Skip to comments.Australian FM: Downer 'proud' of decision to invade Iraq
Posted on 10/01/2004 10:32:12 AM PDT by knighthawk
FOREIGN Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday that former dictator Saddam Hussein had "undiminished WMD ambitions" and he was "proud" Australia had made the decision to invade Iraq.
"In removing Saddam we have ensured that he will never again use WMD -- whether against his own people or his neighbours," Mr Downer told a forum on Iraqi human rights.
He attacked Labor's policy on withdrawing troops as "provocative weakness that would spur (terrorists) to greater evil".
"It is naive and irresponsible to argue that ... we can withdraw -- in effect, 'cut and run' -- from Iraq, yet still claim that Australia is tough on terrorists," Mr Downer said.
"You just have to cast your mind forward and imagine the consequences ... if in a few weeks' time Australia announced it was pulling its troops out by Christmas ... in London and Washington, Australia's reputation as a solid and reliable ally would be seriously damaged."
"In other capitals -- from Tokyo to Warsaw, Rome to Seoul -- Australia would be seen to have left when the job was not done.
"Countries standing with the Iraqi people would wonder why Australia, always strong and reliable in the past, was now cutting and running.
"That is not the Australian way."
Iraqi officials attended the forum where activists interrupted Mr Downer's speech to attempt a citizens' arrest.
But Mark Latham said the continuing widespread violence in Iraq showed John Howard did not have an exit strategy. "We said from day one, they might win the war but the hardest thing will be to win the peace," Mr Latham told Sky News.
"And the fact the Howard Government had no plan for the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, and the violence continues, is a sad commentary on the way in which Mr Howard got us involved in the first place," he said.
Insurgents detonated three car bombs near a United States military convoy in Baghdad yesterday, killing 41 people -- 34 of them children rushing to collect sweets from US troops.
Mr Latham, who has pledged to bring most Australian troopshome by Christmas, said a Labor government would help out in Iraq through the United Nations.
"We're committed to helping with the UN protective force, with customs and border protection for that country, and also trying to rebuild their health system, which is a sad consequence of all the trauma that nation has been through."
Mr Howard also launched a renewed attack on Labor's policy yesterday.
In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Howard said that with the upsurge in hostage-taking in Iraq, it was unrealistic, wrong-headed and damaging to Australia's self-esteem to leave British and American troops the task of defending Australians in Baghdad.
Mr Howard said withdrawing troops would represent a "failure of nerve."
Advance Australia Fair - and good luck to the Liberals in the forthcoming elections.
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