April 27, 2004


The Australian Labor Party is concerned about our mere symbolic presence in Iraq. Here’s the beginning of an ABC report on these deep concerns:

The Federal Opposition says many of the Australian troops in Iraq should be brought home because they are not performing essential services and are getting bogged down.

We’re subject to 657 further words, mostly on the doomed state of Australia’s role, before we reach the final paragraph:

A planned visit by the Prime Minister to the Australian Frigate, HMAS Stuart was cancelled after the ship became involved in a rescue operation after a suicide attack.

Great timing, ALP! (and great underplayed reporting, ABC). Clearly this was just a symbolic rescue operation:

An Australian navy frigate has carried out an emergency mission in the Persian Gulf, rescuing Americans wounded in a suicide bombing which killed two members of the coalition forces.

A Seahawk helicopter and inflatable boat, known as a RHIB, were dispatched from HMAS Stuart to rescue members of a boarding party injured in the bomb attack near an Iraqi oil terminal.

A Defence Department spokesman could not confirm the number of people rescued by the Royal Australian Navy or the nature of their wounds but said all United States personnel were returned to HMAS Stuart for medical treatment.

(Via contributor J.F. Beck)

Posted by Tim Blair at April 27, 2004 05:12 AM

They really just don't get it do they? Amazing - "I have a world view - which is clearly correct, you 'no good for nothing right wing chickenhawk' - and any real evidence to the contrary makes no difference whatsoever!"

Has the ALP begun to realize that there is a "religion" that is dying out there even as we speak? They don't like religion - except for Islamofascist ones - so they should be all over it, right? Oh wait - multiculturalism and diversity is the religion in question. Have they decided to ignore that too? No wonder paper and mainline media news orgs are getting hammered.

Why don't we take up a collection for their news editors to go out to where nothing is happening and see how they like it? Jerks!

Posted by: JEM at April 27, 2004 at 07:31 AM

ABC & ALP! They work so well together!

Posted by: Kate at April 27, 2004 at 07:54 AM

Who is that wooden oaf Shadow Defence fellow for Labor? Good Lord, what a liability, wooden, unconvincing and just plain on the wrong side.

Posted by: W at April 27, 2004 at 08:03 AM

I'm sure those wounded Americans would have understood if Australia hadn't sent any troops, or pulled them out before this rescue operation.

Posted by: david at April 27, 2004 at 08:06 AM

I'd just like to thank those aussies who took the time to symbolicly (no, I can't spell) rescue my countryman. Count me as one more American who is damned glad to have Australia on our side.

Posted by: Fuloydo at April 27, 2004 at 08:28 AM

haven't y'all good folks learned by now that the lives of amerikkkan imperialist infidels are worth absolutely nothing?

now if australian forces were on the ground providing tactical support for the "freedom fighters" in iraq, now that would probably be a cause worth pursuing...

Posted by: harm d. at April 27, 2004 at 08:55 AM

You can always count on the Aussies when push comes to shove.

Posted by: Kevin at April 27, 2004 at 09:30 AM

Kevin, that's exactly what I'm afraid of - that we could lose that.

Our primary value, the good thing that defines us, is mateship. We don't cut and run on our mates, we've never done that. On ANZAC Day we celebrate people who have done the right thing, the hard thing, on behalf of Australia. That's our big national day.

We can throw away that spirit very easily now. Just vote Mark Latham's ALP into office. Then through our own actions, the mirror of history won't say any more: "You can always count on the Aussies when push comes to shove." It will say: "You used to be able to count on Aussies."

Posted by: David Blue at April 27, 2004 at 10:12 AM

According to an SMH report:
In a statement issued by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claiming Al Qaeda responsibility for the attack on the Basra oil terminal, John Howard is described as a "wicked" man. Al-Zarqawi neglected to say whether or not Howard was also "very, very naughty and bad" or just a "scallywag".
The stinging insults do not end there. With a devastating turn of phrase he refers to Howard and Co as "O snakes of evil" before going on to say "we will exterminate and debilitate you by land, sea and air until God makes us victorious or until we die". At least they're realistic.


Posted by: max power at April 27, 2004 at 10:24 AM

David -

The well of good will Australia has with the United States is a hell of a lot deeper than one idiot Labor government can destroy. I don't think you can know. Folks I know who never talk politics love Australia for your friendship -- hell, folks I know who oppose the war still find France to be a bunch of duplictious bastards and appreciate that Australia was on our side. Here and elsewhere.

I, for one, will always stand up for Australia. Always.

Posted by: Andrew at April 27, 2004 at 10:38 AM

One of our local TV news channels did a decent segment on Howard laying a wreath at a WWI memorial in Iraq. Nothing on the national TV news that I saw. I think admiring Australia is a Red State thing.

Posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes at April 27, 2004 at 11:03 AM

I'm another Yank who appreciates our alliance with the Australians. I'd rather have 1 platoon of Aussies with me than a battalion from the French Army.

