Friday, January 12, 2007

sticking to their guns

It's frustrating to see that Bush and Howard still refuse to acknowledge that invading Iraq was a mistake. Today in the Herald, Howard again stubbornly insists "We were right to go into Iraq." And he's recently led us to believe that even if he did have private regrets about a war, he’d "have the grace to keep such thoughts to himself". In the face of even the Conservative media referring to it as his "Iraq blunder" and calling on the Australian people to hold him to account, what credibility does our Prime Minister possibly have left on the issue? What I'd love to see squeezed out of him is answers to questions like--does he still endorse the doctrine of the pre-emptive strike? The idea of exporting democracy by force? Giving him the benefit of hindsight, if he knew then what he does now, would he still go into Iraq? At any cost, for any length of time?
To date Howard has been mostly mute on the subject of Iraq, choked by Bush’s bear hug. Everyone knows Howard never had a plan for Iraq beyond "whatever George wants, George gets", so he's hamstrung in any decision-making on the issue. Every time he is cornered on the question, he drags out his stock phrases, which always include something like, "if we leave now, America will look bad". Nowhere do you hear him admit that if America looks bad over Iraq, it only has itself to blame. Nowhere do you find humility and wisdom, any sense he has learned from this colossal mistake. So, we continue to wait for him to concede that the whole idea of invading Iraq was extremely foolish, that if he had his time again, he’d certainly think twice about blindly supporting America’s foreign policy decisions. Instead, all we get is two blokes digging in their heels, unable to find a way to save face, and trapped into continuing their tough guy charade.
Looking at the continuing fallout of their foolish war, Howard and Bush now appear in danger of splitting their own parties on the issue. The Herald carries a story arguing that "once-united Republicans now face an unpleasant choice: stand behind a deeply unpopular troop build-up or take on the head of their party."
Boy, I bet Howard's regretting not quitting while he was ahead.