“Australian and British military legal advisers frequently had to “red card” more trigger-happy US forces to limit civilian casualties during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to one of the Australian advisers.”
It’s a remarkable admission that has been ignored by the mainstream media. Colonel Mike Kelly, writing in the Australian Army Journal, “says the junior partners in the coalition forces succeeded in reducing civilian casualties and reinforcing the legitimacy of the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.”
How the “legitimacy” of the invasion was reinforced is anybody’s guess.
Juan Cole comments:
“I think there is a problem here when professional and hard-fighting Australian and British troops routinely feel that the US military does things that are frankly illegal, and might drag them into illegality. And that this difference in attitude has political implications seems clear – the British and the Australians are chomping at the bit to get out of Iraq ASAP. It is clear that they have often felt in the past two years that American recklessness has put them needlessly at risk. Proud of their own community policing skills, when British forces were briefly moved up to Babil province (the “triangle of death”), they complained that they were going to a place that the Americans had already ruined and made dangerous. Whether it is a fair perception or not, it has consequences.”
Then there are the statements by former Australian defence force chief General Peter Cosgrove that Australia should be out of Iraq by the end of 2006. “I think we’ve got to train the Iraqis as quickly as we can”, he said, “and to a point where we take one of the focal points of terrorist motivation away, and that is foreign troops.”
Cosgrove’s words, while welcome, are too little, too late. Besides, if he was so concerned about Australian involvement in Iraq and the increased risk of a terrorist strike, he should have resigned years ago. Alas, he did not.
Australia should withdraw troops out of Iraq immediately. The argument that such a move would leave Iraq hostage to a violent future seems rather futile considering the current situation there. The Vietnam-era term, “We Had to Destroy the Village to Save It“, is sadly prescient today for the pro-war supporters, the chicken hawks and anybody who fails to understand the lessons of occupation.