Downer stands firm
I was overwhelmed after catching the tail end of Tony Jones' interview of the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer. Downer presented a realistic picture of the situation in Iraq ("its tough") but defended maintaining troops in Iraq. He was very critical of the cut-and-run strategy proposed by the left leaning Opposition Party and rightly ridiculed Tony Jones' persistent and repetitive questions on whether being in Iraq has worsened terror. He also linked the jihadist threat to the West's health and survival in such terms that I have not yet seen from a public figure.
Mark Steyn must have brain-washed him.
Once the transcript is put up, I will link to it. However, you can watch the entire interview here (broadband) or here (dialup).
UPDATE: Transcript has been put up at Foreign Affairs.
An example of some of the FMs fine, poignant and sometimes sombre comments include:
But this response doesn't satisfy Tony Jones. No he has the NIE, the Commander of the British Army AND the former Commander of the Australian Defence Force AND he has a very important point to make (presumably as a reporter):
JONES: Put simply do you now accept this is also the view point of the national intelligence assessment of the United States - that the war on Iraq has made terrorism worse?
DOWNER: Well, you know, that's rather like saying that if you - you know when we went to war with Japan or with Germany they were not going to like it very much and get angry about it. I mean it had to be done. I don't think giving in to the terrorists in the end is going to be in our long-term security interests.
JONES: But this is the fundamental point - I'm sorry to interrupt you there but it's the fundamental point and I'm wonder if your own intelligence assessments are the same, because the national intelligence assessment of the United States - of all those agencies essentially saying the war on Iraq is making international terrorism worse?
DOWNER: No, look, we're not looking at intelligence assessments of the past, whether I agree with them or whether I don't.
JONES: This is an assessment of the present, isn't it?
DOWNER: No, it's not because the challenge for me as a policy maker is the challenge of what decisions we make now. Now I do not get intelligence assessments from Australia or from America saying that if we withdraw from Iraq, if we surrender in Iraq this is going to lead to the jihadist movement collapsing and everything will return to quiet. Quite the contrary. The assessments of the intelligence - the American intelligence agencies - are quite clear, that if the jihadists and insurgents are victorious in Iraq then that is going to be an enormous boost to their campaign around the world and it will lead to a substantial increase in the terrorist risks. So I've got to deal with the decisions that we face in the future and I am very focussed on - I'm very focussed on the consequences of defeat in Iraq. I think defeat and surrender in Iraq - and look, I don't mind whether it's popular or unpopular, I'm going to say it because I profoundly believe this and believe it to be right - I think that defeat and surrender in Iraq is going to do Western and international security enormous damage quite apart from the awful things that would happen to the people of Iraq in those circumstances.