Talking the talk on Iraq

Today US President George Bush told lawmakers that he would be sending 20,000 more troops to Iraq.

And Australia? What will we, as a “firm and faithful friend“ who is “in there with the President in the fight against terror” be doing to help? Send a small additional contribution of troops ourselves perhaps? Well”¦not exactly because according to Alexander Downer.

Australia has no intention of changing our troop numbers.

So what will be our role Mr. Downer? How will we be helping President Bush, the Prime Minister’s personal friend in his hour of need? What will be our business to look after?

We’re in the business of saying that it’s important that insurgents and terrorists are not victorious in Iraq.

Talking the talk. It’s a tough job. But someone has to do it.

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cam
cam
14 years ago

Paul Dibbs from 2002 [pdf]: “We already risk Australia being seen to talk big and carry a little stick, to reverse Roosevelt’s well-known dictum”

JC
JC
14 years ago

As an aside.

John F Burns ( who I think) is one of the best journalists in the Anglo world did a great piece on the behind the scenes horse trading over Saddam’s hanging. Turns out Saddam liked and trusted the Amnericans more than the Iraqi government, which in a sort of way is quite depressing.

Read the whole thing. Burns is a brillant writer and the best asset the New York Times has, which for me is saying something. Don’t much like that paper but its dman good when it is good though.

see link: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/world/middleeast/07ticktock.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5088&en=e9e24c64f7b3bad3&ex=1325826000&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
14 years ago

I have run out of energy to talk about Iraq. Most of the idiots who supported the idea now realise they were idiots. Most of those who don’t seem to haunt the blogosphere.

Ken Lovell
14 years ago

To further demonstrate his inconsistency, Downer stressed in the next breath that decisions about troop numbers should be made by generals, not politicians ‘like Nancy Pelosi’ (but politicians like Alexander Downer are exempt from this principle apparently). It would be nice to hear the opinion of the commander of our troops in Iraq on the number required – if any – to carry out their mission (whatever it is).

Who is the commander of our troops in Iraq anyway? They truly are the invisible soldiers. I don’t know whether journalists are denied access or what they do is simply too tedious to bother reporting. Maybe Howard didn’t like the way the media made such a public hero of Peter Cosgrove in the East Timor exercise.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

Downer’s comments certainly give Rudd some ammunition if he chooses to use it. In the past Howard has criticised the ALP troop withdrawal position as contributing to an enormous blow to American prestige. That we shouldn’t leave in circumstances that would be seen as a defeat for the West.

Now Rudd can surely ask the question – why doesn’t Howard contribute more troops if that’s what he believes. Because Howard’s present action says that either he doesn’t have confidence in the President’s assesment about how to win in Iraq anymore, or (the truth) he is trying to weasle his way out of the Iraq mess without having to admit its a failure, and without accepting more risk.

Either way – what a friend Howard’s turning out to be to the US. Rudd’s troop withdrawal position is at least honest.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago

“Who is the commander of our troops in Iraq anyway? They truly are the invisible soldiers. I don’t know whether journalists are denied access or what they do is simply too tedious to bother reporting. Maybe Howard didn’t like the way the media made such a public hero of Peter Cosgrove in the East Timor exercise.”

The Commanding Officer of Overwatch Battle Group (West) was Lieutenant Colonel Michael Mahy (not sure if he still is). Richard Glover on ABC 702 local radio in Sydney used to talk to him on-air quite a bit.

Fyodor
14 years ago

Rex, I don’t think anything has formally been promised yet. The Big Reveal of Bush’s latest attempt to show he’s doing something other than quacking lamely is scheduled for today (i.e. the 10th, US-time).

However, all the leaking about this “surge” in troop forces suggests it will be yet another deliberate and cynical manipulation of the soldiers in question.

The big conceit is that “20,000 troops” means 20,000 blokes will be walking around Baghdad et al carrying rifles and trying to keep the peace. It doesn’t. The well-leaked rumour is that the force will comprise five brigades, each comprising c. 4,000 soldiers. However, due to the massive logistical tail the US Army hauls around these days, only c.1,500 of these are combat soldiers. “20,000” troops collapses very quickly into 7,500 pairs of boots. BFD.

Additionally, only one brigade (the 2nd BCT of the 82nd division) of the rumoured five appears to have a defined start-date (end-Jan) so far. Given that the 2/82nd is already in Kuwait, serving as a reserve to cope with regional emergencies, it seems the USA doesn’t have a lot of options to beef up the numbers in Iraq. It wouldn’t surprise me if they won’t be followed by the other “promised” troops, and are being sent in purely as garnish to suggest Bush has a plan, if not a clue.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

Fyodor. With all this troop unavailability, I wonder if they’ve considered outsourcing the whole job to China?

phil
14 years ago

Can we outsource Downer to China (oh sorry, that’s no way to treat a valued trading partner).

Fyodor
14 years ago

“Fyodor. With all this troop unavailability, I wonder if they’ve considered outsourcing the whole job to China?”

Dunno, Rex. Give it another decade or two, and the USA may not have a choice about China keeping the peace in the ME. “The spice must flow” etc.

Patrick
Patrick
14 years ago

I’d be more worried about China keeping the peace in Africa. Overall there is still a lifetime’s oil left, but minerals are a lot trickier, and can’t be replaced by natural gas.

Lachlan Connor
14 years ago

History will judge the ongoing lies and deception of this government.

Link
14 years ago

They know they need to get out, but they’re not sure how to do it. Throwing more troops in is seen as a way of covering their retreating hides. Militarily this appears to be the best way out, but politically it is obviously on the nose. Bush has been delivered an ultimatum by his Generals who are at their wit’s end. He has no choice but to acquiesce to their wishes, given the disastrous nature of the entire operation as overseen by Rumsfield. Politically for Bush this is suicide but he doesn’t care cos he’s on his way out anyway. it would be for Howard too if he were to agree to sending more troops–which he won’t. Because unlike Bush he is not a complete idiot. They should perhaps resign themselves to a quiet whimpering exit stage left.

It reminds me of a stand off I witnessed at a pub once, threats came from somewhere and somebody (probably management) called the cops who arrived en masse, whereupon things really hotted up. The entire pub spilled out onto the street and a stand-off ensued with police on one side of the highway being pelted at and abused by pub goers on the other. It occurred to me that the police presence was really only serving to perpetuate and exacerbate the situation. Fortunately that night, sense prevailed, the police put two and two together, got into their half a dozen cars and paddy wagons and left and pub patrons went peacefully back inside.

Sir Henry Casingbroke
Sir Henry Casingbroke
14 years ago

Yes. But what about the spice? He who controls the spice, controls the universe! And now, leave all that spice behind?