Well lately I haven't posted too much and one of the reasons is the barrage of badness from the current US administration is so in-your-face it sucks up the air of talking about the Right-wing menace. It's really a case of "look at that" and if that doesn't stun you with its wrongness then nothing I say is going to move you.
But this came down the wire about a week ago, mostly ignored, and speaks to something I've always known...
On Australia's involvement in the invasion of Iraq:
"....a 572-page, declassified internal report on the Iraq War obtained by Fairfax Media under freedom of information laws. Written between 2008 and 2011 by Dr Albert Palazzo from Defence’s Directorate of Army Research and Analysis, it is by far the most comprehensive assessment of our involvement in the war. Originally classified “Secret”, it was finally released last week after more than 500 redactions.
The report concludes that Howard joined US president George W. Bush in invading Iraq solely to strengthen Australia’s alliance with the US."
And the rest was all bullshit. Saddam could have been doing nothing but holding a canary hostage and we would have done our bit because we are so deeply embedded in the US war capability our participation is near automatic. The rest is spin to the Australian people and pondering on what to contribute that would satisfy the Americans but not get us in over our head:
"The (Australian) SAS were well-known to the Americans from Afghanistan and would be keenly welcomed, but other options including tanks were weighed and thrown out... Howard was stuck between keeping Washington happy and the unpopularity of the war at home. An AC Nielsen poll in January 2003 found just 6 per cent of voters supported joining the invasion without UN backing."
The Australian public wanted none of this crap, they hadn't been fooled. They knew it answered nothing to do with 9/11. They knew it was folly and demonstrated in the hundreds of thousands to demand we stay out. But that was never going to happen.
"Saddam Hussein and his depraved sons still had six hours and 41 minutes to meet US President Bush’s ultimatum to leave Iraq when Australian SAS soldiers slipped through a breach in the mud berm along the Jordanian border and entered Hussein’s country."
THERE. That's it. That's the tidbit that all commercial media chooses to ignore. Australian special forces were already in and lighting up the Iraqi war machine before the war officially began. They HAD to be, so the war would start on time.
"When they set foot into Iraq ahead of the March 20 deadline, their mission was to find and seize the Scud missile sites from which the coalition feared Saddam might launch weapons of mass destruction at Israel to drag it into the conflict and provoke a backlash from other Arab countries... whether the Australians wanted it or not they were being drawn into the US goal of regime change, rendering Howard’s insistence that Australia was only participating in the disarming of the regime academic. A post-war briefing “illustrated the extent to which Australian objectives had become aligned with those of the United States despite government claims to the contrary”. "
The US forces have a staggering depth of manpower. Australia does not.
Opposition to involvement would grow deafening in Australia were we to suffer mass casualties, the SAS were running out of appropriate tasks and the American forces, now seeing a stream of flag-draped coffins flowing home, were losing patience with Australian reluctance to get dirty.
It was a problem for the Howard government - we were there to be there, NOT to get serious numbers of our people killed. But in the end we got to give only as much as we wanted, and Howard emerged politically undamaged, with the alliance with the US honoured.
The author of the report, written six years ago concludes that "the war’s only strategic winners are Iran and China”.
But we were lucky. The Australian body count for appeasing Bush was low.
No sensible Australian dreams for a second that appeasing Trump could be done so cheaply.
I wrote this post quickly because I knew what I wanted to say but for the benefit of non-Australian readers (I doubt six people in the world ever come here) I thought I should clarify:
This is just about the invasion.
We're still in the region along with the US. Our warbirds bomb the shit out of stuff every day.
I'm criticizing the Australian government of the day because at that moment back in 2003 we had the choice of asserting ourselves but they (the conservatives of course) did the most expedient thing possible and then covered themselves in glory for it. We (or rather they) punched below our moral weight and I never want to see that again.