Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, June 15, 2004
AUNTIE'S TELEVISION NEWS on Sunday night earned itself much credit with the Latham Labor election campaign.

Its entire coverage of Latham's latest version of his cut-and-run Iraq policy was devoted to defending Latham from a report in the Weekend Australian.

Murdoch hacks John Kerin, Dennis Shanahan and Drew Warne-Smith found enough nuance in Latham's latest equivocations to justify the headline: Latham in retreat on Iraq troops.

In fact, Latham's words
It might mean leaving some troops there; it might mean some other arrangement, so we'll just take that advice when it comes.

leave enough slop to push a Labor caucus through.

ALP President, Carmen Lawrence, was even firmer in her back-sliding:
ALP federal president Carmen Lawrence today said Australian troops could remain in Iraq after Christmas

'Not fair!', said Auntie's hacks, in effect. 'Latham has always said we'd guard our diplomats, and leave the naval and air contributions to policing Iraq's sea gate.'

As he did, three months ago, leaving him enough time to take advice, and to decide whether it's a token two or three hundred troops involved.

And providing Auntie the opportunity to ask Latham, 'If you are going to maintain Australia's involvement in the reconstruction of Iraq, why would you weaken it, and the US alliance, over such a small number of troops?'

Auntie also failed to find evidence of Presidential contender Kerry's hostility to Latham's policy.

Instead, Auntie dug out a Kerry flack Wendy Sherman to make the anodyne assurance that the Alliance would survive Mark Latham.
The US and Australia will have a very strong alliance whoever is president of the US and whoever is prime minister of Australia
(according to Henny Herald yesterday).

By the time Auntie was going to air on Sunday night, Henny's Peter Hartcher in Washington, a region crawling with Auntie's correspondents, was able to find Senator Kerry's "foreign policy adviser" (a title Auntie gave to Sherman) who had something rather opposite to say:
John Kerry has been very clear that regardless of what you think about how we got here, here we are. And failure is not an option in Iraq. And the prospect of success in Iraq will be improved by maintaining a substantial contribution from friends and allies, including Australia.

"When the Spanish Government announced its intention to pull out, he was critical of that. So he would be critical of any government's failure to recognise the stakes in Iraq, the need to succeed there, no matter how sympathetic he might be to concerns about how America got to this point.
Clumsy work, communards.