Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Blair Pull- Out Makes Problems for Howard (another post from Oz)

Blair's announcement of a pull-out of some 3000 troops from Iraq by the end of the year was more or less expected in the UK, where Blair has presaged it with statements, but has caused a mild sensation down here in Oz where it dominated the headlines for while. Australia has only 1400 troops in Iraq; they are reliant on UK support, do little or no active service and have so far not suffered any losses. But they are there symbolically and this is of key imnportance both to Bush and to Howard who has made much of his tough stand on national security. His problem is that the young Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd, is calling for a pull-out of troops and the polls show he is beginning to make inroads on Howard's key issue. 'If Blair can do it, why can't we?' is a conmpelling argument. With Rudd moving up fast on all the major issues, this new development must have been intensely unwelcome.

Howard has taken the line that the Brits have decided to do this as the conditions allow it- the south is sufficiently safe to enable troops to be pulled out while in strife torn Bagdhad, Bush has ben forced to increase troop levels. So the fitness mad 68 year old has decided his future is still inextricably bound with that of the lame duck Bush. Blair, however seems to have eventually followed the advice of the Baker ISG reeport and opted for a planned withdrawal. This is a little odd as he contrived to welcome the report before distancing himself once Bush shiowed he thought his Dad's old mate had got it wrong on the most important issue since Vietnam.

But I suspect Blair's sense of obligation to Bush has declined markedly as his imminent departure has concentrated his mind. Why toe the line so biddably when nothing has come back in return for such demeaning loyalty? Also I suspect this is part of a deal with Gordon Brown to untie his hands once in Number 10; Brown has never been a hawk on Iraq and I daresay wants to withdraw as soon as he decently can from the quagmire. Tony has merely marked out the route for him to do so.

Will you please STOP posting from Australia, particularly posts that tell us all how great the weather, what a fantastic country it is and what a wonderful time you are having - it is getting annoying!
Actually Mike, I thought I was being quite understated on that issue but I do understand. A mate of mine regularly visits Malaga and sends ecstatic reports about the weather during our shitty summers. It makes it so much worse. Can't promise not to post a few more times on Oz politics or whatever though. Yesterday it rained quite heavily after our day out in Manly so it's not invariably like paradise here.
"as soon as he decently can" - er, so that's never, then?
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