Monday, June 2, 2008

Talking Points

This is good:
In a terse statement to Parliament, the Prime Minister said the Howard government had embarked on the mission using abused intelligence and "without a full and proper assessment" of the consequences.

Supporting the war without approval of the United Nations had set a dangerous precedent and undermined the international system, Mr Rudd said...

"Have further terrorist attacks been prevented? No they have not been. Has any evidence of a link between WMD and the former Iraqi regime and terrorists been found? No.

"Have the actions of rogue states like Iran been moderated? No. After five years, has the humanitarian crisis in Iraq been removed? No it has not."

Mr Rudd's attack riled the former foreign affairs minister, Alexander Downer. "Can't you rise above this?" Mr Downer interjected from the back bench.

"You're supposed to be the Prime Minister of Australia, not the Labor spokesman."

Brendan Nelson, the Opposition Leader and the last defence minister in the Howard government, maintained that al-Qaeda's attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, justified invading Iraq.

The world could not afford the risk that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, he said, and Iraq today was safer as a result.
Now, if Rudd really believes all that, why isn't he launching a major investigation into the abuse of intelligence? Where's the "full and proper assessment" now?

Anyway, at least we have got the discussion re-started. In fact, the White House has even been forced to respond to Mr Rudd's comments:
"No-one else in the world, no other government, had different information and so we acted based on what was the threat that was presented to us. When the intelligence community presents you with their concerns, you'd better take them seriously... Intelligence is not a perfect science, but they certainly do their best," added Perino, who said she had not seen Rudd's comments and was therefore "not going to speak directly back to the prime minister."
That article includes this further quote from Rudd:
He said there had been a "failure to disclose to the Australian people the qualified nature of the intelligence -- for example, the pre-war warning that an attack on Iraq would increase the terrorist threat, not decrease it."
This story has now been picked up by the wires. It could have legs. Let's hope so: further discussion is needed, and of course a Royal Commission. AP has Rudd's complete quote, for the record:
"We must learn from Australia's experience in the lead-up to going to war with Iraq and not repeat the same mistakes in the future," Rudd said.

He criticized Howard's government for going to war without accurate information or a full assessment of the consequences.

"Of most concern to this government was the manner in which the decision to go to war was made: the abuse of intelligence information, a failure to disclose to the Australian people the qualified nature of that intelligence," Rudd said.
Here's Annabel Crabb today:
Rudd, for his part, is quite entitled to goose the former government on the general topic of Iraq. But he didn't mention yesterday - nor will he ever, probably - the fact that when he was a frontline soldier in Mark Latham's Labor army, he all but lay down in the road to stop Latham announcing a policy to withdraw troops from the region.
UPDATE: The New York Times links to an SMH interactive timeline. Kevin Rudd says our involvement in Iraq cost A$2.314 billion. What have we got for that, except a pat on the head from Bush and $1.70/litre petrol prices?

UPDATE 2: I posted a few of these links and related thoughts a couple of LP threads today (my first time back there since I got angry at Mark Bahnisch for taking Murdoch's money). Sadly, there is very little interest in Ozblogistan on this issue (fatigue?) and maybe it's true what ABC’s Michael Rowland says: “the pullout of Australian combat troops neutralises Iraq as a political issue in Canberra”. George W. Bush’s response:
“Troops are coming out because we are successful and so I would view the Australian decision as return on success. Returning home on success.”
Who's gonna write the history of this?