Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, June 06, 2004
AS MARK LATHAM hisses defiance of the US President from behind the backs of his colleagues, he might consider this: it can only get worse.

Long after the indignation of the Labor True Believers has ceased to warm their hearts, Latham will be fielding the consequences of his thoughtless grab for the witless vote. For example.

The interim leadership of Iraq is comprised of people with credibility. No matter how often Auntie's communards call them 'US-backed', the better they become known the clearer their standing will become.

When the Iraqi leadership goes on making the same point about their need for protection from terrorists as the hated George Bush has been making, how much dignity will it leave in Latham's shameful stance?

Suppose one or more of those Iraqi leaders finds time for a friend-making tour of the Coalition countries, can Latham go on hiding behind his press statements?

Australia has real economic interests in Iraq, as the left kept telling us before the war. What if those are seen to be jeopardised by Latham's line?

Latham can only hope that the Iraqi interim leaders are as forgiving of Latham's impetuousness as the taxi-driver whose arm he broke in a dispute over a fare.

I doubt if the US media and public will ignore a Latham desertion. Their media are paying a lot of attention to Howard's warm support. The D-Day commemorations give Howard a perfect platform to remind us all of where modern Europe has come from.

Should Kerry win the Presidency, on a promise to prosecute the Iraq campaign more effectively than Bush, his response to a Labor-led sell-out could be angrier than a Bush administration's. And what if Kerry 'interferes' in Australian politics by making that clear during the election campaign?

Fair weather friends just aren't welcome at times like this.

Time for Latham's colleagues to force a back-down.