Wednesday, July 11, 2007

PM - Don't Mention the War

The Prime Minister, John Howard, today said he wanted Australians to "take a deep breath and wait" until the American commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, gives his progress report to US Congress in September.

His call for patience comes amid increasing calls from both Democrats; and George Bush's own party, Republicans, for a planned withdrawal from Iraq. US troops comprise almost all of the commitment, and of the 3 893 coalition deaths (5-July-2007) 3 607 were Americans (CNN 11-July-2007). There have been 2 Australians killed in Iraq. A different, interactive, site can be seen here.

Mr Howard's (& his government's) policy is, in essence "all the way with GWB". In January 1966 Harold Holt, then Australian PM, took Australia to the Vietnam War with the slogan "all the way with LBJ" (Lyndon Baines Johnson, then US President). Holt acted after John Howard's hero, Robert Menzies, resigned as Prime Minister, not wanting to take Australia to war, or align our foreign policy with that of the US. Our foreign policy is still, essentially, that of the US.

But with a Federal election due, and increasing voter concern about our involvement, a commitment by the ALP to withdraw troops at an appropriate future date, Mr Howard really wants voters to forget about Iraq. He'd rather we took notice of himself and other coalition MP's on the unofficial election trail.