Donald Rumsfeld — gone. The House — gone. The Senate — gone according to AP. The President’s authority in prosecuting the Iraq campaign — gone.

The message for the Bush administration, the Republican Party — and allies like Australia whose own politics depend partially on the consequences of such messages – is unambiguous: if the Iraq fiasco is not contained within 18 months there is almost no prospect of a Republican recapturing the White House in two years’ time.

That’s why the US, Britain – and, on their coat-tails, Australia – have no choice but to curtail, downplay or even abandon their presence in Iraq. That process began overnight with the President’s “thoughtful” discussions leading to the “resignation” of his Defence Secretary. Prepare for more “thoughtful” decisions, including some from John Howard, whose own election is probably less than a year away.

Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis aren’t the only victims of Iraq’s civil war. It’s also killing the political fortunes of many of its protagonists.

Peter Fray

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