A new ‘Man of Steel’

Thursday, 6 September 2007 

It is absolutely unacceptable for the US President to come over here and meddle in Australian politics.

The boost Bush gave to Rudd’s campaign yesterday represents an unwelcome intrusion by a foreign power into the Australian democratic process. By making a big deal over Labor’s position on Iraq, Bush has enabled Rudd to appear strong and principled on a policy that is basically a fudge. In reality, Labor’s proposes only to withdraw 500 of Australia’s 1400 troops, and those are mainly training troops from the safe areas in southern Iraq. Labor will still keep troops in Iraq in order to retain its commitment to the US alliance.

The ultimate irony is that as Bush touched on at the end of his press conference with Howard, the US administration effectively has the same policy of phased withdrawal. The recent influx of troops had such a significant effect after so little time, apparently, that the US can now start doing the opposite. The surge looks less like a renewed commitment by the US administration but a short term way of clamping down the troubles enough for the US to claim success and join the UK in stepping away from the mess.

The only one that is showing no signs of cutting and running is of course Howard himself. At a basic level, Australia’s commitment to Iraq is so insignificant that the US and UK could do an awful lot of withdrawing before Australia’s presence becomes even proportionate to theirs. If Rudd’s principled ‘withdrawal’ from Iraq is a bit of a fraud, it is no less so than Howard’s ‘commitment’, something pointed out nicely by Obama back in February. More importantly, however, being seen to back down on this position is practically impossible for a government that stands for barely anything else.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 6 September 2007.

Filed under International relations

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