Saturday, May 26, 2007

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari's visit to Australia

Maybe Congress should invite someone from Australia's Ministry of Defense to see how they get it right. via Labour Friends of Iraq
But in much of the Western debate, not least in Australia, you get the impression that commentators hate George W. Bush and John Howard more than they love the Iraqi people. Just as the international Left cared not a fig for the human rights of Vietnamese, Cambodians or Laotians, and in general didn't mind a genocide or two once the communists were in power, so too you get the feeling they will rapidly lose interest in any amount of suffering by Iraqis provided the Americans and their allies have been comprehensively humiliated.

The other intriguing aspect of Zebari's visit was his general praise for the Australian troops in Iraq and his report that they enjoyed a very high reputation in Iraq. This is significant in part because it echoes what several other critically credible sources have said in the past few weeks. It also demolishes the proposition of the Australian Left that somehow or other our participation in Iraq, which by the way is under the authorisation of a UN resolution, is somehow damaging our international reputation.

Ali A. Allawi, a former defence and finance minister in recent Iraqi governments, has written the definitive account of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, entitled, appropriately, The Occupation of Iraq.
In it he deplores the amateurism and incompetence of some of the staff of the Coalition Provisional Authority under the leadership of Paul Bremer. However, he goes out of his way to contrast this with the professionalism of the Australians, especially the Australians involved in reconstruction.

Similarly, the recently published memoirs of the former chief of the CIA, George Tenet, are instructive on this point. Tenet has become a critic of Bush and his memoirs are designed to limit his guilt by association with the Iraq operation and put as much distance as possible between himself and the Bush administration.

His remarks on Howard, though - again, strangely unreported - are instructive. He says that he and Bush agreed to delay the announcement of his resignation as CIA chief because Howard was due to visit and they didn't want to detract from the attention the US media should pay to Australia's Prime Minister.

Tenet writes: "Howard had been one of our closest allies. Not only had he deployed troops to Iraq, but he'd also had the enormous political courage to say that he'd gone to war in Iraq not because of what the intelligence said but because he'd believed it was the right thing to do. The President didn't want to do anything to step on Howard's visit. Nor did I."

This is much how many people see Howard internationally, unless they are dedicated haters of the coalition operation in Iraq. Australia, and Australia's Government, are seen as immensely successful internationally.

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