The Australian Broadcasting Corporation: too important to be left to its Friends. Email.
Media Watch, 1
Friday, March 26, 2004
THE RIGHT WING CONSPIRATORS are gathering around the Saint of the South-West, Media Mark Latham.
Ross Babbage, head of the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, told The Australian yesterday that, in the wake of the Madrid bombings, Labor's decision to set an arbitrary deadline could only signal to the terrorists that Australia's resolve in the war on terror was weakening.
'In the wake of Madrid, words can be bullets. Any suggestion we are going to withdraw the troops before the job is done could give the impression Australia is weakening,' Professor Babbage said.
'If the terrorists think they can make Australia leave Iraq, then the troops are more vulnerable to attack.'
Lowy Institute defence analyst Alan Dupont said Mr Latham was delivering a message to the terrorists that they could force Western governments to capitulate in the wake of the Madrid bombings.
Former commander of the Special Air Service Regiment Brigadier Jim Wallace said he feared Australian troops could be targeted in Iraq if the terrorists thought it would hasten Australia's departure.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Aldo Borgu said Australia could not withdraw its troops while it maintained a diplomatic presence in Baghdad, given the current security climate.
Former Australian intelligence official Allan Behm, who opposed the war, warned that early withdrawal would contribute to the situation in Iraq degenerating into civil war.
Retired Air Marshal Ray Funnell, former chief of the RAAF and vocal war opponent, said he felt for the troops, who now had to live with tremendous uncertainty over when they were coming home.
"I was opposed to the war, but the suggestion by Mark Latham that the troops will be able to come home after the handover of power to the Iraqis is simplistic," he said.
I wonder how many of them will get a gig on Auntie any time soon.
I know God-father Gough prospered from a pull-out from Vietnam in 1972, but this ain't 1972, and Media Mark's no Whitlam.