"The Labor Party is saying the Australian Government's thinking of just pulling the troops out [of Iraq] before the election for political reasons. We're not doing anything of the sort. I made it very clear to the Iraqis while I was there that we wouldn't abandon them."Did you hear that, all you 100,000 plus insurgents? Our 1,370 brave Diggers will NEVER abandon you! Never! Bwaaa haaa haaa HAHA HAHA!!!
So, err... why was John Howard recently reminding everyone that his original understanding with the USA "was that after the sharp end was over we were not going to have any troop presence"? I guess it depends how you define "the sharp end". First 50 years of occupation, perhaps?
Downer ploughed on with his interview:
"I was heartened by some of General Petraeus' analysis, which was that the Americans feel they are making very good progress now against al-Qaeda."Well, actually, Alex, all the US "surge" troops in Iraq are now fully deployed. Even President Bush says so:
Mr Downer said it was too early to make a judgment about the success of the US troop surge, designed to lift security in Baghdad and surrounding provinces. He said the US was only now getting all the troops in place.
"They haven't finished deploying the troops. We will have to give it plenty of time. It's not a time at this stage to make that judgment."
The president ordered 21,500 additional U.S. combat troops to Iraq in January. With those troops finally all deployed, Bush ticked through the details of operations in several areas, declaring with the aid of maps and charts on screens that flanked him that progress already is being made in many places.Downer just received an honorary degree in Israel, where he pledged another $7 million of Australian taxpayer money to prop up the (previously isolated) pro-Western Fatah Palestinians against the popularly elected Hamas government. Obviously the man is a veritable dove of peace, spreading his message of love across the Middle East:
He said sectarian murders, after spiking in May, are now down substantially from January levels. Car bombings and suicide attacks continue, but declined in May and June. He cited "astonishing signs of normalcy" such as soccer matches and crowded markets.
"I made the point to the prime minister that it is very important that the Iraqis take this whole process of reconciliation further forward and do it more quickly than they are the moment. They have got a lot of work to do, in particular reconciling between the Shia and the Sunnis."Reconciliation? I thought we'd abandoned that "old politics" in favour of Howard's New Militant Paternalism? Maybe we should declare a National Emergency in Iraq? Oh, wait...!
According to Ha'aretz, Downer is the world's longest-serving Foreign Minister, with over 10 years on the job. You have to wonder how he does it, don't you? Certainly competence, compassion and coherence don't seem to be important criteria for continuing in his post.