Wednesday, February 21, 2007

lie, and think of england

It doesn't make sense to me. If the south of Iraq is stable enough that the British troops are considered to be surplus there, but Baghdad and other parts of Iraq are a hellhole in desperate need of a surge, then why aren't the suddenly spare British troops being redeployed to assist the Coalition's surge? Why endorse a reduction in the Coalition force by 5,000 soldiers at the same time as you are 'augmenting' it by 20,000? And are we really expected to believe that the Allies can now go ahead and unfurl a "Mission Accomplished" banner in Basra while other parts of Iraq remain out of control? What's to stop all the terrorists and insurgents relocating to the South once Baghdad gets too hot to handle?
Kerry O'Brien tried to get an answer from the Foreign Minister as to whether or not the British 'reduction' is known to the Australian Government to be part of a phased withdrawal and Alexander Downer deflected the question by saying 'Well, everyone in the Coalition has an exit strategy'. But O'Brien wasn't asking if the British had a vague open-ended exit strategy, he was asking specifically if it was a 'phased' withdrawal. Because the implications of it being 'phased' are obviously that it is time-based, rather than conditions-based, as Downer would have us believe.
So, are Downer and the Australian Government aware of the mooted timeline of the British exit strategy? Or are their office staff helpfully keeping sensitive information like that from them, in the time-honoured Howard Government fashion?