As to the ALP, if I may be permitted such an opinion about your political organizations, the ALP can take their symbols and most unsymbolically shove it where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: JeffS at April 27, 2004 at 11:13 AM

Sorry Tim, but I think it would wrong to get into an argument as to whether or to what extent the Australian deployment is symbolic.

Arguing that the actions of HMAS Stuart proves the case that the deployment is not symbolic is to accept the premise that only non-symbolic personel should remain. That will end up in a shit fight over which troops are "essential" with the implication that "non essential" troops should be brought home.

That debate will devolve into a smoke and mirrors affair where we can expect lots of appearances by Bob Brown offering us his expert military opinion as the which troops are doing anything useful and which are merely imperialist lackey running dogs. Of course all this will be couched in Bob Brown's and , increasingly Mark Latham's , sickening brand of sanctimonious patriotic posturing.

What we need to realise is that we are in a war where symbolism is just as important as any particular action. Displaying steadfast resolve is just as important as demonstrating it. The various thuggish militias and terrorist bands in Iraq have no hope of military victory, Fallujah demonstrates that clearly. But from Madrid to Fallujah the political campaign being waged by those who seek to extend chaos is being actively aided and abetted by the likes of Latham, Brown and Zapatero.If Lathham can level the libel of "a conga line of suckholes" why should anyone feel constrained in pointing out the demonstrable truth that objectively he acts as the messanger boy for the terrorists, delivering the terms they seek for our surrender.

Posted by: Johan at April 27, 2004 at 11:58 AM

What is Latham going to do if the new Iraqi governing council takes over and then requests that Australia keeps its troops there for as long as possible to help? Where is he going to go then? Oh I forgot - back to the UN, that will solve everything. Put your trust in France, always the way to solve anything.

Posted by: Rob at April 27, 2004 at 12:49 PM

This retiree sez good on yuz, Aussies, as always...

Then again, I'm one of those old softies who can't get through listening to "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Makem & Clancy without blubbering in my Bud Lite like some wimpy little girl. I defy any GI to do better...

Posted by: geezer at April 27, 2004 at 01:46 PM

Is the ALP sugggesting sending some more troops to the Syrian border patrol?

Posted by: Ted at April 27, 2004 at 01:59 PM

"[T]hey are not performing essential services and are getting bogged down."

If they're not doing anything how can they get bogged down?

Posted by: Elizabeth at April 27, 2004 at 05:30 PM

"I'd rather have 1 platoon of Aussies with me than a battalion from the French Army." - Jeffs

I'd even rather have a platoon of Aussies with me than a French battalion fighting on the other side - although that's a closer call.

Posted by: Poisonhead at April 27, 2004 at 06:01 PM

Q: Why did the French plant trees on the Champs Elysees?

A: So the Germans could march in the shade.

Regarding Latham and Brown perfectly described as the adjectival "conga line of suckholes" in Marks own words no less.

Posted by: Dog at April 27, 2004 at 07:00 PM

We now have in office the most politically adroit Prime Minister available for a war-time situation. For timing, instinct and commitment, Howard is exceptionally good. Mark Latham is the man of empty symbols. He is now reduced to regurgitating the Keatingesque nonsense about 'engagement with Asia.'

Howard has engaged Australia in a world-historical campaign that has to do with peace, justice and the universality of certain moral norms that will not be abandoned. That is a measure of our place in the modern world. The Islamofascists will be defeated, by force of arms and of liberty. Some of us think it's a fight worth winning. The left, almost wholly captive now to the idea that there is no such thing as truth, does not.

What Australia is doing is far from symbolic. It's as tangible as a child's hand in yours in a crowded Israeli or Sydney street and as big as the Statue of Liberty.

And Latham wants out. To use one of my favourite Les Pattersonisms, he is to diplomacy what Sir Robert Helpman was to oxy-welding.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at April 27, 2004 at 08:29 PM


The Aussies earned my respect long ago in Nam. They have always been the first to answer the call. What happens after your elections will not change my opinion. Even if that useful idiot Latham wins and pulls you guys out it won't change what I have seen men from Australia do with my own eyes.

But you can't allow an idiot like Latham to get in anymore than we can afford to let Kerry get in.

And every time I hear "Waltzing Matilda" I take my hat off.

Posted by: Kevin at April 27, 2004 at 09:04 PM

"I'm another Yank who appreciates our alliance with the Australians. I'd rather have 1 platoon of Aussies with me than a battalion from the French Army."

This yank thinks the same.

I grew up listening to WWII stories from uncles who served in the Pacific. Always spoke very highly of the Aussies they fought with.

Said the Aussies were great to have in a fight and great to have time off with (I believe alcohol and 'other things' were involved)!

Up until his death, one of my uncles kept in touch with some of the Australian soldiers he fought with. I believe members of my uncle's unit and members of the Australian unit(s) they fought with got together every ten years or so.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at April 28, 2004 at 12:38 AM

Here's another Yank saying, "Thank you, Australia!"

Posted by: Erik at April 28, 2004 at 04:35 AM

Thanks guys. :)

I think in a year, after the American, Australian and possibly British elections, we'll all be more confident where we stand.

Posted by: David Blue at April 28, 2004 at 01:47 PM