully as it was with Iraq, but we don’t need to actually do the regime changing ourselves. I’d do what we could from the air. And leave it up to the Iranian people to do the rest.

  46. May 19th, 2006 at 11:54 | #46

    Avaroo, one big catch with that scenario is that the Iranians know as well as anybody what appeasement leads to (on its own, not as a tactic like Pericles’s famous “I have bought not peace but time”). There is absolutely no gain for the ordinary Iranian in rolling over; it simply opens the door to further demands, e.g. those of “peaceful penetration”.

  47. derrida derider
    May 19th, 2006 at 17:00 | #47

    Avaroo, its a funny thing about people – if you drop bombs on them they tend to blame you, not their government. And if their sons and fathers die as a result they don’t forgot for a long, long time.

    Plans that go “And after we attack, the population will rise up and welcome us with flowers …” have a truly dreadful record.

  48. avaroo
    May 20th, 2006 at 01:46 | #48

    PM, the gain for Iranians in dumping a regime that wants nuclear weapons, when the people themselves probably don’t, is that they don’t get bombed anymore. Seems like a huge benefit to me.

    I wouldn’t call bombing anyone from the air peaceful penetration. But bombing should only be used AFTER all peaceful alternatives have been tried. There are no further demands other than the regime, whatever it is, drop its nuclear weapon ambitions.

    No population welcomes attack, but it’s hard to give flowers to people in B-1Bs. There’s no welcome necessary as there isn’t anyone on the ground to welcome.

  49. June 2nd, 2006 at 16:02 | #49

    A touching tribute to our Military troops in Iraq: http://www.monkeybriefs.com/view.video.php?id=972&no=2017&cat=Military&page=1

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