News straight from the horse’s mouth:
Coalition forces in Iraq would stay “until the job is done”, United States President George Bush vowed yesterday.
At the same time, he pledged to consult Australia on any repositioning of troops.
After lunch with Prime Minister John Howard, Mr Bush stressed the importance of continuing foreign military support for the fledgling Maliki Government in strife-torn Iraq.
“I assured John that any repositioning of troops, if that’s what we choose to do, will be done in close consultation with John and his Government,” Mr Bush said.
“But I also assured him that we are not leaving until the job is done, until the Iraqi Government can sustain and defend itself.”
Mr Howard was likewise unequivocal about the prosecution of the war. “Any suggestion that the Americans are going to change their fundamental strategy and get up and go is as far away from reality as it is possible to be,” he said.
In more shameless and meaningless propaganda, the Sydney Morning Herald scores this “exclusive”:
The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has criticised as irresponsible the policy of the Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley, to immediately withdraw Australian forces from Iraq.
Dr Rice said in an interview with the Herald that the US was unhappy with the lack of progress in Iraq and was taking “a fresh look”, but it would not be making any precipitate withdrawal of troops.
“We do not believe that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is going to do anything but cause chaos in Iraq; and I think that responsible voices are saying that from across the political spectrum, whether people favoured the war or didn’t favour the war,” she said when specifically asked about Labor’s policy. “I think a precipitate withdrawal would be irresponsible. The Iraqis themselves recognise that.”
She said the US’s policy review would “recognise that, four years into the conflict, we do need to address problems in the way that this has evolved, and find solutions to what is a new phase with a new government that’s very determined to have a lot of responsibility for its own affairs.”
John Howard says that if the US leaves Iraq in defeat, “that will embolden al-Qaeda, that will endanger countries like Saudi Arabia. It will make it even harder to achieve a settlement of the Palestinian issue, which I believe is emotionally at the heart of the ongoing difficulty that we have.”
So now our Prime Minister is committed to resolving the Israel/Palestinian conflict. I’m sure the Palestinians under siege in Gaza are relieved to hear John Howard’s heartfelt plea.
The tainted honour of which Howard speaks shows how disconnected he is from reality. The vast majority of Iraqis want the occupation to end and foreign troops out of the country. Talk of losing face or prestige is simply about US reputation and has no bearing on the Iraqi people (now a distant second in priority after American lives and politics.)
U.S. military tank fire killed scores of civilians in Ramadi, capital of Al-Anbar province, late Monday night, according to witnesses and doctors. Anger and frustration were evident at the hospitals and during the funerals in the following days.
Iraqi doctors and witnesses at the scene of the attack said U.S. tanks killed 35 civilians when they shelled several homes in the Al-Dhubat area of the city.
Ramadi, located 110 km west of Baghdad, has been beset with sporadic but intense violence between occupation forces and insurgents for several months.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people carried the 35 coffins of the dead to a graveyard in a funeral procession which closely resembled an angry demonstration.
“We heard the bombing and we thought it was the usual fighting between resistance fighters and the Americans, but we soon realised it was bombing by large cannons,” 60-year-old Haji Jassim explained to IPS at the burial. “We weren’t allowed by the Americans to reach the destroyed houses to try to rescue those who were buried, so certainly many of them bled to death.”
Why does our media continue to provide “exclusive” interviews with individuals and officials whose reputation over Iraq alone was shattered years ago? Simply put, even at the most decisive moments in history – and when “our” side has caused untold misery on “them” – journalists are still willing to wave the flag.