November 25th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: CLIMATE CHANGE: An appeal to reason: the economics and politics of climate change

EDITORIAL: Water infrastructure needed, not gimmicks

AUSTRALIA'S DROUGHT: COAG's free trade in water threatens farmers

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Howard's loyalty to U.S. faces severe test

UNITED STATES: U.S. voter backlash against Bush's Iraq war

IRAQ WAR: Bush runs out of options

THE ECONOMY: Wishful thinking about agriculture, manufacturing

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Taped calls incriminate ex-premier, minister

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Sinister side to lunatic fringe / The gentle art of blackening reputations / Faces of vulnerability / The old refrain?

HUMAN CLONING: Patterson's curse - the Frankenbunny

Lies, cowardice and cloning (letter)

Bouquet and brickbat for News Weekly (letter)

Optional preferential voting rejected (letter)

Greenhouse superstitions (letter)

Using children as spies (letter)

BOOKS: INSIDE THE ASYLUM: Why the UN and Old Europe are Worse Than You Think, by Jed Babbin

BOOKS: THE BATTLE FOR SPAIN: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, by Antony Beevor

Books promotion page

U.S. voter backlash against Bush's Iraq war

by John Miller

News Weekly, November 25, 2006
George W. Bush has lost control of Congress to the opposition Democrats in the wake of the Iraq debacle. He is now not so much a lame-duck President as a trussed-up Thanksgiving turkey, says John Miller.

The worst fears expressed in Peter Westmore's editorial, "Iraq after the U.S. elections" (News Weekly, November 11, 2006), have been realised. The U.S. mid-term Congressional elections of November 7 fulfilled the predictions of all the pundits, delivering control of both houses of Congress from George W. Bush's Republican Party to the opposition Democrats.

It took little time for the Democrats to flex their newly-found muscle. Within 48 hours of their victory, the hardline U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had resigned.

That Iraq was a major issue in the mid-term U.S. election appears beyond dispute. The media, electronic and print, were unanimous in that view, as confirmed by exit polls and commentators alike.

Where does this leave President George W. Bush? In the wake of the recent electoral debacle Bush may be not so much a "lame duck" President as a trussed-up Thanksgiving turkey! Having lost control of Congress, President Bush's actions are now limited in his proclaimed war on terror.


While the political Left in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia are collectively rubbing their hands in satisfaction at Bush's election humiliation, a sober reappraisal of the military situation in Iraq is already under way. It is typical of the stalwarts of the Washington Post and New York Times that they have already proclaimed that the U.S. is looking for a solution to leave Iraq fairly quickly, given that American casualties alone have approached 3,000 dead, since the 2003 invasion.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the war on terror began last century with the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1986. The alleged mastermind of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, declared war on the Great Satan, literally within months of the U.S.-backed Afghan mujahideen's success in forcing the then Soviet Union to retreat from Afghanistan. The weapon that America had helped forge turned in their hand.

The tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks brought worldwide sympathy for the people of the United States, especially the citizens of New York. However, there was a great deal of rejoicing in Islamic states and some quiet satisfaction in other countries that have difficulties with the world's last remaining superpower.

It is this writer's contention that President Bush's declaration of war, enunciated in his "Axis of evil" speech (delivered on January 29, 2002), was probably justified at the time; but with the benefits of 20/20 hindsight, matters have gone horribly awry.

The NATO force projection into Afghanistan, in its attempt to oust the fundamentalist Taliban regime from power, appeared successful at first; but has increasingly looked like something of a Pyrrhic victory over the past few months, and it is clear that the country is far from stabilised. While there appears to be no overt signs of a unilateral NATO withdrawal, the situation is now complicated by what appears to be a total fiasco in Iraq.

The U.S. has not been defeated militarily, but more than one commentator has echoed the parallels with the Vietnam War. If the mid-term Congressional election was in fact a referendum on Iraq, then fairly rapid change is inevitable. Once again, America will be seen as having lost the war in the living-rooms of the heartland. The sight of coffins returning home in military transports and patriotic funerals tear at the heartstrings of the U.S. populace, and no small wonder. There is no reason to ask the question: why?

The major problem has been the conflation of the war against terror with the simultaneous campaign in Iraq. Again, with the wonders of hindsight, it can be posited that sympathy for the United States began to evaporate from the moment U.S. armed force was used to topple the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein. If American troops really believed they would be welcomed as liberators and democracy could be implemented swiftly in Iraq, then they were doomed to disappointment.

By the time dust had settled from the toppled statues of Saddam, near anarchy prevailed throughout the country. From that time, internecine clashes commenced as people settled old scores. Inter-communal battles broke out between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims.

It matters little that there was a successful democratic election in 2004: the outcome has been more unrest and the horrific and steadily rising death toll.

First, as many commentators and experts have observed, the U.S.-led Coalition of the Willing deployed insufficient armed forces to install order throughout Iraq and, while the Kurds hold sway in the northern part of the country, the fighting elsewhere is extremely savage, with suicide and car bombings being the order of the day.

To some extent, areas controlled by British forces have been quieter than those run by the Americans, and it must be said that it is axiomatic that U.S. troops are not cut out, or trained, for occupation duty.

Second, as a Democrat-inspired inquiry into the so-called reconstruction of Iraq will almost certainly show, vast sums of money have been reportedly poured into the hands of private contractors, in a bacchanalian orgy of profit-driven capitalism at work. Australia has been extremely fortunate that the only casualty in its deployment so far has been one apparent and tragic accident.

Where do we stand now? If troops are withdrawn, this will be widely perceived around the world as a "cut and run" strategy. America has lost the public relations war in the fight against terror. Its enemies abroad, from old foes like Cuba's Fidel Castro through to demamgogues like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, will be joined by the usual suspects in the Western media, such as Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Robert Fisk and, of course, our own Phillip Adams.

Many will argue for a "dialogue" with Al Qaeda and, indeed, many distinguished people, such as veteran British Daily Telegraph columnist Lord Deedes, cite Winston Churchill's aphorism that "jaw-jaw is better than war-war".

Dialogue of the deaf

However, just as the great man would have no truck with Adolf Hitler, the U.S. and its allies cannot negotiate with fundamentalist Islamo-fascists. It would be a dialogue of the deaf.

Militant Islam - be it the government of Iran with its nuclear ambitions, or Al Qaeda and its associated terrorist groups - has only one objective. That is to defeat westernised society, or the forces of modernism. There will be no deal until they accept our surrender.

At present, we can only speculate about the future direction of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The worst possible outcome is for the U.S. to retreat into isolationism because that is not a workable option. As events in Europe show, militant Islam is on the march and terrorism is with us for the foreseeable future.

When we look back at the U.S. mid-term Congressional elections of November 7, 2006, we could perhaps remind ourselves of Churchill's words: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

In Australia, as in the U.S., the UK and the Western world in general, we require resolution and determination to defeat the enemy within and without.

- John Miller is a former senior intelligence officer.

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