John Howard breaks with his own party line and predicts no Australian troops left in Iraq by 2010:
I'd be surprised if we were still there in 2010. But ... I'm not going to commit myself to a date. We will go when we believe we have finished out job. Now I don't know what that will be...Very interesting choice of words there, Johnny. How can we now be in a "post military phase" when the country is crawling with soldiers? And what's this about "persevering in the belief"? We all know that support for the invasion was a faith-based thing, so does this mean the withdrawal will also be based on "belief" rather than "facts"?
Certainly the post invasion phase, the post military operation phase, has gone on longer and has not gone as well as one might have hoped. It doesn't alter the fact we have to face choices now in 2006. The choice is [here we go: wedge politics] to persevere in the belief Iraq will emerge more or less in a democratic state, being able to run its own affairs, or walk out.
The truth is, the Iraq War has always been a matter of domestic politics for Bush, Blair and Howard. The real battlefield has always been the court of public opinion at home. But now the facts coming from Iraq are turning that battle decisively against the war-mongers, and those facts are not going to get any better.