It is entirely appropriate for the British to reduce their forces in Iraq because they are based in the South, where conditions are relatively stable. But it would sending the wrong signal to terrorists if Australia reduced troop bumbers in Iraq, even though our combat troops are also in the South, where it is relatively stable.
Australia cannot cut and run now because you don't let down your mates when they are in a fix. And we cannot set arbitrary timetable for withdrawal because that would send the wrong signals to terrorists. But it's OK for the British to stage a withdrawal on a fixed timetable because Australia, Britain and the USA all have different exit strategies. And of course I cannot tell you what they are, because that sort of thing is Top Secret. And the Poms are not letting down their mates because, well, let's face it, we never liked Tony Blair anyway.
Anyway, the British are not really withdrawing. They are not even cutting their troops by one third (how dare you insinuate such a thing, Kerry!), they are only reducing their forces from around 7,000 to around 5,000, which is hardly the same thing. And anyway we knew they were going to pull out some troops and it's going to require some reorganisation among the Coalition partners, if there are still any left, and that's why we are sending an extra 70 troops. Not to plug the gap left by the British (that's drawing a pretty long bow!) but basically just to save the civilized world from extinction.
Kevin Rudd's plan to withdraw Aussie troops would place the entire country of Iraq in jeopardy, and the whole country could collapse into bloodshed and sectarian violence after all our excellent progress to date. The violence is currently only happening in some very small parts of the country where the biased media just happen to be providing coverage.
And even if the Iraqi Foreign Minister says a staged Australian withdrawal would present no problem, that is not true. I mean, come on! Who's running the country, the Iraqis or us?
21 Feb. 2007
Shorter Alexander Downer:
at 3:00:00 am