Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, April 08, 2004
THE QUAGMIRISTS, after some months of silence, are now filling our airwaves with their full-throated baying at the re-construction of Iraq. Just listen to any edition of Radio National's news service.

In one first-class effort, Iraq correspondent (means Baghdad correspondent) Peter Cave even discerned signs of an emerging Baathist-sectarian Shiite coalition against the provisional government. He didn't tell us his sources, but they must be very good indeed. Or he's a fabulist.

I think it was also Peter Cave on this morning's RN news service who spoke of 'both sides' of the conflict in Iraq. I presume he means the foreign imperialists on one side, and the united forces of the people on the other. How come Auntie knows stuff other journalists don't?

Did anyone expect the factions wanting to rule Iraq would lie down quietly in front of the progress of democratic constitutional government?

One of Cave's colleagues tells us Iraq is like Vietnam because John Kerry is a Vietnam veteran. In the next few weeks we may find out what that means. Or we may not.

Labor's aspirant to the Prime Ministership, Media Mark Latham, hopes that Iraq will turn out like Vietnam, otherwise his troop withdrawal plans lack a shred of credibility.

The risk of being bogged down in Iraq through the long term engagement and management of the tensions I've mentioned is very real.

It's only six months since Kevin Rudd, on behalf of the Labor opposition, was promising to extend the role of Australian troops in Iraq.

The quagmirists should remember this big difference between Vietnam and Iraq. The North Vietnamese and their allies didn't start bombing American and European cities. They left that to the communards of the 1960s.

Vietnam was always over there. Islamism is over here. When you're defending your homelands it is a necessity, and an honour, to die for your countries. Most Americans and most Australians know that.

And no-one believes that an Iranian-style Iraq would be anything but a gigantic boost for the forces if Islamist aggression.

And that, even more than the interests of the majority of Iraqis, is why capitulation is just not an option.