There’s populism – then there’s treating people like idiots. Mark Latham is still learning the difference
Just how bright was Iron Bark Latham’s promise on Tuesday to get Australian troops out of Vietnam by Christmas if he becomes PM.

Dad (AKA Gough Whitlam) pulled Our Boys out of Vietnam. But
things were different then. Billy McMahon had pulled most of them
out, anyway. Richard Nixon was about to do the same to his
troops. And unlike Vietnam, no Australians – touch wood – have
become casualties.

The Australian troops in Iraq are in non-combat roles. They’re as safe as you can be in that country.

Iron Bark is indulging in ill-considered populism.

The Howard Government’s spin mania and determination to crush
freethinking in any branch of the public sector turned security into a
negative for them after Madrid.

Iron Bark is now letting them get on top again.

No matter what you thought of the war, there will be three main consequences if we end our presence in Iraq.

1. We will give succour to terrorists – or the remnants of a despicable regime

2. We will further isolate the United States and give it impetus to undertake more unilateral operations

3. We will endanger our relationship with the US – who, let’s face it,
we need. That Bruce Petty cartoon of almost 40 years ago of
various Australian pols hanging off the chain attached to a bell
labelled “ANZUS: In case of emergency please ring” is as true
today as it was back then.

The West cannot risk to be seen to be caving into to terror.

Yes, Dubya and his poodles lied to us over the reasons for going to
war. Some of his pals’ comments on the Yassin assassination
earlier this week have been nauseating.

But we want an America that is engaged with the world and its
institutions. Look what happened when it stood alone – neutral,
but alone – in the 1920s and 30s.

Howard knows all this and will exploit it ruthlessly.

Latham the wimp?

Here’s a hint for the Government Parliamentary Tactic Committees:
Ask in Question Time how many other international peacekeeping and
police actions Iron Bark wants to withdraw from.

Participation in all of these opens Australia up to threats from
various ethnic and sectarian wackoes. We’ve seen that in the past
in the antics of various Yugoslavian and Cypriot factions here in
Australia – but still think participating in these international forces
has been worthwhile.

John Howard has lied through his teeth throughout the whole Iraq saga
and particularly during the recent Keelty scandal, but he is 100 per
cent right on one thing.

It was Australia’s action to save East Timor, not our involvement in
the campaign to remove Saddam, that first drew us to the attention of
Islamic nutters and has done most to raise their ire – and who demanded
action there most loudly for quarter of a century? The hard left
– the people who can’t stop pilgering on about how naughty it was to
intervene in Iraq.

Iron Bark’s “bring the boys home” strategy is not just a sop to the idiot populist left.

It diminishes him as a politician.

The Sussex Street boys like to use American political references.

Warren G Harding is not a good role model on international affairs,
Mark – and the way he treated business deals is a bit to similar to
some of your New South Wales pals.

A wedge too far

Will John Howard, his Foreign Minister or an enthusiastic little lackey
like Ross Cameron try this line – or is it a wedge too far.

Cameron – Warwick Fairfax’s old flatmate – said yesterday that “Osama
bin Laden is stroking his beard and celebrating the advent of Mark
Latham” in the wake of the Opposition Leader commitment to withdraw
Australian troops from Iraq.

Egregious exaggeration? Of course – but is the Government now
going to claim that Iron Bark has made Australia number one on Al
Queda’s hit list with his promise to bring the boys home for Christmas?

Are they going to say that he has effectively dared towelhead
terrorists to target Australia in the hope that it leads to a rerun of
the change of government in Spain?

Will they allege he is putting Australians at risk and inviting attacks?

A wedge too far? Maybe – but there will be an element of truth in it, and that always makes for the best propaganda.

Charlie don’t surf!

After Defence Minister Robert Hill let the cat out of the bag about WMD
on Tuesday, we’re amazed he didn’t jump on this issue to beat Labor
about the head with this unforseen aspect of Iron Bark’s “bring the
boys back home for Christmas” strategy in Parliament.

If the diggers come home, there will be a massive increase in drownings in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

At least, that’s what we presume after flicking through the RAAF News. Have a look at

Some of Our Boys deployed as part of the Air Traffic Control detachment
at what was once the Saddam International Airport have established the
Baghdad Surf Lifesaving Club.

Undaunted by a lack of surf – or, indeed, water – club members have
raised money for the local community and, we presume, kept them safe
from sunburn, shark attack and dangerous rips.

And Labor is prepared to put this all at risk? Shame!

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]