Energy security is extremely important to all nations throughout the world, and of course, in protecting and securing Australia’s interests. The Middle East itself, not only Iraq, but the entire region, is an important supplier of energy — oil in particular — to the rest of the world. When it comes to Iraq, Australia needs to support its allies, stop Al Qaeda securing a foothold, and secure oil supplies.

Quite unremarkable statements I would have thought; nothing more than statements of the obvious. Yet somehow, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, by making them yesterday, has supposedly had to be rebuked by the Prime Minister for linking Australia’s involvement in Iraq with oil!

I doubt that there is anyone who has thought even a little about the invasion of Iraq who believes that if there was no oil in Iraq there would have still been an invasion.

That John Howard has steadfastly refused to link the two has only been influential in undermining his own credibility. Dr Nelson’s comments on the day the Government released its updated review of national security should at least earn him marks for honesty.

The continued linguistic gymnastics of Mr Howard, on the other hand, will further undermine his credibility — yet another example of the trickiness that has sent his opinion poll standings tumbling.

You have to question as well the decision of Mr Howard to do his daily photo opportunity aboard the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. The visit to this symbol of might and power designed for conventional warfare came just hours after the Prime Minister had given his learned assessment that it was the unconventional war on terrorists that now dominated defence thinking.

That the picture did not match the words was probably too subtle for most of last night’s television viewers but those in Sydney whose trip home was made a nightmare by traffic controls as a result of the Kitty Hawk docking in the harbour would have known just who to blame the moment they saw the leader of their country playing sailor for the cameras.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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