11 February 2007

More Speaking Plainly

Speaking plainly seems to me to be a hallmark of Australians. Or, at least, they seem to have the ability to speak straight about political matters. Case in point is Aussie Prime Minister John Howard’s response to Barack Obama’s declaration, upon announcing that he’s running for president (didn’t that already happen a few weeks ago? Oh well…) that if elected he would withdraw US troops from Iraq by March 2008. Here’s Howard’s response, as reported here:

"I think that would just encourage those who wanted completely to destabilise and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for (an) Obama victory," Mr. Howard told the Nine Network.

"If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008, and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats."
Of course, he was accused of trying to influence US politics by the opposition, but I think there’s something to be learned here. Al Qaeda and other enemies of the West have stated repeatedly that they believe they can win any conflict against America if they can only inflict enough casualties and draw fighting out long enough. They believe that eventually the decadent West will tire of the inconvenience of fighting, and convince itself to give up. Somalia is often cited as the prime example.

Former Governor Tom Vilsack wrote on 10 Feb 2007 in the online Washingtonpost.com:

In each of the past three years, more than 820 American soldiers have been killed in the war. Given the increased violence this year, America is on pace to lose more than 1,000 soldiers in Iraq. Over 23,000 American soldiers have been wounded since the war began, nearly 6,000 each year. It is time for us to clearly say that our troops must be brought home now.
Perhaps our enemies are correct in their assumption. Kill enough Americans, and the Americans will run.

I hope that is not the case. I hope that America stays in Iraq, continually changes tactics, techniques and procedures as the enemy does the same (it’s the nature of any fight), and has the fortitude to prevail. Clear-speaking folks like Mr. Howard remind us that, in fact, we can. Perhaps it helps that he’s not an American.

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