During a press conference with US Vice-President Dick Cheney yesterday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the following:
“I don’t think there would be a country whose influence and potential clout would be more enhanced in that part of the world than Iran’s would be if the coalition was defeated in Iraq. I don’t think you can separate the two. Iran would be emboldened if the coalition was defeated in Iraq. And that would be seen to have occurred if there was a significant coalition withdrawal.”
Leading Australian political academic and commentator Scott Burchill responds with the appropriate incredulity:
This must be a joke, surely? If the coalition was defeated? By invading Iraq and overthrowing its government they have handed Iran and their co-religionists in the south effective control of the country. They were told beforehand that this would be the most likely outcome of the war. It has been the greatest and cheapest gift Iran has ever received – something they couldn’t get in 8 years of war against Saddam. Talk about own goals. The mullahs have already been emboldened, know the war is over, and don’t need a coalition withdrawal – in fact Teheran has more leverage the longer troops remain in situ.
Could Howard and Cheney really be this stupid or do they think we are?
Furthermore, Howard is clearly providing (at least) diplomatic cover for a US strike against Iran. Will any local journalists ask the Prime Minister what role his government would take if this option eventuates? Israel’s involvement is, as ever, virtually ignored in the Australian media.